October 27, 2014 By AK Abdul Majeed

The Snowden Question: Espionage and Ethics



Edward Snowden, renowned for letting the genie out of the US top secret bottle, remains to be one of the legends of modern IT era. The US government apparently had no excuse – though lame – to offer in its defense. To the shock of right minded people all over the world the computer wizard exposed the near-universal mass surveillance programs of the U S intelligence agencies. The so called civil liberties erroneously attributed to the American democracy is proved to be a myth by the revelations of Snowden. Eventually Snowden has become a pain in the neck for the US administration.

The award-winning Guardian reporter Luke Harding recounts the unusual story of Edward Snowden in his book THE SNOWDEN FILES. The book has been designed as an espionage thriller with all customary ingredients like the presence of a glamorous girlfriend, secret missions and desperate battles for asylum. Harding puts together the most astonishing pieces of information from Snowden’s personal life to his public stakes. The book sheds light on the interiors of the US system of administration. Inarguably, the most powerful government in the world is that of America. So it is quite natural that they have the most sophisticated spy net work from which no nook and cranny of the universe can easily get away. Snowden who was one part of this system brought out many shocking facts intending not to torpedo the system but to save the public interest of the US citizens. He came to know that the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Central Investigation Agency (CIA) with the whole hearted support of the other Western Nations ruthlessly abuse the electronic media to spy the people. Even personal telephone calls are tapped and recorded in the NSA headquarters. Every individual is under electronic surveillance. Snowden who believed in democracy couldn’t stand this. So he collected maximum data from the NSA head quarters to hand over to Civil Liberties and Human right activists. The journalists and columnists who stood for these causes were his aides in bringing out these crucial files. Edward Snowden recalls that the U S administration went mad after the 9/11 incident. The NSA of America and the Government Communication Head Quarters (GCHQ) of  Britain joined hands in internet communications worldwide.

Luke Harding

How did Snowden get these files?

The author Luke Harding gives us a fascinating account of Snowden’s career route map while answering this million dollar question. Just like most of the celebrated techies Snowden left school without a certificate. He was born in North Carolina on June 21, 1983, and grew up in Elizabeth City. He dropped out of high school and studied computers at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, Maryland. Between his stints at community college, Snowden spent four months in the Army Reserves in special-forces training though he was discharged after he broke his legs in an accident. When the Bush government declared war on Iraq Snowden wanted to join the army and fight for “Human Right” there. While attending the interview he realized that the officers and soldiers are interested only in shooting people especially Muslims! All the other ‘white men’s burden’ was nothing but fairy tale!

Later Snowden landed a job with the National Security Agency as a security guard, which he somehow parlayed into an information-technology job at the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA stationed him in Geneva. While working at the NSA he began copying top-secret NSA documents. On May 20, 2013, Snowden took a flight to Hong Kong. The rest is news. The Guardian published the first episode of Snowden files on 5 June 2013. Snowden was forced to flee for life.

Snowden and his forced exile raise substantial questions about fundamental civic and constitutional rights in an increasingly globalized world.

Posted in: Books