As I've said, I have
repeatedly tried to watch the video, but every time it blocked after 45
seconds or so. Also, while I am confident this is fine journalism, the
interview does not take the Q&A format: it only records the
answers, which again also makes sense, as the concentrated takedown of
seven hours of conversation. I suppose also this is why it is called
"the edited transcript".
I will go through
this as I went through the previous article, also since I am sure most
of my readers will read the originals. That is, I lift only
what seems (mostly) new to me (and not everything of that either).
Snowden's plans when he started, over a year ago:
They think there was some
masterplan to get out safely and avoid all consequences. That’s what
Hong Kong was all about. But it wasn’t. The purpose of my mission was
to get the information to journalists. Once I had, that I was done.
That is: there was no
masterplan, and I believe him. Actually:
The fact that I’ve ended
up so secure is entirely by accident. And as you said, it probably
shouldn’t have happened. If we have anybody to thank, it’s the state
department. The whole key is, the state department’s the one who put me
Yes - and it seems to
me if they had been a bit slower with revoking his password, he might
have been in Ecuador, whence it would have been easier to get him than
it is from Russia.
He also says, about
the past year:
It’s been unexpected and
challenging but it’s been encouraging. It’s been energising to see the
reaction from the public. It’s been vindicating to see the reaction
from lawmakers, judges, public bodies around the world, civil liberties
activists who have said it’s true that we have a right to at least know
the broad outlines of what our government’s doing in our name and what
it’s doing against us.
Being able to be a part
of that, even if it’s a small part, has been, I think, the most
rewarding work of my life.
On this he and I
differ, though I do not criticize him: Personally, I find the responses
mostly disappointing and shallow, for the most part, and apathetic or conformist.
But I do not have Snowden's experiences, and am more than twice as old.
Here is Snowden's
When I saw that, that was
really the earthquake moment because it showed that the officials who
authorised these programs knew it was a problem, they knew they didn’t
have any statutory authorisation for these programs. But instead the
government assumed upon itself, in secret, new executive powers without
any public awareness or any public consent and used them against the
citizenry of its own country to increase its own power, to increase its
Yes, indeed. And note
that this was intended and planned already in 1968-1969: See my
and Control: Brezezinski 1968 from 2012. Also note the key condition
for this: No encryption.
He also says, again
We constantly hear the
phrase “national security” but when the state begins … broadly
intercepting the communications, seizing the communications by
themselves, without any warrant, without any suspicion, without any
judicial involvement, without any demonstration of probable cause, are
they really protecting national security or are they protecting state
Clearly, their only
motives are their own power and security: They are working for the
state, paid by the state, and spy for the state. All talk of "national
security" is hogwash: They want all the power they can get, and if this
means raping 300 million people's expectation of privacy, they will
rape these expectations. Why? Because the security they will gain will
give them absolute power, at least
in their own country. (And as an aside: No politician I've ever
seen or heard was not interested in getting as much power as he
or she possibly could get.)
There is this, on
which I also agree:
The distinction there is
that we now have an institution that has become so powerful it feels
comfortable granting itself new authorities, without the involvement of
the country, without the involvement of the public, without the full
involvement of all of our elected representatives and without the full
involvement of open courts, and that’s a terrifying thing – at least
Yes indeed: it is the
growth of the authoritarian state, especially since Bush Jr. and Obama.
They do not run a democratic state anymore: they run, quite consciously
and quite dishonestly, an authoritarian state.
He also says, again
No system of mass
surveillance has existed in any society that we know of to this point
that has not been abused.
In fact - from a
democratic or individual point of view - that is the whole point of mass
surveillance: it is fundamentally undemocratic and anti-individual-
istic, and it only works for the governors and those they cooperate
with directly, and for no one else: No one else gets protected by it,
or only briefly and by accident (remember the New York firemen who were
left to die, as a matter of course, after doing the dirty work of 9/11).
And he says:
And the government is
saying that we need to be able to intercept all of these communications
… And because of this they don’t like the adoption of encryption. They
say encryption that protects individuals’ privacies, encryption that
protects the public’s privacy broadly as opposed to specific
individuals, encryption by default, is dangerous because they lose this
midpoint communication, this midpoint collection.
This means in fact
that the governments which say these things, such as the American and
British governments, have thrown overboard the pretense that they are
there to protect the people, their privacy, their rights, and their
They are there to
exploit the people; the best way to do that is to know everything about
them; which they can do by stealing everything they can get
that anybody does with a computer or a cell-phone; and that
requires non-encrypted files. It is as simple as that.
