Pakistani Asset Helped in Hunt for Bin Laden, Sources Say

By MATTHEW COLERICHARD ESPOSITOROBERT WINDREM and ANDREA MITCHELL

Editor's Note: This story has been updated since it was first published. The original version of this story said that a Pakistani asset told the U.S. where bin Laden was hiding. Sources say that while the asset provided information vital to the hunt for bin Laden, he was not the source of his whereabouts.

Intelligence sources tell NBC News that in the year before the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden, a retired Pakistani military intelligence officer helped the CIA track him down.

While the Pakistani intelligence asset provided vital information in the hunt for bin Laden, he did not provide the location of the al Qaeda leader's Abottabad, Pakistan compound, sources said.

Three sources also said that some officials in the Pakistani government knew where bin Laden was hiding all along.

The asset was evacuated from Pakistan and paid reward money by the CIA, sources said. U.S. officials took pains to note he was one of many sources who provided help along the way, and said that the al Qaeda courier who unwittingly led them to bin Laden, Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, remained the linchpin of the operation.

The U.S. government has always characterized the heroic raid by Seal Team Six that killed bin Laden as a unilateral U.S. operation, and has maintained that the CIA found him by tracking the courier.

The new revelations do not cast doubt on the overall narrative that the White House began circulating within hours of the May 2011 operation. The official story about how bin Laden was found was constructed in a way that protected the identity and existence of the asset, who also knew who inside the Pakistani government was aware of the Pakistani intelligence agency's operation to hide bin Laden, according to a special operations officer with prior knowledge of the bin Laden mission.

While NBC News has long been pursuing leads about a "walk in" intelligence asset and about what Pakistani intelligence knew, both assertions were made public in a London Review of Books article by investigative reporter Seymour Hersh. Hersh's story, published over the weekend, raises numerous questions about the White House account of the SEAL operation. It has been strongly disputed both on and off the record by the Obama administration and current and former national security officials.

The Hersh story says that a "walk in" asset, a former Pakistani military intelligence official, contacted U.S. authorities in 2010 and told them bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad; that elements of ISI, the Pakistani intelligence agency, knew of bin Laden's whereabouts; and that the U.S. told the Pakistanis about the bin Laden raid before it launched. The U.S. has maintained that it did not tell the Pakistani government about the raid before it launched.

On Monday, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren called Hersh's piece "largely a fabrication" and said there were "too many inaccuracies" to detail each one. Col Warren said the raid to kill bin Laden was a "unilateral action." Both the National Security Council and the Pentagon denied that Pakistan had played any role in the raid.

"The notion that the operation that killed Osama Bin Laden was anything but a unilateral U.S. mission is patently false," said NSC spokesman Ned Price. "As we said at the time, knowledge of this operation was confined to a very small circle of senior U.S. officials."

Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, dismissed Hersh's account. "I simply have never heard of anything like this and I've been briefed several times," said McCain, R.-Arizona. "This was a great success on the part of the administration and something that we all admire the president's decision to do. "

The NBC News sources who confirm that a former Pakistani military intelligence official became a U.S. intelligence asset include a special operations officer and a CIA officer who had served in Pakistan. These two sources and a third source, a very senior former U.S. intelligence official, also say that elements of the ISI were aware of bin Laden's presence in Abbottabad. The former official was emphatic about the ISI's awareness, saying twice, "They knew."

Another top official acknowledged to NBC News that the U.S. government had long harbored "deep suspicions" that ISI and al Qaeda were "cooperating." And a book by former acting CIA director Mike Morrell that will be published tomorrow says that U.S. officials could not dismiss the possibility of such cooperation.

None of the sources characterized how high up in ISI the knowledge might have gone. Said one former senior official, "We were suspicious that someone inside ISI … knew where bin Laden was, but we did not have intelligence about specific individuals having specific knowledge."

Multiple U.S. officials, however, denied or cast doubt on the assertion that the U.S. told the Pakistanis about the bin Laden raid ahead of time.

Source: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/pakistan...

NSA Officials: Snowden Emailed With Question, Not Concern

The Obama administration on Thursday released an email sent by Edward Snowden to the NSA's general counsel last year - an important document in the debate over whether the leaker of classified government documents attempted to raise questions "through channels" about the agency's domestic surveillance programs.

The email is the lone document found so far, according to U.S. officials, that could be seen as offering support for Snowden's claim that he attempted to alert officials at the NSA to what he considered improper or illegal domestic surveillance by the agency before he began leaking the secret documents.

The document is a request for clarification about a legal point in training materials for a mandatory course regarding policies and procedures restricting domestic surveillance by the NSA. The lack of context surrounding the email leaves room for interpretation on Snowden's motives for making the inquiry.

 

In an exclusive interview with NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams last week in Moscow that was broadcast Wednesday night, Snowden said he had warned the NSA, while working as an contractor, that he felt the agency was overstepping its bounds.

"I actually did go through channels, and that is documented," he asserted. "The NSA has records, they have copies of emails right now to their Office of General Counsel, to their oversight and compliance folks, from me raising concerns about the NSA's interpretations of its legal authorities. … The response more or less, in bureaucratic language, was, 'You should stop asking questions.'"

But Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, issued a statement on Thursday saying that the email does not support Snowden's account.

"The email, provided to the committee by the NSA on April 10, 2014, poses a question about the relative authority of laws and executive orders — it does not register concerns about NSA's intelligence activities, as was suggested by Snowden in an NBC interview this week," she said.

U.S. officials initially disputed Snowden's claim that he had raised such questions, telling the Washington Post six months ago that no evidence of Snowden's alleged objection existed. "After extensive investigation, including interviews with his former NSA supervisors and co-workers, we have not found any evidence to support Mr. Snowden's contention that he brought these matters to anyone's attention," said the agency in a statement

Snowden sent the email released Thursday to the NSA's lawyers on April 5, 2013, while he was on temporary assignment at NSA headquarters in Ft. Meade, Md.

The email was sent a month after Snowden had taken a job that provided him with greater access to classified access and a month before he began leaking documents to reporters.

The email, bearing the subject line "Question for OGC re. OVSC1800 Course Content," focuses on whether executive orders issued by the president can trump a federal statute.

"I'm not entirely certain, but this does not seem correct, as it seems to imply that Executive Orders have the same precedence as law," the email from Snowden states. "My understanding is that EOs may be superseded by federal statute, but EOs may not override statute. Am I incorrect in this? Between EOs and laws, which have precedence?"

The email went on to ask whether Department of Defense regulations or those of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence would take precedence.

In its reply, the NSA's Office of the General Counsel said Snowden was correct that executive orders "cannot override a statute." On the second question, it said, "In general, DOD and ONDI regulations are afforded similar precedence though subject matter or date could result in one having precedence over another."

The email from Snowden indicates that his question arises from materials from a mandatory training on USSID 18 - Signals Intelligence Directive 18 - a law that essentially prohibits the NSA and other intelligence agencies from domestic spying on Americans without a warrant.

In that regard, it offers limited support for Snowden's contention that he raised questions about the program to higher-ups at the NSA.

But it also supports the account of two U.S. officials who spoke to NBC News about the email prior to its release. They noted that it asked a question about how the NSA was interpreting its legal justifications for domestic surveillance, but had not "raised concerns" about the NSA's practices, as he claimed.

The NSA issued a statement on Thursday saying that there is no evidence that Snowden had made further attempts to communicate. The agency said it had examined "numerous avenues that Mr. Snowden could have used to raise other concerns or whistleblower allegations. We have searched for additional indications of outreach from him in those areas and to date have not discovered any engagements related to his claims."

Bin Laden Expert Accused of Shaping CIA Deception on 'Torture' Program

By Matthew Cole

A top al Qaeda expert who remains in a senior position at the CIA was a key architect of the agency's defense of its detention and "enhanced interrogation" program for suspected terrorists, developing oft-repeated talking points that misrepresented and overstated its effectiveness, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee's report released last week.

The report singles out the female expert as a key apologist for the program, stating that she repeatedly told her superiors and others — including members of Congress — that the "torture" was working and producing useful intelligence, when it was not. She wrote the "template on which future justifications for the CIA program and the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques were based," it said.

The expert also participated in "enhanced interrogations" of self-professed 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, witnessed the waterboarding of terror suspect Abu Zubaydah and ordered the detention of a suspected terrorist who turned out to be unconnected to al Qaeda, according to the report.

The expert is no stranger to controversy. She was criticized after 9/11 terrorist attacks for countenancing a subordinate's refusal to share the names of two of the hijackers with the FBI prior to the terror attacks.

But instead of being sanctioned, she was promoted.

The expert was not identified by name in the unclassified 528-page summary of the report, but U.S. officials who spoke with NBC News on condition of anonymity confirmed that her name was redacted at least three dozen times in an effort to avoid publicly identifying her. In fact, much of the four-month battle between Senate Democrats and the CIA about redactions centered on protecting the identity of the woman, an analyst and later "deputy chief" of the unit devoted to catching or killing Osama bin Laden, according to U.S. officials familiar with the negotiations.

NBC News is withholding her name at the request of the CIA, which cited a climate of fear and retaliation in the wake of the release of the committee's report in asking that her anonymity be protected.

While the two psychologists who developed the "enhanced interrogation techniques," Dr. James Mitchell and Dr. Bruce Jessen, quickly became household names as a result of the report - including being the subjects of a "Saturday Night Live" skit" - scathing criticism of the expert's role in defending the program went nearly unmentioned.

