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Excerpt: "In the second instalment of an interview carried out before he revealed himself as the NSA whistleblower, Snowden insisted that he was a patriot."

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. (photo: Guardian UK)
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. (photo: Guardian UK)

Edward Snowden: 'America Is a Fundamentally Good Country'

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

08 July 13


In second part of Glenn Greenwald interview, NSA whistleblower insists he is a patriot who regards the US as fundamentally good.

dward Snowden predicted more than a month ago while still in hiding in Hong Kong that the US government would seek to demonise him, telling the Guardian that he would be accused of aiding America's enemies.

In the second instalment of an interview carried out before he revealed himself as the NSA whistleblower, Snowden insisted that he was a patriot and that he regards the US as a fundamentally good country.

But he said he had chosen to release the highly classified information because freedoms were being undermined by intelligence agency "excesses".

The interview was conducted on June 6 in a hotel room in Hong Kong. The first part of the interview was released on Sunday June 9, starting a media frenzy and intensifying US efforts to track him down.

Snowden has since fled Hong Kong for Moscow, where he is reportedly marooned while resisting US attempts to extradite him to face charges under the Espionage Act.

In the newly released interview excerpts, he predicted he would be portrayed not as a whistleblower but a spy.

"I think they are going to say I have committed grave crimes, I have violated the Espionage Act. They are going to say I have aided our enemies in making them aware of these systems. But this argument can be made against anyone who reveals information that points out mass surveillance systems," he said.

Asked whether he had sought a career in the intelligence community specifically to become a mole and reveal secrets, Snowden, 30, said he had joined government service very young, first enlisting in the US army immediately after the invasion of Iraq out of a belief in "the goodness of what we were doing. I believed in the nobility of our intentions to free oppressed people overseas."

But his views shifted over the length of his career as he watched the news, which he saw as propaganda, not truth. "We were actually involved in misleading the public and misleading all the publics, not just the American public, in order to create certain mindset in the global consciousness and I was actually a victim of that."

He had not fallen out of love with America, only its government. "America is a fundamentally good country. We have good people with good values who want to do the right thing. But the structures of power that exist are working to their own ends to extend their capability at the expense of the freedom of all publics."

In the new excerpts, he explained his motivation for revealing the information. "I don't want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity or love or friendship is recorded," he said. "And that's not something I'm willing to support, it's not something I'm willing to build and it's not something I'm willing to live under."

He also insisted he had continued with his job while waiting for political leaders to rein in what he decribed as "government excesses".

But, he said, "as I've watched I've seen that's not occuring, and in fact we're compounding the excesses of prior governments and making it worse and more invasive. And no one is really standing to stop it."

Snowden has been attacked by his critics for first going to Hong Kong, which is part of China, even though it enjoys freedoms not available on the mainland, and to Russia. He has been offered asylum in Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua but faces the practical problem of how to get to any of these countries.

The most recent poll, for the Huffington Post and YouGov, suggested a shift in support away for Snowden, with 38% saying they feel he did the wrong thing in leaking documents against 33% who felt he did the right thing. After the first interview, 35% said he did the wrong thing while 38% said he had done the right thing.

The interview took place immediately after the Guardian published the first leak about a court order to Verizon ordering it to hand over US customers' call records to the NSA.

Snowden explained why he thought that story and the other subsequent leaks about the NSA and its partnership with the corporate sector had to be made public.

"They are getting everyone's calls, everyone's call records and everyone's internet traffic as well."

In reference to one surveillance system - Boundless Informant - that he said allowed the NSA to track data it was accumulating, he said: "The NSA lied about the existence of this tool to Congress and to specific congressmen in response to previous inquiries about their surveillance activities."

