Edward Snowden – “Permanent Record” & Life as an Exiled NSA Whistleblower | The Daily Show
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Edward Snowden – “Permanent Record” & Life as an Exiled NSA Whistleblower | The Daily Show

October 27, 2019

Edward Snowden, uh,
welcome to the show. -Good to be home. -Let’s jump
straight into the book, because I don’t know how long
you have in that secret hideout where you’re doing
this interview from. -Um…
-(laughs) It’s just my apartment
in Moscow. -Oh, okay.
-(laughter) Well, don’t tell us
where it is. I mean, I don’t want to…
I don’t… Don’t pull a Trump here, dude.
Come on. Um, some people call you
a patriot, right? Others believe that-that…
that you’re a traitor. Do you think this book will
change peoples’ perceptions, and what do you see yourself as? Well, when I-I-I…
I set out to write this book, I wasn’t trying
to change opinions. I was just trying to, uh, tell the story
of what has happened. Um, and when I’m looking at, like, the change of technology
and everything like that, the only way you can get people
to pay attention to something that has been in expert
conversation for so long, that’s so complex, uh, is
to give them characters, right? Um, so, yeah,
it’s the story of my life, but it’s actually about more. It’s a dual history of the change of technology
and the change of the intelligence community
over time. When people ask me
if I’m a hero or a traitor, uh, I say, “Look,
I’m-I’m just an ordinary person. I’m like you.” Whistleblowers
aren’t, uh, like… You know, we-we… we aren’t… um… elected. We’re not, uh,
exceptionally skilled. Uh, the-the thing that-that…
that puts us in place, the thing that makes, um, the disclosure matter
are-are the facts. It’s really about what you see,
rather than what you are. -So…
-Right. We’re kind of elected
by circumstance. Right, and one of… one
of the things you talk about in the book– in fact,
the first line of the book– is you say, “I used to work
for the government. Now I work for the public.” What does that mean? Well, I didn’t realize
there was a difference. Um, I-I grew up
in a federal family. My-my father worked
for the government, my mother worked
for the government, uh, in the-the courts
after she worked for the NSA. She actually still works
for the courts, uh, and they-they, uh… The government just sued me -on the day this book
hit the shelves. -Right. Uh, so you could say
it was… “born a crime.” -Um…
-(laughter) Touché. -(laughter)
-But, uh… (laughs) Yeah,
the-the nice thing about that, um, is the-the book was, uh,
not getting that much attention. It was, like, uh,
25 on the charts. And then, the government said, “You know, we don’t want you
to read this book.” Uh, they said, “God, sue Snowden
as fast as you can. Do anything you can.
Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!” And, uh, now we’re number one
basically everywhere. So you can say
the attorney general is the best hype man
that I’ve ever had. (applause) The… the attorney general
has come out and said that, like, you were supposed
to pass this book for review. So as somebody who’s worked
in-in, um… you know, in the defense space, as somebody who worked
with government secrets, you were meant
to submit this book to them. And they are saying
they would have passed it if you just followed the rules. Why didn’t you follow the rules? -(Snowden laughs)
-(laughter) Okay, well, first off,
I am a noted rule follower. -Um…
-(laughter) but, uh, while… while
they are technically right, uh, there’s no oath of secrecy. A lot of people think
there’s an oath of secrecy. There’s an oath of service,
which is not to the Agency, it’s not to the government–
it’s to support and defend the Constitution
of the United States against all enemies
foreign and domestic. But there is
a secrecy agreement, and that’s
what he’s talking about. It’s called Standard Form 312,
and it basically says: No, after I know all the secrets
and I know where the aliens are, um, I’m not gonna tell anybody
about it. Uh, however… if the thing that you see, uh,
in your secrecy agreement conflicts
with that oath of service, if the thing that you see
is that the government itself– the Agency itself– is actually violating
that Constitution, well, now you’re
kind of screwed. And then if you try
to explain what happened, and if you write a book
about how it happened and-and how we get out of it, and then you’re supposed
to send that book to the CIA and let the CIA kind of edit
your life story, would you do that? I would not. -I can safely say I would not.
-Me, neither. Right. Uh, where do people go… so then where do we go
from here? I mean, you-you became infamous
for spilling the secrets. You know, people now know
about mass surveillance. But now we live
in a world where, as you talk about in the book,
you know, surveillance has
so many levels to it. You have… institutions
that are surveilling us. We have private companies,
as you know, surveilling us. You see breaches from everyone,
you know, Equifax to Facebook. What can people do to protect
themselves and their data? Or is this something
that we should just give up? Well, so this is, you know,
a lot of people ask me this, and they want, like,
sort of the Edward Snowden operation security guide for,
like, how I would use a phone or how I avoid surveillance, but, guys, uh,
you don’t want to live like me. Um, you don’t want to have
ordinary people fighting an arms race against the most well resourced
intelligence services on the planet. You don’t want ordinary people
trying to out-engineer these technology companies
that are basically earning more money than anybody else
on the planet. Um, that’s not reasonable.
It doesn’t make sense. And then when we look
at what’s happening in Congress, Congress is like, “You know,
oh, we’ll pass some law.” By the way, the United States is one of the only
advanced democracies on the planet that doesn’t have
a basic privacy law. Right? Everybody’s like,
