November 3, 2013
While Edward Snowden may be reviled at the top echelons of Western developed nations and is wanted in his native US on espionage charges for peeling back the curtain on how the gargantuan government machine truly works when it is not only engaged in chronic spying on anyone abroad, but worse, on its own people, the reality is that his whistleblowing revelations have done more to shift the narrative to the topic of dwindling individual liberties abused pervasively in the US and elsewhere, than anything else in recent years. And alongside that, have led to the first reform momentum of a system that is deeply broken. Which also happens to be the topic of a five-paragraph opinion piece he released today in German weekly Der Spiegel titled “A Manifesto For The Truth” in which he writes that his revelations have been useful and society will benefit from them and that he was therefore justified in revealing the methods and targets of the US secret service.
In the Op-Ed we read that “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.”
RT adds: “Spying as a global problem requires global solutions, he said, stressing that “criminal surveillance programs” by secret services threaten open societies, individual privacy and freedom of opinion.
“Citizens have to fight against the suppression of information about affairs of essential importance for the public,” Snowden said in his five-paragraph manifesto. Hence, “those who speak the truth are not committing a crime.”
Even with the existence of mass surveillance, spying should not define politics, Snowden said.
“We have a moral duty to ensure that our laws and values limit surveillance programs and protect human rights,” he wrote.
The type of persecution campaigns that governments started after being exposed, and threats of prosecution against journalists, who blew the whistle, were “a mistake” and did not “serve the public interest,” Snowden concluded.
But “at that time the public was not in a position to judge the usefulness of these revelations. People trusted that their governments would make the right decisions,” he said.
Needless to say, all of the above points are spot on, which is why one hopes that Snowden does not intend on returning to the US to defend himself with only truth and justice to lean on, because the US Judicial system is just as broken, if not more, as every other aspect of a tentacular government, intent on growing to even more epic proportions and silencing anyone and everyone who stands in its way.
This article by Edward Snowden was published Sunday in Der Spiegel.
In a very short time, the world has learned much about unaccountable secret agencies and about sometimes illegal surveillance programs. Sometimes the agencies even deliberately try to hide their surveillance of high officials or the public. While the NSA and GCHQ seem to be the worst offenders – this is what the currently available documents suggest – we must not forget that mass surveillance is a global problem in need of global solutions.
Such programs are not only a threat to privacy, they also threaten freedom of speech and open societies. The existence of spy technology should not determine policy. We have a moral duty to ensure that our laws and values limit monitoring programs and protect human rights.
Society can only understand and control these problems through an open, respectful and informed debate. At first, some governments feeling embarrassed by the revelations of mass surveillance initiated an unprecedented campaign of persecution to supress this debate. They intimidated journalists and criminalized publishing the truth. At this point, the public was not yet able to evaluate the benefits of the revelations. They relied on their governments to decide correctly.
Today we know that this was a mistake and that such action does not serve the public interest. The debate which they wanted to prevent will now take place in countries around the world. And instead of doing harm, the societal benefits of this new public knowledge is now clear, since reforms are now proposed in the form of increased oversight and new legislation.
Citizens have to fight suppression of information on matters of vital public importance. To tell the truth is not a crime.
Translated by Martin Eriksson. This text was written by Edward Snowden on November 1, 2013 in Moscow. It was sent to SPIEGEL staff over an encrypted channel.