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Edward Joseph Snowden is an American whistle blower and hero being kept from his home and family here in the United States. Snowden copied and leaked highly classified information from the National Security Agency in 2013 when he was a Central Intelligence Agency employee and subcontractor. The information he released proved the existence of mass surveillance programs and unethical spying preformed by the NSA and CIA on American citizens and foreign government officials.
Why didn’t Edward Snowden voice complaints within the US whistleblower system?
Whilst Snowden could have voiced concerns under the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, he would only have been able to present complaints that the law deems of ‘urgent concern’ to Congress. The US Congress has been briefed on warrantless wiretapping before and failed to respond, as evidenced by an NSA Inspector General review of surveillance activities, which indicates 60 US Congress members had already been briefed [see page 23 of the corresponding pdf] on top secret programs such as STELLARWIND. The same document describes how, immediately following the public exposure of President George W. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program, new orders were signed which “essentially gave NSA the same authority to collect bulk internet metadata that it had under the PSP [President’s Surveillance Program]”.
In an interview with Glenn Greenwald, Snowden explained that while he did talk to people about abuses he saw, he eventually realised that the wrongdoing he witnessed was something that should be determined by the public. Snowden later described his attempts to discuss his concerns internally in some detail in an interview with the Washington Post.
In addition, Snowden was aware of the significant risks of voicing such concerns through official channels; not only could he have been persecuted for speaking up, but the issues of concern may have continued to be hidden from public view. Thomas Drake, a former senior NSA executive, wrote in the Guardian about his own experience with the Act: “By following protocol, you get flagged – just for raising issues. You’re identified as someone they don’t like, someone not to be trusted.”
June 21, 1983 - Edward Snowden was born
June 23, 2013 - Snowden landed at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport.
October 2019 - Snowden was granted permanent residency in Russia, which is renewed every three years