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Snowden: I have harmed no one

Wednesday night (May 28, 2014), NBC presented a long interview that Brian Williams conducted with Edward Snowden in Moscow. Snowden has been labeled by the NSA and the Obama Administration as a high-school dropout and a low-level analyst. He is accused of stealing more than a million secret and top secret documents from the NSA and now is in exile in Russia.

Author Glenn Greenwald discusses his new book on the NSA and Edward Snowden in Washington, DC.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The former head of the NSA Keith Alexander claimed that Snowden took up to 200,000 documents. Yet, no one really knows how many documents he took since apparently, NSA had no software to monitor the access to secret documents.

Secretary of State John Kerry came out with a strange statement after this interview goading Snowden to "man up" and come back and act like a "patriot." But, as the commentator at the end of the attached video notes, considering what the Obama Administration does to whistle blowers and those who it considers to have disclosed secret information, Snowden would be a lunatic to come back.

A key point that Snowden brought up and has also been stated by Glen Greenwald, who was one of the recipients of his trove of documents, there is yet no evidence that anyone has been harmed by these revelations.

Instead, the main damage seems to be to the reputation of the United States when it was revealed that NSA has been spying on foreign leaders such as Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and the president of Brazil. In addition, NSA apparently even bugged the United Nations and the UN ambassadors from various countries.

One other revelation from the Snowden is that NSA intercepted shipments of electronic equipment such as computers and planted bugs in them. One consequence is that China is beginning to ban some American computers and software in its government offices.

Another point that Snowden brought up was to refute the claim that he did not go through the proper channels to express his concerns. In fact, NBC has confirmed that indeed he sent e-mails to the legal affairs office of the NSA. But, he was either ignored or told to be quiet about his concerns that civil liberties were being violated.

Finally, Snowden refuted the claim that he is a Russian spy and has given his documents to the Russian spy agencies. He stated categorically that he gave everything he had to Greenwald and other journalists and destroyed all his own copies. Thus, he has nothing more to offer anyone.

Congress is already considering legislation that would rein in NSA surveillance. President Obama himself is also proposing limits on NSA spying. Even a Federal judge has ruled that the blanket phone data mining may be unconstitutional. So, it is clear that the Snowden revelations have had a real impact and have been beneficial in preventing the rampant encroachment of NSA in the private lives of innocent Americans. Isn't it time now for President Obama to offer amnesty to Snowden and thank him for his contributions in clipping the tyranny of NSA surveillance?

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