Edward Snowden appears on a screen in mall in Hong Kong where he currently resides. PHOTO: Reuters
Edward Snowden answered questions submitted via twitter about why he leaked the NSA's massive surveillance program, what's next for him and whether or not he's a Chinese spy on a forum provided by the Guardian. Snowden's answers reveal a man committed very firmly to American values but deeply disappointed with, at the very least, the past two administrations and how they have wielded their power. Here's how Snowden responded when asked about why he waited so long to leak this information if he said that all of this was going on "before Obama became president":
"Obama's campaign promises and election gave me faith that he would lead us toward fixing the problems he outlined in his quest for votes. Many Americans felt similarly. Unfortunately, shortly after assuming power, he closed the door on investigating systemic violations of law, deepened and expanded several abusive programs, and refused to spend the political capital to end the kind of human rights violations like we see in Guantanamo, where men still sit without charge."
Snowden outlines here what is perhaps the biggest frustration of Obama's biggest supporters from his first election in 2008. Obama campaigned as someone who understood that Washington was corrupted by our warped campaign finance system and its problems allowed to fester due to a lack of transparency. This was more than something he gave passing mention, he spoke about it often and articulately, in a way that showed that he knew that until we dealt with how Washington operates, we are only treating the symptoms while leaving the principle illness untouched. We are into Obama's second term, and Obama has been just as anti-transparency, at least when it comes to defense, as George Bush. But don't think that Snowden is any fan of the Bush Administration (emphasis mine):
"[I]t's important to bear in mind I'm being called a traitor by men like former Vice President Dick Cheney. This is a man who gave us the warrantless wiretapping scheme as a kind of atrocity warm-up on the way to deceitfully engineering a conflict that has killed over 4,400 and maimed nearly 32,000 Americans, as well as leaving over 100,000 Iraqis dead. Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American, and the more panicked talk we hear from people like him, [Democratic Senator Dianne] Feinstein, and [Republican Congressman Peter] King, the better off we all are. If they had taught a class on how to be the kind of citizen Dick Cheney worries about, I would have finished high school."
More than one person wanted to know if Snowden was a Chinese spy. The rumors about that are out there. Snowden said that he is absolutely not working with the Chinese government and offered this hilarious explanation:
"This is a predictable smear that I anticipated before going public, as the US media has a knee-jerk "RED CHINA!" reaction to anything involving HK [Hong Kong, where Snowden flew to when he dropped his big leak] or the PRC [People's Republic of China], and is intended to distract from the issue of US government misconduct. Ask yourself: if I were a Chinese spy, why wouldn't I have flown directly into Beijing? I could be living in a palace petting a phoenix by now."
"All I can say right now is the US Government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me. Truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped."
"This country is worth dying for."