SPY GAMES: Snowden’s Live Q&A: 8 Things We Learned

Published on June 18, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-06-18 at 9.14.38 AMKey points from the whistleblower’s responses to questions about the NSA leak

On Monday the whistleblower Edward Snowden gave an exclusive live Q&A to the Guardian to answer questions about the biggest intelligence leak in NSA history and revelations about government surveillance. Here are some key things we learned:

1. There is very little information on private individuals the intelligence services cannot get access to

The reality is this: if an NSA, FBI, CIA, DIA [Defence Intelligence Agency], etc analyst has access to query raw SIGINT [signals intelligence] databases, they can enter and get results for anything they want. Phone number, email, user id, cell phone handset id (IMEI), and so on – it’s all the same. The restrictions against this are policy based, not technically based, and can change at any time. Additionally, audits are cursory, incomplete, and easily fooled by fake justifications. For at least GCHQ, the number of audited queries is only 5% of those performed …

If I target for example an email address, for example under FAA 702, and that email address sent something to you, Joe America, the analyst gets it. All of it. IPs, raw data, content, headers, attachments, everything. And it gets saved for a very long time – and can be extended further with waivers rather than warrants.

2. Snowden waited to release the documents, hoping Obama would bring change

Obama’s campaign promises and election gave me faith that he would lead us toward fixing the problems he outlined in his quest for votes. Many Americans felt similarly. Unfortunately, shortly after assuming power, he closed the door on investigating systemic violations of law, deepened and expanded several abusive programs, and refused to spend the political capital to end the kind of human rights violations like we see in Guantánamo, where men still sit without charge.

3. He fears that the US will stop at nothing to silence him

All I can say right now is the US government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me. Truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped.

Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk