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Edward Snowden Interview: 'There Is Still Hope - Even for Me' (spiegel.de)
269 points by runesoerensen 67 days ago | hide | past | web | 48 comments | favorite



A line I particularly liked (from the second segment):

> "I think it is this new atmosphere of fear and that it won't change until we, as a public, learn to perform a new kind of alchemy and recognize fear when it is being presented. We need to learn to eat fear, to convert it into an energy that can be used to better a society rather than to terrorize and weaken it."

A huge percentage of the modern news media is fear-based. In the last U.S. presidential election, both candidates were running on largely fear-based platforms (fear of Mexicans on one end, fear of Trump on the other.) Even most political movements emphasize the terrible thing they're afraid of or angry about instead of actual changes that could be made to fix things. This can't be how things keep working.

I'm optimistic that we'll learn this "alchemy," though, for the simple reason that the onslaught of media-terror has become so absurdly intense that people can't help but become jaded. The first time you hear about a murder in your area, it's terrifying; the second time, a bit more expected; what about the tenth? The hundreth? We're being asked to believe in so many terrible things at once that the human mind is just going to give up at some point.

As long as we can lose fear without also losing concern, we'll be alright.


Overdosing on fear and becoming numb to it is a feature, not a bug. It's a specific propaganda technique used by Vladimir Putin to create so much chaos and churn that people don't know what is true, and begin to tune out or just become cynical and blame "all sides" for the problem (you did it in your post, there is a sort of social pressure right now to create equivalence on these things).

It's a perfect technique in the age of too much information. Authoritarian regimes of the 20th century were about restricting information - those of the 21st are about creating so much noise that finding truth begins to feel meaningless.

The Russian "firehouse of falsehood" propaganda model:

https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/perspectives/PE10...


That's why I loved London's reaction to the 2005: "That's all you got?? Not afraid, go away" (I was living there at the time).

Also relevant and always worth it: The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear, 3 part BBC documentary by Alan Curtis.

Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTg4qnyUGxg


Krista Tippett (from the "On Being" podcast) talks about this as one of the most important social tasks at the moment - to help calm fears of those around us so that as a society we're less fearful of each other, and more open to each other. I found it a fascinating call-to-action, as the rise of fear is something I feel like I've been noticing.

Having said that, I'm only 30, so don't know if the local pattern of rising fear is part of a larger story of less fear (compared to cold war days, for example).


>Having said that, I'm only 30, so don't know if the local pattern of rising fear is part of a larger story of less fear (compared to cold war days, for example).

There has definitely been a spike in fear-culture post 9/11.


I am a bit over 40. From how I remember the cold war, most people didn't realise just how bad it was. I mean, risk of happening multiplied by impact.


I remember it being there in the background but most people knew they couldn't address it themselves, so just kept on as though the world wasn't going to end. Who would be so crazy?


I'm very much fear-based, especially re political matters - I fear the rising levels of carbon dioxide; and even more, the death of the oceans from everything we pour into it (including what hurricanes drag into it.) There's plenty to fear.

It's fearing something that causes far fewer deaths than asthma so much you'll throw away the rights that underpin democracy, that's what's crazy; not fear. We won't even ban artificial fragrances, re asthma, much less toss away all privacy.


That's what the grandparent hinted at:

> As long as we can lose fear without also losing concern, we'll be alright.

I read this as fear being the emotional reaction to a threat, and concern being the rational reaction. You can say "this is a problem, what can I/we/government do to fix it?" without also having to say "OH MY GOD WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE", but it needs to be learned. (Which reminds me that the Enchiridion of Epictetus is still on my reading list.)


If you aren't emotional about the environment, and fear isn't that emotion, that's you. The general reaction to the (utterly toothless) Paris Accord was indeed - general concern allieviated by rather meaningless blather. My reaction was increased fear for our future since nothing concrete was agreed; no penalties adhered to breaking the agreement. (Whereas trade consequences could have been tied to bad behavior.)

We like to think others are acting from fear whereas we are merely concerned, other married couples argue but we "discuss", etc. The old joke about this comes from Bertrand Russell and went something like this: "I love children, you are a scout leader, they are a pederast."


I wish I could share your optimism


Snowden gives a really solid interview every time. Very polished.

I'm interested that he called out the idea of "deep state." He defines it as political forces that outlast a presidency (by that definition of course it exists i.e. any political party), but perhaps the implied element is a secretive nature and power over a president.

I wonder if there's an objective way to answer this.


