My name is Ed Snowden. I am 29 years old, I worked for
Booz Allen Hamilton as an
infrastructure analyst for NSA in Hawaii. I've been a systems engineer,
systems administration, senior advisor for the CIA, solutions
consultant, and a telecommunications information systems officer.
When you're in positions of privileged access, like a systems
administrator for these sort of intelligence community agencies, you're
exposed to a lot more information on a broader scale than the average
employee. And because of that, you see things that may be disturbing,
but over the course of a normal person's career, you'd only see one or
two of these instances.
When you see everything, you see them on a more
frequent basis, and you recognize that some of these things are actually
abuses... Over time that awareness of wrongdoing sort of builds up,
and you feel compelled to talk about it, and the more you talk about it,
the more you're ignore, the more you're told it's not a problem.
eventually you realize these things need to be determined by the public,
not by somebody who is simply hired by the government.
NSA and the intelligence community in general is focused on getting
intelligence wherever it can by any means possible.
It believes on the
grounds of sort of a self certification that they serve the national
interests. Originally we saw that focus very narrowly tailored to
foreign intelligence gathered overseas, now increasingly we see that
it's happening domestically.
To do that, the NSA specifically targets the communications of
everyone. It ingests them by default.
It collects them in its system
and it filters them and it analyzes them and it measures them and it
stores them for periods of time simply because that's the easiest, most
efficient and most valuable way to achieve these ends.
So while they may
be intending to target someone associated with a foreign government, or
someone that they suspect of terrorism, they are collecting YOUR
communications to do so.
Any analyst at any time can target anyone. Any selector,
Where those communications will be picked up depends on the range of the
sensor networks and the authorities that analyst is empowered with. Not
all analysts have the ability to target everything.
But I, sitting at my desk,
certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your
accountant, to a federal judge, to even the President if I
had a personal email.
I think that the public is owed an explanation of the motivations behind
the people who make these disclosures that are outside of the democratic
When you are subverting the power of
government, that's a fundamentally dangerous thing to democracy... and if you do that in
secret, consistently, as the government does when it wants to benefit
from a secret action that it took, it will kind of give its officials a
mandate to go hey, tell the press about this thing and that thing, so
the public is on our side. But they rarely if ever do that when an abuse
That falls to individual citizens.
But [whistleblowers] are typically maligned. It becomes a thing of,
these people are against the country, they're against the government.
But I'm not. I'm no different from anybody else, I don't have special
skills, I'm just another guy who sits there day to day in the office and
watches what happens and goes, this is something that's not our place to
The public needs to decide whether these programs and policies
are right or wrong. And I'm willing to go on the record to defend the
authenticity of them... this is the truth, this is what's happening, you
should decide whether we need to be doing this.
Glenn Greenwald: Have you given thought to... what they might try to do
Yeah, I could be rendered by the CIA, I could have their people come
after me, or any of their third party partners, they work closely with a
number of other nations, or they could pay off the triads, or any of
their agents or assets. We've got a CIA station just up the road at the
consulate here in Hong Kong. I'm sure they're going to be very busy for the
That's a fear I'll live under for the rest of my life, however long that
happens to be. You can't come forward against the world's most
powerful intelligence agencies and be completely free from risk,
because they're such powerful adversaries, that no one can
meaningfully oppose them.
If they want to get you, they'll get you in time. But at the
same time you have to make a determination about what it is that's
important to you.
And if living unfreely but comfortably is something
you're willing to accept, and I think many of us are, you can get up
every day, you can go to work, you can collect your large paycheck for
relatively little work against the public interest, and go to sleep at
night after watching your shows, but if you realize that's the world
that you helped create, and it's going to get worse with the next
generation, and the next generation, who extend the capabilities of this
sort of architecture of oppression, you realize that you might be
willing to accept any risk, and it doesn't matter what the outcome is,
so long as the public gets to make their decisions about how that's
Even if you're not doing anything wrong, you're being watched and
The storage capability of these systems increases every
year, consistently, by orders of magnitude, to where it's getting to
the point where you don't have to have done anything wrong, you
simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody,
even by a wrong call, and then they can use this system to go
back in time and scrutinize every decision you've ever made,
every friend you've ever discussed something with, and attack you
on that basis, to sort of derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the
context of a wrongdoer.
The great fear that I have regarding the outcome for America of these
disclosures is that nothing will change.
People will see in the
media all of these disclosures, they'll know the lengths that government
is going to to grant themselves powers, unilaterally, to create greater
control over American society and global society.
But they won't be
willing to take the risks necessary to stand up and fight to change
things, to force their representatives to actually take a stand in their
interests. And in the months ahead, the years ahead, it's only going to
Until eventually there will be a time where policies will
change because the only thing that restricts the activities of the
surveillance state are policy.
They'll say that... because of the
crisis, the dangers that we face in the world, some new and unpredicted
threat, we need more authority, we need more power,
and there will be nothing the people can do at that point to oppose it.
And it will be turnkey tyranny.