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Greenwald writes: "On his HBO program last night, John Oliver devoted 30 minutes to a discussion of U.S. surveillance programs, advocating a much more substantive debate as the June 1 deadline for renewing the Patriot Act approaches."

Edward Snowden being interviewed by John Oliver. (photo: HBO)
Edward Snowden being interviewed by John Oliver. (photo: HBO)


Why John Oliver Can't Find Americans Who Know Edward Snowden's Name (It's Not About Snowden)

By Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept

06 April 15

 

n his HBO program last night, John Oliver devoted 30 minutes to a discussion of U.S. surveillance programs, advocating a much more substantive debate as the June 1 deadline for renewing the Patriot Act approaches (the full segment can be seen here). As part of that segment, Oliver broadcast an interview he conducted with Edward Snowden in Moscow, and to illustrate the point that an insufficient surveillance debate has been conducted, showed video of numerous people in Times Square saying they had no idea who Snowden is (or giving inaccurate answers about him). Oliver assured Snowden off-camera that they did not cherry-pick those “on the street” interviews but showed a representative sample.

Oliver’s overall discussion is good (and, naturally, quite funny), but the specific point he wants to make here is misguided. Contrary to what Oliver says, it’s actually not surprising at all that a large number of Americans are unaware of who Snowden is, nor does it say much at all about the surveillance debate. That’s because a large number of Americans, by choice, are remarkably unaware of virtually all political matters. The befuddled reactions of the Times Square interviewees when asked about Snowden illustrate little about the specific surveillance issue but a great deal about the full-scale political disengagement of a substantial chunk of the American population.

The data on American political apathy is rather consistent, and stunning. Begin with the fact that even in presidential election years, 40 to 50 percent of the voting-age public simply chooses not participate in the voting process at all, while two-thirds chooses not to vote in midterm elections.

Even more striking is what they do and do not know. An Annenberg Public Policy Center poll from last September found that only 36 percent of Americans can name the three branches of government, and only 38 percent know the GOP controls the House. The Center’s 2011 poll “found just 15 percent of Americans could correctly identify the chief justice of the United States, John Roberts, while 27 percent knew Randy Jackson was a judge on American Idol.”

A 2010 Findlaw.com poll found that almost two-thirds of Americans — 65 percent — were incapable of naming even a single member of the U.S. Supreme Court. A 2010 Pew poll discovered that 41 percent of Americans are unable to name the current vice president of the U.S; in other words, Oliver could just as easily (if not more easily) compile a video of Times Square visitors looking stumped when asked if they knew who Joe Biden, or Antonin Scalia, is.

These are obviously significant facts which receive far too little discussion, analysis and attention. One reason is that they serve as a rather stinging indictment on the political system which media and political insiders love to glorify: a huge chunk of the population, probably the majority, have simply turned away entirely from politics, presumably out of a belief that it makes no difference in their lives. It’s difficult to maintain mythologies about the glories of American democracy if most of the population believes it has so little value that it merits literally none of their time and mental attention.

Then there’s the role that U.S. media itself plays in this dynamic. I’ve often cited as the most revealing fact of the post-9/11 era this Washington Post poll from September, 2003 — six months after the invasion of Iraq — which found that “nearly seven in 10 Americans believe it is likely that ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the Sept. 11 attacks” and that a “majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents believe it’s likely Saddam was involved.”

Propagandizing 70 percent of the population is not easy to do, and obviously requires active deceit or pervasive acquiescence by the country’s news media. As part of his discussion last night, Oliver showed my favorite MSNBC clip in order to illustrate the lack of substantive surveillance discussion in the media:

As if to prove his point, click-hungry gossip websites (such as one named Time) ignored most of Oliver’s substantive discussion of the Patriot Act and surveillance and instead seized on the Times Square aspect to mock Snowden for his cultural irrelevance. To the extent that’s true, what they’re actually (unintentionally) mocking is the political process they typically glorify and, most of all, their role within it.


