WASHINGTON – Fugitive former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden said Tuesday he sees a “turning point” in the surveillance reform plans unveiled by the White House and Congress.
Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked documents which provided details of vast US surveillance programs, gave a guarded welcome to a proposal from President Barack Obama to end bulk collection of telephone data.
“I believed that if the NSA’s unconstitutional mass surveillance of Americans was known, it would not survive the scrutiny of the courts, the Congress, and the people,” Snowden said in a statement released through the American Civil Liberties Union, which is coordinating his legal representation.
“The very first open and adversarial court to ever judge these programs has now declared them ‘Orwellian’ and ‘likely unconstitutional,'” the statement said.
Snowden also made reference to the “USA Freedom Act,” a proposal introduced earlier this year, saying it offered “historic, albeit incomplete reforms.”
He added that “President Obama has now confirmed that these mass surveillance programs, kept secret from the public and defended out of reflex rather than reason, are in fact unnecessary and should be ended.”
Snowden said, “This is a turning point, and it marks the beginning of a new effort to reclaim our rights from the NSA and restore the public’s seat at the table of government.”
The White House plan would keep the data outside of government while allowing access for national security reasons, officials said.
Key US lawmakers welcomed the proposal, and one group put forward new reform legislation along the same lines, with bipartisan support.