Tag Archives: Snowden

Snowden asks Putin LIVE: Does Russia intercept millions of citizens’ data?

Russia has “no mass surveillance in our country,” according to President Vladimir Putin, after he was asked a surprise question by whistleblower Edward Snowden at his Q&A session, adding “our surveillance activities are strictly controlled by the law.”

The former US National Security Agency contractor was interested to know Putin’s view as to whether there was any mass surveillance in Russia. The 30-year-old American mentioned that “two separate White House investigations, as well as a [US] federal court, all concluded that these programs are ineffective in stopping terrorism” in America and if, “Russia intercepts stores or analyzes the communications of millions of people in any way.”

Putin revealed that Russia uses surveillance techniques for spying on individuals, but this is “only with the sanction of a court order.” He added that “this is our law and therefore there is no mass surveillance in our country.”

There was plenty of joking by Putin, who began his answer to Snowden by saying, “You are a former agent or spy. I used to work for an intelligence agency, so we are going to talk the same professional language.” He concluded by adding with a smile that he hopes that Russia will never have the same kind of uncontrollable surveillance as America and this is unlikely to happen as “Russia does not have as much money to spend on this as they do in the States.”

Edward Snowden, who has been scathing about the use of mass surveillance by the US government, was appearing via a video link from an undisclosed location in Russia. He helped detail how the NSA managed to spy on the lives of millions of Americans as well as world leaders, despite almost all of them being individuals who have never been suspected of any wrongdoing or criminal activity.

The US citizen has been living in Russia since being granted temporary asylum in August 2013, after fleeing his homeland and then Hong Kong after leaking huge numbers of sensitive documents.

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No legal means exist to challenge mass surveillance – Snowden

No legal means exist to challenge mass surveillance, said NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, testifying to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

A former NSA contractor, Snowden was speaking to the PACE session in Strasbourg via a video link-up from Moscow.

Wanted in the US on treason charges, he sparked a huge international scandal last year he leaked to the media classified evidence of American government spying programs.

“I would like to clarify that I have no intention of harming the US government or straining bilateral ties between any nations. My motivation is to improve the government, not to bring it down,” Snowden said.

Snowden told the European parliamentarians that any kind of web traffic can be analyzed and searched with little effort.

The technique can be used to identify a person with a certain social or religious group and business interactions. Using this technology, NSA can also make a list of home addresses of people who match a certain criteria.

Snowden added, however, that there are no “nightmare scenarios” where the US government would, for instance, fingerprint all gay people. However, they can follow law violators as well as those where just had the bad luck to follow a wrong link on the internet, he said.

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NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander says future Snowden leaks could lead to deaths

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The data that National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden‘s holds could, if released, lead to deaths, the agency’s outgoing director says.

Gen. Keith Alexander said in an interview aired Tuesday on “Special Report with Bret Baier” that the possibility that more information coming from Snowden could cost people their lives represents his “greatest concern.”

“Do you know what he has?” host Baier asked the general.

“We have a good assessment of what he has, yes,” Alexander said.

“And is there a lot more damaging to come?”

“Yes, especially to our military operations and those who are serving overseas,” Alexander replied.

Alexander said he was “hugely disappointed” when he learned that Snowden, who was entrusted with sensitive information, began leaking NSA data last summer.

“I think this will haunt him for the rest of his life,” Alexander said. “Here’s a young guy who made some huge mistakes.”

When asked what he would do with Snowden were he granted 15 minutes alone with him, Alexander said he wouldn’t attack the former analyst, but instead might reveal to him the damage he’s caused the agency, “so he knows the damage — the significant damage to our nation and to our allies.”

Alexander also said the reforms pushed by President Obama, which would require the NSA to prove more direct links from terrorists before acquiring data from telephone companies, are sensible.

“The approach that we put forward … is one that would limit what we get, so it does away with the business record FISA database as we know it today, and we would now work with the telecommunications company on specific numbers that have a terrorist nexus and get only that data,” Alexander said. “This is an approach that I think meets the intent of protecting our civil liberties and privacy and the security of this country.”

Also in the interview, Alexander addressed concerns raised by former President Carter, who on Sunday said he uses snail mail to communicate with foreign leaders for fear his emails are being monitored.

