It’s been a whirlwind year of leaks about the inner workings of the highly secretive National Security Agency, courtesy of ex-NSA contractor and now fugitive Edward Snowden.
Those disclosures have lead to a number of startling revelations, and it seems that his hope for a conversation about the role of surveillance and freedom in American society is coming to fruition. In a new interview with Snowden, the first since he arrived in Moscow back in August, he is defiant, confident, and proud of his accomplishments thus far.
“For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished,” Snowden told Barton Gellman of The Washington Post, one of only three journalists he supplied thousands of pages of classified documents. “I already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself.”
The Snowden leaks — which included details that the NSA collected records of every U.S. phone call, the intelligence “black budget,” and spying on high-level foreign leaders (among many others) — have brought condemnation from government officials, but much more outrage from ordinary Americans worried their government is spying on them.
That’s lead to serious efforts to rein in the intelligence sector — most recently resulting in a federal judge striking down the NSA’s collection of telephone call “metadata” as unconstitutional.
“I am not trying to bring down the NSA, I am working to improve the NSA. I am still working for the NSA right now. They are the only ones who don’t realise it,” he told Gellman.
There’s no doubt there’s much more to come from Snowden, as he stole as many as 200,000 classified documents when he left Hawaii, according to NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander.
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