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+56 # John S. Browne 2015-04-06 15:53
#

What I find most appalling, in addition to most "Amerikans'" apathy and ignorance of important political matters, all of which DO effect them whether they believe they do or not, is people like John Oliver making an at least fifty percent joke out of such serious matters as the "'Patriot' Act", which did away with much of our U.S. Bill of Rights, especially the rights to privacy and to not be accused of a crime or of crimes for simply, and nothing but non-violently, exercising our human and civil rights, particularly our First Amendment free speech right(s), criticizing the government, standing up against the increasing abuse(s) of authority by the government (such as the "'Patriot' Act", etc.), peacefully protesting, and so on.

THIS IS *NO* LAUGHING MATTER! AT ALL! The "'Patriot' Act" makes it a "crime" of "perceived threatening conduct" for simply, and nothing but non-violently, exercising our human rights and civil liberties as embodied in the Bill of Rights, especially to freedom of speech and to freely criticize the government. That's pretty damn serious! But you don't hear any discussion about it (I seem to be the only one who has brought it up, several times, in these threads). Most "Amerikans", even those who do educate themselves via alternative media online about political matters, and are pretty darn knowledgeable about same, don't know about the "perceived threatening conduct" clause of the "'Patriot' Act". That is pretty darn damning.

#
 
 
+43 # btbees 2015-04-07 01:19
When Obama promised “Change”, I hoped that repealing the Patriot Act would be one of them. A 10,000 page document that not one Senator actually read. Obama also promised to close the gulag Guantanamo.
 
 
+47 # Rainphase 2015-04-07 02:01
Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin read it and voted against it. (Unfortunately he got replaced by a teabagger in '10)
 
 
+55 # beeyl65 2015-04-07 02:21
people like John Oliver making an at least fifty percent joke out of such serious matters as the "'Patriot' Act"

So you don't like it when comedians raise awareness about a serious topic? Name me one person more responsible for getting the FCC to rule the correct way on the question of Net Neutrality than John Oliver.
 
 
+10 # lfeuille 2015-04-07 21:00
Quoting beeyl65:
people like John Oliver making an at least fifty percent joke out of such serious matters as the "'Patriot' Act"

So you don't like it when comedians raise awareness about a serious topic? Name me one person more responsible for getting the FCC to rule the correct way on the question of Net Neutrality than John Oliver.


Yes, and right after he showed his chart of 97 out of 100 climate scientists believe anthropomorphic climate change the LA Times announced it would no longer print letters from climate deniers.
 
 
+26 # goodsensecynic 2015-04-07 06:23
Yes, of course, the "Patriot Act" is "no laughing matter." Neither was poverty in Ireland, but nothing raised awareness of the morality of the matter more than Jonathan Swift's satire (not that it headed off the "potato famine" a century and a half later ... but neither did attempts at "serious discussion").

As the beloved Canadian conservative philosopher George Grant told a group of "new left" radicals in my presence in 1965, "moral outrage is too valuable a commodity to be used in the service of anything but reality." So, if the "reality" is that the "most Amerikans" (who inhabit the largest technological empire to date) are grotesquely ignorant of their own government and nation, there may be nothing other that shrieks of hideous laughter with the power to wake a few of them up.

On the other hand, as my New York friend Kurt Vonnegut once said regarding Abbie Hoffman's clowning at the Republican Party convention that nominated Richard Nixon for a second term in the presidency, sometimes humor is just grease for the wheels of cruel social machines ("In a Manner that Must Shame God Himself," Harper's, Nov. 1972).

To laugh or not to laugh is now a serious question.
 
 
+19 # Granny Weatherwax 2015-04-07 06:28
From the article: "It’s difficult to maintain mythologies about the glories of American democracy if most of the population believes it has so little value that it merits literally none of their time and mental attention."

In my view it would be more difficult to maintain these mythologies if most of the people DID pay attention.
 
 
+15 # glyde 2015-04-07 10:20
I do like your comments. Of course, this is no laughing matter, but Oliver makes some very good points. "More truth is said in laughter than in tears." That's still true today.
 