“We’re not [monitoring the emails],” Alexander said. “So he can now go back to writing emails. The reality is, we don’t do that. And if we did, it would be illegal and we’d be … held accountable and responsible.”

via NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander says future Snowden leaks could lead to deaths | Fox News.

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​Surveillance watchdog ‘was not personally aware’ of bulk NSA spying

Protesters dressed up in costumes representing U.S. President Barack Obama and an National Security Agency agent rally in front of the U.S. Capitol building during the Stop Watching Us Rally protesting surveillance by the U.S. National Security Agency

A Pentagon watchdog charged with oversight of the National Security Agency said he was “not aware” of its bulk phone records collection until it was exposed in June. Furthermore, he said his office is not investigating the agency’s surveillance policies.

Anthony C. Thomas, the deputy Defense Department inspector general for intelligence and special program assessments, told reporters at the Pentagon that he “can’t quantify” how much oversight he conducts in regard to the NSA.

“The bulk of that is in reviews that we have done, and in the collaborative work that we have done with the NSA [inspector general],” Thomas said, according to the Guardian.

“From my own personal knowledge, those programs, in and of themselves, I was not personally aware,” Thomas said.

Since June – when news outlets first published proof of the agency’s vast domestic phone records collection program based on material leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden – US officials have repeatedly assured the public and lawmakers that the NSA’s sprawling, global surveillance empire came with proper safeguards and adequate oversight, including from the Pentagon’s inspector general.

Thomas said he’s able to see the NSA’s own “plans” for reviews and investigations through defense-associated intelligence inspectors general forums.

“That doesn’t mean that the DOD IG is saying: ‘well, if you look at that, we won’t look at that.’ Certainly not, but it’s more of an ongoing relationship … a constant discussion,” Thomas said.

“If the NSA IG is looking into something and we feel that their reporting, their investigation is ongoing, we’ll wait to see what they find or what they don’t find, and that may dictate something that we may do. In the course of a planning process, we may get a hotline [call], or we may get some complaint that may dictate an action that we may or not take,” Thomas added.

As for bulk surveillance, Thomas said he does not have an open investigation, as he is “waiting to see the information that the NSA IG brings forward with the investigations that are going on, and what we often do not want to do is conflict.”

Thomas added Tuesday that he would have listened to Snowden’s concerns about the scale of NSA spying had the whistleblower contacted his office.

“If Edward Snowden had called our hotline, there would have been a robust look at his allegations,” Thomas said.

Snowden has said that he had no faith in the internal reporting system before he leaked the classified documents to the Guardian and The Washington Post, believing his concerns “would have been buried forever,” leaving him “discredited and ruined.”

“The system does not work,” Snowden told The New York Times in October. “You have to report wrongdoing to those most responsible for it.”

NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines would not answer questions regarding any NSA reviews or investigations by the agency’s Office of the Inspector General.

“The NSA OIG does not comment on investigations or reviews that it has opened. The Office does have a division dedicated to intelligence oversight, and it does have reporting obligations to the Congress and the President’s Intelligence Oversight Board,” Vines said, according to the Guardian.

Shortly after Thomas’ comments at the Pentagon, the Washington Post – citing Snowden documents – wrote that the US-administered surveillance program MYSTIC is capable of recording “100 percent” of the contents of each and every phone call in a foreign country.

MYSTIC and its “retrospective retrieval” tool known as RETRO can store “billions” of phone discussions for 30 days, and the oldest conversations are purged as new ones are logged. Once the content enters the NSA’s system, however, analysts are able to go back and listen in as much as a month later to find information on a person who might never have been suspected of a crime at the time that their initial conversation was collected, unbeknownst to them, by the US government.

Since the first Snowden-fueled revelations appeared in June, US officials have maintained that the NSA is properly overseen, like any other federal agency.

In October, before the House intelligence committee, outgoing NSA director Keith Alexander ran through the various watchdogs in his universe, including that of the Defense Department.

“The [office of the Director of National Intelligence] has an inspector general and a general counsel that also oversees what we’re doing,” he said. “The Department of Defense has a general counsel and an inspector general that oversees what we’re doing. And the Department of Justice, their national security division, oversees what we’re doing and works with us in the court and the White House.”

President Obama vowed some reform to US surveillance operations in January, though it is unclear if any actual substantive change will occur.

