You see on our local corporate 'public' media there will be no talk of a market of systemic fraud....no talk of justice or the fact that our economic recovery will be delayed by a decade or more by this delay in justice. Rather, they will state that Wall Street is sending more money to this and that project and things are looking up for Baltimore....
Regarding Maryland Morning's talk on the housing recovery and it's relationship to Cumming's work on the Congressional Investigation's Committee:
The article below will help WYPR provide real journalism as it covers the issues of the past few decades and where we need to go to recover. It tells of the systemic crime in the financial sector that played out in all mortgage transactions in the 1990s and 2000s...the massive movement of wealth by fraud and the lack of action by the Federal Justice and State Justice Department's to bring that mortgage fraud. So, with all of the Federal Reserve's policy to move all toxic loans off the bank books and Congress and Obama's policy to make sure that the people losing their homes because of the fraud and economic crash do not receive justice, we have housing market encased in crime and corruption so there will be no housing market recovery until we have the banks handing back tens of trillions of dollars in fraud....remember, these foreclosures not only are being bundled and sold to the same people creating the fraud....making them Pottersville landlord in many cases...but the MERS fraud has all of the house titles compromised and rife for lawsuits in the future. Nothing has been done to correct what was house title laundering.
Here in Baltimore we see this manifesting in large blocks of real estate being handed to selected developers and what local realtors call a housing ponzi scheme where all of those blighted homes and foreclosure victims are handed to Wall Street investment firms AKA developers. All of this is illegal as well because you have a government using municipal revenue to buy and package city property at the same time they are allowing people to lose their homes all in an effort to get rid of the existing population. I walked past a family living in a poor, white neighborhood who had multiple generations playing and gathered on the porch. Next door, a vacant had just been purchased for cash in this neighborhood slated for affluence. Now, when we do get justice all of that tens of trillions will come back from these development projects and leave us again with communities filled with houses with no legitimate owners. WE ARE ALLOWING POLITICIANS WORKING ILLEGALLY TO SEND MONEY FOR DEVELOPMENT IN WAYS THAT WILL ONLY END UP BEING REVERSED.
We do not hear any of this in our media because they are paid not to say anything. What we need to know is that justice will prevail but we need to prepare for an extended period of recession as we work to send all that wealth through fraud back to the people!
We're Still Sinking With The Titanic
Ashvin Pandurangi, The Automatic Earth | Feb. 19, 2012, 6:38 AM Business Insider
The real story of the RMS Titanic that goes unmentioned in Western public schools is, of course, one of extreme wealth inequality, class warfare and, ultimately, the complete and utter disdain that the richest people had for the lives of the poorest people in a time of crisis. Just shy of one hundred years from the day the Titanic sunk (April 15, 1912), and we are all still stuck on that same dreadful voyage. The global economy has side-swiped an iceberg at full speed and is mathematically destined to go under, no matter what the Captain and crew decide to do. Except, now, it’s not only the poorest two-thirds of the ship’s passengers that are being left to die, and there is no priority for “women and children”. It is true that the entire corporate establishment has benefited from systemic fraud, propaganda/manipulation and taxpayer-funded bailouts, but it is a very small percentage of people who are truly being guaranteed a lifeboat. These institutions and the people who run them are gifted vast sums of money over and over again, while the rest of us patiently, helplessly and hopelessly wait to be “rescued”.
Among the 1% of people who have been given every possible advantage to survive the systemic meltdown, we must include those in charge of defense industrial conglomerates. We are now in a state of perpetual, taxpayer-funded war that surpasses any notion of political ideology or appropriate response to “external” threats. However, that is an issue for another time and place. Right now, we will focus on the criminal banking class, which has been feasting on the public coffers for years while hundreds of millions of people struggle to keep their jobs, stay warm, find their next meal and/or avoid being victimized by an ever-growing police state.
Never before in history have such vast amounts of wealth been transferred so quickly from so many people to so few. The worldwide property bubbles of the last few decades, and specifically the last one, were made possible first and foremost by extensive fraud in the banking and real estate sectors of the global economy. Although government regulations and loose monetary policy certainly had their roles to play in the Western housing bubble, it was the private banks originating “liar’s loans”, slicing them up, securitizing different loan tranches and marketing them as top-grade investments that really fueled the credit explosion.
A whole plethora of debt-based “assets”, securities and derivative instruments were generated through the collateralization of residential and commercial property, which, in turn, created an entire industry of speculation, financial engineering, commissions and returns. The benefits of this industry accrued to fewer and fewer institutions as they pawned off the “assets” and derivative instruments to other institutional investors such as pension and hedge funds, and then dumped what remained directly onto taxpayers after the great bust of 2008.
