Friday, September 23, 2016

Snowden: Monday, September 19 2016

Snowden, the film, is based on two books: The Snowden Files by Luke Harding; and Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena. It plays almost like a documentary, and it would appear that it is factual. Perhaps not the whole story, it certainly gives the facts as they appeared in the Media. With Oliver Stone as director, the film is, as would be expected, top class in every aspect. The direction is masterly, the acting is superb, the screenplay is excellent: I could go into greater detail, but you get the picture. (Pun unintended!) Definitely Oscar material.

A highly professional production, it appears totally objective. It puts forward the point of view not only of Snowden, but of the military intelligence and many people who view Snowden as a traitor, and of ordinary people both for and against the collection of surveillance of private emails by the CIA. If you were going to see this film thinking it would confirm your viewpoint on the subject of Snowden's whistle-blowing, you will be disappointed whichever way you swing.

I found it interesting to visit the website of the CIA. I find it hard to believe that these people who are dedicated to protecting the American people, would really bother themselves with the emails of ordinary people, as was Snowden's concern. The volume of material that was being monitored would in itself preclude that surely? Do we really think that the CIA cares what we write in our emails when it's larger concern is catching terrorists? Surely their search programs have key words that trigger attention, which would exclude the majority of emails? Do you care more that they are finding threats to our national security, or that they are maybe, just maybe, wasting their time reading your innocuous emails? Does anyone who puts nude pictures of themselves on the internet care who looks at them? Whose problem is it if they are perused by interested males?

Many questions are raised. Was Snowden, as some people claimed, a courageous revealer of the secret activities of the Intelligence Agencies, not only of the United States but of other allied countries? Did he do his country a great service by making these revelations? Was he, as others believe, a traitor betraying not only his country's intelligence secrets to the whole world, but those of his country's allies? Had he taken a vow of secrecy when he was employed by those intelligence agencies, which he violated? Are the virtues of loyalty, faithfulness, and not telling tales, no longer considered virtues?

Apparently there were already internal concern by high-ranking staff, that the NSA might have been over-reaching in it's intelligence gathering. Questions were being asked that, in any case, would have lead to changes being made in legislation.

Did Snowden have ulterior motives for his actions? Why did he flee to Hong Kong in China, then on to Russia? There is a connection to Australian Julian Assange of Wikileaks infamy? Wikileaks, apparently, aided in his relocation in Russia.

Snowden is presently employed in Moscow, Russia, which is just as well for him. Whistleblowers in the United States have difficulty finding employment as future employers question their integrity and loyalty.

Are whistle-blowers always outsiders who don't have the full picture of the situation that is of concern to them, as was the case with Snowden? Is the better course of action to find out if there is internal concern over the issue? Perhaps a few discrete inquires would give an answer? Snowden, the film, certainly raises these questions. It is usual when a person is in disagreement with a work-related situation, that that person resigns. Was Snowden unusually brave in his betrayal of his country, or did he have a plan?

The Washington Post, which was the first American newspaper to be involved in the Snowden Affair, has just now, on September 17, published an article stating that they oppose the idea of his being given a pardon by President Obama. Many Human Rights groups are pushing for this pardon. Was it designed that this film come out to raise support for that pardon?

Snowden is a "must see"! It's not entertaining in the accepted sense of that word, but I found it fascinating because it appears so non-partisan, and simply, clearly, lays out the facts as known. Of course, it is laying out the facts from Snowden's point of view.  It is thought-provoking, and in light of the application for a pardon by President Obama, timely.

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