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Snowden: NSA pressured EU into creating ‘European bazaar’ of spy networks

Edward Snowden (AFP Photo / Channel 4)

National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden answered questions before the European Parliament on Friday, saying that the United States spy agency pressures its allies to take steps towards further enabling widespread and indiscriminate surveillance.

“One of the foremost activities of the NSA’s FAD, or Foreign Affairs Division, is to pressure or incentivize EU member states to change their laws to enable mass surveillance,” Snowden said in a testimony delivered remotely from Russia. “Lawyers from the NSA, as well as the UK’s GCHQ, work very hard to search for loopholes in laws and constitutional protections that they can use to justify indiscriminate, dragnet surveillance operations that were at best unwittingly authorized by lawmakers.”

“These efforts to interpret new powers out of vague laws is an intentional strategy to avoid public opposition and lawmakers’ insistence that legal limits be respected,” Snowden added.

The NSA lobbied heavily for leaders in Sweden, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Germany to authorize mass surveillance operations, including programs in which intelligence is gathered and then shared across borders with allied nation-states abroad, the former intelligence contractor said.

“Each of these countries received instruction from the NSA, sometimes under the guise of the US Department of Defense and other bodies, on how to degrade the legal protections of their countries’ communications,” he said, including one instance in Germany where officials there were allegedly pressured by the US to modify the country’s G-10 law “to appease the NSA” while at the same time “it eroded the rights of German citizens under their constitution.”

Pressuring those countries to increase their surveillance capabilities and adopt new technology created a “European bazaar” that enabled EU member states to essentially funnel intelligence to spy firms around the globe, Snowden said.

According to Snowden, “an EU member state like Denmark may give the NSA access to a tapping center on the [unenforceable] condition that NSA doesn’t search it for Danes, and Germany may give the NSA access to another on the condition that it doesn’t search for Germans. Yet the two tapping sites may be two points on the same cable, so the NSA simply captures the communications of the German citizens as they transit Denmark, and the Danish citizens as they transit Germany, all the while considering it entirely in accordance with their agreements. Ultimately, each EU national government’s spy services are independently hawking domestic accesses to the NSA, GCHQ, FRA, and the like without having any awareness of how their individual contribution is enabling the greater patchwork of mass surveillance against ordinary citizens as a whole.”

“By the time this general process has occurred, it is very difficult for the citizens of a country to protect the privacy of their communications, and it is very easy for the intelligence services of that country to make those communications available to the NSA — even without having explicitly shared them,” he said.

“The Parliament should ask the NSA and GCHQ to deny that they monitor the communications of EU citizens, and in the absence of an informative response, I would suggest that the current state of affairs is the inevitable result of subordinating the rights of the voting public to the prerogatives of State Security Bureaus,” Snowden added.

Friday’s remarks were published by a website administered by supporters of Snowden, who has been in Russia since June 2013. American authorities revoked his passport last year after he admitted to being the source responsible for a trove of leaked, top-secret NSA documents that have disclosed evidence of several previously unknown US surveillance programs, leaving him confined to the Moscow region.

Snowden cautioned the EU committee that there are “many other undisclosed programs” that will likely impact the rights of citizens there once they are made public, but said he “will leave the public interest determinations as to which of these may be safely disclosed to responsible journalists in coordination with government stakeholders.”

In his statement, Snowden also denounced allegations that he has a relationship with the government of Russia.

“I would also add, for the record, that the United States government has repeatedly acknowledged that there is no evidence at all of any relationship between myself and the Russian intelligence service,” Snowden said.

“For the record, I also repeat my willingness to provide testimony to the United States Congress, should they decide to consider the issue of unconstitutional mass surveillance,” he said.

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Snowden, Assange and Greenwald scheduled to address Texas tech conference from abroad

Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange.

Three of the top presenters scheduled to speak at a technology conference in Texas next week will deliver their remarks remotely due to leak investigations that have left them all unable or unwilling to come to the United States.

Former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden will discuss the impact of the National Security Agency’s spy efforts at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas next Monday, organizers announced this week.

Planners for SXSW said on Tuesday that Snowden, the 30-year-old ex-systems analyst who leaked secret NSA documents to the media last year, will participate in a live discussion at the festival via teleconference from Russia. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and journalist Glenn Greenwald have both previously agreed to speak at this year’s event as well.

