Edward Snowden has sat down with Brian Williams of Nightly News on NBC for an interview. It is the first time he has appeared on a US based network since his massive document leak turned the intelligence world upside down.
Snowden has his dissenters who claim he is a traitor. However, for the most part his actions have been applauded by a global public becoming all the more aware by the day of the full extent of government surveillance.
He has been on the run for months and ended up in Russia. While there, claims began to come from former CIA agents who were suggesting he was spying for the Kremlin, and had been in contact with the Russians since 2007. However, no proof was offered to show this, nor is there any indication that Snowden has given information to the Russian government.
Snowden himself claims that the US stranded him in the country, and he has had no interaction with Russian officials within Moscow. Why would the US strand him there? Perhaps so they could make him look like a Russian spy, a story that was repeated by the press a few times but never gained any real traction.
His Motives For The Leak
Perhaps the most interesting part of the interview is where he talks about his reasons behind the leak. Claiming to be a patriot, he said that he was protecting his country and the constitution, and that serving the people of the US did not mean following the policies of a government when they are bad policies.
The intelligence capabilities themselves are unregulated, uncontrolled, and dangerous, he said. People at NSA can actually watch internet communications and see our thoughts form as we type. What’s more shocking is the dirtiness of the targeting. It’s the lack of respect for the public and for the intrusiveness of surveillance.
He also said that he misses his family, his work at the NSA, and life back home. But he has no intention of coming back; he can’t. Even John Kerry has made it clear that he is an outlaw. Snowden himself has said that he won’t get a fair trial under current US laws regarding espionage, and he is absolutely right.
Just look at Chelsea Manning, who remains locked away for her release of documents showing the illegal acts conducted by the military. While she is rotting in prison, the military goes unchecked.
And so does the NSA, though hopefully not forever. While the latest attempts at regulation have been disappointing, the awareness this document leak has provided means consequences are real, and global.
Of everything else in the interview, one point stuck out the most for me. It was the comment he made about the government exploiting the tragedy of 9/11, and the trauma evoked from the event. You don’t have to look far to see proof of that, and if anything can make you lose all respect for those in power, that is high on the list.