Edward Snowden a Patriot? He’s Changing People’s Minds
Is Edward Snowden a patriot? It depends on who you ask, but, he’s definitely changing people’s minds.
Since I initially wrote my blog post on Edward Snowden nearly a year ago, A False Choice: National Security or Individual Rights & Freedoms | Edward Snowden & Government Surveillance, Mr. Snowden has settled down in an undisclosed location somewhere in Russia, at least for the time being, continuing to do interviews, including two big ones that came out this month, one with NBC News’ Brian Williams and one with Vanity Fair.
But it all began just over a year ago, while in Hong Kong in May 2013, when Snowden reached out to and met with two journalists from the Guardian and the Washington Post, and one documentary filmmaker, to whom he entrusted his story and the thousands of NSA documents he had taken with him. These documents continue to be reviewed, vetted, and written about, with more and more surprising allegations coming out in the last year about American secret surveillance of its citizens. In his two most recent interviews this month, Snowden once again points out that he gave all of the documents to those journalists, keeping no copies, and taking none of them to Russia. He states, “I know exactly how many documents I have. Zero.”
Yesterday, NBC News aired Brian Williams’ in-depth interview with Mr. Snowden in Moscow. Anyone would be hard-pressed to watch that interview, or any of his previous interviews for that matter, and think him anything but highly intelligent, articulate, and well-versed in the NSA’s programs and practices. You might also be hard-pressed to disagree with him that the government is spying on American citizens, as his documents seemingly prove, and that such action violates our Constitution and the rights it grants us.
In fact, Twitter users, who were split on whether Snowden was a traitor or a patriot before the interview, were moved enough after the NBC interview to favorably shift their opinion of Snowden, with 60% of Twitter users adding the hashtag #patriot in their tweets about Snowden in the 36 hours following the interview.
Similarly, if you browse the web, social media, and other sites that sell printable paraphernalia you see an increase in photos, posters, mugs and t-shirts with creative graphics and sayings that show Edward Snowden and privacy rights are gaining support.
Whether you agree with what he did or not, it is hard to say he did it for financial or personal gain, when he has lost so much on both fronts and has yet tried to capitalize on his world-stage fame or infamy. Perhaps what he has gained is a clear conscience, as indicated by his comments to Brian Williams that he sleeps better at night now. “Sometimes you have to break the law to do the right thing.”
Clearly, Mr. Snowden considers himself a patriot, explaining, “Being a patriot means knowing when to protect your country, knowing when to protect your Constitution, knowing when to protect your countrymen from the — the violations of and encroachments of adversaries. And those adversaries don’t have to be foreign countries. They can be bad policies. They can be officials who, you know, need a little bit more accountability. They can be mistakes of government and — and simple overreach and — and things that — that should never have been tried, or — or that went wrong.”
Addressing one of the government complaints that he should have gone through the proper channels to address these issues, Mr. Snowden asserts that he did just that, he wrote letters and emails and spoke to supervisors and officials about his concerns that some NSA programs and practices may not be legal or constitutional and he was told to keep quiet. He challenges the NSA to deny it and asks Congress to request from the NSA and its general counsel the letters and emails he wrote to them.
Echoing the same sentiments and points in an in-depth May 2014 Vanity Fair interview, Snowden talks about the post-terror generation, saying “What we’re seeing today in America is a new political movement that crosses party lines. This post-terror generation rejects the idea that we have to burn down our village in order to save it — that the only way to defend the Constitution is to tear it up.”
So, back to my question, is Edward Snowden a patriot? I think history will be kind to him.