The expert — one of several female CIA employees on whom "Maya," the lead character in the movie "Zero Dark Thirty," was based — has previously been identified in the media as a CIA officer involved in the rendition program. But the Senate report offers the first detailed account of the depth of her involvement. It quotes from emails, memos and congressional testimony, to document her unique role in what it says were misrepresentations about the efficacy of the CIA's program, which President Barack Obama has said included torture. The report does not ascribe any motive for the alleged misrepresentations.

Read the summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee report (PDF)

In one instance recounted in the report, CIA Director Michael Hayden brought the expert with him on Feb. 14, 2007, to brief members of the Senate intelligence oversight committee on the interrogation program.

The then-41-year-old counterterrorism expert, whose experience and depth of knowledge about al Qaeda was virtually unmatched within the agency, forcefully defended the program in the classified hearing.

"There's no question, in my mind," she told the committee, "that having that detainee information has saved hundreds, conservatively speaking, of American lives."

That testimony was wrong, according to last week's report.

In the report, Senate Democrats accuse the expert, along with her unit, of providing "additional inaccurate information about the 'effectiveness' of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques to the (CIA's inspector general, who also investigated the program), as well as to senior CIA leadership."

Critics, including Senate Republicans, former CIA officials, former President George W. Bush and ex-Vice President Dick Cheney, have disputed the report's account. They contend the report "cherry picked" intelligence reports and internal communications to portray the interrogation program as unproductive and largely punitive.

Few CIA employees have been more central to the agency's battle against al Qaeda than the expert, a former Soviet analyst who has worked in the CIA's Counterterrorist Center and in the al Qaeda unit since the mid-1990s, according to interviews with several former CIA officers who worked with her.

The expert already survived one controversy; she came under harsh criticism after a subordinate on the bin Laden unit refused to share the names of two the 9/11 hijackers — Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi — with the FBI prior to the attacks, which was considered by the 9/11 Commission as a key intelligence failure. It is unclear if she was ever reprimanded for her role in the incident.

But one former intelligence officer who worked directly with her at the time said the expert bears direct responsibility for the intelligence failures prior to 9/11 and should have faced consequences.

"She should be put on trial and put in jail for what she has done," the former officer said.

Described most frequently as the "deputy chief of ALEC Station" — the CIA's name for the bin Laden unit — the now 49-year-old expert has served most recently as the head of the Global Jihad unit, which is responsible for intelligence and targeting terrorism worldwide and is now a senior member of the CIA, having achieved the civilian equivalent of a general's rank.

In 2003, a year after the CIA began interrogating top al Qaeda detainees, the CIA's inspector general launched an investigation into alleged abuses as well as an assessment of the program's effectiveness.

At the same time, CIA leadership asked the bin Laden unit and other departments of the Counterterrorism Center to assess the value of the program. By then, three top al Qaeda operatives had been waterboarded, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

In addition to working as an analyst, the expert participated in Mohammed's brutal interrogations at a secret prison in Poland, where he was repeatedly waterboarded, according to the report. As the intelligence picture of al Qaeda developed, she also helped target other suspects for capture.

At one point, she misread intelligence provided by another suspected terrorist, and the faulty information was then used to extract an erroneous admission from Mohammed, often referred to by the acronym KSM, during two days of interrogation in March 2003, the report said.

Majid Khan, who was in Pakistani custody, had stated that Mohammed had sought to recruit "two to three unknown Black American Muslim converts who were currently training in Afghanistan" to carry out attacks on gas stations in the U.S. But in a cable describing the intelligence, the expert incorrectly stated that "KSM was interested in using anyone with U.S. status to assist with this operation," suggesting that Mohammed was seeking to recruit Muslims in the U.S.

She followed up with an email blithely noting that Mohammed would be subject to harsh interrogation as a result: "i love the Black American Muslim at AQ camps in Afghanuistan (sic). ... Mukie (KSM) is going to be hatin' life on this one," she wrote, according to the report.

(After being repeatedly "walled" — slammed into a wall — and then waterboarded, Mohammed told his interrogators that he had, in fact, sought to recruit American Muslims living in Montana to launch the attacks. But he recanted several months later, saying he was "under 'enhanced' measures" at the time and had simply told his captors what they wanted to hear, the report said.)

The CIA's argument that waterboarding and the techniques used in interrogations were effective centered on what the detainees were providing to their debriefers.

On July 16, 2003, the IG interviewed the expert, who told investigators that KSM "provided information that helped lead to the arrest" of five other al Qaeda operatives. The Senate report states, "These representations were almost entirely inaccurate."

Two days later, the expert wrote a memo to the agency's leadership that argued that the CIA's program was a success by any measure.

According to the Senate report, that memo used language that she and the CIA would use for years to defend the program, contending that it had "saved countless lives" and that enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, sleep deprivation and stress positions, had been the "key to unlocking" intelligence from detainees.

In February 2004, the expert wrote part of another memo for CIA leadership to use to defend the program to the inspector general.

"Khalid Shaykh Muhammed's information alone saved at least several hundred, possibly thousands, of lives," the report quoted her as saying in an email to colleagues, using an alternative spelling of the al Qaeda leader's middle name.

At roughly the same time she was making the internal case for the CIA's secret program, the expert orchestrated the rendition of a German citizen named Khalid al-Masri, who was detained while traveling on a bus in Macedonia.

The expert and others in the agency believed al-Masri knew "key information that could assist in the capture of other (al Qaeda) operatives … who may be planning terrorist activities," according to the report. Al-Masri was flown to Afghanistan where he was interrogated and, he would later say, tortured for three months. Within a few weeks of al-Masri's arrival, however, the CIA determined he wasn't part of al Qaeda and that they had made a mistake, according to the report. He was released some five months after he was first grabbed and given 14,500 euros.

John Maguire, a former senior CIA officer, who spent 23 years at the agency and has read the report, defended the expert — though he did not confirm any specific reference to her in the report.

She's extraordinarily capable analyst," said Maguire, who knows the woman.

"She has a caustic personality, but she is frighteningly intelligent and knows more about al Qaeda than virtually anyone else at the CIA. She's hard to manage but brings a lot to the table. … She wasn't afraid to make mistakes."

According to Maguire, the expert is "furious" about the report's conclusions and characterizations of her role in the program, as documented in the report.

Other counterterrorism veterans see it differently. According to a former senior officer with more than 20 years at CIA who still consults with the agency, the expert often "exaggerated the interrogation program's success."

This CIA veteran, who also read the report and was involved in the program, said the report was about "85 percent" accurate in its portrayal of what the CIA gained from torturing detainees.

"There is a horrendous degree of intellectual dishonesty in the building," the former senior official said, referring to the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. "(The expert) suffers from that as well — and you can see it in the report." The former official said he did not believe the expert lied intentionally.

The CIA declined to comment on the expert's role in crafting the agency's defense of the enhanced interrogation program or on the report's characterization. The expert could not be reached for comment.

But the agency pointed to CIA Director John Brennan's response to the report last week, in which he said, "The Agency takes no position on whether intelligence obtained from detainees who were subjected to EITs (enhanced interrogation techniques) could have been obtained through other means or from other individuals. The answer to this question is, and will remain, unknowable.

"However, CIA reviews indicate that the program, including interrogations of detainees on whom EITs were used, did produce valuable and unique intelligence that helped thwart attack plans, capture terrorists and save lives."

A few months after the expert testified with CIA Director Hayden before the Senate intelligence oversight committee, the CIA's inspector general released its findings of the wrongful 2004 rendition of al-Masri. As first reported by the Associated Press in 2011, the inspector general found that the expert and a colleague had pushed for the rendition of an innocent man and compounded the mistake by not releasing him sooner.

Despite acknowledging that their judgment about al-Masri's terrorist connections "was not supported by available intelligence," Hayden informed the Senate committee that the agency would not discipline the expert. In fact, she was promoted to run the Global Jihad unit.

Defending her, Hayden wrote that the "high threat environment" at the time of the rendition was "essentially identical to the one in which (CIA) employees, including (the expert), previously had been sharply criticized for not connecting the dots prior to 9/11." 

Source: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/investigations...

Who Shot Bin Laden? A Tale of Two SEALs

By Matthew Cole

Two different alumni of SEAL Team Six, the secretive group of highly trained warriors that killed Osama bin Laden three years ago, have been profiting off their role in the terror leader's death since leaving the military.

Former Team Six member Matt Bissonnette, who wrote a bestseller under a pseudonym about shooting bin Laden, is about to publish his second book about being a Navy SEAL. Rob O'Neill, meanwhile, is the unnamed "shooter" who was credited in numerous magazine articles with firing the fatal shots, and according to two SEAL sources will be presented again as the "shooter" in a Fox News interview that airs later this month. He has been traveling the country giving paid motivational speeches on the unspoken understanding that he's the man who killed bin Laden.

Neither man is the SEAL who was first up the stairs at bin Laden's Pakistan compound and fired the first shot at Osama. But their dueling narratives are a sign of the backbiting and dysfunction that has roiled a once tight-knit band of warriors as former members violate their code of secrecy in search of the spotlight.

"Two different people telling two different stories for two different reasons," said Matt Bissonnette in an interview with NBC News. His second book, "No Hero," comes out next week. "Whatever he says, he says. I don't want to touch that."

Both men now face scorn from some brother SEALs. Unlike O'Neill, however, Bissonnette is under investigation by the federal government, which is trying to determine whether he disclosed classified information in his first book. He says he's sorry he didn't submit the book for legal review, but says there are "inconsistencies" about who is allowed to talk and who isn't, since higher ups were apparently speaking freely.

"Everybody and their brother was talking about this," said Bissonnette. "How can you be holding it against me?"