 
+12 # Passing Through 2015-04-07 16:01
"Some subjects are so serious that one can only joke about them."
-- Niels Bohr, Danish physicist and Nobel Prize winner

Every court jester who ever survived his King figured this out early...
 
 
+2 # Kauai John 2015-04-09 02:38
John Browne:

It IS a laughing matter! One must acquire a feeling for the absurd! That the only way most Americans can engage with the "news" is through a 'comedy show' shows that we (Americans) have, for the most part, given up. We laugh because we have no idea what else to do.

We are doomed.

We have known that we are doomed for 30 years (at least for some of us). The only thing that keeps us from blowing our brains out is being able to laugh in the face of certain death.
 
 
+45 # Ma Tsu 2015-04-06 18:09
It has been purported that more Americans can name the Three Stooges than the Vice President of the U.S.A.
While we are busy amusing ourselves to death, to borrow the title of a fine work by the late Neal Postman, we are all in danger of being arrested at any time for any cause at the level of "creeping with intent to crawl," or above.
 
 
+6 # Passing Through 2015-04-07 16:56
Quoting Ma Tsu:
It has been purported that more Americans can name the Three Stooges than the Vice President of the U.S.A.
While we are busy amusing ourselves to death, to borrow the title of a fine work by the late Neal Postman, we are all in danger of being arrested at any time for any cause at the level of "creeping with intent to crawl," or above.

I do agree with you, but it's worth remembering that 2,000 years ago, some observant Roman said, "Give them bread and circuses..."
 
 
+34 # Wally Jasper 2015-04-06 21:47
OMG, Glenn Greenwald's "favorite MSNBC clip" is both absolutely hysterical and downright outrageous. This is America, folks.
 
 
+9 # glyde 2015-04-07 10:26
Wally: I saw it live and couldn't believe it! MSNBC is right there with the rest of the media.
 
 
+2 # Billy Bob 2015-04-08 12:17
I've found another one (on YouTube, when I looked at the one above), that is equally telling. It involves Russell Brand making absolute fools out of everyone on "Morning Joe". It's priceless.

The thing I love about Brand is that, he's no David Letterman or John Stewart. He's not quick with the wittiest comeback possible. He just gets right in your face with the truth and lets the truth be the comedy.
 
 
-13 # keith brooks 2015-04-06 22:24
i think snowden did a good job of responding to oliver's inanities. on the whole, i think oliver trivialized what snowden did and insulted the american people, interviewing only those who had no or little idea of who snowden is or what he did. i lost respect for oliver, and as Glenn Greenwald has pointed out the media [here oliver] mocking Americans for their ignorance is the ultimate irony.
 
 
+40 # Secular Humanist 2015-04-07 00:32
Oliver stated that he did not cherry pick the interviewees. Oliver was making a point. A democracy depend upon the participation of an informed electorate.
 
 
-21 # Nominae 2015-04-07 01:18
Quoting Secular Humanist:
Oliver stated that he did not cherry pick the interviewees. Oliver was making a point. A democracy depend upon the participation of an informed electorate.


Excellent point.

However, turning "the guns" onto the *very* people who are risking Imprisonment for *TRYING* to inform the brain-baked U.S. Public - was about *as* stupid a shooting-yourse lf-in-the-foot move as one could have made !

Yet another example that, in this case, the "accuser" was every *bit* as clueless and uninformed as the disconnected public he was attempting to attack.

It was a *very* expensive, and *very* unimaginative rip-off of Jay Leno's old bit : "Jay Walking".
 
 
-19 # Nominae 2015-04-07 00:56
Quoting kbroo:
i think snowden did a good job of responding to oliver's inanities. on the whole, i think oliver trivialized what snowden did .....


I must most *heartily* agree.

Flying all the way to Russia to establish something that could have been equally well-illustrate d right outside Oliver's office in NYC was simple tin-eared buffoonery.

Oliver's scolding and condescending treatment of Snowden, and Oliver's *painfully* obvious ignorance regarding the tech world in general, were *so* appalling that I was forced to "dump" the show only part way in.

