Civil Liberties

Edward Snowden Today: Maybe We Don't Need Any Spy Agencies At All


In a Google Hangout-ed interview to a D.C. Cato Institute conference on surveillance that is going on right this second as I type, former NSA and CIA guy Edward Snowden suggests something few people with government agencies have the nerve to suggest: maybe those agencies don't need to exist at all.

Snowden suggested that our major modern spy agencies arose during the rush of World War and perhaps didn't need to survive them at all, and now "can be replaced by methods of law enforcement," even when aimed at foreigners like Vladimir Putin: "Do we really need an NSA and secret courts to wiretap Putin?" when he thinks any judge through any normal specific targeted law enforcement procedure would give permission to do so.

He seems to think the extension of normal law enforcement procedures to even the countries' overseas desires to investigate would work OK, and maybe we don't need "secret organizations that inevitably push beyond" any limits we might imagine we want to hold them to, once they are able to disappear behind a screen of "national security secrecy." 

Snowden also says he still hopes one day to be able to return to the United States, and thinks it appalling that as a matter of course Amazon does not encrypt your book searches from prying spying eyes.