No one has exposed more than Snowden how that individualistic, ephemeral, anonymous internet has ceased to exist.
Perhaps it was always a myth. He even met his future wife on Hotornot. Snowden says documenting that prehistoric digital world and its disappearance was part of what drove him to write Permanent Record , overcoming his own aversion to sharing details of his personal life.
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And in doing so, he may have also helped the world understand him better than ever before. After an attempt to join the special forces—he crashes out after breaking both legs in basic training—he gravitates to the intelligence world, where he discovers that the agency he works for has transformed the internet into the opposite of the playground he idealized.
Other than the fateful decision to actually become that someone, Snowden points out that the rest of his story could have belonged to practically any of thousands of geeks with similar experiences. The Edward Snowden moment was inevitable, because you can only roll the dice on conscience for so long until somebody objects.
That decision has arguably led to real changes: The passage of the USA Freedom Act in significantly limited the collection of phone records that had previously swept up the metadata of every American, perhaps the clearest illustration among Snowden's revelations of the mass surveillance he sought to expose.
Congress is now considering whether to end the metadata collection program altogether. But none of that has changed the deep bipartisan resentment of Snowden within the higher ranks of the US government: Democratic representative Adam Schiff has disputed that Snowden can even be called a whistle-blower , while President Trump's secretary of state Michael Pompeo has called for Snowden's execution.
As it turns out, this is half true. It turns out, however, that the IT guy, in an institution whose currency is information, is one of the most powerful people in the org chart. Snowden was, in fact, one of the young IT elite, deeply aware of the generational divide that helped put him in that role.
In one passage from a period he spent working at a CIA data center, he describes, with conscious immodesty, his daily walk past an array of IT help desk staffers on his way into a more highly classified compartment of secrets inside the building. So my very job was to know what sharable information was out there.
At one point early in his NSA career, Snowden writes that he was asked to use his deep access to assemble a counterintelligence presentation on Chinese surveillance and internet control—one of the first moments when he began to wonder how exactly the equivalent US systems of internet surveillance might compare.
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But on that point, Snowden remains a kind of First Amendment absolutist. That story climaxes in a tense meeting between Snowden and an officer of the FSB in the Moscow airport.
The official does his best, briefly, to turn Snowden into a Russian intelligence asset. Snowden writes that he interrupted to decline before the pitch was even finished, the better to avoid any unscrupulous editing of hidden recordings of the meeting. Snowden flatly denies that he has had any other interactions with Russian intelligence since. After all, he never brought a single NSA document to Russia.
If he has to spend the rest of his life in Russia, on the other hand, so be it, he says. He rents an apartment with his wife, Lindsay, whom he married in Moscow. Trending Searches. Cart 0. Item s Added To cart Qty. If you are a new user Register login. Help Center.
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