The Guardian today released an interview with the Edward Snowden, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: 'I do not expect to see home again'.
There's already a Front Page post on it & a rec listed diary. Both were well-written. However, in the comments posted below each of those diaries are a variety of statements that contradict what Snowden himself has said.
Below are Snowden's own words. I have editorialized the content to the extent that I've re-formulated the questions & have highlighted in bold statements I think pertinent to several of the comments made on this site already.
Snowden's answers are below:
Asked why he decided to become a whistleblower,
"The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife's phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.Asked if this type of surveillance is needed to prevent terrorist attacks,
"I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things¦ I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under."
"We have to decide why terrorism is a new threat. There has always been terrorism. Boston was a criminal act. It was not about surveillance but good, old-fashioned police work. The police are very good at what they do."Asked about Bradley Manning,
"Manning was a classic whistleblower. He was inspired by the public good."Asked if he is a criminal,
"We have seen enough criminality on the part of government. It is hypocritical to make this allegation against me. They have narrowed the public sphere of influence."Asked what will become of him,
"Nothing good."Asked why he's in Hong Kong,
"I think it is really tragic that an American has to move to a place that has a reputation for less freedom. Still, Hong Kong has a reputation for freedom in spite of the People's Republic of China. It has a strong tradition of free speech."Asked what the documents show,
"That the NSA routinely lies in response to congressional inquiries about the scope of surveillance in America. I believe that when [senator Ron] Wyden and [senator Mark] Udall asked about the scale of this, they [the NSA] said it did not have the tools to provide an answer. We do have the tools and I have maps showing where people have been scrutinised most. We collect more digital communications from America than we do from the Russians."Asked about the Obama administration's claims of hacking by China,
"We hack everyone everywhere. We like to make a distinction between us and the others. But we are in almost every country in the world. We are not at war with these countries."Asked about protections from state surveillance?
"You are not even aware of what is possible. The extent of their capabilities is horrifying. We can plant bugs in machines. Once you go on the network, I can identify your machine. You will never be safe whatever protections you put in place."Asked if his family was aware of his intentions,
"No. My family does not know what is happening¦ My primary fear is that they will come after my family, my friends, my partner. Anyone I have a relationship with.Asked when he concluded to release the information,
I will have to live with that for the rest of my life. I am not going to be able to communicate with them. They [the authorities] will act aggressively against anyone who has known me. That keeps me up at night."
"You see things that may be disturbing. When you see everything you realise that some of these things are abusive. The awareness of wrong-doing builds up. There was not one morning when I woke up [and decided this is it]. It was a natural process.Asked what he though about Friday's denouncement by the president while at the same time welcoming debate on security and openness,
A lot of people in 2008 voted for Obama. I did not vote for him. I voted for a third party. But I believed in Obama's promises. I was going to disclose it [but waited because of his election]. He continued with the policies of his predecessor."
"My immediate reaction was he was having difficulty in defending it himself. He was trying to defend the unjustifiable and he knew it."Asked about the general response to his actions,
"I have been surprised and pleased to see the public has reacted so strongly in defence of these rights that are being suppressed in the name of security. It is not like Occupy Wall Street but there is a grassroots movement to take to the streets on July 4 in defence of the Fourth Amendment called Restore The Fourth Amendment and it grew out of Reddit. The response over the internet has been huge and supportive."Asked about Steve Clemons' overhearing a conversation at Dulles where a participant called for the disappearance of both the leark and the reporter,
"Someone responding to the story said 'real spies do not speak like that'. Well, I am a spy and that is how they talk. Whenever we had a debate in the office on how to handle crimes, they do not defend due process they defend decisive action. They say it is better to kick someone out of a plane than let these people have a day in court. It is an authoritarian mindset in general."Asked if he has a plan,
"The only thing I can do is sit here and hope the Hong Kong government does not deport me¦ My predisposition is to seek asylum in a country with shared values. The nation that most encompasses this is Iceland. They stood up for people over internet freedom. I have no idea what my future is going to be.Asked if he will be imprisoned,
"They could put out an Interpol note. But I don't think I have committed a crime outside the domain of the US. I think it will be clearly shown to be political in nature."
"I could not do this without accepting the risk of prison. You can't come up against the world's most powerful intelligence agencies and not accept the risk. If they want to get you, over time they will."Asked how he feels now,
"I think the sense of outrage that has been expressed is justified. It has given me hope that, no matter what happens to me, the outcome will be positive for America. I do not expect to see home again, though that is what I want."Whether or not you agree with either the totality of his actions or his motivations, or his political affiliations, you may nonetheless recognize that the tone and tenor of many of his explanations have been mirrored here many times.
Let the debate on his actual words continue. This is a conversation we need to have.
UPDATE: Snowden's interview-