This class warfare by the 1% no longer takes the form of some stealthy wealth extraction operation hidden behind cultural optics, clever marketing and flimsy regulations, but is happening out in the open for every neglected, second-rate passenger to see. It has gotten to the point that the U.S. federal government AND the major banks openly admit that extensive fraud occurred with the transfer of mortgage titles and subsequent foreclosure of property. Why else would there be an “investigation” and a settlement of $40 billion by the five largest banks?
Even a symbolic settlement such as this one can no longer be made without turning it into a complete travesty of the justice system. They got caught red-handed stealing our money and our homes, and now they have to pay us back a very tiny portion of the stolen wealth… with our money. The Financial Times reports that the settlement agreement contains a clause allowing the banks to count future loan modifications made under the $30 billion [taxpayer-funded] Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) as credits for the money owed under the agreement.
US Taxpayers to subsidize $40bn housing settlement
However, a clause in the provisional agreement – which has not been made public – allows the banks to count future loan modifications made under a 2009 foreclosure-prevention initiative towards their restructuring obligations for the new settlement, according to people familiar with the matter. The existing $30bn initiative, the Home Affordable Modification Programme (Hamp), provides taxpayer funds as an incentive to banks, third party investors and troubled borrowers to arrange loan modifications.
Neil Barofsky, a Democrat and the former special inspector-general of the troubled asset relief programme, described this clause as “scandalous”
“It turns the notion that this is about justice and accountability on its head,” Mr Barofsky said.
BofA, for instance, will be able to use future modifications made under Hamp towards the $7.6bn in borrower assistance it is committed to provide under the settlement. Under Hamp, the bank will receive payments for averting borrower default and reimbursement from taxpayers for principal written down.
But people familiar with the matter told the FT that state officials involved in the talks had had misgivings about allowing the banks to use taxpayer-financed loan restructurings as part of the settlement. State negotiators wanted the banks to modify mortgages using Hamp standards, which are seen as borrower-friendly, but did not want the banks to receive settlement credit when modifying Hamp loans. Federal officials pushed for it anyway, these people said.
This is just one striking and patently obvious example of how the major banks have been guaranteed a lifeboat off of the capsizing global economy by central governments and banks. There are, of course, many more – the Fed, BOJ and BOE’s quantitative easing programs, the ECB’s “trash for cash” LTRO operations or secondary market purchases of peripheral sovereign debt, the SNB’s fixed exchange rate policy, the IMF/EU bailouts that are used to meet interest payments and recapitalize banks, the quasi-nationalization of large financial institutions across the Western world, the outright theft of MF Global’s client funds by JP Morgan, etc., etc., the band plays on and on.
One of the most fundamental ways in which the banks have been kept afloat is the suspension of mark-to-market accounting rules in the U.S. and Europe. Yes, the banks still get to pretend that the ship isn’t even sinking while any and all burdensome debt-assets remain on their balance sheets. As the Wall Street Journal reports in a recent article, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have unilaterally decided that they will stop marking corporate loans, which are currently worth $100 billion, to market value in anticipation of the U.S. corporate sector rolling over.
Change In Loan-Tallying Method
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley have reduced their use of "mark-to-market" accounting, shielding them from swings in the value of some loans made to companies. After several months of internal discussion, the two companies are making an accounting change affecting a portion of corporate loans that have a combined value of more than $100 billion.
The change will value that portion using so-called historical-cost accounting, according to financial filings and people familiar with the matter. Under that accounting method, assets generally are held at their original value or purchase price. Goldman and Morgan Stanley could set aside reserves against possible losses on the loans and hedge them in other ways.
The banks are making the change in part because, as a result of regulators' rules, securities firms using historical-cost accounting won't have to hold much-larger amounts of capital against the assets if their values go down. There also will be less fluctuation in Goldman and Morgan Stanley's earnings, because marking the loans to market creates immediate gains or losses for the companies as the values of the loans fluctuate.
Immediate losses for the banks, you say? Heavens no, we wouldn’t want that! Not until the banks have safely dumped all of their distressed assets onto the backs of 99% of the population and abandoned ship. That is why The Automatic Earth constantly stresses the importance of people constructing their own lifeboats in their homes and communities – because there are only a few available on deck and none of them have your name on it, or the names of your family or your friends or your neighbors. The corporate/banking elites and their corrupt public servants will make sure to get a good view of this titanic disaster from afar, but, then again, there is really nowhere left for them to go.
