NSA leaker Edward Snowden despised classified leaks in 2009, illustrating that the former Booz Allen Hamilton employee was not always the champion of transparency that he has become.
The technology website ArsTechnica published IRC chats where he railed against a New York Times story about the U.S. rejecting an Israeli request for aid to attack an Iranian nuclear site and the United States' covert efforts to sabotage Iran's nuclear program.
"Are they TRYING to start a war? Jesus christ. they're like wikileaks," he said in the chat.
"they're just reporting, dude," said another user.
"moreover, who the fuck are the anonymous sources telling them this?" he said. "those people should be shot in the balls."
Snowden's views have evolved since the exchange. He has praised leakers like Bradley Manning, Bill Binney, Thomas Drake and John Kiriakou. Wikileaks has been paying for his lodging, flights and legal counsel since he left Hong Kong this weekend on an Aeroflot flight bound for Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Snowden is in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremeteyvo Airport, but he has not been seen.
Snowden, in the chat, also criticized reporting on classified information.
"is it unethical to report on the government's intrigue?" asked a user in the chat.
"VIOLATING NATIONAL SECURITY? no." he responded.
"meh. national security." responded the user.
"Um, YEEEEEEEEEEEES.that shit is classified for a reason," he said. "it's not because "oh we hope our citizens don't find out. it's because "this shit won't work if iran knows what we're doing."
"I am so angry right now. This is completely unbelievable," he said.
Snowden's disclosures of the National Security Agency's phone and internet spying programs have been criticized for the very same reason -- that they violate national security.
"Remember, these were counterterrorism programs, essentially, and we have seen that bad guys overseas, terrorists who are committing and plotting attacks on the United States and our allies, have changed the way they operate," Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said on Sunday. "We’ve already seen that. To say that that is not harmful to the national security of the United States or our safety is just dead wrong."
Snowden told The Guardian that with every document, he debated whether leaking it to the paper was in the public's interest.