A Message From Edward Snowden, One Year Later

Below is an email ACLU supporters received from Edward Snowden this morning, one year to the day since The Guardian broke the first in a series of revelations exposing the breathtaking scope of U.S. government surveillance. Click here for a new video documenting the incredible events of the last year, along with a timeline and the ACLU’s guide to privacy reform. 

It's been one year.

Technology has been a liberating force in our lives. It allows us to create and share the experiences that make us human, effortlessly. But in secret, our very own government -- one bound by the Constitution and its Bill of Rights -- has reverse-engineered something beautiful into a tool of mass surveillance and oppression. The government right now can easily monitor whom you call, whom you associate with, what you read, what you buy, and where you go online and offline, and they do it to all of us, all the time.

Today, our most intimate private records are being indiscriminately seized in secret, without regard for whether we are actually suspected of wrongdoing. When these capabilities fall into the wrong hands, they can destroy the very freedoms that technology should be nurturing, not extinguishing. Surveillance, without regard to the rule of law or our basic human dignity, creates societies that fear free expression and dissent, the very values that make America strong.

In the long, dark shadow cast by the security state, a free society cannot thrive.

That's why one year ago I brought evidence of these irresponsible activities to the public -- to spark the very discussion the U.S. government didn't want the American people to have. With every revelation, more and more light coursed through a National Security Agency that had grown too comfortable operating in the dark and without public consent. Soon incredible things began occurring that would have been unimaginable years ago. A federal judge in open court called an NSA mass surveillance program likely unconstitutional and "almost Orwellian." Congress and President Obama have called for an end to the dragnet collection of the intimate details of our lives. Today legislation to begin rolling back the surveillance state is moving in Congress after more than a decade of impasse.

I am humbled by our collective successes so far. When the Guardian and The Washington Post began reporting on the NSA's project to make privacy a thing of the past, I worried the risks I took to get the public the information it deserved would be met with collective indifference.

One year later, I realize that my fears were unwarranted.

Americans, like you, still believe the Constitution is the highest law of the land, which cannot be violated in secret in the name of a false security. Some say I'm a man without a country, but that's not true. America has always been an ideal, and though I'm far away, I've never felt as connected to it as I do now, watching the necessary debate unfold as I hoped it would. America, after all, is always at our fingertips; that is the power of the Internet.

But now it's time to keep the momentum for serious reform going so the conversation does not die prematurely.

Only then will we get the legislative reform that truly reins in the NSA and puts the government back in its constitutional place. Only then will we get the secure technologies we need to communicate without fear that silently in the background, our very own government is collecting, collating, and crunching the data that allows unelected bureaucrats to intrude into our most private spaces, analyzing our hopes and fears. Until then, every American who jealously guards their rights must do their best to engage in digital self-defense and proactively protect their electronic devices and communications. Every step we can take to secure ourselves from a government that no longer respects our privacy is a patriotic act.

We've come a long way, but there's more to be done.
-- Edward J. Snowden, American

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Anonymous

"Almost Orwellian" my ass. I'm READing that book 1984 and NONE of this sounds as extreme as that shit.
When was the last time someone was vaporized or simply disappeared like SYME did in the book, and he was never portrayed as even being against "the Party." He liked what they were doing but was still vaporized later.
When was the last time someone had a telescreen in their house, over which if you were seen doing something illegal you would be vaporized?
When was the last time writing a cotton-pickin' DIARY was thought of as a prohibited item and a crime to possess, something that if found in your house or possession you could be executed for having it?

Don't nobody give me that "almost Orwellian" crap. It was NOTHING like that. His world of dystopia was utterly ghastly and truly terrifying. The only people who have to fear that in THIS world are people who are what one of my friends said his mom used to tell him "the wrong color" or the wrong religion or the wrong economic status, by which I mean abject poverty.
This world for white Anglo-Saxon Protestants is merely annoying; which is exactly CONtrary to what Orwell's world was for WASPs. I'm on page 130 and he's never mentioned people of differing colors. So far everyone in his world of the Party have been white and Syme was white. So is Winston Smith and Julia, his secret sex partner.

As prejudiced as that will undoubtedly sound, I simply see no other way of presenting it. I've never been more horrified reading a book as I am with 1984, but the reaction is because of what COULD happen not what's already taken place. I'm not usually the wrong color, although I live in a neighborhood that's 96 percent African American. They're mostly professionals but I'm still in the minority here.

Anonymous

Why is the ACLU allowing a traitor to write messages under it's name and logo? I'm all for defending freedom. And if Snowden felt strongly about what he was seeing at his job, he could have walked into any one of the ACLU offices and talked to someone. But that is not what he did. He got on a plane and leaked confidential intelligence of the US to the world including our enemies putting this country and it's citizens at risk. While he has the right to counsel he does not have the right to walk around like a hero and a victim. He chose to give up his freedoms by his actions and he may very well have made it much worse for us in the long run. If the ACLU wants to do the right thing they will encourage their client to turn himself in if he truly believes in democracy and freedom and justice. But that won't happen because he doesn't believe in those things. He's just a traitor who has put his country at risk and is diminishing the standing of the ACLU.

Shainzona

Thanks you, Edward, for having the courage to shine the light on this dark element in our lives. We support you and hope to have you home one day. I look forward to a parade down Fifth Avenue in your honor.

