Snowden’s “Why I Did It”
When I saw the front page of the May 26 issue, I was glad I’m letting my subscription expire, as it saves me the trouble of asking for a refund [Edward Snowden, “Why I Did It”]. To glorify the traitor Snowden should be beneath your magazine. Snowden is also a coward. Daniel Ellsberg, who released the Pentagon Papers, had the courage of his convictions and stayed in the country to face the music.
Snowden’s statements at the National Press Club in Washington underscore his earlier claims that NSA surveillance is relatively useless as a tool for counterterrorism. Rather, mass interception is being applied to conduct economic espionage and diplomatic manipulation—and (most important) impose social control. Snowden implies that the NSA’s surveillance apparatus isn’t being wielded to protect America from terrorism. It’s being used as a mechanism in service of the powerful.
The United States is now a surveillance state where corporate and government spies collaborate to monitor citizens. If academic researchers like Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty are correct in their groundbreaking analysis of growing economic inequality, the end game for society will be pretty grim. As our social fabric disintegrates and the climate becomes less hospitable, the immiseration of the average person will lead to widespread mobilization. The US elite are well aware of what happened to French aristocrats in the eighteenth century. To save themselves from a similar fate, they will switch the cogs of the surveillance state into high gear, and the United States will witness the sort of oppression that is the hallmark of a police state.
It depends on one’s point of view whether Snowden is a “hero” or merely self-indulgent. Either way, I have absolutely no interest in reading why he did it. As a longtime progressive, I have also become increasingly stressed that he has apparently become the most recent representative of progressive politics in the United States. ALEC and the AEI are, no doubt, most amused.
terre haute, ind.
Thank you for this outstanding issue, featuring Edward Snowden, Elizabeth Warren, Robert Reich and Eric Alterman. Yes, “there’s no place like Washington,” as Alterman says in “Obama’s Pundit Problem”; but there is, thankfully, also no publication like The Nation—and no one like Alterman to speak truth to power and to those of us without power who long for the truth. He’s the only journalist I trust; he takes up and articulates my causes—always something I believe in, know to be true, and care about, but am too… impotent to take on. I depend on him and on The Nation.