“Hear directly from Snowden about his beliefs on what the tech community can and must do to secure the private data of the billions of people who rely on the tools and services that we build,” festival organizers said in a statement.

Ben Wizner — the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project and a legal advisor to Snowden — will moderate the conversation between Snowden and the ACLU’s chief technologist, Christopher Soghoian. The event will be broadcast online courtesy of the Texas Tribune.

Previously unpublished documents disclosed to the media by Snowden since last summer have exposed an array of NSA programs involving the United States spy agency’s efforts to acquire seemingly all digital communications across the world. He’s been accused of espionage and theft by the US Department of Justice for leaking that information, but the approval by Moscow last August of an asylum request there has allowed him to so far deter being prosecuted in America.

Assange, the founder of anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks who is also under investigation for disclosing classified documents, previously agreed to speak at the conference remotely for an event scheduled for this Saturday morning. The 42-year-old Australian publisher has been confined to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for over a year, and cannot leave the facility without facing immediate arrest at the hands of British authorities. He’s wanted for questioning in Sweden.

On Monday, American journalist Glenn Greenwald will also speak about the ongoing NSA controversy at the festival, but from Brazil. He’s a confidant of Snowden and has worked closely with the former systems analyst on the NSA documents, but on advice of counsel has avoided returning to the US since the first stories involving the intelligence leaks were published last June.

“Surveillance and online privacy look to be one of the biggest topics of conversation at the 2014 SXSW Interactive Festival,” reads a statement released this week by individuals involved in the event.. “As organizers, SXSW agrees that a healthy debate with regards to the limits of surveillance is vital to the future of the online ecosystem.”

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Snowden will help Germany investigate NSA spying if granted asylum – report

Edward Snowden is offering Germany his help with investigating NSA spying activities on its soil, if Berlin grants him political asylum, Stern reports, citing correspondence with the whistleblower.

“I have a great respect for Germany,” Snowden wrote to the German Stern publication. The former NSA contractor also wrote that he would be willing to help German officials investigate alleged NSA spying in Germany, if he is granted asylum.

Not fearing possible prosecution and extradition to the US, the whistleblower noted that no one in the German government seriously believes that the US will “implement sanctions against Germany in response to criticism of illegal surveillance” because it will cause “greater harm to the US rather than Germany.”

Snowden doubts the ability of US Congress to implement any reforms, following a report by an expert panel tasked with reviewing NSA global surveillance activities released by the White House earlier this week. The Secret Service Committee, Snowden wrote, is praising the intelligence services rather than keeping them in check.

Last week Snowden sent a similar open letter to Brazil, offering his help with “investigations into suspected crimes against Brazilian citizens” but noting that the US government will continue to limit his “ability to speak out until a country grants me permanent political asylum.”

Snowden again reiterated the message on Sunday in an email exchange with the Brazilian Globo TV channel, saying that he would like to move to Brazil if he was permitted by its government. The Brazilian foreign ministry said that it can only consider such a request for asylum once it receives an official application.

He accused the US presidential panel tasked with reviewing US’s surveillance practices of recommending “cosmetic changes.”

“Their job wasn’t to protect privacy or deter abuses, it was to ‘restore public confidence’ in these spying activities. Many of the recommendations they made are cosmetic changes,”
Snowden said, as quoted by Wall Street Journal.

Snowden also managed to thank Russia for the asylum opportunity and for the ability to freely speak his mind.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to live in freedom and participate in major global debates through the year asylum granted by Russia,” Snowden said in an interview.

“I have a lot of time for reading, I have been closely following the developments in the world,”
said Snowden, responding to a question about how he passes his time in Russia.

Back in November Snowden handed over another letter addressed “to whom it may concern” in German political circles, indicating that he was willing to go to Germany and testify over the US wiretapping of Angela Merkel’s phone on condition of granting him political asylum.

In that one-page typed letter, the whistleblower also expressed hope that “with the support of the international community, the government of the United States will abandon this harmful behaviour [of treating dissent as defection].”

Without commenting directly on the open petition, the US State Department responded by saying, that Snowden remains a wanted man who “is accused of leaking classified information, faces felony charges here in the United States and … should be returned as soon as possible.”

