NBC’s Brian Williams gets exclusive interview with Snowden


Snowden“NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams traveled to Moscow for an exclusive, wide-ranging interview with Edward Snowden. The former National Security Agency contractor’s first-ever American TV interview will air in an hour-long NBC News prime-time special on 5/28.

Love him or hate him, Snowden, now 30, is a former systems administrator for the CIA who later went to work for the private intelligence contractor Dell inside a NSA outpost in Japan. In early 2013, he went to work for Booz Allen Hamilton inside the NSA center in Hawaii, notes NBC News.

Williams’ in-person conversation with Snowden was conducted over the course of several hours and was shrouded in secrecy due to Snowden’s life in exile since leaking classified documents about U.S. surveillance programs a year ago. Williams also jointly interviewed Snowden and journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has reported stories based on the documents in media outlets around the world, about how they came to work together and the global debate sparked by their revelations.

While working for the contractors, Snowden downloaded secret documents related to U.S. intelligence activities and partnerships with foreign allies, including some that revealed the extent of data collection from U.S. telephone records and Internet activity.

The U.S. government charged Snowden with espionage and revoked his passport. Snowden flew to Moscow on 6/23, but was unable to continue en route to Latin America because he no longer had a passport.

After living in the airport transit area for more than a month, and applying for asylum in more than 21 countries, he was granted temporary asylum in Russia, where he has been living ever since.

U.S. officials have asserted that Snowden may have taken as many as 1.7 million documents. Among the revelations from documents in the Snowden trove are the NSA’s bulk collection of phone and internet metadata from U.S. users, spying on the personal communications of foreign leaders, including U.S. allies, and the NSA’s ability to tap undersea fiber optic cables and siphon off data.

President Barack Obama responded by appointing a review panel that criticized the NSA’s domestic data collection, and in March he recommended ending bulk domestic metadata collection. The House just passed a bill to end the NSA’s bulk metadata collecting.

See the NBC News story here.

RBR-TVBR observation: Last November, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer vowed to encrypt users’ emails and data after a Washington Post report came out that the NSA has been hacking into communications lines that feed global data centers run by Yahoo and Google to intercept info about users’ online activities and emails. Yahoo planned to have all data encrypted by the end of March. Google began to encrypt its Gmail service in 2010 is now encrypting the communications links to its data centers. Yes, Snowden did some real serious damage to national security by handing the info to the Russians (if indeed he did), but he also woke up US citizens to just how much their personal info can be intercepted. Bottom line, if the information is used by the government to target individuals such as Tea Party activists or political candidates, for blackmail, etc., then we know we have a problem. Simply put, knowledge is power if it is delivered into the right hands. Perhaps in the interview Snowden will provide more detail on how all of that data has or could be used along these lines.


  1. What Google, Facebook and other private entities know about individuals is far more than the bulk collection of data NSA was/is involved in. Further, as recent revelations reveal, none of these companies systems is secure to the point of preventing hackers from entering and stealing data. So, one question that presents itself is which is worse? Google, Facebook and the other private entities have no legal or other responsibilities to the individuals from whom they collect all this data. What is more dangerous – hackers getting access to social security and credit card information, or the NSA’s collection of bulk metadata and having to go to court to gain access to content of phone called or e-mails? This is not meant to defend what NSA has done, but some of the concerns about what NSA is doing might be better directed at private companies and what they are (and are not) doing when it comes to the collection and securing of far more personal data than the NSA collected. Also, the editorial comment about government targeting individuals such as Tea Party activists or candidates for blackmail etc. suggests something that has not happened. Knowledge is indeed power, and private companies have far more of it about us individuals than people generally recognize. As bad as some government activity can be, at least there are certain restrictions placed on government, which generally have been followed (as far as we know – the collection of telephone metadata was approved by the Supreme Court many years ago). The same is not true for the private information collectors and distributors.

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