Just a week ago, the two officers who run the Naval Special Warfare Command fired off a stern warning letter to all SEAL "teammates" about seeking fame. The message, sent ahead of Bissonnette's appearance on "60 Minutes" and O'Neill's interview on Fox, seemed intended to shame Bissonnette and O'Neill.

"At Naval Special Warfare's core is the SEAL Ethos," said the letter, signed by Rear Adm. Brian Losey and Master Chief Michael Magaraci. "A critical (tenet) of our Ethos is 'I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions.'

"We do not abide willful or selfish disregard for our core values in return for public notoriety and financial gain."

The letter closes by reminding the "teammates" that classified information is protected by law, and warns that "We will actively seek judicial consequences for members who willfully violate the law."

Bissonnette, who left the Navy in April 2012, was the first SEAL from the bin Laden mission to cut a business deal based on his participation. When he published the book "No Easy Day" on Sept. 4, 2012, he used the pen name Mark Owen and pledged much of the proceeds to charity, but he still became persona non grata with his command and many former comrades.

Bissonnette had not submitted the book, which gives his account of the bin Laden raid, for prepublication review with the Department of Defense. He has said he was advised by counsel that it was not required.

The Pentagon sent him a letter threatening legal action, and said he had revealed classified information. A DoD investigation also revealed that Bissonnette and six other SEALs had served as advisers on the video game, "Medal of Honor: Warfighter," at Bissonnette's urging. Letters of reprimand, which are damaging to Naval careers, were sent to all seven.

Some of Bissonnette's peers also took issue with the book, which became a No. 1 best-seller. In Bissonnette's account, he's the second man in the SEAL "stack" and the second man in bin Laden's bedroom. After a teammate shoots bin Laden Bissonnette puts more bullets into him and helps finish him off.

His account did not match the story that O'Neill was telling Esquire magazine around the same time. O'Neill began talking to writer Phil Bronstein as early as March 2012, while still a SEAL. He left the Navy right around the time Bissonnette's book hit the stands in September. The Esquire article followed less than six months later, in the March 2013 issue.

O'Neill is never named in the story, but he's called "the Shooter." The first line says, "The man who shot and killed Osama bin Laden sat in a wicker chair in my backyard." (Three retired members of SEAL Team Six have confirmed to NBC News that O'Neill is the shooter in the Esquire article.)

In the Esquire version of the raid, O'Neill is second in the stack. The first SEAL in the stack, the point man, sees a tall man stick his head out of the bedroom door on the third floor. He fires at least one shot.

"I don't think he hit him," O'Neill told Esquire. "He thinks he might have."

O'Neill then heads into the room as the point man pushes two women out of the way. O'Neill shoots bin Laden in the face and kills him.

Later, according to the story, the point man seems to accept that he didn't hit bin Laden. At a debrief in Afghanistan, however, he says he took two shots and might have hit bin Laden once. According to the story, he says O'Neill "finished [bin Laden] off as he was circling the drain."

Matt Bissonnette doesn't appear at all in this telling. The encounter with bin Laden takes about 15 seconds, and only two men, O'Neill and the point man, are in the room. Later, more SEALs show up. O'Neill told Esquire that ultimately there were many more wounds on the body than the ones he inflicted.

(Update: Robert O'Neill has now said in an on-the-record interview with the Washington Post that he killed bin Laden with a shot to the forehead. He also acknowledges that at least two other SEALS, including Bissonnette, fired shots.)

According to the Esquire story, when asked by an Obama administration official which SEAL had shot bin Laden, O'Neill responded, "We all did it."

That response was in line with the SEAL code, and won him goodwill with fellow SEALs. A former senior SEAL Team Six leader who was involved in the bin Laden mission confirmed that the exchange between O'Neill and the official took place and said, "It was classy."

But when O'Neill left SEAL Team Six and began making motivational speeches, with part of the unspoken lure for audiences his central role in bin Laden's death, the goodwill began to ebb away. He is not, however, being investigated by the Pentagon.

 Rob O'Neill. Courtesy of LeadingAuthorities.com

Rob O'Neill. Courtesy of LeadingAuthorities.com

The former senior SEAL Team Six leader, who knows both Bissonnette and O'Neill, said he was "utterly disappointed" with both men. "What they've done is dishonorable," he said. "All of this has been done for personal gain."

He said both men were now persona non grata with SEAL Team Six command in Virginia Beach. After "No Easy Day" was published, said the former senior leader, Bissonnette sent a text to the commander of SEAL Team Six. The commander replied, "Delete me."

But another former SEAL, while acknowledging that public scrutiny of their actions was fair, defended both Bissonnette and O'Neill. "They haven't done anything leadership wouldn't have done," said James Hatch. "We are at this place in time because of a double standard. The leadership created that double standard."

Hatch pointed out that leadership had allowed active-duty SEALs to participate in the movie "Act of Valor," a fictionalized account of SEAL missions against terrorists around the globe. The film was released in February 2012 and capitalized on the bin Laden raid publicity.

Said Hatch, "The same leadership that promoted and produced 'Act of Valor' now want to punish people who did some heavy lifting. Doesn't that seem odd to people? It's either OK to talk shop or it isn't."

Bissonnette told NBC News he "almost has to laugh" when he hears about the code of silence. "It's hard for me to take when I've been reading books my whole life about former special operations warriors, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines. There's how many former generals, how many former CIA directors, how many former secretaries of defense? How many of them all get out and write books?"

The bin Laden mission was "just another day at the office," said Bissonnette, though being a SEAL is the kind of job not everyone survives. "I have 40 names in the contact list of my cell phone that are dead. Forty. And not one of those names did it for political gain or Hollywood."

He said he still has "plenty of friends" in the SEAL community, and still gets messages of support. But he said the amount of friction in that world is "very sad," and knows he may have contributed to it by writing his first book. He also conceded that criticism from other SEALs, even if they're strangers, can be painful. "It's tough to hear a lot of different SEALs that I've never met, I've never worked with and I don't know. And they come out and say things. That's tough to hear."

But, he added, "They have every right to say it and that's fine."

As Bissonnette notes, both he and O'Neill offered their versions of events long after other government employees had apparently spoken to journalists about the bin Laden raid. In August 2011, a New Yorker article quoted an unnamed "counterterrorism official" in describing the shooting. The New Yorker piece talks about three SEALs assaulting the bedroom, and according to the official, the first SEAL in the stack sees bin Laden through the open door, fires and misses.

The SEALs then head through the door, and the first SEAL pushes two women aside. The second SEAL shoots bin Laden in the chest and the head and then reports, via radio, "For God and country, Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo. Geronimo, E.K.I.A. (Enemy Killed in Action)." The account doesn't mention what the third SEAL did.

A cinematic account of the bin Laden raid, the box office hit and Oscar winner "Zero Dark Thirty," began shooting on location in February 2012. Some Republicans charged that the Obama administration had provided secret access to the filmmakers. Screenwriter Mark Boal said he had access to sources who had helped him with an unproduced screenplay about the 2001 raid on bin Laden's Tora Bora hideout, and that he spoke to people in the military and the CIA about details of the raid. Both Boal and director Kathryn Bigelow, however, said they relied mostly on open sources for the details of the raid, and had received no classified documents.

Rep. Peter King, R.-N.Y., called for an Inspector General's investigation in August 2011 after learning of reports in the media that Bigelow and Boal had enjoyed access to government officials. A draft report of the internal investigation later showed that CIA Director Leon Panetta had revealed some classified details during an event at CIA headquarters. Boal was part of the large audience.

On Oct. 31, Rear Adm. John Kirby cited the final lines of the finished report to deny that the Pentagon had provided any sensitive information to "Zero Dark Thirty" filmmakers.

Said Kirby, "I'll just read for you the last paragraph: 'Within the Department of Defense, we did not identify instances whereby any Special Operations tactics, techniques and procedures-related information was provided to filmmakers.'

"So, no. There was no active participation by the Department of Defense in that movie to reveal any tactic, technique or procedures or classified information to the movie's filmmakers."

When asked whether Bissonnette remained under investigation, Kirby said, "I'm not going to speak to the details of an investigation, but I can tell you that there is an investigation ongoing regarding the book 'No Easy Day' and some of the assertions in it."

A Defense Department official told NBC News Tuesday that at the Defense Department's request, the Justice Department is investigating whether Bissonnette revealed classified information. The official was not aware of any similar request for an investigation of O'Neill.

Kirby had no comment on Oct. 31 when asked about the upcoming Fox interview with the unnamed "shooter" of bin Laden, but cited the SEAL code of ethics. "I think it's something that all individuals who are participating or have knowledge of sensitive operations should follow," said Kirby.

Robert O'Neill did not respond to an NBC News request for comment.

-- Courtney Kube contributed reporting to this story

Source: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/investigations...

Ex-SEAL Matthew Bissonnette Probed Over Book on Bin Laden Raid

By Matthew Cole

A former member of SEAL Team Six who wrote a best-seller about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden is under criminal investigation for disclosing classified material, NBC News has confirmed. The ongoing probe looks at whether Matthew Bissonnette disclosed classified information in "No Easy Day." According to a source familiar with the author's negotiations over profits from the book, Bissonnette expects that all money will go to Defense Department for violating rules that require former military operators to have their books reviewed by the Pentagon prior to publication.

Snowden Strikes Back at NSA, Emails NBC News

by MIKE BRUNKER and MATTHEW COLE

Fugitive Edward Snowden on Friday challenged the NSA's insistence that it has no evidence he tried to raise concerns about the agency's surveillance activity before he began leaking government documents to reporters, calling the response a "clearly tailored and incomplete leak ... for a political advantage."

