In testimony provided to members of the European Parliament on Friday, exiled former NSA contractor Edward Snowden said that he had many more details to divulge regarding the spy agency’s global surveillance network.
However, he said, he would allow the journalists whom he has been working through to decide what details they want to release.
“There are many other undisclosed programs that would impact EU citizens' rights, but I will leave the public interest determinations as to which of these may be safely disclosed to responsible journalists in coordination with government stakeholders,” he said.
Snowden, a one-time contracted intelligence analyst for the NSA, downloaded a trove of top secret documents and other materials that have laid bare U.S. spying capabilities, as well as those of nations allied with Washington. Critics have said the released details thus far have done incalculable damage to U.S. and European security.
“I don't want to outpace the efforts of journalists, here, but I can confirm that all documents reported thus far are authentic and unmodified, meaning the alleged operations against Belgacom, SWIFT, the EU as an institution, the United Nations, UNICEF, and others based on documents I provided have actually occurred,” he said. “I expect similar operations will be revealed in the future that affect many more ordinary citizens.”
In August 2013, and against President Obama’s wishes, Snowden was granted temporary asylum in Russia by President Vladimir Putin. That came two months after the initial press reports that began detailing the scope and scale of U.S. spying.
Snowden, in his testimony, said the reason why the U.S. missed warning signs regarding the so-called “underwear bomber” was because the NSA and other spy agencies were focused elsewhere.
“Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the ‘Underwear Bomber,’ was allowed to board an airplane traveling from Europe to the United States in 2009. The 290 persons on board were not saved by mass surveillance, but by his own incompetence, when he failed to detonate the device,” Snowden testified. “While even Mutallab's own father warned the U.S. government he was dangerous in November 2009, our resources were tied up monitoring online games and tapping German ministers. That extraordinary tip-off didn't get Mutallab a dedicated U.S. investigator. All we gave him was a U.S. visa.”
He continued: “Nor did the U.S. government's comprehensive monitoring of Americans at home stop the Boston Bombers. Despite the Russians specifically warning us about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the FBI couldn't do more than a cursory investigation – although they did plenty of worthless computer-based searching – and failed to discover the plot [in which] 264 people were injured, and 3 died. The resources that could have paid for a real investigation had been spent on monitoring the call records of everyone in America.”