New interview with PBS talks NSA damage control, and how the priorities of the agency have shifted in recent years.

PBS and journalist James Bamford sat down with NSA whistlerblower Edward Snowden last June, and the transcript of their interview is finally online.

During the Q&A, Snowden explored the long-term ramifications of cyber attacks both on the United States, and perpetrated by the nation’s various agencies. “[The United States has] more to lose than any other nation on earth,” said Snowden to PBS. “The technical sector is the backbone of the American economy, and if we start engaging in these kind of behaviors…we’re creating a new international norm of behavior that says this is what nations do.”

Snowden then goes on to point a finger at Congress for the shifted priorities of the NSA; an agency that used to focus on both offensive attacks and defending the United States has radically tipped the scales towards the former. “…when [the NSA] went to Congress, they saw they could get more budget money if they advertised their success in attacking,” said Snowden, “because nobody is ever really interested in doing the hard work of defense.”

The interview was conducted by PBS as it preps a documentary for viewers like you. Due out later this year, CyberWar will serve as “a larger investigation of the hard science and highly sophisticated technology driving the new era of offensive software and an exploration of the development of the first cyber weapons.”

Also discussed in the interview?

On the impact of Snowden’s NSA data leak: “The NSA chief [Admiral Michael S. Rogers]…is calling the alleged damage from the last year’s revelations to be much more insignificant than it was represented publicly over the last year. We were led to believe that the sky was going to fall, that the oceans were going to boil off, the atmosphere was going to ignite, the world would end as we know it. But what [Rogers is] saying is that it does not lead him to the conclusion that the sky is falling.

On how cyber attacks are now the norm: “I think the public still isn’t aware of the frequency with which these cyber-attacks, as they’re being called in the press, are being used by governments around the world, not just the US.”

On how frail the Internet is as a target: “The internet is critical infrastructure to the United States … If an adversary didn’t target our power plants but they did target the core routers, the backbones that tie our internet connections together, entire parts of the United States could be cut off.”

The entire transcript can be read here, unabridged.

Source: Nova (PBS)

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