"The NSA's new discovery of written contact between me and its lawyers -- after more than a year of denying any such contact existed - raises serious concerns," Snowden said in an email Friday to NBC News. "It reveals as false the NSA's claim to Barton Gellman of the Washington Post in December of last year, that 'after extensive investigation, including interviews with his former NSA supervisors and co-workers, we have not found any evidence to support Mr. Snowden's contention that he brought these matters to anyone's attention.'"

Snowden's email followed Thursday's release by the U.S. Office of the Director of Intelligence of an email exchange between Snowden and the NSA's Office of the General Counsel. The Washington Post received and published a similar response from Snowden on Thursday.

That email, dated April 5 , 2013, and bearing the subject line "Question for OGC re. OVSC1800 Course Content," was a request for clarification about a legal point in training materials for a mandatory course regarding policies and procedures restricting domestic surveillance by the NSA. Its primary focus was on the question of whether an executive order issued by the president could trump a federal statute.

The NSA has said it is the only email or other communication that it has found in which Snowden communicated with agency officials about the NSA's surveillance program, countering his assertion that he had sent multiple "emails … to their Office of General Counsel, to their oversight and compliance folks … raising concerns about the NSA's interpretations of its legal authorities," as he claimed in an exclusive interview with NBC News' Brian Williams that aired Wednesday night.

Two U.S. officials who spoke to NBC News about the email prior to its release noted that it asked a question about how the NSA was interpreting its legal justifications for domestic surveillance, but had not "raised concerns" about the NSA's practices.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, made a similar point in a statement on Thursday, saying that the email does not support Snowden's account.

"The email, provided to the committee by the NSA on April 10, 2014, poses a question about the relative authority of laws and executive orders — it does not register concerns about NSA's intelligence activities, as was suggested by Snowden in an NBC interview this week," she said.

But in his statement on Friday, Snowden fired back, saying:

"Today's release is incomplete, and does not include my correspondence with the Signals Intelligence Directorate's Office of Compliance, which believed that a classified executive order could take precedence over an act of Congress, contradicting what was just published. It also did not include concerns about how indefensible collection activities - such as breaking into the back-haul communications of major U.S. Internet companies -- are sometimes concealed under E.O. 12333 to avoid Congressional reporting requirements and regulations.

"If the White House is interested in the whole truth, rather than the NSA's clearly tailored and incomplete leak today for a political advantage, it will require the NSA to ask my former colleagues, management, and the senior leadership team about whether I, at any time, raised concerns about the NSA's improper and at times unconstitutional surveillance activities. It will not take long to receive an answer.

"Ultimately, whether my disclosures were justified does not depend on whether I raised these concerns previously. That's because the system is designed to ensure that even the most valid concerns are suppressed and ignored, not acted upon. The fact that two powerful Democratic Senators - Ron Wyden and Mark Udall - knew of mass surveillance that they believed was abusive and felt constrained to do anything about it underscores how futile such internal action is -- and will remain -- until these processes are reformed.

"Still, the fact is that I did raise such concerns both verbally and in writing, and on multiple, continuing occasions - as I have always said, and as NSA has always denied. Just as when the NSA claimed it followed German laws in Germany only weeks before it was revealed that they did not, or when NSA said they did not engage in economic espionage a few short months before it was revealed they actually did so on a regular and recurring basis, or even when NSA claimed they had "no domestic spying program" right before we learned they collected the phone records of every American they could, so too are today's claims that "this is only evidence we have of him reporting concerns" false.

"Now that they have finally begun producing emails, I am confident that truth will become clear rather sooner than later."

Source: http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/edward-snow...

Snowden: Obama Broke Vow to Change Bush Policies

By Matthew Cole and Tracy Connor

Edward Snowden says that while he was inspired by President Obama's election, he's disappointed that Obama "embraced" or "extended" the surveillance policies of President Bush.

In his exclusive interview with "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams, Snowden would not say if he voted for Obama, arguing that should be kept private.

"Whether or not I voted for President Obama, I was inspired by him. He gave me courage, he gave me hope. I really believed that he would be a positive force for the country," Snowden said.

"And I still hope he will be."

Snowden said Obama has failed to carry through on a pledge to reverse some of the policies of his predecessor.

"He's embraced the policies and he's extended the policies," the former NSA contractor said.

"He's not Bush. He's his own president. But the consonance in the policies should be concerning for a lot of Americans because he was a candidate that promised that he would give the public back its seat at the table of government.

"And he still has time to do so."

For his first American television interview, Snowden met for about five hours last week with Williams at a hotel in Moscow, where Snowden is living in exile while facing U.S. felony charges.

An hour-long special program based on the interview aired Wednesday on NBC News.

 

Source: http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/edward-snow...

Snowden Says He No Longer Has Documents He Took From NSA

By Matthew Cole and Erin McClam

Edward Snowden, in his NBC News exclusive interview with Brian Williams, said that he no longer has the thousands of spying documents he took from the National Security Agency.

“The reality is today, I hold no documents at all,” he said in interview excerpts released Thursday, one day after the extended interview aired in an NBC primetime special.

Snowden told Williams that he wanted the documents out of his hands both because it was a risk to have them in Russia and because it would have gone against his principles to use them for other means.

“Now, I could’ve held on to that and tried to use it to — to threaten the government,” Snowden said. “I could’ve used it to try to sell it or enrich myself. But that would’ve gone against everything that I was trying to do.”

“So the question was, what do I do with it at that point?” he continued. “And the solution that I came up with was to destroy it. To take it out of my hands and entrust it fully to the institutions of the press.”

Snowden said that he did not surrender documents to Russia to win his temporary asylum. He told Williams that he has no connection to the Russian government and has not met Russian President Vladimir Putin, although one analyst questioned that claim.

Getting rid of the documents, Snowden said, was “the best way to make sure that for example the Russians can’t break my fingers and — and compromise information or — or hit me with a bag of money until I give them something was not to have it at all. And the way to do that was by destroying the material that I was holding before I transited through Russia.”

Source: http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/edward-snow...

Paper Trail? NSA Releases Email Snowden Sent to Agency Officials

by MATTHEW COLE and RICHARD ESPOSITO

U.S. officials once disputed NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s claim that he had raised questions about the agency’s domestic surveillance programs before he fled the U.S. with thousands of stolen documents, but now confirm that Snowden sent at least one email about the agency’s practices to officials.

That email was released Thursday, offering the public a deeper look into Snowden’s actions.

In an exclusive interview with NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, Snowden said he had warned the NSA while working as an NSA contractor that he felt the agency was overstepping its bounds.

“I actually did go through channels, and that is documented,” he asserted. “The NSA has records, they have copies of emails right now to their Office of General Counsel, to their oversight and compliance folks, from me raising concerns about the NSA’s interpretations of its legal authorities. … The response more or less, in bureaucratic language, was, ‘You should stop asking questions.’”

“I would say one of my final official acts in government was continuing one of these communications with a legal office. And in fact, I’m so sure that these communications exist that I’ve called on Congress to write a letter to the NSA to verify that they do.“

Just six months ago, the NSA told the Washington Post’s Bart Gellman that no evidence of a paper trail existed. “After extensive investigation, including interviews with his former NSA supervisors and co-workers, we have not found any evidence to support Mr. Snowden's contention that he brought these matters to anyone's attention," said the agency in a statement.

On Thursday, however, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the Snowden email would be made public "later today." It was released a short time later by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Before it was made public, two U.S. officials who had read the email sent by Snowden to the NSA’s Office of General Counsel on April 5, 2013, a month before he stopped working as an NSA contractor, told NBC News the message -- the only email found to date, they say -- questioned agency policies and practices.

Snowden sent the April 2013 email to the NSA’s lawyers while on temporary assignment at NSA headquarters in Ft. Meade, Md.

One U.S. official who had read the email said that in it Snowden asked a question about how the NSA was interpreting its legal justifications for domestic surveillance, and wrote out a hierarchy of U.S. law, with the Constitution at the top. Beneath the Constitution he placed federal statutes, and under them, Defense Department regulations, Office of the Director of National Intelligence regulations, and NSA policy.

Three days later, the NSA’s lawyers responded that he was correct in his analysis of how the NSA justified its collection of domestic data, and said the collection was legal.

The official said that Snowden had asked a question, but had not “raised concerns” about the NSA’s practices.

NBC News has filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act to find out if there are additional documents supporting Snowden's claims, including emails he says he sent to the NSA’s compliance office. 

Source: http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/edward-snow...

Edward Snowden Says He Was Inspired by Pentagon Papers Whistleblower

By Matthew Cole and Erin McClam

Edward Snowden, in a new claim from his NBC News exclusive interview with Brian Williams, compared the criticism leveled against him to what the Nixon administration said about the release of damaging Vietnam War documents.

Snowden made the claim in an excerpt of the interview released Thursday. The extended interview, his first with an American television network, aired Wednesday in an NBC primetime special.

Snowden compared himself to Daniel Ellsberg, who in 1971 leaked what became known as the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times. They showed that the government was systematically misleading the public about U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

The Nixon administration tried to block publication of the papers but lost at the Supreme Court.

“So what’s interesting is that we see the exact same language, the exact same accusations being leveled against whistleblowers, being labeled against any critic of any government program throughout history, throughout time,” Snowden told Williams.

“Daniel Ellsberg got the exact same language leveled against him by the Nixon administration. They said it was going to cause grave damage, that it was irreversible harm, that our national security had been harmed, that he was going to put American lives at risk. But we’ve had so many years, decades since Daniel Ellsberg’s Pentagon Papers were revealed. And yet none of that came to pass.”

Ellsberg has staunchly defended Snowden. He told HuffPost Live last year that Snowden’s revelations had unmasked “not only the capability of a police state, but certain beginnings of it right now.”