Then there is this,
on what the supermen of the NSA do:
They’re the most deep and
intense and intimate and damaging private moments of their lives, and
we’re seizing [them] without any authorisation, without any reason,
records of all of their activities – their cell phone locations, their
purchase records, their private text messages, their phone calls, the
content of those calls in certain circumstances, transaction histories
– and from this we can create a perfect, or nearly perfect, record of
each individual’s activity, and those activities are increasingly
becoming permanent records.
And to make this clear:
The mere seizure
of that communication by itself was an abuse. The fact that your
private images, records of your private lives, records of your intimate
moments have been taken from your private communication stream, from
the intended recipient, and given to the government without any
specific authorisation, without any specific need, is itself a
violation of your rights. Why is that in the government database?
Answer (in the end):
Because one's governors decided that they would be so enormously
powerful once they had these data, that they decided to steal
them - illegal,
unconstitutional, massive theft of everyone's private data,
that are stolen because they give a very small group of powerlusty
individuals more power than anybody has ever had. Again, it basically
is as simple as that.
He says this about his
The people that are
staffing these intelligence agencies are ordinary people, like you and
me. They’re not moustache-twirling villains that are going, “ah ha ha
that’s great”, they’re going: “You’re right. That crosses a line but
you really shouldn’t say something about that because it’s going to end
We all have mortgages. We
all have families.
No, not really, or
not quite. I see at least three differences between Snowden's
colleagues and ordinary people.
First, they are not
"ordinary people": they are specially talented for dealing with
computers, and they are in one definite sense incredibly more powerful
than almost anybody else: they have secret access to anyone's
data, in principle, which almost no one else has, and almost no one
else knows about.
Second, they all have
families and may all have mortgages, but because of their talents and
also because of their function, they are paid rather a lot of money,
also if they are young.
Third, they are
in great majority careerists. This holds for most people, but
it does not hold for me nor for my family: These were
revolutionary marxists or anarchists, which is one probable reason I
would never qualify for an NSA-job, also not in Holland (the
Dutch NSA is the AIVD): I think for myself, I only follow my own
counsel, and therefore I am a security risk.
This is Snowden on
the attitudes of the government:
“The public should not
know about these programmes. The public should not have a say in these
programmes and, for God’s sake, the press had better not learn about
these programmes or we will destroy you.”
I think that is
correct. Which is why I also say such governments are no longer
democracies in any sense: They exist to satisfy themselves at the cost
of the people they govern, and not in the service of - the interests of
- the people they govern. And the reason is that they stole everyone's
private data, and not to help the people they were stolen from, in
secret, but to help themselves.
Snowden also thinks
Great Britain is worse than the US, and the main reason is that there
are fewer laws and regulations respecting individuals and their privacy.
As to destroying some
of the hard disks of The Guardian:
It seemed like a clear
intent to intimidate the press into pulling back and not reporting. And
I think that was why it was inappropriate but tremendously beneficial
for the public conversation because they gave everyone who was
concerned about the abuses of power a clear and specific example.
Yes indeed: it was intimidation,
and that was the whole point.
As to the metadata
that are collected with such enthusiasm, because they tell everything
but the contents of the conversation:
What’s happened with
these programmes is governments in the United Kingdom, for example, the
United States and other western governments, as well as much less
responsible governments around the world, have taken it upon themselves
to assign private eyes to every citizen in their country and around the
world to the best of their ability. It happens automatically,
pervasively, and it’s stored on databases, whether or not it’s needed.
Which means that
these governments ceased being democratic, free or open, and turned
into authoritarian, unfree and closed governments. And this holds for
the governments of the US and Great Brittain, and also for most
Here is Snowden on
the lessons of last year:
What last year’s
revelations showed us was irrefutable evidence that unencrypted
communications on the internet are no longer safe and cannot be
trusted. Their integrity has been compromised and we need new security
pro[grams] to protect them. Any communications that are transmitted
over the internet, over any networked line, should be encrypted by
default. That’s what last year showed us.
Yes, indeed. As to
The question is, why are
our private details that are transmitted online, why are our private
details that are stored on our personal devices, any different [from]
the details and private records of our lives that are stored in our
There shouldn’t be this distinction between digital information and
Indeed - and there
isn't, to my mind, though I am well aware that many governments lie. It
is not about form, such as paper versus bits : it is about rights
and it always was and will be, and one has the
right - in a society where everyone is supposed to be equal - not
to be secretively snooped upon by some anonymous government
flunky without probable cause.
