Snowden NSA leak raises questions about intelligence contractors

Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA, revealed details of top-secret surveillance conducted by the United States' National Security Agency regarding telecom data.

Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former CIA employee who says he leaked information on the government's widespread surveillance of electronic communications last week, is currently in Hong Kong awaiting his fate. Snowden says he released secret documents as a matter of principle.

In a video interview with The Guardian, the paper that broke the story, Snowden said he was not motivated by money.

"Anyone in the positions of access with the technical capabilities that I had could suck out secrets, pass them on the open market to Russia -- they always have an open door," he said.

It has been a tough weekend for the current employer of Snowden. Defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton hired him just this year. The company released a statement that it is "shocked" by the revelations.

Brett LoGiurato, political reporter for Business Insider, joins Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio to discuss the business fallout and what it means for private intelligence contractors.

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David Brancaccio is the host of Marketplace Morning Report. Follow David on Twitter @DavidBrancaccio
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The term "whistleblower" implies that someone has broken the rules--usually meaning broken some law. And if laws are broken, we often "give a pass" to someone who breaks other laws to rectify the illegality. But Snowden's breach of faith appears not based on his finding any illegality. He seems to have simply decided the NSA activity was not to his liking. So if Snowden is a "whistleblower," we have dumbed-down the definition to allow any 29-year-old with a policy disagreement to blow up our whole security system according to their personal whims.

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