Edward Snowden

Directed by Oliver Stone
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo
In cinemas now

How often in do people stand up to the behemoth that is the mighty US military-industrial-spy complex and get away with it? Not often enough.

But if you count living in limbo in Russia — unable to fly to asylum in a third country once his passport was cancelled, unable to return home to the US without fear of a rigged, secret trial on espionage charges — as getting away with it, Edward Snowden did just that.

Sitting safely inside the head of a pale, grey telebot, slowly gyrating in an attempt to be innocuous; it turned to face the audience, introducing itself as Edward Snowden — the Worlds Most Wanted Man.

The Snowden Files
Luke Harding
Random House
February 2014
352 pages, $30

Luke Harding's The Snowden Files is a well-constructed overview of the biggest intelligence leak in history - but it is not without its flaws.

The Guardian journalist tells a detailed story of Edward Snowden - from his childhood in a military, Republican family, his short education and brief, failed army career, to his meteoric rise through the intelligence services that eventually enabled him to turn whistleblower.

“Courage is contagious.”

When journalist Glenn Greenwald spoke via Skype to the Socialism 2013 conference in Chicago in June last year, it was just three weeks after he had begun reporting on the leaks provided by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden that revealed the massive scope of government surveillance.

Near the heartland of New Zealand’s renowned wine country, there is a place where visitors are not allowed to go. The peculiar large white domes that protrude from the earth in the Waihopai Valley are surrounded by razor wire and shrouded in secrecy.

Information revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden about the PRISM spy program — which used data from giant internet companies, such as Google and Facebook, to carry out mass surveillance of people outside the US — has provided new evidence about the warrantless spying on civilians by the US government.

Although a government spying on civilians is hardly new and will not come as a surprise to many people, what is concerning about this case is the size and number of companies involved and the apparent ease with which this data was obtained.

Protestors called for more privacy protection at rallies held around Australia on July 6 in response to the revelations that US’s National Security Agency (NSA) has been spying on the communications of most internet users.

Sydney rally organiser Matt Watt from the Support Assange and WikiLeaks Coalition said: “We demand freedom for Edward Snowden, a courageous whistleblower who revealed the wrongdoings by the NSA.

Socialist Alliance candidate for Wills, Margarita Windisch speaking at the Melbourne rally against PRISM on July 6, 2013.

“In God we trust, all others we monitor” — Interceptor Operators motto, NSA study, Deadly Transmissions, December 1970.

This chilling quote perfectly summarises the model from which the United States founded their Big Brother approach to intelligence, as more documents leaked by National Security Agency (NSA) contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden show Australia plays a crucial role in the United States global surveillance operations.

You may have heard of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and US army private Chelsea (formerly known as Bradley) Manning, who both leaked large amounts of secret US government information, and wondered what all the fuss was about. Well, not much, if you ask Australian attorney-general Mark Dreyfus.


Subscribe to Edward Snowden