Snowden: NSA Leaders Have Harmed Our National Security ‘More Than Anything’ Else

Photo Credit: Sunshinepress/Getty ImagesBy Dustin Volz.

America’s most high-profile fugitive visited one of the country’s most popular entertainment festivals in Texas on Monday, drawing thunderous applause from a crowded room filled with his adoring fans.

Edward Snowden, appearing from Russia through a live video stream, told attendees of the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin that Congress had fundamentally failed to do its job as an overseer of the government’s bulk surveillance programs, declaring that “we need a watchdog that watches Congress.”

The former National Security Agency contractor, in a conversation with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Christopher Soghoian and Ben Wizner, also charged the current and most recent chief of the NSA as the two people most responsible for jeopardizing the country’s national security due to their preference for aggressive collection of data rather than protection of it after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“More than anything, there are two officials who have harmed our Internet security and national security,” Snowden said, his image backdropped by an enlarged copy of the U.S. Constitution. “Those two officials are Michael Hayden and Keith Alexander.”

He added: “When you are the one country that has a vault that is more full than anyone else’s, it doesn’t make any sense to be attacking all day and never defending your vault. And it makes even less sense when you’re setting the standards for vaults worldwide and leaving a huge back door open.”

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Edward Snowden: NSA is ‘setting fire to the future of the Internet’

By Ashe Schow.

Edward Snowden, the man who leaked the National Security Agency data collection programs, said Monday the act of mass surveillance is “setting fire to the future of the Internet.”

Snowden, speaking via satellite feed (in front of a green-screen display of the U.S. Constitution) to a panel at the annual South by Southwest conference, urged attendees to fight back against the spy programs and remember that more countries than the U.S. are involved.

“The NSA, the sort of global mass surveillance that’s occurring in all of these countries, not just the U.S. — and it’s important to remember that this is a global issue — they’re setting fire to the future of the Internet,” Snowden said. “And the people who are in this room now — you guys are all the firefighters. And we need you to help us fix it.”

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