[discuss] [bestbits] Snowden-Interview: Transcript

Lorena Jaume-Palasi lorena at collaboratory.de
Tue Jan 28 13:17:03 UTC 2014

you can also see the whole interview (undubbed) in English here:
Best regards,

2014-01-28 Guru गुरु <Guru at itforchange.net>

>  Specially for those who believe (or rather, who would like others to
> believe) that the status quo is to be preserved...
> Excerpt
> * Mr Snowden did you sleep well the last couple of nights because I was *
> *reading that you asked for a kind of police protection. Are there any *
> *threats? *
> There are significant threats but I sleep very well. There was an
> article that came out in an online outlet called Buzz Feed where they
> interviewed officials from the Pentagon, from the National Security
> Agency and they gave them anonymity to be able to say what they want and
> what they told the reporter was that they wanted to murder me. These
> individuals - and these are acting government officials. They said they
> would be happy, they would love to put a bullet in my head, to poison me
> as I was returning from the grocery store and have me die in the shower
> **But fortunately you are still alive with us.**
> Right but I'm still alive and I don't lose sleep because I've done what
> I feel I needed to do. It was the right thing to do and I'm not going to
> be afraid.
> **Does the NSA spy on Siemens, on Mercedes, on other successful German *
> *companies for example, to prevail, to have the advantage of knowing what *
> *is going on in a scientific and economic world.**
> I don't want to pre-empt the editorial decisions of journalists but what
> I will say is there's no question that the US is engaged in economic
> spying.
> End excerpt
> Gurumurthy Kasinathan
> Director, IT for Change
> In Special Consultative Status with the United Nations ECOSOC
> www.ITforChange.Net
> Source - http://www.ndr.de/ratgeber/netzwelt/snowden277_page-1.html
> Snowden-Interview in English
> - 26.01.2014 23:05 Uhr - Autor/in: Hubert Seipel
> Whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked the documents about US mass
> surveillance. He spoke about his disclosures and his life to NDR
> journalist Seipel in Moscow.
> *"The greatest fear I have", and I quote you, "regarding the disclosures
> is nothing will change." That was one of your greatest concerns at the
> time but in the meantime there is a vivid discussion about the situation
> with the NSA; not only in America but also in Germany and in Brazil and
> President Obama was forced to go public and to justify what the NSA was
> doing on legal grounds.*
> What we saw initially in response to the revelations was sort of a
> circling of the wagons of government around the National Security
> Agency. Instead of circling around the public and protecting their
> rights the political class circled around the security state and
> protected their rights. What's interesting is though that was the
> initially response, since then we've seen a softening. We've seen the
> President acknowledge that when he first said "we've drawn the right
> balance, there are no abuses", we've seen him and his officials admit
> that there have been abuses. There have been thousands of violations of
> the National Security Agency and other agencies and authorities every
> single year.
> **Is the speech of Obama the beginning of a serious regulation?**
> It was clear from the President's speech that he wanted to make minor
> changes to preserve authorities that we don't need. The President
> created a review board from officials that were personal friends, from
> national security insiders, former Deputy of the CIA, people who had
> every incentive to be soft on these programs and to see them in the best
> possible light. But what they found was that these programs have no
> value, they've never stopped a terrorist attack in the United States and
> they have marginal utility at best for other things. The only thing that
> the Section 215 phone metadata program, actually it's a broader metadata
> programme of bulk collection -- bulk collection means mass surveillance
> -- program was in stopping or detecting $ 8.500 wire transfer from a cab
> driver in California and it's this kind of review where insiders go we
> don't need these programs, these programs don't make us safe. They take
> a tremendous amount of resources to run and they offer us no value. They
> go "we can modify these". The National Security agency operates under
> the President's executive authority alone. He can end of modify or
> direct a change of their policies at any time.
> **For the first time President Obama did concede that the NSA collects *
> *and stores trillions of data.**
> Every time you pick up the phone, dial a number, write an email, make a
> purchase, travel on the bus carrying a cell phone, swipe a card
> somewhere, you leave a trace and the government has decided that it's a
> good idea to collect it all, everything, even if you've never been
> suspected of any crime. Traditionally the government would identify a
> suspect, they would go to a judge, they would say we suspect he's
> committed this crime, they would get a warrant and then they would be
> able to use the totality of their powers in pursuit of the
> investigation. Nowadays what we see is they want to apply the totality
> of their powers in advance - prior to an investigation.
