Edward Snowden, former CIA employee and National Security Agency (NSA) contractor turned whistleblower, recently spoke with the Washington Post in Russia, where he has been given asylum. According to Snowden, his "mission is accomplished."
Snowden's leaking of US spying secrets revealed a global surveillance system of unprecedented proportions, and sparked controversy between the US and foreign leaders that had their privacy breached. He has been termed the greatest threat to the US in its history.
On the other side of the spectrum, Snowden has been nominated for a European Prize for Freedom of Thought for exposing unchecked government abuses of its intelligence capabilities in monitoring internet traffic, telephone conversations and more.
"For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished,” said Snowden in the interview. “I already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself.”
Speaking of his goals, Snowden added "all I wanted was for the public to be able to have a say in how they are governed. That is a milestone we left a long time ago."
In the interview, his first since arriving in Russia in June, Snowden did not address the recent revelations about American spying on Israeli leaders, which has led to uproar over Jonathan Pollard's ongoing imprisonment for passing information on the US. US President Barack Obama reiterated he has no immediate plans to release Pollard following the revelations.
Snowden's leaked documents revealed that the US has been spying on "high priority Israeli military targets" as well.
"I am not trying to bring down the NSA, I am working to improve the NSA. ...They are the only ones who don't realize it," comments Snowden, elaborating on his motives.
The whistleblower noted that his colleagues were "astonished to learn we are collecting more in the United States on Americans than we are on Russians in Russia."
"The system failed comprehensively, and each level of oversight, each level of responsibility that should have addressed this, abdicated their responsibility," remarked Snowden.
America's unchecked surveillance system is "a direct threat to democratic governance" according to Snowden, who says that government "wants...something they never had before. They want total awareness. The question is, is that something we should be allowing?”
Snowden emphasizes his opinion that individual targeting rather than the mass monitoring currently employed would solve the problems of invasive government spying he has revealed.