The term "deep state" or "state within state" originally meant very organized shadow governments in countries where government agencies (usually security agencies) don't respond to the civilian political leadership and can have power over them.

FBI director J. Edgar Hoover was example of single man holding some amount of 'deep state' power.

There justified is fear that increased secrecy in security apparatus in US has started acting in more autonomous way. In the current government the power over WH likely comes mostly from competence difference.


I guess my question is, how to we bring this concept out of the "conspiracy-theory" realm into something demonstrably true/false?


> The deep state realizes that while it may not elect the president, it can shape them very quickly

Instead of seeing this as some sort of covert manipulation, maybe this phenomenon is a reflection of just how much people prefer the status quo. IIRC a lot of jurisprudence is based on deferring to status quo. It seems natural that a new president's administration should remind them "hey, listen, we've thought about item Q on your agenda a lot and we can't do it because of X, Y, and Z."

On the other hand, I've shown up on software teams before and asked, "Hey can we try Best Practice X?" -- only to learn that "Yes, we have all thought long and hard about Best Practice X but it Just Couldn't Possibly Apply Here. Also, Dave doesn't care for it." ;)


There's that but there's also just the simple trajectory, and momentum our laws, and law makers have. That is there are multiple actors in society that have self-interests, whether that be getting reelected next election cycle, or getting the shweet government contracts to run your business. The confluence of all those independent actors may act towards similar behaviors, and that produces a sort of illusion of "Deep-state ventriloquists". Think invisible hand. It's just that everyone is essentially forced to make the same kind of logical next step decisions due to environmental constraints, like economy, laws, etc.


Also, you can't really run a state if you replace all government workers every few years. Politicians come and go, the actual work is done by those who stay in public institutions for long.


This is basically the entirety of what is represented by the staff of the 'Civil Service' in the BBC show Yes Minister


"James Hacker: The Opposition aren't the opposition.

Annie Hacker: No of course not, silly of me. They're just called the opposition.

James Hacker: They're only the opposition in exile. The Civil Service is the opposition in residence."

Curiously, this dialogue appears in an episode called Big Brother, in which the Minister is trying to add safeguards to a national citizens database.


There have always been concerns about "bureaucratic lifers" in governments, including the US and U.K.


Also see http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/09/05/deep-state... for a backgrounder on the term


Snowden seems like a great guy with a good heart. It's a shame that he has been exiled to Moscow for embarrassing the government, but i'm happy he is alive and not in a jail cell.


"I think it is this new atmosphere of fear and that it won't change until we, as a public, learn to perform a new kind of alchemy and recognize fear when it is being presented. We need to learn to eat fear, to convert it into an energy that can be used to better a society rather than to terrorize and weaken it."

Very well said. In many ways, Snowden keeps the bar high for what we should aspire to be, and what we can be.


He says giving speeches and interviews is out of his comfort zone, but he always comes across as articulate and well-spoken. More than I am for sure.

I'm glad he's doing okay though.

I believe he did the world a great favour and history will look back on what he did with kindness, even if so many do not look on it that way now.


My favorite now is how the national debt goes up every time FBI/NSA spends more money. Which of course causes more money to be printed.


Is there video of the interview?


The juxtaposition on the front page right now is cool.

iPhone X 623 6 hours ago | 1290 comments

Edward Snowden Interview: 'There Is Still Hope - Even for Me' 74 points 4 hours ago | 16 comments

As they move past from their earthly feelings of shame, whenst they stuck their heads in the sand, now they revel in their vice.


Yes, there is more to life than the cult of Snowden. No reason to run around with our heads cut off just because the man gave an interview.


Apparently the cult of Apple has a much stronger following.


[flagged]


People keep saying this, but I've never seen any evidence provided... he was flying from Hong Kong to South America through Moscow, because none of those nations were likely to interfere on behalf of America. His passport was pulled while he was in Moscow, preventing him from boarding his flight. Russia saw more value in keeping him as a potential bargaining chip than in killing him or returning him, so he's still in Moscow. None of this, AFAIK, has been refuted by anyone that could meaningfully refute it.

What am I missing? If he had intended to end in Russia, you can be damn sure the USG would have publicly refuted the notion that they'd pulled his passport.


There's a very interesting "Cuba Document"[1] that hints at something else happening in the background of 2013;

On April 4th, the head of the Russian FSB in Cuba traveled to Ecuador and met with Ecuadoran intelligence agents to "address issues of bilateral cooperation". Notes from this meeting and the credentials of the Russian team ended up in a file marked "Assange" at the Ecuadoran embassy in London.

