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Snowden: NSA's indiscriminate spying 'collapsing'

By Bradley Brooks

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 08:05 a.m. HST, Dec 17, 2013

RIO DE JANEIRO » National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden wrote in a lengthy "open letter to the people of Brazil" that he's been inspired by the global debate ignited by his release of thousands of National Security Agency documents, and that the NSA's culture of indiscriminate global espionage "is collapsing."

In the letter, released widely online, Snowden commended the Brazilian government for its strong stand against U.S. spying.

He said he'd be willing to help the South American nation investigate NSA spying on its soil, but could not fully participate in doing so without being granted political asylum, because the U.S. "government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak."

Revelations about the NSA's spy programs were first published in the Guardian and The Washington Post newspapers in June, based on some of the thousands of documents Snowden handed over to the Brazil-based American journalist Glenn Greenwald and his reporting partner Laura Poitras, a U.S. filmmaker.

The documents revealed that Brazil is the top NSA target in Latin America, in spying that has included the monitoring of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's cellphone and hacking into the internal network of state-run oil company Petrobras.

The revelations enraged Rousseff, who in October canceled an official visit to Washington that was to include a state dinner. She's also pushing the United Nations to give citizens more protections against spying.

In his letter, Snowden dismissed U.S. explanations to the Brazilian government and others that the bulk metadata gathered on billions of emails and calls was more "data collection" than surveillance.

"There is a huge difference between legal programs, legitimate spying ... and these programs of dragnet mass surveillance that put entire populations under an all-seeing eye and save copies forever," he wrote. "These programs were never about terrorism: they're about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They're about power."

Brazilian senators have asked for Snowden's help during hearings about the NSA's targeting of Brazil, an important transit hub for trans-Atlantic fiber optic cables that are hacked. Both Greenwald and his domestic partner David Miranda spoke before the Senate, and Miranda has taken up the cause of persuading the Brazilian government to grant political asylum to Snowden.

Snowden, who is living in Russia on a temporary one-year visa, previously requested political asylum in Brazil and several other nations.

Neither Brazil's Foreign Ministry nor the presidential office today said they had immediate comment on Snowden's letter or any pending asylum request.

Several members of Brazil's Congress have called for Snowden to receive asylum, so that he could assist lawmakers' investigation into NSA activity in Brazil.

Rousseff recently joined Germany in pushing for the United Nations to adopt a symbolic resolution which seeks to extend personal privacy rights to all people.

The Brazilian leader has also ordered her government to take several measures, including laying fiber optic lines directly to Europe and South American nations, to "divorce" Brazil from the U.S.-centric backbone of the Internet that experts say has facilitated NSA spying.

The Snowden letter was first published today in a Portuguese translation by the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper. The AP later obtained the original English version.

It comes one day after a U.S. district judge ruled that the NSA's bulk collection of millions of Americans' telephone records likely violates the U.S. Constitution's ban on unreasonable search. The case is likely to go to the Supreme Court for a final decision.

"Six months ago, I revealed that the NSA wanted to listen to the whole world," Snowden wrote. "Now, the whole world is listening back, and speaking out, too. ... The culture of indiscriminate worldwide surveillance, exposed to public debates and real investigations on every continent, is collapsing."

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HanabataDays wrote:
Snowden will be sipping caipirinhas and soaking up rays on the sands of the Copacabana soon. And he's earned it.
on December 17,2013 | 05:14AM
pcman wrote:
As Snowden speaks out, It becomes more apparent that he is an enemy of the US, as well as a traitor. He has not revealed much news about spying but more on methods and sources, using computers. His revelations will negate billions of dollars spent on spying on terrorists, who are the benefactors of his efforts. He should feel happy about that.
on December 17,2013 | 05:27AM
RichardCory wrote:
If you think Snowden hasn't revealed anything meaningful regarding domestic spying on U.S. citizens and the flagrant abuses of power that went on during the last decade, then you clearly haven't been paying attention. Snowden is a hero.
on December 17,2013 | 06:10AM
awahana wrote:
The US government illegally violates OUR constitution, yet Snowden is a traitor?
Time to go back to the library and go read up on history and the forefathers of our constitution, buddy. What school did you go to? Are you a US citizen?
on December 17,2013 | 10:43AM
EducatedLocalBoy wrote:
pcman, you assume that all the illegal spying is done in defense of the nation. However, just the the Hawaii State Tax Department employees who got caught snooping at their personal enemies' tax records, like that neighbor you don't like because his dog poops on your lawn & he doesn't pick it up,if you read the early articles about the abuses of the NSA employees, you'd have seen vague references of NSA employees being "counselled" for inappropriate behavior. This means they were snooping on that brother in law they hate, and telling his wife about secrets he has been keeping from her -- nothing to do with terrorism.
on December 17,2013 | 03:12PM
Tarball wrote:
Has Snowden even considered that other nations conduct their own "spy" network/activities?
on December 17,2013 | 05:40AM
RichardCory wrote:
Have you ever considered the Fourth Amendment?
on December 17,2013 | 06:10AM
mitt_grund wrote:
No other nation has achieved the magnitude of invasion of privacy that the U.S. has attained. And we wonder where all the money is going. Definitely not for wrenches and nuts and bolts. Like the C&C of Honolulu and HART, the U.S. vast espionage bureaucracy likes to spend its money where the sun doesn't shine. And then they feign disappointment and dismay when they are caught, and call the whistleblowers traitors. Sheesh.
on December 17,2013 | 06:23AM
lokela wrote:
Pain in the butt. He really needs to watch his behind.
on December 17,2013 | 05:46AM
noheawilli wrote:
I'll bet he has but no leviathan is close to being as intrusive yet ostensibly bound by our constitution as our Leviathan is and if this is the case and evidence seems to support then I too may be "an enemy of the state" if only to fight for my privacy.
on December 17,2013 | 06:05AM
RandolphW wrote:
Hooray for Snowden! Boo hoo hoo for the lying Washington D.C. Bureaucrats.
on December 17,2013 | 06:26AM
sloturle wrote:
yay real freedom is coming
on December 17,2013 | 07:06AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Snowden should be recognized for calling out a practice of the NSA that was found to be unconstitutional.
on December 17,2013 | 07:26AM
nuuanusam wrote:
NSA spying did not kill people; on the other hand, not spying may cause people to be killed by terrorists. This self-righteous fool wasn't in New York during 9/11.
on December 17,2013 | 08:54AM
nalogirl wrote:
Yeah but the NSA was doing their spying and did not prevent 9/11. Also, this has to do with the over-reach of government by spying on its own citizens for no cause. We need to protect our rights and not fear our government.
on December 17,2013 | 09:22AM
innocentBystander wrote:
We need more like Snowden.
on December 17,2013 | 09:00AM
Anonymous wrote:
Yes, we need more people who are brave enough to stand up for the injustices they witness, especially against the ever-growing governmental machine that was set up to SERVE its people; not be their master. The government will claim that its actions are to protect its citizenry but in truth, it's about gaining power for a few at the top. If allowed to continue, we will learn to fear what we want to say (and type), knowing Big Brother is watching. Pay heed to what Benjamin Franklin said so long ago, "Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one."
on December 17,2013 | 11:28AM
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