Snowden: Calls to Reform Intelligence Agencies Prove I Did the Right Thing

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 3 2013 12:29 PM

Snowden: Calls to Reform Intelligence Agencies Prove I Did the Right Thing

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A frame grab made from AFPTV footage, reportedly taken on October 9, 2013, shows US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden speaking during his dinner with a group of four retired US ex-intelligence workers and activists at an unidentified location

Photo by AFPTV/AFP/Getty Images

Edward Snowden says he has been vindicated. The former National Security Agency contractor writes “A Manifesto for the Truth” in Germany’s Der Spiegel on Sunday, saying the debates about mass surveillance that have been sparked as a result of his leaks show he was right to leak the classified information.

"Instead of causing damage, the usefulness of the new public knowledge for society is now clear because reforms to politics, supervision and laws are being suggested," the 30-year-old wrote, according to Reuters. "Citizens have to fight against the suppression of information about affairs of essential importance for the public. Those who speak the truth are not committing a crime."

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The information he released means that “in a very short time, the world has learned a lot about irresponsible and sometimes criminal intelligence services operating over-monitoring programs,” Snowden writes, according to the Google translate of the article.

A long piece in the New York Times Sunday that was in large part based on Snowden’s leaks seems to at least partly prove his point. The more than 4,500-word article that details how amazingly broad the NSA’s mission has become seems to have an overarching message: What’s the point? The NSA seems to do much of its activities, even the most controversial snooping on friends and allies, because it can, and because nobody is watching, rather than because it serves any useful purpose. Much of the data the agency collects seems to be just in case it proves useful in the future. And even when the mission is clear, the documents leaked by Snowden “also seem to underscore the limits of what even the most intensive intelligence collection can achieve by itself,” notes the Times, citing examples from Afghanistan and Syria.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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