29 year old defense contractor and ex CIA employee Edward Snowden has revealed himself to be the source
for last week's flurry of NSA surveillance-related leaks. Snowden, who worked for defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, was so disgusted by the surveillance system he saw the NSA building he states he had to act, so he copied the documents when working at an NSA office in Hawaii. With his decision, Snowden says he was throwing away a rather comfortable life on Hawaii that included a $200,000 annual salary.
"I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions," Snowden stated in a note accompanying the documents he sent to the Guardian
. "I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant."
Snowden took a flight to Hong Kong back on May 20, and says he has essentially been hiding in a hotel room ever since. Snowden chose Hong Kong because "they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent", and seems to hope the Chinese government will be willing to stand up to the United States when they come calling. Snowden might want to familiarize himself with guys like Ai WeiWei
if he really believes in China's "commitment to free speech."
The decision to flee to China creates some interesting tension given the United States' frequent and occasionally hypocritical criticism of Chinese censorship and online monitoring. Update
: The Guardian
has a 12 minute video interview
with Snowden that's well worth your time. In it, he makes some additional amazing claims about the ease with which the NSA can monitor effectively anyone, anywhere. He also offers a message for those "if you haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about" types we're all familiar with:
"Because even if you're not doing anything wrong, you're being watched and recorded. And the storage capability of these systems increases every year consistently by orders of magnitude to where it's getting to the point where you don't have to have done anything wrong, you simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody, even by a wrong call. And then they can use the system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you've ever made. Every friend you've ever discussed something with. And attack you on that basis, to derive suspicion from an innocent life, and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer."