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NBC Confirms That Snowden Did Try To Raise Concerns Internally Before Going To Journalists

from the well-there-you-go dept

Last night, NBC aired Brian William's long interview with Ed Snowden in Moscow. It's worth watching.
For a guy with no media training, he gives an astoundingly good interview. His statements remain consistent with what he's said in the past and, at least to me, he appears to reinforce his previous statements with these answers. While there really wasn't much new in the interview itself, it's still a good look into Snowden's situation and his mindset. The most "revealing" thing in the episode actually didn't come from Snowden, however. Instead, after he (again) claimed that he had raised his concerns internally, Williams stated that NBC had confirmed at least one case in which Snowden had communicated with the NSA's legal office to raise concerns about the legality of its programs. That's fairly big news, given that the NSA and its defenders keep insisting that Snowden should have just raised issues internally. He did.

Snowden also didn't mince words about why he thinks Putin has made a huge mistake in cracking down on freedoms in Russia, specifically calling out the new law that orders bloggers to register with the government. He noted that he wished he could do more in Russia, but is somewhat limited by the fact that he doesn't speak Russian.

The other thing I found worth noting: at one point, Williams asked Snowden what he would say to President Obama if they were in a room together. Snowden responded that he would leave that to the President's advisors, as he did not feel qualified to advise the President. Williams, after a pause, followed up by pointing out that he hadn't really meant about advising the President on the larger matters of the NSA, but rather about Snowden's own situation. And, again, Snowden indicated that this was a decision that the President would have to make. For all the talk from Snowden's critics about how he's some sort of "narcissist" (that word gets thrown around a lot), this exchange seemed to reveal quite the opposite.

Many people with large egos and who have become known as "experts" on a specific topic, when asked what they would say to the President when meeting, would immediately jump to their specific talking points. But Snowden wouldn't even presume that was appropriate. Similarly, when then asked about his own personal situation, the look on Snowden's face suggested he'd never even thought about what he would say to someone directly with the power to allow him to come back home. Perhaps he's an astoundingly good actor -- but Snowden really does come off as someone who is both incredibly self-aware and astoundingly humble given what he's done.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Ninja (profile), May 29th, 2014 @ 6:32am

    Considering NBC is mainstream this has become surprisingly big. It's becoming more and more difficult to sustain the accusations against Snowden and the same is happening with the support for the surveillance programs. However there's already a movement to mitigate this "publicity" issue in the form of various actions, legislations that mean absolutely nothing but are big in their marketing. A Freedom Act that does absolutely nothing to solve the issue and has very little to do with freedom in fact (just to mention one bill), Executive decrees and guidelines that softly brush through the surface of the issue while leaving big loopholes to be abused. And the judiciary pretended to be doing something by giving some weak, isolated victories to challenges against the Government overreaches.

    That's it people, we are doing something! And it's a multi-pronged attack! Now go back to watching American Idol and buying your vanity gadgets.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2014 @ 8:21am

    But wait, lets find out what he thought about 9/11!

    What a crappy 'interview'.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2014 @ 8:22am

    I read that as

    Many people with large eggos and who have become known as "eggsperts" on a specific topic

    Now I'm Hungary.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2014 @ 8:28am

    Don't care!

    I would not care if Snowden did try to work with them at first or not!

    The Problem with the NSA, this, and the previous administrations stance on our privacy and 4th amendment rights are so ingrained that I now view the entire intelligence infrastructure as Anti-American for being able to see what is happening and remaining complicit with its operation.

    Mindless Drone: But I had orders...

    We are just too damn uncomfortably close to either Tyranny or Revolution.

     

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  5.  
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    Lurker Keith, May 29th, 2014 @ 8:28am

    Nice to see NBC not just take Snowden's word, nor the Government's. It's always nice when Journalists do Journalism & verify what has been said independently.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2014 @ 8:30am

    Video has been disappeared.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2014 @ 8:35am

    Re:

    I blame Illuminatus Cthulhu.

    /s

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Baron von Robber, May 29th, 2014 @ 8:47am

    Re:

    He did talk about 9/11. Didn't you watch it?

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2014 @ 8:48am

    Wow, one man standing on the opposite side of an entire government. Its very hard to come across people like him standing for liberty and freedom in this day and age. I hope he comes back home and get greeted as a hero !

     

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  10.  
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    The Wanderer (profile), May 29th, 2014 @ 8:55am

    Re: Re:

    I think that was the point: that asking about 9/11 was an irrelevancy, just done because "9/11 is important, he's famous, therefore we should ask him what he thinks about 9/11".

    I can agree with the derision towards that attitude in general, though I'm not sure it applies in this case.

     

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  11.  
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    Lurker Keith, May 29th, 2014 @ 9:16am

    Re:

    Looks like it's broken up into multiple videos (likely due to the commercial breaks), but NBC does have it up on their website:

    http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/edward-snowden-interview/watch-primetime-special-inside-mind- edward-snowden-n117126

    Scroll down to the bottom of the page.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2014 @ 9:20am

    One thing that struck me which was spot on but not really highlighted was his statement about how he specifically included individuals who write blogs as being covered under under the freedom of the press provisions of the first amendment which the government should not be interfering with, categorically rejecting the concept that the first amendment reference to freedom of the press was intended only to cover professional journalists working for professional news organizations instead of being an individual right to distribute information for the benefit of the public.

     

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  13.  
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    a bit of irony ..., May 29th, 2014 @ 9:30am

    Re: Re:

    I've noticed that quite often the person who gives an interview (for free) posts a copy of it himself, and then gets slapped with a copyright infringement claim ... on his own words.

     

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  14.  
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    Lurker Keith, May 29th, 2014 @ 9:50am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'm not even sure why/ if interviews can be copyrighted. You can't copyright facts, & that's what most interviews are.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2014 @ 9:52am

    Blasted NBC

    "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by NBC Universal."

     

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  16.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 29th, 2014 @ 10:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The facts revealed in an interview can't be copyrighted, but interviews are far more than just facts. There is significant creative input in interviews, from the composition of the questions to production decisions. It's those aspects that are copyrightable.

     

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  17.  
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    Internet Zen Master (profile), May 29th, 2014 @ 10:14am

    Re:

    I'd say the opposite, considering NBC didn't call Snowden on his 'I'm not just a hacker, I'm a spy' line of bs, and took him at his word on it.

    First rule of spy club: DON'T TALK ABOUT SPY CLUB!

    Hacker, leaker, whistleblower, idealistic patriot? Yes. But super-spy, Snowden is not.

    Of course, this is the same network which gobbled up all bs statements from the NSA in that 60 Minutes 'special' a few months back and only gave softball questions in response. They did the same thing for Snowden, so if anything NBC seems equally gullible for all its interview subjects.

    That being said, kudos to Brian Williams and his staff for actually going the distance in order to get that face-to-face interview with Snowden.

    Still, whatever happened to interviews with hard-hitting questions and journalists determined to get the truth out of their subjects? Did that method of journalism die out when I wasn't paying attention?

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    PRMan, May 29th, 2014 @ 10:15am

    Re:

    Since 9/11 is the given "reason" for shredding our Constitution, I think it's a very good question. And Snowden had a very good answer.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    PRMan, May 29th, 2014 @ 10:16am

    Re: Re:

    Well, since they kicked him out of the club, the rules no longer apply. I think he sees that the "DON'T TALK ABOUT SPY CLUB!" BS isn't getting us anywhere. We NEED to talk about it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    PRMan, May 29th, 2014 @ 10:18am

    Re:

    Any presidential candidate that promises Snowden a full pardon gets my vote.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2014 @ 10:21am

    Every time there is an interview of Snowden, I always seem to come away with the idea he is far more trustworthy than the government.

    So far those items from him haven't been proven false. I can't say the same for the statements made by various politicians, bureaus, and military figures.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2014 @ 10:24am

    Re: Re:

    Uh... 60 minutes is a CBS production not NBC.

     

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  23.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 29th, 2014 @ 10:28am

    Re:

    Indeed. It's actually a bit remarkable.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2014 @ 10:34am

    Re: Re:

    Pity you won't be able to withdraw it if s/he reneges on the promise. I have noticed politicians promise whatever they think will get them elected, and then find reasons why the cannot carry out their promises once elected.

     

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  25.  
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    Internet Zen Master (profile), May 29th, 2014 @ 10:37am

    Re: Re: Re:

    ...*checks to make sure* Huh, it is part of CBS. I guess 3-letter networks just started blurring together after awhile for me.

    Still, it doesn't take away from the fact that both networks pretty much took everything their subjects (Snowden for NBC, the NSA for CBS) said as gospel truth and regurgitated it back to the public, and didn't call them out on the absolute propaganda (the entire 60 Min. episode) or a few seemingly bs statements (Snowden's "I'm a spy!" line).

     

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  26.  
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    Mason Wheeler (profile), May 29th, 2014 @ 10:47am

    For all the talk from Snowden's critics about how he's some sort of "narcissist" (that word gets thrown around a lot), this exchange seemed to reveal quite the opposite.

    No, Ed Snowden is the real deal. I think those critics have him confused with Bradley Manning; it was clear that he was an attention whore from the very beginning, and pulling a ridiculous little stunt once he had finally lost like the "oh by the way I'm really a woman now and you should all call me Chelsea and PAY MORE ATTENTION TO ME!" thing just proves it.

    Ed Snowden, on the other hand, handles himself with professionalism and care, because he actually understands the issues involved. The guy's a real hero, and it's a shame there's only one of him. If we had a thousand people like him, the government wouldn't be able to dismiss the issue the way they have been.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    Internet Zen Master (profile), May 29th, 2014 @ 10:58am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The beautiful thing about it is, regardless of whether or not Snowden's a spy (he's not as far as I'm concerned), the USGov can't come out and say he's lying because they lost all credibility after maintaining 'the NSA does not spy on Americans. Everything we're doing is constitutional' mantra despite the fact that they've been exposed as bold-faced, lying sacks of shit for almost a year now.

    Plus confirming he is a spy of that caliber would just draw more attention to the NSA/CIA's operations/recruitment/training methods, which is the last thing the CIA wants to happen (they're probably one of the more competent/effective 3-letter agencies in the US government).

     

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  28.  
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    That One Guy (profile), May 29th, 2014 @ 11:00am

    And of course the videos's been pulled by NBC, brilliant.

     

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  29.  
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    OldGeezer (profile), May 29th, 2014 @ 11:10am

    Does anyone have a link to the podcast after the show? I watched part of it live but after about 20 minutes I lost it. The parts I heard it seemed like things were weighted against Snowden. Shouldn't they been obligated to present both sides by having someone there to defend him? Maybe Justin Amash or Ron Wyden? I heard little either on the show or the podcast about the details of the government abuses. I also heard nothing to debunk the bullshit argument that congress was aware of what was going on and approved it. It was pointed out that the the NSA was thrilled with the watered down Freedom act.

     

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  30.  
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    OldGeezer (profile), May 29th, 2014 @ 11:15am

    Re:

    It is still available at least for now:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNhMXyAdjp8

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2014 @ 11:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    In the case of CBS and 60 minutes, that analysis is fair, but I don't think it is so much for NBC here. I think it's more of a presentation style where they simply allowed him to make his statements, investigated the accuracy of them the best they could and would hit him with a harder follow up or present evidence if they found an inaccuracy or contradiction. And the previous positions he has held has already been made public and since those revelations were made no one in the government has even attempted to refute them.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Lurker Keith, May 29th, 2014 @ 11:20am

    Re: Re:

    I was talking about how they found proof he had actually tried official channels, disproving yet more lies by the Government, & have filed a FOIA request to dig up more. It's no longer just Snowden saying he did, there's evidence now.

