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Edward Snowden Declares Mission Accomplished, Records Christmas Message: VIDEO


BY Daniel DeFraia / GlobalPost

Six months after he blew the whistle on the US National Security Agency's surveillance around the world, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden believes his actions have been validated, and that, at least personally, his mission is accomplished.

In his first in-person interview since arriving in Russia, where he was granted temporary asylum, an apparently satisfied Snowden sat down with The Washington Post for a lengthy discussion.

“For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished,” he told The Post.

“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.”

In the wake of 9/11, the NSA's capability increased dramatically, in part due to the passage of the Patriot Act.

“All I wanted was for the public to be able to have a say in how they are governed,” Snowden said. “That is a milestone we left a long time ago. Right now, all we are looking at are stretch goals.”

NsaThe so-called NSA revelations, which began when Snowden passed on secret NSA documents to journalist Glenn Greenwald and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, have reverberated across the world through many international newspapers and diplomatic channels.

The leaders of Brazil and Germany — both of whom were allegedly monitored by the NSA —  have voiced their strong disapproval of the scope of the agency's surveillance. In addition, giant technology companies such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have taken steps to assure their customers that their data is safeguarded against bulk data collection.

Earlier this month, a US federal judge ruled that the NSA's mass collection of telephone data was likely unconstitutional, calling it "almost Orwellian."

A day later, a panel appointed by President Obama made 46 recommendations to limit the scope of the NSA's surveillance and data collection.

The 5-person panel, which included a former deputy director of the CIA and a counter-terrorism advisor, concluded "the government should not be permitted to collect and store mass, undigested, non-public personal information."

Obama is expected to make a "definitive statement" about the panel's recommendations in January. He indicated some things may change:

“In light of the disclosures that have taken place it is clear that whatever benefits the configuration of this particular program may have may be outweighed by the concerns people have on its potential abuse,” Obama told reporters on Friday. “And if that’s the case there may be another way of skinning the cat."

As for Snowden, he says he's still working for the NSA, at least in an unofficial capacity:

"I am not trying to bring down the NSA, I am working to improve the NSA," he said. "I am still working for the NSA right now. They are the only ones who don't realize it."

"The system failed comprehensively," he added, "and each level of oversight, each level of responsibility that should have addressed this, abdicated their responsibility."

Snowden told The Post that he wasn't sure how the public would react. He didn't know if people would agree with his actions or share his views.

"You recognize that you're going in blind... But when you weigh that against the alternative, which is not to act, you realize that some analysis is better than no analysis."

Snowden also recorded a video Christmas message on Tuesday.

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. Everyone has their mind already made up about him. Mine is that what he did was a crime. He took an oath. It was not up to him to decide to release classified information and he is a traitor. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.

    Posted by: Andrew | Dec 26, 2013 2:44:23 PM

  2. So over him. He's no hero.

    Posted by: Reality | Dec 26, 2013 2:48:48 PM

  3. @Andrew, your argument is the same one that many Nazi's used to defend their actions.

    Posted by: Voet | Dec 26, 2013 2:56:54 PM

  4. Rot in hell, traitor!!!

    Posted by: Tim | Dec 26, 2013 3:02:16 PM

  5. What hypocrite.

    His big thing is to "expose" government corruption, yet he's totally fine with seeking asylum in some of the most corrupt countries in the world!!


    Posted by: jazzy | Dec 26, 2013 3:05:11 PM

  6. He's a national hero.

    Posted by: MaryM | Dec 26, 2013 3:11:52 PM

  7. Wuf, goodwin's already in here.

    Snowden, you still have a ton of work to do so resting on your laurels is the wrong thing to do. Being the hero always requires work, you don't get to quit.

    Posted by: Fenrox | Dec 26, 2013 3:17:40 PM

  8. He's a great man.

    While it's plainly unconstitutional, I have a hard time faulting the NSA for vacuuming up everything, given that Facebook and Google are already doing similar things, on a somewhat smaller scale.

    The problem is that users need to change our behavior. We need to favor software versus services, open-source versus closed, and distributed versus centralized.

    There will always be spying, but it shouldn't be a bulk operation.

    Posted by: Randy | Dec 26, 2013 4:25:14 PM

  9. Snowden does not realise that whether gay or black, there are people like Andrew and Tim; who do not care or want to know what the government gets up to because they don't care.

    Snowden people don't want choices, they want to be told what to do. The end.

    Posted by: Rowan | Dec 26, 2013 4:45:59 PM

  10. Edward Snowden's mission is hardly accomplished yet. When terrorists are able to use the information he has revealed about the operation of Western intelligence services to successfully avoid detection and launch an attack in which innocent Westerners die, then, his mission will be accomplished.

    Posted by: RonCharles | Dec 26, 2013 6:00:40 PM

  11. "I already won." says Snowden. If hiding from the rest of the world in barbaric Russia, having a warrant out for your arrest, and looking think and haggard is the winner, I sure as hell would hate to see the loser!

    Posted by: David From Canada | Dec 26, 2013 6:13:21 PM

  12. What a dirtbag.

    Posted by: Rotundra | Dec 26, 2013 7:31:39 PM

  13. smarmy. that's the vibe i get from him.

    Posted by: Jason | Dec 26, 2013 9:57:56 PM

  14. The guy really needs to get over himself. I thought only the Queen and the Pope did Christmas messages.

    Posted by: Liberal Martin | Dec 26, 2013 10:28:18 PM

  15. You basically told us something everyone already knew, changed nothing, ran like a b*tch (even Chelsea Manning stayed took and took her punishment), and now live in a country that makes the NSA's surveillance look like amateurs. Oh yeah, buddy - a winnar is you!

    Posted by: FuryOfFirestorm | Dec 27, 2013 2:05:45 AM

  16. That he has opened up a national debate about the limits of data mining - and that a court has validated his findings - is reason enough to view Snowden as a patriot, not a traitor. ( I just noticed the "patriot" is almost an anagram of "traitor.")

    Posted by: Gr8guyca | Dec 27, 2013 5:03:26 AM

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