Snowden claims online Obama expanded ‘abusive’ security programs

CNN News Wire | 6/17/2013, 1:13 p.m.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A series of blog posts on Monday purportedly by Edward Snowden said he leaked classified details about ...
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Snowden, who is believed to be in Hong Kong, also purportedly wrote that the truth about surveillance programs he disclosed will come out, and “the U.S. government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me.”

The blog post rejected accusations that he had or might provide classified information to China, saying he only leaked to journalists and calling such a charge a smear tactic intended to turn public opinion against his effort to provide Americans with full information about how their government monitors them.

A CNN/ORC International poll released Monday showed 54% of respondents didn’t approve of Snowden’s admitted actions, while 44% backed the leaks.

Snowden’s father told Fox News that he hoped and prayed his son “will not release any secrets that could constitute treason.”

The father, Lon Snowden, also said he wanted his son to return to the United States “and face this,” adding “I love my son.”

Snowden, 29, worked for the NSA through a private contractor firm until May, when he decamped to Hong Kong. He went public earlier this month as the source of articles by the newspapers, saying the agency’s efforts pose “an existential threat to democracy.”

The revelations about the NSA’s collection of millions of records from U.S. telecommunications and technology firms have led to a furious debate within the United States about the scale and scope of surveillance programs that date from the days after the 2001 al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington.

Defenders say the programs — approved by Congress after a warrantless surveillance effort under the Bush administration was revealed in 2005 — have protected American lives by helping agents break up terrorism plots.

Critics call the programs an unconstitutional overreach of authority under the Patriot Act, the law that authorized increased government surveillance in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

In a new development, the Guardian reported Sunday that Britain’s electronic intelligence agency monitored delegates’ phones and tried to capture their passwords during an economic summit held there in 2009.

Targets included British allies such as Turkey and South Africa, the newspaper reported. The Guardian cited documents provided by Snowden.

According to the newspaper, the documents show that the British “signals intelligence” agency GCHQ used “ground-breaking intelligence capabilities” to intercept calls made by members of the G-20 conference delegations at meetings in London.

Analysts received round-the-clock summaries of calls that were being made, and GCHQ set up Internet cafes for delegates in hopes of intercepting e-mails and capturing keystrokes, the Guardian reported.

One briefing slide explained the intercepts would give intelligence agencies the ability to read delegates’ e-mails “before/as they do,” providing “sustained intelligence options against them even after (the) conference has finished.”

GCHQ is Britain’s equivalent of the secretive NSA in the United States.

The Guardian reported that the NSA had attempted to eavesdrop on then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during the conference as his phone calls passed through satellite links to Moscow and briefed its British counterparts on the effects.