News / USA

Ex-CIA Employee Reveals His Motive for Leaks

US, British Newspapers Identify NSA Whistlebloweri
X
June 10, 2013 10:17 AM
A British and a U.S. newspaper have identified an employee of the National Security Agency as the source of information that revealed the U.S. spy agency is monitoring Americans' phone calls.
Reuters
An ex-CIA employee working as a contractor at the U.S. National Security Agency said he was the source who leaked details of a top secret U.S. surveillance program, acting out of conscience to protect “basic liberties for people around the world.''
 
Holed up in a hotel room in Hong Kong, Edward Snowden, 29, said he had thought long and hard before publicizing details of an NSA program code-named PRISM, saying he had done so because he felt the United States was building an unaccountable and secret espionage machine that spied on every American.
 
His whereabouts were not immediately known on Monday, but staff at a luxury hotel in Hong Kong told Reuters that Snowden had checked out at noon.
 
Snowden, a former technical assistant at the CIA, said he had been working at the super-secret NSA as an employee of contractor Booz Allen. He said he decided to leak information after becoming disenchanted with President Barack Obama, who he said had continued the policies of predecessor George W. Bush.
 
“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,'' he told The Guardian newspaper, which published a video interview with him on its website. The interview was dated June 6.
 
Both The Guardian and the Washington Post said last week that U.S. security services had monitored data about phone calls from Verizon and Internet data from large companies such as Google and Facebook.
 
In naming Snowden on Sunday, the newspapers said he had sought to be identified.
 
“The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything,'' Snowden said in explaining his actions.
 
“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,'' he said.
 
Worked at NSA for 4 years
 
The Guardian said Snowden had been working at the NSA for four years as a contractor for outside companies.
 
Three weeks ago, he copied the secret documents at the NSA office in Hawaii and told his supervisor he needed “a couple of weeks'' off for treatment for epilepsy, the paper said. On May 20 he flew to Hong Kong.
 
The CIA and the White House declined to comment, while a spokesman for the Director of National Intelligence would not comment directly about Snowden himself but said the intelligence community was reviewing damage done by the recent leaks.
 
“Any person who has a security clearance knows that he or she has an obligation to protect classified information and abide by the law,'' said the spokesman, Shawn Turner.
 
The NSA has requested a criminal probe into the leaked information. On Sunday, the U.S. Justice Department said it was in the initial stages of a criminal investigation following the leaks.
 
Booz Allen, a U.S. management and technology consultancy, said reports of the leaked information were “shocking and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation'' of company policy.
 
It said Snowden had been employed by the company for less than three months and that it would cooperate with any investigations.
 
A spokesman for Dell Inc. declined to comment on reports that Snowden had been employed at that company. In 2009, Dell acquired Perot Systems, a U.S. government contractor that did work for U.S. intelligence agencies.
 
Snowden's decision to reveal his identity and whereabouts lifts the lid on one of the biggest security leaks in U.S. history and escalates a story that has placed a bright light on Obama's extensive use of secret surveillance.
 
The exposure of the secret programs has triggered widespread debate within the United States and abroad about the vast reach of the NSA, which has expanded its surveillance dramatically in since the Sept. 11 attacks on Washington and New York in 2001.
 
U.S. officials say the agency operates within the law. Some members of Congress have indicated support for the NSA activities, while others pushed for tougher oversight and possible changes to the law authorizing the surveillance.
 
Why Hong Kong?
 
One legal expert was puzzled as to why Snowden fled to Hong Kong, because it has an extradition treaty with the United States while mainland China does not.
 
In routine criminal cases, unlike this one, Hong Kong had shown a willingness in recent years to extradite people to face charges in the United States, he said.
 
In the video, Snowden said that “Hong Kong has a strong tradition of free speech.''
 
Hong Kong returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997, but still enjoys some autonomy in business and governmental functions.
 
However, under Hong Kong's Fugitives Offenders Ordinance, Beijing can issue an “instruction'' to the city's leader to take or not take action on extraditions where the interests of China “in matters of defense or foreign affairs would be significantly affected.''
 
Typically, U.S. visitors in Hong Kong are granted a 90-day visa. According to the Guardian, Snowden left Hawaii for Hong Kong on May 20.
 
Hong Kong's Security Bureau, which is charged with law enforcement and immigration matters, had no immediate response when asked about the case.
 
Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian newspaper journalist who broke the story and interviewed Snowden last week, told the local South China Morning Post newspaper he was not aware of the former CIA man's current whereabouts.
 
The U.S. Consulate declined to comment on the case.
 
Douglas McNabb, a Houston lawyer who specializes in extradition, said it would not be difficult for the United States to provide justification for its request. “This guy came out and said, 'I did it,''' he said. “His best defense would probably be that this is a political case instead of a criminal one.''
 
Snowden, who said he had left his girlfriend in Hawaii without telling her where he was going, said he knew the risk he was taking, but thought the publicity his revelations had garnered in the past few days had made it worth it.
 
“My primary fear is that they will come after my family, my friends, my partner. Anyone I have a relationship with,'' he said. “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.''
 
In the video interview, the bespectacled, lightly bearded Snowden looked relaxed. He said he was ultimately hoping that Iceland, which values internet freedom, might grant him asylum.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
June 11, 2013 3:53 AM
What a pity if nations or governments can not help doubting nationals and searching for their privacy! Exceeding grobalization and immigration seem one of the reasons why such a suspition to citizens is caused by authorities. Now new immigration laws are being argued in US. I agree it may be time for US to rethink its free immigration policy.


by: LoNg from: USA
June 10, 2013 9:57 AM
This guy already working for terrorist and tried to sold out America. No matter what we were in war with terrorism our troops sacrificed
Their life for country we suppose to use any way to win this war to protect America safe. This is just tracking the phone...NO big deal at all, if we were good citizen and nothing wrong why worry so much?????????? Just only peoples working for terrorist or do things wrong worry for this matter. Terrorist may around us or around our neighbor even our co-worker like this guy (Edward snowden) who know? Are we wanted to tracking them out of this country???????? Be calm down and let people you were vote for, do the job and nowhere on the world respect for human than this country. Don't abuse this Freedom like this guy.

In Response

by: Robert Tremain from: CA
June 10, 2013 5:17 PM
He is a hero, exposing the Obamanation as comparible to Russia and China

Constitution be damned
Your rights be damned

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid