Transcript of Edward Snowden at Amnesty International Conference in Chicago
Based on video posted by Bahira Malek -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0E5u0GYFHI
MC: … Globalization of activism. We have Russia, we have Brazil, we have Chicago in the house. Edward thanks so much for being here.
SNOWDEN: Thank you for inviting me.
GREENWALD: So yeah, go ahead.
MC: Go ahead Glenn, I was gonna ask please, it's your call.
GREENWALD: So Ed, I began by by talking about sort of on a personal level, how much I appreciated the work and support of Amnesty over the last 10 months as my situation became precarious, as our journalism was threatened as my partner was detained, and Amnesty was first in line. And I know that you share my admiration for the work that Amnesty has done, but it's also the case that there's that obviously been lots of attacks on you around the world, and Amnesty was probably the first large-scale organization that came out and defended you, and has done so steadfastly and vigorously since. So maybe you could talk a little bit about kind of what that means for someone in your situation. You mentioned that you had seen them in the airport, and it's been 10 months now of pretty continuous support. Sow how has that kind of impacted the choices you've made and the things you've been doing?
SNOWDEN: So, when you do something like that, and you stand up for a principle. That is not a very safe thing to do, but it is something you feel compelled to do, there are one of two consequences, one of two possible outcomes. The first is that when the world looks at what you've done and the judge it, they determine that you've done something terrible, that's really undermined something what they stand for. Or they see it as something, that they believe, that they support, that they've been fighting long before you were even thinking about it.
And that's what Amnesty doing. Amnesty is one of those organizations where these are people are hard at work on hard issues, in hard places, where people aren't paying attention. Where it's not in evidence, and they're making a difference, they're keeping activists safe. They're protecting their rights, and they're even founded for recognition in human rights places all around the world, where people don't get the protections they deserve.
And when it came my time to have the strength of my rights tested, when my passport was being revoked, when I was being denied my chance to travel and seek asylum, even to cross borders, Amnesty was there. And they were one of the first organizations in the entire world who said “Hey, regardless of whether you support him, regardless of whether you're against him, We've all a right to seek and enjoy asylum, we all have a right to travel freely, and we all have a right to freedom of expression. And that's something I'll never [unclear] stood up for.
GREENWALD: Great so, um you know um …
You know it's been 10 months now since we were in Hong Kong, and going over things and doing the initial reporting, in some sense it seems like it was yesterday, and in another sense it seems like it was about 16 years ago, given everything that's happened between now and then. And one of the reasons that it seems like so much time has elapsed between that time and when we first started doing the reporting [unclear] and now is because the consequences of the disclosures have been so animal, so numerous, so significant not just in the United States but around the world. I don't know how much time you have to sit back and sort of try and look at the consequences and the fallout from the big picture. It's probably harder than is for me working day to day on these stories, but as you are, I'm asking you to do that a little bit and compare what you thought might happen and were hoping to achieve and compare to what has been the fallout. And kind of how do you think about the fallout from these disclosures, how do you think about the potential for reform? How does that compare to what you were hoping to achieve?
SNOWDEN: [laugh] That's a tough question, that's the problem. But its one of those things where this has become my life's work. I took a big risk to bring this information back to the public. This information shouldn't've been classified in the first place. The fact that our governments are monitoring everything we do, they're not just monitoring the content of our calls, they're not just monitoring what we're talking about, what Sally said about Josie. They're actually collecting the metadata, not just the calls, not just the emails, but all of our activities, all of our travels. And that's meaningful because metadata is what allows an actual numerated understanding, a precise record of all the private activities of all of our lives.
It shows our associations, it shows our political inclinations, and it shows again our actual activities, what we're doing. And the fact that everyone in the world knows about this now makes us all safer. And it's an incredibly empowering and encouraging thing, to see people talking about this. Because they're not easy issues, they're not sexy issues, they're not things people get excited about.
But now we have debate happening in countries all over the world, newspapers all over the world and led by organizations like Amnesty, that just yesterday announced a new coalition against the unlawful surveillance exports [of] technology for spying. Saying “hey, we shouldn’t be selling the things that make this possible to countries that are going to abuse it.”
These are things that everybody had been trying to get people to pay attention to, but it hadn't worked. And now they are, now everyone talks about it. So we haven't gotten to where we need to be, governments are still saying “Hey, you guys are taking this too seriously, you don't understand. This is really not that bad.” But the reality is, the public is not persuaded. The public realizes that it is that bad, that these are our rights. That we shouldn't be … our private homes, out private beds, our private beds, our private feelings and thoughts shouldn't be intercepted, and scrutinized, and analyzed, and critiqued by some guy in a government office who's not accountable to anyone.
And I think when we get to there, I think we can go further, I think that there's a lot more to be done.
GREENWALD: You know what, I had an interesting conversation with a critic, I think 2 or 3 weeks ago. I have a lot of conversations with critics these days because I have a lot of critics [Snowden chuckles], although not as many as you, I think. But this was a person who's actually been supportive of work that I've done in the past. Has been a reader, and said look “I'm glad that you were able to do this reporting, but I'm really kind of anxious for you to get back to writing about drones or indefinite detention or abuse in Guantánamo or American militarism and the like. Because there’s all these topics out there as well, and I hope that you're not going to neglect those for any longer.”
And at first I though to myself that actually it is kinda true that I've focused on this issue of NSA surveillance and related issues, which isn't all that surprising when you have a source who comes forward with probably the most significant leak in US national security history. You tend to do some work on that up to the exclusion of other things. But the thing that I actually thought about was, and what I ultimately told that person was: I actually didn’t feel like, the more I thought about it, that I had been neglecting those issues. Because they're really not divisible, they're really inextricably linked from the revelations you enabled and the journalism that we'd because the NSA of course is part of the US military, is part of the Pentagon, it's run by generals.
And what seems to me to be the case because the premise that underlies the system of mass surveillance in secret, of mass suspicionless surveillance in secret that we've been working on, is really the same principle, and is part of the same system as all those other issues. This idea that the United States government can do whatever it wants without even notifying its own citizens in any meaningful way that it's doing it, and can completely disregard the rights of its own citizens, but even more so everybody who's not a citizen in order to assert dominion and control.
And one way of doing that is invasions, another way is through torture, another way is through indefinite detention or drones, another way is through mass surveillance. Do you... how do you see this, what some people think of as kind of a discreet and narrow issue of surveillance, related to all those other things?
SNOWDEN: Right so, the way I would cover that, when people think this is taking attention away from crimes, taking attention away from Guántanamo, taking attention away extraordinary rendition: they need to remember that the privacy right is a foundational issue. The privacy right is where we get the right to speech from, it's where we get the right to associate freely from, it's where we get the right to a free press from. Because none of these things are possible if we're not allowed to discuss, and to think, and to challenge and explore, and basically figure out where we stand on these issues. Beyond that – those issues that you mentioned, when you think about drones, how does NSA, how does the US military, how is the CIA hit their targets? They're not targeting humans. Humans don't have GPS locators embedded in our skulls, it's the cellphones that we're carrying around.
Mass surveillance enables drone strikes, the people who are in Guantánamo are often picked up because of innocuous conversations that they have online, on the telephone, that weren't actually related to the things that they did that were actually questionable. If they even had any association with [unclear] , which for many has never been proven, or even attempted to be proven. Extraordinary rendition is the same case: how do we know where this person's gonna be at what time of day on what street to pick them up and take them off? These are all products of surveillance, and when we talk about surveillance, when we talk about the privacy right, what we need to understand is that this isn't about being watched.