Flatus

I'm an old man who spent a career in our country's military--six years in the Army and another sixteen in the Air Force. About half of my service was in the intelligence business. I was at the top of my profession and had access to the types of programs that Mr Snowden compromised.

I am also a self-described Eleanor Roosevelt Democrat who has worked tirelessly for the protection of civil liberties for each and every American, including people whom I believe to be traitorous bastards such as Mr Snowden.

When a letter from Mr Snowden arrived in our mailbox a couple of weeks ago I realized it was from the ACLU as you folks are the only group that still includes my late wife in the address. In any case, I didn't open it, but merely wrote a note to the post office that it should be returned to Moscow.

Today, an email clogged my inbox with the same type of message. The only news I wish to hear of Mr Snowden is that he is in federal custody awaiting trial.

Stephan Holmberg

Mr. Snowden,
I respect whistle blowers. I too, am appalled by the steps toward a new fascism. And I welcome the spotlight now being trained upon the intelligence gathering agencies.
However, I too am an IT professional. And I have nothing but contempt for anyone who betrays the trust and access to information we hold to do our work. As systems analysts or network admins, we have access to everything. But no professional really looks at, much less uses, that data. You have stained a profession of which I am proud to be a member.
Stephan Holmberg

Anonymous

I was astounded when Mr. Snowden's information was made available to the world through the internet. The government,in my humble opinion, went too far spying on American citizens everyday conversations and other emails and phone recordings. Where does this behavior end? I know we are living in dangerous and desperate times. Terrorism is wreaking havoc throughout the world!! The question is how far should a government go in order to root out these evil individuals and organizations whose goal is to destroy the governments, cultures,religions and institutions of democratic countries?

There is no simple answer. I am willing to allow my government to play games with the Constitution in order to deal with these animals whose desire is to kill my family and me in order to affect change. However, a line must be drawn in order to protect our personal rights and liberties. If a government crosses that line there should be consequences. I have not noticed many individuals being punished for violating the rights of the people.

I am anxious to see where we are headed in the future.

Thanks

Having for for some time been worried about related issues, seeing the european data protection directive placing sometimes absurd restrictions on legitimate data management, while legal, semi and extra legal and simple de facto data hoarding is increasing exponentially by corporations and in the wake of the european data retention directive, and - particularly in Sweden - the Fisa Amendment Act, especially governments, I just want to say thanks to Snowden.

I employ Tor, Startpage and Startmail and various tracker blockers and force https tools when I can. Not because I have particularly juicy secrets to hide or because I particularly distrust the current governments of my home country Sweden or Britain, the USA or any other EU government all that much. Governments and law shifts however. In 1933 Hitler was democratically elected in Germany. Following 9/11, the USA practically invalidated their own bill of rights by introducing patriot acts and the loose definition of terrorist. Information does not go away. Society and governments change and the characterization of my activities from harmless into terrorism can be changed ex post facto by the simple introduction af a definition change of such terms as treason or terrorism.

Any decent government ought to limit the information they and their subjects hoard, not because the information lacks potential usefulness or because the government or the subjects are necessarily un trustworthy, but because noone knows what will change, and information is a terrible temptation for short-cutting justice, fairness and democracy.

Especially for the government which comes next.

Anonymous

Happy Birthday Ed and wishing you many many more!

Thank you for having the courage and wherewithall to warn the public about what our govenment has been doing to us. It was a real eyeopener.

I pleaded your case to the President and received no reply. I pleaded your case to my representatives and received no reply. All this while their working on my payroll.

I feel for you, your Mom and Dad and your grandparents, especially around your birthday and the holidays. It's got to be hard on all of you.

When I worked for the U.S. Government, I took the oath. The same one they give all the rest of them. We were supposed to live up to our oath of office, yet it appears that people we have placed in power seem to think they are all above that. We were told not to even accept a cup of coffee, yet look at what Congress does, they take and take and take and are bought off, lock stock and barrel. A bad case of do as I say and not as I do!

For your birthday I wish you health, wealth, happiness and to have your luck change so you can come back home as a free man.

What you did took a whole lot of guts.

If Paul Revere were alive today yelling the British are coming, the British are coming, the Congress would have tried him for treason.

You're our modern day Paul Revere, Ed. Just remember that.

Take care of yourself and be well.

P.S. Daniel Ellsberg spoke at the university I used to go to school at and we walked in expecting to see and hear a traitor, after listening to him, he got a standing ovation from everyone there! We walked out of there saying that he was a true American hero, not a traitor. He is and so are you.

William Deitenb...

Snowden is a traitor, pure and simple. The ACLU does no one any good by glamorizing this little weasel. He belongs in prison.

Protogonus

Snowden says he doesn’t feel disconnected from the American scene but his message here is completely naive and otherworldly. There is no “movement” presently to restrain the NSA, which is a tyrannical monster stealing economic plans and data from every country in the world and farming it off to Wall Street friends for “analysis.” The NSA is sending the entire raw data stream unedited to the Zionist killers in Tel Aviv for further use in monetary theft and subversion, plus murder and mayhem, plus treason against the United States itself. Does Edward Snowden know these things? Hard to say, really.

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