Edward Snowden: 'Truth Is Coming and It Cannot Be Stopped'
BY Eric Markowitz
In a live online chat, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden answered questions about the PRISM scandal.
Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency whistleblower, is answering questions from the public in a live written chat right now on The Guardian's website.
For obvious reasons, Snowden's whereabouts are still unknown, but the 29-year-old was able to find a secure Internet connection to answer questions from the public. He'll likely keep talking even if he's detained--or worse.
"All I can say right now is the U.S. government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me," Snowden writes. "Truth is coming and it cannot be stopped."
Below are more statements he has made so far in the chat, in response to questions selected from the comments section of the Guardian website and Twitter, about the extent of U.S. government access to civilian information, the role of Google and Facebook, and his ethics:
On being called a traitor: "I did not reveal any U.S. operations against legitimate military targets. I pointed out where the NSA has hacked civilian infrastructure such as universities, hospitals, and private businesses because it is dangerous. These nakedly, aggressively criminal acts are wrong no matter the target. Not only that, when NSA makes a technical mistake during an exploitation operation, critical systems crash."
On the role of tech companies like Google and Facebook: "Their denials went through several revisions as it become more and more clear they were misleading and included identical, specific language across companies. As a result of these disclosures and the clout of these companies, we're finally beginning to see more transparency and better details about these programs for the first time since their inception."
On how easily the government can snoop: "If I target for example an email address, under FAA 702, and that email address sent something to you, Joe America, the analyst gets it. All of it. IPs, raw data, content, headers, attachments, everything."
On how easily a government employee can access civilian information: "The reality is this: if an NSA, FBI, CIA, DIA, etc analyst has access to query raw SIGINT databases, they can enter and get results for anything they want. Phone number, email, user ID, cell phone handset ID (IMEI), and so on. It's all the same."
On disappointment with Obama: "Unfortunately, shortly after assuming power, he closed the door on investigating systemic violations of law, deepened and expanded several abusive programs, and refused to spend the political capital to end the kind of human rights violations like we see in Guantanamo, where men still sit without charge."
On the accuracy of his salary: "The statement I made about earnings was that $200,000 was my 'career high' salary. I had to take pay cuts in the course of pursuing specific work. Booz was not the most I've been paid."
On his decision to leave the United States: "Leaving the U.S. was an incredible risk, as NSA employees must declare their foreign travel 30 days in advance and are monitored. There was a distinct possibility I would be interdicted en route, so I had to travel with no advance booking to a country with the cultural and legal framework to allow me to work without being immediately detained."
On what he wants to see happen next: "I would advise [Obama] personally call for a special committee to review these interception programs, repudiate the dangerous "State Secrets" privilege, and, upon preparing to leave office, begin a tradition for all Presidents forthwith to demonstrate their respect for the law by appointing a special investigator to review the policies of their years in office for any wrongdoing. There can be no faith in government if our highest offices are excused from scrutiny - they should be setting the example of transparency."