“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”
~Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
Martie Hevia (c) All Rights Reserved
- ICREACH: How the NSA Built Its Own Secret Google (The Intercept, 2014 August 25) | https://firstlook.org/theintercept/article/2014/08/25/icreach-nsa-cia-secret-google-crisscross-proton/
- In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are: Files provided by Snowden show extent to which ordinary Web users are caught in the net (Washington Post, 2014 July 5) | http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/in-nsa-intercepted-data-those-not-targeted-far-outnumber-the-foreigners-who-are/2014/07/05/8139adf8-045a-11e4-8572-4b1b969b6322_story.html
- Edward Snowden Is a #Patriot, Twitter Users Say (Mashable, 5/29/2014) | http://mashable.com/2014/05/29/edward-snowden-patriot/
- Chart: Twitter Users Reaction to NBC News Interview with Edward Snowden (Twitter & DataWrapper, 5/29/2014) | https://c3.datawrapper.de/tkHDk/2/
- 7 Key Moments From Edward Snowden’s First-Ever U.S. TV Interview (Mashable, 5/29/2014) | http://mashable.com/2014/05/28/edward-snowden-nbc-news-interview-brian-williams/?utm_cid=mash-com-Tw-main-link
- INSIDE THE MIND OF EDWARD SNOWDEN (NBC News, 5/28/2014) | http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/edward-snowden-interview/edward-snowdens-motive-revealed-he-can-sleep-night-n116851
- To Get Snowden Interview, NBC News Relied on Secrecy (The New York Times, 5/27/2014) | http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/28/business/media/to-get-snowden-interview-nbc-news-relied-on-secrecy.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0
- The Snowden Saga: A Shadowland of Secrets and Light (Vanity Fair, May 2014)| http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/2014/05/edward-snowden-politics-interview
- Snowden Speaks: A Vanity Fair Exclusive (Vanity Fair, 4/8/2014) | http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2014/04/edward-snowden-interview
- Edward Snowden: Whistleblower ‘did complain to NSA’ before leaking classified US Government documents (The Independent, 4/8/2014) | http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/news/edward-snowden-whistleblower-did-complain-to-nsa-before-leaking-classified-us-government-documents-9247021.html
- Edward Snowden (Wikipedia, May 29, 2014) | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Snowden
- Blog Post August 2, 2013: pressure cookers, backpacks and quinoa, oh my!
- How Barack Obama Made Friends With Big Brother (The Daily Beast, 6/6/2013) | http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/06/06/how-barack-obama-made-friends-with-big-brother.html
- Obama on Surveillance, Then and Now (New York Times, 6/7/2013) | http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/06/08/us/politics/08obama-surveillance-history-video.html
- This Is What Section 215 of the Patriot Act Does (Slate, Weigel, 6/7/2013) | http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2013/06/07/nsa_prism_scandal_what_patriot_act_section_215_does.html
- Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations (The Guardian Article, 6/9/2013) | http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/09/edward-snowden-nsa-whistleblower-surveillance
- NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden Interview by the Gurardian (The Guardian Video, 6/9/2013) | http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2013/jun/09/nsa-whistleblower-edward-snowden-interview-video
- This Abuse of the Patriot Act Must End (The Guardian, Guest Commentary, 6/9/2013) | http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/09/abuse-patriot-act-must-end
- Ex-CIA man says exposed spy scheme to protect world (Reuters Article, 6/10/2013) | http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/10/us-usa-security-identity-idUSBRE9590BP20130610
- Candidate Obama debates President Obama on Government Surveillance (YouTube Channel SaveTheFourthAmendment Video, 6/10/2013) | http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BmdovYztH8
- Google Asks To Publish More U.S. Government Information (CBS/AP Article, 6/11/2013) | http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2013/06/11/google-asks-to-publish-more-us-government-information/
- All the National Security Letters Ever Approved Since the Patriot Act (National Journal, 6/12/2013) | http://news.yahoo.com/national-security-letters-ever-approved-since-patriot-act-122410211.html
- Officials: Edward Snowden took NSA secrets on thumb drive (Los Angeles Times Article, 6/13/2013) | http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-snowden-nsa-secrets-thumb-drive-20130613,0,791040.story
- CBS News confirms Sharyl Attkisson’s computer hacked (CBS News Article – 6-14-2013) | http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57589367/cbs-news-confirms-sharyl-attkissons-computer-hacked/
- Facebook releases information on NSA requests for user data (Los Angeles Times Article, 6/14/2013) | http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-facebook-releases-first-information-on-fisa-requests-20130614,0,3315731.story
- Edward Snowden: NSA Whistleblower Answers Reader Questions (The Guardian Article, 6/17/2013) | http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/17/edward-snowden-nsa-files-whistleblower
- Sharyl Attkisson, CBS reporter investigating Benghazi scandal, has had her computers hacked (CBS News Video – 6/17/2013) | http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505263_162-57589559/sharyl-attkisson-on-computer-hacking-im-outraged/
- Apple releases information on data requests from NSA, other agencies (Los Angeles Times Article, 6/17/2013) | http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-tn-apple-nsa-data-request-surveillance-20130617,0,7979116.story
- FBI uses drones inside U.S. for spying, director says (Los Angeles Times, 6/20/2013) | http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-fbi-mueller-20130620,0,5216531.story
- Archive: USA Patriot Act (New York Times) | http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/u/usa_patriot_act/index.html
- Book: George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm (Hardcover Book $17.54 on Amazon)
- Book: George Orwell’s 1984 (Hardcover Book $15.58 on Amazon)