and okay you're very professional you know people are like how do you live and things like that they're taking money from the Russians and of course the answer's no but I I do this for a living like I speak I don't have a youtube channel that where it's you know I'm Joe Rogan but I give speeches at universities and things like that I do a lot of interviews and so we're recording now and set up ooh is it possible that you could do a YouTube channel would that work yeah like I I mean if you introduced me so like I get followers yeah we could do that too I'm all-in with that that could absolutely happen do you want to do that is it


something you want to do no I mean this is a big question so I I came on because I just written a book called permanent record which is the the story of my life because that's what publishers make you do and when you're writing your first book but it's more than that because I didn't just want to talk about me it's actually about the changing of Technology and the changing of government in this sort of post 9/11 era which you know our generation just sort of happened to be growing up during and I was at the CIA and the NSA and all this stuff but the day that the book came out the government hit me with a lawsuit and they hit the publisher of


the books with a with a lawsuit because they don't want to see books like this get written they especially don't want to see books like this get read and so the big thing was you know we didn't know where this was going we didn't know what was gonna happen and my publisher of course wanted me very badly to let people know this book existed in case the government leaned hard and harder harder we didn't know where where that's going I mean the government is still pursuing that case quite strongly they're more focused on though the financial censorship side of it basically taking any money that I made from it kind of is


a warning to the others and getting a legal judgment against the publishers saying you know you can't pay this guy that kind of thing more so than taking the book off the shelves but that's not because they're okay with the book being on the shelves it's because thankfully we've got the first of and so they can't and that's a very rare and good thing but anyway in the context of that they were like well what about Joe Rogan and you know I I had heard about you at this point but you know the only thing that I had really seen that I really understood had familiarity with was like you talking to Bernie Sanders which by the way I very much appreciated


hearing them because a lot of people don't give the guy time to talk yeah to hear him in those sound bites you don't really get an understanding of who he actually is right and this is the other thing like they're like well you know you can go on all these you know major Network shows and I I did a couple of them I did like a morning show I did Brian Williams but broadly the media the the the sort of more corporatized media as we might say is exactly what you just described right they they want you to be able to answer in like 8 15 seconds or less and when we're talking about big massive shifts in society we're talking about power we're talking about


technology and how it controls and influences us in the future you you can't have a meaningful conversation with them those constraints and so it said these guys all want to say repeat these long discredited sort of criticisms and you know I'm sure you'll you'll you'll ask the same thing and that's ok they're there for questions but it's like we can't have the conversation if we can't have this space to think right breathe and have this sort of discussion so anyway they mentioned you and I was like Joe Rogan Joe Rogan Joe Rogan where do I know this name from before Bernie Sanders and I look back


through my Twitter mentions and the funny thing is your fans have been harassing me to death for like the last year's wonderful people wonderful people but like go on Joe Rogan go on Joe Rogan and I remember like after I had just made a Twitter account Neil deGrasse Tyson actually I helped me get on Twitter gave me that little initial boost and they said Joe Rogan and so I they like linked you and you know I I mouse over your name cuz I use a desktop for this because security reasons and it pops up and I get your avatar man and like I have to say your logo it's the worst thing in the world for people who are like trying to be like politically


serious and you know they're worried about the National Security Adviser condemning because like this bald guy with this maniacal grin and like the third eye on his forehead and I'm like oh man that's show but it's actually like you watch you know wouldn't when you watch what you do is it's great stuff man it's great but that first impression like I this almost didn't happen but everybody who has talked to you you know everybody who watches your show I think they get a very different impression and then how you're paying it and for me it's a wonderful thing because nobody understands that better than I do right like the government ran


a smear campaign against me endlessly for six months when I came forward in June of 2013 I know we got way off topic here oh I'll get back to it fine there's no such thing as off topic we could do okay talk about whatever great great okay so for those people first off who have no idea who the hell I am I'm the guy who was behind the revelations of global mass surveillance in 2013 I worked for the CIA I worked for the NSA as a contractor at the NS a staff officer the CIA I was undercover working at embassies but and I talked about the difference between this and a book and contractor and government official and how it's all sort of lost


its meaning but I saw something wrong and I saw basically the government was violating the law and what I believe to be the Constitution of the United States and more broadly human rights for everyone in the United States and around the world there were domestic surveillance programs there were mass surveillance programs that worked internationally basically everything that they could monitor led they were monitoring and this is actually like people go war isn't that obvious isn't that what they're supposed to do and this is weird but the answer actually is no under the framework of our Constitution the government is only


supposed to be monitoring people that it has a individualized particularized suspicion of wrongdoing for right this is we think about this in the investing if means right like all those TV shows where they're like go and get a warrant the reason they have to do that like we fought a revolution over this you know a couple hundred years back is the idea that when we had you know Kings when we had governments of absolute power they could simply go in your home and go you know is this guy pot smoker get his diary you know whatever it is and just like if you find evidence of a crime you March them off to prison and it's all good you found evidence they're criminal


or you didn't find evidence well no harm no foul you're just doing what government does we were trying to build a better system where when yes the government has extraordinary capabilities but it only uses them whether they're necessary right where they're proportionate to the threat that is presented by this person you know like we shouldn't be afraid of the person who's got like a baggie of weed in their dresser or something like that that is not a threat to national security that's not a threat to public safety but what happened in the wake of 9/11 was a whole bunch of government officials got together behind closed