The conversation that we're having isn't just about what we say on Facebook and what the government thinks about it. This is about the relationship between the public and governed. This is about the governed and the governing. What we are seeing today is a renegotiation in our civil society, the role between what the public says and what the public can know about the policies that affect our lives and what the bounds are. And what the government can decide for us, behind closed doors, without our knowledge and consent. And I personally believe that we cannot have democracy if we do not have the knowledge and consent of the public in the government's policies.
GREENWALD: So …
SNOWDEN: If I could actually ask a question to you, 'cuz I haven't talked to you.
GREENWALD: Trying to do a little role-reversal?
SNOWDEN: Right, right, right. In a long time. I'm gonna interview you for a minute.
One of the things that I see personally, is what a couple bloggers, people in the media, people who are really high-information and seems to follow the issues have started to call sort of “surveillance fatigue.” Where some actually more important stories than the initial ones that were revealed last year are getting very little attention.
For example, in the US a lot of the legal reform is about section 215 which is about bulk metadata collection, about everyone in the country's phone calls. BUT that's not talking about content collection, that's not talking about warrantless surveillance of Americans, in which the Director of National Intelligence recently just admitted that they are doing to Congress. It's not talking about the bulk monitoring of internet communications. And personally for me I think one of the biggest issues that hasn't been covered by the media are the stories that you've started in The Intercept, the new outlet that are about the political targeting of surveillance against dissidents, against people who aren't actually involved in national security issues at all.
Can you tell us a little bit about those stories, how you feel about them, why do you think they haven't gotten so much attention? I'm talking about things like political and associational tracking, JTRIG, the other big one is “Online Influence Operations,” where our governments, western governments are intentionally subverting, tricking journalists with online forums, into putting forward false news, or actually creating propaganda, and using it on places like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter [unclear]
GREENWALD: Yeah, I would say a couple things about that. One of the advantages of having in your possession, many, many, many, many top secret government documents is that it makes it much more difficult for the government to use effectively it's principal tactic, which it tends to use first and foremost whenever it gets caught doing something which it shouldn’t be doing. And that tactic is to lie to the public, to mislead and to deceive the public. And the reason that it is more difficult to do that with journalists and the whistleblower who are in possession of their own documents, because every time that they do that, you can then publish more documents showing that they're lying.
But what's so amazing is they are so adept at misleading the public so routinely, and they have so many allies in letting them do that principally the people who pretend to be the watchdog journalists, who are there to adversarially scrutinize what they say, but who in reality uncritically amplify it. Even when there's no evidence for it, and even though it's false. As the New York Times can happily explain to you when telling you why they helped sell the Iraq War to the country based on false pretenses. And so you have this reporting that you've done. And at the core of the government's defense is a lie, is an absolute lie, that they keep repeating over and over, which is “the only information that we're collecting about Americans is just metadata. We're not collecting content without warrants.”
Now, Ed, you just did a really good job of explaining why collecting metadata can actually be as invasive if not more invasive than having somebody read your email or listen to your phone call. But even if you are dubious about that proposition. What the government is saying, which is that we only collect metadata on Americans and not content is absolutely false.
The Government is constantly reading people's emails, or constantly listening their telephone conversations who are American citizens without any warrants. That was the Bush NSA warrantless eavesdropping program that essentially got legalized in 2008 when the FISA Amendments Act got passed. They are... all these programs, whether it be XKEYSCORE or all sorts of other programs designed to collect and monitor and store emails and listen to telephone calls, constantly listen to the content of Americans' communications when they're speaking to a foreign target. But they've done a pretty good job with that lie that they're telling Americans. “Don't worry, that the only thing you really need to worry about what we're doing is collecting your metadata.” And that's why the legislative effort has largely focused on metadata reform. Because there's all this content collection that they're doing under the FISA Amendment Act and 702 that they've done a good job of concealing.
