Edward Snowden Revisited

Jane O'Brien

I saw the documentary film Citizenfour this evening in nearby Three Oaks, Michigan. It chronicles unlawful U.S. government collection of megadata on U.S. citizens as alleged by NSA consultant Edward Snowden. The film is informative and well-made. (Parts of the film were previewed on the PBS Frontline series last year.) Initially, as I recall, I was not impressed by Edward Snowden's 'whistleblowing' in 2013. Now, two years later, I admit to a different perspective and a concern for his emotional and psychological well-being in the aftermath. He currently resides in Russia, where he has been allowed to stay for another two to three years.

Would I have done something similar to make a similar point? What is the connection between infringements on what we consider 'privacy' and our definition of 'liberty' under the Constitution? Do we know what our government is doing (in almost every area imaginable) allegedly and on our behalf? These are serious questions that we will have to address sooner or later ... in between episodes of House of Cards and Downton Abbey, per chance. Is this infringement driven more by questions of individual government sovereignty, political and economic gain, and growing competition between governments, or out of a legitimate concern for the individual well-being of U.S citizens? We don't know. All good and honest concerns raised by the film's producers and director. If you have a chance to see the film, do!

Note: recently while checking my cell phone late one evening last week, I noticed that a nearby server was listed as 'FBI Surveillance Van.' Odd, I thought. Why would someone use such a server name?

Then, in a flash, the listing disappeared! It took a while, but by the following morning, I thought, why would the FBI be snooping around Michigan City - the middle of NOWHERE! It took another 24 hours or so to determine... Michigan City has a U.S. Coast Guard facility; is home to a maximum security prison (could there be that many bad people in IN?); and, lo and behold, to the Islamic Center of Michigan City, a little known and obscure facility tucked away off of U.S. Hwy. 20 not far from I-94 and Michigan City's commercial area. Do you think any of this matters?

For now, I await the next time server 'FBI Surveillance Van' appears on my cell phone. Very exciting! And to paying more attention to privacy rights and government infringement/s of same ... in my old age. Seeing government officials on tape trying to make excuses for what is being done ... embarrassing and very sad! Do they think we are stupid (sorry for the term) and unintelligent and cannot think for ourselves?

This is what impressed me most about Edward Snowden: right or wrong, he knows how to 'critically-think'. How he 'thought-thru' the process, what he was going to do, how to go about exposing things, and what the effect would be - massive! Very bright person.