> **You started this debate, Edward Snowden is in the meantime a household *
> *name for the whistleblower in the age of the internet. You were working *
> *until last summer for the NSA and during this time you secretly *
> *collected thousands of confidential documents. What was the decisive *
> *moment or was there a long period of time or something happening, why *
> *did you do this?**
> *I would say sort of the breaking point is seeing the Director of *
> *National Intelligence, James Clapper, directly lie under oath to *
> *Congress. There's no saving an intelligence community that believes it *
> *can lie to the public and the legislators who need to be able to trust *
> *it and regulate its actions. Seeing that really meant for me there was *
> *no going back. Beyond that, it was the creeping realisation that no one *
> *else was going to do this. The public had a right to know about these *
> *programs. The public had a right to know that which the government is *
> *doing in its name, and that which the government is doing against the *
> *public, but neither of these things we were allowed to discuss, we were *
> *allowed no, even the wider body of our elected representatives were *
> *prohibited from knowing or discussing these programmes and that's a *
> *dangerous thing. The only review we had was from a secret court, the *
> *FISA Court, which is a sort of rubber stamp authority*
> When you are on the inside and you go into work everyday and you sit
> down at the desk and you realise the power you have  - you can wire tap
> the President of the United States, you can wire tap a Federal Judge and
> if you do it carefully no one will ever know because the only way the
> NSA discovers abuses are from self reporting.
> **We're not talking only of the NSA as far as this is concerned, there is *
> *a multilateral agreement for co-operation among the services and this *
> *alliance of intelligence operations is known as the Five Eyes. What *
> *agencies and countries belong to this alliance and what is its purpose?**
> The Five Eyes alliance is sort of an artifact of the post World War II
> era where the Anglophone countries are the major powers banded together
> to sort of co-operate and share the costs of intelligence gathering
> infrastructure.
> So we have the UK's GCHQ, we have the US NSA, we have Canada's C-Sec, we
> have the Australian Signals Intelligence Directorate and we have New
> Zealand's DSD. What the result of this was over decades and decades what
> sort of a supra-national intelligence organisation that doesn't answer
> to the laws of its own countries.
> **In many countries, as in America too the agencies like the NSA are not *
> *allowed to spy within their own borders on their own people. So the *
> *Brits for example they can spy on everybody but the Brits but the NSA *
> *can conduct surveillance in England so in the very end they could *
> *exchange their data and they would be strictly following the law.**
> If you ask the governments about this directly they would deny it and
> point to policy agreements between the members of the Five Eyes saying
> that they won't spy on each other's citizens but there are a couple of
> key points there. One is that the way they define spying is not the
> collection of data. The GCHQ is collecting an incredible amount of data
> on British Citizens just as the National Security Agency is gathering
> enormous amounts of data on US citizens. What they are saying is that
> they will not then target people within that data. They won't look for
> UK citizens or British citizens. In addition the policy agreements
> between them that say British won't target US citizens, US won't target
> British citizens are not legally binding. The actual memorandums of
> agreement state specifically on that that they are not intended to put
> legal restriction on any government. They are policy agreements that can
> be deviated from or broken at any time. So if they want to on a British
> citizen they can spy on a British citizen and then they can even share
> that data with the British government that is itself forbidden from
> spying on UK citizens. So there is a sort of a trading dynamic there but
> it's not, it's not open, it's more of a nudge and wink and beyond that
> the key is to remember the surveillance and the abuse doesn't occur when
> people look at the data it occurs when people gather the data in the
> first place.
> **How narrow is the co-operation of the German Secret Service BND with *
> *the NSA and with the Five Eyes?**
> I would describe it as intimate. As a matter of fact the first way I
> described it in our written interview was that the German Services and
> the US Services are in bed together. They not only share information,
> the reporting of results from intelligence, but they actually share the
> tools and the infrastructure they work together against joint targets in
> services and there's a lot of danger in this. One of the major
> programmes that faces abuse in the National Security Agency is what's
> called "XKeyscore". It's a front end search engine that allows them to
> look through all of the records they collect worldwide every day.
> **What could you do if you would sit so to speak in their place with this *
> *kind of instrument?**
> You could read anyone's email in the world. Anybody you've got email
> address for, any website you can watch traffic to and from it, any
> computer that an individual sits at you can watch it, any laptop that
> you're tracking you can follow it as it moves from place to place
> throughout the world. It's a one stop shop for access to the NSA's
> information. And what's more you can tag individuals using "XKeyscore".
