We’re getting a preview of what will be a wide-ranging interview with ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden set to air Wednesday night on NBC.
In a story out on NBC’s website Tuesday, Snowden pushes back on critics who claim he was no more than a low-level hacker, instead telling Brian Williams that he was “trained as a spy” who worked undercover overseas, sometimes even using a name other than his own.
“But I am a technical specialist. I am a technical expert,” Snowden told NBC. “I don’t work with people. I don’t recruit agents. What I do is I put systems to work for the United States. And I’ve done that at all levels from — from the bottom on the ground all the way to the top.”
Besides his assertion of knowing the spy trade to Brian Williams, Glenn Greenwald’s new book “No Place to Hide,” which detailed his meetings with Snowden, also had an interesting exchange:
“I’m in the process of taking steps to change my appearance,” Snowden said, allaying concerns Greenwald and Poitras had about leaving the Mira Hotel without being noticed by other reporters. “I can make myself unrecognizable.”
Snowden is believed to have “touched” around 1.7 million documents on NSA servers, ultimately giving 200,000 of them to journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras after meeting them in Hong Kong in early June.
While he grabbed the documents while working under contract to NSA at Booz Allen Hamilton in Hawaii, Snowden has an extensive work history with intelligence agencies, including a stint as a CIA technician and contractor with the Defence Intelligence Agency.
“When they say I’m a low-level systems administrator, that I don’t know what I’m talking about, I’d say it’s somewhat misleading,” Snowden told Brian Williams. The DIA later confirmed to NBC that the 30-year-old contractor had actually spoken at three of their conferences.
While some critics have downplayed Snowden’s work history, others have taken a different track, instead arguing that, if he wasn’t under Russian control when he stole thousands of top-secret documents, he is now.
“It would be most unusual if he were allowed to remain there as a guest for free,” former director of CIA Operations Jack Devine said. “I don’t think he was a controlled asset, but I think at the end of the day he will be.”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.