He was part of the internet generation that grew up on the understanding that it was free, he said. The partnership between the intelligence agencies and the corporate sector was a "dangerous collaboration", especially for an organisation like the the NSA that has demonstrated time and again "it works to shield itself from oversight". your social media marketing partner


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+74 # Activista 2013-07-08 14:26
Excellent interview - Snowden is very intelligent, informed, and idealistic young man - wish that he represents new generation of Americans. Wish that we have ONE congressperson with the ethics and intelligence of this young man.
Please inform - post video on Facebook.
+22 # brux 2013-07-08 15:45
The IMPORTANT THING I want to know about IS

HOW EXTENSIVE IS THE NETWORK OF "SOCK-PUPPETS", fake Internet personas in Chat and Discussion boards or on TV or radio - in order to fake people out by making it look like the the majority of people think a certain way and so program our country with propaganda and CIA-type guerilla marketing.
+3 # Activista 2013-07-10 00:43
On Yahoo forum when Middle East topic is touched the same stereotyped slogans appear again and again (it is Obama and Muslim fault). It is not very hard to imagine which country it is coming from ...
+41 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-07-08 15:58
When Diane Feinstein (D) Ca. recent interview said with a scowl on here face, "I want him back here!" I thought to myself, Diane, it is because of people like you you'll never get another penny from me. Not one red cent for any future political campaign. On the other hand, she had to say something. Who the hell does she think she is-important?
+12 # futhark 2013-07-08 17:59
As a California resident with a nearly perfect 40 year record of voting in elections, mostly for Democrats, in 2012 I could not cast a ballot in the general election for senator. Because of California's new "runoff" general election law, the choices were near-neocon Dianne Feinstein and here even worse beyond-neocon Republi-con opponent. This law needs to be altered or abolished, because it virtually gives life tenure to politicians and parties that represent the worst in America.
+33 # 6thextinction 2013-07-08 16:31
How can we help him?
+16 # carurosu 2013-07-08 16:36
A true patriot and humane human being. Thanks to him and his campaign. We in this block of the world have been the victims of us of A. mra than is moral.
+39 # fredboy 2013-07-08 16:38
As this saga continues one can see how his critics believe he does not meet their standards defining an American--most Americans are afraid to speak up and share the truth or challenge authority.

Thus the courage so rarely shared in our history is now despised. Instead, darkness, secrecy, lies, and corruption are favored.

+59 # reiverpacific 2013-07-08 16:39
From a 'furriner's" perspective.
When I first came to this country in 1972 (still a Scottish student, on my way back from several months in Mexico) I did a hitchiking "Grand tour" San Francisco to LA on landing, Mexico to New Orleans, up through Texas, then from Cheyenne Wy back to San Francisco then hitchhiked from San Francisco to new York on $26.00!
I was astonished at the ready hospitality in ALL parts of the country -I preferred the west coast- offers of free lodging, home-cooked food of all kinds, even the cops were helpful in most areas.
I was determined to return if I got the chance and try to work here on graduating, as there was definitely a spirit of "can-do" and anything possible, especially if one was an outside-the-box type, as Europe, especially the UK, was pretty stagnant at the time.
Boy, have morés changed!
So I'd agree with Snowden that the country is "fundamentally good" although I'd been anti-American politically all my rational life -I knew about the CIA, coups, Vietnam and all the skullduggery.
BUT I'm talking about regular working and middle class people here. Everyone seemed to get along pretty well and be able to discuss their differences without rancor and there was even a sense of pride in being working class.
Now there seems to be a brooding sense of fear (Of the "other"), suspicion, mean-spiritedne ss, lack of grit and enterprise, divisions over the most petty issues and being boxed-in.
It looks like "divide and conquer" has worked.
+29 # futhark 2013-07-08 18:12
Americans have been fed an almost steady diet of fear and hatred by mainstream media for the last 30 or 40 years, so it is no wonder that so many have become xenophobic bigots.

When I was discharged from the hospital in late 2010 following a touch of brain cancer while simultaneously dealing with my spouse's early onset Alzheimer's disease, I decided that I was finished with living in fear. Since then I've continued my policy of giving any panhandler $2 unless they ask for less and have started picking up any and all hitchhikers. Not only have I never been made fearful of the hitchhikers, but I have found several of them to be quite companionable. I don't think giving a panhandler $2 is going to make him dependent on public charity instead of earning a living, nor do I think that giving a ride to a smelly, unwashed hitchhiker with a big dog is going to lead to my premature demise.

