Snowden weighs in on US election, Obama, surveillance policy reform

UPDATE — 11/15, 1:53 p.m. EST: Meeting with the Buenos Aires University School of Law via video feed on Monday, Edward Snowden warned about the result of last Tuesday’s presidential election in regards to personal privacy issues.

“We are starting to substitute open government for sheer authoritarianism, a government based not upon the principle of informed consent granted by people who understand its activities but rather a trust in personalities, a trust in claims, a trust in the hope that they will do the right thing,” said Snowden.

The former NSA analyst, now living in exhile in Russia, intimated that new American leaders may overturn certain privacy policies instituted after his whistleblowing efforts, because they “have a very different set of values” than the current administration.

 

Addressing the world through a live feed from his Moscow refuge on Thursday, former National Security Administration analyst and whistleblower Edward Snowden offered his observations on the U.S. election, President Obama, and what action is required to transform a society where individual rights are not protected.

Criticizing President Obama, an unsurprised Snowden said investing too much confidence in one person and expecting one person to transform society is unrealistic.  Citing an issue the president made a centerpiece of his campaign in 2008, Mr. Obama’s failure to close Guantanamo Detention Center, Snowden said:

“President Obama campaigned on a platform of ending mass surveillance, ending torture and we all put a lot of hope in him because of this. We thought because the right person got into office everything would change.”

Clarifying his position on mass surveillance, Snowden illuminated his stance and emphasized the need for a government to keep a watchful eye on its citizens, but stressed the importance of avoiding extralegal methods:

“Targeted surveillance does not destroy the rights of everyone else in society.”

Later, when addressing the mass surveillance program which in large part inspired his flight from the U.S., Snowden despaired over Americans feeling disempowered to enact change in government surveillance programs.

Communicating a concern over the public’s inability to apprehend complex information and lamenting a refusal by elected officials to listen to constituents and experts in the field, the former NSA analyst encouraged his audience to build bridges with civil liberties organizations and groups outside government to create a platform to achieve change.

“We have to think for ourselves what if we start weaving this fabric in a different way. . . . what if every communication is protected by default. . . . instead we make this fabric work for the whole world.”

Turning toward his own actions and future, Snowden articulated little concern over prosecution or the possibility of a pardon from Mr. Obama prior to his leaving office, but did not hide his desire to return the the U.S.

“They said Russia is not a country that extradites human rights offenders.  If I was worried about safety I would still be in Hawaii. I never expected to make it out of Hawaii. I’m comfortable with the choice I made.”

Continuing to stand on noble ground, Snowden reiterated his motives travel under a banner of morally righteous:

“As long as we live in accordance with our values we won’t have to worry about what happens tomorrow because today for me it’s enough.”

Watch Snowden opine on the current state of politics below:

 

[RT America] [Wall Street Journal] [Reuters] [Photo courtesy Platon via Wired]