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Snowden pens memoir; shares the agony he went through
Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has written a memoir, telling his life story in detail for the first time and explaining why he chose to risk his freedom to become perhaps the most famous whistleblower of all time.
Washington : Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has written a memoir, telling his life story in detail for the first time and explaining why he chose to risk his freedom to become perhaps the most famous whistleblower of all time.
Snowden, who now lives in Russia to avoid arrest under the US Espionage Act, says his six years working for the NSA and CIA led him to conclude the US intelligence community "hacked the Constitution" and put everyone's liberty at risk and that he had no choice but to turn to journalists to reveal it to the world.
"I realised that I was crazy to have imagined that the Supreme Court, or Congress, or President Obama, seeking to distance his administration from President George W Bush's, would ever hold the IC legally responsible — for anything," he writes.
The book, "Permanent Record," is scheduled to be released Tuesday. It offers by far the most expansive and personal account of how Snowden came to reveal secret details about the government's mass collection of Americans' emails, phone calls and Internet activity in the name of national security.
His decision to turn from obscure IC wonk to whistleblower in 2013 set off a national debate about the extent of government surveillance by intelligence agencies desperate to avoid a repeat of the September 11 attacks.
Snowden, who fled first to Hong Kong and then Russia, attempts in his memoir to place his concerns in a contemporary context, sounding the alarm about what he sees as government efforts worldwide to delegitimise journalism, suppress human rights and support authoritarian movements.
"What is real is being purposely conflated with what is fake, through technologies that are capable of scaling that conflation into unprecedented global confusion," he says.
The story traces Snowden's evolution from childhood, from growing up in the 1980s in North Carolina and suburban Washington, where his mother worked as a clerk at the NSA and his father served in the Coast Guard.
He came of age as the Internet evolved from an obscure government computer network and describes how a youthful fascination with technology — as a child, he took apart and reassembled a Nintendo console and, as a teenager, hacked the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory network — eventually led him to a career as an NSA contractor, where he observed high-tech spy powers with increasing revulsion.
Analysts used the government's collection powers to read the emails of current and former lovers and stalk them online, he writes. One particular program the NSA called XKEYSCORE allowed the government to scour the recent Internet history of average Americans.