> Let's say I saw you once and I thought what you were doing was
> interesting or you just have access that's interesting to me, let's say
> you work at a major German corporation and I want access to that
> network, I can track your username on a website on a form somewhere, I
> can track your real name, I can track associations with your friends and
> I can build what's called a fingerprint which is network activity unique
> to you which means anywhere you go in the world anywhere you try to sort
> of hide your online presence hide your identity, the NSA can find you
> and anyone who's allowed to use this or who the NSA shares their
> software with can do the same thing. Germany is one of the countries
> that have access to "XKeyscore".
> **This sounds rather frightening. The question is: does the BND deliver *
> *data of Germans to the NSA?**
> Whether the BND does it directly or knowingly the NSA gets German data.
> Whether it's provided I can't speak to until it's been reported because
> it would be classified and I prefer that journalists make the
> distinctions and the decisions about what is public interest and what
> should be published. However, it's no secret that every country in the
> world has the data of their citizens in the NSA. Millions and millions
> and millions of data connections from Germans going about their daily
> lives, talking on their cell phones, sending SMS messages, visiting
> websites, buying things online, all of this ends up at the NSA and it's
> reasonable to suspect that the BND may be aware of it in some capacity.
> Now whether or not they actively provide the information I should not say.
> **The BND basically argues if we do this, we do this accidentally *
> *actually and our filter didn't work.**
> Right so the kind of things that they're discussing there are two
> things.  They're talking about filtering of ingest which means when the
> NSA puts a secret server in a German telecommunications provider or they
> hack a German router and they divert the traffic in a manner that let's
> them search through things they're saying "if I see what I think is a
> German talking to another German I'll drop it" but how do you know. You
> could say "well, these people are speaking the German language", "this
> IP address seems to be from a German company to another German company",
> but that's not accurate and they wouldn't dump all of that traffic
> because they'll get people who are targetes of interest, who are
> actively in Germany using German communications. So realistically what's
> happening is when they say there's no spying on Germans, they don't mean
> that German data isn't being gathered, they don't mean that records
> aren't being taken or stolen, what they mean is that they're not
> intentionally searching for German citizens. And that's sort of a
> fingers crossed behind the back promise, it's not reliable.
> **What about other European countries like Norway and Sweden for example *
> *because we have a lot of I think under water cables going through the *
> *Baltic Sea.**
> So this is sort of an expansion of the same idea. If the NSA isn't
> collecting information on German citizens in Germany are they as soon as
> it leaves German borders? And the answer is "yes". Any single
> communication that transits the internet, the NSA may intercept at
> multiple points, they might see it in Germany, they might see it in
> Sweden, they might see it in Norway or Finland, they might see it in
> Britain and they might see it in the United States.  Any single one of
> these places that a German communication crosses it'll be ingested and
> added to the database.
> **So let's come to our southern European neighbours then. What about *
> *Italy, what about France, what about Spain?**
> It's the same deal worldwide.
> **Does the NSA spy on Siemens, on Mercedes, on other successful German *
> *companies for example, to prevail, to have the advantage of knowing what *
> *is going on in a scientific and economic world.**
> I don't want to pre-empt the editorial decisions of journalists but what
> I will say is there's no question that the US is engaged in economic
> spying.
> If there's information at Siemens that they think would be beneficial to
> the national interests, not the national security of the United States,
> they'll go after that information and they'll take it.
> **There is this old saying "you do whatever you can do" so the NSA is *
> *doing whatever is technically possible.**
> This is something that the President touched on last year where he said
> that just because we can do something, and this was in relation to
> tapping Angela Merkel's phone, just because we can do something doesn't
> mean that we should, and that's exactly what's happened. The
> technological capabilities that have been provided because of sort of
> weak security standards in internet protocols and cellular
> communications networks have meant that intelligence services can create
> systems that see everything.
> *Nothing annoyed the German government more than the fact that the NSA
> tapped the private phone of the German Chancellor Merkel over the last
> 10 years obviously, suddenly this invisible surveillance was connected
> with a known face and was not connected with a kind of watery shady
> terrorist background: Obama now promised to stop snooping on Merkel
> which raises the question: did the NSA tape already previous governments
> including the previous chancellors and when did they do that and how
> long did they do this for?*
> This is a particularly difficult question for me to answer because
> there's information that I very strongly believe is in the public
> interest. However, as I've said before I prefer for journalists to make
> those decisions in advance, review the material themselves and decide
> whether or not the public value of this information outweighs the sort
> of reputational cost to the officials that ordered the surveillance.