WHEN A COUNTRY HAS TAKEN SUCH A BIG STEP TOWARDS AUTHORITARIANISM AS THE US HAS DONE, IT NEEDS ITS SECRETS AS EVERYTHING IT DOES BECOMES ILLEGAL. WHETHER VIOLATING INTERNATIONAL LAW, HUMAN RIGHTS, OR DOMESTICALLY INVOLVED WITH A MASSIVE MOVEMENT OF MONEY BY CORPORATE FRAUD.....WE HAVE POLITICIANS WHO ARE ANXIOUS TO KEEP AND SECRET AND FEEL THE ENEMY IS ALL AROUND THEM......
We thank Snowden as well as Bradley Manning for sacrificing their lives to protect the freedoms we in America must begin to fight for every day. There is no excuse for this level of surveillance on the part of any government. It is globalization that is making the US everyone's enemy and it is corporate rule that is making US citizens suspicious and distrusting of their own government and corporations. Systemic fraud and suspension of Rule of Law is not endearing to any free nation! SHOUT OUT AND DEMAND THESE WHISTLEBLOWERS BE TREATED AS HEROES NOT CRIMINALS.....
Security | 6/09/2013 @ 8:38PM
Icelandic Legislator: I'm Ready To Help NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden Seek Asylum
Icelandic legislator and Icelandic Modern Media Initiative co-founder Birgitta Jonsdottir
When WikiLeaks burst onto the international stage in 2010, the small Nordic nation of Iceland offered it a safe haven. Now American whistleblower Edward Snowden may be seeking that country’s protection, and at least one member of its parliament says she’s ready to help.
On Sunday evening Icelandic member of parliament Birgitta Jonsdottir and Smari McCarthy, executive director of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, issued a statement of support for Snowden, the Booz Allen Hamilton staffer who identified himself to the Guardian newspaper as the source of a series of top secret documents outlining the NSA’s massive surveillance of foreigners and Americans.
NSA Contractor Booz Allen Hamilton Rushes To Distance Itself From Staffer Who Leaked Top Secret Docs Andy Greenberg Forbes Staff Watch Top U.S. Intelligence Officials Repeatedly Deny NSA Spying On Americans Over The Last Year (Videos) Andy Greenberg Forbes Staff NSA's Verizon Spying Order Specifically Targeted Americans, Not Foreigners Andy Greenberg Forbes Staff U.S. Senators: NSA Cellphone Spying Has Gone On 'For Years' Parmy Olson Forbes Staff “Whereas IMMI is based in Iceland, and has worked on protections of privacy, furtherance of government transparency, and the protection of whistleblowers, we feel it is our duty to offer to assist and advise Mr. Snowden to the greatest of our ability,” their statement reads. “We are already working on detailing the legal protocols required to apply for asylum, and will over the course of the week be seeking a meeting with the newly appointed interior minister of Iceland, Mrs. Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir, to discuss whether an asylum request can be processed in a swift manner, should such an application be made.”
It’s not yet clear whether Snowden has officially applied for asylum in Iceland. A press contact for the Icelandic Ministry of Interior, which handles asylum requests, said that he hadn’t yet seen an application from Snowden and that the ministry couldn’t comment until one was received.
Snowden, who left his home in Hawaii in May and is taking refuge in a Hong Kong hotel, noted his interest in seeking asylum in Iceland in the Guardian’s interview, telling the newspaper that his ”predisposition is to seek asylum in a country with shared values, The nation that most encompasses this is Iceland,” he said. “They stood up for people over internet freedom.”
The 29-year-old intelligence analyst may have been referring to the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, a group founded by Jonsdottir and McCarthy that has sought to strengthen Iceland’s protections for media outlets and whistleblowers. That project, which successfully passed a new source protection law in 2011, was propelled in part by Jonsdottir and McCarthy’s participation in WikiLeaks; Both Icelanders helped to publish the leaked Apache APA +0.45% helicopter video that revealed the killing of civilians and journalists in Baghdad in April 2010.
“Over the last few days we at the International Modern Media Institute have watched alongside the rest of the world as the US government’s enormous encroachments on privacy and information security have been exposed in the media,” Jonsdottir’s and McCarthy’s statement reads. “These exposures have verified our greatest fears about the state of global intelligence gathering, and yet again highlighted the need for strong privacy protections and government transparency.”
