Edward Snowden, talking to Jeremy Scahill, about the Vault 7 release and the actions of the Trump administration, when placed in an appropriate historical context:
This is the dynamic that we really see in this release, and that’s the thing that people are focusing the least on, outside of policy circles, because it’s not very exciting, it’s not very accessible, it’s not very easy to understand. But, this largely misses, I think, the top level point when we think about all of this stuff. And this dynamic of Donald Trump, the fact that the world is on fire, the fact that the President’s statements can’t be relied upon, the fact that his laws are violating our Constitution in such a blatant and open manner, is that this is actually not new.
What’s different is he’s so inept, that we see it. Even his representatives go on the news and they don’t try to lie carefully. They don’t try to lie in a manner that has a kind of art to it. They do so openly, without shame, cause they say, what are you going to do to stop us?
But this happened in the Bush administration. He created a warrantless wire tapping program that, on its face, violated the Fourth Amendment so badly, so boldly, that the Attorney General of the United States, at one point, refused to sign it because he didn’t think he could defend that.
He was eventually brought into the docket, one day. What did the President do? Well, he didn’t go, alright, the Attorney General says this isn’t legal, we shouldn’t do it. He turned to the NSA director and said, well, the Attorney General won’t sign off on this. Will you do this anyway? And the director of the National Security Agency said, well, the President’s asking me, sure, even though he knew that was a violation of the Constitution.
Let’s go to President Barack Obama. This is a similar thing. Obama was a fairly progressive, fairly liberal politician by American standards, and I don’t mean on the American political spectrum, cause he was actually pretty far right, as far as what people would consider a liberal. He was the one who said the world is a global battlefield, I’m going to assassinate U.S. citizens, without a trial, outside of an actual combat zone, because I believe they are a threat to the United States. Now, right or wrong, whether you think he was justified or unjustified in that, that’s unprecedented. That’s clearly a violation of due process.
But this happened. When you look at the statements of journalists who worked under the Obama administration, and we’re talking mainstream people, they’re describing his activities against the press as a war on whistleblowers, a war against the press. Whenever something comes to the public eye, cyber operations that are questionable, things that failed, he starts trying to put people in jail.
The editor of the New York Times…said the Obama White House was the most secretive they’ve ever dealt with. James Risen, who the DOJ, for some time, threatened with jail if he wouldn’t reveal who his source was, said Obama was the greatest enemy of press and freedom in a generation.
Now, what does this all boil down to? Why does this matter? The reality is that all governments lie. All governments break the law. And, most frequently, this happens without us realizing it, the majority of us. People who follow this, people who study this will see it. They’ll complain, they’ll protest, but they don’t have critical mass, because they don’t have control of the airwaves. They’re sort of shuttled off in the corner of the room, where they talk amongst each other.
But the average person doesn’t care that much, because these presidencies, these administrations, give them the space to deny it to themselves, to say I can go on with my day, I can go on with my life, and I don’t have to confront these issues. I can live with my comfortable life, I can go home after a hard day, right? I’ve got people to take care of, I’ve got bills to pay. I’ve got obligations. I don’t have time to save the government.
We can’t do that anymore. That is no longer a luxury, and that, more than anything else, may be the silver lining of this disastrous administration, the fact that people are, for the first time in a generation, realizing that democracy is not an inheritance.
Folks, this is a challenge. This is our challenge. This is something that requires effort. This is something that requires sacrifice, and this is something that, if you turn your back on, will not get better. It will get worse.
It is not enough to believe in something. It is not enough to think that America is the land of the free, the home of the brave, we have Constitutional values, and these things will simply work out.
They will mean nothing unless you make them mean something. It is not enough to believe in something, ladies and gentlemen, you must stand for something.
I’m loyal to nothing… except the dream.