Journalists Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden come together to answer questions on Reddit Monday about Poitras’ “Citizenfour” — the documentary about the journalists’ first meeting with Snowden, which won the Oscar for best documentary during Sunday’s Academy Awards.
Greenwald and Poitras, in Los Angles, and Snowden, from Moscow, are answering questions individually and simultaneously in the “AUA” (ask us anything) thread, which has quickly climbed to the top of Reddit’s front page.
The Reddit appearance follows Poitras’ first Academy Award Sunday night for “Citizenfour,” the documentary Poitras shot during the journalists’ historic meeting with Snowden. He was filmed inside his Hong Kong hotel room over the period of days in May 2013 he spent handing over and explaining a cache of top secret documents detailing the NSA’s most sensitive surveillance programs.
“I definitely consider myself a journalist, as well as an artist and a filmmaker. In my mind, it’s not a question about whether I am one or the other. Documentary films needs to do more than journalism — they need to communicate something that is more universal,” Poitras said, referencing “Citizenfour,” which debuts on HBO Monday.
“Had I come forward a little sooner, these programs would have been a little less entrenched, and those abusing them would have felt a little less familiar with and accustomed to the exercise of those powers,” Snowden wrote in response to a question about whether he had any regrets about his leak, which has since become the largest in U.S. intelligence history. “This is something we see in almost every sector of government, not just in the national security space, but it’s very important.”
“Once you grant the government some new power or authority, it becomes exponentially more difficult to roll it back. Regardless of how little value a program or power has been shown to have (such as the Section 215 dragnet interception of call records in the United States, which the government’s own investigation found never stopped a single imminent terrorist attack despite a decade of operation), once it’s a sunk cost, once dollars and reputations have been invested in it, it’s hard to peel that back.”
“Don’t let it happen in your country,” Snowden said.
“For me personally, the most shocking revelation was the overall one that the explicit goal of the NSA and its allies is captured by the slogan ‘collect it all’ — meaning they want to convert the internet into a place of limitless, mass surveillance, which is another way of saying they literally want to eliminate privacy in the digital age,” Greenwald wrote.
“There is definitely more significant reporting to come.”