Williams had confronted Snowden with remarks by Keith Alexander, a former director of the National Security Agency, who said that Snowden had done “significant and irreversible damage to the nation.”

Alexander suggested that Snowden had essentially turned over the playbook to the enemy. He said there was “concrete proof that terrorist groups and others are taking action and making changes. And it’s going to make our job tougher.”

Snowden’s response: “I point out Keith Alexander is I would say one of the primary officials most responsible for these abuses. He was personally embarrassed by these revelations.”

Edward Snowden's Motive Revealed: He Can 'Sleep at Night'

by MATTHEW COLERICHARD ESPOSITOBILL DEDMAN and MARK SCHONE

In his first American television interview, Edward Snowden defended his disclosure of the American government's use of surveillance programs to spy on its own people, and described himself as a patriot for trying to stop violations of the Constitution.

"I may have lost my ability to travel," Snowden said. "But I've gained the ability to go to sleep at night and to put my head on the pillow and feel comfortable that I've done the right thing even when it was the hard thing. And I'm comfortable with that."

Snowden met for about five hours last week with "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams at a hotel in Moscow, where Snowden is living in exile while facing U.S. felony charges. An hour-long special program based on the interview aired Wednesday on NBC News at 10 p.m. Eastern and 9 p.m. Central.

Snowden walked out of the NSA with tens of thousands of documents on thumb drives, documents that he says he has released to journalists. These documents disclosed the global reach of U.S. intelligence, including descriptions of government surveillance of U.S. telephone and email records, tapping of undersea fiber-optic cables carrying internet traffic, and accessing Yahoo and Google’s internal user data without either company’s knowledge.

The highlights

In the wide-ranging and provocative interview, Snowden:

  • Suggested that a deal could be reached with the U.S. government for him to come home, either through a clemency, an amnesty, or an agreement to serve a short prison term. Legal sources tell NBC News that very preliminary conversations have already taken place between Snowden's attorneys and the U.S. government.
  • Said he had tried to go through channels before leaking documents to journalists, repeatedly raising objections inside the NSA, in writing, to its widespread use of surveillance. But he said he was told, "more or less, in bureaucratic language, 'You should stop asking questions.'" Two U.S. officials confirmed Wednesday that Snowden sent at least one email to the NSA's office of general counsel raising policy and legal questions.
  • Described his years as a member of the U.S. intelligence community, describing his training as a spy in addition to his technical work as an NSA contractor and CIA employee. U.S. intelligence officials acknowledged to NBC News on Wednesday that Snowden in fact had been a CIA employee, and had passed the routine psychological testing for employees.
  • Described his arc from enthusiastic supporter of American foreign policy, who enlisted for U.S. Army special operations training during the Iraq War, to a disillusioned intelligence worker who said he came to believe that the government took advantage of the September 11 terror attack to overreach into the private lives of all Americans.

When Williams asked, "Do you see yourself as a patriot," Snowden answered immediately.

"I do," he said. "I think patriot is a word that's -- that's thrown around so much that it can devalued nowadays. But being a patriot doesn't mean prioritizing service to government above all else. Being a patriot means knowing when to protect your country, knowing when to protect your Constitution, knowing when to protect your countrymen from the -- the violations of and encroachments of adversaries. And those adversaries don't have to be foreign countries. They can be bad policies. They can be officials who, you know, need a little bit more accountability. They can be mistakes of government and — and simple overreach and — and things that — that should never have been tried, or — or that went wrong."

"Hi, I'm Ed"

The interview was arranged with great secrecy, as Snowden is living in Russia at an undisclosed location under a temporary one-year amnesty from the Russian government. Williams and Snowden met at the upscale Hotel Baltschug Kempinski in central Moscow, near the Kremlin. Snowden was joined there by the first two journalists he reached out to, Glenn Greenwald and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras.

Snowden received no compensation for the interview, and no topics were off limits. He said he agreed to sit down with NBC because it has published several reports based on the documents he disclosed: "You guys had done -- actual individual reporting on these issues. You broke some of the stories. And they were about controversial issues. So, while I don't know how this is going to show up on TV, I thought it was reasonable that, you know, you guys might give this a fair shake."

Williams said the 30-year-old with a stubbled chin and broken eyeglasses appeared to be both confident and careful. The young man said he avoided the hotel lobby, coming up a back stairway, and showed up at Williams' door by himself with a backpack over his shoulder. He held out his hand and said, "Hi, I'm Ed."

Williams said, "I'd been told he was demonstrably smart in person, and he seems to be just that. He speaks with precision -- and while he admittedly has had months to prepare for this interview and has his own set of talking points, he spoke in a steady cadence, interrupted by an occasional long pause, after which he would often apologize while he gathered his thoughts."

"We are not here to judge whether Edward Snowden deserves life in prison, or clemency," Williams told the NBC audience. "We are here to listen for the first time to why he did what he did, what his concerns were for our society. We are here to learn some of the things our government did in our name. In the end, perhaps some of us will change our minds. If we don't, at least we will have been informed."

A bid for amnesty?

Snowden said he would like to come home, and suggested that a deal could be reached with the U.S. government to eliminate or reduce the charges against him.

"I don't think there's ever been any question," Snowden said, "that I'd like to go home. I mean, I've from day one said that I'm doing this to serve my country. I'm still working for the government. Now, whether amnesty or clemency ever becomes a possibility is not for me to say. That's a debate for the public and the government to decide. But if I could go anywhere in the world, that place would be home."

Attorney General Eric Holder has said that it would be "going too far" for Snowden to receive no punishment, but that the government would discuss a plea deal.

Snowden signaled that he wouldn't accept a deal that included a long prison sentence, which he said would make him a negative example for others in government who see violations of the Constitution and should become whistleblowers. He said he wouldn't say, "I'm going to give myself a parade. ... But neither am I going to walk into a jail cell — to serve as a bad example for other people in government who see something happening, some violation of the Constitution and think they need to say something about it."

He is facing three federal charges, each with a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, and additional counts could be added. In answering a question about whether he thought he had both done wrong and done a public service, he steered the conversation to a "short period" in jail.

"I think the most important idea is to remember that there have been times throughout American history where what is right is not the same as what is legal," Snowden said. "Sometimes to do the right thing, you have to break a law. And the key there is in terms of civil disobedience. You have to make sure that what you're risking, what you're bringing onto yourself does not serve as a detriment to anyone else. It doesn't hurt anybody else. And if you're volunteering yourself to be used as a negative example, if you're volunteering to spend a lifetime in prison rather than to send — spend — a time in prison, a short period where you'll come out, you'll advocate, you'll emerge stronger and be able to inspire other people to resist these policies, are you doing good or are you doing bad?"

But Snowden said he was not interested only in ending his fugitive status, but in making it easier for others to bring to light illegal government activities. "What I would like to see ... would be that we reform whistleblower laws in the United States to cover contractors -- we reform the Espionage Act to distinguish between people who sell secrets to foreign governments for their own gain and people who return information to public hands for the purpose of serving the public interest. If those things can happen, I -- I think overall everybody could be satisfied."

Absent some sort of a deal, Snowden said he would not come home voluntarily to face a criminal trial.

Secretary of State John Kerry challenged Snowden to come back to the United States and face justice. Speaking Wednesday on the Today show, Kerry said, "If Mr. Snowden wants to come back to the United States, we'll have him on a flight today." He said Snowden should "stand up in the United States and make his case to the American people." Later, on MSNBC, Kerry called Snowden a "traitor" and a "coward."

As Williams put the question to him, "You hear often in the United States, 'Why doesn't he come home and face the music?' "

"It's a fair question," Snowden said. "But it's also uninformed, because what has been lain against me are not normal charges. They're extraordinary charges. We've seen more charges under the Espionage Act in the last administration than we have in all other administrations in — in Americans history. The Espionage Act provides — anyone accused of it of no chance to make a public defense. You can't argue to the jury that what you did was in the public interest. You're not even allowed to make that case. They can't hear it. You are not allowed to argue — based on all the evidence in your favor because that evidence may be classified, even if it's exculpatory. And so when people say — "Why don't you go home and face the music?" I say you have to understand that the music is not an open court and a fair trial."

Government overreach after Sept. 11

While September 11 is often cited as a justification of the surveillance programs he has disclosed, Snowden said the government has exploited the terror threat to go beyond its authority. He described his reactions to the terror attack, as a son of a veteran and a grandson of a Coast Guard rear admiral who became a senior official with the FBI.

"I've never told anybody this. No journalist. But I was on Fort Meade on September 11th," he said, as an 18-year-old working for someone who lived on base. "I was right outside the NSA. ... So I remember — I remember the tension that day. I remember hearing on the radio the planes hitting. And I remember thinking my grandfather, who worked for the F.B.I. at the time — was in the Pentagon when the plane hit it. I take the threat of s — terrorism seriously. And I think we all do. And I think it's really disingenuous for — for the government to invoke — and sort of scandalize our memories, to sort of exploit the — the national trauma that we all suffered together and worked so hard to come through to justify programs that have never been shown to keep us safe, but cost us liberties and freedoms that we don't need to give up and our Constitution says we should not give up."

Snowden told Williams of his zeal, after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to serve in U.S. Army special forces, how he enlisted in 2004 but washed out of the training program. "I was injured very early on in the program and washed out. And you know, I — I readily admit it. I — I don't hide that... The reality is, as you can see, I'm not — I'm not a well-built guy. ... Perhaps I bit off a little bit more than I can chew on that one."

"But the fact is that I tried. You know, I — I saw what was going on in the world. I believed the government's arguments that we were going to do good things in Iraq, that we were going to free the oppressed. And I wanted to do my part to help share the national burden and create not just a better America, but a better world."

