Just six months after first leaking National Security Agency secrets in a move that triggered a revaluation of US surveillance policies, Edward Snowden is declaring “mission’s already accomplished.”
Snowden told The Washington Post in his first in-person interview since his June arrival in Russia, which granted him temporary asylum, that he was satisfied because the public is now informed about the US government’s massive sweep of Internet and phone records.
The NSA’s collection of communications data has grown dramatically since the September 11, 2001 attacks.
On Friday, President Barack Obama said he welcomed a debate about the NSA’s role as he weighs possible changes to its broad powers amid a public outcry over rights to privacy. The president said he would make a “pretty definitive statement” in January about how the NSA should be overhauled.
A panel of legal and intelligence experts chosen by the White House has recommended curbing the agency’s powers among 46 proposed changes, warning that its sweeps in the war on terror have gone too far.
And a federal judge has warned that the NSA’s routine collection of nearly all Americans’ phone records was probably unconstitutional.
Snowden was interviewed in Moscow by Barton Gellman, a Post reporter who has received leaks from the former NSA contractor. The leaker’s first revelations were initially published by the Post and the Guardian in June.
Federal prosecutors have filed a criminal complaint against Snowden, charging him with espionage and felony theft of government property.
But the 30-year-old said he was not being disloyal.
Snowden’s revelations have outraged civil liberties advocates and even US allies, angered by reports that the United States was monitoring their leaders’ cellphone calls and other virtual communications.