Following Snowden’s November appeal, more than 50 German public figures asked Berlin to grant Snowden asylum, according to Der Spiegel. For instance, the former general secretary of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, Heiner Geissler, wrote that Snowden has done the western world a “great service.”

The German government however refused to consider the request, with Steffen Seibert, official spokesman of the cabinet, saying that the issue is tied to Germany’s security and mutual interests with the US. “For us Germans, the transatlantic alliance remains of paramount importance,” he said.

In the meantime, Snowden continues to look for a safe harbor, following the offer for a temporary asylum in Russia in August. Before accepting a temporary asylum in Russia on conditions that he would not engage in whistleblowing activities on Russian soil, the whistleblower sought permanent political asylum in over 20 countries, including Germany and Brazil.

The two states embarked on a UN quest to curb the NSA’s worldwide spying activity, and introduced a UN resolution against supernormal surveillance of communications, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly unanimously.

During this week’s press conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin has once again reiterated that Russian intelligence has never sought to extract any intelligence from Snowden, who in his turn is abiding by the terms of not engaging “in anti-American propaganda.”

“Operationally, we are not working with him and never have done, and are not asking him any questions about how his agency worked on Russia,” said Putin. “I won’t hide it, this person is not without interest for me. I think that thanks to Snowden, a lot changed in the minds of millions of people, including in the minds of major political leaders.”

Snowden will help Germany investigate NSA spying if granted asylum – report — RT News.

Britain targets Guardian newspaper over intelligence leaks related to Edward Snowden.

LONDON — Living in self-imposed exile in Russia, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden may be safely out of reach from Western powers. But dismayed by the continued airing of trans­atlantic intelligence, British authorities are taking full aim at a messenger shedding light on his secret files here — the small but mighty Guardian newspaper.

The pressures coming to bear against the Guardian, observers say, are testing the limits of press freedoms in one of the world’s most open societies. Although Britain is famously home to a fierce pack of news media outlets — including the tabloid hounds of old Fleet Street — it also has no enshrined constitutional right to free speech.

The Guardian, in fact, has slipped into the single largest crack in the free speech laws that are on the books here — the dissemination of state secrets protecting queen and country in the British homeland.

A feisty, London-based news outlet with a print circulation just shy of 200,000 — albeit with a far bigger footprint online with readers in the many millions — the Guardian, along with The Washington Post, was the first to publish reports based on classified data spirited out of the United States by Snowden. In the months since, the Guardian has continued to make officials here exceedingly nervous by exposing the joint operations of U.S. and British intelligence — particularly their cooperation in data collection and snooping programs involving British citizens and close allies on the European continent. In response, the Guardian is being called to account by British authorities for jeopardizing national security. The Guardian’s top editor, Alan Rusbridger, is being forced to appear before a parliamentary committee Tuesday to explain the news outlet’s actions. The move comes after British officials ordered the destruction of hard drives at the Guardian’s London headquarters, even as top ministers have taken to the airwaves to denounce the newspaper. Scotland Yard has also suggested it may be investigating the paper for possible breaches of British law.

The government treatment of the Guardian is highlighting the very different way Britons tend to view free speech, a liberty that here is seen through the prism of the public good and privacy laws as much as the right to open expression.

Nevertheless, the actions against the paper have led to growing concern in Britain and beyond. Frank La Rue, the U.N. special rapporteur on free expression, has denounced the Guardian’s treatment as “unacceptable in a democratic society.” The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, a Paris-based trade association, will send a delegation of “concerned” publishers and editors from five continents to London in January on a “U.K. press freedom mission.”

“The kind of threats and intimidation being experienced by the Guardian, especially compared to the different responses in the United States and Germany, is something that we should all be very worried about,” said Jo Glanville, director of English PEN, a London-based freedom of expression group.

Threat to national security?

The Guardian is among the global news outlets thoroughly studying the Snowden files and publishing key parts, a club that in addition to The Post has expanded to include the New York Times and Germany’s Der Spiegel, among others.

U.S. intelligence officials have said publicly that the disclosures endanger national security, and the head of the National Security Agency, Gen. Keith B. Alexander, has said the federal government needs to a find a way to stop them.“We ought to come up with a way of stopping it. I don’t know how to do that. That’s more of the courts and the policymakers, but, from my perspective, it’s wrong to allow this to go on,” Alexander told the Defense Department’s Armed With Science blog in October.