But when he began work in the intelligence services, as he "rose to higher and higher levels in the intelligence communities, I gained more and more access, as I saw more and more classified information, at the highest levels — I realized that so many of the things that were told by the government simply aren't true. Much like the — the arguments about aluminum tubes and weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Colin Powell's speech with the vial of anthrax that Saddam was going to — to bring against us. The Iraq War that I signed up for was launched on false premises. The American people were misled."

"Now, whether that was due to bad faith or simply mistakes of intelligence, I can't say for sure. But I can say it shows the problem of putting too much faith in intelligence systems without debating them in public."

Snowden emphasized that he was not contending it was wrong for American intelligence agencies to use all technological means to protect the country from enemies. The problem, he said, was not the tools, but the sloppy selection of targets, the "bulk surveillance, mass surveillance, that actually puts our country at risk for, as far as we've seen so far, no gain at all."

"You know, I don't think anybody who — who's been in the intelligence community for almost a decade as I have been — is really shocked by the specific types of general operations when they're justified. What's more shocking for anybody is not the dirtiness of the business, it's the dirtiness of the targeting. It's the dirtiness of the way these things are being used. It's the lack of respect for the public — because — and the — the — the lack of respect for the intrusiveness of surveillance."

"If we want to be free," Snowden said, "we can't become subject to surveillance. We can't — give away our privacy. We can't give away our rights. We have to be an active party. We have to be an active part of our government. And we have to say — there are some things worth dying for. And I think the country is one of them."

"The definition of a security state is any nation that prioritizes security over all other considerations," Snowden said. "I don't believe the United States is or ever should be a security state."

Using Williams' temporary "burner" cell phone as an example, Snowden said, "The NSA, the Russian Intelligence Service, the Chinese Intelligence Service, any intelligence service in the world that has significant funding and a real technological research team, can own that phone the minute it connects to their network. As soon as you turn it on, it can be theirs. They can turn it into a microphone, they can take pictures from it, they can take the data off of it."

Snowden described how the simple pattern of his phone calls -- not the content of the calls but the time and location of those calls -- could be invaluable to a security service. And how the content of even innocuous Web searches, such as a search for a hockey score, can reveal habits and be used to build a profile of personal information.

"Do you check it when you travel, do you check it when you're just at home? They'd be able to tell something called your "pattern of life." When are you doing these kind of activities? When do you wake up? When do you go to sleep? What other phones are around you when you wake up and go to sleep? Are you with someone who's not your wife? Are you doing something, are you someplace you shouldn't be, according to the government, which is arbitrary, you know — are you engaged in any kind of activities that we disapprove of, even if they aren't technically illegal?"

"And all of these things can raise your level of scrutiny, even if it seems entirely innocent to you. Even if you have nothing to hide. Even if you're doing nothing wrong. These activities can be misconstrued, misinterpreted, and used to harm you as an individual, even without the government having any intent to do you wrong. The problem is that the capabilities themselves are unregulated, uncontrolled, and dangerous."

"All because I Googled the Rangers-Canadiens final score?" Williams asked.

"Exactly," Snowden said.

He described how government analysts use electronic tools to watch a person's computer keystrokes, giving an insight into their thought process. "As you write a message, you know, an analyst at the NSA or any other service out there that's using this kind of attack against people can actually see you write sentences and then backspace over your mistakes and then change the words and then kind of pause and — and — and think about what you wanted to say and then change it. And it's this extraordinary intrusion not just into your communications, your finished messages but your actual drafting process, into the way you think."

Snowden mentioned the U.S. Constitution 22 times in the interview, saying that he believed the expansion of warrantless wiretapping had eviscerated the constitutional prohibition on unreasonable searches.

"The Fourth Amendment as it was written -- no longer exists. ... Now all of our data can be collected without any suspicion of wrongdoing on our part, without any underlying justification. All of your private records, all of your private communications, all of your transactions, all of your associations, who you talk to, who you love, what you buy, what you read -- all of those things can be seized and held by the government and then searched later for any reason, hardly -- without any justification, without any real -- oversight, without any real accountability for those who do wrong. The result is that the Fourth Amendment that was so strict -- that we fought a revolution to put into place -- now no longer has the same meaning that it once did. Now we have -- a system of pervasive pre-criminal surveillance -- where the government wants to watch what you're doing just to see what you're up to, to see what you're thinking even behind closed doors."

Snowden said the government forced him to act. "You know, the Constitution of the United States has been violated on a massive scale. Now, had that not happened, had the government not gone too far and overreached, we wouldn't be in a situation where whistleblowers were necessary. I think it's important to remember that people don't set their lives on fire, they don't say goodbye to their families, actually pack up without saying goodbye to their families, they don't walk away from their, extraordinary -- extraordinarily comfortable lives -- I mean I made a lot of money for a guy with no high school diploma -- and -- and -- and burn down everything they love, for no reason."

Tried to go through channels

Williams asked, "When the president and others have made the point the you should've gone through channels, become a whistleblower and not pursued the route you did, what's your response?"

"I actually did go through channels, and that is documented. The NSA has records, they have copies of emails right now to their office of general counsel, to their oversight and compliance folks from me raising concerns about the NSA's interpretations of it -- legal authorities. Now, I had raised these complaints not just officially in writing through email -- to these offices and -- and these individuals, but to my supervisors, to my colleagues, in more than one office. I did it in Fort Meade. I did it in Hawaii. And many, many of these individuals were shocked by these programs. They had never seen them themselves. And the ones who had, went, 'You know, you're right. These are things that are really concerning. And these aren't things that we should be doing. Maybe we were going too far here. But if you say something about this, they're going to destroy you. Do you know what happens to people who stand up and talk about this?"

"What did you report?" Williams asked. "What was the response?"

"So," Snowden said, "I reported that there were -- real problems with the way the NSA was interpreting its legal authorities. And I went even further in this -- to say that they could be unconstitutional -- that they were sort of abrogating our model of government in a way that empowered presidents to override our statutory laws. And this was made very clear. And the response more or less, in bureaucratic language, was, 'You should stop asking questions.' And these are — these are recent records. I would say one of my final official acts in government was continuing one of these — one of these communications with a legal office. And in fact I'm so sure that these communications exist that I've called on Congress to write a letter to the NSA to — to verify that they do. Write to the office of general counsel and say, "Did Mr. Snowden — ever communicate any concerns about the NSA's interpretation of its legal authorities?"

NBC News did contact the NSA and the CIA, which have declined to comment. Government officials confirmed that Snowden emailed the general counsel's office at the NSA with his concerns. We have filed requests for documents under the Freedom of Information Act, and will report on the government responses.

Responsible method of disclosure

Snowden repeatedly characterized his disclosures not as a theft or an act of espionage, but as a public service done in a responsible manner, working through mainstream news organizations, with his insistence that they consult with the government to reduce the risk of harm to individuals. He didn't steal the documents, he said, but gave them to their owners, the American people.

"I didn't want to take information that would — basically be taken and — and thrown out in the press that would cause harm to individuals, that would — that would cause people to die. That would put lives at risk. So a good gauge of what information was provided to the journalists is a representation of what you see in the press. Now the NSA and the Defense Intelligence Agency and some of these other organizations have claimed that lives are at risk, that all this military information was out there, that — you know, I — I took all this information about missiles and warheads and tanks. But we don't see any of that in the newspaper. You know, we — we — we haven't seen any stories on that. And in fact, even though we've been asking the government for a full year now to cite even a single instance of harm that was caused by this reporting, they've never been able to show it."

He said he attached a condition to the release to protect government employees and sources, requiring the journalists to ask government officials about any harm that particular disclosures could cause.

"This material was returned to public hands, to the institutions of our free press so that trusted journalists and trusted institutions like The Washington Post, The Guardian, The New York Times could make decisions about what within this is truly within the public interest that can be reported in a way that maximizes the public gains without risking any harm."

Not cooperating with Russia

Snowden pre-empted any suggestion that he was in Russia by choice.

With a laugh he said, "All right, so this is — this is a really fair concern. I personally am surprised that — I ended up here. The reality is I never intended to end up in Russia. ... I had a flight booked to Cuba, onwards to Latin America -- and I was s-- stopped because the United States government decided to revoke my passport and trap me in Moscow Airport.... So when people ask, 'Why are you in Russia?' I say, 'Please, ask the State Department.' "

He said he is not cooperating with the Russian government.

"So, I have no relationship with the Russian government at all. I'm -- I've never met the Russian president. I'm not supported by the Russian government. I'm not taking money from the Russian government. I'm not a spy, which is the real question. But I would ask this question, too, you know, I would also be skeptical."

To protect himself from Russian leverage, he said, he didn't bring any of the American documents with him as he traveled. "So the best way to make sure that for example the Russians can't break my fingers and — and compromise information or — or hit me with a bag of money until I give them something was not to have it at all. And the way to do that was by destroying the material that I was holding before I transited through Russia."

Williams asked, "If I gave you a laptop, could you access the documents?"

"No, no," Snowden said with a laugh. "I don't have any control. Let's put it this way. If I'm traveling through Russia, and I know I'm traveling through Russia and I know they've got a very aggressive, very professional service, and I look like Tweety Bird to Sylvester the Cat, if I look like a little walking chicken leg with all these documents — if I've got control over that, that's a very dangerous thing for me."

President Putin's policies

When asked a general question about the declining standing of Russian President Vladimir Putin in world opinion, Snowden gave an answer that was pointedly critical of his host's policies, particularly in regard to freedom of the press.