Oh, and don't forget to keep demanding the truth about 9/11, even when it makes some socially uncomfortable.
+7 # Activista 2013-07-09 00:11
"giving a ride to a smelly, unwashed hitchhiker with a big dog .." thank you for a ride ..
I came to the USA in 1968 and my experience/perc eption is very similar -
QUO VADIS America?
+4 # nancyw 2013-07-09 16:29
What has also worked is 9-11. That event and the spin that has been spiraled out by our government has certainly destroyed American confidence, our economy, and the gap between our so called representatives and the good people, in ways they could never have planned.
+3 # kochadoodledoo 2013-07-12 05:55
Prior to 9/11, Paul Wolfowitz proclaimed, "We need another Pearl Harbor." Not sure that is an exact quote, but is there any surprise we got 9/11?
+8 # Arden 2013-07-08 17:01
It might be time for some alien intervention. All those UFOs hovering around Earth, trying to let us resolve our own problems and issues without interfering...
+5 # L H 2013-07-08 19:30
It helps to ASK for intervention from the aliens who care about humans... to neutralize radiation from reactors, to clean the oceans, the water, soil, air. Aliens have shut down nuclear reactors to demonstrate to the US gov. what they can do. Their technology is way ahead of ours and much safer. I bet Edward Snowden would love to have transport on one of their ships to a safe place! So be it! He is worthy. Let's ask!
-25 # bigkahuna671 2013-07-08 17:13
I am so happy that Snowden approves of some parts of this country. Being "fundamentally good" makes my day. Actually, we're a pretty darned good country with some incredible people. We don't need someone to condescend to tell us we're worthy. While we're not politically aware and have way too many people who are willing to vote against their best interests, we're still a nation where people back one another up...e.g., the Yarnell 19, every hurricane, tornado, and individual American who is forced to go through hell because they can't afford insurance or faces a crisis - in all those cases, average Americans somehow find the $$$ and time to volunteer and help. We even do it for other countries, even ones we don't agree with. Just because he deigns to see us as "fundamentally good" doesn't mean anything to me. In fact, anyone who needs his blessing to feel worthwhile should really look at how we react whenever anyone or any group is forced to suffer through terrible times. All I need to feel worthwhile is to know that we ALWAYS lend a hand and the fact that some family is being helped or someone has a place to lay their head after a disaster means the world to me. That's why we're a heck of a lot more than just "fundamentally good."
0 # kochadoodledoo 2013-07-12 06:00
To see how "fundamentally good" our government is, read A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES 1492 TO PRESENT by Howard Zinn. The Constitution was designed to keep the wealthy in power: states' rights to make it almost impossible for the poor to organize and dissent.
+22 # bbaldwin2001 2013-07-08 17:30
It is sad to see this very intelligent young man caught up in this spider web. I worry about him being permanently displaced in some third world - south American country, never to see his family or his friends again. This is just a sad state of affairs for him and for this ountry.
+13 # Granny Weatherwax 2013-07-09 03:29
South America is not that bad. if people in the first world were a little more on to traveling and meeting other cultures, and maybe less TV and junk in general, they would realize that life is not made more valuable by HBO, Amazon and McDonald's. What makes life valuable is that it is short, and what makes it interesting is friendship and to do something worthwhile with it.
+5 # Activista 2013-07-09 13:27
South America, Central America is GREAT:
Happiest people? Country without army ..
Costa Rica | Happy Planet Index‎
Costa Rica achieves a Happy Planet Index Score of 64.0 and ranks #1 of all the countries analysed. Costa Rica's HPI score reflects a high life expectancy, high ...
-34 # ishmael 2013-07-08 17:46
What self-absorbed narcissism. "I want "...."I think ".... "I'm wiling" ..... I Me Mine me me me ...
+6 # DPM 2013-07-08 23:34
So. The government/corp orate/media propaganda is working. Well...weak minds and all that. No big surprise.
-20 # cherylpetro 2013-07-09 04:06
That is a Ron Paul supporter for you! No one can make them follow laws! They DO act like spoiled children! Paul's Sovereign Citizen supporters think laws don't pertain to them, and they can shoot police officers, and judges! They will do whatever they want; even at the expense of the rights of others! Snowden doesn't know if he hurt the country, and I doubt if he cares either! It is not up to rogue, uneducated, unqualified workers to just expose our country to danger! That hurts EVERONE! He is a traitor to us all! Why is his spying so much better? He is a spy who condemns spying! That is pretty hilarious! I hope the Right Wing paid him well....
+5 # Jim Rocket 2013-07-09 12:20
The people running these programs are the real traitors, violating the constitution, lying about it and making BIG money for doing it. People who value and respect democracy would have never gone down that road (mass surveillance) in the first place. That is not necessary to stop terrorists.
-13 # cherylpetro 2013-07-09 04:09
He's a spy who condemns spying! WTF?
+5 # reiverpacific 2013-07-09 13:42
Quoting ishmael:
What self-absorbed narcissism. "I want "...."I think ".... "I'm wiling" ..... I Me Mine me me me ...

