Earlier this month, Sunday Times published a controversial story on NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The article claims that the NSA documents leaked by Snowden have been hacked by Russia and China, putting the lives of agents in the field at risk. It is also a mixture of serious errors, outright falsehoods and unfounded claims made by anonymous sources. One source is quoted as saying that Snowden has “blood on his hands,” not the first time that such a claim has been mendaciously deployed for dramatic effect.
Many of the claims in the article have already been debunked by serious critics here, here, and most powerfully here by Glenn Greenwald, one of the journalists Snowden chose to give his documents to.
One also needs to ask why, if it is true that UK intelligence knew that there was a possibility that the files could be hacked — and momentarily putting aside Craig Murray’s note that names of agents would never be written down — potentially compromised agents were not withdrawn immediately and replaced where possible. If they really were so concerned about the threat to the lives of their agents, why wait until after the documents were hacked (if they were as claimed). The obvious course of action in such a scenario would be to withdraw any such agents from the field as soon as possible in order to minimize the damage.