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

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.