Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, whose facilitation of what is likely the largest intelligence leak in U.S. history had worldwide repercussions, sat down with reporter Barton Gellman in Moscow for an interview published in the Washington Post.
Here are five key moments from that interview:
Snowden declares victory
Six months after Snowden leaked a secret court order revealing the scope of the NSA phone metadata gathering program, legislators are trying to ban it, a judge has said it’s likely unconstitutional, and the president’s own review board has recommended cutting back on surveillance. Though the program is still in place, Snowden is satisfied. “For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished,” Snowden told the Post. “I already won.”
Snowden says he’s not trying to bring down the NSA
Snowden’s leaks are the biggest security breach in the NSA’s history and a huge embarrasment to the agency, but the former contractor says that he’s not trying to destroy the agency. “I am not trying to bring down the NSA, I am working to improve the NSA,” Snowden told the Post. “I am still working for the NSA right now. They are the only ones who don’t realize it.”
Snowden denies defecting
Many of Snowden’s critics have suggested that his leaks are part of a foreign intelligence operation, or that Snowden himself has defected and shared U.S. secrets with Russia and China. Snowden denies that’s the case. “There is no evidence at all for the claim that I have loyalties to Russia or China or any country other than the United States,” Snowden told the Post. “I have no relationship with the Russian government. I have not entered into any agreements with them.” Snowden later told the Post that “If I defected at all,” then “I defected from the government to the public.”
Security measures suggested by Snowden would have prevented his leaks
Snowden told the Post that while still at the NSA, he suggested requiring two-person approval for moving files off a hard drive, something that would have prevented Snowden himself from absconding with massive amounts of the NSA’s files or required him to have had a partner. Ironically, the Post reports, it’s one of the first changes made since he left.
Snowden accuses Obama’s intelligence chiefs of violating their oaths of office
Snowden is the one under indictment for espionage, but according to him, it’s NSA Director Gen. James Alexander and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper who failed to obey their oaths to the Constitution. “The oath of allegiance is not an oath of secrecy,” Snowden told the Post. “That is an oath to the Constitution. That is the oath that I kept that Keith Alexander and James Clapper did not.” Both Clapper and Alexander misled the public about the scope of NSA data-gathering.
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