via Washington Post
Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former undercover CIA employee, unmasked himself Sunday as the principal source of recent Washington Post and Guardian disclosures about top-secret National Security Agency programs. Snowden, who has contracted for the NSA and works for the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, denounced what he described as systematic surveillance of innocent citizens and said in an interview that “it’s important to send a message to government that people will not be intimidated.”
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. said Saturday that the NSA had initiated a Justice Department investigation into who leaked the information — an investigation supported by intelligence officials in Congress. Snowden, whose full name is Edward Joseph Snowden, said he understands the risks of disclosing the information but felt it was important to do. “I intend to ask for asylum from any countries that believe in free speech and oppose the victimization of global privacy,” Snowden told The Post from Hong Kong, where he has been staying. The Guardian was the first to publicly identify Snowden. Both media organizations made his name public with his consent.
“I’m not going to hide,” Snowden said Sunday afternoon. “Allowing the U.S. government to intimidate its people with threats of retaliation for revealing wrongdoing is contrary to the public interest.”
Asked whether he believed his disclosures would change anything, he said: “I think they already have. Everyone everywhere now understands how bad things have gotten — and they’re talking about it. They have the power to decide for themselves whether they are willing to sacrifice their privacy to the surveillance state.” Snowden said nobody was aware of his actions, including those closest to him. He said there wasn’t a single event that spurred his decision to leak the information.
“It was more of a slow realization that presidents could openly lie to secure the office and then break public promises without consequence,” he said.
Snowden said President Obama hasn’t lived up to his pledges of transparency. He blamed a lack of accountability in the Bush administration for continued abuses. The White House could not immediately be reached for comment Sunday afternoon.
“It set an example that when powerful figures are suspected of wrongdoing, releasing them from the accountability of law is ‘for our own good,’” Snowden said. “That’s corrosive to the basic fairness of society.” Snowden also expressed hope that the NSA surveillance programs would now be open to legal challenge for the first time. Earlier this year, in Amnesty International v. Clapper, the Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit against the mass collection of phone records because the plaintiffs could not prove exactly what the program did or that they were personally subject to surveillance.“The government can’t reasonably assert the state secrets privilege for a program it has acknowledged. The courts can now allow challenges to be heard on that basis,” Snowden said.
The guy is a true patriot. He should be supported.