Edward Snowden: "I Don't Want to Live in a Society That Does These Sorts of Things"

by Debra Sweet | June 9, 2013

Edward Snowden
This afternoon we learned that Edward Snowden, an employee of Booz Allen Hamilton (a private contractor for the National Security Agency), claimed responsibility for the biggest intelligence leak in U.S. history. In an interview with The Guardian, Snowden said,

“I really want the focus to be on these documents and the debate which I hope this will trigger among citizens around the globe about what kind of world we want to live in.” He added: “My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.”

This past Wednesday, via Glenn Greenwald in the Guardian, we learned that the National Security Agency has been monitoring business phone traffic on Verizon lines and gathering all that metadata in bulk.  On Thursday the story got much bigger with revelations that the NSA Prism program taps in to user data of Apple, Google and others. Also from the Guardian:

“On Saturday, the Guardian reported the existence of an NSA datamining program called Boundless Informant that helps analysts track and sort the voluminous electronic surveillance the agency collects, including by country. Top secret information published by the Guardian detailed that NSA harvested nearly 3bn pieces of intelligence from US computer networks in just 30 days.”

Barack Obama responding to the revelation that the NSA vacuums up data on everyone:

“in the abstract, you can complain about Big Brother and a program run amuck, but when you actually look at the details, I think we've struck the right balance.”

More on PRISM and the National Security Agency at Ft. Meade MD (where Bradley Manning is being court martialed).

From the Guardian interview with Edward Snowden:

Q: Why did you decide to become a whistleblower?

A: “The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting.”

Q: What about the response in general to the disclosures?

A: “I have been surprised and pleased to see the public has reacted so strongly in defence of these rights that are being suppressed in the name of security.”

Today at the Left Forum in NYC, World Can't Wait sponsored a discussion on “the National Security State, Whistle-blowers and Bradley Manning” with Jesselyn Raddack, Thomas Drake and Kevin Gosztola. We discussed the need for protest and resistance to the a lack of privacy for the people, and secrecy for the government. Thomas made a case to people who say “if you have nothing to hide, you shouldn't worry” by saying things remarkably similar to what Snowden said:

“You don’t have to have done anything wrong, you simply have to have eventually fall under suspicion... and then they can use this system to go back in time and... derive suspicion from an innocent life”

Hours after today's event, we learned about Edward Snowden. The Guardian reported tonight,

“Thomas Drake, a former NSA executive who famously leaked information about what he considered a wasteful datamining program at the agency, said of Snowden: ‘He's extraordinarily brave and courageous.’

“Drake was investigated so intensely by the justice department that the longtime analyst was reduced to working at an Apple store until the Obama administration abruptly dropped charges that could have landed him in jail for 35 years.

"‘It's an extraordinarily magnanimous act of civil disobedience to disclose the Pandora's Box of the Leviathan state,’ Drake told the Guardian as he returned from a weekend appearance in New York at the Left Forum, where he spoke about whistleblowing and national security.”

In “Has the US become the type of nation from which you have to seek asylum?” the Washington Post says,

“Snowden wasn't crazy to question whether he'd be treated fairly by the American justice system.”

It's really up to us to create a political situation where the government is forced to back down in defending and pursuing police-state levels of surveillance, justified by “national security.”

Tomorrow, we're gathering at noon at Union Square in NYC to support Edward Snowden (details on Facebook event). When asked about the personal risks he took to make this information public, Snowden told Glenn Greenwald,

“The greatest fear that I have regarding the outcome for America of these disclosures is that nothing will change.”

What are you willing to risk for real change?