Snowden: Mass Surveillance Contributed To Failures To Stop Bombers

Speaking via satellite video at SXSW Interactive on Monday, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden suggested that the government’s focus on mass surveillance programs contributed to missed opportunities to thwart actual terrorists.

“They’re not,” Snowden said, when asked if the government programs he exposed are effective in “keeping us safe.” “The reality is when they did it, they found out it didn’t work.”

Snowden argued that “we’ve actually had tremendous intelligence failures” because of the governments focus on surveilling “everyone” instead of surveilling “suspects.” He alluded to reported early warnings about the Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombers, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called underwear bomber.


Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website?s front page. He has previously written for The Daily,, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at