Snowden & Manning

Chicago World Can't Wait Chapter | Septemeber 16, 2016


snowdenfilm“Snowden,” Oliver Stone’s latest film opening this week, is about a young man’s journey of discovery and his courage in going where the evidence took him until, finally, he felt compelled to take action he would never have imagined, let alone considered, at that journey’s start. And Stone succeeds in showing and bringing alive what Snowden discovers, despite the fact that most of us might find the technology involved mind-numbing on its own.

As Snowden questions the massive surveillance on the whole world he is uncovering, and its deadly uses, his superiors and fellow intel techies give the usual canned justifications, which Snowden then methodically examines and rejects. This is a journey and a courageous action that should inspire and challenge us all.

We come along as Snowden discovers that more electronic communication is swept up within the US than in Russia, for example. This is far removed from “fighting terrorism” or “strengthening America’s security,” as he has believed. He questions the legal basis for this massive invasion of privacy and is told that the FISA court issues warrants for it so it’s legal, only to learn later that the FISA court is a rubber stamp for whatever any administration wants. He hopes for change under a new Obama administration, only to see these outrageous practices expanding. We see video of drone strikes wiping out whole families based on CIA “intel” tracking “bad guys’” cell phones.

Snowden questions whether it’s possible to know who is actually using a phone that’s being tracked, and it becomes clear that no one in the room really believes this fig leaf rationale. When one of his co-workers  later argues that “it’s not a crime because this is war and it’s our job,” a conversation ensues about the Nuremberg war crime tribunals and the applicability of the principles established there to what this country is doing. Snowden’s questioning is moving from the legality to the morality of the “war on terror,” and his questioning and his decision implicate the responsibility we each have to face those same questions, and to act on our decision.

The government’s continuing war against these whistleblowers poses the question, Who Are the Real Criminals? This film should reignite that debate. Variety calls it the "most important and galvanizing political drama by an American filmmaker in years."

Go see it, talk with friends and family and coworkers about it, then This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and what you’re learning with us. Recommit to stopping the crimes so vividly portrayed in this film, and many more. Courage can be contagious, and it is definitely a cornerstone of a serious movement of resistance to stop the crimes committed in our name. World Can’t Wait responded swiftly when Snowden’s revelations first made headlines, organizing an emergency forum, “We Will Not Be Complicit, We Do Not Consent,” in New York on June 19, 2013 (you can watch it here).

The Intercept published today a comprehensive list of the secret, illegitimate, surveillance programs Snowden revealed.