In a 40 minute interview broadcast by NBC on Wednesday 28 June, Edward Snowden was asked about his career history, his life in Russia, the NSA’s capabilities and the possibilty of him ever returning to the United States. During the broadcast, Edward Snowden described making his concerns about surveillance practices known both formally and informally before going public – something that NBC was able to confirm during the broadcast was indeed the case.
Three further short clips from this interview were later released by NBC.
On internal channels
“I actually did go through channels and that is documented. The NSA has copies of emails right now – to their Office of General Counsel, to their oversight compliance folks, from me, raising concerns about the NSA’s interpretations of their legal authorities.
“I reported that there were real problems with the way the NSA was interpreting its legal authorites and the response, more or less, in bureaucratic language, was that you should stop asking questions… One of my final actions in government was continuing these communications with a legal office.”
“I was on Fort Meade on September 11th. I was right outside the NSA so I remember the tension on that day… I remember thinking that my grandfather, who worked for the FBI, was inside the Pentagon when the plane hit it. I take the threat of terrorism seriously. I think it it’s really disingenous for the government to invoke and sort of scandalise our memories to epxloit the national trauma that we all suffered together… to justify programmes that have never shown to keep us safe”
On the Iraq War
“As I saw more and more classified information at the highest levels, I realised that so many of the things that are told by the government simply aren’t true… The Iraq war that I signed up for was launched on false premises. The American people were misled… [it] shows the dangers of putting too much faith in intelligence systems, without debating them in public.”
On what NSA can do with your phone
“The NSA, the Russian intelligence service, the Chinese intelligence service… any intelligence service in the world that has significant funding and a real technological research team can own that phone the minute it connects to their network. The minute you turn it on, it can be theirs. They can turn it into a microphone, they can take pictures from it, they can take the data off of it. But it’s important to understand that these things are typically done on a targeted basis.”
On returning to the US
“It’s a fair question: why doesn’t he face charges? But it’s also uninformed because what has been laid against me are not normal charges, they’re extraordinary charges… The Espionage Act provides anyone accused under it no chance to make a public defence. You are not allowed to argue based on all the evidence in your favour because that evidence may be classified, even if it’s exculpatory.”
“It’s really frustrating for someone who is working so hard to expand the domain of our rights and our privacy to end up stuck in aplace where those rights are being challenged in ways that I would consider deeply unfair. The recent blogger registration law in Russia… I can’t think of any basis for a law like that, not just in Russia but in any country. The government shouldn’t be regulating the operations of a free press, whether it’s NBC or some blogger in their living room.”