    As to him being a spy, I don't think that can be proved & is irrelevant anyway. Anyone trying to prove it would need to know how to phrase a FOIA request just perfectly 1) to actually get any confirmation 2) that isn't completely redacted. Trying to prove it by any other means would probably be suicide.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2014 @ 11:46am

    Re: Don't care!

    I pick revolution.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2014 @ 3:29pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    You talkin' 'bout "Oh, Bummer"?

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2014 @ 3:31pm

    Re:

    Tahts exaclty what he wonts you to tghink! He sly! Waaaay sly!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2014 @ 4:14pm

    This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by NBC Universal

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2014 @ 6:32pm

    NBC did a good interview with Snowden. I was actually surprised how fair and balanced the interview was. Quite refreshing to watch, after seeing the bias 60 Minutes NSA propaganda episode.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Whatever, May 29th, 2014 @ 6:36pm

    media training

    For a guy with no media training

    I call BS on this. Clearly this guy has spent plenty of time working on personal presentation and public speaking. He isn't just some nerdy dude who happened to do this stuff, more and more his whole story and situation seems a little bit forced.

    Snowden gets the benefit of a one sided story here as well. The government will not prove or disprove most of what he says, as either way they would tip their hand and reveal more. I think he is using this to great effect, being able to claim bigger and bigger things that are just not provable one way or the other.

    At some point, I suspect this is all going to blow up and people will realize that Snowden doesn't have all the truth, and may even be pushing misinformation planted by his former bosses.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2014 @ 7:00pm

    Re: media training

    "If you have nothing to fear, you have nothing to hide." Sound familiar?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    icon
    OldGeezer (profile), May 29th, 2014 @ 9:28pm

    Re: This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by NBC Universal

    Offline already. They work fast.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2014 @ 5:47am

    This website is called TechDirt, so I feel that there should be a lot of effort directed at being as technically accurate as possible.

    "Williams stated that NBC had confirmed at least one case in which Snowden had communicated with the NSA's legal office to raise concerns about the legality of its programs."

    Of which programs did he question the legality in the email? If you can't answer this question, then your assertion is baseless. I'm not taking the stance that Snowden did or didn't raise concerns internally, because that's not the point (and also because I don't know, since we have no evidence). The point is that as a journalist, YOU NEED TO DIG FOR THE TRUTH; you can't just assume it.

    The email regarded USSID 18 training (whatever that is). It does not mention, nor question, the legality of a single program. The email asks for clarification of the priorities given to "Governing Authorities" (whatever those are). If Snowden did ever question the legality of specific programs through internal emails, my guess is that the gov't wouldn't be able to release the emails publicly because the emails regard classified programs. We can argue about whether his emails should or should not be declassfied and released to the public, but that misses the point: no one has confirmed that "Snowden had communicated with the NSA's legal office to raise concerns about the legality of its programs."

    If journalists make premature conclusions about the "facts" without solid, supporting evidence, then they are doing a disservice to the public they seek to inform.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 30th, 2014 @ 9:10am

    Re: media training

    "The government will not prove or disprove most of what he says, as either way they would tip their hand and reveal more."

    I think they won't do it because they can't. However, if they can and they're electing not to, that's their own fault.

    "I think he is using this to great effect, being able to claim bigger and bigger things that are just not provable one way or the other."

    Except that, so far anyway, he has proven nearly everything he's said.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2014 @ 10:15am

    The NSA has since posted this blatherous repsonse

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2014 @ 11:25am

    Video removed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 30th, 2014 @ 12:21pm

    Re: The NSA has since posted this blatherous repsonse

    Meh. There is literally nothing the NSA can say that has even the slightest sliver of credibility anymore.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Jun 1st, 2014 @ 2:04pm

    Re: Re: Don't care!

    Good luck with that. You'd be arrested and tried for terrorism, your reputation trashed all over the media, after which you *might* be offered a plea bargain with a shorter sentence if you admit to being a terrorist, the idea being to get terrorism associated with revolutionary activity.

    Excuse me, I'm as cynical as hell.

    Ever thought of taking responsibility for the state we're in by utilizing the democratic process. That won't get you into trouble.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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