If that's all you can see, look in the mirror!
As mt national bard wrote "O' wad some power the giftie gie us,
tae see o'orsel's as ithers see us".
Just as true today.
+38 # RMDC 2013-07-08 18:31
It is really interesting that Snowden was able to learn from what he saw and come to the conclusion that it was wrong. Manning did the same thing. But 99.9999% of people who see the same things do not conclude that it is wrong. They watch something horrible on TV like the Shock and Awe bombing of Baghdad and never think that the Bush/Cheney regime is wrong.

Snowden is a very unusual guy. Maybe it is not the case that america is a fundamentally good country and the people are good. Maybe they are impossibly stupid or insensitive, or afraid to think for themselves. I guess I'm more cynical about America than he is.
+10 # Activista 2013-07-09 00:32
That 38% Americans (including all the polling issues) agree in principle with Snowden (going AGAINST USA propaganda/lies ) is VERY REMARKABLE.
That US "money bought" congress would vote 100% for special interest (like embargo against Iran) is also "remarkable".
The gap between people and government is growing - I can not wait for millions of young people dancing in America like in Tehran when the change comes. The question changed from IF to WHEN ..
Thank you Snowden for showing the corruption of power in the USA.
-24 # cherylpetro 2013-07-09 03:58
So glad Snowden gives us his faint praise! We should all be humbled and grateful he deigned to speak of us kindly! "The great and powerful Snowden!" He is a little megalomaniac, Ron Paul shill, who thinks he should be in charge...and then runs and hides! Does he think the US is a Banana Republic? He acts like it! Then he goes to countries well known for suppressing rights....? The guy is nuts!
+8 # reiverpacific 2013-07-09 13:55
Quoting cherylpetro:
So glad Snowden gives us his faint praise! We should all be humbled and grateful he deigned to speak of us kindly! "The great and powerful Snowden!" He is a little megalomaniac, Ron Paul shill, who thinks he should be in charge...and then runs and hides! Does he think the US is a Banana Republic? He acts like it! Then he goes to countries well known for suppressing rights....? The guy is nuts!