The Post does not show stories to U.S. officials in advance of publication, nor does it routinely agree to official requests. But language in some articles has occasionally been modified when officials cited very specific risks to certain intelligence operations and individuals, according to the paper’s executive editor, Martin Baron. A spokeswoman for the New York Times pointed to statements by executive editor Jill Abramson in which she said the paper had turned down at least one request by U.S. officials to withhold a story.

Although legal experts say the First Amendment offers stronger protection for the news media in the United States than their counterparts enjoy in Britain, U.S. authorities still have tools at their disposal to limit the disclosure of classified data. Those tools include the 1917 Espionage Act, which federal prosecutors have used to charge Snowden. Nevertheless, U.S. officials have thus far stopped short of the more aggressive tactics being deployed against the Guardian in Britain.

The German government has also taken a relatively hands-off approach. “At Der Spiegel we have not encountered anything similar,” managing editor Klaus Brinkbäumer said in an e-mail. “There is no serious pressure.”

In contrast, Rusbridger must explain to the parliamentary committee the paper’s dissemination and handling of the Snowden data. The move came after Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking on the floor of Parliament in October, offered comments that seemed to open the door for the editor’s public grilling.

Scotland Yard, meanwhile, has suggested that it might be investigating the Guardian in connection with the authorities’ continuing probe of David Miranda, the partner of Brazil-based freelance journalist Glenn Greenwald, who formerly worked with the Guardian on its Snowden stories.

In August, British authorities arrested Miranda at Heathrow Airport while he was on an information-gathering trip funded by the Guardian. British officials interrogated Miranda for nine hours before confiscating his laptop, cellphone, USB memory sticks and video-game consoles.

Miranda was released after being questioned, but the confiscated items remain in official custody.

Read More :Britain targets Guardian newspaper over intelligence leaks related to Edward Snowden – The Washington Post.

Snowden Leaks: Guardian Editor To Give Evidence

The editor of the Guardian is to give evidence to MPs over documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

A spokesman for the newspaper told Sky News that Alan Rusbridger had been “invited to give evidence to the home affairs select committee and looks forward to appearing next month”.

It follows a series of articles published by the Guardian about the surveillance of phone and internet communications by the security services.

The revelations in the newspaper – and others around the world – were made in top-secret documents obtained by Mr Snowden, a former CIA computer analyst who has since fled to Russia.

On Thursday, three of Britain’s spy chiefs warned that terrorists would be “rubbing their hands with glee” at the level of information released.

Al Qaeda would be “lapping up” the revelations, they told an intelligence and security committee hearing.

It also emerged that dozens of Conservative MPs had written to Mr Rusbridger, asking him to consult the Government or security services before publishing any further stories based on Mr Snowden’s files.

In their letter, the MPs said that publishing the leaked information in such detail “runs the risk of compromising the vital work of the institutions, processes and people who protect the safety of this country”.

However, Mr Rusbridger said: “We continue to consult with both the security services and the Government on our reporting.

“We have in fact consulted with the White House, Downing Street (and) the intelligence services on both sides of the Atlantic … on every story but one that we have published.”

He added: “Snowden handed these documents to newspapers, who have responsibly edited them after prolonged and regular discussions with the relevant authorities.

“Were newspapers to be injuncted, criminalised or inhibited from reporting on such matters … it is easy to predict what the next Edward Snowden or (fellow whistleblower) Chelsea Manning would do.

“They would, in all probability, bypass newspapers and publish the material directly on to the web, with far more serious consequences.”

Snowden Leaks: Guardian Editor To Give Evidence.

‘Time to reform surveillance state’: Massive ‘Stop Watching Us’ rally challenges NSA spying — RT USA

Twelve years after Americans were stripped of their rights in the name of fighting terrorism, thousands have gathered in Washington DC to protest unconstitutional NSA spying programs revealed by Edward Snowden, and call for repeal of the Patriot Act.

Stop Watching Us campaign demands reform of “Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, the state secrets privilege, and the FISA Amendments Act to make clear that blanket surveillance of the Internet activity and phone records of any person residing in the US is prohibited by law and that violations can be reviewed in adversarial proceedings before a public court.”

