The release of Oliver Stone’s film “Snowden” comes amid a stepped-up campaign by the ACLU, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International for President Obama to pardon Edward Snowden before he leaves office in January. Snowden is charged with theft of state secrets and is accused of violating the Espionage Act. He faces at least 30 years in prison, but argues his disclosure of mass surveillance by the U.S. and British intelligence agencies was not only morally right, but left citizens better off. “I think it would be a great choice for our country to turn back on the road it’s on,” says Stone. Joseph Gordon-Levitt adds, “The truth [is] that Snowden’s disclosures did not do any harm … There was … a responsible process to make sure that no harm would be done.”
AMY GOODMAN: So, let’s go to another clip. And this one features the initial discussions between Glenn Greenwald and an editor at The Guardian about publishing the findings from Snowden’s NSA leaks.
EWEN MACASKILL: [played by Tom Wilkinson] Janine, how did the White House conversation go?
JANINE GIBSON: [played by Joely Richardson] I made it quite clear that we were in possession of an authentic FISA court order. They wanted to see it. We refused. Now I just pray that it’s actually authentic.
GLENN GREENWALD: [played by Zachary Quinto] Are you actually questioning that?
JANINE GIBSON: Glenn, no one has ever seen a FISA court order. There’s no precedent here.
GLENN GREENWALD: Our source risked his life for that document. It’s real. Tell us, did the White House make any specific claims about national security that would prevent you from publishing?
JANINE GIBSON: No. I asked them repeatedly, and they had no substantive answer.
GLENN GREENWALD: Then there you go. What more do you want? You can go out and know that you’re safe.
JANINE GIBSON: Glenn, I’d like to talk to Alan before we go any further.
EWEN MACASKILL: When does he land?
ASSISTANT EDITOR: [played by Nicholas Rowe] In six hours.
GLENN GREENWALD: No, absolutely not. We’re sitting ducks here, Janine. No, it’s 1:00 p.m. in New York. If you don’t get this out in the next four hours, you’ll miss the evening news on the East Coast.
JANINE GIBSON: But we can post later tonight. I’m sorry, Glenn, but Alan’s our editor-in-chief, and I—
GLENN GREENWALD: Bull [bleep]! The government knows that we have these documents now. The CIA could barge through this door any minute, and you want more time. Act like a [bleep] journalist and stop stringing us along!
AMY GOODMAN: OK, that’s a clip from Snowden.
OLIVER STONE: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: And it also goes to what’s happening today, the launching of a campaign to pardon Edward Snowden. Can you talk, Oliver Stone, about what’s happening?
OLIVER STONE: About this scene?
AMY GOODMAN: The scene, but also about this campaign to get President Obama to pardon Snowden before he leaves.
OLIVER STONE: Oh, yeah, that is a—that’s been initiated by the ACLU, and they’re running with it. As you said, Amnesty and other organizations are involved. I didn’t do this film for those purposes, but certainly I think it would be a great choice for our country to turn back on the road it’s on. I think that he would certainly take some prison time. He said so. But he cannot defend himself in court under the Espionage Act. It’s just impermissible to bring evidence of any kind about the security state. So, he’s in a bind. And he would like to come back. He loves his country.
JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT: One thing I’d add about the scene we just saw, as far as the pardon campaign, is, an important part, I think, of him being pardoned is the truth that Snowden’s disclosures didn’t do any harm to anybody or to the country, because that’s a claim that gets said a lot, that, you know, he’s going to harm national security, that certain individuals were uncovered. There’s just—there’s no facts behind that at all. And, in fact, what you see in that scene of the journalists checking with the White House about what they’re about to leak and directly asking the White House, “Tell us, specifically, how does this harm national security? We’ll redact what you want us to redact,” the White House couldn’t specify anything. So, there was really a process, I would say, a responsible process, to make sure that no harm would be done. And I think that’s really an important thing, when considering, you know, the value of what he did.
OLIVER STONE: This scene is based on, you know, Janine Gibson’s conversations with me and Kieran. She went through—she had a hard 24 hours.
AMY GOODMAN: And Janine Gibson was the editor of The Guardian USA.
OLIVER STONE: She was the American editor—the American editor of the online. And she did it because the editor was truly in the air on his way to New York. Glenn Greenwald—and who you’ve interviewed several times—definitely brought the pressure on her, because he said he was going to go independently and publish it himself on his own site, which was—I guess it didn’t happen, because she actually—in that scene, you saw her agree.
AMY GOODMAN: And, of course, they ended up winning—The Guardian won the Pulitzer for his reporting.
OLIVER STONE: Yeah, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to go to break, then come back to this discussion, and we’ll be joined by Sarah Harrison, who was part of a middle leg of the trip, going with Ed Snowden from Hong Kong to Russia, though he didn’t intend to stay there, hoping to make his way to Latin America. Sarah Harrison, an editor with WikiLeaks. We’re talking to Oliver Stone, the three-time award-winning filmmaker, who is this week celebrating his 70th birthday, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who is the star of the film. He plays Ed Snowden in the film Snowden. Stay with us.