Snowden’s leaked revelations included a top secret order from the FBI sent to Verizon on behalf of the NSA, demanding the call records of every American customer of Verizon Business Network Services, a PowerPoint presentation on an NSA program known as PRISM that boasted of access to the data of Google GOOG +1.03%, Microsoft MSFT -0.84%, Facebook and others, an executive order from President Obama calling for the NSA to draw up a list of cyberattack targets.
Just how much the Icelandic group’s support can protect Snowden remains to be seen. Snowden’s first hurdle may be safely leaving Hong Kong, where he may yet be extradited to the United States. And even in Iceland, a recent election gave new power to the country’s conservative party. Jonsdottir, by contrast, is a member of the left-leaning Pirate Party.
Even WikiLeaks expressed doubts about the politics of its former home. “Snowden out of date on Iceland,” reads a message the group posted to Twitter Sunday afternoon. “New conservative government elected a month ago. Countries must step forward to offer Snowden asylum now.”
IT WON'T END WELL FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE IF WE DO NOT TAKE THESE TPP DEALS TO COURT AND REVERSE THEM!!!
We are five years out and there has been no meaningful reform of the financial sector as the Financial Reform bill has been gutted and written by Wall Street. We know the delay is tied to what will be the International Trade Agreement that will place into law financial rules for all members of these deals and you can bet that means banks will remain in charge of how the economy and their accountability. We are giving them unlimited power by allowing these policies be adapted.
These are the kinds of things creating all of the security threats, the race to the bottom for profits, and the sell-out of the US government to corporate rule.
WE MUST STOP THESE TRADE DEALS THAT ARE ILLEGAL AND WE MUST VOTE THIRD WAY CORPORATE POLS OUT OF OFFICE BY RUNNING AND VOTING FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE!!!
Wall Street Seeks Dodd-Frank Changes Through Trade Talks
By Carter Dougherty - May 23, 2013 5:44 PM ET Bloomberg Financial
U.S. bankers and insurers are trying to use trade deals, which can trump existing legislation, to weaken parts of the Dodd-Frank Act designed to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis.
While the companies say they are seeking agreements that preserve strong regulations and encourage economic growth, their effort is drawing fire from groups who argue that Wall Street wants to make the trade negotiations a new front in its three-year campaign to stop or alter the law.
Enlarge image A Wall Street sign hangs near the New York Stock Exchange in New York. The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, Wall Street’s biggest lobbying group, said in a March 1 letter that liberalization of trade in financial services “is often incorrectly equated with deregulation.” Photographer: Jin Lee/Bloomberg News
5:19 May 20 (Bloomberg) -- Karel de Gucht, the European Union's top trade negotiator, talks about a free-trade agreement now being negotiated between the U.S. and EU that would create the world's largest trading region. He speaks with Deirdre Bolton on Bloomberg Television's "Money Moves." (Source: Bloomberg)
Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat who sits on the Banking Committee, said in a May 7 statement that there are “growing murmurs” about Wall Street’s efforts to “do quietly through trade agreements what they can’t get done in public view with the lights on and people watching.”
The U.S. has embarked on three major negotiations aimed at reducing barriers to international commerce, one with the European Union covering most types of trade and investment, and a similar one with Asia-Pacific nations including Japan. A third set of talks, covering only services, is under way at the World Trade Organization.
The Coalition of Service Industries, a trade association whose website lists Citigroup Inc. (C), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), American International Group Inc. (AIG) and The Chubb Corp. (CB) as members, told the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in a May 10 letter that “more compatible regulations for services” should be part of the EU deal.
‘Without Prejudice’ “Such provisions can be accomplished without prejudice to regulators’ authority to adopt or maintain regulations for consumer protection, environmental, health, safety, or prudential reasons,” the coalition’s president, Peter Allgeier, wrote in the letter.
The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, Wall Street’s biggest lobbying group, said in a March 1 letter that liberalization of trade in financial services “is often incorrectly equated with deregulation.”
Stephen Pastrick, director for public policy and advocacy at the group, wrote that it supports “strong regulation and prudential standards. However, there is much to be gained” by an agreement “enhancing regulatory efficiency.”
A group of House Republicans yesterday wrote to President Barack Obama calling on him to “reduce regulatory discrepancies” between the U.S. and EU. They cited financial services as “one of the greatest opportunities” for change.
‘Difficult’ Landscape “Multiple and often conflicting post-crisis policy initiatives have made the regulatory landscape difficult for financial services firms to navigate,” they wrote in the May 22 letter. “Confusion caused by inconsistent and conflicting regulations, has already spilled over into the broader economy.”
