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Greenwald, Snowden Joint Address on Surveillance & Erosion of Rights

Whistleblower and journalist speak to crowd at Amnesty International Human Rights Conference

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and journalist Glenn Greenwald made a joint appearance on Saturday in which they discussed how the "products of surveillance" include accumulation of metadata as well as drone strikes.

The two were speaking via separate video streams at a session of Amnesty International USA's annual human rights conference taking place at a hotel in downtown Chicago.


According to Reuters' reporting on the event, Snowden and Greenwald

cautioned that government monitoring of "metadata" is more intrusive than directly listening to phone calls or reading emails and stressed the importance of a free press willing to scrutinize government activity. [..]

"Metadata is what allows an actual enumerated understanding, a precise record of all the private activities in all of our lives. It shows our associations, our political affiliations and our actual activities," said Snowden [...]

"My hope and my belief is that as we do more of that reporting and as people see the scope of the abuse as opposed to just the scope of the surveillance they will start to care more," [Greenwald] said.

YouTube user Dori Kenyon captured some of the event, which can be seen below. In the video, the Intercept journalist describes his response to a supporter who wanted him to move away from covering NSA stories and get back to issues like drones, Guantanamo and indefinite detention. Greenwald explains how they are not separate issues, but inextricably linked.

"The premise that underlies the system of mass surveillance," Greenwald said, "is really the same principle and part of the same system — the idea that the government can do whatever it wants without even notifying its own citizens in any meaningful way that it's doing it, and can completely disregard the rights of its own citizens but even more so the rights of anybody who's not a citizen in order to exert dominion and control."

"One way it does that is through invasions. Another way is through torture. Another way is indefinite detention or drones. Another way is through mass surveillance," Greenwald said.


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Snowden added, "When you think about drones, how does NSA, how does the U.S. military, how does the CIA [not clear] its targets? They're not targeting humans. Humans don't have GPS... It's the cell phones we're carrying around."

Snowden said the people in Guantanamo might have been captured over some call they made, and asked how the CIA knows where a specific target for a drone strike might be. "These are all products of surveillance."

"What we are seeing today is a renegotiation" of what the public is allowed to know and what the government is deciding for us behind closed doors," Snowden said.

Some at the conference took to Twitter to share the event as well:


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