recommended reading

Edward Snowden: I Had More Access Than Almost Any Other Official in the Intelligence Community

Globo.com

Almost a year after Edward Snowden revealed himself as the man who blew the whistle on the National Security Agency, some people are still wondering how he had access to so many classified intelligence documents.

After all, Snowden was young. He was just a contractor. "How did a 29-year-old have access to all those classified documents?" asked Sonia Brindi of the Portuguese television network Globo during a lengthy new interview with Snowden in Moscow. (Watch it in full here). "How did you access them?"

The public's bewilderment is misplaced, Snowden replied. "There's sort of been a misinformation occurring in the U.S. media, that was then propagated by the international media, which was that I was some low-level employee, I didn't really have any understanding of these materials," he said. "I had functioning at a very senior level. I've written policies on behalf of the United States. I had been in meetings with the very top technical officials on the NSA and the CIA."

Snowden had more responsibility at the NSA than people may think, he said. "I was what's called a systems administrator or a superuser, which means that I had more access than almost any other official in the intelligence community," he said. "Because even the director of the National Security Agency or the Central Intelligence Agency or any of these things, when they want to see some documents, when they want to understand some program, they have to ask someone: 'Show me this, tell me about this, brief this for me.' "

And that someone was Snowden. "As a systems administrator, you are the person who can see all of that, because you are the one who controls all of the information."

Snowden's latest interview comes two days before the one-year anniversary of the first NSAleak, which showed that the agency collects phone records of millions of Verizon customers every day. Back then, Snowden told Globo he wanted to stay out of the spotlight. Now, things are different. "I'm confident that today, now nearly a year on from the initial revelations, I can talk about things. I can talk about how I feel and it's not going to take away from the debate."

Returning to the U.S., however, is still not an option. "I would love to face court in the U.S.," he said—but only if reforms are made to the Espionage Act, the legislation under which Snowden has been charged with three felonies for leaking information.

Threatwatch Alert

User accounts compromised

1 Million Online Gaming Accounts Exposed

See threatwatch report

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.