The US has been supporting, arming, arranging coups and interfering in so-called "Banana Republics" for a goodly part of it's history (I've seen it up close) for it's corporate masters, especially since the advent of the CIA / OSS.
But if you want a continuous, chronological sequence, start with Mossadegu in 1953, move on to Arbenz in 1954 and keep goin' almost annually to Honduras a couple years ago and of course Iraq, Afghanistan and threats to Iran still happening.
Y'r beloved empire has screwed with and even created so many Banana Republics -many of them now thankfully free of it's influence- that it actually has begun to resemble one itself.
And as for countries that suppress rights including free speech -Christ, where HAVE you been hiding Bubba -or Bubbette ?????
That's precisely what this is all about -and why the overlords and their patsies in the government, press and judiciary are so pissed-off; they've been exposed with their metaphorical knickers around their ankles, with their spotty, paranoid bums bared for the whole world to see!
+15 # jwb110 2013-07-08 19:03
Would people stop taking Polls on an issue. They are made to manipulate as much as any of the "media" and I don't care who publishes them.
It is merely a "sample" of people not the entire country. It's like the blind men and the elephant. Wherever you stand the thing looks different. Why not Poll Europe, or South America, or Asia. It is more telling what the rest of the World thinks then a sampling here at home.
+13 # polfrosch 2013-07-09 00:03
I can do this for Germany. In a representative poll, 61% of the germans said Snowdon "did the right thing", no matter what the laws are. Only 17% think he did wrong.
Looking at the comments in the german web, there is a vast majority, 80% or so, expressing bewilderment and anger about the surveillance. 40% of the NSA data collected are collected in germany, which is not the mainstay of terrorism, so it is interpreted rather as industrial espionage.
The public comments have much stronger wording than the media comments.
For myself: I will be on the next demonstration for Snowdon and against the prism and tempora surveillance.
I have to say some "patriotic" comments from friends in the USA like "if a dirty bomb goes off, everyone will ask for more surveillance" make me angry.
Terrorism has been used in the 60s to 80s, e.g. in Italy and Turkey by the US intelligence services and the US connected "dual state" forces as a tool to make the population ask for more surveillance from the governments. It was a successful strategy, so succesfull it become a standard tool of the US "dual state". This "strategy of tension" or "Gladio" parallel structure is best documented in Italy, with trials and parlamentary boards of inquiry. In the english wikipedia the page "strategy of tension" is marked as "having issues", which is unbelievable. The facts are household knowledge in Italy.
+6 # RMDC 2013-07-09 05:07
Yes, you are right. Political polls are designed to structure and influence public opinion -- not to measure it. This is very clear in the history of the development of the standards of polling. Both Roper and Gallup who developed the standards for polling worked for the OSS during WW II to help shape american opinion about the war and then they worked for the CIA after WW II to make polling a staple of american political reporting. The program in the CIA they worked in was called "psychological warfare operations."

All polling organizations derive their methods and standards from Roper and Gallup.

Never talk about political polls, except to see them for what they are -- methods of teaching americans how to think and what to think.
+1 # kochadoodledoo 2013-07-12 06:10
Polls are tools of chicanery.
+10 # polfrosch 2013-07-09 00:42
As a german and european I think it is too naive to say the USA is fundamentally good.

This is not a political beauty contest. It is not even about the USA.

It is about the emergence of a dual state with secret operations, secret courts, secret renditions, secret prisons, secret total surveillance, and a gulag style guantanamo, which has the most powerful nation and it´s dominion in firm stranglehold.
The people who decide the important things, are not really the people you vote for. This is orwellian, not constitutional.

Discussing this on terms of "patriotic" or "unpatriotic" is misleading and sending reasoning into a wilderness of mirrors.

Not recognizing there is such a dual state despite the clear evidence, turns all reasoning about anything "constitutional " into an ideology shielding the dual state from getting recognized - from the public.

This is, I think, what you Americans and we Europeans have to work on - to get the "democratic states" of the western world back on track, back to the methods and ways we are tought in schools and universities. The idea of the USA is fundamentally good. Despite the reality.

"Gravity" tends to turn states and goverments and the people who strive to rule into opressive entities.

Especially Americans tought that basic wisdom to me in the university and the "university of life" confirmed it´s validity.