“Oh, we’ve got a privacy law, the Fourth Amendment.” Fourth Amendment’s
obviously very dear to me. That’s what I stood up and really burned my life
to the ground over. But the Fourth Amendment
only restricts the operations
of the federal government, the state government. It doesn’t do squat for you
against Google and Facebook. So they say
“data protection laws,” right? And we’ve had advances
since 2013– more communications
are encrypted; now you’ve got
encrypted messengers. We’ve got lots of ways
to be safe-er, right? But then when we talk about
what all these guys are doing and how they’re monitoring
all of us, um… they say,
“Well, data protection laws.” But the problem
with data protection laws is that it presumes
the data collection was okay. And that’s the problem. Um, as you might have realized, I was flipping through
your memoir before this, because that’s
kind of what spies do, -(laughter)
-um, and, uh, you wrote… you wrote
actually really movingly about something that struck me,
and it was kind of similar to one of the chapters
in my book. Mine was called “The Boy,”
and it’s about how I am, um, uh,
in my final position, working directly with the tools
of mass surveillance, I can see anybody’s e-mails, I can see what you’re texting
back and forth. You know, the guys that are
working left and right of me are turning their monitor
to show me nudes of the wife of one
of their targets, and, uh, they say, “Bonus.” Um… But then I see, uh, this picture–
it was actually a video– of a child in the lap
of his father. A-And the, you know,
it’s like a toddler, they’re smacking
on the keyboard. Um, and they don’t realize
what’s going on, but he kind of glanced
at the camera, and I felt
like he was looking at me. And this really shook me because when we talk
about surveillance, we’re talking so much
about an abstraction, -we’re talking about things
that don’t feel real. -Right. And when I was looking at yours,
you mentioned, um, buying a camera at some point. There were so many times,
you know, you get an electric razor,
it doesn’t really bother you. It doesn’t strike you
as anything criminal. -Right, but the camera
has something -But then… inside of it that contains
peoples’ memories -and their lives.
-Right. You realized
that it wasn’t a thing that had been stolen,
it-it was a memory. And that was in the context
of one person. I realized that the machine– I was a technologist
in the NSA– all of the different parts
that I’d been working with, all of the systems,
they had stolen and were stealing, not just
one person’s memories, they were stealing everyone’s,
everywhere, all the time, and they still are right now. A-And so I got up out
of the chair and, you know, I didn’t try to burn down
the NSA. I didn’t– I’ve published
zero documents. I-I gave them to journalists,
and there’s a long, complicated thing in the book
about how and why and where the lines are. Um, but I wanted not to say, “This is the way
the world should be.” I wanted to give it to you. I-I wanted to say,
“This is what’s happening.” And really, guys,
the question for you is, “How do you want to live?” We are, today, being used
against the future. We’re being used against
our children. Everything we do now
lasts forever. Not because
we want to remember it, but because we’re no longer
allowed to forget. So then when people
read this book, and people read through
the life of Edward Snowden, and-and what you had to do– as you say, burn down your life
to expose these secrets. Some might say, “Well, Edward,
why don’t you come back “to the U.S.
and then just fight, you know, the legal system,
and prove your case?” You know,
and you’ve said previously you can’t do that because
some of the information you need to fight your case
is something that they would not allow you
to use in court. But you-you are at a point now
where people know the name. You know, the book
is gonna be out now. Do you think you would take
your chances coming back to the U.S.
and hope that one juror would see your point of view? Or are you just living
in Russia now forever? Is that your life? No. This is, this is
a great question. My-My ultimate goal
will always be to return back
to the United States. And I’ve told the government,
actually, from year one, that I only had one condition
for returning, and that’s that I could get
a fair trial. Now, people go, “Oh, well,
what’s a fair trial? What does that mean?”
Um, and I-I think that’s actually not
that hard of question. There are two questions
that come up in this case. Um, one: Was the law broken? A-And that’s not actually, really particularly
the interesting question, um, because the law
in this case is simply: Was classified information
given to someone who is not authorized
to receive it? Which is basically
any journalist. It’s the public. It’s you. It’s everyone who did not know that their constitutional rights
were being violated, because that was the secret. Um, but there’s
another question there, which is, okay,
if the law was broken, was it justified?
And think about this. If you murder someone, you can tell the jury, “Well, they were trying
to kill me. It was self-defense.” The jury can go, “Well, yes,
they did break the law. -“Yes, they did murder someone.
-Mm-hmm. But it was justified.”
The government argues, um, that you…
there is no justification for telling a journalist,
no matter what. In fact, they forbid the jury from hearing
why you did what you did. You cannot voice this.
And don’t take my word for it. Just two days ago,
the day before my book came out, um, there is a whistleblower
by the name of Daniel Hale. He’s in U.S. prison right now. He was arrested for giving
documents that were classified to journalists
about the U.S. drone program. Extrajudicial killings. And the United States government
just filed– in the same court
that they’re going to charge me, the Eastern District
of Virginia– they just put in a complaint,
a filing before the judge that said,
