Edward Snowden Feeling Vindicated
MOSCOW – American whistleblower Edward Snowden is seeking asylum in Brazil. The former NSA worker has drafted an open letter to the people and government of Brazil.
“Six months ago, I stepped out from the shadows of the United States Government’s National Security Agency to stand in front of a journalist’s camera,” wrote Snowden. “I shared with the world evidence proving some governments are building a world-wide surveillance system to secretly track how we live, who we talk to, and what we say”.
Yesterday in the United States a judge called the NSA program to listen in to the wireless phone calls of Americans unconstitutional. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled that the NSA’s collection of the phone records of millions of Americans is probably unconstitutional.
Is Snowden a Hero or a Traitor?
That move has some Americans starting to think that Snowden in leaking the information on the NSA Prism program more that of a patriot than a traitor.
“My greatest fear was that no one would listen to my warning. Never have I been so glad to have been so wrong. The reaction in certain countries has been particularly inspiring to me, and Brazil is certainly one of those,” states Snowden. “At the NSA, I witnessed with growing alarm the surveillance of whole populations without any suspicion of wrongdoing, and it threatens to become the greatest human rights challenge of our time”.
Today at the White House, President Obama met with the top officials from Facebook, Twitter, Google and other major Internet companies. Last week those companies wrote the President over concerns of user privacy. The efforts to protect the online and wireless privacy of ordinary citizens is being hailed as a key component to democracy and freedom.
The White House released a statement following the meeting: Today, the President and the Vice President met with executives from leading tech companies in the Roosevelt Room. The group discussed a number of issues of shared importance to the federal government and the tech sector, including the progress being made to improve performance and capacity issues with HeathCare.Gov.
The President also announced that Kurt DelBene, who most recently served as president of the Microsoft Office Division, will succeed Jeff Zients as Senior Advisor to Secretary Sebelius who will lead our ongoing efforts to improve HealthCare.gov and the Health Insurance Marketplace starting this Wednesday. The group discussed the challenges surround federal IT procurement.
The President made clear his continued focus on improving the way we deliver technology to maximize innovation, efficiency and customer service, and encouraged the CEOs to continue to share their ideas on how to do so.
President Obama Discusses Unauthorized Intelligence Disclosures
Finally, the group discussed the national security and economic impacts of unauthorized intelligence disclosures. This was an opportunity for the President to hear from CEOs directly as we near completion of our review of signals intelligence programs, building on the feedback we’ve received from the private sector in recent weeks and months. The President made clear his belief in an open, free, and innovative internet and listened to the group’s concerns and recommendations, and made clear that we will consider their input as well as the input of other outside stakeholders as we finalize our review of signals intelligence programs.
Snowden states, “The NSA and other spying agencies tell us that for our own ‘safety’ –for Dilma’s ‘safety”, for Petrobras’ ‘safety’ — they have revoked our right to privacy and broken into our lives. And they did it without asking the public in any country, even their own”.
Directing his contentions to the Government and People of Brazil Snowden states, “Today, if you carry a cell phone in Sao Paolo, the NSA can and does keep track of your location: they do this 5 billion times a day to people around the world. When someone in Florianopolis visits a website, the NSA keeps a record of when it happened and what you did there. If a mother in Porto Alegre calls her son to wish him luck on his university exam, NSA can keep that call log for five years or more.
“They even keep track of who is having an affair or looking at pornography, in case they need to damage their target’s reputation”.
Huge Difference in Legal Programs and Big Brother Snooping
“There is a huge difference between legal programs, legitimate spying, legitimate law enforcement –where individuals are targeted based on a reasonable, individualized suspicion – and these programs of dragnet mass surveillance that put entire populations under an all-seeing eye and save copies forever”.
“These programs were never about terrorism: they’re about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power,” charges Snowden. “I have expressed my willingness to assist wherever appropriate and lawful, but unfortunately the United States government has worked very hard to limit my ability to do so –going so far as to force down the Presidential Plane of Evo Morales to prevent me from traveling to Latin America!”
Political Asylum Will Let Me Speak Out
“Until a country grants permanent political asylum, the US government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak”.
Snowden concludes, “My act of conscience began with a statement: “I don’t want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity or love or friendship is recorded.
“That’s not something I’m willing to support, it’s not something I’m willing to build, and it’s not something I’m willing to live under.”