TODAY   |  December 24, 2013

Snowden: ‘The mission’s already accomplished’

In an interview, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden declared victory after federal recommendations were made for more oversight on an NSA intelligence gathering program. Snowden dismissed charges that he violated his agreement not to disclose classified information.  NBC’s Peter Alexander reports.

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>>> nsa leaker edward snowden speaking out in an interview. his first since arriving in russia six months ago. peter alexander is traveling with the president in hawaii. he has more. good morning.

>> reporter: good morning to you. edward snowden invited that reporter to meet him behind closed doors in moscow. their conversation focused on surveillance, democracy and the documents snowden exposed. his leaks changed the way americans view their government and the way foreign governments view the u.s. today in a conversation with the washington post edward snowden is declaring victory. for me in terms of personal satisfaction the mission's already accomplished. i already won. remember i didn't want to change society. i wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself. the nsa leaker dismissed charges that he violated his agreement not to disclose classified information. the oath of allegiance is not an oath of secrecy. that is an oath to the constitution. he said those that accuse him don't understand his motivation. i'm not trying to bring down the nsa. i'm trying to improve the nsa. i'm still working for the nsa right now. they're the only ones that don't realize it. while snowden is held up in russia living like an indoor cat, president obama is vacationing here in hawaii collecting phone records from all americans when he returns to washington in january. for months snowden has been a thorn in the obama administration's side.

>> no, i'm not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker.

>> reporter: as for life in russia , snowden now 30 told the post he lives off ramen noodles and chips with visitors bringing him books he rarely cracks. the internet serving as his window to see the impact of his revelations on the world. if i defected at all, i defected from the government to the public. the white house had no comment on edward snowden 's declaration of victory. he still faces felony charges here in the u.s. and administration officials recently reiterated their position that he should be returned to face the charges here in court.

>> meanwhile, a little domestic business. the health care deadline extended to midnight tonight to get in for the january 1st coverage. critics of the affordable care act saying here's another delay that shows this law isn't ready for primetime.

>> reporter: this time they mean it for real. today is the last day you can complete it if you want health care coverage by january 1st . the president was among the people that just enrolled for health coverage. he did it this last weekend. he doesn't need it. he doesn't use it. presidents get their health coverage through the military. he actually had staffers sign him up because his effort would be more complicated considering his circumstances. the president, if you're wondering, will be getting a bronze plan. that's the cheapest for someone his age. he is going to pay for it. it will cost him less than $400 a month.

>> pretty expensive act of symbolism there. thanks.