The Edward Snowden interview with Joe Rogan elicited a myriad of responses from people. Many believed the interview reinforced previously held beliefs about government, spying, and mass surveillance( bulk collection). Others were upset that Joe didn’t ask Edward Snowden certain questions about Russian and Chinese government abuses. And some simply view Snowden as a traitor.
My first take away from the interview was Snowdens credibility. Without doing the additional fact checking into his background myself, he appears very credible throughout the entire interview. For me, this stems from his life and career background. Before hearing the interview, the only information I knew about Snowden from the main stream media was that he was an “NSA Contractor”. Contractor could mean a number of things, and doesn’t specify how much he knew or was involved in the NSA. While listening to the interview, I learned that Snowden had an extensive background working with multiple intelligence agencies, including the CIA and NSA. He says he worked in multiple countries, and even tried to join the Army special forces after the 9/11 attacks.
In addition to his claimed experience, he appeared to have a strong understanding of how certain aspects of the agencies work, and could describe his job tasks in detail. After hearing him explain his job titles, career path, and details, I feel confident that Snowden has a legitimate knowledge of some inner workings of the intelligence agencies, and his designation as mere “contractor” does not do justice to his true career and experience.
The next questions are why he did it, and whether there were better or safer ways to release the information he leaked. According to Snowden, over his years of working with the agencies, he saw increasingly unethical behavior directed towards people targeted by the agencies. He described how people were pursed aggressively for very low-level information. He claims that it was difficult to say anything about inappropriate behaviors because he was too caught up in the career life: making good money, trying to climb the ladder, etc… He made a good point regarding the safety of his leak, as there doesn’t appear to be any documented cases of harm do to his leaks. Additionally, Snowden made it clear that going to authorities within the NSA and government would not have been tenable, though those details escape me now.
He goes on to discuss the how intelligence agencies have been bulk collecting data for years, and how there is a dangerous and entrenched bureaucracy within the government known as the deep state! Snowden talks about the deep state in a very practical terms, terms which I believe are fairly well understood. He describes the deep state as members of the government system in various agencies such as the CIA, NSA, FBI, and probably many more who spend their lives working in those agencies and in the government. These people effectively run most aspects of government and most are neither elected nor accountable to the tax payers.
Snowden described how people in the deep state can pursue bulk collection and surveillance. They leverage their knowledge of the system to persuade elected officials to go along with surveillance programs, such as intentionally scaring newly elected officials with potential threats. It is important to note that Snowden did not claim all activities undertaken by these agencies are nefarious. He actually supports the intended, but limited functions of these agencies. He also does not claim that they lie about all potential threats. Simply, that these agencies have too much power, and they can effectively do what they want, which includes circumnavigating the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens.
Later on in the podcast Snowden and Rogan discussed how cell phones are huge privacy risks for most people, and it is something that companies and governments need to look at to ensure maximum privacy. However, that’s beyond the scope of this post for today.
Did you see the Snowden interview on the Joe Rogan Experience? Let me know what you think.