Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden Interview At LiveLeak: On Clapper Lying to Congress and the Possibility of Clemency

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Snowden Obama
Der Spiegel

German TV interviewed NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and the video of the 30 minute interview is now available at LiveLeak. Not surprisingly, a good bit of the interview focused on NSA spying alliances, activities and capabilities in Europe.

The German reporter did, however, ask if Snowden was worried about threats to his life. Given the BuzzFeed report in which anonymous government functionaries asserted that they would be happy to kill him, Snowden sensibly replied yes, but that he still slept well at night.

Below are some selected quotations from the interview. For example, the interviewer asked Snowden if there was a specific "breaking point" at which he decided to go public with his revelations?

Snowden: The breaking point is seeing the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, directly lie under oath to Congress – there is no saving an intelligence community that believes that it can lie to the public and to legislators who need to be able to trust it and regulate its actions. Seeing that really meant for me there was no going back. Beyond that, it was the creeping realization that no one else was going to do this. The public had a right to know about these programs. The public had a right to know that which the government is doing in its name.

The interviewer mentioned that the New York Times had urged clemency for Snowden and that President Obama had ruled that out. The interviewer then cited the president as noting that Snowden had been charged with three felonies and then declared: "If you, Edward Snowden, believe in what you did, you should come back to America and appear before the court with your lawyer and make your case."

In the interview, Snowden replied:

It's interesting because he mentions three felonies. What he doesn't say is that the crimes that he's charged me with are crimes that don't allow me to make my case; they don't allow me to defend myself in an open court to the public and convince a jury that what I did was to their benefit. The Espionage Act … was never intended to prosecute journalistic sources, people who are informing the newspapers about information that is in the public interest. It was intended for people who are selling documents in secret to foreign governments, who are bombing bridges, who are sabotaging communications, not for people who are serving the public good. So it's, I would say illustrative, that the president would choose to say that someone should face the music when he knows that the music is a show trial.

For more background, see my blogpost, "Should Snowden Have Run Away?" and my articles, "Thank You Edward Snowden," and "President Obama: Pardon Edward Snowden."

H/T David Ford.

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  1. “For example, the interviewer asked Snowden if there was a specific “breaking point” at which he decided to go public with his revelations?

    Snowden: The breaking point is seeing the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, directly lie under oath to Congress…”

    Wait, Clapper lied to Congress about things that hadn’t yet happened? IIRC, Clapper’s Whopper (as it should rightly be called) was in response to allegations already made by Snowden.

    1. The Clapper lie was March 2013 and Snowden’s first leaks were June 2013.

      1. Adam: Correct. Perhaps I should have noted the timeline in the post, but I thought most folks already knew Snowden’s revelations followed Clapper’s lies. Sorry for any confusion.

        1. Thanks. I had incorrectly assumed Wyden was addressing the leaks, but I forget he has been on this for a while.

          1. However, that still doesn’t support Snowden’s timeline.

            If as he says he joined Booz Allen Hamilton in order to extract secrets, he would have had to have made up his mind a lot sooner than March, correct?

    2. I think you’re thinking of General Alexander, who lied to Congress after Snowden went public. Clapper’s lie was prior to Snowden.

      1. Interesting that lies aren’t felonies but the truth is.

        1. Pro Lib, we live in the empire of lies. Traitors who speak the truth, that the federal government is neither omniscient, nor omnipresent, nor omnipotent, must be punished.

          We’ve reached the point where defenders of the state treat the government like a golden idol.

  2. Given the BuzzFeed report in which anonymous government functionaries asserted that they would be happy to kill him…

    I still wonder what those functionaries think should be the penalty for breaking one’s constitutional oath. Anyway, I look forward to watching this.

    …there is no saving an intelligence community that believes that it can lie to the public and to legislators who need to be able to trust it and regulate its actions.

    And there’s no saving a Congress that will allow it.

  3. “the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, directly lie[d] under oath to Congress”

    This needs to be repeated over and over and over. Eventually someone might realize its a crime and bureaucrats might stop doing it.

    1. There’s no incentive to stop when Congress does nothing to hold people accountable for the crime.

    2. It’s not a crime if there is no punishment.

  4. If you, Edward Snowden Barack Obama, believe in what you did, you should…appear before the court with your lawyer and make your case.

    You first scumbag. Murdering American citizens is a bitch but feel free to bring your Peace Prize as a character witness.

    1. You have neglected the first rule of federal-executive politics:

      If the president does it, that means that it’s not illegal.

  5. As a side note… has it become protocol to use the “Jerry Bruckheimer-esque Snowden/Obama photomontage” in every post re: the kid?

    Disclose, Bailey = You’re on the payroll of ‘Enemy of the State II: Electronic-Surveillance Boogaloo’, *aren’t you*?

  6. So it’s, I would say illustrative, that the president would choose to say that someone should face the music when he knows that the music is a show trial.

    I believe the expression is… SICK BURN.

  7. This guy is super fucking smart. Those answers, like much of his prior interview content, are so clear and well thought through, that it’s simply impossible to doubt his motivations.

    1. “high school dropout!”

      1. “Traitor!”

    2. They shouldn’t award him a new Nobel Peace Prize. They should come take Obama’s away from him and deliver it to Snowden. And put video of the taking and giving on Youtube.

      1. The world could never be so just and so beautiful at the same time.

  8. Sorry, Rand, I’m voting for Snowden.

  9. Make his case? He can make his argument from Russia better than in court. A court proceeding is a process to determine guilt and punishment, not a debate on the ethics and merits of surveillance and whistle-blowing.

    In any case, if he hadn’t fled then he’d still be in isolation. Manning did over half a year basically in solitary. How would that help Snowden? To the extent his fugitive status helps keep the story alive, it’s good he fled.

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