Snowden: NSA snoops shared intercepted sextings

Snowden: NSA snoops shared intercepted sextings

Snowden: NSA snoops shared intercepted sextings

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by John Bacon, USA TODAY

WHAS11.com

Posted on July 21, 2014 at 12:27 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 21 at 12:27 PM

(USA TODAY) -- Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden says the analysts who monitored the texts and e-mails of millions of Americans would sometimes share intercepted nude photos and sex texts with colleagues.

Snowden, in a lengthy interview with The Guardian published this weekend, said he and his colleagues sometimes doubted the ethics of what they were doing.

"Many of the people searching through the haystacks (of information) were young, enlisted guys, 18 to 22 years old," Snowden told the publication. "In the course of their daily work, they stumble across something that is completely unrelated in any sort of necessary sense – for example, an intimate nude photo of someone in a sexually compromising situation. But they're extremely attractive. So what do they do?

"They turn around in their chair and they show a co-worker. And their co-worker says, 'Oh, hey, that's great. Send that to Bill down the way,' and then Bill sends it to George, George sends it to Tom, and sooner or later this person's whole life has been seen by all of these other people."

Snowden told the Guardian that the analysts were comfortable sharing the information because they worked in small offices where everyone knew everyone else. "It's never reported, because the auditing of these systems is incredibly weak," he said. The proof of that, Snowden said, was his own situation.

"A 29-year-old walked in and out of the NSA with all of their private records," Snowden said. "What does that say about their auditing? They didn't even know."

But Snowden defended his colleagues, saying they were normal people, not "moustache-twirling villains." Those who objected to the NSA's snooping would not complain because they saw what previous whistle-blowers had to live with — "pulled out of the shower at gunpoint, naked, in front of their families."

"We all have mortgages," Snowden said. "We all have families."

Snowden, now 31, was a contractor for Booz Allen Hamilton when he leaked details of U.S. surveillance programs to The Guardian and The Washington Post. The first reports were published in June 2013, setting off an immediate global firestorm. Snowden, who was in hiding in Hong Kong at the time, fled to Moscow.

The Guardian and Post won the Pulitzer prize for public service for their coverage of Snowden. President Obama promised to scale back surveillance of American citizens. Last week, Germany ordered the CIA station chief out of the country.

Snowden has expressed interest in returning to the United States, but says he fears an unjust trial on charges of espionage and theft of government property could result in a lengthy prison sentence.
 

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