Snowden on Cyber Warfare: “We Really Started This Trend”


January 8, 2015

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden said that the U.S. is setting a dangerous precedent by creating the capability to launch damaging cyber attacks against other countries. Such attacks wouldn’t just embarrass major movie studio executives and scuttle movie release plans, they could cut power to hospitals or damage power plants or other key infrastructure.

“The public still isn’t aware of the frequency of these cyber attacks are being used by governments around the world,” he said, adding that the U.S. “really started this trend in many ways.”

Snowden spoke to journalist James Bamford in June for an upcoming NOVA film on cyber warfare. The whistleblower compared U.S. investment in online espionage to Jurassic Park — something we’ve built that could ultimately come back to bite us.

Classified documents obtained by Snowden showed that U.S. agencies have found and even created technical vulnerabilities that allow American agents to gather intelligence from phone calls, emails and other communications both in the U.S. and around the world.

But in making it easier for its agents to spy, Snowden says, the U.S. also makes American companies, and its citizens, more vulnerable to hacks. It sets a dangerous precedent for other governments to launch such attacks, he said. And the U.S. has much more to lose — in research, intelligence, and infrastructure — than other nations.

You can watch an excerpt of NOVA’s interview below — and read the full transcript at NOVA Next.

Related Film: Find out more about the Snowden revelations and the evolution of our massive surveillance network in FRONTLINE’s two-part documentary, United States of Secrets.

Sarah Childress

Sarah Childress, Series Senior Editor, FRONTLINE



In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

blog comments powered by Disqus

More Stories

Cadmium Spiked Inside a Tampa Lead Factory. Workers Didn’t Get Help.
For years, the company’s contracted doctor failed to flag abnormal test results and provide the required follow-up.
September 23, 2021
What Utah Police Can do to Reduce the Times They Shoot at Minorities
A decade of data clearly shows police in Utah disproportionately shoot at racial and ethnic minorities. What isn’t so clear is what to do about it.
September 22, 2021
New Data on Utah Police Shootings and Race Called ‘Extremely Uncomfortable’, ‘Disappointing’
Racial and ethnic minorities account for a third of the people shot at by Utah police over the past decade — despite these groups making up just a quarter of the population.
September 20, 2021
Most Minneapolis Voters Believe Crime Is on the Rise, New Poll Finds
An overwhelming majority of likely Minneapolis voters say crime is on the rise, a view strongly held by residents of every race, gender and age group across the city, according to a new Minnesota poll, our Local Journalism Initiative partner the Star Tribune reports.
September 18, 2021