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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David Lackey-14

You say that if the information were to fall into the incorrect hands, we would be at danger. I agree, but wasn't it your job to secure the PRISM program so that no one would be able to hack into it? I just don't see your point there. I understand that you were afraid of government surveillance, but after an event like 9/11, (which debatably could have been prevented) the government most likely wanted this system in order to communicate better. If they have more methods for prevention, then that is good for our nation. I'm sorry we don't see eye to eye on these matters. I just don't understand when you saw the DoD contract why you accepted it. I understand why you might because you wanted to expose America. But I heard you tried to sell government secrets to Russia. That's a different story. That is a pretty low stoop Edward. Btw, to the dipshit above me, What The Fuck. Ed is a modern day Paul Revere? Read up on your history books gramps. Doesn't seem like you understand. Paul Revere would be tried for treason? Do you know what Treason is? Wish we could talk Edward. Maybe you can persuade me better.

Dennis Phoenix

Do you think the government trying to find out what's going on with its people begins and ends with what Edward Snowden has revealed? With over population coming on ever so oppressively the govt. has no choice but to protect itself and those who can accept the new clandestine world.

This transition we are entering into is going to come down to a civil war.
The bill of rights, freedom, ideologies our country is formed around will fuel such disobedience such ill will that the government will turn to a clandestine dictatorship, like in Orwell's 1984.

It has long been a science with the media how to manipulate public opinion. In my own life I have been a victim of such defamation of character, resulting from ways the public is not ready to believe or accept. What Edward Snowden has revealed is nothing...but it's a beginning in the revelation of what our world is turning into..maybe before my time is up the world will be ready.

Anonymous

Dear Mr Snowden

Thank you very much for what you did. The government, even a government from a country who want to lead the world must be an idol and save human rights. This must be the main thing to do. A super power country should not loose the trust of other nations and people. I hope the US will see the huge damage they did to their own role they want to play and change its policy. And we in Europe love you and we will not give up fighting for you.

Dan Long

A new day is dawning, and the pace at which it approaches is directly attributable to your actions. We welcome the dawn, and hope to soon see an end to the oligarchy that has enslaved us with its propagated fear mongering.

"War is the terrorism of the wealthy; terrorism is the war of the poor." -- author unknown

While our government manages a military budget that is larger than the sum of the next fourteen nations below us in spending, they still feel the need to spy on loyal citizens, longtime allies, and the enemies that they have created. This madness must stop.

Anonymous

I don't believe he even wrote this. It's written in too much of a legal way to have been penned by him.
I think someone else wrote it and then said he did.
I think he might have sent something to them, but I believe that what HE said was edited for clarity and the CYA legally, so that there would be no way he could be blasted for it later.
I also don't believe he cared about my personal privacy. He doesn't even freakin' KNOW me, he did NOT care about what may or may not happen with me.
I'm not so stupid that I'm going to believe he did it because he cared about the whole United States, including people he's never met, doesn't know and never WILL meet.
The end.

Pat Burhan

The sad paradox of Mr. Snowden’s critics is that, in their attacks of the messenger even crossing the line to the nakedly venomous, they exhibit a sad bankruptcy of imagination in failing to realize that, like me, a supporter, they are ultimately only able to do so precisely because of the civil liberties that are threatened by the operations revealed by his revelations, and the liberties for which untold numbers of Americans sacrificed their lives to instantiate, nurture and protect. Taking their rationale to the ultimate conclusion, they would only be in a perennial state of supreme mirth if their civil liberties were so eroded and destroyed, by any party or agency or government, to the point where they could not even be able to spew anything against anyone. But thankfully, the fight is on behalf of an idea – the very fundamental foundations upon which the United States of America is founded – enshrined in the Constitution of the United States of America.

