National Security Agency surveillance leaker Edward Snowden got an epic endorsement from Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg Wednesday when the legendary whistle-blower offered to answer questions about supporting Snowden on Reddit.
“I believe that Edward Snowden has done more to support and defend the Constitution—in particular, the First and Fourth Amendments—than any member of Congress or any other employee or official of the Executive branch, up to the president: every one of whom took that same oath, which many of them have violated. Ask me anything,” Ellsberg said.
Ellsberg is the former military analyst and State and Defense Department official who leaked 7,000 pages of top-secret documents detailing federal government policy in Vietnam to newspapers including the New York Times and Washington Post in 1971. The Pentagon Papers, as the leak came to be known, led to major policy shifts in and a public backlash against the war in Vietnam.
As a co-founder of the new Freedom of the Press Foundation, Ellsberg announced Tuesday Snowden would be joining the foundation’s board of directors, which states its mission as “helping support and defend public-interest journalism focused on exposing mismanagement, corruption, and law-breaking in government.”
Ellsberg verified his identity on Reddit by linking back to a tweet from his Twitter account.
Reddit users asked Ellsberg a slew of questions about his opinion of journalists responsible for breaking NSA stories like Glenn Greenwald, the impact of other leakers like former Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, what kind of reforms he believes the NSA should make to its surveillance programs, how far he believes the NSA’s surveillance reach actually is and his opinion of the Obama administration’s role in the agency’s efforts.
“We’re in a constitutional crisis — have been since 9-11, but didn’t seem to know it – which has come to the public’s attention thanks to Snowden. Manning’s revelations were horrifying enough to those who care about what we do to ‘others,’ ‘foreigners,’ ‘enemies’ and their relatives: but humans, not just Americans, generally don’t get as upset about that as about what Snowden has shown our government does to ‘us,’ at home,” Ellsberg said.
“We need to remain aware, however uncomfortable and frustrating that is, that what they’ve been doing is outrageous and intolerable in what we want to preserve as a free society. And then act on the enraging information to demand of our representatives in Congress that they act on their constitutional responsibilities to rein in executive branch abuses that violate the oath to the constitution that both congresspersons and all officials take,” Ellsberg said.
One of the most popular questions posed by Reddit users was whether Ellsberg believed Snowden should return to the U.S. to face charges and prosecution for violating the Espionage Act, as Ellsberg did following his leak of the Pentagon Papers.