Whistleblower Edward Snowden answers questions in live Q&A session

By on June 17, 2013, 3:30 PM

Whistleblower Edward Snowden, famous for leaking information about the U.S. government's PRISM internet surveillance program, sat down with The Guardian and its readers to do a live online question and answer session this weekend.

On why he chose to hide out in Hong Kong, Snowden said he chose a country whose government could withstand U.S. diplomatic pressure. He denied giving Hong Kong any information about hacking Chinese research facilities, and dismissed the accusations as a smear by the U.S., saying that U.S. officials claim that leaks help terrorists every time something like this happens.

“The US Government, just as they did with other whistleblowers, immediately and predictably destroyed any possibility of a fair trial at home, openly declaring me guilty of treason and that the disclosure of secret, criminal, and even unconstitutional acts is an unforgivable crime. That's not justice, and it would be foolish to volunteer yourself to it if you can do more good outside of prison than in it,” wrote Snowden.

Snowden also reaffirmed his claim that NSA analysts have “direct access” to databases containing customer communication and data, adding that any restrictions against access are policy based, and not enforced by any technical limitation. This means that an analyst is responsible for making an access decision based on policy alone, and Snowden says that oversight is inadequate. “Audits are cursory, incomplete, and easily fooled by fake justifications. For at least GCHQ, the number of audited queries is only 5% of those performed,” said Snowden.

Furthermore, Snowden clarified what he meant when he said the NSA had the contents of digital communications. He says, for instance, if the NSA is targeting a specific email address, and that address sends an email to you, an NSA analyst gets all data associated with the message. “IPs, raw data, content, headers, attachments, everything. And it gets saved for a very long time - and can be extended further with waivers rather than warrants.”

Finally, Snowden encouraged other people in a position to leak classified information that could improve public understanding of U.S intelligence and its effect on civil liberties, saying that “This country is worth dying for.”




User Comments: 22

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1 person liked this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Whistleblower Edward Snowden
The more I read about this man from The Guardian, the more I want to shake his hand.

1 person liked this | dms96960 said:

Whistleblower Edward Snowden
The more I read about this man from The Guardian, the more I want to shake his hand.

+1

1 person liked this | Guest said:

I wonder if he has it all worked out or is just improvising.

--- I'd ask him the following question: how could you proof that you're not a double-agent ? :)

2 people like this |
Staff
Jesse Jesse said:

I'd ask him the following question: how could you proof that you're not a double-agent ?

He was asked something similar: "Edward, there is rampant speculation, outpacing facts, that you have or will provide classified US information to the Chinese or other governments in exchange for asylum. Have/will you?"

Answer: "This is a predictable smear that I anticipated before going public, as the US media has a knee-jerk "RED CHINA!" reaction to anything involving HK or the PRC, and is intended to distract from the issue of US government misconduct. Ask yourself: if I were a Chinese spy, why wouldn't I have flown directly into Beijing? I could be living in a palace petting a phoenix by now."

1 person liked this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I'd ask him the following question: how could you prove that you're not a double-agent ?
The fact that he is a whistleblower is proof enough!

Whistleblowing is out of character for acting double-agents. No wait, maybe, I've seen to many movies and he really does have a good reason for blowing his cover.

3 people like this | psycros psycros said:

LOL, double agent?

I wonder if he has it all worked out or is just improvising.

--- I'd ask him the following question: how could you proof that you're not a double-agent ?

He's far more valuable as a "whistleblower" than as a double agent. China knows full well the US is using whatever means it can to not only defend against non-stop cyber-attacks from the PRC but to counter-attack as well. The Chinese military has thoroughly infiltrated sensitive US computer systems thanks to lax security. Most of our current production designs have already been stolen. As for consumer tech, that requires no effort at all when western companies willingly hand their IP over to Chinese manufacturers. Snowden and those like him represent public relations victories for Beijing..and the more this guy talks, the more convinced I am that it was all planned. The really sad part about this whole fiasco is that it will lead to *less* transparency in US government, not more. They will become even more secretive and more selective about who they trust. Its like we're on a road with no turns leading inexorably to an Orwellian police state. The only way to stop it is if free people in ALL nations rise up and reject totalitarianism, oligarchy, theocracy and other repressive systems of control. Western democracies aren't perfect but if the whole world had representative governments and true freedom of speech, religion and other civil liberties, war would be almost non-existent. No sane human being wants to start a war unless its the absolute last resort. Unfortunately, war represents the biggest opportunity in bad economic times so the banksters at the top have no interest in seeing it slack off. I'm not saying their *promoting* conflict but they don't seem to have much interest in preventing it - only profiting from it.

lchu12 lchu12 said:

I'd ask him the following question: how could you proof that you're not a double-agent ?

He was asked something similar: "Edward, there is rampant speculation, outpacing facts, that you have or will provide classified US information to the Chinese or other governments in exchange for asylum. Have/will you?"

