To some, Edward Snowden is a hero whose bravery and self-sacrifice helped to inform the world on the surveillance state treachery taking place behind the scenes throughout the United States and other Western governments. To others—namely those who profit and benefit from warrantlessly spying on innocent American citizens—Snowden is a traitor worthy of the death penalty. For those who don’t know who Snowden is, we encourage you to read more. And, now you can, as the world’s most famous whistle-blower is releasing his manifesto aptly titled Permanent Record, in which he delves into the journey that led him to spend the last 6 years in exile.
Naturally, this book will have the police state on edge as it may also identify those responsible for fostering this tyranny. Snowden knows this and was quick to go on record, claiming that if any harm comes to him, it was not self-inflicted.
Prior to releasing his book, Snowden sat down with Der Spiegel to explain why after six years, he felt the world needed to know the full scope of his role in the creation of this totalitarian surveillance state as well as why he chose to try to bring it to its knees.
“Because I think it’s more important than ever to explain systems of mass surveillance and mass manipulation to the public. And I can’t explain how these systems came to be without explaining my role in helping to build them,” Snowden told the German magazine, who then asked “Wasn’t it just as important four or even six years ago?”
Snowden then went on to explain how drastically the international climate has shifted toward authoritarianism in just the last four years, which makes now the best time for realizing this book.
Four years ago, Barack Obama was president. Four years ago, Boris Johnson wasn’t around and the AfD (Germany’s right-wing populist party Alternative for Germany) was still kind of a joke. But now in 2019, no one is laughing. When you look around the world, when you look at the rising factionalization of society, when you see this new wave of authoritarianism sweeping over many countries: Everywhere political classes and commercial classes are realizing they can use technology to influence the world on a new scale that was not previously available. We are seeing our systems coming under attack.
When asked which system he was referring to, Snowden replied that all the systems are under attack. And, this is possible because the masses think they can simply vote out the people they don’t like and everything will go back to normal.
The political system, the legal system, the social system. And we have the proclivity to think that if we get rid of the people we don’t like, the problem is solved. We go: “Oh, it’s Donald Trump. Oh, it’s Boris Johnson. Oh, it’s the Russians” But Donald Trump is not the problem. Donald Trump is the product of the problem.
Snowden sees that the political establishment has created a system that tricks people into thinking the puppets in office actually have some sort of effect on their lives. However, in reality, those empty suits come and go while the machine — in which Snowden worked for years — continues to operate entirely unaccountable to anyone, behind the scenes.
Snowden’s knowledge of this system and his success in exposing it has undoubtedly put a target on his back. Indeed, Trump’s appointment to the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, admitted in 2016, that he actually wanted to kill Snowden.
“We’ve had the traitor Edward Snowden, steal that information. He should be brought back from Russia, given due process and I think the proper outcome would be that he would be given the death sentence for having put friends of mine, friends of yours, who serve in the military today, at enormous risk, because of the information he stole and then released to foreign powers,” Pompeo said.
But all this was simply not true. No one was hurt by Snowden’s leaks except the illegal surveillance state and shadow government.
Naturally, this sort of situation can be taxing on a person, which is why Der Spiegel asked the following question during the interview.
“You became seriously ill and fell into depression. Have you ever had suicidal thoughts?” Der Spiegel asked.
Knowing that extrajudicial murder, assassinations and cover-ups are not outside the scope of the military industrial complex, Snowden wanted to make it crystal clear that if anything happens to him after he releases this book that it was foul play. So, he answered the question as follows:
“No! This is important for the record. I am not now, nor have I ever been suicidal. I have a philosophical objection to the idea of suicide, and if I happen to fall out of a window, you can be sure I was pushed,” Snowden replied.
As for the details he reveals in the book, Snowden admits he can’t be too graphic as he may one day have to testify in court although he does realize that if he is ever in a courtroom, he will likely never see the light of day again.
“There’s a limit to what details I can go into because I might one day be in court. Not that it really matters because if I’m ever inside a courtroom, I’ll spend the rest of my life in prison,” he said.
And this is the consequence of telling the truth inside an empire of lies.