The other aspect to look at though, is... I'm not sure you were able to hear the part of the conversation before you joined, but we were talking about the reason that the story has resonated so much more than other revelations, and one of the reasons was, what I had said what I had thought the big reason was, because this story wasn't just about spying on American Muslims, or on Occupy or Palestinian activism, or people perceived as dissidents. This implicates everybody. The first story we did of course was the Verizon order that said they're collecting all Americans' telephone records.
The stories about political abuse tend to be ones by definition that are directed at people who are engaged in political activity that the government finds radical or threatening. And that has always been a problem. Is how do you get people to perceive themselves as fans of the government, or the current party, or the current president, people who view themselves as harmless, to say “I don't really mind, and don't feel threatened by surveillance that's directed at those troublemakers because I'm not one of them,” and the only thing I can say about this collection of stories that we've done so far that do show targeting of political dissidents. Just like the 1960s abuses, whether it's collecting information about people who visit the Wikileaks website or targeting hactivists, which are just people who use computers and the Internet to engage in political activism, or collecting the pornographic online activity of people who the United States government considers to be “radical.” With a plan as how to destroy their reputation.
That is all political abuse, all I can say about that, is mark my words, put stars by it, and in two months or so, come back and tell me if I didn't make good on my word. There is a lot more reporting to be done that shows we are not just under a system of mass surveillance, that it is not just these occasional political dissidents who are being abused, their rights being abused by the system of surveillance. But it is very much similar to the abuses of the 1960s in terms of people being targeted because of their political opinions, and because of their controversial political activism. And my hope and my belief is that as we do more of that reporting, and as people see the scope of the abuse as opposed to just the scope of the surveillance they will start to care a lot more, and ultimately that's our job as journalists is to make people understand why they they should care.
SNOWDEN: I'd like to point out...
One key point there that you made is the intelligence community, the sort of pro-NSA, pro-surveillance senators and congressmen out there who champion these programs, they do it on very narrow terms. They say not that we're not doing this, but that we're not looking at it. And I think that's actually a distinguishing factor that makes this worse than the 1960s and the 1970s than previous eras of surveillance, is the fact that we are all actively being monitored. All of our interceptions, this call, right now is being collected and indexed by the NSA. They've got the metadata, they've got the IP pairs, they see the to and from places, they've got the router, they can intercept, they can try to break it back, and can talk to me. But the key is, that happens programatically even without a target. They say we don't target Americans, but the reality is they also say we're not collecting on Americans. And this is what, and this is false. This is a key point that I think a lot of people haven't understood: is they don't use those words the way you do, they are collecting those calls in normal English, but they don't call that collection, they call that ingestion, they call that interception, they call that analysis, they don't call that collection.
Thee problem is they do that because the secret court, the FISA court, the rubber-stamp court lets them get away with this, the way our laws were written, what the NSA is doing today is forbidden, it is unlawful and unconstitutional. However...
… it was... these things typically aren't allowed. If you look at the law, and you look at what they're doing, it's not possible, there's no argument to be made. However, what they've done is they've decided not to take that argument to the public, because they know they would lose. They ask for these authorities in the 1990s, to be able to intercept and decrypt, to backdoor every cryptographic communication, the public and congress said no, it did not survive public scrutiny.
So what they did post September 11th was George Bush, vice president Dick Cheney, and his council, his legal council to the vice president, David Acton, got together and created this program called STELLARWIND, they did it on the president's authority, without any legal authorization at all. They just said “We're going to do this, and nobody's going to stop us” eventually it culminated into a conflict where the Acting Attorney general threatened to resign. He said “this is illegal, this is unlawful, this is unconstitutional, and I'm not going to stand for it.” So what did they do? They used this gap on the president's authority, to take these programs to take these programs to the secret surveillance court, which over 33 years and over 34,000 requests has only rejected 11. Eleven out of 34,000 request for government surveillance.