The only person showing a modicum of class during *that* fiasco was Snowden. Had Oliver simply watched Laura Poitras' Academy Award Winning documentary "Citizen Four" he would have come across as much less the techie troglodyte.

Oliver likewise does not "get" that the much ballyhooed "attack dog" English *journalist* (much less ill-informed comedian) does *not* come off as a hero in *this* country, but simply as an extremely rude asshole.

It is just a fact that recently-minted U.S. Citizens who grew up in Europe are fated by their background to view the U.S. via their European perspective. This is not always a bad thing, but it *does* mean that any attempt to "understand" the U.S. via European "filters" is bound to fail miserably.

European attempts to *understand* the U.S. are as silly as U.S. born and raised people attempting to *fully* understand European Countries.

Slim chance.
 
 
+42 # SenorN 2015-04-07 03:30
Oliver was playing Devil's Advocate. He went to Moscow to make a big deal out of the affair specifically BECAUSE he is in sympathy with Snowden and wanted to draw the public's attention to the issue. You can imagine how much less likely we would be to be discussing this now if Oliver had gone outside his NYC office and done a bit on Snowden.

If there is anything John Oliver ISN'T, it's a troglodyte!
 
 
-1 # Nominae 2015-04-07 05:10
Quoting SenorN:

If there is anything John Oliver ISN'T, it's a troglodyte!


From Glenn Greenwald who knows Snowden better than most Americans, including you, me *and* John Oliver :

"Oliver’s overall discussion is good (and, naturally, quite funny), but the specific point he wants to make here is misguided."

I agree.

And what I said above was "techie troglodyte". As a former IBM systems analyst I stick by the accuracy of that description.

Defend Oliver based upon what was said, if you care to do so, not on *half* of what was said.
 
 
+12 # dickbd 2015-04-07 13:57
I don't know why you are getting all the red marks. I like John Oliver, too, but that doesn't mean that he is above criticism.

Showden is an unusual hero, and he should be put in as good a light as possible and be allowed to complete his points.

One of the reasons for the public's ignorance is the poor coverage by the general media.
 
 
-5 # Nominae 2015-04-07 16:18
Quoting dickbd:
I don't know why you are getting all the red marks. I like John Oliver, too, but that doesn't mean that he is above criticism.....


If you note the way that many people here respond to any *facts* regarding, say, Obama - there will be the predictable knee-jerk response from the "he's-our-boy-c ome-hell-or-hig h-water" crowd.

Also the predictable P.C. thought police primed to "sound off" when their P.C. spidey senses begin to tingle - whether or not they understand the comment under discussion.

Then, there are the intellectuals who *do* "get" what Oliver was trying to do, but who cannot see that this may have been the *wrong* venue for doing so.

Oliver could have made all of his points without ever leaving his desk.

What the intellectuals seem to be missing here, is the reality of "crowd mentality".

The fact that with "All In The Family", over 70% of the population thought that Archie Bunker was the hero.

That Archie was actually the foil being lampooned as the standard boneheaded bigot flew plumb over the heads of the vast majority of the viewers.

So here, Oliver uses Snowden as a "foil" to strengthen Oliver's satire. The intellectuals will all "get it", the masses will not.

So, the difference between Archie Bunker and Snowden, is that "Archie Bunker's" LIFE was not at stake.

Oliver can make his points and go home.
However, he contributes to "poisoning the pond" with the U.S. Masses if Snowden wants to come home.
 
 
-5 # Nominae 2015-04-07 05:38
In re: my comment above posted as a response to kbroo......

For all of my friends who are knee-jerk members of the P.C. Thought Police Patrol who will be unable to comprehend the comment above as provable via Brain Science, and *NOT* intended to be some form of "Euro-bashing", just wear your little thumbs out on the red buttons to your heart's content.
 
 
+11 # zach 2015-04-07 07:45
I do not remember who said this, but my own experience supports the observation: "You cannot understand a culture is you come from within it."
 
