We're finding out today just how Edward Snowden got his job with a major defense contractor, a position that opened the door to his stealing thousands of documents.
Former NSA director Mike McConnell, now a top executive with Booz Allen Hamilton, says Snowden targeted the firm knowing it would give him high-level access to secrets.
McConnell claims Snowden broke into the NSA's computer system and stole the answers to the agency's employment exam.
He calls Snowden the worst spy in U.S. history.
Germany is sending senior intelligence officials to Washington, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Saturday, amid outrage over claims the U.S. National Security Agency monitored German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone.
Among them will be the heads of Germany's foreign and domestic intelligence services and the coordinator of the federal intelligence services, the government's press office said.
The trip comes amid a series of reports that have challenged relations between the two long-time allies. The latest is a story in the German magazine Der Spiegel that - citing a secret U.S. intelligence file - claimed Merkel's phone had been monitored for more than 10 years, stretching back before her current post.
The same database indicated the United States was spying on many others in Berlin's political district, at least up to when U.S. President Barack Obama visited Berlin this year, Der Spiegel reported.
Asked about these claims, U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said her agency does not "comment publicly on every specific intelligence activity."
"And, as a matter of policy, we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations," said Hayden, echoing comments she and others have made in recent days.
Still, it remains to be seen if citizens and leaders in Europe will accept such explanations - and whether recent efforts by the Obama administration to address their concerns will be successful.
The White House is under renewed pressure over its surveillance programs now that newly declassified documents reveal the NSA collected thousands of e-mails and other communications by Americans that were not related to terrorism.
“Newly declassified secret court opinions show the NSA collected nearly 60 thousand domestic communications a year, for three years, ending in 2011,” reports CNN's Chris Lawrence.
“The data includes emails and other internet activity. The court also said the NSA misrepresented the scope of its effort.”
Marc Rotenberg, the Executive Director, of EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center), says "It's very disturbing. The National Security Agency has extraordinary surveillance capabilities. These tools that are supposed to be directed toward adversaries of US, not toward the American public."
“The NSA says it collected the data by mistake, a senior intelligence official telling reporters there was a ‘technological problem that could not be avoided, rather than any overreach,’” Lawrence says.
The Obama administration is under pressure from Republican and Democratic lawmakers over the sweeping nature of the NSA's secret data collection.
President Obama insisted the government is not violating your privacy in a speech he made just two weeks ago, saying "America is not interested in spying on ordinary people. Our intelligence is focused, above all, on finding information that's necessary to protect our people."
“The NSA is supposed to target foreign communications that have to do with potential terrorism investigations.”
CNN is following the trail in Russia today where NSA leaker Edward Snowden is holed-up this morning.
Snowden, considered a fugitive from justice in the U.S., is believed to be waiting for safe-passage to Ecuador, but the government there says it won't be forced into a decision concerning Snowden's asylum request.
CNN's Phil Black is following developments live in Moscow.
A 29-year-old computer technician for a U.S. defense contractor leaked details of a top-secret American program that collects vast streams of phone and Internet data, American and British newspapers revealed Sunday.
"My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them," the source, Edward Snowden, told Britain's the Guardian, one of the papers that broke stories on the program last week.
The Washington Post also disclosed Sunday that Snowden was the source on its stories.
Snowden is a former technical assistant for the CIA and has been working at the National Security Agency, the U.S. electronic intelligence service, for the past four years, the newspaper reported. He said he walked away from a six-figure job in Hawaii for the computer consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton and has holed up in a hotel in Hong Kong in preparation for the expected fallout from his disclosures.
The Justice Department is now officially launching an investigation into the unauthorized leaks made by Ex-CIA employee Edward Snowden regarding the NSA.
Intelligence committee leaders both in the House and Senate are now saying Snowden should be prosecuted. Brianna Keilar has more on the story.