And they asked this court, that isn't accountable to the public whose justices aren't elected, they're appointed by one guy to approve new definitions of the words in preexisting laws. They redefined the meanings of the terms “collection,” they redefined the meaning of the terms “electronic surveillance” they redefined our constitutional rights without asking us. And I say “what good are our laws, if the words in them can be reinterpreted, if the meanings of our laws can be reinterpreted by secret courts, and secret judges and secret judges and secret agencies, without any public accountability? Without any public input at all?” I don't think that's democracy, I think that's something the public deserves to know about.
GREENWALD: [unclear] About that, about that last observation of yours, Because I think that one of the arguments that has been made most frequently by critics of what it you chose to do was that even if you believed, because of your conscience, or your political values, that what you discovered the government doing was actually wrong, even unlawful and unconstitutional, that there were mechanisms that had been created within the government for you to go to and use, in order to get this information evaluated, and if appropriate public. And every time I hear that, although I try and take that argument seriously, because part of what I do in aiding the public debates, is to discuss them, and engage them. Is that I actually have a hard time laughing, on not laughing rather at the idea that the United States government has created within itself mechanisms that are designed to expose its own wrongdoing in a meaningful way.
And if you look at the history of American political institutions especially after 9/11, but certainly before that too, it's not a new trend, but it really became intensified and exacerbated in the wake of 9/11. What you see is that all of these institutions that were intended to provide this kind of transparency and accountability have all radically failed. So if you look at the American media as we've just referenced, they've done far more to justify what the government does and to amplify false claims than to investigate them or scrutinize them. If you look at what the congress had done, every time they hear that executive branch wrongdoing is discovered, they enact laws that are designed to immunize the wrongdoers and to legalize the lawbreaking. They've done that with military missions in Guantánamo, they've done that with NSA.
What most amazes me is that there are actually a couple of members of the senate who have been pretty vocal eloquent critics of the NSA, and there are two in particular who sit on the intelligence committee and have access to all of that information that's classified that you had, and were able to bring to the world, and they are Ron Wyden and Mike Udall, and even though....
GREENWALD: ...those two senators, as powerful as they are, and as passionate as they are about NSA abuses, instead of notifying the public and their constituents about what they themselves said was illegal and abusive eavesdropping, they instead went around and did this little media tour for 2 or 3 years, and hinted and winked and did little dances and said “Oh boy, if you only knew what the Obama administration is doing in interpreting the PATRIOT Act, you would be stunned to learn the powers they have claimed for themselves.” And yet they, these few senators who could have gone on the Senate floor and done it with impunity were afraid to do what it took you to do. Which is come forward and disclose to the public what it is that even they thought the public should know.
And I thought the worst example, the most broken, shamefully defective institution in the post 9/11 era has been the federal judiciary. Which is really designed to be the institution of the same part of last resort, they have life tenure so they're immunized from political sentiments, they're supposed to do the politically unpopular thing, if it means forcing the government to abide by the law. And yet they have been the most subservient, the most abdicating of their duties. Just yesterday a family in Yemen, whose son Anwar al-Awlaki, and whose grandson, his 16-year old grandson, Abdul Rahman al-Awlaki, American citizens both, along with the family of Samir Khan sued in American court to say something very simple, which is when the government kills us without due process we should have a remedy. We should be able to sue the government for killing our children and grandchildren, our American children and grandchildren on purpose without due process.
And what the court did, what courts have done in almost every single one of these post 9/11 cases with people who are wrongfully tortured, who were wrongfully detained, they said you have no remedy whatsoever, we are going to protect the secrecy of the US government and their power and not even adjudicate their case, let alone give you justice.
When you were making your analyses about what it is that you could do about this stuff that you were discovering, this wrongdoing that you believe has been taking place, when you were considering your options how did all that weigh in? I mean did you look at these institutions and see how broken and defective and subservient they were? Did you consider going to them? Why did you ultimately decide that you couldn’t trust to accomplish what you think needed to be done?