United under a banner reading “Thank You Snowden” thousands lined the Capitol to hear a statement by former NSA contractor read out.

“Today, no telephone in America makes a call without leaving a record with the NSA. Today, no Internet transaction enters or leaves America without passing through the NSA’s hands. Our representatives in Congress tell us this is not surveillance. They’re wrong,” Snowden said in a statement read out by Former US Department of Justice ethics adviser, Jesselyn Radack.

“This is about the unconstitutional, unethical, and immoral actions of the modern-day surveillance state and how we all must work together to remind government to stop them. It’s about our right to know, to associate freely, and to live in an open society,”
Snowden said.

Twelve large boxes of 575,000 petition signatures were shown to the crowd at the foot of the US Capitol.

RT’s TIMELINE of the ‘Stop Watching Us’ event

Protesters also demand the creation of an investigative committee charged with reporting the extent of domestic spying and enact regulatory reform. Organizers also want to hold accountable those public officials who are found to be responsible for “unconstitutional surveillance.”

United under a banner reading “Thank You Snowden” thousands lined the Capitol to hear a statement by former NSA contractor read out.

“Today, no telephone in America makes a call without leaving a record with the NSA. Today, no Internet transaction enters or leaves America without passing through the NSA’s hands. Our representatives in Congress tell us this is not surveillance. They’re wrong,” Snowden said in a statement read out by Former US Department of Justice ethics adviser, Jesselyn Radack.

“This is about the unconstitutional, unethical, and immoral actions of the modern-day surveillance state and how we all must work together to remind government to stop them. It’s about our right to know, to associate freely, and to live in an open society,”
Snowden said.

Twelve large boxes of 575,000 petition signatures were shown to the crowd at the foot of the US Capitol.

Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who worked with Edward Snowden to expose many of the NSA’s surveillance procedures attended the rally.

“It is very important that people speak out, take action, march, rally demonstrate against these practices of the government,” anti-war activist Richard Becker told RT. “What can really bring a change is the actions of the people,” he said, stressing that “none of the progressive changes” in the history of the US have ever been “originated inside the Congress or in the White House”.

Congressional representative Justin Amash told the crowd that bringing his anti-NSA bill in July to Congress was his proudest moment as an elected official.

“We’re going to keep fighting and we’re going to pass something to rein in the NSA,”
he said, adding that the “NSA is fighting back, the establishment is fighting back.”

Former politicians Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson also attended the anti-NSA protest.

“The government has granted itself power that it does not have,”
said Johnson. “We have to stand against this.”

“Our own government has become a threat to freedom, at home and abroad,” said former Congressman, Dennis Kucinich.

Whistleblower Thomas Drake in addressing the crowd said that he was fortunate not end up in prison. “The last thing a free and open society needs is a digital fence around us,” Drake said. He called for the restoration of the Fourth Amendment and said that NSA surveillance “engenders fear and erodes our freedom.”

Two days before the march the US Department of Defense published a YouTube interview with NSA Director and CYCOM Commander General Keith Alexander trying to justify the agency’s programs. So far less than 2 percent of viewers agree with Alexander’s reasoning for the need for total surveillance and spying on own citizens to protect national security.

A day after the release, the website for the US National Security Agency suddenly went offline in what some claimed was an Anonymous DDoS attack. Twelve hours later the NSA however said it was due to a technical problem during a routine software update, denying it was under attack.

The Edward Snowden leaks have exposed that NSA not only spied on public records but also on data mined from personal communications of world leaders, including Latin American presidents and European leaders – even those who are considered to be US allies, like German Chancellor Angela Merkel who was on NSA spy list since 2002, according to latest revelations.

The Stop Watching Us rally comes as twenty-one countries, including US allies France and Mexico, have joined talks to hammer out a UN resolution that would condemn “indiscriminate” and “extra-territorial” surveillance, and ensure “independent oversight” of electronic monitoring.

Other countries involved in the talks reportedly include Argentina, Austria, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Guyana, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Liechtenstein, Norway, Paraguay, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay and Venezuela.

‘Time to reform surveillance state’: Massive ‘Stop Watching Us’ rally challenges NSA spying — RT USA.