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Excerpt: "The individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA."

Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. (photo: Guardian UK)
Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. (photo: Guardian UK)

Edward Snowden: The Whistleblower Behind Revelations of NSA Surveillance

By Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill, Laura Poitras, Guardian UK

09 June 13


Watch the interview with Edward Snowden here.

he individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell.

The Guardian, after several days of interviews, is revealing his identity at his request. From the moment he decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, he was determined not to opt for the protection of anonymity. "I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong," he said.

Snowden will go down in history as one of America's most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. He is responsible for handing over material from one of the world's most secretive organisations – the NSA.

In a note accompanying the first set of documents he provided, he wrote: "I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions," but "I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant."

Despite his determination to be publicly unveiled, he repeatedly insisted that he wants to avoid the media spotlight. "I don't want public attention because I don't want the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the US government is doing."

He does not fear the consequences of going public, he said, only that doing so will distract attention from the issues raised by his disclosures. "I know the media likes to personalise political debates, and I know the government will demonise me."

Despite these fears, he remained hopeful his outing will not divert attention from the substance of his disclosures. "I really want the focus to be on these documents and the debate which I hope this will trigger among citizens around the globe about what kind of world we want to live in." He added: "My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them."

He has had "a very comfortable life" that included a salary of roughly $200,000, a girlfriend with whom he shared a home in Hawaii, a stable career, and a family he loves. "I'm willing to sacrifice all of that because I can't in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they're secretly building."

'I am not afraid, because this is the choice I've made'

Three weeks ago, Snowden made final preparations that resulted in last week's series of blockbuster news stories. At the NSA office in Hawaii where he was working, he copied the last set of documents he intended to disclose.

He then advised his NSA supervisor that he needed to be away from work for "a couple of weeks" in order to receive treatment for epilepsy, a condition he learned he suffers from after a series of seizures last year.

As he packed his bags, he told his girlfriend that he had to be away for a few weeks, though he said he was vague about the reason. "That is not an uncommon occurrence for someone who has spent the last decade working in the intelligence world."

On May 20, he boarded a flight to Hong Kong, where he has remained ever since. He chose the city because "they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent", and because he believed that it was one of the few places in the world that both could and would resist the dictates of the US government.

In the three weeks since he arrived, he has been ensconced in a hotel room. "I've left the room maybe a total of three times during my entire stay," he said. It is a plush hotel and, what with eating meals in his room too, he has run up big bills.

He is deeply worried about being spied on. He lines the door of his hotel room with pillows to prevent eavesdropping. He puts a large red hood over his head and laptop when entering his passwords to prevent any hidden cameras from detecting them.

Though that may sound like paranoia to some, Snowden has good reason for such fears. He worked in the US intelligence world for almost a decade. He knows that the biggest and most secretive surveillance organisation in America, the NSA, along with the most powerful government on the planet, is looking for him.

Since the disclosures began to emerge, he has watched television and monitored the internet, hearing all the threats and vows of prosecution emanating from Washington.

And he knows only too well the sophisticated technology available to them and how easy it will be for them to find him. The NSA police and other law enforcement officers have twice visited his home in Hawaii and already contacted his girlfriend, though he believes that may have been prompted by his absence from work, and not because of suspicions of any connection to the leaks.

"All my options are bad," he said. The US could begin extradition proceedings against him, a potentially problematic, lengthy and unpredictable course for Washington. Or the Chinese government might whisk him away for questioning, viewing him as a useful source of information. Or he might end up being grabbed and bundled into a plane bound for US territory.

"Yes, I could be rendered by the CIA. I could have people come after me. Or any of the third-party partners. They work closely with a number of other nations. Or they could pay off the Triads. Any of their agents or assets," he said.

"We have got a CIA station just up the road – the consulate here in Hong Kong – and I am sure they are going to be busy for the next week. And that is a concern I will live with for the rest of my life, however long that happens to be."

Having watched the Obama administration prosecute whistleblowers at a historically unprecedented rate, he fully expects the US government to attempt to use all its weight to punish him. "I am not afraid," he said calmly, "because this is the choice I've made."

He predicts the government will launch an investigation and "say I have broken the Espionage Act and helped our enemies, but that can be used against anyone who points out how massive and invasive the system has become".