SNOWDEN: This is sort of a heart for whistleblowing [unclear] It's a very complicated and complex task. But when we see cases like you mentioned, where we've got senators Wyden and Udall who say “the NSA is violating the constitution, and if you knew how, if you knew what I knew, you would be troubled by it, you would be outraged, you would demand and end to it.” But they withheld that information from the public, just as everyone [unclear] Wyden and Udall as brave as they are, but a group that is not exceptionally brave.
The same thing with these courts, where the easiest way to summarize is in June, Barack Obama, the president came before us and he said “all three branches of government had review this, we've begun this process, there are no abuses, there are no problems, you should all not worry about this, we've got it all taken care of.” Then, after it came to the public's attention, after the public [unclear], after the public impulse came out, and said the public disagrees.
All three branches have changed their positions, the president [unclear] and said “we need to end these programs.” He said this conversation that I had started had made us stronger, not weaker. The congress has put forward all kinds of new bills to restrict the powers and abuses of the NSA, the justices, the judges, the federal courts have declared these programs Orwellian and likely unconstitutional, and that happened on the very first case where they were reviewed by open courts rather than secret courts.
And what we see from this is when these organizations, when the normal channels as they say failed, they failed congress they failed across branches, they failed across agencies, they failed across policies. You create a fear of being the first to break the message, the first to rock the boat, the first to stand up, and that takes a lot of courage. And that's a lot a lot to ask for a career [unclear], I'm not saying that we should expect from everyone. But when you're in the highest offices, when you're in the senior offices, you have an obligation, you have a duty to the public to show courage when it comes to matters of principle, when it comes to matters of the way our government functions, when int comes to our constitutional rights.
And when the Supreme Court is being looked at by all of these other judges who say “Hey, I'm really afraid to, afraid to rule on this, because this is an executive program, and I'd like to demote myself to a not-coequal branch because I'm concerned about not being criticized, only you can do this.” It's up to the Supreme Court to take up that mantle. Unfortunately we've seen the Supreme Court reject informal cases, we've seen them vacate cases due to lack of standing. Saying they couldn't prove they had been spied upon, even though we all suspected they had, and the judges have a power, certainly to compel the government to say whether they're doing it or not. And that's a problem.
So when you ask me “why did I do it, why did I do that thing?” I can speak up when Wyden was afraid to. It was because I saw James Clapper lie to the Senate Intelligence Committee. The Senate Intelligence Committee knew that they were being lied to, and neither of them corrected the record. Even though James Clapper had the question in advance, he knew that he was lying, the senate would lie to the American people. So we had to ask ourselves: when the executive branch, and the legislative branch are both lying to us, they are both withholding information of our constitutional rights. [unclear] and the courts fail to review it who does it fall to? My answer is the public. What whistleblowers do, they are the branch of American society, they are members of the government, the government asked us to swear an oath to protect the constitution of the United States against enemies foreign and domestic, and when we see that even senior officials are violating the constitution, we have a duty, we have an obligation to tell the public and let the public decide what should be done.
MC: [unclear] our time is coming to an end soon, and Edward, I don't know if you had a chance to hear, but we have more than 900 people who have packed into not only this ballroom, but another ballroom, and they're so excited and you really pumped them up. So my last question is to both of you: what do you ask these folks to do? They want to keep supporting you, they want to keep helping push this issue forward. What's the ask to all of these great activists, what can we do next?
SNOWDEN: Glenn, why don't I let you go first on that one?
GREENWALD: That's very generous...
GREENWALD: Let me say a couple of things, I think most people now know the story that when Ed first contacted me, the first thing that he asked me to do anonymously via email was to install encryption technology so that he and I could communicate securely, because he knew better than anyone, or certainly as well as anybody that if we were to try and communicate without it, the government would have an easy time monitoring it, and at that time it seemed like something very difficult to do, it seemed very technologically complex, especially for someone like me who wasn't too very well versed on those issues. And what I've come to learn over the last year is that it is hard to overestimate, in fact it's almost impossible to overestimate the extent to which the government really is invading the communications of anybody who is doing anything of interest to them.