“We demand that the court “prohibit the jury from hearing “and we prohibit the defendant “from saying
why he did what he did -because it’s irrelevant.”
-And that… Yeah. -And so you feel… -They said
the jury shouldn’t be distracted -with reasons.
-Right. So… I mean, that makes…
that makes a lot of sense. And so you’re in a… you’re in a serious predicament
right now. The book is gonna come out. Um, you know,
the U.S. government’s gonna fight not… for you to not get the money
from the book. They can’t stop the book
from coming out. Uh, but you are in Russia, where you’ve lived
for a long time now. You seem to be in good spirits,
which is interesting for someone who’s been
in Russia for this long. (laughter) -Like, what is that like? -Well,
they don’t have Taco Bell, -but they do have Burger King.
-Because, I mean, as someone who’s not a fan of surveillance,
Russia’s a weird place to be enjoying your life. -Is there something about Russia
we don’t know? -Yeah, yeah. -So, this is…
-Is, like… Is there… Are there, like,
cool spots in Russia that more people
need to learn about? -Is that where Edward Snowden
goes to chill? -At least… (laughs) So, Moscow is actually
a lot more like New York than you might think,
for good and bad there. Um, the problem is the politics
in Russia. The human rights record
of Russia are terrible. And a lot of people
don’t realize– and this is extensively covered
in the book– I didn’t choose to go to Russia. -Right. -I was en route
to Latin America. Um, the United States government
canceled my passport, and then, uh, when I was trapped
in the Russian airport… Uh, I spent 40 days
stuck in an airport because I wouldn’t cooperate
with the Russian authorities. I don’t know what the longest
layover you guys have ever had, but 40 days, uh… (laughs)
That was not the best part of the time I’ve spent
in Russia. Um, I applied for asylum in 27 different countries
around the world, places like France,
Germany, Italy, Norway. And every time they got close,
uh, to letting me come, the United States government would call, uh,
their foreign ministry, and it would be either
then the vice president or then the Secretary of State,
and they would say, “There will be consequences
if you let this guy in. “Doesn’t matter if it’s legal. “Doesn’t matter if the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights “says he has a right to seek
and enjoy asylum. “Um, there’s gonna be
consequences. “We’re not gonna say
what they are, but there will be punishment.” And so what I ask you guys is you would think, right,
former NSA, former CIA, like, the last place on Earth the government would want me
to be is in Russia. Why are they working so hard
to keep me here? And I think the reality is it’s just a convenient political
attack that will never go away. Well, you are truly one of the
most interesting human beings on the planet,
because you have lived one of the most interesting
lives on the planet. But one thing that
really struck me from the book is I think a lot of people
don’t realize how young and normal
you are and were before this happened to you. Like, you’re just a young guy
who, like, likes computers
and plays video games. -(laughs)
-And, like, I know that you-you
actually have to pirate games ’cause you can’t use
a credit card because then people
can track you. So, what–
like, what games are you– Are you, like,
a Fortnite person? Are you… -(laughs)
-Like, what-what games -does Edward Snowden play?
-I played… I-I played Fortnite recently. And, uh, I-I spent,
like, a week on it. And then I got really mad, because, like,
their matchmaking system, man. They-they just put people
who don’t know what the hell they’re doing in -with, like, the world’s
greatest pros. -(laughing) And I’m like, “Come on. Come–” I’m 36 years old, man. I can’t keep up
with these 12-year-olds. Well, you know what, man, I just want to say thank you
so much for your time. Um, the book is illuminating. Uh, I think everyone has
benefited from what you’ve done. Before you go though,
I do have one question, uh, to that r–
uh, to that regard. Do you think
you’ve made a difference? Or do you think
you’ve just been a big story? Like, is our data safer? Has the government
changed its tactics? Or was this all for nothing?
You know? Do you live in Russia
for-for nothing? There’s no question, um… And this is covered in the book.
It’s actually– The-the final chapter’s, uh, sort of an overview
of what’s changed. Um, there’s no question. The entire structure of the
Internet has changed since 2013. Uh, the world’s biggest
technology companies, good and bad for privacy,
h-have reengineered, um, the kind of protections
that we experience that you don’t even see, uh, simply because they realized
the government w-was sort of, -uh, going in, uh,
under cover of darkness -Mm-hmm. and helping themselves
to the buffet, uh, without anybody noticing. Our laws have changed. Our international standards
has changed. But the most important thing– and this is what I think
people forget– um, is you don’t look, uh, for some guy to come out of
a building a-and save the world. That-That’s not how life works. Um, what 2013 did, the most important thing
that no one can ever change, uh, is, before 2013, the idea of mass surveillance, people knew it was possible. There were technologists
and academics and people who suspected
this was going on. Um, but it was
kind of a conspiracy theory, because it was a suspicion. And that distance between suspicion and fact is everything in a democracy. That is all we have
in a free society, because we– if we can’t agree
on what is happening, how can we decide what we should do about it? Government in a democracy
derives its, uh, legitimacy from the consent
of the governed. And the biggest problem in 2013, uh, was that consent is only
meaningful if it’s informed. And they lied to us. Edward Snowden, thank you so
much for joining us on the show. Good luck in Fortnite. Permanent Record
is available now.

