The Conversion of Snowden

Part two of exclusive interview.


The second part of the Guardian’s exclusive interview with Edward Snowden reveals a pivotal conversion in the whistleblower’s life. He was a patriot, ready to fight, believing in the goodness of America. But then he saw what he saw, and bit by bit he couldn’t believe anymore, nor stay complicit. He had been a victim of the propaganda.

In this much-awaited second installment of Glenn Greenwald’s and Laura Poitras’ interview with former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the young whistleblower anticipates the very reaction and retaliation that the US government has enacted in the wake of his PRISM revelations. “They will say I have committed grave crimes,” he surmises, “they will say I have violated the Espionage act, they’re going to say I’ve aided our enemies in making them aware of these systems, but that argument can be made against anybody who reveals the information that points out mass surveillance systems, which apply equally to ourselves as to our enemies.”

Greenwood asked Snowden the provocative question if he always had this intention to leak information, and if he weaseled himself into the intelligence community in order to become a mole and eventually undermine the US with this sort of leak, Snowden responded, after laughing:

No, I joined the intelligence community when I was very young, I enlisted in the army shortly after invasion of Iraq and I believed in the goodness of what we were doing and the nobility of intentions to free oppressed people over seas.

Over time, over the length of my career, as I watched the news and was exposed to true information – that which had not been propagandized in the media – [I saw that] we were actually involved in misleading the public … all publics, not just the American public … in order to create a certain mindset in the global consciousness, and I was actually a victim of that.

America is a fundamentally good country, we have good people with good values that want to do the right thing, but the structures of power that exist are working to their own ends to extend their capability at the expense of the freedom of all publics.