The Guardian newspaper announced on Sunday that Edward Snowden is the alleged leak behind the surveillance program that has sent the American public reeling by the explosive allegations that almost all phone calls and emails are being monitored by the U.S. government.
"My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them," said Edward Snowden.
Snowden, 29, has allegedly been working with the NSA through an outside defense contractor, Booze Allen Hamilton; previously he worked as a technical assistant for the CIA.
After entities such as Google, Microsoft, and others denied participation in the program in recent days, the Guardian released video excerpts of the interview held between Snowden and their reporters Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras at the whistleblowers request.
"I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong," said Snowden
According to the Guardian, in a note accompanying the first set of documents he provided, he wrote:
"I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions but I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant."
Despite is request to be publicly identified, he does not wish to be the center of attention and would prefer to avoid the media spotlight.
"I don't want public attention because I don't want the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the US government is doing," said Snowden. "I know the media likes to personalize political debates and I know the government will demonize me."
Journalist Greenwald believes that Snowden is providing a vital public service. Since the story broke last week via the Guardian and Washington Post, the Obama administration is supposedly preparing a criminal investigation. Snowden, on the other hand, fully expects the administration to try to use all of its weight to punish him as he feels that they've gone after previous whistleblowers at an unprecedented rate.
"I don't see myself as a hero," says Snowden, "because what I'm doing is self-interested: I don't want to live in a world where there's no privacy and therefore no room for intellectual exploration and creativity."
"The government has granted itself power it is not entitled to. There is no public oversight. The result is people like myself have the latitude to go further than they are allowed to," he said.
When the journalists attempted to compare Snowden to other whistleblowers like Bradley Manning, he replied:
"I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest. There are all sorts of documents that would have made a big impact that I didn't turn over, because harming people isn't my goal. Transparency is."
Upon being asked why Snowden willingly gave up his very comfortable lifestyle in Hawaii where he earned approximately $200,000 per years and boarded a plane to Hong Kong on May 20, 2012 after telling his boss that he needed to take a leave for a few days, he replied:
"I'm willing to sacrifice all of that because I can't in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they're secretly building."
Obama stated on Friday that citizens cannot have both 100 per cent privacy and 100 per cent security; however, this position also radically reverses the very platform he campaigned on to have complete transparency.
At the heart of this matter however is the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights; pointedly, the Fourth Amendment which states:
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
As of Sunday, U.S. Senator Rand Paul from Tennessee (R) is stating that he intends to launch a class action lawsuit against the NSA at the Supreme Court level.