On December 23, he told the Washington Post:
“For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished. I already won.”
“As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself.”
“All I wanted was for the public to be able to have a say in how they are governed. That is a milestone we left a long time ago. Right now, all we are looking at are stretch goals.”
WaPo called Snowden “an orderly thinker, with an engineer’s approach to problem-solving.”
“He had come to believe that a dangerous machine of mass surveillance was growing unchecked.”
Woefully inadequate congressional oversight and rubber-stamp FISA court rulings reflect a “graveyard of judgment,” he said.
NSA’s business is “information dominance,” he stressed. He didn’t know if others would share his views.
“But when you weigh that against the alternative, which is not to act, you realize that some analysis is better than” none, he said.
“Because even if your analysis proves to be wrong, the marketplace of ideas will bear that out.”
“If you look at it from an engineering perspective, an iterative perspective, it’s clear that you have to try something rather than do nothing.”
He succeeded beyond anything he could have imagined. He captured world attention. Millions consider him heroic. There’s no turning back now.
On June 22, a Justice Department criminal complaint charged him with espionage and felony theft of government property.
He signed NSA’s Standard Form 312. He called it a civil contract. “The oath of allegiance is not an oath of secrecy,” he said.
“This is an oath to the Constitution. That is the oath that I kept that (NSA chief) Keith Alexander and (Director of National Intelligence) James Clapper did not.”
He’s irresponsibly accused of disloyalty. “I am not trying to bring down the NSA,” he stressed.
“I am working to improve” it. “I am still working for the NSA right now. They are the only ones who don’t realize it.”
“The system failed comprehensively, and each level of oversight, each level of responsibility that should have addressed this, abdicated their responsibility,” he said.
Some of his NSA colleagues feel the same way. They were “astonished to learn we are collecting more in the United States on Americans than we are on Russians in Russia.”
“What the government wants is something they never had before,” he stressed.
“They want total awareness. The question is, is that something we should be allowing?” Does Washington have the right to invade everyone’s privacy?
Should NSA be permitted to eliminate private spaces altogether? Do rule of law principles no longer matter? Is freedom a convenient illusion?
Snowden dismisses disloyalty accusations. He didn’t pass on state secrets to Russia and China, he stressed.
“If I defected at all,” he said, “I defected from the government to the public.”
It bears repeating. Millions call him a hero. He connected important dots. He’s the gift that keeps on giving.
On December 20, Der Spiegel reported more. It headlined “How GCHQ Monitors Germany, Israel and the EU,” saying:
Snowden documents “show that Britain’s GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) signals intelligence has targeted European, German and Israeli politicians for surveillance.”
Suspicions surfaced last summer, said Der Spiegel. Snowden documents confirm them. They provide “concrete evidence.”
GCHQ and NSA operate jointly. They target UNICEF and other UN organizations. Medecins du Monde is a French organization. It sends doctors and other medical professions to conflict zones.
It’s on NSA/GCHQ’s target list. So is Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) head Kadre Desire Ouedraogo. Communications with his colleagues are monitored.
Targeting Angela Merkel, Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff, and other world leaders was disclosed earlier. New revelations show Israeli officials are watched.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was targeted. So was former Defense Secretary Ehud Barak and his chief of staff, Yoni Koren. More on surveilling Israel below.
European Commission Vice President Joaquin Almunia’s name showed up on NSA/GCHQ’s target list.
Last October, UK Prime Minister David Cameron endorsed an EU statement. It condemned NSA/GCHQ spying on world leaders.
He did so knowing it was ongoing at the time. He lied claiming opposition. He could stop it through parliamentary action. Legislation could declare it illegal.
Political Britain is in bed with GCHQ the way Washington endorses unconstitutional NSA spying.
Disclosures show both agencies are rogue operations. They go way beyond what’s lawful. They do it with impunity.
Snowden documents provide no insight into why organizations and individuals unrelated to national security are targeted.
He called doing so NSA’s “total awareness” obsession. It wants privacy entirely eliminated. It wants the ability to monitor everyone, everywhere, at all times. It wants no one escaping its dragnet.
US law prohibits economic spying. NSA does it anyway.
Under Britain’s Intelligence and Security Act, GCHQ may work “in the interests of national security, with particular reference to the defence and foreign policies of Her Majesty’s government; in the interests of the economic wellbeing of the United Kingdom; and in support of the prevention and the detection of serious crime.”
Critics raise serious questions. National security is left undefined. So is protecting economic well-being beyond helping UK companies defend themselves against intellectual property theft or cyber-attacks.
Earlier Snowden documents showed NSA and GCHQ conduct industrial espionage. They do so for economic advantage. They do it illegally. They do it anyway. They do it with impunity.
When questioned, both agencies lie. They claim they operate lawfully. Clear evidence proves otherwise.
Documents show NSA/GCHQ spying is remarkably comprehensive. No government or other officials of interest are left behind. Ordinary people are mass surveilled.
According to Der Spiegel:
“In addition to many political and ‘diplomatic targets,’ (target) lists contain African leaders, their family members, ambassadors and businesspeople.”
“They also include representatives of international organizations, such as those of United Nations agencies like the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR).”
“A noticeably large number of diplomatic missions to the United Nations in Geneva are also listed.”
“Even non-governmental organizations like Doctors of the World (Medicins du Monde) appear on the British intelligence agency lists, along with a representative of the Swiss IdeasCentre and others.”
“Individual companies can also be found on the list, especially in the fields of telecommunications and banking.”
“The partly government-owned French defense contractor Thales, along with Paris-based energy giant Total, is also mentioned.”
NSA and GCHQ constantly search for new targets. They want nothing of potential importance escaping their dragnet.
Netanyahu criticized NSA spying on Israel, saying:
“With regard to things published in the past few days, I have asked for an examination of the matter.”
“In the close ties between Israel and the United States, there are certain things friends mustn’t do to each other.” They’re “not acceptable to us.”
Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said he assumes it’s spied on by allies. He stopped short of admitting Israel’s extensive spying operation.
Israeli MK Nachman Shai lied saying:
“Israel is a friendly state to the US.” (It) stopped all espionage” on America 30 years ago.
False! Israel spies aggressively. It does so on all allies. In 2011, former CIA counterintelligence specialist/military intelligence officer Philip Giraldi said Israel steals everything it gets its hands on. It includes military and industrial secrets.
“The reality of Israeli spying is indisputable. (It) always features prominently in annual FBI reports.”
Washington’s Government Accountability Office (GAO) said Israel “conducts the most aggressive espionage operation against the United States of any US ally.”
The Pentagon accused Israel of “actively engag(ing) in military and industrial espionage in the United States.”
“An Israeli citizen working in the US who has access to proprietary information is likely to be a target of such espionage.”
FBI whistleblower John Cole said Justice Department officials ordered dozens of Israeli espionage cases dropped. At issue was political pressure.
Despite longstanding ties, “US national security officials consider Israel to be, at times, a frustrating ally and a genuine counterintelligence threat,” he added.
The CIA considers Israel its main Middle East counterintelligence threat. Its operations are highly sophisticated.
Netanyahu claiming allies don’t spy on us doesn’t wash. Israel violates fundamental rule of law principles. It does so as egregiously as America.
Obama exceeds the worst of his predecessors. So does Netanyahu. Both leaders threaten world peace and security. Lawless spying reflects the tip of their rogue governance.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”