Nearly six months after the first leaks, The Washington Post has landed the first extensive interview with NSA leaker Edward Snowden, offering a new peek into his motivations for the life-changing leaks and his subsequent life in Russia. In contrast to earlier interviews, Snowden now says the leaks are having the real political impact he'd hoped for. "For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished," Snowden told the Post. "I already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated."

"The last time that happened, we fought a war over it."

Particularly relevant for Snowden's whistleblower status is his efforts to reveal misconduct within official NSA channels. According to the interview, Snowden aired his misgivings as early as October 2012 with as many as 17 co-workers and superiors, challenging them with the sheer volume of domestic data being collected by the BOUNDLESSINFORMANT program. The challenges went nowhere. Six months later, he began contacting reporters. Contacted for comment, an NSA spokesman told the Post there was no record of the conversations.

Snowden takes particular issue over the FISA court, which he described as authorizing general warrants for the metadata of an entire country. "The last time that happened, we fought a war over it," Snowden says. Still, despite General Alexander's imminent retirement and the stringent NSA panel recommendations, Snowden insists his leaks aren't aimed at damaging the National Security Agency. "I am not trying to bring down the NSA, I am working to improve the NSA," he told the Post. "I am still working for the NSA right now. They are the only ones who don’t realize it."