Edward Snowden was NSA Prism leak source - Guardian

 

Ed Snowden explains why he became a whistleblower (Video courtesy of The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras)

Related Stories

A former CIA technical worker has been identified by the UK's Guardian newspaper as the source of leaks about US surveillance programmes.

Edward Snowden, 29, is described by the paper as an ex-CIA technical assistant, currently employed by defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

The Guardian said his identity was being revealed at his own request.

The recent revelations are that US agencies gathered millions of phone records and monitored internet data.

A spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the matter had now been referred to the Department of Justice as a criminal matter.

The Guardian quotes Mr Snowden as saying he flew to Hong Kong on 20 May, where he holed himself up in a hotel.

Start Quote

I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things”

End Quote

He told the paper that the extent of US surveillance was "horrifying", adding: "We can plant bugs in machines. Once you go on the network, I can identify your machine. You will never be safe whatever protections you put in place."

He added: "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."

Mr Snowden said he did not believe he had committed a crime: "We have seen enough criminality on the part of government. It is hypocritical to make this allegation against me."

Asked what he thought would happen to him, he replied: "Nothing good."

Mr Snowden said he accepted he could end up in jail. "If they want to get you, over time they will," he said.

He said he also feared the US authorities would "act aggressively against anyone who has known me. That keeps me up at night".

Mr Snowden said he had gone to Hong Kong because of its "strong tradition of free speech".

US media response

A USA Today editorial accepts that "the primary result of Snowden's actions is a plus. He has forced a public debate on the sweepingly invasive programs that should have taken place before they were created". But, it goes on, "pure motives and laudable effects don't alter the fact that he broke the law".

An editorial in the Chicago Tribune argues that "some new restrictions" in the US intelligence gathering programme may be in order, adding: "If the government is looking for, say, calls between the United States and terrorists in Pakistan or Yemen, why can't it simply demand records of calls to certain foreign countries. Is there no way to narrow the search to leave most Americans out of it?"

Robert O'Harrow in the Washington Post writes that the growing reliance on contractors in US intelligence gathering "reflects a massive shift toward outsourcing over the past 15 years, in part because of cutbacks in the government agencies". He argues that this "has dramatically increased the risk of waste and contracting abuses... but given the threat of terrorism and the national security mandates from Congress, the intelligence community had little choice".

Hong Kong signed an extradition treaty with the US shortly before the territory returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.

However, Beijing can block any extradition if it believes it affects national defence or foreign policy issues.

Mr Snowden has expressed an interest in seeking asylum in Iceland.

However, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post quoted Iceland's ambassador to China as saying that "according to Icelandic law a person can only submit such an application once he/she is in Iceland".

'Core values'

In a statement, Booz Allen Hamilton confirmed Mr Snowden had been an employee for less than three months.

"If accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm," the statement said.

The first of the leaks came out on Wednesday night, when the Guardian reported a US secret court had ordered phone company Verizon to hand over to the National Security Agency (NSA) millions of records on telephone call "metadata".

The metadata include the numbers of both phones on a call, its duration, time, date and location (for mobiles, determined by which mobile signal towers relayed the call or text).

That report was followed by revelations in both the Washington Post and Guardian that the NSA tapped directly into the servers of nine internet firms including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to track online communication in a programme known as Prism.

Thomas Drake, ex-NSA executive, on US state surveillance

All the internet companies deny giving the US government access to their servers.

Prism is said to give the NSA and FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) access to emails, web chats and other communications directly from the servers of major US internet companies.

The data are used to track foreign nationals suspected of terrorism or spying. The NSA is also collecting the telephone records of American customers, but not recording the content of their calls.

'Gut-wrenching'

On Saturday, US director of national intelligence James Clapper called the leaks "literally gut-wrenching".

"I hope we're able to track down whoever's doing this, because it is extremely damaging to, and it affects the safety and security of this country," he told NBC News on Saturday.

How surveillance came to light

  • 5 June: The Guardian reports that the National Security Agency (NSA) is collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon under a top secret court order
  • 6 June: The Guardian and The Washington Post report that the NSA and the FBI are tapping into US Internet companies to track online communication in a programme known as Prism
  • 7 June: The Guardian reports President Obama has asked intelligence agencies to draw up a list of potential overseas targets for US cyber-attacks
  • 7 June: President Obama defends the programmes, saying they are closely overseen by Congress and the courts
  • 8 June: US director of national intelligence James Clapper calls the leaks "literally gut-wrenching"
  • 9 June: The Guardian names former CIA technical worker Edward Snowden as the source of the leaks

Prism was reportedly established in 2007 in order to provide in-depth surveillance on live communications and stored information on foreigners overseas.

The NSA has filed a criminal report with the US Justice Department over the leaks.

The content of phone conversations - what people say to each other when they are on the phone - is protected by the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution, which forbids unreasonable searches.

However, information shared with a third party, such as phone companies, is not out of bounds.

That means that data about phone calls - such as their timing and duration - can be scooped up by government officials.