The only time he became emotional during the many hours of interviews was when he pondered the impact his choices would have on his family, many of whom work for the US government. "The only thing I fear is the harmful effects on my family, who I won't be able to help any more. That's what keeps me up at night," he said, his eyes welling up with tears.

'You can't wait around for someone else to act'

Snowden did not always believe the US government posed a threat to his political values. He was brought up originally in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. His family moved later to Maryland, near the NSA headquarters in Fort Meade.

By his own admission, he was not a stellar student. In order to get the credits necessary to obtain a high school diploma, he attended a community college in Maryland, studying computing, but never completed the coursework.

In 2003, he enlisted in the US army and began a training program to join the Special Forces. Invoking the same principles that he now cites to justify his leaks, he said: "I wanted to fight in the Iraq war because I felt like I had an obligation as a human being to help free people from oppression".

He recounted how his beliefs about the war's purpose were quickly dispelled. "Most of the people training us seemed pumped up about killing Arabs, not helping anyone," he said. After he broke both his legs in a training accident, he was discharged.

After that, he got his first job in an NSA facility, working as a security guard for one of the agency's covert facilities at the University of Maryland. From there, he went to the CIA, where he worked on IT security. His understanding of the internet and his talent for computer programming enabled him to rise fairly quickly for someone who lacked even a high school diploma.

By 2007, the CIA stationed him with diplomatic cover in Geneva, Switzerland. His responsibility for maintaining computer network security meant he had clearance to access a wide array of classified documents.

That access, along with the almost three years he spent around CIA officers, led him to begin seriously questioning the rightness of what he saw.

He described as formative an incident in which he claimed CIA operatives were attempting to recruit a Swiss banker to obtain secret banking information. Snowden said they achieved this by purposely getting the banker drunk and encouraging him to drive home in his car. When the banker was arrested for drunk driving, the undercover agent seeking to befriend him offered to help, and a bond was formed that led to successful recruitment.

"Much of what I saw in Geneva really disillusioned me about how my government functions and what its impact is in the world," he says. "I realised that I was part of something that was doing far more harm than good."

He said it was during his CIA stint in Geneva that he thought for the first time about exposing government secrets. But, at the time, he chose not to for two reasons.

First, he said: "Most of the secrets the CIA has are about people, not machines and systems, so I didn't feel comfortable with disclosures that I thought could endanger anyone". Secondly, the election of Barack Obama in 2008 gave him hope that there would be real reforms, rendering disclosures unnecessary.

He left the CIA in 2009 in order to take his first job working for a private contractor that assigned him to a functioning NSA facility, stationed on a military base in Japan. It was then, he said, that he "watched as Obama advanced the very policies that I thought would be reined in", and as a result, "I got hardened."

The primary lesson from this experience was that "you can't wait around for someone else to act. I had been looking for leaders, but I realised that leadership is about being the first to act."

Over the next three years, he learned just how all-consuming the NSA's surveillance activities were, claiming "they are intent on making every conversation and every form of behaviour in the world known to them".

He described how he once viewed the internet as "the most important invention in all of human history". As an adolescent, he spent days at a time "speaking to people with all sorts of views that I would never have encountered on my own".

But he believed that the value of the internet, along with basic privacy, is being rapidly destroyed by ubiquitous surveillance. "I don't see myself as a hero," he said, "because what I'm doing is self-interested: I don't want to live in a world where there's no privacy and therefore no room for intellectual exploration and creativity."

Once he reached the conclusion that the NSA's surveillance net would soon be irrevocable, he said it was just a matter of time before he chose to act. "What they're doing" poses "an existential threat to democracy", he said.

A matter of principle

As strong as those beliefs are, there still remains the question: why did he do it? Giving up his freedom and a privileged lifestyle? "There are more important things than money. If I were motivated by money, I could have sold these documents to any number of countries and gotten very rich."

For him, it is a matter of principle. "The government has granted itself power it is not entitled to. There is no public oversight. The result is people like myself have the latitude to go further than they are allowed to," he said.

His allegiance to internet freedom is reflected in the stickers on his laptop: "I support Online Rights: Electronic Frontier Foundation," reads one. Another hails the online organisation offering anonymity, the Tor Project.

Asked by reporters to establish his authenticity to ensure he is not some fantasist, he laid bare, without hesitation, his personal details, from his social security number to his CIA ID and his expired diplomatic passport. There is no shiftiness. Ask him about anything in his personal life and he will answer.