Answer: "This is a predictable smear that I anticipated before going public, as the US media has a knee-jerk "RED CHINA!" reaction to anything involving HK or the PRC, and is intended to distract from the issue of US government misconduct. Ask yourself: if I were a Chinese spy, why wouldn't I have flown directly into Beijing? I could be living in a palace petting a phoenix by now."

The reason probably is because in Hong Kong they can still speak English there and what better place in China to let a foreigner run his mouth off? So the better question is, if I weren't a Chinese spy, why would I fly directly to Beijing? =)

MilwaukeeMike said:

This guy isn't smart enough to be a double agent. He's a high school dropout who, according to the Wall Street Journal, said he did what he did because of Obama's failed promises. If he really believed the president (any president) was going to deliver everything he promised he's a fool. The last reason we know he's a ***** is just the fact he went public with everything.

Think about what he knows and more importantly what he DOESN'T know... he knows all about the surveillance, but he doesn't know if it does any good, he doesn't know who was caught, who's lives were saved (if any) or any of that. That tells us in his mind the end justified the means, even though he didn't know the whole picture. He only knew his half of it, and a good test of whether someone is a fool is if they are completely sure of themselves being right even when it's known they don't have all the information.

Because he blew the doors off this thing, we know he is absolutely SURE that what he did was the right thing to do. No smart person is ever that sure of themselves when they only know half the story.

2 people like this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

@MilwaukeeMike

I'm glad you are qualified to pass judgment on someone who's goal was to inform the general public. His defense in why he did so is irrelevant. The information he forwarded is nothing we shouldn't have known all along. I'm appalled at the fact you don't care what our government does behind closed doors.

2 people like this | Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

I'm not an American but from what I've read in the news I feel I'd like to tip my hat to him. Governments are famous for being no better than the people they like to call unscrupulous criminals. They just have the law on their side.

MilwaukeeMike said:

@MilwaukeeMike

I'm glad you are qualified to pass judgment on someone who's goal was to inform the general public. His defense in why he did so is irrelevant. The information he forwarded is nothing we shouldn't have known all along. I'm appalled at the fact you don't care what our government does behind closed doors.

Everyone else is passing judgement, but I'm less qualified because I didn't say something nice?

How did you go from me saying 'he's not very smart' to 'I don't care what the govt does behind closed doors' Is that some sort of transitive property of logic? Of course I care about what the govt does... I've probably said in a few comments on this site how dangerous this snooping is when coupled with deception we've seen in the IRS and James Rosen scandal. The govt has proven they'll use personal info and snooping to oppose their political opponents. We had a scandal like that once in American history, it was called Watergate.

And speaking of passing judgement... Snowden probably didn't care why, maybe in his mind it didn't matter. The fact that the govt was spying on us is so bad that perhaps there is no benefit big enough to justify it. But who is HE to make that call for the entire country?

What if the situation were reversed? What if some genius figured out how to spy on the nations phone calls and felt that he could fight terrorism with the technology. In his mind fighting terrorism was such a great and noble cause that any invasion of our privacy would be justified. Would you want to shake his hand?

Don't get me wrong... I'm glad he did what he did. But I still don't think he's very bright. I've said before, he should have at least TRIED to do this anonymously, but I don't think he ever sat down and thought about the consequences. You realize he could have SOLD this story and made a ton of money, been a protected source, and not given up his life?

1 person liked this | Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

@MilwaukeeMike, There are a lot of people who dropped out of high school that are much smarter than you or I. Edward Snowden is one of them.

2 people like this | Guest said:

"You realize he could have SOLD this story and made a ton of money, been a protected source, and not given up his life?"

The dumbest, most ignorant thing I've read in a long time.

1 person liked this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

"You realize he could have SOLD this story and made a ton of money, been a protected source, and not given up his life?"

The dumbest, most ignorant thing I've read in a long time.

LOL

Some people find the whole concept of hiding anonymously, highly cowardly and revolting. If there is anything worth doing that can't personally be stood behind, then is it really worth doing?

The hacker group Anonymous wishes they were a fraction of the man/woman Edward Snowden is. Edward Snowden has proven he has morals and has wagered his life (both literally and figuratively) to prove he has them. Now if only everyone else would step forward and stop being so cowardly. After all how can this country be ruled by its people if they are cowards?

MilwaukeeMike said:

@MilwaukeeMike, There are a lot of people who dropped out of high school that are much smarter than you or I. Edward Snowden is one of them.

What did he do that was smart? Brave, yes. He's got bigger balls than any 3 of us. But smart? Taking on the US Federal Govt is smart?! We're not talking Kim Dotcom legal grey area here, we're talking straight up no-doubt, against-the-law crimes. We must have different ideas of what makes someone smart. It's a subjective thing to be sure, so I'm not looking to argue about test scores or how much money someone made, but I think smart is pulling off the stunt and NOT giving yourself up or getting caught.

