So you’ve got your ticket to the sold out “Breaking the Silence” with Edward Snowden event today. You saw Joseph Gordon Levitt play the titled character in “Snowden” with OUAB at its last Flicks For Free showing. You’re ready to go. But what do you need to know before sitting down in a full Grand Ballroom today at 7:30pm? We’ve got you covered with a FAQ on all things Snowden to get you prepped for what is sure to be an incredible lecture.
1. What was Edward Snowden’s position that allowed him access to the now infamous classified documents?
The CIA? The NSA? Actually neither. Though previously employed by the Central Intelligence Agency, Edward Snowden was working for Booz Allen Hamilton, a management consulting firm specializing in government affairs, in the months prior to his now infamous leak. He was assigned as a contractor to the National Security Agency in Hawaii and had clearance to access much of the organization’s classified information. In May of 2013, Snowden fled to Hong Kong with thousands of unauthorized documents, which he revealed to journalists the next month.
2. What did Edward’s Snowden’s leak reveal?
The very first story revealed that due to a top secret court order, the NSA had been collecting telephone records of millions of US Verizon customers. Later, it was revealed that in addition to Verizon, nearly every major telephone company in the US was doing the same. Though the contents of the conversation were not included in the records, the numbers of both participants were handed over as well as location data, call duration, and unique identifiers.
Other revelations shuffled in over the next year. One report indicated that the NSA spies on foreign leaders, including our allies. Another showed that the NSA can request user data from tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, which are obligated by law to comply. For a more in-depth look, google “PRISM” (but understand that the NSA will know you did).
3. Why did Edward Snowden feel obligated to share this information with the public?
Ever read George Orwell’s 1984? No? Ok, go read 1984.
Snowden’s documents for the first time showed that the communication records of millions of US citizens were being collected “indiscriminately and in bulk” – regardless of any suspicion of wrong-doing. Snowden believes this to be unconstitutional. “Privacy,” he says, “is the fountainhead of rights,” and its intrusion can be used as a weapon of oppression to abridge all other freedoms.
Others agree. Others do not. Come through tonight and develop your own opinion.
4. What is next for Edward Snowden?
Well in the immediate future, Edward Snowden will be speaking exclusively to Ohio State students!
Much beyond that is relatively unclear. He is currently residing in an undisclosed location in Russia having been granted temporary political asylum. However, this protection expires in 2017. Snowden and others have called on President Obama to pardon the former NSA contractor before he leaves office, but the President has appeared unlikely to oblige. The possibility for pardon seems even more unlikely under President-Elect Trump who in the past has been reported to have said, “Kill the Traitor.”
If Snowden returns to the US, he is sure to face the charges filed against him in a court of a law. Nonetheless, an exciting backdrop for this evening’s event. Doors open at 6:30pm in the Archie Griffin Grand Ballroom. We are looking forward to seeing you there.
Written by: Nick Lennon