He is quiet, smart, easy-going and self-effacing. A master on computers, he seemed happiest when talking about the technical side of surveillance, at a level of detail comprehensible probably only to fellow communication specialists. But he showed intense passion when talking about the value of privacy and how he felt it was being steadily eroded by the behaviour of the intelligence services.

His manner was calm and relaxed but he has been understandably twitchy since he went into hiding, waiting for the knock on the hotel door. A fire alarm goes off. "That has not happened before," he said, betraying anxiety wondering if was real, a test or a CIA ploy to get him out onto the street.

Strewn about the side of his bed are his suitcase, a plate with the remains of room-service breakfast, and a copy of Angler, the biography of former vice-president Dick Cheney.

Ever since last week's news stories began to appear in the Guardian, Snowden has vigilantly watched TV and read the internet to see the effects of his choices. He seemed satisfied that the debate he longed to provoke was finally taking place.

He lay, propped up against pillows, watching CNN's Wolf Blitzer ask a discussion panel about government intrusion if they had any idea who the leaker was. From 8,000 miles away, the leaker looked on impassively, not even indulging in a wry smile.

Snowden said that he admires both Ellsberg and Manning, but argues that there is one important distinction between himself and the army private, whose trial coincidentally began the week Snowden's leaks began to make news.

"I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest," he said. "There are all sorts of documents that would have made a big impact that I didn't turn over, because harming people isn't my goal. Transparency is."

He purposely chose, he said, to give the documents to journalists whose judgment he trusted about what should be public and what should remain concealed.

As for his future, he is vague. He hoped the publicity the leaks have generated will offer him some protection, making it "harder for them to get dirty".

He views his best hope as the possibility of asylum, with Iceland – with its reputation of a champion of internet freedom – at the top of his list. He knows that may prove a wish unfulfilled.

But after the intense political controversy he has already created with just the first week's haul of stories, "I feel satisfied that this was all worth it. I have no regrets." your social media marketing partner


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It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

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+115 # ER444 2013-06-09 13:36
Wow. A selfless human being trying to do what is right. Unfortunately rare. How can I make a contribution to help this hero? Even if it just pays for one day of his hotel food.
+101 # Archie1954 2013-06-09 14:22
Until Americans start to understand that their government does not deserve trust, they will not honour these whistleblowers. Until they understand that the fears of terrorist attacks are created by the potential of well deserved blowback from decades of the US making war on poor third world countries and interfering in their domestic affairs, then such fears will remain. It is not the government that will change things, it is the people if they desire such change.
+64 # reiverpacific 2013-06-09 15:02
What immediately occurs to me is that Mr. Snowde would have been better off going to any one of several S. or Central American nations who are now out from under the thrall and dictates of Big Brother up north.
The obvious is Correda's Ecuador, Moralés Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela or even Cuba, where ex-CIA disenchanted agent and former whistle blower, the recently deceased Phillip Agee (His book, "Inside the company is worth plowing through if you can get it here) spent the last years of life in relative safety after being pursued around the world by his former employers. Any of these and many other countries would have been clear choices being, other "places in the world that both could and would resist the dictates of the US government" (QV).
Also most interesting to me was the fact that he chose now Chinese Hong Kong as a place where "they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent": who'd ha' thunk it? The US owner-media would never admit THAT!
I wish him heartfelt safety and good luck.
+15 # Jack Gibson 2013-06-09 16:19
I'm wondering why he didn't go directly to Iceland. Is Iceland really not as trustworthy as it's been made out to be?

I think Snowden may have made a dire mistake in choosing Hong Kong. I doubt very much that it is now really a land of free speech and respect for dissent. It is part of a communist country, "against God's sake"! The Chinese government has thrown, probably millions of, innocent people in prison for dissent and exercising free speech; and murdered many of them in order to harvest their organs.

Besides, before China took over Hong Kong, it was long a British and U.S. intelligence center (I was tempted to say, "outpost"; but it was much more than that); and, thus, it probably still is. So it's probably easier to get Snowden there than some other places. And China works so closely with the U.S. government now, that China may (very likely?) turn him over to the U.S. in exchange for something and/or certain things.

