Snowden: NSA has secret ‘MonsterMind’ program that operates without human intervention

Wired cover of Edward Snowden. (Wired)

It would appear that Edward Snowden is still far from finished with his National Security Agency revelations.

In his latest revelation, Snowden tells WIRED magazine that the NSA has a secret, autonomous program called “Monstermind” that can respond to cyberattacks from other countries without human intervention.

And beyond domestic privacy concerns, Snowden warns, the program could cause an international diplomacy nightmare for the U.S. as well, because the cyberattacks launched by MonsterMind are often routed through third-party computers housed in foreign countries.

“These attacks can be spoofed,” Snowden said. “You could have someone sitting in China, for example, making it appear that one of these attacks is originating in Russia. And then we end up shooting back at a Russian hospital. What happens next?”

So, is that the final major disclosure to come from what the government claims are nearly two million stolen documents that Snowden took with him when he left the country?

As it turns out, Snowden isn’t even entirely sure himself.

That’s because, he claims, he hasn’t even read the majority of documents in his possession. Though he says the actual number of classified documents is far less than the 1.7 million the government claims were stolen, he suspects there may be several more bombshells hidden within that could ruin the careers of several high-profile government officials.

“I think they think there’s a smoking gun in there that would be the death of them all politically,” he says. “The fact that the government’s investigation failed—that they don’t know what was taken and that they keep throwing out these ridiculous, huge numbers—implies to me that somewhere in their damage assessment they must have seen something that was like, ‘Holy sh_t.’ And they think it’s still out there.”

Snowden is literally wrapped in the American flag for the cover of the September issue of Wired. And while critics of Snowden might take offense at the gesture, the hugely controversial figure says his actions were intended only to preserve American ideals, not harm them.

“I told the government I’d volunteer for prison, as long as it served the right purpose,” he said. “I care more about the country than what happens to me. But we can’t allow the law to become a political weapon or agree to scare people away from standing up for their rights, no matter how good the deal. I’m not going to be part of that.”

Love him or hate him, Snowden says that even after his revelations the NSA still hasn’t finished reforming its own system.

“They still haven’t fixed their problems. They still have negligent auditing, they still have things going for a walk, and they have no idea where they’re coming from and they have no idea where they’re going,” he said. “And if that’s the case, how can we as the public trust the NSA with all of our information, with all of our private records, the permanent record of our lives?”

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