I think there is a tendency on the part of people to think that may be paranoid, that might be theoretical. It is really the case, if you are somebody who works on human rights, or somebody who works as a lawyer, or somebody who works as a journalist, or a citizen who engages in activism. It is almost at this point a responsibility to safeguard the sanctity of your communications by learning basic encryption, by making sure that you're doing everything that you can within reason to keep your com– your communications in confidence.
And one of the reasons it is so important to do that is because it not only protects you and your sources, and people with whom you're working. But it also makes it much harder for the government to know who to surveil, It is really amazing, so many documents that I've looked at reveal this incredible thing, which is that the government looks for people who are using encryption for other forms of technologies that help you remain anonymous on the internet, and use that as a cause for suspicion because they think “Oh, if that person wants to prevent us from reading what they're saying, they must be up to no good.” And the reason that works is because right now there are few enough people who are using encryption that they can target the people who do.
If we all start using encryption more and more, if we all start paying attention to the need to protect our privacy and our technology of our communications, it will be incredibly difficult for the government to use that as grounds for suspicion. If we're all building those walls around what we're saying and doing from the government, it becomes something that is much more difficult. That is something that we as all individuals not only can be doing, but I think should be doing. And the other last thing I want to make about that is that I think there's a tendency on the part of people who battle against injustices done by powerful factions, even the people who are most devoted to it, to sometimes come back to the mind thing, to sort of indulge defeatism, to think this doesn't really seem like it's going to be possible to make meaningful strides, these institutions are too formidable, they're too entrenched, what can I as an individual or a human rights organization really do against these enormous forces?
And one of the reasons why my interactions with Edward Snowden will have so profoundly affected me, and will shape what I do and how I think for the rest of my life is because the lesson that he actually taught all of us is about the power of any individual to change the world, to literally change the world. And there are a lot of other examples like that from the anonymous street vender in Tunisia who set himself on fire and helped to spark the Arab Spring, to all sorts of people who have done things out of their conscience even though they had no power, or position, or prestige that spawned unimaginable social and political change and liberation and revolutions and the like. But I do think that the more people do it in such a prominent way as he has done, I think that's an important thing that we should do is learn that lesson: and realize that defeatism has never worked, and that we all have that ability within ourselves. With the right will and the right courage and especially the right political passion to find the ways to really change things in ways that are probably more significant than we think we are even capable of doing, and that is the lesson that he taught me and that I hope he teaches everybody.
MC: We'll take one last comment.
SNOWDEN: Yeah, it's tough to follow that one up. Thanks.
GREENWALD: You may be likewise.
SNOWDEN: I would say, the United States issue, the first is what one citizen can do. Movements begin with individuals. Amnesty knows this better than anybody else. Every country in the world, places where people are really oppressed, where things get really bad. Movements start with one person standing up and saying “no”, in times of trouble, the most patriotic thing a person can do is say “no.” Rights are non-negotiable, rights are not up for compromise, human rights are inabrogable by any government, by any agency. But movements that start with one person, only succeed with class payments. And that's what it takes is solidarity. So when people ask me what can Amnesty do, what can Americans do, what can citizens all around the world do, the answer is stand in solidarity.
Remember when the government, every government, in every country asks you to give up your rights, and to modify the domain of your private rights, your home, your household effects, the privacy of your communications. Saying “no” is not unpatriotic, saying “no” is the right thing to do, not just for yourself, not because you shave something to hide, but because you recognize there are vulnerable people around you, your family, your friends, everyone around you. Somewhere, someone needs that right, and if you give it up, you harm that person. By standing together with them, by calling for an end to the spying by advocating, by getting out there and campaigning, to say “no, we have the right to privacy, we have the right to be free from unwarranted intrusion” we'll have a better future, and it will be thanks to the work of people like Amnesty International.