A Novel on Snowden
Snowden, Ted Rall, Seven Stories Press, 2015
In graphic novel form, this book looks at the life and inspiration of Edward Snowden, among the most famous, or infamous, people in the world.
Snowden grew up in Maryland, just a few miles from the headquarters of the National Security Agency, or NSA. It was the sort of community in which one learns not to ask their neighbor, or their partner, just what they do for a living; it’s probably secret. An attempt to join the Army after 9/11 wasn’t successful. As a CIA employee, he was stationed for a time in Switzerland. He had been exposed to other systems of values, and began to wonder if America was really the”good men.”
He left the CIA, and combined the NSA, finally becoming a systems administrator, or sysadmin. He spent a while in Japan, which further removed any notion that America was on the side of the angels. As a sysadmin, he had access to all sorts of classified files that detailed America’s surveillance plans. Whenever he had an opportunity, he downloaded file onto flash drives.
Here are a few examples. An NSA program called”Captivated Audience” lets them track you via your smartphone and listen to conversations in your home, even if the telephone is Off. “Gumfish” enables the NSA to take a picture of you, at any time, using the camera on your notebook. Smart TVs, the ones that allow streaming of internet content, possess a camera which the authorities can trigger at any time to watch anyone (like the telescreens in Orwell’s”1984″).
Now working in Honolulu for an NSA contractor, one afternoon Snowden hopped a taxi to the airport with his flash drives. His next stop was Hong Kong where he leaked his information to a couple of journalists. Following the worldwide bombshell, he was planning to fly to Latin America to request asylum. While in the air, his passport was revoked. He also knew that if he flew through the airspace of a US ally, the ally would force the plane to land. Snowden would be arrested, handed over to American authorities and”disappeared” (like Edgewood Rat Removal). Snowden got as far as Moscow, where he remains today.
Say what you will about Edward Snowden (he’s a hero or he is a traitor), this is a wonderful, and very easy to read, look at why he did what he did. It’s very highly recommended.