 
+8 # zach 2015-04-07 07:46
IF you come from within it.
Sorry.
 
 
-4 # Nominae 2015-04-07 15:55
Quoting zach:
I do not remember who said this, but my own experience supports the observation: "You cannot understand a culture is you come from within it."


Yes....., and if you care to inform yourself further it is possible to use the term "cultural imprinting" on any Search Engine. "Imprinting" is a function of the human brain itself - the human brain as it exists anywhere and everywhere in the world - and not simply one of opinion and catchy sayings.
 
 
+36 # tomtom 2015-04-07 01:05
We can only pretend that all the massacres and our nation's roles in them are and will forever remain foreign. The few people who profit from cruelty, at home and abroad have tamed us to follow and submit. Peacemaking is a crime/act of sedition. Simplistic, you say? We can't even agree to feed our own hungry. Which should take only one day to be a reality. We are so far from being a free and just society, we can't hear the alarm bells, nor see any red flags. Voting is far from enough; we need full and complete participation. Every day, on every street, in every city, all of us, together. It's the only way. Hoping and praying that others will manage/govern our lives is the supreme act of stupidity and recipe for Fascism/totalit arianism; whatever you wish to call it. "Organize, Educate, Emancipate!", No truer words were ever spoken.
 
 
+7 # beeyl65 2015-04-07 02:14
"Oliver’s overall discussion is good (and, naturally, quite funny), but the specific point he wants to make here is misguided."
How? What exactly is Oliver's specific point - that he "wants to make" but presumably did not actually make - that is misguided?
Does Glenn Greenwald think it's possible that John Oliver believes the American electorate is generally well informed and that their ignorance about Snowden is an aberration? Oliver certainly never said anything to this effect, but Greenwald spends much of the article illustrating just how uninformed Americans are. How is this not a strawman fallacy on Greenwald's part?
 
 
+21 # futhark 2015-04-07 02:28
Real patriots will, of course, continue to urge Congress to repeal the patently counter-revolut ionary PATRIOT Act, in the name of all patriots who sacrificed so much over the years to the vision of a sovereign people enjoying liberty in a land governed by popularly elected representatives that respect their natural rights.
 
 
+17 # Underledge 2015-04-07 05:34
Curious as how many people actually believe Congress will repeal the Patriot Act? This is why so many Americans know their vote is meaningless.
 
 
+3 # glyde 2015-04-07 10:33
futhark: Yes, but where are the real patriots? In government???
 
 
+33 # SenorN 2015-04-07 03:24
The author ignores the main reason Americans are not socio-political ly aware.

Unquestionably, Americans suffer from perpetual political apathy, the "malaise" President Carter was excoriated for having correctly noted, and certainly our young people especially are obsessed with social media and focus their energies on that instead of staying abreast of important issues. However, most Americans are simply too busy trying to get by to pay attention to politics.

You don't sit down to read the paper when the kids need to be fed, the shopping needs to be done, or the lawn needs to be mowed. Because our society has decided to pay people so poorly that it takes two typical incomes to support a family, many people hardly have time to breathe!

Ironically and unfortunately, those at the bottom of the income scale who could most benefit from and positively influence political change are at the greatest disadvantage when it comes to being politically active. You're not likely to be involved if you're homeless or if you don't have a computer or if you don't have any free time because you're working two jobs and trying to raise a bunch of kids.
 
 
+9 # Nominae 2015-04-07 05:31
Quoting SenorN:
The author ignores the main reason Americans are not socio-politically aware.


Your entire comment above is an absolutely *sterling* analysis of the entire situation.

This was neither treated by Greenwald *or* by Oliver.

So, given the ineluctable facts you mention above, how the hell is all the above *possibly* Snowden's fault ? What is to be gained by a round trip to Russia to call Snowden out and harangue *him* regarding the uninformed nature of the U.S. Citizenry ?

Snowden is risking his life and his future freedom in an *effort* to better inform the masses.

People defending Oliver not on principle but rather on popularity notwithstanding .
 
