The Snowden Model and Finding Our Power

I finally watched the film Citizenfour, about the release of the NSA documents by Edward Snowden.

aerial view of Utah NSA data center in a desert setting

Your tax dollars at work. NSA data center in Utah, which makes an appearance in Laura Poitras’s film, Citizenfour.

The whole film is impressive, but I was struck by this section where journalist Glenn Greenwald is asking Snowden about whether to release his name and ID him as the source of the documents. Greenwald wanted to make sure that Snowden wanted to be named before the government figured out who was behind the release.

Snowden responds: “I don’t want to hide on this and skulk around. I don’t think I should have to. I think it is powerful to come out and be like look I’m not afraid and I don’t think other people should be either. …We all have a stake in this. This is our country. The balance of power between the citizenry and the government is becoming that of the ruling and the ruled as opposed to actually the elected and the electorate.”

He adds: “I don’t think there’s a case that I’m not going to be discovered in the fullness of time. It could take them a long time. I don’t think it will. I didn’t try to hide the footprint because, again, I intended to come forward.”

Greenwald responds that he’s going to run the story the next day, which will be a general defense of whistleblowers and Snowden in particular, and, “Also a fuck you to all the people talking about investigations.”

Snowden: “It’s inverting the model that the government has laid out where people who are trying to say the truth skulk around, hide in the dark, and quote anonymously and I say Yes, fuck that.”

Greenwald responds in part: “You feel the power of your choice. I want that power to be felt in the world. It’s the ultimate standing up to them. ‘I’m not going to fuckin’ hide even for one second. I’m going to get right in your face. You don’t have to investigate. There’s nothing to investigate. Here I am.’”

“The power of your choice” — what a great phrase. In thinking about war tax resistance, how do we help people to see “the power of their choice” rather than the fear and the what ifs that prevent them taking action and/or openly refusing (even a small amount) of the war taxes they abhor?

—Post by Ruth Benn