Snowden saw what I saw: surveillance criminally subverting the constitution
So we refused to be part of the NSA’s dark blanket. That is why whistleblowers pay the price for being the backstop of democracy
Thomas Drake
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 12 June 2013 07.00 EDT

What Edward Snowden has done is an amazingly brave and courageous act of civil disobedience.

Like me, he became discomforted by what he was exposed to and what he saw: the industrial-scale systematic surveillance that is scooping up vast amounts of information not only around the world but in the United States, in direct violation of the fourth amendment of the US constitution.

The NSA programs that Snowden has revealed are nothing new: they date back to the days and weeks after 9/11. I had direct exposure to similar programs, such as Stellar Wind, in 2001. In the first week of October, I had an extraordinary conversation with NSA’s lead attorney. When I pressed hard about the unconstitutionality of Stellar Wind, he said:

“The White House has approved the program; it’s all legal. NSA is the executive agent.”

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