Three years ago, Edward Snowden leaked classified intelligence documents that led to one of the largest diplomatic backlashes in recent history. Among the documents, it was revealed that the National Security Agency actively collected phone and online records on American citizens and citizens from foreign countries, including their heads of state. Although the latter may seem ordinary espionage, targets included close allies of the United States who felt their trust betrayed. They included German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Brazil's President Dilma Roussef, Mexico's former President Felipe Calderon, the French Foreign Ministry, as well as leaders at the 2010 G8 and G20 summits in Toronto.
Immediately after the leak, Edward Snowden escaped to Russia via Hong Kong. With his passport revoked, he was granted political asylum in Russia. He now resides in Moscow in fear of returning and facing life in prison.
After charging him with multiple federal offenses, former Attorney General Eric Holder now says that Snowden provided a “public service.”
“He unveiled to the public questionable activities of the United States government. We were caught with our pants down but looking back, he did a public service,” stated Holder.
“In the aftermath, we were left with a conundrum. How do we deal with government employees and contractors that suddenly grow a moral conscious? The first idea that came up was money, but that was quickly dismissed. Snowden had a $122,000 salary by his employer and that wasn’t enough for him to stay quiet.”
“That’s when we finally came up with the Safe Secrets (SS) program. We would create a confessional booth at a CIA facility administered by SS agents,” said Holder with a smile.
The first location is to be opened in the summer at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Open to the public, officials welcome anyone who obtains classified information and needs an outlet. Although no specific address is given, they urge people to contact them by phone, fax, mail, or through their website.
“We made this program as accessible as possible. You don’t even need to leave a return address or phone number. If we feel like you qualify our requirements, we will locate and contact you.”