WATCH: Edward Snowden Slams Obama For Growing Surveillance State in Joe Rogan Interview
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden called out former President Barack Obama for growing the surveillance state and enabling illegal activity from intelligence agencies, during a remote appearance on Joe Rogan’s The Joe Rogan Experience this week.
Appearing via live video, Snowden touched on a variety of topics, most interestingly Obama’s shift from supporting whistleblowers to persecuting them.
After being asked by Rogan whether he took “any comfort from knowing that Obama” had outlined “provisions to protect whistleblowers,” Snowden laughed and replied, “Obama also in his campaign… campaigned actively against the warrantless wiretapping of the Bush administration.”
“Obama’s saying, ‘That’s not who we are, that’s not what we do,’ and yet within a hundred days of him becoming president, now he’s sitting in that chair, [and] rather than extinguishing these programs, he embraces them, and expands them,” Snowden continued, adding that every president since John F. Kennedy has been successfully ‘feared up’ by intelligence agencies.
“As soon as they come in, they read you the litany of horribles. They go, ‘These are all the threats that we’re facing,’ and let me be real, it is a dangerous world, it’s not just all made up BS. Some of it is… but they make it sound more serious than it actually is,” the whistleblower explained. “And you have just gone through a hellish election because our electoral politics are so diseased, and now after you’ve crawled through fire you’re already thinking four years ahead. How do I stay in this seat? And these guys are basically saying, ‘If you don’t do X, Y, and Z, this is going to fall on your lap,’ and the implication, which I don’t think they say but every president knows, is these guys can undermine you to death.”
Snowden elaborated, “If you’ve got the IC against you, they can stonewall you, they can put out stories which are gonna be problematic for you, every day of your presidency. And it’s not that it’s necessarily gonna cast you out of the White House, but it’s a problem as president you very much don’t want.”
“They go, ‘Look, you need to worry about this country, you need to worry about this group you’ve never heard of, you need to worry about this technology. You need to do all this stuff. And the only reason we can tell you this stuff, and the only thing dividing America and the abyss are these terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible programs that are in fact wonderful things because they keep back the darkness,'” he claimed. “So here’s the real problem, every president hears that, and first off they’ve got so many other things to do, so they just nod their head and go, ‘I’ll deal with this later in my administration.’ And this is one of the ironies.”
Snowden noted that when he came forward in 2013, during Obama’s second term, “one of the responses that they had to the mass surveillance scandal was, ‘Yes, we think they went a little too far.’ This is after the initial thing, where they went, ‘Nobody’s listening to your phone calls… Nobody can have perfect privacy and also have perfect security, so we’ve gotta sort of divide a line here between the Constitution and what the government wants to do.’ But they said, ‘We were gonna get to it. We knew these programs were problematic but if they just gave us more time, we would’ve fixed them.’ Maybe it’s true, right? It seems awful convenient in hindsight.”
On the topic of the “deep state,” Snowden remarked, “Fear is a powerful thing. But the guys who are doing that briefing, they’re no longer scared of it because they’ve been dealing with it for years. This is the oldest thing. They’ve given this briefing times before. People talk about the deep state, they talk about it like some conspiracy of lizard people. It’s something much simpler. Deep state is simply the career government. It’s the people who are in the same offices, who outlive and outlast presidencies.”
“They’ve seen Republicans, they’ve seen Democrats, they don’t really care, and they give that same briefing again and again, and they get good at it. They know what they want. They know what this person is saying. Whereas the president, they don’t know who these people are,” he continued. “These people have been there before the president, they’re gonna be there after the president, and so they give this very effective, very fear-inducing speech and then they follow up with their asks, which are really demands.”
Snowden concluded, “Maybe Barack Obama honestly did want to get to this later, but what we can say today is for all the good that may have been done in that White House, this is an issue where the president went through two full terms and did not fix the problem, but in fact made it worse.”
During his interview with Rogan, Snowden also explained that he’s now finally living a relatively normal life in Russia, where he can ride the subway and eat out at restaurants without being recognized by many people.
He also reiterated that he would return to the United States if he could be guaranteed a fair trial and the ability to explain before a jury why he did what he did.
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