New Yorkers Declare “I Stand With Edward Snowden”: Dozens Rally & Draw Positive Media Attention for NSA Whistleblower

[NEW YORK, NY]  At 12:00pm EST activists, journalists and concerned New Yorkers assembled at New York’s Union Square for a rally in solidarity with National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower, Edward Snowden. Snowden, a contractor at Booz Allen Hamilton and the source behind The Guardian‘s near-weeklong stretch of blockbuster scoops highlighting PRISM and similar pervasive surveillance programs under the authority of the NSA, has become a household name overnight. Similarly, this revelation has created a groundswell of concern for Snowden’s welfare, who is currently seeking refuge in Hong Kong and may in the near future require political asylum from a criminal investigation opened yesterday, 6/9/2013, by the US Department of Justice (DOJ). The call to “Stand With Edward Snowden”, which was issued online shortly after journalists Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald published Snowden’s video testimonial, is the first of what is expected to be many events spanning multiple cities, in support of the NSA whistleblower.

Edward-Snowden

“You have to make a determination about what is important to you…” said Snowden in his prerecorded interview published yesterday, “if living un-freely, but comfortably is something that you are willing to accept —and I think that many of us are, its the human nature …you can get up every day, you can go to work, you can collect your large paycheck for relatively little work against the public interest and go to sleep at night after watching your shows— but if you realize that’s the world that you helped create, and it’s gonna get worse with the next generation, and the next generation who extend the capabilities of this sort of architecture of oppression, you realize that you might be willing to accept any risk, and it does not matter what the outcome is so long as the public gets to make their own decisions about how that is applied.”

Organizers of today’s rally hope the assembly (which drew a few dozen despite torrential rain) will do more than lionize Snowden, they hope to use the event to continue the conversation Snowden started regarding the preservation of 4th Ammendment protections of personal privacy in an age of new media. “As young people in the digital era, it is imperitive that we have an understanding of what happens to the data we create and post, with or without our consent,” said rally organizer Yoni Miller. Moreover, the activists want to make sure that these grievances are not co-opted by partisan narratives, “It’s good these revelations are happening under President Obama,” said NYC activist Astra Taylor, “so we can see that this is structural, instead of blaming a Republican villain & praying for Democratic rescue.”

Taylor’s concerns are mirrored in-part by Snowden, who indicated to The Guardian that he was hopeful these surveillance systems would have been “reined in” when President Obama was elected, but was later heartbroken when he saw them expand further under the Obama administration. “The greatest fear that I have regarding the outcome for America of these disclosures is that nothing will change.” said Snowden, “People will see, in the media, all of these disclosures, they know the lengths that the government is going to grant themselves, unilaterally, to create greater control over American society, and global society, but they wont be willing to take the risks nessicarily to stand up and fight to change things, to force their representatives to actually take a stand in their interests.”

“Edward Snowden chose to willfully free dark side national security information as a brave and courageous act of selfless civil disobedience,” said former NSA executive director, Thomas Drake. Snowden’s actions and the resulting threat of prosecution he faces are familiar to Drake, who in 2010 was arrested under the U.S. Espionage Act for publicly challenging a similar data-vacuuming project called Trailblaizer. While the Trailblazer project was eventually cancelled due to budget bloat and missed goals, it was later linked to a warrantless wiretapping program under the Bush Administration code named “Stellar Wind”. This program continues today under the code names RAGTIME and RAGTIME-P, the later acronym applies specifically to domestic data collection, the “P” suffix stands for “Patriot” a reference to the USA Patriot Act. Under RAGTIME-P the NSA appears to be using an interpretation of §215 of the Patriot Act to grant themselves the legal authority to conduct domestic intelligence gathering. On June 6, 2013 Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), author of the USA Patriot Act, expressed deep concern over this interpretation of §215 in a press release and letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.

Chris Hedges, who served for decades as a foreign corespondent for The New York Times, has witnessed several foreign democratic governments ebb towards a creeping surveillance state.  In recent years, Hedges has warned that similar transitions could happen here in the United States if left unchecked.  When asked about Snowden he remarked,  ”Edward Snowden, like Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, has joined the ranks of the hunted and the persecuted because he named and documented the crimes of the state. His defiance of the control and monitoring of our lives by the security and surveillance makes him an American hero.”