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  1. USA, a crazy place with crazy politic … damn, snowden is a hero, but everyone is afraid (except mother russia) to help him to have a normal life

  2. "Everything we do now lasts forever. Not because we want to remember it, but because we're no longer allowed to forget."
    Idiots that say "LeT tHeM lOoK I'vE gOt nOtHiNg tO hIdE" should listen to what Edward Snowden is saying for barely 10 seconds to see how wrong they are.

  3. The fact Trevor Noah doesn't understand the meaning of his question to Snowden: "I used to work for the government. Now I work for the public. What does that mean?" says enough.

  4. You can go ahead and stop playing the Bernie Sanders ads before I watch the YouTube video, he won’t get my vote 🙅‍♂️

  5. MAINSTREAM – How Hollywood Movies and the New York Media Are Promoting the Globalist Agenda — a James Jaeger Film www.HomeVideo.net (free) www.MoviePubs.net (DVD)

  6. Not watching this anti-American traitor, just commenting on his stupid ass. He first violated his security clearance by copying classified documents, (btw he wasn't a NSA employee, just a contractor for an I.T. company) then made the huge "revelation" that "we are all being spied upon and all of our emails are being read by the government". He then copied thousands of classified documents from a NSA computer, flew to the Soviet Union, and sold it to the Russians. Clear violations of the Espionage Act of 1917. His claim of the government reading all of our email and monitoring our phone calls is a lie, but the press paid him big money for the so called secret, not knowing it wasn't a secret at all.