> What I can say is we know Angela Merkel was monitored by the National
> Security Agency. The question is how reasonable is it to assume that she
> is the only German official that was monitored, how reasonable is it to
> believe that she's the only prominent German face who the National
> Security Agency was watching. I would suggest it seems unreasonable that
> if anyone was concerned about the intentions of German leadership that
> they would only watch Merkel and not her aides, not other prominent
> officials, not heads of ministries or even local government officials.
> *How does a young man from Elizabeth City in North Carolina, 30 years
> old, get in such a position in such a sensitive area?*
> That's a very difficult question to answer. In general, I would say it
> highlights the dangers of privatising government functions. I worked
> previously as an actual staff officer, a government employee for the
> Central Intelligence Agency but I've also served much more frequently as
> a contractor in a private capacity. What that means is you have private
> for profit companies doing inherently governmental work like targeted
> espionage, surveillance, compromising foreign systems and anyone who has
> the skills who can convince a private company that they have the
> qualifications to do so will be empowered by the government to do that
> and there's very little oversight, there's very little review.
> *Have you been one of these classical computer kids sitting red eyed
> during the nights in the age of 12, 15 and your father was knocking on
> your door and saying "switch off the light, it's getting late now"? Did
> you get your computer skills from that side or when did you get your
> first computer?*
> Right I definitely have had a ... shall we say a deep informal education
> in computers and electronic technology. They've always been fascinating
> and interesting to me. The characterisation of having your parents
> telling you to go to bed I would say is fair.
> *If one looks to the little public data of your life one discovers that
> you obviously wanted to join in May 2004 the Special Forces to fight in
> Iraq, what did motivate you at the time? You know, Special Forces,
> looking at you in the very moment, means grim fighting and it means
> probably killing and did you ever get to Iraq?*
> No I didn't get to Iraq ... one of the interesting things about the
> Special Forces are that they're not actually intended for direct combat,
> they're what's referred to as a force multiplier. They're inserted
> behind enemy lines, it's a squad that has a number of different
> specialties in it and they teach and enable the local population to
> resist or to support US forces in a way that allows the local population
> a chance to help determine their own destiny and I felt that was an
> inherently noble thing at the time. In hindsight some of the reasons
> that we went into Iraq were not well founded and I think did a
> disservice to everyone involved.
> *What happened to your adventure then? Did you stay long with them or
> what happened to you?*
> No I broke my legs when I was in training and was discharged.
> *So it was a short adventure in other words?*
> It's a short adventure.
> *In 2007 the CIA stationed you with a diplomatic cover in Geneva in
> Switzerland. Why did you join the CIA by the way?*
> I don't think I can actually answer that one on the record.
> *OK if it's what you have been doing there forget it but why did you
> join the CIA?*
> In many ways I think it's a continuation of trying to do everything I
> could to prosecute the public good in the most effective way and it's in
> line with the rest of my government service where I tried to use my
> technical skills in the most difficult positions I could find in the
> world and the CIA offered that.
> *If we go back Special Forces, CIA, NSA, it's not actually in the
> description of a human rights activist or somebody who becomes a
> whistleblower after this. What happens to you?*
> I think it tells a story and that's no matter how deeply an individual
> is embedded in the government, no matter how faithful to the government
> they are, no matter how strongly they believe in the causes of their
> government as I did during the Iraq war, people can learn, people can
> discover the line between appropriate government behaviour and actual
> wrongdoing and I think it became clear to me that that line had been
> crossed.
> *You worked for the NSA through a private contractor with the name Booze
> Allen Hamilton, one of the big ones in the business. What is the
> advantage for the US Government or the CIA to work through a private
> contractor to outsource a central government function?*
> The contracting culture of the national security community in the United
> States is a complex topic. It's driven by a number of interests between
> primarily limiting the number of direct government employees at the same
> time as keeping lobbying groups in Congress typically from very well
> funded businesses such as Booze Allen Hamilton. The problem there is you
> end up in a situation where government policies are being influenced by
> private corporations who have interests that are completely divorced
> from the public good in mind. The result of that is what we saw at Booze
> Allen Hamilton where you have private individuals who have access to
> what the government alleges were millions and millions of records that
> they could walk out the door with at any time with no accountability, no
> oversight, no auditing, the government didn't even know they were gone.