The organizers of today’s rally underscore that Snowden’s leak was selective and not reckless in nature. The activists also have expressed concern over the possibility of future attempts to demonize the whistleblower, and encouraged others to act preemptively to assure that does not happen. Lee Camp, a celebrated comedian and organizer with Occupy Wall Street echoed these sentiments, “Let’s get ahead of this story and let the world know Edward Snowden is a hero before the media and government get to work maligning him.”

Today’s rally is just one example of individuals taking proactive action in support of Snowden. Others, like Icelandic Parlementarian Birgitta Jonsdottir, are going one step further by beginning the legal process of obtaining political asylum for Snowden should he chose to seek it. “I stand with Edward Snowden because what he did is of tremendous importance to everybody on this planet, especially those in the USA.” said Jonsdottir, “I will do everything in my power to find ways to shelter him from the wrath of governments who want to carry on with their culture of secrecy even when it becomes obvious it is impossible and unjustifiable to invade the privacy of their civilian populace. I challenge other lawmakers of conscious to do the same.”

It is unforeseen what will become of Edward Snowden. His $200k/year job at Booz Allen Hamilton became available just days after first contacting journalists, and in leaving his home in Hawaii he has left both financial security and his loved ones behind. Today’s rally provided New Yorkers an opportunity to continue the conversation surrounding domestic spying on US citizens to which Snowden provided a catalyst for, and gave those attending an opportunity to thank him for this courageous and selfless act.

“There are more important things than money. If I were motivated by money, I could have sold these documents to any number of countries and gotten very rich.” — Edward Snowden

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» Full disclosure: While The Sparrow Project did not accept any compensation for this release, and does not represent Edward Snowden in any capacity, The Sparrow Project has provided media relations services to MP Birgitta Jonsdottir in the past, and upon request will continue to field future requests for MP Jonsdottir, including those pertaining to political asylum for Edward Snowden as they relate to MP Jonsdottir.

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Comments

13 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Jessica,

    It’s unfortunate that this rally will be held during the weekday during work hours, I would have liked to attend.

  2. Sean,

    This guy should be tried, convicted and condemned to death for being a traitor! We live in a free and democratic society but that does NOT ENTITLE us to know each and every detail of what our government does. Who does this clown think he is? This traitor who doesn’t have a high school education is now more knowledgeable than everyone else within the NSA! This piece of crap spoke of oppression while living in Hawaii and cashing his huge paychecks. How was he oppressed? He states that he’s not afraid because he has done nothing wrong. Well why did it take you a week to come forward and after you’ve already left the country? He speaks of doing nothing wrong. Well I will guarantee you that the vast majority of those whose information was collected, stored and then erased didn’t do anything wrong either and have nothing to fear! In situations like this, the American government has gotten soft! I don’t remember the spies name but he wasn’t going to plea UNLESS his wife received the benefits that he was once entitled to. She received the benefits. This traitor and those in the future need to be made an example of. Turn your back on your country, not only you but your entire family become fair game! Maybe the next one thinking about becoming a traitor will have second thoughts knowing the his younger sister, a senior in high school getting ready to graduate, will become a target.

    TRY, if found guilty CONVICT and CONDEMN. NO DEALS PERIOD!

  3. Jerry Busch,

    The June 6, 2013 letter from Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), author of the USA Patriot Act, provides background material that suggests that the Administration’s Verison and web surveillance activities violate even the Patriot Act, that citadel of personal liberty.

  4. Blitzburgh,

    My home in Louisville is open to Mr. Snowden!!

  5. Winston,

    Thank you Mr. Snowden, All Best. No offense to the security services, but the whole “terrorist’ narrative is out of control. While very lucrative to some parties it is ultimately self destructive.What are Israeli co.’s doing with NSA? That’s treason, pure and simple. Israel’s self created problems could be resolved if they would simply stop the murdering,stealing, and corrupting. The premise of a ‘state’ that finds it impossible to ever treat its own citizens with justice and can’t get along with any of it’s neighbors doesn’t bode well for it’s future, does it?

  6. Brian,

    Your work is a blessing and a hope. Please let us know what we can do to help this great hero!

  7. Chanel,

    His salary was $122,000.00 and he was only employed 3 months.

  8. Patricia Sadowski,

    This whistleblower IS HONOR. History will view him so.

  9. Appreciating the time and energy you put into your blog
    and in depth information you present. It’s awesome
    to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same unwanted rehashed material.

    Excellent read! I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

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