The Pentagon thinks Snowden took A LOT of documents that had nothing to do with surveillance

Michael B Kelley

The Pentagon believes that former NSA contractor Edward Snowden took 900,000 Department of Defense files, Jason Leopold of Vice News reports.

The allegation is in an undated two-page Defense Intelligence Agency report that was "prepared for the head of a task force that assessed the damage caused by Snowden's leaks in advance of the official briefing the Senate Intelligence Committee," Leopold writes.

For Snowden, who contends that he stole documents from the National Security Agency to expose allegedly unlawful NSA surveillance activities, the latest claim would be hugely damning if true, since revealing these documents generally wouldn't be considered whistleblowing.

Last year, Business Insider asked the ACLU's Ben Wizner, Snowden's legal adviser and primary spokesman, about the claim that Snowden searched out and stole military information. Wizner said that "the whole allegation is nonsense."

The amount of DoD files would comprise "more documents than he downloaded from the NSA about the agency's surveillance programs," Leopold notes.

Snowdenallegedly stole up to 1.77 million NSA documents while working at two consecutive jobs for US government contractors in Hawaii between March 2012 and May 2013.

The 31-year-old gave an estimated 200,000 documents to American journalists Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald in June 2013. Poitras published several stories in the German newspaper Der Speigel and has contributed reporting to several other outlets. Greenwald published several stories for The Guardian about NSA domestic spying before starting The Intercept along with Poitras.

The whereabouts of the rest of the documents, outside of an indeterminate number that he showed to a Hong Kong newspaper, is unknown. The status of the documents Snowden didn't give to journalists is one of the big remaining questions in the Snowden saga.

The US government previously alleged that Snowden also took up to 1.5 million "tier 3" documents potentially detailing US capabilities and NSA offensive cyberoperations, the whereabouts of which are unknown.

"The vast majority of the documents that Snowden ... exfiltrated from our highest levels of security ... had nothing to do with exposing government oversight of domestic activities," Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told Congress on March 6, 2014. "The vast majority of those were related to our military capabilities, operations, tactics, techniques, and procedures."

The documents obtained by Vice News note that there are between 200 and 250 people from DoD who "triage, analyze, and assess DoD impacts related to the Snowden compromise."

The DoD first learned that Snowden took documents containing Pentagon information on July 10, 2013, according to Leopold. Snowden flew to Hong Kong on May 20, 2013, and then flew to Moscow on June 23, 2013, where he has been living since.

Wizner, Snowden's ACLU legal adviser, told Vice News that "the intelligence community leaked classified information in order to excoriate Edward Snowden for leaking classified information. The difference is that Snowden provided information [to] journalists to inform the public about the government's actions, and the government leaked information in order to misinform the public about his."

Check out the full report at Vice News >>

NOW WATCH: Here's what 'Game of Thrones' stars look like in real life

See Also:

SEE ALSO: Now that Snowden claimed his whistle-blower crown, 3 outstanding questions come into focus