As soon as The Guardian released the name of the NSA whistleblower as 29-year-old Edward Snowden over the weekend, Glenn took to Twitter to praise Snowden’s actions as courageous and heroic. This morning on radio, Glenn elaborated on his position – reiterating that he supports Snowden’s decision to come forward.
“My stance on Edward Snowden – I came out over the weekend and said, ‘This guy is a hero.’ At least what he is doing is an act of heroism,” Glenn said. “What he is doing coming out and speaking to the press – he has issued himself a death warrant… He had a decent life. He was making $200,000 a year, living in Hawaii with his girlfriend. He decides, ‘This is wrong and somebody needs to speak out.’ This is, I believe, the first act of real heroism that we have seen.”
Glenn has long talked about his fear that, as a country, we are running out of time. “I do believe this is the last exit. I could be wrong… Hopefully there’s more,” Glenn explained. But in the wake of Snowden’s revelations, Glenn believes there may be hope. “If the American people, however, see that what he has done was right, we have a chance of changing things.”
Snowden has now shown the world that the United States government has access to just about every aspect of your life – from phone calls to emails to credit card activity, they have it all. The media and Washington may try to spin these leaks into some sort of political debate stemming from the PATRIOT ACT, but the implications of government overreach in this situation are far more dangerous than any political scandal.
In an interview with The Guardian, Snowden explained the scope of the government surveillance and what lies ahead for Americans if nothing is done to stop it. Glenn played some of the audio from Snowden’s interview and the full interview can be watched below.
Snowden detailed the threat he now faces as a potential traitor who can be tried under the Espionage Act, but he said it is a threat he is willing to live with because he felt it was necessary to inform Americans that they have unknowingly given up their sovereignty. “I will tell you that the country right now that says, ‘we will protect the individual’ – excuse me, used to be the United States of America,” Glenn said. Instead of being the vanguard of individual liberty that attracted people from around the globe, the United States now seems to be leading the way on the surveillance state.
But why does it matter?
REPORTER: Why should people care about surveillance?
SNOWDEN: Because even if you’re not doing anything wrong, you’re being watched and recorded, and the storage capability of these systems increases every year consistently by orders of magnitude to where it’s getting to the point you don’t have to have done anything wrong. You simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody, even by a wrong call, and then they can use this system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you’ve ever made, every friend you’ve ever discussed something with, and attack you on that basis to sort of derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrong doer.
It is easy to be suspicious of Snowden’s motives. Whistleblowers often have more at stake than simply protecting the interests of the American people, and people from the left and right have already come out to discredit him. It remains to be seen what comes of this leak, but Snowden maintains that his intentions are pure.
REPORTER: If your motive had been to harm the United States and help its enemies or if your motive had been personal and material gain, were there things that you could have done with these documents to advance those goals that you didn’t end up doing?
SNOWDEN: Absolutely. Anybody in positions of access with the technical capabilities that I had could, you know, suck out secrets, pass them on the open market to Russia. You know, they always have an open door, as we do. I had access to, you know, the full rosters of everyone working at the NSA, the entire intelligence community, and undercover assets all around the world, the locations of every station we have, what their missions are and so forth. If I had just wanted to harm the U.S., you know, you could shut down the surveillance system in an afternoon. But that’s not my intention, and I stand before anyone making that argument, they need to think if they were in my position and, you know, you live a privileged life. You’re living in Hawaii, in paradise and making a ton of money. What would it take to make you leave everything behind?
“I think this guy is an absolute hero,” Glenn said. “Now let me give you another piece. I got a note from a friend who’s in the intelligence community and he said, it’s unique at its core, Hong Kong, as it falls under the Chinese umbrella, but the government is still run under the Old English system. It’s a court system that is completely separate from China. The Hong Kong Department of Justice shields them from interference with the Chinese government. However, since it ultimately falls under Chinese protection, the United States can’t come in and do what they want. It’s also one of the most densely populated areas in the world, easy to blend in and stay in the radar, under the radar. He’s not defecting. He’s following intelligence protocol… Makes a lot of sense and makes him more credible in my opinion. He’s doing exactly what our trade craft trained us to do.”
Unlike the Wikileaks situation – where volumes of documents were literally and haphazardly dumped – Snowden did not release any and every piece of information he had access to. “Some things should be safe. Some things should be secret. Some things should be protected,” Glenn said. “However, this should not be. They have lied to us. The American government and its allies in parties have lied to you. They have said none of this is going on. They are pretending now that it’s fine. And you’ll see who the real progressives are. This is your chance to understand who a progressive is.”
“Now the question is, can we unite instead of, instead of demonizing each other,” he continued. “This is an opportunity to bring people from the libertarians, the Republicans, and the Democrats, people who think differently and say, what do we meet at? What do we have in common? And here it is: The Constitution and civil rights.”