In 2013, NSA contractor Edward Snowden shook the pillars of the worldwide intelligence community when he revealed a trove of highly classified information that exposed astonishingly widespread mass U.S. surveillance overreach on a variety of international and domestic levels. Labeled a hero by some and whistleblower by others, he was formally charged with espionage and has been granted asylum in Russia, where he lives in an undisclosed location. In this special interview, Snowden will discuss these revelations and the current status of the surveillance state via a closed-circuit link to the library with Jeremy Scahill, investigative journalist, co-founder of the online journal The Intercept, and author of the bestselling books Blackwater, Dirty Wars, and The Assassination Complex.
So what does Snowden himself say?
In an episode of the HBO series Vice, he lays out what’s at stake and who can track you, listen to you, hack you, and surveil you. "Every part of private life today is found on someone’s phone." Surprising, important, scary information.
Why is the Free Library hosting this event?
In the era of surveillance that the post-9/11 era ushered in, it’s important that we examine our intelligence programs in light of past failures and examine where we’ve gone since then.
Isn’t Edward Snowden a controversial figure to host at a public library?
We know not everyone agrees with Snowden’s actions. In an interview with Larry King, former Vice President Dick Cheney says, "I think he’s a traitor. I think he’s done enormous damage to the country." He also has a much different view on the NSA and just how much this surveillance affects Americans.
Our goal at the Free Library is to foster valuable dialogue about the issues Snowden’s actions have raised. Here’s a bit more from investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill, wherein he discusses Snowden, our values, and the very specific dangers of domestic spying.
Just how important does Snowden think all this is? Is he prepared to face the consequences of his actions?