The Guardian today unveiled the identity of the individual who provided National Security documents that sparked a firestorm of media attention and scrutiny of how the agency collects and utilizes the intelligence it collects from a multitude of commercial sources.

From the Guardian:

The individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell.

The Guardian, after several days of interviews, is revealing his identity at his request. From the moment he decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, he was determined not to opt for the protection of anonymity. “I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” he said.

Over the latter half of the week, Glenn Greenwald at the Guardian has exposed a court order requiring Verizon to hand over the call data of millions of Americans.  The outlet followed that report with the revelation that the National Security Agency is collecting information from a number of major internet companies through a program called PRISM.

Edward Snowden, the individual who leaked the information about these programs to The Guardian, is now being compared to Bradley Manning and Daniel Ellsberg as “one of America’s most consequential whistleblowers.”

Greenwald himself has been the subject of a private government security contractor, having been a research target of HB Gary Federal in 2011.  That company had been engaged in an effort, albeit an overzealous and likely unethical one, to expose those who had been assisting Wikileaks.

But in recent days, as more information comes out about the programs revealed by The Guardian, we’re learning that not all of the activities have exactly been so secret.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper responded that the “reckless disclosures” have caused damage to the nation’s intelligence activities, saying that the disclosure “threatens potentially long-lasting and irreversible harm to our ability to identify and respond to the many threats facing our nation.”

Clapper also indicated that the PRISM program itself is not confidential, saying “Prism is not an undisclosed collection or data mining program, but rather, a program that gathers intelligence information from tech companies – under court supervision – that has been “widely known and publicly discussed since its inception in 2008.”

While the programs and activities revealed this past week are all quite concerning, to say the least, it remains to be seen where the full truth and all of the facts reside amidst all of the recent media attention.  As the media storm subsides, and all of the documents and already publicly available information has been fully digested and interpreted, a clearer picture is sure to emerge that will allow readers to accurately understand the facts as well as the risks on all sides of the debate.

 
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