About Defecting

Edward Snowden declares victory: “I defected from the government to the public”

Edward Snowden granted a 14-hour interview to the Washington Post, commenting on his relationship to the NSA, Russia, and the USA . It’s a defiant, uncompromising, and principled interview. He says that his mission has been accomplished, because “I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself,” and that chance has arrived thanks to the sunlight he shone on the NSA’s illegal spying activity.

He also says that he’s still “working for the NSA” inasmuch as he’s taking the only path he could identify to force the agency to conduct its affairs in accordance with the Constitution. And he defended leaking the documents he brought with, because “The oath of allegiance is not an oath of secrecy. That is an oath to the Constitution. That is the oath that I kept that Keith Alexander and James Clapper did not.”

To those who say he overstepped ethical bounds by “electing himself” to disclose NSA wrongdoing, he counters that he was elected by the Congresspeople who were nominally overseeing the NSA, like Dianne Feinstein and Mike Rogers, as well as the judges of the FISA court — that their dereliction of their duties left him with no alternative.

Asked how the US should conduct its spying, he articulates an admirably simple principle: “As long as there’s an individualized, articulable, probable cause for targeting these people as legitimate foreign intelligence, that’s fine. I don’t think it’s imposing a ridiculous burden by asking for probable cause. Because, you have to understand, when you have access to the tools the NSA does, probable cause falls out of trees.”

In the Moscow interview, Snowden said, “What the government wants is something they never had before,” adding: “They want total awareness. The question is, is that something we should be allowing?”

Snowden likened the NSA’s powers to those used by British authorities in Colonial America, when “general warrants” allowed for anyone to be searched. The FISA court, Snowden said, “is authorizing general warrants for the entire country’s metadata.”

“The last time that happened, we fought a war over it,” he said.

Technology, of course, has enabled a great deal of consumer surveillance by private companies, as well. The difference with the NSA’s possession of the data, Snowden said, is that government has the power to take away life or freedom.

At the NSA, he said, “there are people in the office who joke about, ‘We put warheads on foreheads.’ Twitter doesn’t put warheads on foreheads.”

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Key Terms…
  • defected from ↔ desertei
  • granted ↔ concedeu
  • interview ↔ entrevista
  • defiant ↔ desafiador
  • uncompromising ↔ intransigente, inflexível
  • principled ↔ com princípios
  • accomplished ↔ cumprida
  • thanks to ↔ graças a
  • shone ↔ brilhou
  • spying ↔ espionagem
  • inasmuch ↔ visto que
  • affairs ↔ negócios
  • leaking ↔ vazando
  • oath of allegiance ↔ juramento de lealdade
  • overstepped ethical bounds ↔ ultrapassou limites éticos
  • electing himself ↔ elegendo-se
  • disclose ↔ divulgar
  • wrongdoing ↔ transgressão, delito
  • counters that ↔ responde que
  • overseeing ↔ supervisionando
  • dereliction ↔ abandono
  • duties ↔ deveres
  • As long as ↔ Enquanto
  • targeting ↔ alvejando (selecionar como alvo)
  • imposing ↔ impor
  • burden ↔ dever, encargo
  • probable cause ↔ causa provável
  • tools ↔ ferramentas
  • falls out of trees ↔ (fácil obter)
  • total awareness ↔ consciência total
  • allowing ↔ permitindo
  • likened ↔ comparou a
  • general warrants ↔ mandados genéricos
  • searched ↔ revistada
  • fought a war over it ↔ travaram uma guerra por causa disso
  • enabled ↔ possibilitada
  • a great deal of ↔ muito
  • surveillance ↔ vigilância
  • as well ↔ também
  • take away ↔ tirar
  • joke about ↔ brincam sobre
  • ‘We put warheads on foreheads.’ ↔ “Nós colocamos mísseis nas testas.” (atacamos com muita força)


granted concedeu
John Talcott Wells Sr. was granted a patent for his arched truss design in 1889.  
If the appeal is upheld/granted/well-founded… ↔Se o recurso for julgado procedente…
uncompromising intransigente, inflexível
Act with uncompromising honesty and integrity in everything we do. ↔Agir com honestidade e integridade inflexíveis em tudo o que fazemos.
principled com princípios
But my dad also was a remarkable man, a good person, a principled individual, a man of integrity.
shone brilhou
past of “shine”
overstepped ethical bounds ultrapassou limites éticos
The European Commission, as I said, has overstepped the mark. ↔Com já disse, a Comissão Europeia ultrapassou os limites.
I believe that the Commissioner has clearly overstepped his authority with this comment. ↔Creio que, com este comentário, o Comissário excedeu inequivocamente as suas competências.
dereliction abandono
It would be a dereliction of duty for us not to act,” he said. ↔Não agir é faltar às nossas obrigações”, afirmou o Comissário.
targeting alvejando (selecionar como alvo)
We must stop the deliberate targeting of alcohol products at young people. ↔Temos de acabar com a publicidade dos produtos alcoólicos dirigida deliberadamente aos jovens.
imposing impor
Otherwise, we risk imposing a further harmful burden on business. ↔Caso contrário, corremos o risco de estar a impor mais um fardo pernicioso sobre as empresas.
likened comparou a
His concept of true faith was unusual, and he too likened it to the “attitude of a little child. ↔O seu conceito da verdadeira fé era incomum, e ele também a comparava à “atitude de uma criancinha”.
searched revistada
The security guard searched everybody who entered the building.
enabled possibilitada
This strategy has enabled the Company to further improve its revenue share. ↔Esta estratégia permitiu reforçar a positiva tendência de sua participação de receitas.
It is to those who believe in these that God has enabled them to receive the Holy Spirit. ↔São aqueles que crêem nisso que Deus capacitou a receber o Espírito Santo.


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