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Sunday
Jun232013

NSA Chief Says 'System Did Not Work' to Prevent Snowden Leaks

Win McNamee/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- During an exclusive interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander said this morning on This Week that NSA leaker Edward Snowden has caused “irreversible and significant damage” to the U.S. with his actions. But Alexander could not say why the NSA’s systems were not able to prevent Snowden from stealing and leaking highly classified documents, saying “the system did not work as it should have.”

When asked by Stephanopoulos, “Do you understand why the system did not blink red in a way that could prevent Snowden from leaving Hawaii in the first place with those secrets?” Alexander responded, “No, I don’t.”

“It’s clearly an individual who has betrayed the trust and confidence we had in him,” Alexander said of Snowden, who fled Hong Kong en route to Russia on Sunday and faces espionage and theft charges for leaking classified U.S. documents on the NSA’s secret surveillance programs. “This is an individual who is not acting, in my opinion, with noble intent.”

“What Snowden has revealed has caused irreversible and significant damage to our country and to our allies,” Alexander added in his first Sunday morning interview as NSA director.

When asked if there is anything that could prevent another private contractor from accessing and leaking classified information from the NSA’s systems, Alexander said, “This is a key issue we’ve got to work our way through. Clearly, the system did not work as it should have.”

“[Snowden] betrayed the trust and confidence we had in him. This was an individual with top secret clearance whose duty it was to administer these networks. He betrayed that confidence and stole some of our secrets,” Alexander added. “We are now putting in place actions that would give us the ability to track our system administrators, what they are doing, what they’re taking, a two-man rule. We’ve changed the passwords. But at the end of the day, we have to trust that our people are gonna do the right thing.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio