Snowden statement: I did the right thing

Edward Snowden issued an official statement today in Moscow, and I think it’s worth a read. It begins:

Hello. My name is Ed Snowden. A little over one month ago, I had family, a home in paradise, and I lived in great comfort. I also had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications. Anyone’s communications at any time. That is the power to change people’s fates.

It is also a serious violation of the law. The 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution of my country, Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and numerous statutes and treaties forbid such systems of massive, pervasive surveillance. While the US Constitution marks these programs as illegal, my government argues that secret court rulings, which the world is not permitted to see, somehow legitimize an illegal affair. These rulings simply corrupt the most basic notion of justice – that it must be seen to be done. The immoral cannot be made moral through the use of secret law.

I believe in the principle declared at Nuremberg in 1945: “Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.”

Accordingly, I did what I believed right and began a campaign to correct this wrongdoing. I did not seek to enrich myself. I did not seek to sell US secrets. I did not partner with any foreign government to guarantee my safety. Instead, I took what I knew to the public, so what affects all of us can be discussed by all of us in the light of day, and I asked the world for justice.

That moral decision to tell the public about spying that affects all of us has been costly, but it was the right thing to do and I have no regrets.

Read the rest at

Categories: Freedom/Privacy

6 replies »

  1. Well stated. Short but sweet. Although my own personal jury is out on this matter and I haven’t determined for myself whether Snowden is a patriot or a traitor this does serve to inform me. I am worried about any China connection that Snowden may have had in this affair. Otherwise, his actions seem heroic. I’ll keep reading everything that I can.

  2. Looks like this statement had the benefit of an editor. The last statement that stopped being talked about immediately was claimed (by Snowden supporters) to be not his words because of the atrocious syntax and grammar.

    I’ve only seen two people point out that the average American can barely speak English much less write it. These people also pointed out that a fluent foreign speaker writing the same statement would probably be overly correct and not sound like a native speaker because of it.

    That one had some mistakes that Americans would be likely to make based on our mythologized view of our own nation. It is, in fact, legal for the government to revoke a passport and was upheld by the SCOTUS. The USG did it to Agee when he went rogue whistleblower on the CIA.

    I agree with what Snowden did, but he appears to have not planned the post-release portion of his actions very well. Some have told me that whistleblowers aren’t utilitarian thinkers and are driven to just act, except Snowden says he took a job to get the info and he’s been vetting what he releases to the press. In short, he doesn’t need Wikileaks helping him, he needed good lawyers, very good lawyers. Kind of disappointing that the Guardian didn’t advise him. It’s also disappointing that Greenwald exerted so much effort establishing the heroic whistleblower narrative, which has just made it easier to attack Snowden so as to not deal with the information he’s released.

  3. Snowden is simply bringing to light failures by the Federal Government to act in accordance with the Constitution. Hard to find fault with that. Otherwise, it is approval of, “The end justifies the means”.

  4. So this morning the local paper had the headline, “Court Secretly expands NSA powers.” for a New York Times piece by Eric Lichtblau. The article goes on to say:

    “The 11-member Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, known as the FISA court, was once mostly focused on approving case by case wiretapping orders. But since major changes in legislation and greater judicial oversight of intelligence operations were instituted six years ago, it has quietly become almost a parallel Supreme Court,…”

    And concludes by saying:

    “Geoffrey Stone, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Chicago, said he was troubled by the idea that the court is creating a significant body of law without hearing from anyone outside the government, forgoing the adversarial system that is a staple of the U.S. Justice System.

    “That whole notion is missing in this process.”

    It seems to me that Snowden’s allegations should be taken seriously and fully investigated and then Snowden’s actions could be evaluated in the context of the constitution and what is right for the country.

    But by whom?

    The allegations are against this described closed governmental system within which wholly lies the investigatory and decision making authority. Mark Leibovich, hawking his book, This Town, on ABC’s “This Week” describes the Washington culture as “feudal” – and those living in Washington are not the serfs.

    If the United States cannot figure out a way to assess the Snowden situation “with the adversarial system that is a staple of the U.S. Justice System,” then I fear the government, “of the people, by the people and for the people” is in serious jeopardy.

  5. It is interesting how this country claims to promote and protect freedom of speech and civil rights when we witness the efforts of the US Government to destroy Snowden’s life, because he broke his professional secret pact but mainly revealed the truth about Big Brother.
    Next time a political representative will dare to criticize China for spying on its citizens or filtering what its people read on the Internet, I will be laughing. A sarcastic laugh though.
    I recently heard that the Patriot Act has a clause or paragraph ( 215 I think ) that clearly states that when asked by the Federal government to act a certain way, the organization, company or person must obey without revealing the content or nature of what has been requested or revealed. I have no idea if what I just wrote makes any sense but this is very scary to me.
    This government has been behaving in a very unethical and deciving way in the name of the hunt of the evil by the good.
    The saddest part of this is that most people living in the US tend to think they live in THE country that promotes freedom of rights and that is the most economically and socially advanced nation on the planet.