Maybe I watch too much TV, but picture this for a second. Would it surprise you if somewhere there's some rich senator who found Snowden and sort of steered him in this direction? Some one behind the scenes who worked with him and helped him to expose this PRISM system and hurt Obama in the process. It doesn't sound crazy to me, although the story of the 'little guy' who exposed the govt because Obama didn't shut down Gitmo makes for a better movie.

A few posts ago I said he wasn't too bright because of how sure he was of everything. So by the same token, I can't be sure he's not a really smart guy. I just haven't seen it. To me, he's just Medea Benjamin with security clearance. To me being smart means being able to put yourself in someone else's shoes and see things from many different angles. Like a judge would for example. I don't see that in Snowden.

@cliffordcooley Yeah, Anonymous hides, and they continue to fight for their cause. Just like the smart terrorists find some other chump to strap the bomb to themselves. Is it that crazy to picture Snowden as the chump and not the mastermind? Nobody here will even entertain that possibility. Why, because it doesn't fit with how they want the story to play out?

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Yeah, Anonymous hides, and they continue to fight for their cause.
The very same way people come here to TechSpot, fight for their cause as guest. It gives them exactly no credibility, and here you are trying to strip Snowden of what little credibility he has.

Don't you think the government has done that just fine without your help? Wait I think it's more likely, you actually bought into their line of BS. BS which has absolutely nothing to do with the Information that was released. Instead it was more along the lines of discrediting him for releasing the information. Information that neither helps or harms the security of our nation, but yet reveals how personal security has been abused.

MilwaukeeMike said:

The very same way people come here to TechSpot, fight for their cause as guest. It gives them exactly no credibility, and here you are trying to strip Snowden of what little credibility he has.

Don't you think the government has done that just fine without your help? Wait I think it's more likely, you actually bought into their line of BS. BS which has absolutely nothing to do with the Information that was released. Instead it was more along the lines of discrediting him for releasing the information. Information that neither helps or harms the security of our nation, but yet reveals how personal security has been abused.

You think I'm against him, and I'm not (yet). I'm asking you to think about what he did and if you think it's 'smart'. Not 'right' or 'brave' just smart. That's how this started.

His credibility will be measured by the truthfulness of his evidence, not whether he was working alone or not. I'm not trying to call him a fool so I can then say it's ok for the govt to spy on us. I'm calling him a fool because I don't think he understands what he did. And neither do we. We don't know how may terrorist plots were foiled, if any. You asked for proof a couple days ago and I linked some stories. Go look at the front page of Google news, right now. Now they're saying over 50 terror plots were prevented with this program. Is that Obama's lapdog media on damage control, yeah, maybe, but the story is on Fox too.

Since this whole thing broke we've been spouting off about 'Don't blindly follow the govt, look what they're doing. Wake up people!' Well.. why are we now blindly assuming the govt is in the wrong? Everyone is so bent on taking sides and making one side 'good' and the other 'evil' this isn't Star Wars where Ed Snowden is Luke against the Empire. There's a lot of grey area... why doesn't anyone want to even consider that it exists?

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Well.. why are we now blindly assuming the govt is in the wrong?
I'm not all of a sudden doing so now. I've always been blindly assuming the government is wrong. For one reason only, I don't know what the hell they do behind closed doors. This leads me to think they don't want us knowing or else we would stop them.

1 person liked this | Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Well.. why are we now blindly assuming the govt is in the wrong?

Maybe it's because the government is effing wrong. You don't need to be able to see to know that.

MilwaukeeMike said:

Maybe it's because the government is effing wrong. You don't need to be able to see to know that.

Yes, we established that a few news stories ago. In this story we were discussing whether Snowden was a bright guy or not, but since I said he wasn't you guys assumed I meant that he was in the wrong. Now that we've got the 'proof' cliff was looking for a couple days ago we're onto the game of only quoting single lines and conveniently ignoring any evidence or ideas contrary to what we want to believe. It is a good way to control a discussion I guess.

I'm not all of a sudden doing so now. I've always been blindly assuming the government is wrong. For one reason only, I don't know what the hell they do behind closed doors. This leads me to think they don't want us knowing or else we would stop them.

Yeah, but the govt has two parties who are just about always taking opposite points of view. How can they both be wrong on everything at the same time?

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

@MilwaukeeMike ,Please have a good day. I'm done bickering with you, it's getting nowhere.

Guest said:

Why can't American people have a referendum on the issue of eavesdropping on everything that moves and maybe take on an issue of having a more transparent gov ?

...it looks like lots of you guys only see black and white but aren't there more colors ?

ps. Snowden's father said that he wasn't a high school drop-out, so I guess he might know something about it.

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