WATCH PRIMETIME NBC SPECIAL:  Inside the Mind of Edward Snowden

Oliver Stone, whose films often focus on contemporary and controversial American political or cultural issues, will write and direct a film based upon The Snowden Files:  The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man, a book by Guardian journalist Luke Harding.  Stone has received three Academy Awards for his work.  His filmography includes:  Platoon (1986), Wall Street (1987), Natural Born Killers (1994), Any Given Sunday (1999), and Wall Street:  Money Never Sleeps (2010).

This film about the National Security Agency (NSA) leaker is one of two films in the works.

Stone said in his announcement, “This is one of the greatest stories of our time.”

Sony Pictures announced last month that it purchased the rights to Glenn Greenwald’s book No Place to Hide:  Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State.  Snowden, the former NSA contract systems analyst, is currently living in Russia under a temporary asylum grant.  In mid-2013, it was revealed, after a court complaint was unsealed, that federal prosecutors had secretly charged Snowden with three felonies in connection with his classified information leaks.

He was charged with conveying classified information to an unauthorized party, disclosing communications intelligence information, and theft of government property, two of which are violations of the Espionage Act.  Each count carries up to ten years in prison.  Snowden’s release of classified material has been described as the most significant leak in U.S. history since the Pentagon Papers.

Snowden worked as a systems administrator for the CIA and counterintelligence trainer at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).  He later worked for private intelligence contractor Dell inside the NSA outpost in Japan.  In early 2013, he joined Booz Allen Hamilton, a private consulting firm, inside the NSA center in Hawaii.  A few months later, he disclosed thousands of classified documents to the media.  He flew from Hawaii to Hong Kong.  His passport was revoked by the U.S. government.  He flew from Hong Kong to Moscow about a week after being accused of the felonies.  He bought a ticket for Latin America at Moscow’s Sheremetyavo International Airport.  He was not allowed to leave the airport because he did not have a Russian visa and he was not allowed to travel to Latin America because his passport had been voided.  He stayed in the airport for 39 days during which time he applied for asylum in 21 countries.  Russia granted him a one-year temporary renewable asylum, which expires on August 1st.

Snowden’s leaks uncovered the existence of numerous global surveillance programs, many of them run by the NSA with the cooperation of telecommunication companies.      

Recently, President Barack Obama announced an overhaul of the NSA spying program.  These changes are based in part on a review panel’s 46 recommendations released earlier this year.  Here are the basic changes and what’s remaining the same:

Federal agencies will now be compelled to obtain permission from the secret FISA court before tapping into bulk collections of telephone data.  The bulk phone data will stay under the control of the government.  The government will no longer be able to use Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which forces businesses to turn over records.  The government will still have its current capabilities to collect information.  Privacy safeguards for foreigners will be strengthened, particularly leaders of foreign countries.  There will finally be a public advocate present in secret FISA court proceedings.  The president rejected the recommendation that the NSA be separated into divisions to avoid a centralization of power.  The president also rejected the recommendation that the NSA not be allowed to undermine and weaken commercial software to make it easier for government hackers to gain entry to launch cyberattacks or conduct surveillance.

“To me, Snowden is a hero because he revealed secrets that we should all know, that the United States has repeatedly violated the Fourth Amendment,” Stone said in a press conference at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival in the Czech Republic.

Learn more here:

How We Got From 9/11 to Massive NSA Spying on Americans: A Timeline

Mass Surveillance in America: A Timeline of Loosening Laws and Practices

ACLU’s Rein in the Surveillance State  |  Patriot Act  |  FISA Amendment Act  |  FISA Secret Court  |  Post 9/11 Surveillance Timeline  |  Electronic Frontier Foundation Information on NSA Spying

FAQs:  What You Need to Know About the NSA’s Surveillance Programs (EFF) | (MotherJones) | (ProPublica) | (NPR)

RELATED:  The NSA may know what you look like (Facial Image Collection)

  1. Caren says:

    Thank you for posting Edward Snowden’s interview video. Historic and informative. I have been watching for a site where this interview is posted.


  2. Lon Spector says:

    Edward Snowden is the tip of the iceberg. It was “1984” in 1984 and nothing has changed.


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