NSA contractor risks steep jail time for data leak
UNDATED (WHDH) -- U.S. official have their eye on Hong Kong and are thinking about extraditing back to the United States the man who told the secrets of the NSA, Ed Snowden.
“There is obviously an investigation underway into this matter,” said White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney.
Snowden claimed he was a whistleblower who exposed NSA phone data collection and the NSA tracking of foreigners’ internet use because he thought they were improper and shouldn’t be a secret. He said he shouldn’t be prosecuted because he was doing what he believed was the right thing.
“The public needs to decide whether these programs and police are right or wrong,” said Snowden.
Supporters of Snowden rallied in New York, but a National Security insider who helped set up both NSA programs told NBC’s Chuck Todd, Snowden was wrong and was not a whistleblower.
“The efforts to make him into a hero, Chuck, I think are going to fall flat. He is not a whistleblower, you don’t break the law, steal documents and then make a run for the border,” said former Chief Counsel of the House Intelligence Committee, Jeremy Bash.
Snowden didn’t work for the NSA, but he did work for contractor Booz Allen Hamilton that earned over a billion dollars last year doing work for the NSA. As an employee of Booz Allen Hamilton, Snowden claimed he had startling access from his office in Hawaii.
“I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a Federal judge, to even the President if I had a personal email,” said Snowden.
But U.S. authorities said though he may have had the ability, he didn’t have the authority. The FBI is first supposed to verify that an internet target is foreign and a special court has to authorize any phone taps.