Mr Clapper's office issued a statement on Saturday, saying all the information gathered under Prism was obtained with the approval of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court (Fisa).

Prism was authorised under changes to US surveillance laws passed under President George W Bush and renewed last year under Barack Obama.

On Friday, Mr Obama defended the surveillance programmes as a "modest encroachment" on privacy, necessary to protect the US from terrorist attacks.

"Nobody is listening to your telephone calls. That's not what this program is about," he said, emphasising that the programmes were authorised by Congress.

 

More on This Story

Related Stories

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    +14

    Comment number 24.

    No wonder the country is in such a mess. They spend all their time monitoring conversations and emails, most of which are dribble.

  • rate this
    +23

    Comment number 23.

    Hero.

  • rate this
    +91

    Comment number 22.

    Snowden is a hero and should be celebrated, not persecuted.

  • rate this
    +43

    Comment number 21.

    The saying "People shouldn't be affraid of the government, government should be affraid of the people" is more apt than ever these days

    If knowledge is power then no government wants it's citizens to have the knowledge to temper government's power

    The people might not do as their told, for goodness sake

  • rate this
    +230

    Comment number 20.

    Hats off to Edward Snowden. He spoke up about something that was wrong and probably illegal even though he knew 'nothing good' would come of it for him personally. We need more people like this if we are to stop the creation of a Big Brother state. Shame on Booz Allen Hamilton- on what planet does telling about illegal activity constitute a "grave violation of the code of conduct".

  • rate this
    +86

    Comment number 19.

    Heroic actions - we now need to act on them.

  • rate this
    +76

    Comment number 18.

    For all those who say surveillance like this is fine and for those who have nothing to hide should feel comfortable with it . . . What if I come into your living room or car, even take your phone off you and go through all your texts and Emails, and forced you to let me listen to your conversations? How would you feel then? . . . Would you let me do that?

  • rate this
    -136

    Comment number 17.

    I have nothing to hide so these things don't bother me whatsoever.
    If you want to blame someone for losing your privacy, blame your fellow man AKA terrorists.
    All this is a small price to pay for public safety, as Obama has pointed out.

  • rate this
    -37

    Comment number 16.

    As Mainwaring said "Stupid Boy" and too Wilson "How long has he been out of short trousers"

  • rate this
    +149

    Comment number 15.

    I'm tired of governments telling us they're curtailing our privacy for our own 'good' and for 'national security' reasons.

    Here's a good thing they can do to aid our national security - stop war-wongering in states where we have no business. It really is that simple.

  • rate this
    +36

    Comment number 14.

    Just imagine in a parallel world : where a Chinese man reveals similar secrets of Chinese Govt. Whole world would have come to appreciate and praise him and he will be on top of the list for a Nobel prize.

  • rate this
    +214

    Comment number 13.

    Isn't it funny?

    When Wikileaks monitors the Government's messages, they throw a hissy-fit about how important privacy is.

    And here they are, monitoring everyone else's messages, because our privacy isn't important, apparently.

    They haven't a moral leg to stand on. Hypocrites, the lot of them. The Government are made up of people, and people are too prone to err for them to have this power.

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 12.

    US & UK Spooks have been doing this for decades anyway- PRISM merely updates legislation for modern technology.

    Americans can count themselves lucky they don't have a Police force like ours, insanely determined to prosecute every 'offensive' tweet they stumble across. At least they have a constitution that guarantees free speech.

  • rate this
    +71

    Comment number 11.

    Governments seem to want to know and need to know every single detail of what we're doing. Yet what is really needed is for the taxpayer to be able to snoop on politicians to ensure they aren't committing crimes and fraud.

    Things like the Bilderberg Group, the expenses scandal and the recent peer lobbying scandal just illustrate that the flow of information is going the wrong way.

  • rate this
    +21

    Comment number 10.

    GOOD on you!!

    Now get your backside out of America pronto as unfortunately (as you would know being ex-CIA) you could very VERY easily just 'vanish'.

    Keep up the work people and keep unleashing the real information about these tyrant governments who need bringing to justice for taking away ALL of our liberties.

    Power to the people! Remember - They are just gangsters in suits.

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 9.

    Poor guy, he's either going to end up like Julian Assange or Bradley Manning. Personally I hope for the former for his sake, though neither is appealing.

  • rate this
    +116

    Comment number 8.

    Your government is spying on you and your elected representatives are taking bribes from corporations to get favourable decisions. Anyone still want to bash the Occupy movement?

  • rate this
    +185

    Comment number 7.

    Can the public have access to all politicians email, telephone and data, after all if they are doing nothing wrong then they have nothing to hide.

  • rate this
    +128

    Comment number 6.

    What's more enlightening about the protagonists rebuttals, both in in the UK and US is what they're not saying in their carefully worded statements.

  • rate this
    -51

    Comment number 5.

    People share their most intimate secrets quite willingly with anyone who has a computer, via "social media". They practically post videos of their pap smears being taken. Now they are getting all hysterical because the government might read an email saying "Happy Birthday Mum"!
    Go figure............

 

Page 70 of 71

 

More US & Canada stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.