    Snowden's simple ass and the news media he approached, wasn't aware of The Patriot Act, an Act of the United States Congress that was signed into law by U.S. President George W. Bush after 911, and allows the NSA to monitor online activity for red flag messages that imply terror plots. That activity is then monitored for anything nefarious and the person or persons investigated. It is totally a legal process and as a result over 50 terror plots have been intercepted. It is the same tactics used against organized crime and drug dealers. This was not classified secret squirrel human rights violations like Snowden would have you believe. The Patriot Act, a public document, clearly describes the investigative actions made available to law enforcement to fight terror.

    No comrade Snowden you are not a hero, a whistleblower, nor a patriot. You are a traitor who was trying to make some money at the risk of our national security.

  7. Back in the day you committed a crime and they sent you to Australia. Now they send you to Moscow. I would love to be both places. Moscow for women!!!

  8. Think like a proton Mr. Snowden, and stay positive💜
    Thank you for your sacrifices and courage to do the right thing!🙏

  9. This is nothing new. This is how America catch terrorists. It is what it is. Suck it up. As far Snowden its cool finding out the facts but in my opinion I think it was already obvious. I think he should of just kept journalists out the situation. But in all reality he's well no one is going crazy about Snowden. America got bigger fish to fry. I highly doubt Snowden is on the government public enemy number 1 list. He plays Fort Nite he's a legendary gamer. Guy aint hurting nobody. He just got loyalty issues.

  10. All the dislikes are the traitors to this country. Who dislikes a person who has the strength to stand up when seeing wrong being done in such a setting that most would fear their life in? Complete courage and bravery. He literally didnt owe anyone this action of choice and did it anyway. Impeccable show of character. I am Eric Snowden 💪💪💪

  11. I agree our government should not be spying on us.The truth of the the matter is they don’t even need too. The typical idiot exposes everything about themselves on social media.

  12. Trevor Noah you’ve never been in Moscow and judge how bad is this place? You just fuckin arrogant American idiot,( it is doesn’t matter that you’re from a hole called South Africa, you re Americanized)) Moscow is much cleaner, more beautiful, than ny! with many cultural events, museums, theaters, with historical architecture from the 15th century. New York is big shopping center which has not been cleaned for a long time) with skyscrapers from 70-80, with the dirtiest subway I’ve ever seen) you still think u the center of universe)) ur power is Times Square, but it doesn’t make your city beautiful to live in)


  14. Not really a hero, yet one with unheard of self sacrifice and integrity with an unwavering commitment to take a stand against fraud — by a government, whose leaders are willfully and knowingly in violation of the U.S. Constitution. He was put in a no win situation; put there via the government and his employer, who assumed he would be a sheep like the others who knew the same story but did nothing. Those in power, such as the head of the NSA and CIA, lying under oath when questioned if they engaged in spying on Americans. Yet presenting himself in the interview as being the only party worthy of making the best/ right decisions! Their use of that label of "traitor" is just more of the same bullshit manipulations they excell in. Snowden embarassed these clowns in government who lied under oath and lied to the American people and expected to get away with it, which is called entitlement. That's what his "fugitive" status is really about. They're all angry for having been called out. And angry they were unable to control Snowden like they have all the others.

  15. "The first line in the book is you say, 'I used to work for the government. Now I work for the public.' What does that mean?"

    If you really have to ask, you may never understand…

  16. One man who has done very much for the true American people, America is so corrupt that he was only safe in Russia haha

  17. how does this guy go on all these shows and he's broadcasting from an apartment in Russia but it has perfect video quality every time?

  18. right now the US government is making home DNA tests seem like the "cool thing" to do, even partnering with 23 and me to give free tests so they can have everyone's DNA ON FILE and people are falling for it! wake up people its data collection that can and will be used against you and or someone you love if they find a need an since it's voluntary no warrant needed.