The letter’s signers include Jeb Hensarling of Texas, the chairman of the Financial Services Committee, and Frank Lucas of Oklahoma, who heads the Agriculture Committee.
In the U.S., the president starts negotiations on trade agreements with a general mandate from Congress. After they are signed, the agreements are converted into implementing legislation, which can change regulations if the deal requires.
Congress then votes on the proposal, usually under special procedures that bar amendments to the pact’s details.
“The trade talks could easily become a Trojan Horse,” said Marcus Stanley, the policy director for Americans for Financial Reform, a group that includes labor unions, civil rights organizations and consumer advocates.
Crossing Borders In separate letters on the EU and Asia-Pacific pacts, the industry coalition said negotiators should draft rules limiting what regulators can do in the name of protecting financial stability. The letters also urged using the pacts to curb extra-territorial rules that can reach beyond U.S. borders, like ones currently being considered on financial derivatives.
None of the letters specifically mention a desire to change the Dodd-Frank law, the 2010 overhaul of U.S. financial regulation. The law does, however, address many of the issues raised in the letters on the trade agreements.
The coalition called for the U.S.-EU agreement to avoid rules that reach across national boundaries and have an “extra-territorial effect.” Allgeier said that suggestion was motivated in part by a fight over regulation of the cross-border swaps market under Dodd-Frank.
The 27-nation EU hopes to complete talks on a broad agreement on investment and trade in goods and services with the U.S. within two years, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said on Feb. 13.
WTO Talks The U.S. announced plans to join a WTO negotiation on trade in services, in areas including finance, logistics and telecommunications, on Jan. 15. Asia-Pacific nations including the U.S. and Japan are also working on a deal for that region, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, wrote a Feb. 26 letter to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative supporting the WTO agreement because it would improve the market for financial services information.
Trade policy grew more controversial in the 1990s as pacts such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and WTO deals addressed domestic rules -- rather than only tariffs applied at borders -- as potential barriers to commerce. Services, in particular, face domestic regulations because companies usually need to be physically present to provide them.
Volcker Rule The financial services industry has already invoked international trade rules in its bid to weaken proposed regulations, notably the Volcker rule that would ban proprietary trading. Named after former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, the rule is a signature part of Dodd-Frank.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sought a review of the rule by U.S. trade authorities, arguing it violated existing agreements.
In a Feb. 26 letter on the WTO negotiation, Allgeier said that the blanket exemptions for so-called prudential regulations, aimed at ensuring the safety and soundness of the banking system, should face some limits.
For example, domestic prudential regulators shouldn’t be able to discriminate against foreign companies, and should act in a manner that is “least trade and investment distorting,” Allgeier wrote. Also, capital requirements in financial services should not be used as “disguised barriers to entry or competition with domestic suppliers.”
‘Anti-American’ The complaint about capital standards echoes Jamie Dimon, the chief executive officer of JPMorgan, in 2011. Dimon criticized capital standards created by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision as “anti-American” over their additional penalties on large banks and liquidity rules.
Allgeier said in an interview that the request was motivated by limits on U.S. companies in other countries made in the name of safety and soundness. To have a successful international negotiation, the U.S. regulators such as the Federal Reserve need to be flexible on what it’s willing to do so that other countries will agree, he said.
“We need to find the right balance,” Allgeier said. The prudential regulators are going to start with the most conservative position, so can you move them to a degree that meets their objectives?’’
Sifma, the Wall Street lobby, also said the EU agreement should cover “existing and future financial services laws and regulations that have significant transatlantic trade effects, significant extraterritorial effects, or both” in a May 14 letter.
CFTC Guidance Top officials from the EU, Britain, France, Germany, Switzerland, South Africa, Russia, Brazil and Japan have called for changes to guidance proposed by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The guidance, which the U.S. industry has opposed as well, would cover transactions involving overseas offices of U.S. banks and hedge funds incorporated offshore.
A separate set of regulations, proposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, would cover some types of swaps. That set has garnered more support from the industry.
Neither set of rules has been completed.
Mac Destler, a professor at the University of Maryland who studies the politics of trade policy, said negotiators could opt to include provisions in the trade agreement that do less than simply reverse existing regulation. For example, they could include deals to consult in the future where rules on finance conflict, or declare that current regulations are grandfathered into a trade pact.