Therefore, by going to Hong Kong, Snowden may have screwed himself. I certainly hope that I'm wrong; because, it's true, he IS a hero; for, if "We the People" don't put a stop to this "oxymoronic" takeover of the U.S. and the world with a "1984-style" apparatus of "intelligence" and the eradication of all liberty, freedom and privacy, it is going to screw all of us; as Snowden so correctly realized.

Without privacy, there is no true freedom and liberty, and that's why the U.S. government, "al CIAduh(!)" and the NSA, etc., are eliminating it.
+4 # Jack Gibson 2013-06-09 17:18
Oh! It just hit me that perhaps Snowden thought something like, "Assange chose not to go to, and seek asylum in, Iceland; so, if he chose not to go to Iceland, he must have had (a) very good reason(s) for not doing so". Yah, and that brings up another very good question, why did Assange choose not to seek asylum in Iceland? Has it already been explained somewhere and I missed it? If someone knows why, please let me know.
-1 # Douglas Jack 2013-06-12 21:11
Jack G. Geopolitically iceland with a quarter million people is no match for any superpower's indiscretions. Remember that it is the corporations who run, choose & control the US & most other governments. It seems you drink too much Kool-aid on China's evil ways, yes & no. Its important to draw your sources directly from the sides you choose to fear or which your empire chooses to fear & indoctrinate its citizens into fearing. Hong Kong is an interesting choice today in terms of China's sovereignty. China even though it owns the US National Debt still isn't foreclosing, yet has taken strong exception to US strong-arm tactics in Libya, Syria & Iran. Who knows?
+20 # Timaloha 2013-06-09 15:05
What did he reveal? The article says he is responsible for "leaks" and "revelations" and "documents" related to "last week's news stories," but does that mean the NSA cell phone records issue? If it does, then he has revealed nothing new at all. Congress has been aware of it since its inception and the public was made aware via newspaper headlines in 2006. Example: " The National Security Agency "has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data" provided by AT&T, Verizon Communications and BellSouth Corporation, Leslie Cauley first reported May 10, 2006, in USA Today."
+14 # Old Uncle Dave 2013-06-09 16:01
Quoting Timaloha:
What did he reveal? The article says he is responsible for "leaks" and "revelations" and "documents" related to "last week's news stories," but does that mean the NSA cell phone records issue? If it does, then he has revealed nothing new at all. Congress has been aware of it since its inception and the public was made aware via newspaper headlines in 2006. Example: " The National Security Agency "has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data" provided by AT&T, Verizon Communications and BellSouth Corporation, Leslie Cauley first reported May 10, 2006, in USA Today."

Exactly! And the msm downplayed it, unlike now, where they're acting like it's some kind of revelation. Something's not right with this.
check this out.
+2 # zakcat 2013-06-10 19:18
yes, the info was available to the public, but they unfortunately don't read the news; and it was covered only weakly, anyway. Now everyone is thinking it's an Obama program. I also thought that Obama would put the brakes on these programs, but as they say, no President ever gives up any power used by a former President. It just keeps growing.
+38 # phrixus 2013-06-09 16:06
Obama should give his ill-deserved Nobel Peace Prize to Snowden. Now there's a guy with some SERIOUS stones. Bravo.
+21 # ghostperson 2013-06-09 16:09
Good on ya kid. I wouldn't have had the guts to do it no matter how much I believed what they were doing was wrong. I have long since lost faith in our system of government by star chamber. Now, I always expect the worst and so far my highest expectations have been met. Thomas Jefferson thought government should be changed every quarter of a century to prevent entrenchment of power. The foundering fathers were astute observers of human nature and sovereign abuse of power.
+36 # newsmom 2013-06-09 16:23
i have a wonderful t-shirt the nation magazine sold a few years back. it says "secrecy promotes tyranny." it does and it will as long as whistleblowers are persecuted instead of prosecuting venal governmental practices and policies he whistleblowers reveal.
+41 # James Marcus 2013-06-09 16:50
another Hero steps forward.
another crack in The Dike of Lies and Truth Suppression
May he remain safe from the Gnashing of Teeth....
+16 # aitengri 2013-06-09 17:09
Using "wide angle lens" as metaphor, a very wide angle question that occurs to me, is "What, and who, is President Obama, really?" One must begin to wonder at the vast orchestration of American public phenomena, like "nominations of candidates", the personal histories of these same persons, and how it is that this president, today, can so seamlessly carry forward policies set in motion at the very least from the Reagan administration. I know Carter was unceremoniously dumped, probably for presenting a very tough moral core, while the series of "pragmatists", Reagan, Bush SR. , Clinton, Bush JR, and now Obama, were all dredged up and put to the harness, of what? What is the driving and controlling unitary force? I know many readers here will blow hot air with rhetorical speculations, but at core, the question is very deeply concerning.
0 # Douglas Jack 2013-06-12 19:58
Aitengri, The Finance-Media-M ilitary-Industr ial-Complex is first of all corporate networks which have annual budgets larger than the US government. From the beginning of the occupation of the Americas these corporations, first based in Europe then among the colonial ruling class. Here's a good list of who these corporations are today from AlterNet Andrew Gavin Marshall
10 May 2013. WORLD
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is the latest plan of conglomerates to strengthen their grip over the planet. This is a very long list. The answer is to return to the Economic Democracy of humanity's 'indigenous' (Latin 'self-generatin g') ancestors in Multihome living, Production Societies & the inclusive progressive ownership accounting found in the string-shell.
+8 # frederico 2013-06-09 17:10
Bless you Edward. You are a Real Man, not a weasel man, like Obama and Holder and that gang. You and Bradley and Julian should share the Nobel Peace Prize, if it's worth a damn anymore. I admire you all greatly, and I hope we all live to see Peace and Love and Justice triumph over the dark forces of aMeRikAn greed, fascism and empire.
+12 # X Dane 2013-06-09 17:39
I can understand why he chose to reveal the documents he did. I wonder what it will cost him? I do hope that a serious discussion will take place. I think it may, for several independent and democrats are are determined to rein in the government's collection of our information.

