NSA whistleblower predicted his portrayal as a traitor and enemy
Edward Snowden knew this would happen.
In the second part of his filmed interview with the Guardian, filmed June 6 and released Monday, Snowden is shown to have successfully predicted how the U.S. government would react to his decision to flee the country and leak files revealing the existence of National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs.
"I think they're [the government] going to say I committed grave crimes", Snowden says early in the segment.
A few days after Snowden spoke those words, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told reporters that Snowden “violated the law" when he shared those classified documents with the Guardian. "I think it's an act of treason,” she said.
Snowden wasn't charged with treason, nor did he claim he would be. He did, however, predict in the interview that the U.S. would say he'd "violated the Espionage Act." And it did; the Department of Justice charged him with espionage on June 14, his 30th birthday.
"They're going to say I aided our enemies in making them aware of these systems," Snowden added. That was an overarching theme of a June 18 congressional hearing about U.S. spying, hosted by high-ranking intelligence figures like NSA chief Keith Alexander and Representative Mike Rogers (R-Mich.).
In the hearing, Rogers referred to such leaks as "giving the enemy our playbook," and claimed that effect would be that "our enemies within become almost as damaging as our enemies on the outside."
In additional audio of that interview, left on the Guardian's cutting-room floor but obtained by BuzzFeed, Snowden also predicted the government "will try to destroy my credibility, they’ll attack me personally."
President Obama called him "a 29-year old hacker." Rogers, who previously outraged privacy advocates by calling them teenagers tweeting from their basements, went much further. Speaking after that hearing, Rogers told reporters that Snowden was "a high-school dropout who had a whole series of both academic troubles and employment troubles."
Snowden's father later told reporters that his son missed months of school because of an illness, but he completed his high-school equivalency test before he was scheduled to have graduated.
However, despite some politicians' (including former Vice President Dick Cheney) claims that Snowden was a traitor, the whistleblower stressed his patriotism.
"I enlisted in the Army shortly after the invasion of Iraq, and I believed in the goodness of what we were doing," he said. “I believed in the nobility of our intentions to free oppressed people overseas.
Snowden stressed that "America is a fundamentally good country” with “good people with good values who want to do the right thing." He added:
"The structures of power that exist are working to their own ends, to extend their capability, at the expense of all publics."
llustration by Fernando Alfonso III