Civil Liberties

Snowden Predicted the Script the Government Has Followed To Attack Him


Reason 24/7

In the second half of an interview conducted with The Guardian on June 6 in Hong Kong, but just released today, Edward Snowden explains more of his motivation for revealing the details of the National Security Agency's spying, emphasizes that, yes, the NSA is snooping domestically, and talks about his feelings about the United States, as opposed to the government. He also accurately predicts, weeks ahead of time, the script the powers-that-be would follow in their efforts to discredit and smear him.

As summarized at CNet:

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden remains, as far as the public knows, stuck in the transit area of a Moscow airport. But two newly published interviews reveal more about why he decided to go public with documents confirming the NSA's domestic surveillance of American citizens.

The interviews, separately published today by the Guardian and Spiegel Online, were conducted over a month ago—before his identity as the NSA's most famous leaker became public.

But they show that Snowden predicted how the documents he divulged would be received by Washington officialdom: "I think the government's going to launch an investigation. I think they're going to say I committed grave crimes, [that] I violated the Espionage Act. They're going to say I aided our enemies."

About his country of origin, Snowden says, "America is a fundamentally good country. We have good people with good values who want to do the right thing. But the structures of power that exist are working to their own ends to extend their capability at the expense of the freedom of all publics."

Snowden also tells The Guardian, "The primary disclosures are that the NSA doesn't limit itself to foreign intelligence. It collects all communications that transit the United States."

In another interview, published by Der Spiegel, Snowden gives some idea of the extent to which the NSA's surveillance is aided and abetted (and exceeded) by allied spy agencies in other countries:

Interviewer: What are some of the big surveillance programs that are active today and how do international partners aid the NSA?

Snowden: In some cases, the so-called Five Eye Partners [United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada] go beyond what NSA itself does. For instance, the UK's General Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has a system called TEMPORA. TEMPORA is the signals intelligence community's first "full-take" Internet buffer that doesn't care about content type and pays only marginal attention to the Human Rights Act. It snarfs everything, in a rolling buffer to allow retroactive investigation without missing a single bit. Right now the buffer can hold three days of traffic, but that's being improved. Three days may not sound like much, but remember that that's not metadata. "Full-take" means it doesn't miss anything, and ingests the entirety of each circuit's capacity. If you send a single ICMP packet  and it routes through the UK, we get it. If you download something and the CDN (Content Delivery Network) happens to serve from the UK, we get it. If your sick daughter's medical records get processed at a London call center … well, you get the idea.

Interviewer: Is there a way of circumventing that?

Snowden: As a general rule, so long as you have any choice at all, you should never route through or peer with the UK under any circumstances. Their fibers are radioactive, and even the Queen's selfies to the pool boy get logged.

Snowden also tells Der Spiegel that, while many companies collaborate with the U.S. government's spying efforts, some refuse to do so. He says pushing companies to disclose which way they've jumped will give consumers the opportunity to punish those that have helped government snoops violate their privacy.

That sounds like a plan.

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