Don´t think this wisdom does not apply to the USA. Don´t be naive.
+4 # Dr Peter Sloane 2013-07-09 03:07
I don't think that this guy has an evil bone in his body!
-20 # cherylpetro 2013-07-09 03:46
It's not his call to tell everyone how the country should be run! He has a lot of delusional self-importance ! You don't change something by kicking it in the balls and running! He is a megalomaniac, with a hero complex! Ron Paul supporters don't think anyone should be able to tell them to follow laws. They think they can just do whatever they want, and it should be fine with everyone! Paul's backers, Sovereign Citizens think they can shoot police and judges! Where do we draw the line? Where does Snowden draw the line? Or does he? What if he thinks it is in the best interest of the country to kill people? He thinks he is doing what is right for the country; well I disagree! Now, HE has stepped on MY RIGHTS! I think the unqualified, undereducated Snowden was installed in his job by Ron Paul,& was planning to expose whatever he found all along! It makes Snowden is a spy against our country! I think he, and whomever is backing him (Ron Paul, etc) are chickensh*t traitors! If everyone did what they thought was "best for the country", it would lay in ruins! Anarchists running the country makes a great recipe for destruction! He wants everything to be so open and he HIDES! Cannot find respect for that little weasel! Also, thanks so much for throwing America that," America is fundamentally a good country," bone, Snowden; we're "so grateful for your exalted praise!" You know what you can do to yourself.....! Come back and face the music like a man; if you know what one is!
+12 # Jbeezz 2013-07-09 09:38
How can you refuse to see that your government has stolen your rights from under your very nose?

If anyone has stepped on YOUR RIGHTS it's your government with the eager support of you and those who think like you. You cannot find respect for Snowden because you respect only the despots who secretly destroy our country from within.

You have a lot of hard words for a young man who knew that once he opened this pandoras box he would never be safe from the secret government which has become America.

You make a lot of assumptions with no supporting evidence so who is the under educated and unqualified? Would YOU have the courage to out lawbreakers and those in our government who daily wipe their collective butts with our Constitution? Don't even bother to answer because we all know that the answer to that question is NO.

You are so wrapped up in and in love with your own flawed, delusional, self important, under educated, and unqualified opinions that even the absolute facts in front of your face would not change your mind.

ISnowden, Assange and Manning are the HEROS because they didn't put their lives and futures in jeopardy for MONEY, for the ENEMY, or for Ron Paul. They did it for YOU and ME and I love them for their sacrifice.
+1 # kochadoodledoo 2013-07-12 06:07
+15 # ladymidath 2013-07-09 04:06
If a foreign country is spying on me, I want to know about it.
Thank you Edward Snowden for being brave enough to let us know about it.
You are a good man and you deserve a medal for your bravery.
+3 # reiverpacific 2013-07-09 20:16
@ "cherylpeto"
Have you not read one word of what has been hurled back in your blinkered moosh?
Snowden has already faced the music, wrestled with his conscience and found the music a-tonal, false in conception and without substance, like so much of what the owner-media beats people over the head with any more.
Your chauvinism, whatever gender you infest, is revealed in your "real man" shallow, ill-considered blarney.
Men AND women of conscience have put their lives and freedoms on the line in the face of corrupted, stinking like a drain power many times in US and other histories. Can you say "Emma Goldman"?
It takes true grit and strength to be a dissenter -the bigger the power base, the more courage it takes.
You seem to be a hopeless case, so I'll sign off by presenting you with the "Deaf-Fink of the Month" trophy; -an empty tin can to rattle and a pop-up vinyl cutout of Dimwits and Cheyney in their Paraguayan retreat but who should really be shit-cleaners in Gitmo.
"Ah FART in your general direction (with apologies to Monty Python)"!
0 # Innocent Victim 2013-07-09 21:22
Mr Snowden is quoted: "America is a fundamentally good country." I find that meaningless. What "America" means in that sentence, I would guess is the vast majority of the people of the US. In order for them to be good or bad, they must have knowledge of what the US government is doing and they must have a significant role in determining the government's policies. I do not believe they have either. For that reason, I find the description of America as a "fundamentally good country" just empty blather.
+2 # kochadoodledoo 2013-07-12 05:46
I'm with Snowden: I LOVE AMERICA but I do not love its crooked politicians and elected officials.

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