N.S.A. Whistle-Blower Comes Forward

Monday, June 10, 2013

After days of speculation over the identity of the source who leaked a F.I.S.A. court order mandating that Verizon turn over all metadata on its phone records, Edward Snowden, a former technical assistant for the C.I.A., revealed himself as the whistle blower this weekend in a 12-minute video interview with the Guardian.

Snowden is an employee at Booz Allen Hamilton, a defense contractor which sells technology and manpower to the N.S.A. and other federal agencies. The 29-year-old will likely face severe consequences for his actions, but he maintains that he had a duty to relay this information to the public. 

Snowden is currently hiding in a hotel in Hong Kong. Evan Osnos explores Snowden's choice of Hong Kong as a temporary safe haven in an article for The New Yorker, where he is a staff writer.

Guests:

Evan Osnos

Produced by:

Elizabeth Ross

Comments [6]

unkerjay from Puget Sound, WA

Doesn't this fall somewhere along the comparable lines of "Killing people to show that killing people is wrong"?

Massive disclosures of covert operations to show that covert operations exceed constitutional boundaries.

Does that bring more attention to the covert operations or to the disclosures, the Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden without really in any meaningful way addressing the constitutionality, scope or ongoing operations?

Major impact or blip on the horizon?

My money's on blip.

Or, does anyone even remember Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon papers and the difference that was supposed to make?

Seems government has elevated its game.

Seems the prevailing thought is that we must be protected from ourselves and the best way to protect us from ourselves is to know exactly what we're up to and the best way to do that is to mount the best data collection technology in the world. When reporters state no "direct" access, implying "indirect" access in abundance what sweet legal wiggle room that must provide for the neither confirm nor deny crowd.

And I would tend to agree, that which we surrender voluntarily in the name of commerce and consumption must parallel if not dwarf that which is taken without knowledge or consent.

I find considering Snowden a hero, comparable to the claims of an imperial Obama presidency in the wake of recent "scandals", the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Didn't we say the same thing about Bush the "Unitary Executive Theory"? Does lauding such tactics encourage such tactics?

Nevermind that we seem to have such mixed esteem in regards to whistleblowers. We may applaud the blowing of the whistle but, I think our track record shows we do not hold whistleblowers in high regard. Certainly Serpico did the right thing, by way of example. The personal costs to him were no endorsement. Kind of like the woman who marries a man who cheated with her on his last wife. Hard to be surprised at any future infidelity. That would seem to be the double edged sword of the whistleblower. I like what you did to them, how can I be sure that you won't do the same to me?

I would say, in that regard, Snowden should probably be considering another line of employment. He's likely exhausted his options in his current line of work.

Jun. 11 2013 11:14 PM

Sorry, TIM SULLIVAN from Newark...I can't agree. The amount of information collected in government computers is miniscule compared to the data being collected on consumption behavior that is authorized by various EULA that we opt not to read.

The data the government has collected without our consent is small when compared to what we have agreed to.

Jun. 10 2013 03:20 PM

Snowden's actions are not whistle-blowing - in the sense that mismanagement or corruption are exposed.

The USG is collecting information that WE THE PEOPLE authorized it to collect. If you don't like the implications, deal with that first.

By opting to flee rather than face prosecution as a conscientious act of civil disobedience, Mr. Snowden has hurt his own argument.

@listener - If you think that the BHO Administration is uniquely responsible for this, you are unhinged and biased. Any President in the office after Dubya, would have done and would be doing the exact same thing. Kerry...McCain...Romney...they would each be using the exact same power in more or less the exact same way.

Jun. 10 2013 03:16 PM
TIM SULLIVAN from Newark

I think moderators and commentors to this show and all others on WNYC that have covered this subject miss the REAL point, which is that the US feels it has to "protect itself" because of the awful worldwide mess it's gotten itself into. If we played nice we wouldn't have enemies, would we. Clearly people hate us for good reason. I really think that our horror comes not from this instance but all the policies that have steadily eroded our freedom. We've had enough of the illegal and heinous acts our government has been perpetrating around the world because now it's affecting OUR safety and freedom.

Jun. 10 2013 03:12 PM
listener

The word traitor seems to be used a great deal. For the media the difference between a hero and a traitor
depends on which administration they are perceived to be
embarrassing. Will this be seen as the latest in another Obama
scandal making him look mendacious and hypocritical?
Perhaps that accounts for the harsh tone towards this
latest whistleblower but probably not the last in Obama's
second term.

Jun. 10 2013 10:05 AM
Steve Hamm from Washington State

While I usually appreciate your portrayal of news, Mr. Hockenberry, I must respectfully disagree with your statement that Mr. Snowden is a self-proclaimed "hero". You went on to cite his statement in his own words but nowhere in that did I hear him claim to be a "hero".

Further, in an article posted uesterday on the Guardian's web site (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/09/edward-snowden-nsa-whistleblower-surveillance) here's his statement:

"... "I don't see myself as a hero," he said, "because what I'm doing is self-interested: I don't want to live in a world where there's no privacy and therefore no room for intellectual exploration and creativity."

Please don't make claims that you don't substantiate.

In terms of the issue itself, we are certainly on a slippery slope where the Obama Administration picks and chooses what can be made transparent. Apparently, when it comes to commercialism and materialism, transparency rules but when it comes to personal privacy, the government does what it wants when it wants without telling the people.

Snowden is not a hero. He's a whistleblower and I appreciate the ongoing effort of such people to disclose what is being done in our name without our knowledge.

Jun. 10 2013 09:49 AM

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