Edward Snowden: NSA Spies Most on Americans

“We watch our own people more closely than we watch any other population in the world.”

Civil liberties activists hold a rally against surveillance of US citizens as US President Barack Obama is expected to announce reforms of the National Security Agency (NSA) at the Justice Department in Washington on January 17, 2014.
National Journal
Dustin Volz
April 30, 2014, 10:12 a.m.

Ed­ward Snowden told a crowd of fans Wed­nes­day that the U.S. gov­ern­ment’s sur­veil­lance pro­grams col­lect more data on Amer­ic­ans than it does on any oth­er coun­try.

“Do you think it’s right that the NSA is col­lect­ing more in­form­a­tion about Amer­ic­ans in Amer­ica than it is about Rus­si­ans in Rus­sia?” Snowden said. “Be­cause that”s what our sys­tems do. We watch our own people more closely than we watch any oth­er pop­u­la­tion in the world.”

Snowden also took sev­er­al shots at the Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency and its top of­fi­cials, and cri­ti­cized the agency for wear­ing two con­tra­dict­ory hats of pro­tect­ing U.S. data and ex­ploit­ing se­cur­ity flaws to gath­er in­tel­li­gence on for­eign threats.

“U.S. gov­ern­ment policy dir­ec­ted by the NSA … is now mak­ing a choice, a bin­ary choice, between se­cur­ity of our com­mu­nic­a­tions and the vul­ner­ab­il­ity of our com­mu­nic­a­tions,” Snowden said, sug­gest­ing the gov­ern­ment was biased to­ward the lat­ter activ­ity.

The former NSA con­tract­or was awar­ded the Riden­hour Award for Truth-Telling along with Laura Poitras, one of his chief con­fid­ants. The 30-year-old fu­git­ive re­mains in Rus­sia, where he fled and earned tem­por­ary asylum fol­low­ing his dis­clos­ures of clas­si­fied in­form­a­tion about the NSA’s bulk data-col­lec­tion prac­tices.

Poitras also beamed in­to the ce­re­mony from Ber­lin. The doc­u­ment­ary film­maker is be­lieved to be one of only two people — along with journ­al­ist Glenn Gre­en­wald — to pos­sess the en­tire cache of Snowden files.

The two col­lect­ively lam­basted both the Sen­ate and House In­tel­li­gence com­mit­tees for what they said was a fail­ure of suf­fi­cient over­sight of the in­tel­li­gence com­munity. Snowden also said he be­lieved the Ju­di­ciary com­mit­tees were more likely to en­act sub­stant­ive sur­veil­lance re­form, and noted his sup­port of the USA Free­dom Act, a bill that would end much of the gov­ern­ment’s bulk col­lec­tion of phone “metadata.”

Snowden, who has also been nom­in­ated this year for the No­bel Peace Prize, was a nat­ur­al choice for the Riden­hour award, which has honored in re­cent years journ­al­ist and un­doc­u­mented im­mig­rant Jose Ant­o­nio Var­gas and Thomas Drake, a former NSA of­fi­cial who also ex­posed secrets kept by the spy agency. The left-lean­ing group is named named after Ron Riden­hour, a Vi­et­nam vet­er­an who helped ex­pose the mas­sacre of hun­dreds of un­armed ci­vil­ians by U.S. sol­diers at My Lai in 1968.

Note: This story has been up­dated to re­flect the full con­text of Snowden’s com­ments on spy­ing, as re­flec­ted in an au­dio re­cord­ing provid­ing by Moth­er Jones.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4926) }}

What We're Following See More »
HE ‘WILL NEVER BE PRESIDENT’
Warren Goes After Trump Yet Again
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

When it comes to name-calling among America's upper echelon of politicians, there may be perhaps no greater spat than the one currently going on between Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Donald Trump. While receiving an award Tuesday night, she continued a months-long feud with the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. Calling him a "small, insecure moneygrubber" who probably doesn't know three things about Dodd-Frank, she said he "will NEVER be president of the United States," according to her prepared remarks."We don't know what Trump pays in taxes because he is the first presidential nominee in 40 years to refuse to disclose his tax returns. Maybe he’s just a lousy businessman who doesn’t want you to find out that he’s worth a lot less money than he claims." It follows a long-line of Warren attacks over Twitter, Facebook and in interviews that Trump is a sexist, racist, narcissistic loser. In reply, Trump has called Warren either "goofy" or "the Indian"—referring to her controversial assertion of her Native American heritage. 

FIRST CHANGE IN FOUR DECADES
Congress Passes Chemical Regulations Overhaul
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

The House on Tuesday voted 403-12 "to pass an overhaul to the nation’s chemical safety standards for the first time in four decades. The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act aims to answer years of complaints that the Environmental Protection Agency lacks the necessary authority to oversee and control the thousands of chemicals being produced and sold in the United States. It also significantly clamps down on states’ authorities, in an effort to stop a nationwide patchwork of chemical laws that industry says is difficult to deal with."

Source:
NO MORE INDEPENDENT VOTERS?
GOP Could Double Number of Early Primaries
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Leaders of the Republican Party have begun internal deliberations over making fundamental changes to the way its presidential nominees are chosen, a recognition that the chaotic process that played out this year is seriously flawed and helped exacerbate tensions within the party." Among the possible changes: forbidding independent voters to cast ballots in Republican primaries, and "doubling the number of early states to eight."

Source:
LEVERAGE
Kasich Tells His Delegates to Remain Pledged to Him
6 hours ago
THE LATEST

Citing the unpredictable nature of this primary season and the possible leverage they could bring at the convention, John Kasich is hanging onto his 161 delegates. "Kasich sent personal letters Monday to Republican officials in the 16 states and the District of Columbia where he won delegates, requesting that they stay bound to him in accordance with party rules."

Source:
EFFECTIVE NEXT MONTH
House GOP Changes Rules for Spending Measures
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Speaker Paul Ryan is changing the rules of how the House will consider spending measures to try to prevent Democrats from offering surprise amendments that have recently put the GOP on defense. ... Ryan announced at a House GOP conference meeting Tuesday morning that members will now have to submit their amendments ahead of time so that they are pre-printed in the Congressional Record, according to leadership aides." The change will take effect after the Memorial Day recess.

Source:
×