Snowden: I Was a Spy

Tuesday, 27 May 2014 08:25 PM

By Greg Richter

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Edward Snowden says he was a spy, not a mere low-level contract employee as he has been portrayed by the media, members of Congress and even President Barack Obama, NBC News reports.

Snowden spoke for several hours to NBC's Brian Williams in Moscow last week. An hour of that interview will be aired in prime time on Wednesday, but a portion was shown Tuesday on the "NBC Nightly News."

Editor's Note: Dr. Ben Carson's New Book - One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America’s Future

Williams noted to Snowden that spies today look more like the 30-year-old tech geek and less like James Bond.

"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," Snowden said. "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."

Still, Snowden said, he is a "technical specialist," and doesn't work with people.

"I don't recruit agents," he said. "What I do is, I put systems to work for the United States. And I've done that from all levels, from the bottom, on the ground, all the way to the top."

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Obama said in an early press conference about Snowden, "I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker."

That image was helped by the youthful and slight appearance of Snowden.

But the government has charged him with espionage and revoked his passport before he left Hong Kong seeking asylum in several countries. The revoked passport forced him to spend time stuck in a Moscow airport before the Russian government finally offered him temporary asylum.

Snowden is believed to have taken 1.7 million classified files on a computer thumb drive before initially fleeing to Hong Kong and contacting journalist Glenn Greenwald. The documents detail American spying efforts around the world, including collecting data on the phone calls and email communications of U.S. citizens.

Snowden has supporters who believe he is a whistleblower against government intrusion, but others on both the left and right say he should be treated as a traitor for exposing spying methods.

Snowden told Williams that government officials have labeled him a low-level analyst, because they are trying to "distract from the totality of my experience."

He told Williams he has worked undercover overseas for the Central Intelligence Agency and for the National Security Agency. He also worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency as a lecturer at the Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy where he says he developed sources and methods for keeping American information and people secure in the most hostile and dangers environments in the world.

But Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has said Snowden has overinflated his own importance as well as his access and what the programs he describes would allow the NSA to do.

NBC confirmed from the Defense Intelligence Agency that Snowden was a guest speaker at three conferences on military cybersecurity, including one in Japan on the Chinese cyber threat.

NBC plans to air more of Snowden's interview on Wednesday's "Nightly News" broadcast and during prime time Wednesday from 10 to 11 p.m. EDT.

Editor's Note: Dr. Ben Carson's New Book - One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America’s Future

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