On April 5th, Snowden sent his only email about his concerns to the NSA. Through the rest of the month, he starts downloading all of the documents.

In Mid-May, he flees to Hong Kong with the documents he's exfiltrated. In June, he flies to Moscow using an Ecuadorean travel document, where he plans to connect on a flight to Cuba.

After US pressure, Cuba and Ecuador both agreed not to grant him asylum, but it's suspicious that a note detailing Cuban FSB agents meeting with Ecuadorean reps ends up in Julian Assange's file on the day before Snowden starts his exfil op.

[1] - https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C61t121WgAA9IFQ.jpg


Sorry, can someone clarify this for someone not very well versed in this case? What's FSB, and what's the implication from that evidence? That Snowden is a spy?


FSB is Russian Intelligence -- The successor to the KGB. The 'Cuban' bit is important too. Russia has agents in South America, including in Ecuador, the presence of the head of the Cuban division in Quito likely points to some sort of op involving Cuba.

> And what's the implication from that evidence? That Snowden is a spy?

Some people think that, I don't think you can draw that conclusion at all from just one meeting. It merely hints that the Russians had advanced knowledge that Snowden would be traveling through Moscow en route to Cuba, likely due to Assange. It also hints that they knew Snowden would be stealing troves of documents from the NSA before he actually stole the documents.

From there you have to guess their motivation to assist him. Were they doing so as part of a quid pro quo? Were they doing so to 'poke' America and annoy our intelligence agencies? Did they plan to take all of Snowden's intel when he was in the Russian airport? Motivation is hard to assess but it changes the story fairly significantly if Snowden's travel plans involved two hostile superpowers and were arranged with their consent before he had taken a single document or even filed his complaint about the NSA's process.


I see, thank you for the clarification. One more of those things we'll never know.


Do you have any links to reporting on this document or associated implications? I can't find any, even if I search for exact phrases from this document.



now thats interesting. has there been more research into this?


People have asked various representatives but short of an admission by one of the involved parties or US intelligence agencies detailing what they know, I don't think there's a good way to do any additional research.


He flew to Hong Kong and hoped to stay there. The Chinese government kicked him out after he had already given the South China Morning Post a list of Chinese computer systems compromised by the NSA and when they were compromised. http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1266777/exclusive...


What if Snowden intended to end in Russia and has been an agent for a long time? I fail to see the logic that USG would have publicly refuted the notion that they'd pulled his passport. Please illuminate.


You are oversimplifying a bit. Reaching to superiors has proven to be ineffective way to bring attention to crimes in his organization. After that was established, he reached out to respected journalists instead of doing something irresponsible like leaking indiscriminately like Wikileaks do.


At the same time, he also leaked information on legimate surveillance programs. Not everything he reported was a crime. It's not exactly a black and white issue.


Yes, not everything was (is?) a crime as defined by the very same state that commits the 'non-crime'.

In history there have been many instances were horrible actions were not defined as crime.


You're missing the point. Whether or not you like the NSA, it shouldn't be shocking that they're spying on other countries, that is part/all of its intended purpose. Maybe they shouldn't be, but that's not really Snowden's place to decide.

The NSA is spying on American citizens (and doing so without telling them) is likely illegal, and that's the big revelation that Snowden released. But he also released lots of secret/confidential information on legitimate foreign intelligence operations, and even if you're ok with that it's not like that's something that should/can just get a free pass. There's a difference between leaking things because you believe they are illegal, and leaking things because you don't like them. One is protected, the other is not. Snowden essentially did both.


> There's a difference between leaking things because you believe they are illegal, and leaking things because you don't like them.

Exactly that's what I meant: You shouldn't just leak illegal things (because the state itself defines most often that whatever it does is legal).

So we only have a moral compass left and it's understandable that those are different for each person. If Snowden thinks that "secret/confidential information on legitimate foreign intelligence operations" is not ok if the target is an ally, then that's his moral judgment and he can leak it.

If you disagree, you imply that now that most of the spying on citizens is legalized (post-facto), it's cool.

Or - Godwin's law to the rescue - now that the Reichtstag decided that secretly killing jews is fine, leaking is a moral offense ;)


> Maybe they shouldn't be, but that's not really Snowden's place to decide.

It's the public's place to decide, which they cannot do without information about these programs.


Realizes how immoral and corrupt the government is, thinks that these immoral and corrupt people might do him physical harm, evades that harm. Yeah, total coward. C'mon, really?


You mean after he ran to multiple other places narrowly making to Russia in the first place.




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