 
+11 # Bruce Gruber 2015-04-07 06:10
"All change is pain!" "There are no simple answers to complicated problems!" I don't know if I heard it somewhere but forgot who said it, or if they drifted, uninvited, into my awareness in some argument about 'why?' things are as they are. Regardless, both are apropos to many of the comments we have shared above.

Chauvinistic resentment of 'outsiders', fear of authoritarian 'control', concern about tone that demeans importance, condemnation of unpatriotic expression, lack of respect or loyalty for sacred cows, apathy, ignorance, blind faith, and many more negative responses or critiques of John Oliver's interview of Edward Snowden. ALL demonstrate the success of Oliver's lampooning of the American claim of 'Exceptionalism ' and suggest that a degree of potential involvement may have been triggered.

Oliver's timely interview will definitely influence the upcoming Congressional renewal of the Patriot Act. In itself that is 'change'. It will make it painful for the public AND the elected representatives to try to slough off the event as 'simple' renewal. George Carlin, John Stewart and Bill Mahre have shined sarcasm and comedic insight on the political propaganda machine that IS the corporate media's "entertainment division" approach to journalism. The Smothers Brothers, Saturday Night Live, Robin Williams, Dick Gregory, Lenny Bruce, Lewis Black, Stephen Colbert - all have contributed insight in to the pathos and controversy that attend uninformed political debate.
 
 
+13 # cymricmorty 2015-04-07 09:06
I hope John Oliver's interview will build public awareness. Comedy, satire and cartoons can expose hard truths like nothing else can and humor can reach a wider audience.

I saw the Smothers Brothers included in the Bruce Gruber's post above and remembered that I used to sneak downstairs Sunday nights to watch the Smothers Brothers when I was a kid. From there, I became the "family radical."
 
 
+17 # Brooklyn Girl 2015-04-07 06:45
And yet, to a person, every interviewee was shocked at the idea that a picture of their genitals could be surveilled and circulated. The disconnect is staggering, as is the childish self-involvement.

Andrea Mitchell (supposedly a woman of substance) interrupting the congresswoman, and a serious subject, to report on Justin Bieber sums it all up perfectly.
 
 
+6 # glyde 2015-04-07 10:39
Brooklyn Girl: Andrea Mitchell had no say in the interruption; it was the great liberal MSNBC's decision.
 
 
+9 # motamanx 2015-04-07 11:33
Perhaps. But that doesn't mean she should interrupt the congresswoman in mid sentence. Or was she told to do that as well?
 
 
+15 # Radscal 2015-04-07 11:47
Ms. Mitchell has been married to long-time head of the Federal Reserve and Ayn Rand acolyte, Alan Greenspan for decades.

She knows which side of the bread is buttered.
 
 
+18 # zach 2015-04-07 07:49
I am not at all shocked or surprised. I have a very well intentioned, politically informed and intelligent friend who admits: "I don't care what the government does as long as they keep me safe."
Stunning, no?
 
 
+16 # Brooklyn Girl 2015-04-07 07:55
You left out the word "selfish" ---

And safe from what? Does your friend consider climate change a threat? Does your friend not consider erosion of privacy a threat?
 
 
+18 # cymricmorty 2015-04-07 08:30
I would love to feel safe from the fundamentalist freaks who take the bible literally and insist that it's the only information that any of us really need. (Oh, and fascism, too, but then fundamentalism and fascism go together in that crazy chicken-or-egg sort of way.)
 
 
+5 # Bruce Gruber 2015-04-07 10:44
It is wonderful to have a well intentioned friend. It IS "Stunning" that being kept safe is the only responsibility that they attribute to the government that they direct with their choice of elected leadership. I am sure that you are being kind when you describe your friend as 'intelligent', but I suspect FAUX News and Rush Limbaugh as the source of their knowledge. Undoubtedly, for your friend, many of government's actions as the operating arm of our democratic society are intrusions on THE FRIEND's freedoms.
 
