Whatever you think of Edward Snowden, he is one of the most intelligent high school drop-outs you will ever want to meet, and Brian Williams, who is only a high school graduate, was obviously out of his league in this interview.
In his first American television interview, Edward Snowden defended his disclosure of the American government’s use of surveillance programs to spy on its own people, and described himself as a patriot for trying to stop violations of the Constitution.
Snowden met for about five hours last week with “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams at a hotel in Moscow, where Snowden is living in exile while facing U.S. felony charges. An hour-long special program based on the interview is airing Wednesday on NBC News at 10 p.m. Eastern and 9 p.m. Central.
In the wide-ranging and provocative interview, Snowden suggested that a deal could be reached with the U.S. government for him to come home, said he had tried to go through channels before leaking documents to journalists, and described his transition from enthusiastic supporter of American foreign policy, who enlisted for U.S. Army special operations training during the Iraq War, to a disillusioned intelligence worker who said he came to believe that the government took advantage of the September 11 terror attack to overreach into the private lives of all Americans.
When Williams asked, “Do you see yourself as a patriot?” Snowden answered immediately, “I do.”
This story will be updated with full details of the interview, as well as video clips, during the hour-long special.
Snowden: ‘Sometimes to Do the Right Thing, You Have to Break a Law’
Williams: “In your mind, though, are you blameless? Have you done, as you look at—as you look at this, just a good thing? Have you performed, as you see it, a public service?”
Snowden: “I think it can be both. I think the most important idea is to remember that there have been times throughout history where what is right is not the same as what is legal. Sometimes to do the right thing, you have to break a law. And the key there is in terms of civil disobedience. You have to make sure that what you’re risking, what you’re bringing onto yourself does not serve as a detriment to anyone else.”
Snowden: I Don’t Deserve a Parade or Life Sentence
“These are things that no individual should empower themself to — to really decide — you know, ‘I’m gonna give myself a parade.’ But neither am I going to walk into a jail cell — to serve as a bad example for other people in government who see something happening, some violation of the Constitution, and think they need to say something about it.”
SOURCE: MATTHEW COLE, RICHARD ESPOSITO, BILL DEDMAN AND MARK SCHONE