I remember when Mandela was released. I remember where I was when watching the twin towers fall. I remember the feeling of hope when Obama was elected sworn in as president. I remember when the American people learned that their government was spying on its own people.
June 6, 2013. Both The Guardian and The Washington Post published a series of reports from documents leaked by an anonymous source. The material outlined a massive government-run surveillance program that monitored the communications records of not just criminals or potential terrorists, but law-abiding citizens as well. They monitored everyone, worldwide. Days later, Edward Snowden stepped forward as the source. His video interview was everywhere, for everyone to see.
Growing up I remember theories about Echelon, a secret surveillance network spying on satellite communications. Set up by the US and the UK in the 1960s, ECHELON was the precursor of today’s global dragnet. When Snowden disclosed the conspiracy of a multinational surveillance apparatus, it was vindication for Duncan Campbell who spent decades uncovering one of the biggest facets of government overreach.
“I was resolved to bring to light a single, all-encompassing fact: that my government had developed and deployed a global system of mass surveillance without the knowledge or consent of its citizenry.”
There were no new revelations for me in this book. I’ve been tracking his releases, speeches and interviews for some time, I even watched the abomination of a ‘Snowden’ movie (Sorry JGL). What I learned more of was his reasoning for why he released this information, his journey if you will. You don’t start out in your career to become a whistleblower, you hold standards for yourself and where you work. Those standards were not met by his employeer, they broke not only the constitution but also the privacy of every individual in the world.
He destroyed all the data when he left Hong Kong for Russia, so is now once more on the outside looking in. Edward Snowden is a modern whistleblower, he came forward with truths when his own government wanted them never to see the light of day. He took so many precautions, knew about the consequences of his actions and even still despite all of that decided it was in the interest of the people for these revelations to be released.
In the face of adversity, of the knowledge that the US government would come down hard on him and his family, knowing that previous whistleblowers were locked up in jail, he still stood by his convictions and told his story. That to me shows true courage and should be respected.
“These programs were never about terrorism: they're about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They're about power.”
He shone a light on the deepest parts of the intelligence community, my only regret is that the batteries in his torch seem to have run out. He has shown to others that it’s possible to come forward and make a stand against your government. I believe that Edward Snowden will be vindicated in the years to come. He’s a hero.
Finished: 2020-01-30 - 20 days