Of course we want to be kept safe, but I think that NSA is going much further than it needs to. And I hope reasonable people can find the happy medium between keeping us safe and spying on every move we make.

I worry for Snowdon and his family, for there are a lot who are after his scalp.
It may help him that he publicly stood up and confessed that he gave the papers to the guardian. For many will pay attention to what happens to him. I sure will.
+1 # LarryWBryant 2013-06-09 17:41
== For Those Who Wish to Lend Moral Support to Citizen Snowden ==

Here's a brand-new petition for you to circulate among your contacts. Note the shear irony of using a White House-operated Medium for the Masses to transmit this message of solidarity and appreciation for that endangered species called
whistleblower. -- Larry W. Bryant (9 Jun 13)
+11 # treadlightly 2013-06-09 17:56
You can be certain that this commentary is being monitored, recorded, and analysed by one of our overlords pet monkeys. Hi monkey. Monkey like the nice banana? Monkey like the banana so much that it's willing to do ANYTHING to keep those bananas coming? Monkey needs to stop fooling itself that the trainer is good just because he has all the bananas. Bad trainer, bad monkeys.
+19 # RMDC 2013-06-09 18:03
It is hard to imagine how he could remain calm. Of course the CIA knows where he is and he could be rendered any moment. I wonder if he has lined up lawyers to defend him or if he has other plans.

No matter what his plans, he is a great american hero. He saw the nation drifing (or catapulting) into full blown fascism and he blew the whistle. Now is the time for Obama and congress to pass very strick laws on what the NSA, CIA, FBI, DHS, and the hundred more intelligence agencies can do. Or better shut them down.
+9 # RHytonen 2013-06-09 21:13
Quoting RMDC:
.. the nation drifing (or catapulting) into full blown fascism .. Now is the time for Obama and congress to pass very strick laws on what the NSA, CIA, FBI, DHS, and the hundred more intelligence agencies can do. Or better shut them down.

They - and most especially their "contractors"- need to be ENDED, and importantly, these activities of theirs made ILLEGAL with the most serious of consequences.

This government has become what it has because of the corporations' greed, success, hubris and the amorality it establishes; and that will not just go away by finally admitting it's ALL private instead of public sector.
+7 # Kootenay Coyote 2013-06-09 18:18
Tide turning?
+6 # treadlightly 2013-06-09 19:08
Let's hope.
0 # RMDC 2013-06-10 07:03
yes, maybe there will be thousands of whistle blower who respond to the trial of Bradley Manning and the revelations of Edward Snowden. the tide may actually turn.
-2 # Douglas Jack 2013-06-10 12:04
Edward Snowden has it right, but in truth-telling, he is stepping off of the international space station into a deep vacuum of missing relations. The lack of consciousness being expressed here, is one of taking responsibility for those around us & committed relationships.

