June 11, 2013
Now that the source of the leak published last week in theWashington Post has identified himself, the response from defenders of the surveillance state was immediate and predictable. Edward
Snowden, a 29-year-old employee of a National Security Agency (NSA)
contractor, Booz Allen Hamilton, hoped that with the election of
President Obama in 2008 the surveillance state in American would at
least be partially dismantled. When it was clear that the infrastructure
of that vast intelligence community and its increasingly threatening
capabilities was continuing to grow, it also became obvious to Snowden
what he had to do: “I realized that I was part of something that was
doing far more harm than good.”
In an interview with Glenn Greenwald of the British newspaper The Guardian, Snowden explained:
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.
If I wanted to see your emails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do
is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records
[even] credit cards.
I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I
do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is
recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under.
Snowden is putting everything he treasures at risk: His parents work
for the government and he has a girlfriend whom he admits he might not
be seeing again for a long time. He was making $200,000 a year and for a
while, at least, he felt he had a stable career and a pleasant,
enjoyable, and interesting life. But that appears to be over. Said
I’m willing to sacrifice all of that because I can’t in good
conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom
and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive
surveillance machine they’re secretly building.