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Why I Am Blowing the Whistle

First there was Edward Snowden exposing the NSA’s secrets, and now it’s Nathaniel Stein’s turn to reveal his own spying.

After a great deal of anguished consideration, and at great personal risk, I have decided to come forward and reveal my secret. For years, I have been a spy, collecting information on American citizens without their permission, or indeed even their knowledge. I am not proud of the system I served, and yet I hope that my exposure of this kind of surveillance can offer some modicum of redemption for my participation in it.

Blowing the Whistle

Goldmund Lukic/Getty

Strange Bedfellows

What They Think of Snowden

Opinions of leaker Snowden and the NSA’s spying program are making strange bedfellows—when’s the last time Glenn Beck and Michael Moore agreed on something? Roll over to see who’s said what.

Boston Bomber

His Privacy Wasn’t Invaded

Maybe if the National Security Agency had noticed the Boston bomber’s visits to al Qaeda’s magazine or ‘Terrorist’ YouTube videos and stopped him, Edward Snowden wouldn’t have become a leaker.

One person whose privacy was not invaded by U.S. intelligence was Tamerlan Tsarnaev, as he repeatedly visited the al Qaeda online magazine Inspire for its recipe “Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.”


Al Qaeda's Inspire Magazine and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. (via Getty; AP)


NSA's Rare "Rogue Collectors"

After a week of explosive disclosures, former NSA officials come out to say what the highly secretive agency does, and does not, do.

One of the most startling disclosures from Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked top secret documents to The Guardian and The Washington Post was that he could tap into the private email of any American citizen—even President Obama—from his desk station in Hawaii.

NSA Verizon Phone Records

This undated U.S. government photo shows an aerial view of the National Security Agency (NSA) in Fort Meade, Maryland. (US Government/AP)

Man of Mystery

The Leaker’s Girlfriend

She describes herself on her blog as a ‘world-traveling, pole-dancing superhero.’ But Lindsay Mills is something else: the girlfriend of NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Caroline Linton examines her digital footprint.

Edward Snowden told his girlfriend he would be going away for a few weeks, but he was vague about the reason. “That is not an uncommon occurrence for someone who has spent the last decade in the intelligence world,” Snowden told The Guardian.

Of course, things were not normal for Snowden. Three weeks ago, the 29-year-old former Booz Allen Hamilton contractor left his home in Hawaii because he planned on leaking information about the National Security Agency’s secret spying program. His identity was publicly revealed in The Guardian on Sunday. “I do not expect to see home again,” he told the paper. He’s been hiding out in Hong Kong ever since.

Big Brother

Sales of Orwell's ‘1984’ Spike

Sales of Orwell's ‘1984’ Spike AP Photo

Thanks to NSA surveillance scandal.

It’s 29 years late, but has Big Brother finally arrived? Readers are flocking to buy George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, which describes a totalitarian surveillance state, since news of the National Security Administration scandal broke. The book has landed on Amazon’s list of “Movers and Shakers,” and sales of the novel have increased thousands of percent. “Throwing out such a broad net of surveillance is exactly the kind of threat Orwell feared,” Orwell biographer Michael Shelden told NPR. President Obama even referenced the novel, naming Big Brother, when he defended the program last Friday.

Read it at Los Angeles Times

Big Brother

We Deserve a Police State

Just look at the polls: everyone loves Big Brother when he’s got the right party affiliation. Nick Gillespie on how rank partisanship has trumped principles—and how to change that.

In the first flush of stories about how the National Security Agency is surveilling American citizens, one stomach-turning revelation hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves: we get the surveillance state we deserve because rank political partisanship trumps bedrock principle every goddamn time on just about every goddamn issue.


A man protests the Patriot Act during an anarchist rally on the final day of the Democratic National Convention in 2004. (Michael Springer/Getty Images)

We're tracking the latest updates following Edward Snowden's leak of a trove of classified NSA documents.

Leaker’s Refuge

Can He Get Asylum?

The NSA leaker, now hiding out in Hong Kong, says he may try to seek refuge in Iceland. Caitlin Dickson on which country is the best for an American trying to claim asylum.

Now that we know who is responsible for leaking the details of the National Security Agency’s top-secret spying program, the discussion has turned to Edward Snowden’s whereabouts and what will happen to him next. The admitted leaker is reportedly hiding out in Hong Kong, hoping to reap the benefits of the Chinese territory's “spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent” while mulling applying for asylum in Iceland. The debate over whether Hong Kong would deny an extradition request for Snowden, or if Iceland’s newly elected right-wing prime minister is as eager to defy the United States diplomatically as his country’s past governments, prompts a rarely asked question: how does an American citizen even seek asylum?


Iceland fjord enclosed by steep mountains in fall color. (Olivier Morin/AFP/Getty)

Armchair Analysis

The Mind of a Leaker

Is Edward Snowden a mastermind or a maniac? Genius or narcissist? Christine Pelisek asks professional profilers to evaluate the whistleblower’s public statements for clues to his psyche.

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden may just be a naive do-gooder in over his head. Or he could be a narcissist, motivated by the glory of seeing his name in print. Maybe he's just a disgruntled guy who thinks he's smarter than everyone else.

He's Changed

How the President Made Friends With Big Brother

The Evolution of Barack Obama

The Evolution of Barack Obama

The president has evolved from ardent civil libertarian to surveillance hardliner. With liberals outraged by the Verizon court order, Daniel Klaidman and Eli Lake chart the change.

'Nobody Is Listening to Your Telephone Calls'

After a brief speech on Obamacare Friday, the president was asked about the NSA secretly obtaining Americans' personal information (spying?). Didn't catch his lengthy, wide-ranging response? Here are the important bits, boiled down to a very manageable 129 seconds.

Your Guide

NSA Surveillance Explained

Behind the NSA Spying Program

Behind the NSA Spying Program

Caitlin Dickson on how far it’s gone, who’s involved—and how Obama just defended it at a press conference.

Reader Poll

Do You Care That the NSA Is Spying on You?


Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

We Hear You

Verizon: Happy to Help!


What Spies Read For Fun