Edward Snowden : Alternative Christmas Message (Ignored, Mocked By American Media Outlets)
In May, Edward Snowden released thousands of classified documents to journalists, detailing the largest digital surveillance operation the world has ever known – and in so doing, became arguably the most controversial international figure of 2013.
Snowden, a former American contractor for the US National Security Agency, has so far released over 200,000 documents showing the mass surveillance techniques employed by the NSA and their partners – both willing and unwilling – throughout government and private circles. The spy agency’s methods are so far-reaching, and the leaked documents so in-depth, it has already led one U.S. District Court Judge to call the situation ‘almost Orwellian’ and ‘probably unconstitutional’, in a direct legal blow to the NSA.
Today, in an exclusive Christmas-themed video aired on Channel 4 News in the United Kingdom, Snowden delivered a message to the world, from his current location in Russia, calling for the ‘end of mass surveillance’ in a short reflective statement.
While hundreds of bloggers quickly commented on the video, CNN is the only mainstream American media outlet at the time of this writing (nearly 24 hours after the video first aired in the UK) to have published video commentary on the story to the web.
After airing part of Snowden’s statement, CNN anchor Carol Costello (based in Atlanta), begins giggling and rolling her eyes, before commenting, “He [Snowden] did tape that in Russia right?… Russia is not exactly a place where freedom of speech flourishes… he [Snowden] is just a complicated guy… I don’t know how I feel about it.”
The CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent, whose name is inaudible on the broadcast, quickly responds with criticism of the Russian government, along with an almost unintelligible and seemingly canned response, saying, “There is a bit of hypocrisy going on … you’ve seen these selective ‘leaks’ over the years … at very select moments it seems to inflict maximum controversy, maximum damage to US prestige around the world … we really have no idea … what’s going to be leaked by his so-called proxies.”
As Snowden’s leaks are only a few months old, and the NSA has openly pleaded with Snowden to be ‘selective’ if not completely silent, it is unclear what CNN is suggesting.
A few days earlier, Snowden told the Washington Post “In terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished. I already won. I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself. All I wanted was for the public to be able to have a say in how they are governed.”
The full transcript of Snowden’s ‘Alternative Christmas Message’ can be found below:
Hi, and Merry Christmas.
I’m honored to have the chance to speak with you and your family this year.
Recently, we learned that our governments, working in concert, have created a system of worldwide mass surveillance, watching everything we do.
Great Britain’s George Orwell warned us of the danger of this kind of information. The types of collection in the book – microphones and video cameras, TVs that watch us – are nothing compared to what we have available today. We have sensors in our pockets that track us everywhere we go.
Think about what this means for the privacy of the average person. A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all. They’ll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves – an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought. And that’s a problem, because privacy matters. Privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be.
The conversation occurring today will determine the amount of trust we can place both in the technology that surrounds us and the government that regulates it. Together, we can find a better balance. End mass surveillance. And remind the government that if it really wants to know how we feel, asking is always cheaper than spying.
For everyone out there listening, thank you, and Merry Christmas.