"It is -- it's really frustrating -- for someone who's working so hard to expand the domain of our rights and our privacy, to end up stuck in a place where those rights are -- are being challenged in ways that I would consider deeply unfair. The -- the recent blogger's registration law in Russia, I -- I can't think of any basis for a law like that, not just in Russia but in any country. ... The government shouldn't be regulating the operations of a free press whether it's NBC or whether it's some blogger in their living room. ... there's so much that needs to be defended here in Russia, but I'm limited by my inability to speak Russian and so on and so forth that it's — it's an isolating and a frustrating thing. And I really hope that — Russia, the United States and many other countries will work to push back against this constantly increasing surveillance, against this constant erosion and abrasion of public rights."

Damage to America's security?

Snowden did not directly dispute the idea that military information was in the documents he handed over to the journalists. But he said no military information has been released by the journalists he has worked with. "I don't think there's anything in any of the documents that would be published by any of these journalists — that would not be in the national interest."

He disputed the suggestion that his disclosures have harmed American defense capabilities. Former NSA Director Keith Alexander said Snowden has done "significant and irreversible damage to the nation." Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified that the Pentagon might need to spend billions to overcome the damage done to military security by Snowden's leaks of intelligence documents.

"If, after a year," Snowden said, "they can't show a single individual who's been harmed in any way by this reporting, is it really so grave? Is it really so serious? And can we really trust those claims without scrutinizing them? I'd argue that we can't. But we should be open to it. It's fair, the possibility exists. And if this has caused some serious harm, I personally would like to know about it."

Snowden sidestepped some of Williams' tough questions. He wouldn't say when he began taking documents. And he wouldn't say how many documents he has disclosed, though he scoffed at the figure of up to 1.7 million documents that former NSA Director Alexander and other government officials have used. He said security at the NSA was so poor that it still doesn't know what's missing. "They have no idea what documents were taken at all. Their auditing was so poor, so negligent, that any private contractor, not even an employee of the government, could walk into the NSA building, take whatever they wanted, and walk out with it, and they would never know. Now, I think that's a problem. And I think that's something that needs to be resolved, and people need to be held to account for."

Having himself removed documents from the NSA and shared them with the press, Snowden urged the intelligence community to tighten its security. "While I brought this information to the free press, has it happened before? Could it happen again? And where are other people going with this? Is there somebody who's going to use this information not for the public good, but for their personal gain? I think these are questions that need to be answered. But I can't do that. That's a question for the intelligence community and the senior officials in charge of it."

He returned to the topic of NSA security with a boast: "While they've lost control of quite a bit of material, the last year has shown that myself and the journalists, we never lost control of a single document."

Snowden expressed remorse for the working people at the NSA, whom he called "good people trying to do hard work for good reasons." He said some observers are too quick to dismiss the NSA's valid role as a defender of the nation. "The problem — that we're confronted with, the — the challenge that — that we are facing is not the working-level guys — you know, some — some moustache-twirling villain who's out to destroy your life. It's the fact that senior officials are investing themselves with powers that they're not entitled to and they're doing it without asking the public for any kind of consent."

"Low-level analyst"

Williams asked Snowden about the government's characterization of him as a low-level systems administrator. Snowden challenged that description, naming his work as a contractor or employee for a series of agencies:

"Well, it's no secret that — the U.S. tends to get more and better intelligence out of computers nowadays than they do out of people. I was trained as a spy in sort of the traditional sense of the word in that I lived and worked undercover overseas — pretending to work in a job that I'm not — and even being assigned a name that was not mine. ... Now, the government might deny these things, they might frame it in certain ways and say, "Oh well, you know, he's — he's a low level analyst." But what they're trying to do is they're trying to use one position that I've had in a career here or there to distract from the totality of my experience, which is that I've worked for the Central Intelligence Agency undercover overseas, I've worked for the National Security Agency undercover overseas, and I've worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency as a lecturer at the Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy where I developed sources and methods for keeping our information and people secure in the most hostile and dangerous environments around the world. So when they say I'm a low-level systems administrator, that I don't know what I'm talking about, I'd say it's somewhat misleading."

In terms of his specific duties as a government employee and as a government contractor for Dell and Booz Allen Hamilton inside NSA centers in Japan and Hawaii, Snowden gave this description:

"So I don't think — anybody should talk themselves up, should rank themselves — but I can speak simply to achievements and what the government thought. The reality is — the government invited me as Dell employee — to have meetings with the C.T.O., the C.I.O., and other high-level — technical officers. Actually, the highest level — executive officers for technology in the entire Central Intelligence Agency. They were asking me to propose solutions, to solve problems that no one else could do. I developed new systems that created new capabilities — that — would protect the NSA from disastrous events around the world. For example, the site in Japan where I worked, I created a system that was then later adopted by — by the headquarters of the National Security Agency, and then rolled out — it's being rolled out now around the world, that would protect them in case any site experienced a disaster. Now this was me, as an individual, who came up with this plan, who pitched this plan — who — who — brought it to the director of the technology directorate, who signed off on it and said this was a good idea, who then said I should really push this back to — a certain internal unit. And to champion it from sort of cradle to the grave, to bring this up from nothing and I was the one, the sole one who did that. At the same time — in a completely different part of work, in — a less constructive and more adversarial position, I was monitoring the activities of foreign adversaries. And they assigned me to watch one of the most elite units of a foreign government — who nobody else could really figure out."

"Is it a large country in Asia beginning with a 'C,' " Williams asked?

"It's better if I don't comment on that," Snowden said.

Snowden spoke of feeling vindication by the twin Pulitzer Prizes for public service, which were awarded in April to two organizations he gave documents to, The Washington Post and the British newspaper The Guardian's U.S. publication. When he was asked about criticism of him by the NSA director, Keith Alexander, Snowden jabbed, "Keith Alexander isn't winning Pulitzer Prizes for public service."

"When you look at the actions that I've taken, when you look at the carefulness of the programs that have been disclosed, when you look at the way this has all been filtered through the most trusted journalistic institutions in America, when you look at the way the government has had a chance to chime in on this and to make their case and when you look at the changes that it's resulted in, we've had the first open federal court to ever review these program declare it likely unconstitutional and Orwellian. ... And now you see Congress agreeing that mass surveillance, bulk collection needs to end.

"With all of these things happening that the government agrees — all the way up to the president again — make us stronger, how can it be said that I did not serve my government? How can it be said that this harmed the country, when all three branches of government have made reforms as a result of it?"

Robert Windrem, Tom Winter and Mike Brunker of NBC News contributed to this report.

Source: http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/edward-snow...

Traitor or Patriot? Edward Snowden Sits Down With Brian Williams

by MATTHEW COLERICHARD ESPOSITOBILL DEDMAN and MARK SCHONE

In his first American television interview, Edward Snowden defended his disclosure of the American government's use of surveillance programs to spy on its own people, and described himself as a patriot for trying to stop violations of the Constitution.

Snowden met for about five hours last week with "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams at a hotel in Moscow, where Snowden is living in exile while facing U.S. felony charges. An hour-long special program based on the interview is airing Wednesday on NBC News at 10 p.m. Eastern and 9 p.m. Central.

In the wide-ranging and provocative interview, Snowden suggested that a deal could be reached with the U.S. government for him to come home, said he had tried to go through channels before leaking documents to journalists, and described his transition from enthusiastic supporter of American foreign policy, who enlisted for U.S. Army special operations training during the Iraq War, to a disillusioned intelligence worker who said he came to believe that the government took advantage of the September 11 terror attack to overreach into the private lives of all Americans.

When Williams asked, "Do you see yourself as a patriot?" Snowden answered immediately, "I do."

This story will be updated with full details of the interview, as well as video clips, during the hour-long special.

'Being a Patriot Means Knowing When to Protect Your Country'

Williams: “Do you see yourself as a patriot?”

Snowden: “I do. You know, I — I think patriot is a word that’s — that’s thrown around so much that it can be devalued nowadays. But being a patriot doesn’t mean prioritizing service to government above all else. Being a patriot means knowing when to protect your country, knowing when to protect your Constitution, knowing when to protect your countrymen from the — the violations of an — and encroachments of adversaries. And those adversaries don’t have to be foreign countries. They can be bad policies. They can be officials who, you know, need a little bit more accountability. They can be mistakes of government and — and simple overreach and — and things that — that should never have been tried, or — or that went wrong.”

 

Snowden: 'Sometimes to Do the Right Thing, You Have to Break a Law'

Williams: “In your mind, though, are you blameless? Have you done, as you look at—as you look at this, just a good thing? Have you performed, as you see it, a public service?”

Snowden: “I think it can be both. I think the most important idea is to remember that there have been times throughout history where what is right is not the same as what is legal. Sometimes to do the right thing, you have to break a law. And the key there is in terms of civil disobedience. You have to make sure that what you’re risking, what you’re bringing onto yourself does not serve as a detriment to anyone else.”

 

Snowden: I Don't Deserve a Parade or Life Sentence

“These are things that no individual should empower themself to — to really decide — you know, ‘I’m gonna give myself a parade.’ But neither am I going to walk into a jail cell — to serve as a bad example for other people in government who see something happening, some violation of the Constitution, and think they need to say something about it.”

Snowden: Feds ‘Have No Idea What Documents Were Taken’

“I will say the 1.7 million documents figure that the intelligence community has been bandying—about—the director of N.S.A. himself, Keith Alexander said just a week ago in the Australian Financial Times, or Australian Financial Review I believe—that they have no idea what documents were taken at all. Their auditing was so poor, so negligent, that any private contractor, not even — an employee of the government, could walk into the N.S.A. building, take whatever they wanted, and walk out with it and they would never know. Now, I think that’s a problem. And I think that’s something that needs to be resolved, and people need to be held to account for, has it happened before? Could it happen again?”

