What to take away from Snowden NBC interview
Since his explosion into the American consciousness, there hasn't been a day when Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency whistle blower who has famously remained in Russia since his major exposure of information, hasn't been in the headlines. However, the public has seen very little of him – it wasn't until a recent interview with NBC's Brian Williams in an undisclosed Russian hotel that Snowden made his formal American television debut. Though the news outlets are still churning and re-churning his statements and drawing new conclusions, here are the important things to know about their discussion.
Snowden does not regret whistle blowing
Before the interview was broadcast in full on NBC, American officials like John Kerry began to make statements on Snowden's character based on clips provided by the network to tease the full interview. One of these clips included a bold statement on Snowden's part where he expressed that not only could he "sleep at night," but felt that his cumulative actions were patriotic.
"Being a patriot doesn't mean prioritizing service to government above all else. Being a patriot means knowing when to protect your country, knowing when to protect your Constitution, knowing when to protect your countrymen, from the violations of and encroachments of adversaries," Snowden told Williams during the interview. "And those adversaries don't have to be foreign countries."
Secretary of State Kerry aggressively opposed this statement, according to CNN, and made a statement to NBC regarding the impending broadcast.
"Edward Snowden is a coward," Kerry said. "He is a traitor. And he has betrayed his country. And if he wants to come home tomorrow to face the music, he can do so."
Snowden upheld his actions in the interview with Williams, but opposed the picture the American political system has painted of him since the beginning. President Obama once famously referred to him as a "hacker," while other media outlets have repeatedly labeled him as a low level systems analyst, as Williams acknowledged in a direct question. In the interview, Snowden targeted this common statement as not entirely true.
Potential misconceptions and Russian affiliation
The NBC interview gave Edward Snowden the opportunity to make a public statement about his training which included, he alleged, training as a spy and extensive work for the American Central Intelligence Agency.
"I was trained as a spy in sort of the traditional sense of the word — in that I lived and worked undercover, overseas, pretending to work in a job that I'm not — and even being assigned a name that was not mine," Snowden said on the broadcast.
Williams aggressively questioned what many have wondered since Snowden traveled from Hong Kong to Moscow, where he was detained at the airport for forty days last summer. When asked if he had been in communication with President Putin and whether landing in Russia was a calculated plan, Snowden insisted that this was not true. Prior to getting his passport confiscated and refusing to return to the United States, Snowden insists that currently living in Russia was not a part of his plan, and that he hoped to move onto Latin America, according to CNN. Research done by Williams and the NBC team thus far indicates that specific statements made by Snowden, including an allegation that he had expressed concern with the NSA policies in writing prior to planning the information leak, checked out. Glen Greenwald also spoke on the broadcast, as well as documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, who was present as the story unfolded.
Though the interview is sure to provoke further investigation and conversation in the coming weeks, Snowden holds that he will remain in Russia and, he believes, is still doing good work for the American people.