Edward Snowden broke a six month silence recently when he spoke to the Washington Post saying that in terms of personal satisfaction, I (Snowden) have already won. Unless he’s leaking documents from the National Security Agency (NSA) Snowden has remained quite silent despite all the media attention.
Snowden is a former contractor of the NSA that garnered much attention this year when he leaked confidential NSA documentation to the media. The leaked documents told a story of bulk collections of private internet and phone data that were being recorded and amassed at the NSA’s offices. The private data began being collected after the terrorist attacks of 9-11 back in 2001.
Back this June, the U.S. Justice Department unsealed a criminal complaint on Snowden and officially charged him with felony theft of government property and espionage.
When Snowden first leaked the documents he fled to China to escape being arrested. Since then he has been seeking asylum in Moscow, Russia, where he gave his latest Washington Post interview from. Russia granted Snowden temporary asylum in their country nearly five months ago.
Edward Snowden was attributing his “I already won” statement to the journalists that helped spread the confidential NSA documents and the word about what was actually happening within the government agency. He said that the journalists helped to validate his story. Snowden also wanted to make sure people understood that he didn’t want to change society himself, but he wanted to give society a chance at determining if society should change itself.
The State Department and NSA did not comment on the Snowden interview. However, in an email from Caitlin Hayden, the White House spokeswoman said that Snowden still faces felony charges on U.S. grounds and he should be returned to U.S. soil to be “afforded due process” and “all the protections” of the U.S. criminal justice system.
Last Friday, President Barack Obama hinted at considering some change to the bulk collection of NSA’s records that contain the American public’s phone records. A presidential advisory panel has suggested 46 changes to the NSA’s operations. Earlier last week, a federal judge declared that the NSA’s data collection program was likely to be deemed unconstitutional.
The Washington Post reporter, Barton Gellman, conducted this Snowden interview six months after the leaked documents were publicized. Gellman was just one of the reporters to receive the leaked documents directly from Snowden.
Gellman stated that Edward Snowden was quite relaxed but animated during the two-day interview. Regarding the interview, Gellman said the two days were nearly filled with unbroken conversation. Gellman also joked that Snowden’s conversations were fueled by pasta, burgers, Russian pastry and ice cream.
The documents leaked by Snowden have had a world-wide rippling effect. U.S. allies have been angered with the reports that the NSA has been monitoring cellphone calls made by leaders of the their countries. Members of the European Union and Brazil are investigating better ways of preserving their privacy. Congress and Silicon Valley have also voiced their anger at the NSA’s actions. Tech giants like Microsoft, Yahoo and Google are also looking at new ways to block the theft of this private information.
The 30-year-old Snowden wanted it to be known that he was not trying to bring down the NSA, but that he was trying to help them improve it. He still considers himself as a NSA employee, even though the NSA are the ones that don’t realize it at the moment.
Britain’s Channel 4 will be broadcasting Edward Snowden on Wednesday for their annual “Alternative Christmas Message.” This segment usually is reserved for off-beat or provocative addresses. This year Snowden takes control and proves his words, “I already won.”
By Brent Matsalla
News Radio WGOW 1150AM