Snowden: Snoops Show Shocking ‘Lack of Respect for the Public'

“You know, I don’t think anybody who — who’s been in the intelligence community for almost a decade as I have been — is really shocked by the specific types of general operations when they’re justified. What’s more shocking for anybody is not the dirtiness of the business, it’s the dirtiness of the targeting. It’s the dirtiness of the way these things are being used. It’s the lack of respect for the public — because — and the — the — lack of respect for the intrusiveness of surveillance.”

Snowden on America: 'There Are Some Things Worth Dying For'

“If we want to be free, we can’t become subject to surveillance. We can’t — give away our privacy. We can’t give away our rights. We have to be an active party. We have to be an active part of our government. And we have to say — there are some things worth dying for. And I think the country is one of them.”

Snowden: ‘I Take the Threat of Terrorism Seriously’

“I’ve never told anybody this. No journalist. But I was on Fort Meade on September 11th. I was right outside the NSA. So I remember — I remember the tension of that day. I remember hearing on the radio the planes hitting. And I remember thinking my grandfather, who worked for the FBI at the time — was in the Pentagon when the plane hit it. I take the threat of s— terrorism seriously. And I think we all do. And I think it’s really disingenuous for — for the government to invoke — and sort of scandalize our memories, to sort of exploit the — the national trauma that we all suffered together and worked so hard to come through to justify programs that have never been shown to keep us safe, but cost us liberties and freedoms that we don’t need to give up and our Constitution says we should not give up.”

Snowden: 'I’ve Never Met the Russian President'

“Right, so I have no relationship with the Russian government at all. I’m — I’ve never met — the Russian president. I’m not supported by the Russian government, I’m not taking money from the Russian government. I’m not a spy, which is the real question.”

Source: http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/edward-snow...

Edward Snowden: A Timeline

by MATTHEW COLE and MIKE BRUNKER

June 21, 1983: Edward Joseph Snowden is born in Elizabeth City, N.C. He spends his early life there before moving with his parents, Lonnie, a Coast Guard officer, and Elizabeth, known as Wendy, to Maryland.

1991-1998: Snowden attends public schools in Anne Arundel County, south of Baltimore, before dropping out of high school in his sophomore year.

1999-2001: During this period, the New York Times reports, he developed a fascination with computers and technology and socialized with a tight circle of friends who were similarly enamored of the Internet and Japanese anime culture. He also registered on the Ars Technica website, a hacking and technology forum, and over a two-year period posted as “The One True Hooha” or just “Hooha” about role-playing video games. After his parents’ divorce in 2001, Snowden lived with his mother in Ellicott City, Md.

2002-2004: After attending a local community college off and on, Snowden passes a General Educational Development test to receive a high school equivalency credential. In March 2004, he enlists in an Army Reserve Special Forces training program to “fight to help free people from oppression” in Iraq, he later tells Britain’s Guardian newspaper. But he says he broke his legs in a training accident, and Army records show he was discharged in September. He then lands a job as a security guard at the Center for Advanced Study of Language at the University of Maryland, which has a close relationship with the National Security Agency, according to the Times.

2006: Snowden is hired by the CIA as a technical/IT expert and receives a top-secret clearance.

2007-2009: Snowden is posted to Geneva, Switzerland, under diplomatic cover as an IT and cyber security expert for the CIA, a position that gives him access to a wide array of classified documents. He later tells the Guardian that during this period he became disillusioned “about how my government functions and what its impact is in the world. I realized that I was part of something that was doing far more harm than good."

Late 2009-March 2012: Snowden’s supervisor at the CIA placed a critical assessment of his behavior and work habits in his personnel file and voiced the suspicion that he had tried to “break into classified computer files to which he was not authorized to have access,” the New York Times reports after he is identified as the leaker, quoting two unnamed “senior American officials.” Snowden leaves the CIA soon after his supervisor’s criticism and begins work as a NSA contractor assigned by Dell -- one of 854,000 contractors with top-secret clearance working for the federal government. Over the next several years, he switches between assignments with the NSA and CIA for Dell, including a stint at a NSA facility in Japan that lasts until March 2012.

March 2012: Snowden moves to Hawaii to work at a NSA facility there as a Dell employee. He moves into a blue-and-white house in Waipahu, where he is joined by his girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, a 28-year-old performance artist. He donates $250 to the Republican presidential campaign of libertarian Ron Paul, campaign records show, followed by a second contribution of the same amount two months later.

Dec. 1, 2012: Snowden reaches out to Glenn Greenwald, a lawyer and columnist for The Guardian.

Jan. 2013: Snowden reaches out to Laura Poitras, a documentary filmmaker.

March 2013: He seeks a new contractor job with Booz Allen Hamilton at the same NSA facility in Hawaii. He later tells the South China Morning Post that he did so to get additional access to classified documents he intends to leak.

May 2013: Snowden begins sending some documents to Poitras, Greenwald and to Barton Gellman of the Washington Post. He tells his NSA supervisor that he needs to take some time off to undergo treatment for epilepsy, which he was diagnosed with the previous year, according to the Guardian. He tells his girlfriend he will be away for a few weeks, but is vague about the reason.

May 20, 2013: Snowden arrives in Hong Kong from Hawaii.

June 2, 2013: Greenwald and Poitras arrive in Hong Kong.

June 5, 2013: First revelations arising from the documents provided by Snowden are published in a Guardian article about the NSA’s collection of domestic email and telephone metadata from Verizon as part of what is later revealed to be an even broader collection effort.

June 6, 2013: The Guardian and the Washington Post each publish an article about the NSA program PRISM, which forces biggest US internet companies to hand over data on domestic users.

June 8, 2013: The Guardian publishes NSA slides on Boundless Informant, which shows NSA collected nearly 3 billion pieces of intelligence inside the U.S. in February 2013 alone.

June 9, 2013: The Guardian reveals Edward Snowden as the source of the NSA leaks.

June 11, 2013: Snowden is fired by Booz Allen Hamilton. In a statement, the company says, “News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm.”

June 14, 2013: The U.S. Justice Department charges Snowden with theft, “unauthorized communication of national defense information” and “willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person” – the latter two charges violations of the 1917 Espionage Act. The criminal complaint is initially filed under seal in the Eastern District of Virginia, and unsealed a week later.

June 23, 2013: Snowden leaves Hong Kong for Ecuador, with a planned stopover in Russia. But he is stranded at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow after U.S. authorities rescind his passport. He spends the next month living in limbo in the airport’s transit center.

Aug. 1, 2013: He is granted temporary asylum by Russian authorities as they consider his application for permanent political asylum.

Aug. 1, 2013: The Guardian publishes an article detailing NSA funding for British intelligence because U.K. can collect data that would illegal for NSA to do, based on documents provided by Snowden.

Oct. 2, 2013: At a Senate hearing on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper tells lawmakers that Snowden’s leaks have aided America’s enemies and “done great damage” to its allies. “People’s lives are at risk here because of data that Mr. Snowden purloined,” he says.

Oct. 14, 2013: The Washington Post reports on documents revealing that the NSA collects over 250 million email inbox views and contact lists a year from online services like Yahoo, Gmail and Facebook. The documents, provided by Snowden, show the agency collects the data in bulk from massive fiber optic cables that carry most of the world's telephone and Internet traffic.

Dec. 16, 2013: U.S. District Judge Richard Leon rules that the NSA’s gathering of data on all telephone calls made in the United States appears to violate the Constitution’s protection against unreasonable searches. But Leon, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, puts his ruling on hold to allow the government to appeal.

Dec. 27, 2013: Another federal judge, U.S. District Judge William Pauley III in Manhattan, appointed by former President Bill Clinton, reaches an opposite conclusion, ruling that the NSA’s collection of phone data is legal.

Jan. 17, 2014: In a speech on government mass surveillance revealed by Snowden,President Barack Obama orders Attorney General Eric Holder to study possible reforms of the program. But he also defends NSA employees and attempts to assure Americans they are "not abusing (their) authorities to listen to your private phone calls or read your emails."

Jan. 27, 2014: Based on Snowden documentsNBC News reports that British cyber spies demonstrated a pilot program to their U.S. partners in 2012 in which they were able to monitor YouTube in real time and collect addresses from the billions of videos watched daily, as well as some user information, for analysis. At the time, they were also able to spy on Facebook and Twitter.

Feb. 7, 2014: NBC News reports, based on Snowden documents, that British spies have developed “dirty tricks” for use against nations, hackers, terror groups, suspected criminals and arms dealers that include releasing computer viruses, spying on journalists and diplomats, jamming phones and computers, and using sex to lure targets into “honey traps.”

March 6, 2014: The Pentagon might need to spend billions to overcome the damage done to military security by Snowden's leaks of intelligence documents, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tells members of Congress at a hearing on the defense budget.

March 10, 2014: In a teleconference appearance from Moscow, Snowden tells a crowd at the South by Southwest music and technology festival in Austin, Texas, that the NSA and its counterparts are "setting fire to the future of the Internet," and urges technologists in attendance to “help us fix this.”

April 17, 2014: Snowden appears via webcam on Russian television to ask President Vladimir Putin about whether Russia conducts mass surveillance of civilians. The softball setup — Putin replied with a resounding "no," adding that he is against spying on his people — was generally seen as a PR stunt. But in a subsequent opinion column in The Guardian, Snowden defends his line of questioning and notes that Putin was evasive in his response.

May 21, 2014: NBC News’ Brian Williams interviews Snowden in Moscow. Key pieces of the interview will be broadcast in a one-hour Prime Time special on Wednesday at 10 p.m. Eastern/9 p.m. Central.

Source: http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/edward-snow...