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“”Saying that you don't care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different that saying you don't care about freedom of speech because you have nothing to say.
|— Edward Snowden|
Edward Joseph Snowden (born 1983) is a former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor and Central Intelligence Agency employee. He was born in North Carolina and lived in Hawaii in the United States. He is best known for exposing many of the NSA and UK Government Communications Headquarters' (GCHQ) spying activities conducted on ordinary civilians under the guise of hunting down terrorists. While working at Booz Allen Hamilton (an NSA contractor), he secretly took many thousands of classified documents concerning the NSA's illegal and unconstitutional activities, nearly 99% of which are yet to be revealed to the general public.
These activities involved unlawfully spying on ordinary civilians both inside and outside the United States and the United Kingdom; compromising the security of the Internet by means of weakening encryption; tapping global fiber optic networks; and bribing large corporations (such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook, AT&T, Skype, and Verizon) for information; and authorizing these programs through a secret and undemocratic court (FISA) that was inaccessible to the general public. Google, Apple and other companies denied any knowledge of the PRISM program and their participation in it, after which The Washington Post quickly and quietly revised its article on the subject.
Snowden has used hyperbole in order to influence public opinion. During his Alternative Christmas message, he claimed that the government is able to watch "everything we do", even though it is practically impossible to do so. In actuality, the government is able to watch everywhere we go. During that same speech, he also claimed a child born today will not know what it is to have an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought. That is a distortion because the NSA has no way of reading your mind; a child born today will not know what it is like to have an unrecorded expressed thought is closer to the truth but still an exaggeration.
He left Hawaii for Hong Kong on May 20, 2013, leaving his US$120,000 job, home, family and girlfriend behind, and met journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, sharing his trove of documents with them. Greenwald and Poitras began to publish the information, in The Guardian and Der Spiegel respectively, on June 5. Even the initial information, unsurprisingly, sparked national and international outrage directed at the spying agencies. Information is still being revealed and published as of March 2014.
After fleeing from a country that spies on its citizens Snowden was given temporary asylum in Russia, a country that also spies on its citizens and where he currently resides, on July 1, after having been stuck at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow for 39 days. He claimed that he intended only to transit at Moscow and to continue to Ecuador or Venezuela, with a layover in Cuba. However, US officials have stated that his passport was revoked due to felony charges against him while he was still in Hong Kong, and that he was only able to travel to Moscow because Russia provided him with special travel documents that were personally authorized by Putin. It has also been revealed that Julian Assange, who has been portrayed as a Russian tool, helped Snowden escape by laying a smokescreen of decoy flight purchases for Snowden in Hong Kong.
He has been commended for his actions by many supporters of privacy and security around the world, being called a whistleblower and a hero. In August 2013, he was presented with the German "Whistleblower Prize", for "bold efforts to expose the massive and unsuspecting monitoring and storage of communication data, which cannot be accepted in democratic societies", and in December 2013, he was given the Sam Adams Award for his actions to protect the people of the United States and elsewhere.
Problems with Snowden's story
Besides how he got to Moscow, other aspects of Snowden's story don't add up. More importantly, Snowden's own version of the story is the one that most people are familiar with.
- In 2015, he claimed to have evaluated every document that was released, but admitted that he had not read every one. This shows either extreme naiveté or a callous disregard for unintended consequences.
- In 2013, The New York Times reported that Snowden claimed he gave all of the classified documents that he had to the journalists he met in Hong Kong, though an ACLU adviser for Snowden later told Business Insider that this story was inaccurate.
- In 2014, he told NBC that he destroyed all documents in his possession while he was in Hong Kong.
- In 2016, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence revealed that Snowden had removed 1.5 million documents from NSA and that he had only given a small fraction of this to journalists.
- NSA Deputy Director Richard Ledgett stated that Snowden removed the so-called "keys to the kingdom", which included "all requests to the NSA by U.S. intelligence agencies to fill the gaps in their coverage of Russia and other adversary nations".
- Snowden specifically sought a job with NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton in Hawaii because that was the only contractor and location that had access to the deepest ("Level 3") levels of NSA security. Because of this, "the keys, sources and methods that, among other things, allowed the U.S. to see and counter aggressive moves, including cyberattacks, by adversaries were compromised." It is conceivable that Snowden, intentionally or not, enabled Russia to more effectively hack the Democratic National Committee during 2016 U.S. presidential election, and tilted it to Trump's favor.
- He was allowed to give the information. The "Evidence" for this is that he had to get past "all the firewalls and security codes in an afternoon".
- Alex Jones (Who else?) somehow found a way to shoehorn Snowden into the Moon Landing Conspiracy Theory.
- Mark Dice and friends suspect that the NSA is able to do more than Edward said, such as listen to full phone calls. Unfortunately, this one is plausible, considering the NSA's track record.