If we can’t have the
privacy of our bedrooms, if we can’t have the privacy of our notes on
our computer, if we can’t have the privacy of our electronic diaries,
we can’t have privacy at all.
Yes, indeed - and
note that we do not have any privacy anymore, to the best of my
knowledge: "Feind hört mit!" - German, from WW II: "The enemy
listens in!" - on everything we do, and these enemies are the
And there is this,
that is quite important:
(..) something that we so
often forget in the dialogue about security versus privacy is [that it
is] really a misstatement of the issue, which is liberty versus
Quite true, though it
is also true that the whole speech and the whole framing one gets
offered from the government is deceptive propaganda,
and also it is all based on fundamentally undemocratic and illegal
lies of the governors. (As to the law: Something is not
sacrosanct because it is legal. The laws may be wrong. Also, when I
talk of "the law" I mean especially the law as was, until 9/11: After
that, there was a lot of legal nonsense, in quite a few countries. This
may be "legal" now, in some usually farfetched sense, but it still is wrong,
system of values.)
About open source:
We are moving very slowly
but meaningfully in the direction of free and open software that’s
reviewable, or, even if you can’t do it, a community of technologists
[who] can look at what these devices are really doing on the software
level and say, is this secure, is this appropriate, is there anything
malicious or strange in here? That increases the level of security for
everybody in our communities.
Yes... although I
find it does go very slow and there also aren't many.
One of the things I wonder about is why not more than 1 or 2 in a 100
use Linux, which
these days is quite easily installed. (But I may overestimate
people's gifts, is also true.)
There is this on the
It may be that by
seizing all of the records for private activities, by watching
everywhere we go, by watching everything we do, by monitoring every
person we need, by analysing every word we say, by waiting and passing
judgment over every association we make and every person we love, that
we could uncover a terrorist plot or we could discover more criminals.
But is that the kind of society we want to live in? That is the
definition of a security state.
Do we want to live in a
controlled society or do we want to live in a free society? That’s the
fundamental question we’re being faced with.
Yes - but Obama and
Cameron, for example, want a security state. They want it
because their kind of people has the power in it; because their kind of people
profit from it, and much more so than almost anybody else; their kind of people run the
risks to be made responsible for the harm they do; and because power and those who
exercise it remain much more safe the more absolute power is. And being
able to access any computer and any cell phone makes
you know, in principle at least, absolutely everything, and enables you
to take out anyone who opposes you in any way.
There is this on
individual rights and privacy:
We need to recognise that
people have an individual right to privacy but they also have a
collective right to privacy. Nobody should have their communications
seized and stored for an indefinite period of time without any
suspicion or justification, without any suspicion that they’re involved
in some sort of specific criminality. Just as it would be for any other
law enforcement investigation.
Yes - and once again:
The Fourth Amendment and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human
Rights are quite clear, and quite enough if it is - as it mostly should
be - about rights. It is the governments and their secret
services that have been lying, while taking incredible and illegal
liberties to steal the private data of hundreds of
3. Glenn Greenwald: Why Did NBC Pull Veteran
Reporter After He Witnessed Israeli Killing of Gaza Kids?
item is an article by Amy Goodman and Juan González:
This starts as
is facing questions over its decision to
pull veteran news correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin out of Gaza just after
he personally witnessed the Israeli military’s killing of four
Palestinian boys on a Gaza beach. Mohyeldin was kicking a soccer ball
around with the boys just minutes before they died. He is a longtime
reporter in the region. In his coverage, he reports on the Gaza
conflict in the context of the Israeli occupation, sparking criticism
from some supporters of the Israeli offensive. Back in 2008 and 2009,
when he worked for Al Jazeera, Mohyeldin and his colleague Sherine
Tadros were the only foreign journalists on the ground in Gaza as
Israel killed 1,400 people in what it called "Operation Cast Lead." We
speak to Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept, who has revealed that the
decision to pull Mohyeldin from Gaza and remove him from reporting on
the situation came from NBC
Verdi. Greenwald also comments on the broader picture of the coverage
of the Israel/Palestine conflict in the U.S. media.
This isa good
interview, that also gives some background to Ayman Mohyeldin.