Former security contractor and National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden said that he tired to bring his concerns to the attention of superiors on at least 10 occasions before deciding to leave the organization with a massive cache of secret documents.
Snowden insisted that he pursued other avenues before going rogue and leaving his job at Booz Allen Hamilton — a private contractor employed by the NSA.
“I had reported these clearly problematic programs to more than ten distinct officials, none of whom took any action to address them,” Snowden said. “As an employee of a private company rather than a direct employee of the U.S. government, I was not protected by U.S. whistleblower laws, and I would not have been protected from retaliation and legal sanction for revealing classified information about lawbreaking in accordance with the recommended process.”
Snowden told the Parliament that the individuals to whom he reported his concerns fell into two camps: Some individuals agreed that the surveillance was wrong, but urged the former CIA employee not to make trouble, or he could face prosecution and professional retribution like other whistleblowers before him.
“Everyone in the Intelligence Community is aware of what happens to people who report concerns about unlawful but authorized operations,” he said.
The other group, Snowden said, urged him to let the illegality of the programs be “someone else’s problem.” Even the highest-ranking officials he spoke to told him that no illegal spying operation has ever been shut down because of an internal complaint.
Among intelligence officials, he said, “there was a unanimous desire to avoid being associated with such a complaint in any form.”
The NSA, for its part, told the Post that no evidence exists that Snowden raised any concerns with superiors. However, if the contractor had insisted to superiors that the meetings take place off the record, it would follow that no such evidence is available.
Snowden is scheduled to address attendees of the South by Southwest arts and culture festival in Austin on Monday. His speech is being carried by satellite and will broadcast at 11:00 a.m. central time.