> *At the very end you ended up in Russia. Many of the intelligence
> communities suspect you made a deal, classified material for Asylum here
> in Russia.*
> The Chief of the Task Force investigating me as recently as December
> said that their investigation had turned up no evidence or indications
> at all that I had any outside help or contact or had made a deal of any
> kind to accomplish my mission. I worked alone. I didn't need anybody's
> help, I don't have any ties to foreign governments, I'm not a spy for
> Russia or China or any other country for that matter. If I am a traitor
> who did I betray? I gave all of my information to the American public,
> to American journalists who are reporting on American issues. If they
> see that as treason I think people really need to consider who do they
> think they're working for. The public is supposed to be their boss not
> their enemy. Beyond that as far as my personal safety, I'll never be
> fully safe until these systems have changed.
> *After your revelations none of the European countries really offered
> you asylum. Where did you apply in Europe for asylum?*
> I can't remember the list of countries with any specificity because
> there were many of them but France, Germany were definitely in there as
> was the UK.  A number of European countries, all of whom unfortunately
> felt that doing the right thing was less important than supporting US
> political concerns.
> *One reaction to the NSA snooping is in the very moment that countries
> like Germany are thinking to create national internets an attempt to
> force internet companies to keep their data in their own country. Does
> this work?*
> It's not gonna stop the NSA. Let's put it that way. The NSA goes where
> the data is. If the NSA can pull text messages out of telecommunication
> networks in China, they can probably manage to get facebook messages out
> of Germany. Ultimately the solution to that is not to try to stick
> everything in a walled  garden. Although that does raise the level of
> sophistication and complexity of taking the information. It's also much
> better simply to secure the information internationally against everyone
> rather than playing "let's move the data". Moving the data isn't fixing
> the problem. Securing the data is the problem.
> **President Obama in the very moment obviously doesn't care too much *
> *about the message of the leak. And together with the NSA they do care *
> *very much more about catching the messenger in that context. Obama asked *
> *the Russian president several times to extradite you. But Putin did not. *
> *It looks that you will stay to the rest of your life probably in Russia. *
> *How do you feel about Russia in that context and is there a solution to *
> *this problem.**
> I think it's becoming increasingly clear that these leaks didn't cause
> harm in fact they served the public good. Because of that I think it
> will be very difficult to maintain sort of an ongoing campaign of
> persecution against someone who the public agrees serve the public
> interest.
> **The New York Times wrote a very long comment and demanded clemency for *
> *you. The headline "Edward Snowden Whistleblower" and I quote from that: *
> *"The public learned in great detail how the agency has extended its *
> *mandate and abused its authority." And the New York Times closes: *
> *"President Obama should tell his aides to begin finding a way to end Mr *
> *Snowden's vilification and give him an incentive to return home." Did *
> *you get a call in between from the White House?**
> I've never received a call from the White House and I am not waiting by
> the phone. But I would welcome the opportunity to talk about how we can
> bring this to a conclusion that serves the interest of all parties. I
> think it's clear that there are times where what is lawful is distinct
> from what is rightful. There are times throughout history and it doesn't
> take long for either an American or a German to think about times in the
> history of their country where the law provided the government to do
> things which were not right.
> **President Obama obviously is in the very moment not quite convinced of *
> *that because he said to you are charged with three felonies and I quote: *
> *"If you Edward Snowden believe in what you did you should go back to *
> *America appear before the court with a lawyer and make your case." Is *
> *this the solution?**
> It's interesting because he mentions three felonies. What he doesn't say
> is that the crimes that he has charged me with are crimes that don't
> allow me to make my case. They don't allow me to defend myself in an
> open court to the public and convince a jury that what I did was to
> their benefit. The espionage act was never intended, it's from 1918,  it
> was never intended to prosecute journalistic sources, people who are
> informing the newspapers about information that's of public interest. It
> was intended for people who are selling documents in secret to foreign
> governments who are bombing bridges who are sabotaging communications
> not people who are serving the public good. So it's I would say
> illustrative that the president would choose to say someone should face
> the music when he knows the music is a show trial.
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Lorena Jaume-Palasí, M.A. ∙ Coordinator of the Global Internet Governance
(GIG) Ohu
 Internet & Gesellschaft Co:llaboratory e.V.
www.collaboratory.de ∙
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