The whistle-blower spoke directly with Guardian readers Monday to answer questions about his leak of NSA documents and government surveillance in general.
Snowden confirmed that there is very little information on private individuals that the intelligence services cannot access; that he waited to release the documents, hoping Obama would deliver on hope and change but instead the president closed “the door on systemic violations of law,” deepened and expanded “several abusive programs” and refused “to spend the political capital to end the kind of human rights violations like we see in Guantanamo, where men still sit without charge”; that encryption protection of online data works when properly done; and that he believes the American public is on his side, even if the mainstream media aren’t.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
The reality is this: if an NSA, FBI, CIA, DIA [Defence Intelligence Agency], etc analyst has access to query raw SIGINT [signals intelligence] databases, they can enter and get results for anything they want. Phone number, email, user id, cell phone handset id (IMEI), and so on – it’s all the same. The restrictions against this are policy based, not technically based, and can change at any time. Additionally, audits are cursory, incomplete, and easily fooled by fake justifications. For at least GCHQ, the number of audited queries is only 5% of those performed …
If I target for example an email address, for example under FAA 702, and that email address sent something to you, Joe America, the analyst gets it. All of it. IPs, raw data, content, headers, attachments, everything. And it gets saved for a very long time – and can be extended further with waivers rather than warrants.
Laura Poitras/The Guardian