In an extended interview with The Guardian, Edward Snowden revealed that members of the NSA and GCHQ regularly pass around nude photographs and webcam feeds of people who are suspects of any crimes, other than being overly attractive to whichever agent happened to be on the job at the time.
The NSA has already copped to portions of these allegations, admitting that it had problems with agents who had access to Yahoo webcam footage and the archives designed to contain millions of Skype conversations between lovers who showed each other their personal bits at a distance.
“You’ve got young enlisted guys, 18 to 22 years old,” Snowden said. “They’ve suddenly been thrust into a position of extraordinary responsibility where they now have access to all of your private records. In the course of their daily work they stumble across something that is completely unrelated to their work in any sort of necessary sense. For example, an intimate nude photo of someone in a sexually compromising position. But they’re extremely attractive.”
To belabor an already overwrought point: this is what happens when absolute power rules absolutely. For the NSA to assume it can collect all this data and the people responsible for reviewing it wouldn’t abuse that responsibility is not only arrogant, but somehow ignorant all at the same time.
Snowden used a common occurrence of daily life on the floor of the NSA headquarters as an example of just how far out of control the problem has become in such a short amount of time.
“They turn around in their chair and show their co-worker. The co-worker says: ‘Hey that’s great. Send that to Bill down the way.’ And then Bill sends it to George and George sends it to Tom. And sooner or later this person’s whole life has been seen by all of these other people. It’s never reported. Nobody ever knows about it because the auditing of these systems is incredibly weak. The fact that your private images, records of your private lives, records of your intimate moments have been taken from your private communications stream from the intended recipient and given to the government without any specific authorization without any specific need is itself a violation of your rights. Why is that in a government database?”
Snowden’s interview covered around seven hours of material in total, including his desire to return to the US, “even if it means [he] has to come back in chains.” The fugitive whistleblower claims that he has no intention of spending the rest of his life in Russia, and would have “no problem” going to Guantanamo Bay, as long as he was sent there by a jury of his peers first.
“Regardless of what happens, if I end up in chains in Guantanamo, I can live with that,” the 31-year-old former NSA contractor said.
He also took his brief time with the news organization to refute claims that he was actively working with the Russian government as a double spy, vehemently denying any collusion with Putin or his intelligence agencies by calling the whole conspiracy “bulls**t”.
On a less serious note, Snowden claimed that although he was cooped up in his hotel most days, he had kept himself busy with work such as coding new encryption methods for journalists to use to communicate with one another across international borders, as well as seeing the sights around Moscow, albeit with an entourage of security professionals who are sure to check out every public location for potential threats before allowing him in to enjoy all the touristy goodness.