Nightly News   |  January 01, 1910

Apparent source of NSA leaks comes forward

The self-identified source that exposed top-secret government data collection programs has revealed himself, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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>>> who exposed the government's top-secret collection of phone records has revealed himself. so says the publication that broke the story last week. "the guardian" pulled the covers off an ongoing u.s. intelligence program that's quietly collected the phone records of millions of americans in the name of national security . tonight the self-identified source of that story has stepped forward to explain himself. while the u.s. director of national intelligence in an exclusive interview with nbc news is disputing some of his claims. chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell spoke to james clapper and joins us from our washington newsroom.

>> reporter: good evening. tonight "the guardian" posted the interview with the intelligence contractor who wants to go public, to that newspaper as well as "the washington post ".

>> my name is ed snowden . i'm 29 years old. i work for booz allen hamilton in hawaii.

>> reporter: he says he copied top- secret documents , packed his bags and. went to hong kong to share them with a reporter from "the guardian."

>> i had the authority to wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the presidentfy had a personal e-mail.

>> reporter: his claim is contradicted by what the director of national intelligence told us exclusively on saturday.

>> we are under strict court supervision. the notion that we're trolling through everyone's e-mails and voyeuristically reading them or listening to everyone's phone calls is, on its face, absurd. we couldn't do it even if we wanted to. i assure you, we don't want to.

>> reporter: why did he do it? snowden says he became disenchanted while working for the nsa.

>> i go this is something that's not our place to decide. the public needs to decide whether these programs and policies are right or wrong.

>> reporter: animal lis like snowden use the world's most sophisticated computers to sift through a huge amount of data. even more will be stored in this new facility in utah, all legal since 2008 , re-authorized by congress in 2012 and reviewed every three months by a secret court . critics said today more oversight is needed.

>> the fact that every call i make to my friends and family is noted, where i am, the length of it, the date, that concerns me. particularly because americans didn't know this.

>> reporter: i asked the intelligence chief about the leaker before snowden revealed himself.

>> this is someone who, for whatever reason, has chosen to violate a secret trust for this country. damage that these revelations incur are huge.

>> reporter: can i assume from that, infer -- that there has been a referral to track down the leak? it.

>> absolutely. we have -- nsa has filed a crimes report on this already.

>> reporter: tonight boozal len confirmed he worked for the company less than tlooe months. they said if the reports are accurate about the leaks they are shocked and they would work closely with the authorities on the investigation.