In this fifteen minute excerpt, 60 Minutes interviews a few of the leading generals in the National Security Agency about the latest procedures and data collection techniques used to promote our homeland security. Lately, due to the recent leaks released by the now infamous Edward Snowden, the NSA has been in the spotlight, being criticized for its pervasiveness and lack of restraints on its tracking abilities. Over the course of these interviews, the NSA explains itself in an attempt to prove to the public that it does not use invasive procedures to gather its information and data; a misconception that has gone viral since the Snowden incident.
Like almost every citizen in America, I have never been directly affected by the processes the NSA uses to obtain information. As explained in the video, the Agency collects personal data from all citizens, yet all sources are anonymous and noninvasive. Several people still feel like they are being spied on mostly due to their misunderstanding/lack of understanding of the NSA’s procedures and exaggerations of the truth. Much speculation has come from only a few, extremely rare, instances where Agency employees have broken their on rules and snooped on their subjects. However, matters dealing with privacy were in the hot seat due to the extremely large number of leaks released by Edward Snowden. A considerable amount of people see Snowden as a man of the people, releasing top-secret government files that reveal the truth about government actions to the people. On the other hand, the NSA views him as a traitor to the American people because he has the ability to reveal several faults in the safety precautions and procedures that could lead to countless problems for the USA’s safety in the future. Although he can sometimes be titled as a “hero” of the people, Snowden sees himself only as an average American exercising his rights.
The most bothersome clip throughout this segment begins around the 10:15 mark, when John Miller asks the leading general of the Agency of the amount of power and the breadth of knowledge that is contained within the millions of files stolen by Snowden. He admits that there are several files that were taken that could lead to several problems for American security, containing information about the weaknesses in the the country’s defense system and its lack of knowledge regarding other nations around the world, such as China, North Korea, and Russia. Fortunately, those files have not been released to the public but the General understands that their release would cause several problems for homeland security.
Like I stated earlier, I have never been bothered by the way the NSA performs is job, but the chance that a revelation could come in the near future is quite nerve-racking and could lead to several more problems for the NSA and the nation’s defense as a whole. Although some leaders in the NSA would like to bargain or correspond with Snowden in order to receive the lost information, others wish to grant him no mercy and to not let him get away with such a huge incident. Although there has been no deal made between the two parties, I feel like it is safe to assume that the NSA is working to retrieve the files and make the best of the Edward Snowden situation.
This New York Times article by David Brooks attempts to look at the Edward Snowden crisis from the other side of the fence. A handful of journalists and supporters have nearly enshrined Snowden as a hero to American citizens for his work in uncovering the secret surveillance of private citizens by the NSA and CIA, along with other federal agencies and bureaucracies, and distributing a large portion of their stash of information to said journalists. However, David Brooks views Snowden’s actions as selfish and rash. He believes that Snowden is an introvert that, in this case, did not ask for the opinions of those he was trying to liberate from “oppression” or have a support system that could critique his plans, actions, and goals. This disregard of Snowden to even ask for the desires of his “endangered flock” sheds light on his motives for leaking information. By committing these crimes, Snowden’s immaturity and dishonesty in this event is exposed by Brooks.
Brooks’ view is nearly the antithesis of Greenwald’s. He believes that government has a right to keep secrets in order to protect its citizens and that Snowden took an oath to maintain secrecy about his work. This view solidifies Snowden’s lack of respect for his employers and the citizens of America by revealing top secret information. Contrary to Greenwald’s position, Brooks is completely reluctant to accept Snowden as a hero to the populous.
In this Edward Snowden interview James Bamford spends two weeks in Moscow to get the chance to interview Snowden. James Bamford asks Snowden about his life and work for NSA. Snowden talks about how he came to work for the CIA and then eventually the NSA. He talks about the doubts and troubles he had when first being exposed to larger and larger breaches of privacy. He tells Bamford about the first time he copied NSA information to be released later, while he was in Hawai’i in early 2012, and how as he moved up the ranks he became more and more disturbed, gathering more files all the while. Finally when Snowden got wind of MonsterMind, an NSA computer capable of starting cyber attacks autonomously, and the NSA director blatantly lying to the public he broke. That is when, on March 13, 2013, he decided to act.
Greenwald and Bamford have very similar views on Ed Snowden. They both agree with what he did, and that the NSA has gone too far. They both support him coming back home and receiving a fair trial, in short they both think Snowden was right and justified in what he did. Where they differ in opinion is much more interesting. While Greenwald denounces Congress, the President, and pretty much any other government body you care to name, Bamford is not so quick to hand out judgments.
Bamford very prominently displays that, “the US House of Representatives moves to put the brakes on the NSA. By a lopsided 293-to-123 tally, members vote to halt the agency’s practice of conducting warrantless searches of a vast database that contains millions of Americans’ emails and phone calls.” Bamford believes that Congress is against the NSA’s surveillance while Greenwald criticizes the way that Congress and the government act at every turn.
Greenwald condemns the whole US government, implying that they have taken away rights given in the Constitution (4th amendment) and the Declaration of Independence (pursuit of happiness, and to revolt). Giving the impression that nothing short of a complete overhaul can fix this problem. Bamford on the other hand believes in all three branches of the government, Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court, to help fix this issue. He believes that the NSA is one lone rouge branch that can and will be contained. While Bamford and Greenwald agree on Snowden, they cannot seem to agree on how we should fix this problem that has been exposed.