In the second part of an exclusive interview with Glenn Greenwald (released on July 8th 2013) and Laura Poitras, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden contemplates the reaction from the US government to his revelations of top-secret documents regarding its spying operations on domestic and foreign internet traffic, email and phone use. (Part 1.) Partial transcript below.
Glenn Greenwald: Have you given thought to what it is that the US government’s response to your conduct is in terms of what they might say about you, how they might try to depict you?
Edward Snowden: I think the government is going to launch an investigation. I think they’re going to say I’ve committed grave crimes, I’ve, you know, violated the Espionage Act. They’re going to say I’ve aided our enemies in making them aware of these systems but that argument can be made against anybody who reveals information that points out mass surveillance systems, because fundamentally they apply equally to ourselves as they do to our enemies.
Glenn Greenwald: When you decided to enter this world, did you do so with the intention of weaseling your way in and becoming a mole so that you could one day undermine it with disclosures or what was your perspective and mindset about it at the time that you sort of, first got into this whole realm?
Edward Snowden: No, I joined the intelligence community when I was very young, sort of the government as a whole, I enlisted in the Army, shortly after the invasion of Iraq and I believed in the goodness of what we were doing. I believed in the nobility of our intentions to free oppressed people overseas but over time, over the length of my career, as I watched the news and I was increasingly exposed to true information that had not been propagandized in the media, that we were actually involved in misleading the public and misleading all the publics, not just the American public in order to create a certain mindset in the global consciousness and I was actually a victim of that.
America is a fundamentally good country. We have good people with good values who want to do the right thing. But the structures of power that exist are working to their own ends to extend their capability at the expense of the freedom of all publics.
Transcription by joanneleon
Another NEW INTERVIEW from der Spiegel.
Interviewer: The NSA is building a massive new data center in Utah. What is its purpose?
Snowden: The massive data repositories.
Interviewer: How long is the collected data being stored for?
Snowden: As of right now, full-take collection ages off quickly ( a few days) due to its size unless an analyst has “tasked” 7 a target or communication, in which the tasked communications get stored “forever and ever,” regardless of policy, because you can always get a waiver. The metadata 8 also ages off, though less quickly. The NSA wants to be at the point where at least all of the metadata is permanently stored. In most cases, content isn’t as valuable as metadata because you can either re-fetch content based on the metadata or, if not, simply task all future communications of interest for permanent collection since the metadata tells you what out of their data stream you actually want.
Interviewer: Do private companies help the NSA?
Snowden: Yes. Definitive proof of this is the hard part because the NSA considers the identities of telecom collaborators to be the jewels in their crown of omniscience. As a general rule, US-based multinationals should not be trusted until they prove otherwise. This is sad, because they have the capability to provide the best and most trusted services in the world if they actually desire to do so. To facilitate this, civil liberties organizations should use this disclosure to push them to update their contracts to include enforceable clauses indicating they aren’t spying on you, and they need to implement technical changes. If they can get even one company to play ball, it will change the security of global communications forever. If they won’t, consider starting that company.
Interviewer: Are there companies that refuse to cooperate with the NSA?
Snowden: Also yes, but I’m not aware of any list. This category will get a lot larger if the collaborators are punished by consumers in the market, which should be considered Priority One for anyone who believes in freedom of thought.
Interviewer: What websites should a person avoid if they don’t want to get targeted by the NSA?
Snowden: Normally you’d be specifically selected for targeting based on, for example, your Facebook or webmail content. The only one I personally know of that might get you hit untargeted are jihadi forums.
Interviewer: What happens after the NSA targets a user?
Snowden: They’re just owned. An analyst will get a daily (or scheduled based on exfiltration summary) report on what changed on the system, PCAPS 9 of leftover data that wasn’t understood by the automated dissectors, and so forth. It’s up to the analyst to do whatever they want at that point — the target’s machine doesn’t belong to them anymore, it belongs to the US government.