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The World Since Edward Snowden


By Adam Weatherall


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      June the 5th 2013 seemed like such a normal day in America. President Obama had just nominated Susan Rice to an ambassadorship and most of the main stream news was covering either the 45 year anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination, or the public hacking to death of British Soldier Lee Rigby… Then on the morning of June 5th, the world learned that the National Security Agency was secretly violating the privacy rights of hundreds of millions of innocent people, and the world forever changed. Former Booze-Allen Contractor Edward Snowden had contacted reporters Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald, and after much deliberation the pair had published their first stories on the details and inner workings of the N.S.A.’s massive security apparatus. Now one year after those first leaks were published, the infamous whistleblower Edward Snowden sits marooned in Moscow waiting for the next step in the increasingly unclear path that’s set before him. But regardless of what you think of Mr. Snowden’s leaks, one thing is certain: while it wasn’t the largest leak in history by the pure scope of released data, it was the most important leak on the subject of national security in the history of the United States. Through Mr. Snowden’s revelations, we now know for certain that Americans are being actively monitored by their own government by way of programs like Prism, X-Key Score, LoveLace, and Egotistical Giraffe. Now the veil of secrecy has been lifted as to the National Security Agency’s operating tactics. But what if anything has changed since this momentous occasion?


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       President Barack Obama has promised to reform the way the N.S.A. conducts itself in terms of its use of technology to surveil innocent American citizens. Reform that was badly needed because, without oversight, within a single month the N.S.A. collects more than 3 billion pieces of intel on “We the People” of the United States, all without warrant {according to the boundless informant program release}. And since the second day of the Snowden leaks, the tech giants of Silicon Valley, have been on damage control. Their brands had been irreparably damaged by the revelations that in some instances, those same “tech giants” had willing cooperated with the N.S.A. to implement “back doors” into their own software. Now they rush to rescue their own reputations with users around the world.


Many companies have started making changes to honestly fight for user privacy rights rather than simply satisfy public relations. Most of the major American based internet giants from Google and Facebook to Apple and Microsoft, have now changed their legal policies to notify users whenever possible of surveillance requests. Those same previously mentioned tech giants have also finally started pushing back against national security by using their massive legal departments for the greater good to file letters in court. Some of them have even publicly challenged the government in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) court to allow them more transparency.

But recent polls from places like youGOV note that only 55% of the population believes that Edward Snowden should have disclosed the information on the N.S.A.’s security apparatus. But however you feel about his massive leak, it has benefited the average American perhaps more directly than you might realize.  Two-dozen reform bills have thus far been introduced by our elected representatives directly related to this incident. Also two separate presidential commissions have been conducted that recommended broad changes to the structure and power of the N.S.A. All three branches of our government that in the past partially sanctioned the N.S.A.’s status quo in secret, have called for various levels of reform as to how they can conduct surveillance on you. These changes, without Edward Snowden most certainly would not have occurred.

But with no real legislation in place to protect American citizens from the near omnipotence of the N.S.A .the struggle for Edward Snowden, holding the Sam Adams award for integrity in intelligence, in Russiaprivacy freedoms must continue.Edward Snowden once publicly stated , “I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself.” Now the public will have to decide if we are willing to continue to fight for real and permanent change, or will we let the N.S.A. continue its mass surveillance programs, their technological prowess growing unchecked, until the next whistle is blown? I personally am thankful for Mr.Snowden’s series of leaks, not just because they quelled some long held conspiracy notions, but because of the change that has actually come from his deeds. Many journalists, myself included, have begun encrypting their emails and all other exchanges with sources in the hope to protect the identity of future whistleblowers. And in doing so, perhaps we can protect the security of future whistleblowers of Edward Snowden’s caliber in the hope we can all secure more change. But until the day when the U.S. government ceases to spy on it’s own citizens, I hope logic will prevail.

Link to donations for Edward Snowden’s legal defense

Adam Weatherall
Adam Weatherall
Adam Weatherall is the political correspondent for PowerFist.Us a company whose mission is to spread truth and justice to all within it's reach, but more specifically to cover news stories that are often times pushed aside by larger media organizations.

  • Kris Wallis

    No matter what one believes or hopes to believe about this particular subject, Adam Weaterall has presented a succinct, thought-provoking treatise, well worth the read.