Our relationships have become so week, isolation & loneliness as individuals, nuclear-familie s or single parent households. In a climate of extreme inter-personal competition for stolen resources, we focus our attention on lobbying the US government or some other central levels to gather less data. We somehow expect the nanny-state to be looking out for us when we are not expressing the same caring & compassion in our own inter-personal relations.

The vacuum of space is at the bottom, where relations of mutual-aid are lacking. If we rebuild our families & communities, then our dependence upon the top reduces proportionately . Indigenous peoples here & worldwide, lived in critical mass multihome groupings within the Longhouse (apartment-like ), Pueblo (townhouse-like ) & Kanata (village). To do so the systems of accounting were designed to recognize & encourage the contributions, progressive ownership & decision-making authority of everyone grouped within their fields of specialty. Such grouping empowered those from the bottom to be in collective control of all other levels without a vacuum of intelligence.
+15 # banichi 2013-06-09 18:46
My highest respect to Edward Snowden; he has shown us that again, regardless of how many others 'go along to get along' with the policies of Obama, the NSA, and the rest, there are still heroes who will put the liberty, honor, and integrity of their fellow human beings above their own comfort.

I don't know what documents he gave to the media or what stories have resulted from it. I assume they will become clearer over time. But a courageous commitment to 'We the People' is outstanding and deserves to be recognized as a patriotic stand for what the Oath of Office calls for. To 'defend and protect the Constitution of the United states against all enemies, domestic and foreign.'

These days that means, not some poor guy or his country who is striking back against the U.S. for our government's rape and murder of other countries' people and resources. It means standing up to those in power here in the U.S. who continue to use their positions to destroy our Constitution, the liberties it guarantees [which have largely been quietly destroyed] in the name of 'security' - so they say.

You can't guarantee safety and security by eliminating liberty both here and around the world. Quite the opposite. The Founders knew this and said so about how we should create friends around the world. In the name of greed and fear, we have done the very opposite. Now we reap the results. And those like Edward Snowden are only patriots.
+5 # LarryWBryant 2013-06-09 19:06
== OOOOPS! HERE's the URL for the Petition I cited above ==
-44 # CHECKMATE 2013-06-09 19:47
There is a cell waiting for Snowden at Gitmo. If he's so brave he should come home and try it on for size.

No one gave him clearance to decide on his own to release this old information.
-14 # Carolann 2013-06-10 05:02
Checkmate... I completely agree with you. The man broke the law. The NSA did not. If people have a problem with the law then they should call their congressmen. They are the ones who have repeatedly passed laws allowing this kind of surveillance.
+4 # PGreen 2013-06-10 11:12
But that is the question that you have dismissed in favor of blindly accepting military and government authority. If openminded you would be asking, what laws did the NSA break that made it necessary for him to turn whistleblower? It is easily arguable that these NSA activities are a constitutional violation of our right to privacy, though I don't think it has been challenged in court--which would probably necessitate a SCOTUS ruling. Political support for these surveillance activities within the government is divided, not monolithic, and is not breaking down solely along partisan lines.
If you support the NSA spying on Americans, come out and say so, but to condemn Snowden simply on the grounds that his actions were illegal--when the law itself may be illegal and is at least clearly unethical--does neither debate nor the country any good.
I put Snowden alongside Ellsburg. How do you see Ellburg?
+7 # reiverpacific 2013-06-10 14:34
Quoting Carolann:
Checkmate... I completely agree with you. The man broke the law. The NSA did not. If people have a problem with the law then they should call their congressmen. They are the ones who have repeatedly passed laws allowing this kind of surveillance.

Spoken like a couple of true conformists and potential finks for the satus-quo!
NSA has made, broken and abused the law for many decades in the true spirit of consistency with what the US military and government did to every treaty they signed with the indigenous American people and still is, ergo: "The White man made us many promises, more than I can ever recall but they only kept but one. They said that they would take our land and they took it"! Red Cloud.
Happy with that are ya?
The message: conform or perish! They'll be tickled with you two -until they "come for you as well, when there's no-one left to get"! Read Orwell's 1984, please.
+8 # RMDC 2013-06-10 07:26
"No one gave him clearance to decide on his own"

