Source: The Guardian
On Thursday, I questioned Russia's involvement in mass surveillance on live television. I asked Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, a question that cannot credibly be answered in the negative by any leader who runs a modern, intrusive surveillance program: "Does [your country] intercept, analyse or store millions of individuals' communications?" I went on to challenge whether, even if such a mass surveillance program were effective and technically legal, it could ever be morally justified.
The question was intended to mirror the now infamous exchange in US Senate intelligence committee hearings between senator Ron Wyden and the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, about whether the NSA collected records on millions of Americans, and to invite either an important concession or a clear evasion. (See a side-by-side comparison of Wyden's question and mine here.) Clapper's lie to the Senate and to the public was a major motivating force behind my decision to go public, and a historic example of the importance of official accountability.
In his response, Putin denied the first part of the question and dodged on the latter. There are serious inconsistencies in his denial and we'll get to them soon but it was not the president's suspiciously narrow answer that was criticised by many pundits. It was that I had chosen to ask a question at all.
I was surprised that people who witnessed me risk my life to expose the surveillance practices of my own country could not believe that I might also criticize the surveillance policies of Russia, a country to which I have sworn no allegiance, without ulterior motive. I regret that my question could be misinterpreted, and that it enabled many to ignore the substance of the question and Putin's evasive response in order to speculate, wildly and incorrectly, about my motives for asking it.
Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/18/vladimir-putin-surveillance-us-leaders-snowden
I thought Snowden deserved to defend his reasons for asking Putin questions of Russia's surveillance operations. I can't believe how many even on DU think he is a some kind of traitor. And that his questioning of Putin was a part of some nefarious evil plot. I've heard views that are almost to the point of Snowden being some super secret international spy who is colluding with Dr. Evil to destroy the USA.
I will grant that I think Putin never would have allowed the question in a public forum like that if he thought he could not use it in some way. In this case most likely to be able to publicly deny his own country was as bad as the USA. It was for the Russian people's consumption. But I believe that Snowden simply took advantage of the opportunity to raise the question. To start asking questions like this in Russia too. I'm sure he was smart enough to realize that he wouldn't be getting the truth, he just wanted to get the ball rolling. Read the second paragraph of the excerpt.