Sunday, January 19, 2014

Snowden to Join Board of Freedom of the Press Foundation

By Rabin Man Shakya. Ph D

Edward J. Snowden, an American computer specialist, a former CIA operative and former National Security Agency contractor who disclosed classified NSA documents to several media outlets, has been in sensational international headlines continuously since May 2013 up to now.

Judging by the news stories, Snowden has attracted as much controversy as support by disclosing classified NSA documents.

According  to the New York Times, Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor whose leaks of secret documents set off a global debate about government spying, is joining the board of a nonprofit group cofounded by Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War." (The New York Times, Jan 15, 2014)

The NYT story went on:"The announcement by the group, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, is the latest contribution to a public relations tug of war between Mr Snowden's critics, who portray him as a criminal and traitor, and his supporters, who say he is a whistleblower and a news media source in the tradition of Mr Ellsberg."

Meanwhile, in an online statement, FPF's co-founder  Daniel Ellsberg said:"I am proud and honored to welcome Edward J. Snowden to FPF's board of directors. He is the quintessential American whistleblower, and a personal hero of mine."

Ellsberg added:"Leaks are the lifeblood of the republic and, for the first time, the American public has been given the chance to debate democratically the NSA's mass survellance programs. Accountability journalism can't be done without the courageous acts exemplified by Snowden, and we need more like him."

Snowden, who landed in Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport on June 23, 2013 aboard a plane from Hongkong, is living in Russia where he was granted temporary asylum. Going by the news stories in the newspapers and digital journalism, it looks like Snowden's crusade has morphed into an international sensation and has focused on the war against the mass survellance programs.

There is no doubt that Snowden's modus operandi has has garnered a global interest and has imparted some kind of lessons of wider political ramifications. As the New York Times pointed out in a scathing editorial (Jan 18, 2014): "On Friday, after seven months of increasingly uncomfortable revelations and growing public outcry, Mr Obama gave a speech that was in large part of an admission that he had been wrong."

The NYT editorial further said: "The president announced important new restrictions on the collections of information about ordinary Americans, including the requirement of court approval before telephone records can be searched. He called for greater oversight of the intelligence community and acknowledged that intrusive forms of technology posed a growing threat to civil liberties."

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