Spoken with a true slave mentality. I'm capable of making my own judgments about right and wrong. Apparently Snowden is too. What's wrong with you. Do you need a Nanny or worse the police to tell you what to do. Governments have no right to defraud the people who elected them. All of these surveillance programs are essentially fraud -- the regime says it is trying to protect people but in reality it is controlling them. Apparently Checkmate likes to take orders from the regime.
-5 # CHECKMATE 2013-06-10 21:51
I chose yours to replyt because you cut right to the chase.
Imagine our ship of state is out at sea.
Latter date Kamaze, (people who think they are the divine wind, are swooping in for the kill. We are fighting for our life when (to continue the metaphor) a sailor called Snowden decides to turn off the radar because, as he sees it, the radar beam is painting the friendlies as well as the bogies. Stop the metaphor stop the crap. Snowden is not a whistle blower and not a hero. He's a moron. He's missing from his hotel room and he's probably in a chinese jail cell being pumped for all the secrets he has. If he manages to evade the Chinese police A criminal organization will snatch him to demand ransom for our secrets.
+5 # gabe 2013-06-09 20:03
I will make time to scrutinize the material Snowden released to the press, provided someone publishes it. If anyone has seen the contents, please please publish that info here and elsewhere. The captive media fudged and trivialized Assange's disclosures.
"The truth will set you free."
+2 # dick 2013-06-09 20:31
Truman HAD to use the bomb. Not on Hiroshima & Nagasaki, but somewhere. Or he would have been impeached, replaced. Obama HAS to allow surveillance that may prevent a MASSIVE terror attack. I think people need to create communications networks & codes that NSA, et al, don't victimize. The Corporate/Techn ology Plutocracy is not a cliche; it is the world we are creating. Alternative, machine based intelligences are the greatest threat to human freedom EVER. People have to Go Around the machines.
+5 # SusanT136 2013-06-10 07:46
Quoting dick:
Obama HAS to allow surveillance that may prevent a MASSIVE terror attack.

That sounds plausible, until you realize that analyzing call patterns is only helpful if you already have a suspect, and you want to understand how big their network might be. But if you have a suspect, you don't need random data collecting, you can get a specific warrant.

Also, the opportunity for abuse is huge. Especially when you consider that the government has considered groups like United for Peace and Justice, Occupy and (historically) individuals like Martin Luther King Jr to be "threats" to national security. Do we really want to live in a society where phone calls to an organizer of a protest gets you flagged as a "threat" to national security? It's an open invitation to re-live the McCarthy era witch hunts.
+3 # Jack Gibson 2013-06-11 02:13
...And/or much worse.
+8 # womyn 2013-06-09 21:17
I admire this young man tremendously!
However, I do fear for his life and well being.
He literally let the cat out of the bag!
He exposed the blatant corruption in the US' Government, using the NSA to illegally betray Americans under the ridiculousness of The Patriot Act-which of course was supported by Obama and Congress- which is nothing more than a carbon copy of Hitler's plans to intimidate and suppress Americans, our present day's Good Germans, who were willing to allow the atrocities against the Jews (the then-evil-doers compared to today's-evil doers, the Muslims).
Americans are all to gullible, fear-driven, brainwashed, ignorant, forgotten history repeats itself, didn't read 1984 or
The Brave New World, and forgot about the lies to justify Viet Nam's war (remember communists were then the evil-doers),
and how that war killed over two million innocent civilians and 58,000 US soldiers, and disabled hundreds of thousands of Viet Nam Vets.
I emigrated out of the US because I could no longer bare living among the gullible masses who were complicit and supported illegal wars.
I fear Americans will NOT rise up for Bradley Manning or Edward Snowden, or any of the other 6-7 recent whistle blowers because Obama is out to get all of them, no matter what! Not prosecute the corrupt Wall Street Bankers, no way, only the whistle blowers who expose government corruption!
in Afghanistan and Iraq, and voted for bush and Obama!
+4 # treadlightly 2013-06-09 22:18
Following orders is what's made America into the increasingly unpopular MMF to the world.
Being locked up for taking a stand against tyranny is nothing new.
Having it happen in America should disturb you very much.
+3 # swissms 2013-06-09 23:11
I would like to make two comments. First, as a friend of mine said, if the government feels that in the name of national security it needs to collect our phone call data, then it should tell the public that it is doing it. Second, another person commented that collecting call information is less personally invasive than the screenings the NSA puts us through at the airport every time we want to travel. I wish I believed that the NSA was keeping me safe. But taking away my pen-knife? And making me throw out my water so I can be charged exorbitantly for a new bottle bought post-security? How difficult is it to just ask passengers to take a swig of whatever they have brought to drink? Easy enough to catch someone carrying acid. NSA doesn't make me feel safe, just intimidated. They know what they are doing is all for show.
+5 # tigerlille 2013-06-09 23:11
What a brave young man. I don't think he is under any illusions about the danger he is in. I suspect that he has publicized his identity to protect his family and loved ones as best he can. It would not surprise me to wake up tomorrow morning and read that he has "committed suicide," or had to be shot and killed in self defense because he attacked an investigator with a butter knife. The state of this country grieves me
+3 # 2013-06-10 00:10
Another democracy hero. A few more and it may yet turn the tide against our country's and the globe's downward spiral. Praise to you Mr. Ed Snowdon.
+7 # Milarepa 2013-06-10 02:07
Ellsberg was a David stepping up to the US Goliath. Goliath
didn't fall. Manning, Assange and now Snowden all have hit Goliath with their slingshots. Goliath seems far from falling.
I say 'seems'. The effect of those stinging shots may be delayed.
Keep at it, Davids! One fine day the monstrous bully will sway and fall ... History is recording your names for humanity to know and remember.
-18 # Carolann 2013-06-10 04:59
I don't admire whistleblowers who were given a security clearance to national secrets and then break that trust. If it;s so terrible, why aren't you people mad that Congress has passed that law repeatedly? It's up to us... Demand that our congressmen WAKE THE HELL UP and pay attention to what they are signing into law. I, for one, am not afraid that my phone calls are among a gazillion others. I do nothing to threaten my country and I don't care if they have access to my calls to my mother. My calls are just sitting there taking up space! I am all for the NSA doing what they need to keep our country safe and if storing my phone calls helps... go for it! We have been living with this kind of surveillance for decades and normal citizens have not suffered from it. Most didn't even know it was going on. Now the evil-doers know they can't use their phones or emails to communicate. They will find another way. Thanks, Snowden!
+5 # Billy Bob 2013-06-10 12:49
"Evil-doers" ALREADY knew they couldn't use their cell phones.

