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

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

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

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    View
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    View
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    View
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    View
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    View
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    View

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