NBC News: Inside the Mind of Edward Snowden

Last night, NBC News aired its interview with NSA whistleblower and GAP client Edward Snowden. The whistleblower challenged the notion that his disclosures have damaged the country, explained that he never intended to end up in Russia (but was forced to stay after the U.S. government revoked his passport), reiterated that he never brought documents or intelligence materials to Russia nor shared any information with that country’s officials, and detailed what some of his previous roles as a federal intelligence employee were (working undercover for both the CIA and NSA in foreign nations). Some of Snowden’s statements include:

“I take the threat of terrorism seriously, and I think we all do. And I think it’s really disingenuous for the government to invoke, and sort of scandalize our memories – to sort of exploit the national trauma that we all suffered together and worked so hard to come through – to justify programs that have never been shown to keep us safe but cost us liberties and freedoms that we don’t need to give up. And our Constitution says we should not give up.”

“I believed the government’s arguments that we were going to do good things in Iraq. That we were going to free the oppressed. And I wanted to do my part to help share the national burden and create not just a better America but a better world. The problem was as time went on, as I rose to higher and higher levels in the intelligence community, as I gained more and more access, as I saw more and more classified information at the highest levels, I realized that so many of the things that were told by the government simply aren’t true.”

When asked by Brian Williams what governments can learn about him (Williams) if he checked a hockey score on his telephone:

“The thing about the Rangers game is scary. You might say ‘Does anybody really care that I’m looking up the score for the Rangers game?’ Well, a government or a hacker or some other nefarious individual would say ‘Yes.’ They’re very interested in that, because that tells a lot about you. First off it tells you probably speak English, it says you’re probably an American, you’re interested in this sport. They might know what your habits are – where were you in the world when you checked this score? Do you check it when you travel? Do you check when you’re just at home? They’d be able to tell something called your ‘pattern of life.’ When are you doing these kind of activities? When do you wake up? When do you go to sleep? What other phones are around you when you wake up and go to sleep? Are you with someone who’s not your wife? Are you doing something or are you someplace you shouldn’t be according to the government (which is arbitrary)? Are you engaged in any kinds of activities that we disapprove of even if they aren’t technically illegal. And all of these things can raise your level of scrutiny, even if it seems entirely innocent to you, even if you have nothing to hide, even if you’re doing nothing wrong. These activities can be misconstrued, misinterpreted and used to harm you as an individual. Even without the government having any intent to do you wrong. The problem is that the capabilities themselves are unregulated, uncontrolled and dangerous.”

Snowden went on to relay that he brought up his many concerns first through internal channels to the NSA’s Office of General Counsel and to the agency’s oversight and compliance staff (NBC News verified at least one email). Snowden also relayed concerns to supervisors and colleagues in multiple offices, but he was warned that whistleblowers are retaliated against harshly.

He went on to say that “sometimes to do the right thing you have to break a law. And the key there is in terms of civil disobedience.”

Huffington Post: White House Launches Probe Into Accidental CIA Leak, Although Prosecution Unlikely

The White House has announced it has launched a probe into the release of the name of the CIA’s top official in Afghanistan (by a U.S. Embassy staffer) to a reporter. GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack, who represents CIA/torture whistleblower John Kiriakou, commented on the Obama administration’s continued hypocrisy over media leaks.

Key QuoteIn an interview with The Huffington Post prior to the announcement of the probe, Jesselyn Radack, national security and human rights director at the Government Accountability Project, said there’s “a complete double standard in who gets prosecuted when it comes to leaks.”

Radack, an attorney, represented former CIA operative John Kiriakou, who is now serving 30 months in prison for providing the name of a covert officer to freelance journalist Matthew Cole in August 2008.

Kiriakou gained national attention in December 2007 for discussing the use of waterboarding during an ABC News interview, and soon after became a source to journalists investigating torture. The New York Times reported that Kiriakou, who had left the agency in 2004, said he believed the officer whose name he provided to Cole was retired, and that he wasn’t aware Cole was passing information to lawyers for Guantánamo Bay detainees. Cole did not publish an article based on the information that Kiriakou provided.

Radack said that if you “leak information that’s embarrassing to the administration, shows its incompetence or ineptitude or its illegality, you can face jail.”

In a follow-up email after the White House investigation was announced Tuesday, Radack said the probe is “a first step, but I don’t see Espionage or Intelligence Identity Protection Act charges resulting, much less prison terms.”

“Most of these internal investigations result in, ‘We messed up, but didn’t mean to, therefore no one is responsible,'” Radack said.

Herald Sun (NC): Whistleblower Advocate Wants UNC Intervention for Willingham

More coverage of the letter GAP President Louis Clark sent to University of North Carolina President Thomas Ross about the terrible treatment of whistleblower Mary Willingham.

Key QuoteIn a letter to Ross dated May 6, but released on Wednesday, Louis Clark of the Government Accountability Project urged the UNC System president to investigate assertions that Willingham was intimidated and harassed until she left the university. She cited a hostile work environment and irreconcilable differences for her departure from UNC Chapel Hill after meeting with Chancellor Carol Folt.

“Allowing her to withdraw from the school, sans any attempt by UNC-CH superiors to entice her to remain in her position, makes it abundantly clear that whistleblowers are not welcome at UNC,” Clark wrote. “The chilling effect of UNC’s hostile behavior toward Willingham will last for years and hinder the institution’s ability to root out future wrongdoing and take corrective action.”

Related ArticleAssociated Press


Dylan Blaylock is Communications Director of the Government Accountability Project, the nation’s leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.