“I am not afraid, because this is the choice I’ve made.” –Edward Snowden
It has been a few weeks now since Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA’s spying program hit the internet and news media. For many people, this information has been shocking; for others, simply a sad confirmation of what they had long suspected: The United States has indeed become the world’s largest corrupt government in the world. The main principles upon which it was founded, namely that of democracy, liberty, and freedom for the People, largely no longer apply. There is no more compelling evidence to this fact than the tremendous gift that Edward Snowden has given to the world; the truth.
As of this writing, Snowden remains in Moscow, waiting to hear from all the countries he has applied to for political asylum. So far, no country has come forward to help him, which I find extremely disappointing. It makes one wonder if there isn’t ONE free country left in our world who refuses to be intimidated by the United States’ bullying tactics. The EU, upon finding out that their closed door meetings have also (not surprisingly) been subjected to the NSA’s spying protocol, has declared that they are shocked and are demanding an explanation. Explanation? Pretty self-explanatory, isn’t it?
Big Brother’s watching All. Who can stop them? Snowden comments, “The greatest fear that I have, regarding the outcome, for America, of these disclosures, is that nothing will change. People will see in the media, all of these disclosures. They’ll know the lengths that the government is going to, to grant themselves powers, unilaterally, to create greater control over American society, and global society, but they won’t be willing to take the risks necessary to stand up and to fight to change things, to force their representatives to take a stand in their interests.”
Here then, is some of the transcript from his interview with Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian. I hope you will take 12 minutes out of your life to watch it, if you haven’t already. In my view, Snowden is a person of great courage and moral character. He chose the high moral ground in his actions, instead of simply leaking information anonymously, he deliberately decided to be open about who he is and what he has done. He is a rare and extraordinarily brave soul, and I have nothing but great admiration for him.
“You can’t come forward against the world’s most powerful intelligence agencies and be completely free from risk because they are such powerful adversaries that no one can meaningfully oppose them. If they want to get you, they will get you in time. But, at the same time, you have to make a determination about what it is that is important to you. And if it is living unfreely, but comfortably, something you’re willing to accept, (and I think many of us are, it’s the human nature,) you can get up every day, you can go to work, you can collect your large paycheck, for relatively little work, against the public interest, and go to sleep at night after watching shows, but if you realize that that’s the world that you helped create, and it’s going to get worse with the next generation, and the next, who extend the capabilities of this sort of architecture of oppression, you realize that you might be willing to accept any risk and it doesn’t matter what the outcome is, so long as the public gets to make their own decisions about how that’s applied.”
“It’s getting to the point where you don’t have to have done anything wrong, you simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody– even by a wrong call– and then they can use the system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you’ve ever made, every friend you’ve ever discussed something with, and attack you on that basis, to derive suspicion from an innocent life, and paint anyone in the context of a wrong-doer.”
“You have to think, you are living a privileged life, as you are living in paradise, in Hawaii, and making a ton of money, What would it take to make you leave everything behind? The greatest fear that I have, regarding the outcome, for America, of these disclosures, is that nothing will change. People will see in the media, all of these disclosures. They’ll know the lengths that the government is going to, to grant themselves powers, unilaterally, to create greater control over American society, and global society, but they won’t be willing to take the risks necessary to stand up and to fight to change things, to force their representatives to take a stand in their interests. In the months and years ahead, it’s only going to get worse, until eventually there will be a time, where policies will change. Because the only thing that restricts the activities of the surveillance state are policy. Even our agreements with other sovereign governments, we consider that to be a stipulation of policy rather than a stipulation of law. And because of that, a new leader will be elected, they’ll flip the switch, say, because of the crisis, because of the dangers we face in the world, some new and unpredicted threat, we need more authority, more power, and there will be nothing the people can do at that point to oppose it. And it will be turnkey tyranny.”
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.
For Edward Snowden, 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. “I feel satisfied that this was all worth it. I have no regrets.”
- Greenwald: More NSA disclosures to come (thehill.com)
- Remember: Surveillance Also Used To Crush Political Dissent (crooksandliars.com)
- Silicon Valley at heart of U.S. snooping, experts say (mercurynews.com)
- How bad is surveillance state? (wnd.com)
- NSA’s Surveillance Programs, ‘Stunning,’ Should Stir Concern, Constitutional Law Expert Says (acslaw.org)