‘Harder Question’ “If you say you’re going to have a full-out big agreement, it’s pretty hard to say you’re going to carve out the regulatory regime entirely,” Destler said in an interview. “The harder question is how far you go.”
Philipp Roesler, the vice chancellor of Germany, said today during an appearance in Washington that the financial services industry would be the “greatest challenge” for the U.S.-EU negotiation.
The number of rules to be addressed in the wake of the 2008 crisis and differences in regulatory approach in the EU and U.S. may make it harder to reach accords on financial rules than on areas areas of traditional friction between the two sides, such as agriculture, he said.
“We have very different systems,” Roesler, who is also the economics and technology minister, said in remarks at the Brookings Institution. “We have much to do, a great challenge.”
FIGHT FOR THESE JOURNALISTS AND ACTIVISTS THAT ARE RISKING THEIR LIVES FOR YOUR FREEDOMS!!!!
Edward Snowden, NSA files source: 'If they want to get you, in time they will' Source for the Guardian's NSA files on why he carried out the biggest intelligence leak in a generation – and what comes next
Link to video: NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: 'I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things' Edward Snowden was interviewed over several days in Hong Kong by Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill.
Q: Why did you decide to become a whistleblower?
A: "The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife's phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.
"I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under."
Q: But isn't there a need for surveillance to try to reduce the chances of terrorist attacks such as Boston?
A: "We have to decide why terrorism is a new threat. There has always been terrorism. Boston was a criminal act. It was not about surveillance but good, old-fashioned police work. The police are very good at what they do."
Q: Do you see yourself as another Bradley Manning?
A: "Manning was a classic whistleblower. He was inspired by the public good."
Q: Do you think what you have done is a crime?
A: "We have seen enough criminality on the part of government. It is hypocritical to make this allegation against me. They have narrowed the public sphere of influence."
Q: What do you think is going to happen to you?
A: "Nothing good."
Q: Why Hong Kong?
A: "I think it is really tragic that an American has to move to a place that has a reputation for less freedom. Still, Hong Kong has a reputation for freedom in spite of the People's Republic of China. It has a strong tradition of free speech."
Q: What do the leaked documents reveal?
A: "That the NSA routinely lies in response to congressional inquiries about the scope of surveillance in America. I believe that when [senator Ron] Wyden and [senator Mark] Udall asked about the scale of this, they [the NSA] said it did not have the tools to provide an answer. We do have the tools and I have maps showing where people have been scrutinised most. We collect more digital communications from America than we do from the Russians."
Snowden is a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA Q: What about the Obama administration's protests about hacking by China?
A: "We hack everyone everywhere. We like to make a distinction between us and the others. But we are in almost every country in the world. We are not at war with these countries."
Q: Is it possible to put security in place to protect against state surveillance?
A: "You are not even aware of what is possible. The extent of their capabilities is horrifying. We can plant bugs in machines. Once you go on the network, I can identify your machine. You will never be safe whatever protections you put in place."
Q: Does your family know you are planning this?
A: "No. My family does not know what is happening … My primary fear is that they will come after my family, my friends, my partner. Anyone I have a relationship with …
I will have to live with that for the rest of my life. I am not going to be able to communicate with them. They [the authorities] will act aggressively against anyone who has known me. That keeps me up at night."
Q: When did you decide to leak the documents?
A: "You see things that may be disturbing. When you see everything you realise that some of these things are abusive. The awareness of wrong-doing builds up. There was not one morning when I woke up [and decided this is it]. It was a natural process.
"A lot of people in 2008 voted for Obama. I did not vote for him. I voted for a third party. But I believed in Obama's promises. I was going to disclose it [but waited because of his election]. He continued with the policies of his predecessor."
Q: What is your reaction to Obama denouncing the leaks on Friday while welcoming a debate on the balance between security and openness?
A: "My immediate reaction was he was having difficulty in defending it himself. He was trying to defend the unjustifiable and he knew it."
Q: What about the response in general to the disclosures?
A: "I have been surprised and pleased to see the public has reacted so strongly in defence of these rights that are being suppressed in the name of security. It is not like Occupy Wall Street but there is a grassroots movement to take to the streets on July 4 in defence of the Fourth Amendment called Restore The Fourth Amendment and it grew out of Reddit. The response over the internet has been huge and supportive."
Q: Washington-based foreign affairs analyst Steve Clemons said he overheard at the capital's Dulles airport four men discussing an intelligence conference they had just attended. Speaking about the leaks, one of them said, according to Clemons, that both the reporter and leaker should be "disappeared". How do you feel about that?