Whistleblower behind exposing NSA surveillance programs reveals his identity, motivations and more

By End the Lie

Edward Snowden (Image credit: screenshot from an interview by the Guardian)

Edward Snowden (Image credit: screenshot from an interview by the Guardian)

Today the man behind exposing the highly secretive programs of the National Security Agency (NSA) including PRISM, the software known as Boundless Informant and the surveillance of all U.S. Verizon customers has revealed his identity.

The individual responsible is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old currently working for defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton and a former technical assistant for the CIA, according to the Guardian.

“I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” Snowden said, explaining his motivation for asking the Guardian to reveal his identity.

An interview with Snowden, conducted by the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald in Hong Kong where Snowden is currently located, can be seen below:

Snowden’s identity was confirmed by The Washington Post.

The fact that Snowden came out on his own will likely save the intelligence community some time and effort given that they recently launched a criminal inquiry into the PRISM leak.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper recently heavily criticized what he called “reckless disclosures of intelligence community measures used to keep Americans safe” and one expert told the Washington Post that Snowden may face extradition.

“The fact that he outed himself and basically said, from what I understand he has said, ‘I feel very comfortable with what I have done’ … that’s not going to help him in his extradition contest,” Douglas McNabb, a lawyer and extradition expert, told The Washington Post.

The Justice Department said they’re currently in the “initial stages of an investigation” into the unauthorized disclosure of classified information but would not elaborate.

A spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Shawn Turner, said the intelligence community is also “reviewing the damage” the leaks have done.

“Any person who has a security clearance knows that he or she has an obligation to protect classified information and abide by the law,” Turner said.

Snowden said he’s currently seeking “asylum from any countries that believe in free speech and oppose the victimization of global privacy.”

Yet he’s apparently not afraid of suffering the consequences for exposing one of the world’s largest surveillance programs.

“I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions,” Snowden wrote in a note that accompanied the first set of documents he gave the Guardian. “I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant.”

“I know the media likes to personalize political debates, and I know the government will demonize me,” he said, adding that his only fear is that revealing his identity will shift attention away from the issues actually raised by the information he leaked.

“I really want the focus to be on these documents and the debate which I hope this will trigger among citizens around the globe [to think] about what kind of world we want to live in,” he said.

“My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them,” Snowden added.

Snowden said that he has no problem giving up his roughly $200,000 salary, stable career, etc. because he “can’t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”

He left the NSA office in Hawaii where he was working just three weeks ago to depart for Hong Kong. He has remained in a hotel room there ever since.

The Guardian notes that he takes measures to maintain his privacy that some might think extreme.

“He lines the door of his hotel room with pillows to prevent eavesdropping,” the Guardian reports. “He puts a large red hood over his head and laptop when entering his passwords to prevent any hidden cameras from detecting them.”

While some may think that’s just paranoia, given that Snowden actually worked for the NSA, he knows what they’re capable of and knows that they’re now likely going to come after him.

“All my options are bad,” Snowden said, referring to the possibility of extradition, being questioned by the Chinese government or worse.

“Yes, I could be rendered by the CIA. I could have people come after me. Or any of the third-party partners,” Snowden said. “They work closely with a number of other nations. Or they could pay off the Triads. Any of their agents or assets.”

Ultimately, Snowden said he isn’t afraid for himself, though he did get emotional when discussing how his family might be treated. It doesn’t help that many of his family members work for the U.S. government as well.

“The only thing I fear is the harmful effects on my family, who I won’t be able to help any more. That’s what keeps me up at night,” Snowden told the Guardian with tears welling up in his eyes.

While Snowden said he admires individuals like Pfc. Bradley Manning, currently undergoing court martial on charges of leaking classified materials to Wikileaks, he considers himself different, according to The Washington Post.

Snowden also believes that the George W. Bush administration should be held accountable for their involvement in surveillance.

“Excusing the prior administration from investigation wronged the public,” Snowden said in an encrypted chat with The Washington Post. “It set an example that when powerful figures are suspected of wrongdoing, releasing them from the accountability of law is ‘for our own good.’ That’s corrosive to the basic fairness of society.”

Meanwhile, Booz Allen Hamilton confirmed that Snowden has been an employee for less than 3 months in Hawaii in a statement.

“News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm,” the firm stated. “We will work closely with our clients and authorities in their investigation of this matter.”

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) is also reportedly working with other lawmakers on a lawsuit against both the FBI and NSA in order to block their collection of Internet and phone data.

UPDATE: It is now being being reported that Snowden was a supporter of Ron Paul’s presidential campaign. He also reportedly checked out of his hotel and went back underground.

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