In “No Place to Hide” by Glenn Greenwald, Greenwald writes:
”…Snowden left it up to Laura and me to decide which stories should be reported, in what sequence, and how they would be presented. But on the first day, Snowden – as he did on many occasions both before and since – stressed HOW URGENT IT WAS THAT WE VET ALL THE MATERIAL CAREFULLY. ‘ I selected these documents BASED ON WHAT’S IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST,’ he told us, ‘ but I’m relying on you to use your journalistic judgment to only publish those documents that the public should see and that can be revealed without harm to any innocent people.’ “ Capitalization above is by me, the author of this post for emphasis.

No democratic and free nation can exist without secrets that GENUINELY protect from harm emanating both from within and from without. And protecting those secrets is without dispute in most reasonable minds. But no democratic and free nation can exist as such either in the long run if it uses the secrecy laws to camouflage illegal operations and shirk accountability, elements that directly undermine the very foundations of its democracy and freedoms. For, in the end, the erosion of the civil liberties will be so complete that organs of national security will no longer be necessary. Because there will be nothing left to protect.

Anonymous

The sad paradox of Mr. Snowden’s critics is that, in their attacks of the messenger even crossing the line to the nakedly venomous, they exhibit a sad bankruptcy of imagination in failing to realize that, like me, a supporter, they are ultimately only able to do so precisely because of the civil liberties that are threatened by the operations revealed by his revelations, and the liberties for which untold numbers of Americans sacrificed their lives to instantiate, nurture and protect. Taking their rationale to the ultimate conclusion, they would only be in a state of perennial supreme mirth if their civil liberties were so eroded and destroyed, by any party or agency or government, to the point where they could not even be able to spew anything against anyone. But thankfully, the fight is on behalf of an idea – the very fundamental foundations upon which the United States of America is founded – enshrined in the Constitution of the United States of America.

In “No Place to Hide” by Glenn Greenwald, Greenwald writes: ”…Snowden left it up to Laura and me to decide which stories should be reported, in what sequence, and how they would be presented. But on the first day, Snowden – as he did on many occasions both before and since – stressed HOW URGENT IT WAS THAT WE VET ALL THE MATERIAL CAREFULLY. ‘ I selected these documents BASED ON WHAT’S IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST,’ he told us, ‘ but I’m relying on you to use your journalistic judgment to only publish those documents that the public should see and that can be revealed without harm to any innocent people.’ “ Capitalization above is by me, the author of this post for emphasis.

No democratic and free nation can exist without secrets that GENUINELY protect from harm emanating both from within and from without. And protecting those secrets is without dispute in most reasonable minds. But no democratic and free nation can exist as such either in the long run if it uses the secrecy laws to camouflage illegal operations and shirk accountability, elements that directly undermine the very foundations of its democracy and freedoms. For, in the end, the erosion of the civil liberties will be so complete that organs of national security will not be needed. Because there will be nothing left to protect.

Pat Burhan

The sad paradox of Mr. Snowden’s critics is that, in their attacks of the messenger even crossing the line to the nakedly venomous, they exhibit a sad bankruptcy of imagination in failing to realize that, like me, a supporter, they are ultimately only able to do so precisely because of the civil liberties that are threatened by the operations revealed by his revelations, and the liberties for which untold numbers of Americans sacrificed their lives to instantiate, nurture and protect. Taking their rationale to the ultimate conclusion, they would only be in a state of perennial supreme mirth if their civil liberties were so eroded and destroyed, by any party or agency or government, to the point where they could not even be able to spew anything against anyone. But thankfully, the fight is on behalf of an idea – the very fundamental foundations upon which the United States of America is founded – enshrined in the Constitution of the United States of America.

In “No Place to Hide” by Glenn Greenwald, Greenwald writes: ”…Snowden left it up to Laura and me to decide which stories should be reported, in what sequence, and how they would be presented. But on the first day, Snowden – as he did on many occasions both before and since – stressed HOW URGENT IT WAS THAT WE VET ALL THE MATERIAL CAREFULLY. ‘ I selected these documents BASED ON WHAT’S IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST,’ he told us, ‘ but I’m relying on you to use your journalistic judgment to only publish those documents that the public should see and that can be revealed without harm to any innocent people.’ “ Capitalization above is by me, the author of this post for emphasis.