- That Edward was suggesting we go all Revolutionary War on their @$$.
- He's a double agent for Russia. Unfortunately, this one is not so implausible, although Putin certainly doesn't care about Snowden and already signaled that he'd use Snowden as a "gift" to Trump, though as of late October 2018 no such thing has happened.
- There are no "11 days missing in Hong Kong" (HK), by which Snowden only checked in the Mira Hotel 11 days after he fled the US to HK for the leaks. He fled on the 20th of May and checked in another hotel, then the next day changed to the Mira.
During an interview Neil deGrasse Tyson landed with Snowden he asked Snowden whether alien civilizations might use encryption and Snowden felt they could be, making it nearly impossible for humans to pick up evidence of their communications via satellites. During a second interview deGrasse Tyson asked Snowden why he's not in Twitter, and suggested the handle "@Snowden." A few days later Edward Snowden joined Twitter with the handle @Snowden. In his second tweet ever, the wanted man playfully asked deGrasse Tyson: "Thanks for the welcome. And now we've got water on Mars! Do you think they check passports at the border? Asking for a friend."
- Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks
- Chelsea Manning, leaker of US government documents to WikiLeaks
- Is the NSA PRISM leak much less than it seems? by Peter Weber (June 10, 2013) The Week'.
- NSA Bombshell Story Falling Apart Under Scrutiny; Key Facts Turning Out to Be Inaccurate by Bob Cesca (Jun 8, 2013) The Daily Banter.
- Watch Edward Snowden's Bleak Christmas Day Greeting by Taylor Berman (12/26/13 8:06am) Gawker.com, archived copies: archive.is, web.archive.org
- No, Edward Snowden, the NSA Isn't 'Watching Everything We Do' by Bob Cesca (12/27/2013 06:28 pm ET | Updated Feb 26, 2014) Huffington Post.
- [https://www.rt.com/news/snowden-fly-moscow-aeroflot-125/ Snowden stops over in Moscow en route to 'third country' with WikiLeaks help (Published time: 23 Jun, 2013 07:47, Edited time: 25 Jun, 2013 10:49) RT.
- Edward Snowden lands in Moscow, likely bound for Ecuador (June 23, 2013, 7:12 PM, Updated 6:53 p.m. ET) CBS News.
- Edward Snowden flees Hong Kong for Moscow, asks Ecuador to grant him asylum by Kathy Lally et al. (June 24, 2013) Washington Post.
- Why President Obama Can't Pardon Edward Snowden by Edward Jay Epstein (1/5/17 at 7:00 AM) Newsweek.
- John Oliver just exposed a very big lie surrounding Edward Snowden by Michael B Kelley (Apr. 6, 2015, 1:00 PM 96,705) Business Insider.
- Snowden Says He Took No Secret Files to Russia by James Risen (Oct. 17, 2013) New York Times.
- Edward Snowden A Pawn in the CIA/NSA Intelligence War with Jon Rappoport (Jul 6, 2013) TheLipTV (YouTube).
- Edward Snowden is Illuminati by Jonas Neukirch (Nov 24, 2015) YouTube.
- ALEX JONES: ILLUMINATI, FAKE MOON LANDINGS & EDWARD SNOWDEN by bigeyenews (Jul 3, 2013) YouTube
- Edward Snowden's BIGGEST BIG BROTHER BOMBSHELL by Mark Dice (Jan 5, 2014) YouTube
- Edward Snowden Tribute - USSA - House Track (Nov 30, 2013) Radio Illuminati (YouTube)
- Edward Snowden, Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela… Illuminati?? (Aug 11, 2013) GlobalDeceipt.com (YouTube)
- Edward Snowden Releases HAARP Mind Control Machine Documents? by Mark Dice (Jul 18, 2013) YouTube
- My Views on the Illuminati. Prism and Edward Snowden (Random Rant) by Mrcheekymonkey1996 (Jul 15, 2013) YouTube
- Ex-CIA Officer Fred Rustmann: Snowden Was a Double Agent by Melissa Clyne (Thursday, 10 Jul 2014 11:55 AM) Newsmax.
- Glenn Greenwald: "Newly Obtained Documents Prove: Key Claim of Snowden’s Accusers Is a Fraud", The Intercept.
- Edward Snowden has a really good theory as to why we've never heard from aliens by Kelly Dickerson (Sep. 18, 2015, 7:00 PM) Business Insider.
- Edward Snowden Is On Twitter: @Snowden by Dan Froomkin (September 29 2015, 9:02 a.m.) The Intercept.
- @neiltyson Thanks for the welcome. And now we've got water on Mars! Do you think they check passports at the border? Asking for a friend (7:38 PM - 29 Sep 2015) Twitter
- Edward Snowden Is A Ron Paul Supporter by Amanda Terkel (06/10/2013 09:46 am ET | Updated Jun 11, 2013) The Huffington Post.