Reflections On Ten Years Past The Snowden Revelations

In 2013 and 2014, I wrote extensively about new revelations regarding
NSA surveillance based on the documents provided by Edward
Snowden. But I had a more personal involvement as well.

I wrote the essay below in September 2013. The New Yorker agreed to
publish it, but the Guardian asked me not to. It was
scared of UK law enforcement, and worried that this essay would
reflect badly on it. And given that the UK police would raid its
offices in July 2014, it had legitimate cause to be worried.

Now, ten years later, I offer this as a time capsule of what those
early months of Snowden were like.


It’s a surreal experience, paging through hundreds of top-secret NSA
documents. You’re peering into a forbidden world: strange, confusing,
and fascinating all at the same time.

I had flown down to Rio de Janeiro in late August at the request of
Glenn Greenwald. He had been working on the Edward Snowden archive for
a couple of months, and had a pile of more technical documents that he
wanted help interpreting. According to Greenwald, Snowden also thought
that bringing me down was a good idea.

It made sense. I didn’t know either of them, but I have been writing
about cryptography, security, and privacy for decades. I could
decipher some of the technical language that Greenwald had difficulty
with, and understand the context and importance of various
document. And I have long been publicly critical of the NSA’s
eavesdropping capabilities. My knowledge and expertise could help
figure out which stories needed to be reported.

I thought

Read more

Explore the site

More from the blog

Latest News