No democratic and free nation can exist without secrets that GENUINELY protect from harm emanating both from within and from without. And protecting those secrets is without dispute in most reasonable minds. But no democratic and free nation can exist as such either in the long run if it uses the secrecy laws to camouflage illegal operations and shirk accountability, elements that directly undermine the very foundations of its democracy and freedoms. For, in the end, the erosion of the civil liberties will be so complete that organs of national security will not be needed. Because there will be nothing left to protect.

from Richard, V...

A parade down Fifth Avenue in his honor? As if that's not going too damn far?
Nobody who came home from the Vietnam War ever received a parade down Fifth Avenue or anywhere else for that matter, not even the wounded and certainly not the dead. There was no parade in their honor and never has been, and probably never will be one.
Which I've learned to live with for the most part - except when people go overboard with these little things (minor because he did not become an invalid after sharing this information, he's still in one whole piece and [presumably] of sound mind) and say they're "looking forward to a parade down Fifth Avenue" to honor what Snowden did.
I think the idea is nothing short of inane for obvious reasons. At the very least it's not a bit self-consistent. If Edward Snowden deserves a parade then so does every person who's fought in any of our wars, and no exceptions ought to be made just because you personally disagreed with the reason we became involved in said conflict.
Soldiers don't send themselves to battle. Big Brother handles that business and you a) either go or b) abandon your country forever by fleeing to Canada, and that's only if you make it across the border without being caught and thrown in jail, an act that effectively ruins your chance of having a promising future.
If there ever is a parade in Snowden's honor, you won't find me within a 1,000 mile radius of it.

Vicki B.

I might owe Edward Snowden an apology, but only for assuming what he said about President Obama. I tried to find the article I read that in but failed in the effort. I know I read it but when I tried to locate said article, it was as if it didn't exist anymore.
Well, anyway, I guess that's what Bookmarks are REALLY for: to make sure you don't lose an article.
I taught myself how to use the Internet, which explains why I still have little idea how to take advantage of its existence; I'm not talented at self-teaching. I'm one of those people who needs an actual educator, someone who's trained in how to do it to walk me through the steps of how to do something.

I do know one thing though. Osama bin Laden was found when Obama was president. Until bin Laden WAS found, I had a nightmare every single night for almost 10 years, which disappeared after they found the mastermind murderer of my daughter's dad. I tried to make it go away using every possible trick I knew to banish bad dreams but none of it worked. It was a really terrible dream, one I thought I'd have forever but that disappeared after they found Osama bin Laden. I've only had the dream once since they found bin Laden, and that's why I'm so ungodly grateful for President Obama and the Navy Seal 6 team.
It's totally emotional; I couldn't dislike the president or anyone on Seal team 6 even if I tried. I'm trying to say - and have no idea how successful I'm being - that I have an inordinate amount of gratitude for President Obama and Navy Seal team 6. I'm having a hard time seeing their human side, all I can sense is my overwhelming gratitude that I don't have to have that dream every single night.

In this dream Eric, my daughter's dad, standing in front of me but never sees me and keeps asking why did people leave him there and not help him. And nothing I say about how the firefighters had no choice but to leave after the South Tower fell, soothes him. He just keeps asking: "Where is everybody, why won't anybody help me."
That's part of the nightmare I had for almost 10 years solid.
There's a part of it I CAN'T explain because no words can capture the utter horror of the situation.

Still, I'm making a small apology to Edward Snowden because I think maybe I got too upset because he doesn't feel the same gratitude for Obama that I do. He doesn't have to feel it, but my actions might have said I think otherwise.
I don't think it anymore, but it's awfully hard for me to handle that not everyone will like this president.

I hope that at least some of this made sense. It's truly my best effort.

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