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Edward Snowden Speaks Out Against NSA “Dragnet Mass Surveillance”

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For the first time in months, the National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden has appeared on video speaking in Moscow. He warned about “dragnet mass surveillance that puts entire populations under sort of an eye that sees everything even when it’s not needed.” Snowden’s remarks were made after four American whistleblowers traveled to Russia to give him the Integrity Award from the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence.

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Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Today, in a Democracy Now! special, we spend the hour with four former U.S. intelligence officials—all whistleblowers themselves—who have just returned from visiting National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden in Russia. They are former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, former FBI agent Coleen Rowley, former National Security Agency senior executive Thomas Drake and his lawyer, former U.S. Justice Department ethics adviser Jesselyn Radack.

Last week, the group became the first Americans known to meet with former NSA contractor Snowden in Russia since he was granted temporary asylum there in August. On Wednesday, the group presented Edward Snowden with an award from the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence. After the award ceremony, Snowden spoke about the perils of the mass surveillance state.

EDWARD SNOWDEN: These programs don’t make us more safe. They hurt our economy. They hurt our country. They limit our ability to speak and think and to live and be creative, to have relationships, to associate freely. And they’re going—this doesn’t make us more safe; it makes us less safe, puts us at risk of coming into conflict with our own government. And there’s a far cry between legal programs, legitimate spying, legitimate law enforcement, where it’s targeted, it’s based on reasonable suspicion and individualized suspicion and warranted action, and sort of dragnet mass surveillance that puts entire populations under sort of an eye that sees everything, even when it’s not needed.

This is about a trend in the relationship between the governing and the governed in America that is coming increasingly into conflict with what we expect as a free and democratic people. If we can’t understand the policies and programs of our government, we cannot grant our consent in regulating them. As someone very clever said recently, we don’t have an oversight problem, we have an undersight problem. And it’s led us to a point in our relationship with the government where we have an executive, a Department of Justice, that’s unwilling to prosecute high officials who lied to Congress and the country on camera, but they’ll stop at nothing to persecute someone who told them the truth.

AMY GOODMAN: That was NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden speaking last week in Moscow.

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“Edward Snowden is a Patriot”: Ex-NSA CIA, FBI and Justice Whistleblowers Meet Leaker in Moscow

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