A fulfilling mission

December 25, 2013 - 6:47:55 am
The NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has declared ‘mission accomplished’. And independent experts are unlikely to disagree with him.

Seven months after revelations were first published from his mass leak of National Security Agency documents, the world is a slightly changed place. The huge embarrassment and diplomatic troubles which the revelations have caused the US administration and the global brouhaha they triggered have served two purposes – first, to expose the lies of the US government that the massive snooping the NSA is undertaking is meant to protect the country from terrorism, and secondly, create a global awareness and a movement against brazen and unprecedented snooping. Washington is still reeling from the consequences of those revelations, and the fact that the whistleblower had planned the whole mission intelligently and meticulously has contributed to its success. Snowden had taken a high moral ground from the beginning, and has been able to stick to his position since then.

The NSA documents, which were passed to the Guardian, as well the Washington Post and other publications, revealed how technological developments were used by the US surveillance agency to spy on its own citizens and others abroad, and also to spy on allies, such as the US on Germany and Australia on Indonesia. The publication of the news in Indonesia that it was being spied on by Australia created a diplomatic row between the two countries. Snowden said the agency was spying on “more Americans in America than Russians in Russia” and were not entirely comfortable with the data collected on “ordinary” citizens.

Snowden made the ‘mission accomplished’ declaration in an interview with Washington Post. He said that for him, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished. “I already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself. All I wanted was for the public to be able to have a say in how they are governed.”

The Obama administration has already announced that it’s taking a relook at the NSA’s surveillance programmes. The extent of reforms under consideration is not known, but chances are that NSA will be reined in. The snooping agency’s future actions will continue to be scrutinised by the public and the staff. Snowden has given the courage to many to stand up against the crushing powers of the establishment. 

In the Washington Post interview, the whistleblower likened himself to an ascetic and a house cat and said he rarely left the house, spending most of his days surfing the internet. But that’s a price worth paying for the mission he has undertaken•
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