NSA spy grid whistleblower Ed Snowden steps forward in mind-blowing video interview with Glenn Greenwald
In addition to the video interview, Ed Snowden also went on the record with some Q&A with Glenn Greenwald. This exchange is published by The Guardian and it reveals yet more astonishing information -- EXPLOSIVE information that makes Watergate look like a Boy Scout field trip...
Q: What do the leaked documents reveal?
A: "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 scrutinized most. We collect more digital communications from America than we do from the Russians."
Q: Is it possible to put security in place to protect against state surveillance?
A: "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."
Q: Why did you decide to become a whistleblower?
A: "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."
"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."
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What follows is a (nearly) full transcript of the interview between Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden. The original webpage location of this video interview is:
My name is Ed Snowden. I am 29 years old, I worked for Booz Allen Hamilton as an infrastructure analyst for NSA in Hawaii. I've been a systems engineer, systems administration, senior advisor for the CIA, solutions consultant, and a telecommunications information systems officer.
When you're in positions of priveleged access, like a systems administrator for these sort of intelligence community agencies, you're exposed to a lot more information on a broader scale than the average employee. And because of that, you see things that may be disturbing, but over the course of a normal person's career, you'd only see one or two of these instances. When you see everything, you see them on a more frequent basis, and you recognize that some of these things are actually abuses. ... Over time that awareness of wrongdoing sort of builds up, and you feel compelled to talk about it, and the more you talk about it, the more you're ignore, the more you're told it's not a problem. Until eventually you realize these things need to be determined by the public, not by somebody who is simply hired by the government.
NSA and the intelligence community in general is focused on getting intelligence wherever it can by any means possible. It believes on the grounds of sort of a self certification that they serve the national interests. Originally we saw that focus very narrowly tailored to foreign intelligence gathered overseas, now increasingly we see that it's happening domestically.
To do that, the NSA specifically targets the communications of everyone. It ingests them by default. It collects them in its system and it filters them and it analyzes them and it measures them and it stores them for periods of time simply because that's the easiest, most efficient and most valuable way to achieve these ends. So while they may be intending to target someone associated with a foreign government, or someone that they suspect of terrorism, they are collecting YOUR communications to do so.
Any analyst at any time can target anyone. Any selector, anywhere. Where those communications will be picked up depends on the range of the sensor networks and the authorities that analyst is empowered with. Not all analysts have the ability to target everything. But I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge, to even the President if I had a personal email.
I think that the public is owed an explanation of the motivations behind the people who make these disclosures that are outside of the democratic model. When you are subverting the power of government, that's a fundamentally dangerous thing to democracy... and if you do that in secret, consistently, as the government does when it wants to benefit from a secret action that it took, it will kind of give its officials a mandate to go hey, tell the press about this thing and that thing, so the public is on our side. But they rarely if ever do that when an abuse occurs. That falls to individual citizens.
But [whistleblowers] are typically maligned. It becomes a thing of, these people are against the country, they're against the government. But I'm not. I'm no different from anybody else, I don't have special skills, I'm just another guy who sits there day to day in the office and watches what happens and goes, this is something that's not our place to decide. The public needs to decide whether these programs and policies are right or wrong. And I'm willing to go on the record to defend the authenticity of them... this is the truth, this is what's happening, you should decide whether we need to be doing this.
Glenn Greenwald: Have you given thought to... what they might try to do to you?
Yeah, I could be rendered by the CIA, I could have their people come after me, or any of their third party partners, they work closely with a number of other nations, or they could pay off the triads, or any of their agents or assets. We've got a CIA station just up the road at the consulate here in Hong Kong. I'm sure they're gonna be very busy for the next week.
That's a fear I'll live under for the rest of my life, however long that happens to be. You can't come forward against the world's most powerful intelligence agencies and be completely free from risk, because they're such powerful adversaries, that no one can meaningfully oppose them. If they wanna get you, they'll get you in time. But at the same time you have to make a determination about what it is that's important to you. And if living unfreely but comfortably is something you're willing to accept, and I think many of us are, you can get up every day, you can go to work, you can collect your large paycheck for relatively little work against the public interest, and go to sleep at night after watching your shows, but if you realize that's the world that you helped create, and it's going to get worse with the next generation, and the next generation, who extend the capabilities of this sort of architecture of oppression, you realize that you might be willing to accept any risk, and it doesn't matter what the outcome is, so long as the public gets to make their decisions about how that's applied.
Even if you're not doing anything wrong, you're being watched and recorded. The storage capability of these systems increases every year, consistently, by orders of magnitude, to where it's getting to the point where you don't have to have done anything wrong, you simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody, even by a wrong call, and then they can use this system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you've ever made, every friend you've ever discussed something with, and attack you on that basis, to sort of derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer.
The great fear that I have regarding the outcome for America of these disclosures is that nothing will change. People will see in the media all of these disclosures, they'll know the lengths that government is going to to grant themselves powers, unilaterally, to create greater control over American society and global society. But they won't be willing to take the risks necessary to stand up and fight to change things, to force their representatives to actually take a stand in their interests. And in the months ahead, the years ahead, it's only going to get worse. Until eventually there will be a time where policies will change because the only thing that restricts the activities of the surveillance state are policy. They'll say that... because of the crisis, the dangers that we face in the world, some new and unpredicted threat, we need more authority, we need more power, and there will be nothing the people can do at that point to oppose it. And it will be turnkey tyranny.
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