 
+19 # motamanx 2015-04-07 09:03
John Oliver deserves an Emmy Award for both comedy AND news reporting; and the rest of the news media should hang their heads in shame.
 
 
+27 # Peace Anonymous 2015-04-07 09:38
I watched the John Oliver interview with Snowden and I continue to be bewildered by the American people.

They will gladly spend billions of their tax dollars creating enemies and then spend billions more fighting them. They will proudly send their children to die on foreign soil without having any idea why?

For the past 20 years I have traveled extensively all over the world. When I decided to write a book about peace it naturally led me to study US foreign policy. I honestly believed that if the American people knew the truth they would never accept the insanity forced on the world courtesy of the corporately controlled CIA and the guys at the Pentagon. However, what the American people really can't tolerate is the truth. They do not want to know. They will blame everyone - including Satan - before they look in the mirror and accept any responsibility for the events in our world. They turn on the mainstream media (largely owned by the same people who own the defense industry) and believe the bullshit they are fed without every questioning the motives of their leadership, many of which have their campaigns paid for by ......yep - you guessed it. And all of this is funded by your tax dollar. But you get NO health care or education because there is no money for it.

When are you going to wake up? And while you contemplate an answer think about the 1.5 million Iraqis who died so oil companies and the defense industry could pay a decent dividend.
 
 
+12 # Bruce Gruber 2015-04-07 10:30
In the interview, thanks to Oliver's self-deprecatin g comedic skill and public interest determination, Edward Snowden was allowed to present himself to the American people without being 'described' by the mainstream media.

He presented a clear-headed, candid, good-natured but serious young man. His description of the conscience and commitment that led him to conclude that the government institution that had hired him was acting improperly and his duty as a citizen superseded, for him, his promise that he wouldn't tell anyone about anything he did. Like a mob oath that declares the 'family' business to be private from the law, government agencies use the threat of criminal prosecution to silence the whistle blowing that politicians pretend to encourage.

Snowden clearly presented to Oliver and us that he was proud to have done the "right" thing while still acting to preserve the integrity of information disclosure from the possibility of outcomes dangerous to American interests. It was clear that his judgement was that the danger to all Americans from privacy invasion by the security state was significantly greater than potential awareness of of a clandestine operation.

It was also clear that he accepts responsibility for that choice WHILE clearly disagreeing with the premises on which his detractors argue treason punishable in the most aggressive way. Oliver's satirical contrast of US infotainment v. political awareness was brilliant.
 
 
+21 # Peace Anonymous 2015-04-07 10:25
It gets a little frustrating when you travel the world and discover the beautiful people who live there. Good people, decent people, people who were simply trying as best they could to feed and educate their children. Just like people in Kansas or Oregon or New Jersey.

And I had always watched the news. I had always wanted to be informed. But after my first trip to the Middle East I came home and turned on CNN. I watched it for 5 minutes and, in disgust, I shut it off. I wanted the truth. It seems the more I learn the less I know. But at least on sites like RSN there exists an open-mindedness and an exchange of thoughts where my need to know is satisfied with a version of the truth that rings true in my soul.

You hold the key. Not the President or Congress or the guys at the Pentagon but you, each and every one of you by simply being aware, by seeing past the nonsense of those driven by ego and addicted to selfishness and greed to the point where they are willing to kill for it.

Nothing will change until you do. And you are not alone. Millions of people feel the same way - overwhelmed by the insanity and feeling that, somehow, to do the right thing is unpatriotic.

Can we continue as we have? Be the change the world needs. Share your thoughts. Be decent.

Over 90% of the dead in Iraq were innocent. Over 75% of them were women and children. Why do we keep doing the same things over and over expecting different results? Isn't it time to change?
 
 
+2 # Billy Bob 2015-04-08 12:05
This is why I hate Andrea Mitchell. Perhaps she could have used her seat in front of the camera to make sure little Justin didn't interrupt an American Congresswoman. If they fired her for that, I'd begin to forgive the rest of her history as a shallow-thinkin g mouthpiece.
 

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