Law abiding citizens were the only ones being kept in the dark.
+6 # sharag 2013-06-10 05:39
Edward Snowden is a true American hero, a true humanist. Others in his position must and should come forward with what they know.
+4 # moonrigger 2013-06-10 07:23
Growing up in the US, we were told the reason we had to fight the communists or nazis was to preserve our freedom of speech, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, etc. In America, we weren't supposed to "hand over our papers," and our communications were supposed to be protected from snooping, unless the case could be made before a magistrate that there was reasonable cause. 9/11 and homeland security are excuses for unchecked intrusion into everyone's private communications, with no sunsetting in sight. Everyone lives in fear that if they write or say keywords such as "bomb", they might wind up in prison. or else be denied passage on a plane. It's like some absurdist play--The Mouse that Roared--only it's real, folks. The American People have had enough of this, and want our rights returned to us. How much more can our union take before it dissolves into seriously warring factions? Fear mongering is designed to divide and conquer. We are falling prey, and most of us are so busy trying to keep body and soul together that it's hard to keep up. The whistle blowers are willing to lay their lives on the line to protect our way of life. Are they any different than the soldiers we salute every day?
0 # hondacivic21218 2013-06-10 11:45
I'd like to know more about him. Had he previously been an outspoken civil liberterian? From where came his obviously deep concern about the future of our constitutionall y granted freedoms. Do he and Manning share motivations? Does he carry a copy of the Constitution in his pocket? The press should delve into these q's.
+6 # Billy Bob 2013-06-10 12:53
In a free society, citizens aren't afraid of their government. The government should be their to do OUR bidding - not the other way around.
+2 # CDS2 2013-06-11 20:42
For those who don't recall, Christopher John Boyce realized that GHW Bush's CIA was attempting to fix elections in Australia in 1977. (Put the 2000 election in a whole new light, doesn't it?) His revenge was to improperly sell satellite secrets to the Russians...not the right thing to do, obviously...but he did it for the right reasons. He explained all this during his trial, despite the CIA's efforts to prevent that info from coming to light. Further info in the book "The Falcon and the Snowman"

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