  19. Snowden preparation for this interview is outstanding – he's clearly influencing public in general, but then he's referring to a memoire of this Trevor dude, who's probably a "voice" for the people on a daily or weekly bases (idk). He's touching him via mirroring an experience/memory of Trevor about a stolen camera (stolen memories) and linking it to his bigger message. So the actual goal is influencingTrevor who's a daily a voice of "the people" (again,idk). That's not just giving an interview. He's beyond human kind. Never forget Edward Snowden sacrificed his life to wake us up. Who doesn't want a guy like this in your country. This guy should be president and Jezus at the same goddamn time.


  20. This man is absolutely fascinating. His intelligence is evident, his goal clear, and is intentions admirable. I only hope that he can get to come home.

  21. It's amazing how we worship a traitor. Snowden's a true narcissist. He did this all for himself, and the man loves to hear himself talk. He was stealing documents long before he was aware of eavesdropping. I love my country and would never worship a traitor.

  22. Its comical how millions have seen this and probably feel like the US is commiting crimes and abusing there power to break rules and make rules yet all we do is watch and not act.

  23. Snowden is not a traitor , The Government lies , murders, steal, cheat and break laws continuously . Telling the truth like Mr Snowden did is not a crime .

  24. If Hillary Clinton was still around, the entire Snowden family would have mysteriously died one by one , …. suicide , car accidents, accidently falling out of a 20 story window . . .etc.

  25. this is so fucked up beyond belief. it makes me sick to think the government is so corrupt. its so sad, because no one is going to get up and lead the change necessary. this guy is living in vain and its a damn shame

  26. For a more in-depth conversation check out Joe Rogan's interview with Snowden. Trevor Noah has probably the biggest story of the year and still somehow manages to make a mockery out of it.
    Joe Rogan is a better comedian than Noah, and he manages to not turn a serious situation into ridicule.

  27. Andrew Yang is right, our data should belong to us and we should have the right to decide who we want to share our data whit.

  28. idiot! people aren't worth it. how many Americans are protesting on the street to have him returned and cleared of all charges? exactly! ruined his life for a species that is collectively ungrateful and cowardly. what an idiot.

  29. Why do you fucking idiots keep bringing up Trump? I know nothing else much going on up there but for your information this all happened under Obigears

  30. Nevertheless, someone's on the wrong side of history. Cant wait until its been written so we can give this man an award.

    Look into the story of Aaron Swartz – The Internets Own Boy. Let's not fail Snowden.

  31. When the black-face photos of Canadian prime minister, Justin
    Trudeau surfaced, every comedian worth their salt tried to make hay for laughs,
    on The Daily Show, that proved to be quite easy since every skin tone on this show
    is on the right side of the color spectrum, a lot of dark skin make-up was necessary
    to provide the laugh. On this same program the guest was whistleblower, Edward
    Snowden, remotely from Moscow, already a villain to some, found it necessary to
    darken his hair, mustache and goatee, to pitch his book, ‘Permanent Record’, in
    an effort to paint a more pleasing image, just as any author appearing on
    television would.

  32. Tell me Mr. Snowden, how much intel have you given the Russians so far since you are such a "righteous" person? Why didn't you turn yourself in and let yourself be freed by the people if you wanted to make a point?

    Oh that's right, you're the victim here, releasing almost a thousand documents to the public definitely was not your doing at all!

    Here you go:


    Tell me, after reading what he REALLY did, do you still think this man is a hero? Why do you think highly educated and highly intelligent people see him as a traitor? Clearly, there must be a reason for this. Click on that link, read the information, and found out the true facts about this piece of shit.

  33. Snowden outright says human rights in Russia are terrible, while being forced to live in Russia. This is why I respect Snowden. A lot of people would be afraid they'd get killed for saying that in a country like that.

  34. Ed should know this is the most backward, lying, full of shit show next to the view on U.S. television right now. He asks The reputed sell-out to the gov clown: "Would you send your book to the CIA? Webber Boah: "I would not" You lying piece of shit! You already did!!!

  35. Im really embarrassed that my government (Norway) didn't let this guy live here. He's one of the biggest heroes of our time.

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