doors and this was actually led interestingly enough by the Vice President of the United States Cheney everybody remembers that name or hopefully I can look that name up Dick Cheney and his personal attorney sort of the the Giuliani of Dick Cheney a guy named David Addington and this lawyer David Addington wrote a secret legal interpretation but no one else was allowed to see it was kept in the vice president's safe at the White House they weren't giving this even when they told people and it was just a couple people in Congress Nancy Pelosi was one of them on a couple of these other folks when they talked to the


heads of the agency the NSA and the CIA and the FBI and all this stuff they told them the White House in the office of legal counsel and you know this this the president's attorneys all of these guys had decided this would be legal to do but we can't tell you why we can't show you the legal authorization where you just got to take our word for it and so they did this and this became a mass surveillance program called stellar wind which they said was supposed to monitor the phone calls in Internet communications emails and things like that of everybody in the United States and around the world who they could get


access to for links al Qaeda because if you remember in the wake of the September 11th attacks they were singing we thought there could be sleeper cells about Qaeda that we've just you know peppered all throughout the country they were gonna spring up at any moment of course like weapons of mass destruction it just didn't exist it was all the power grab but on that basis they started doing this in secret and it was completely unconstitutional was completely illegal even under the very loose requirements of the Patriot Act but they did it for so long that they got comfortable with it and they thought this is it you know


this is a really powerful capability what have we started using this for stuff that was other than terrorism because it wasn't finding any terrorists because there weren't any terrorists in this context that we're looking for them and the ones who we're there were terrorists the program wasn't affected because these were guys in Pakistan that weren't using you know email and phone calls they were getting on you know moped with their cousin who was a courier who was bringing a letter to his guy you know who runs the the food stand or whatever but bit by bit over time this grew and grew and grew and there were scandals and if you want to drill


down in these later all going to him but what happened was step by step by step our constitutional rights were changed and we weren't allowed to know it we were never granted a vote on it and even the many members of Congress right 535 in the United States they were prohibited from knowing this and instead they told only a few select people yeah in the original case there were only eight members of Congress called the gang of eight who knew about this then there were the people on the intelligence committees both in the Senate in the house who were told about this but they were only told partially about it they weren't told the full


scope of it and now that they had been told about it because they had security clearances and like that they weren't allowed to tell anybody else even if they objected to it and we had one Senator Ron Wyden I mean another one I believe Tom Udall was named of him who did object to this and who wanted something to happen but because they couldn't tell anybody that was happening they were sort of doing these weird lassie barks to the press where they were like we have grave concerns about the way these programs are being carried out but nobody knew what they were talking about and so journalists were like you know they've


got concerns what is that Lassie what are you trying to say timmy's them well but they were getting it wrong they couldn't tell what was happening so what had happened was that we the American people had sort of lost our seat at the table of government we were no longer partner to government we had simply become subject to government and I think everybody who's in the world today who is aware of what's going on whether it's under this administration last administration the one before that right they have seen a constant kind of shift where we have we the public have less say and less influence over the policy of government with each passing year


there's kind of a new class that's being created a government class and then the public civil class that are held to different standards of behavior and when we start talking about leaking and whistleblowing this becomes even more clear and so what I did was I wanted to clarify that kind of lassie bark right I just wanted everybody to know what was going on I didn't want to say the government can't do this I didn't want to say this is how you guys have to live because that's not for me to say now but I do believe that everybody in the United States and more broadly people in the world who are having their rights violated by a government should have at


least an understanding of how that is happening what the authorities sort of the policies and programs that are enabling that or so that they can protest them so that they can cast a vote about them so that they can't say you know what you guys say this is okay but I disagreed that this is not okay I object and I want things to change and so I gathered evidence of what I believe to be a criminal or unconstitutional activity on the part of government and I gave this to journalists right now I gave this to journalists under a very strict condition here which was that they publish no story in this archive of information simply because it


was interesting right no clickbait not anything just because they thought it would make news that we get them awards they would only publish stories that they were willing to make an institutional judgment and stand behind and this was three different newspapers that it was in the public interest to know and so then beyond that there was additional is because if you could see sort of what I was doing here what had happened what had led us into this pitfall was that the system of checks and balances that's supposed to self-regulate our government had failed the courts had abdicated their role in policing the executive in the Congress


because terrorism was such a hot argument at the time they were worried about being criticized and blamed if something went wrong an attack did go through and they didn't have access to the information that the programs were ineffective so they were just taking the government's word for it they didn't want to wait in Congress most of them didn't even know right and the ones who did know it was the same thing they were getting their pockets stuffed with money by the defense contractors that were getting rich for building these systems that were violating the rights of each of us so they benefited by just saying nothing and then the executive


themselves whether we're talking about Bush right whether we're talking about Obama or whether we're talking about Trump now all these guys were okay with a constantly growing surveillance state because they're the ones whose hands were on the lever at the time they got to aim it they got to use it if you had a little search box in front of you they would give you the email history and you know of everybody in the United States anybody you want if you could pull up their text messages anybody you want if you could see anything they've ever typed into that Google search box right Joe what is the worst thing you've ever typed into that search box that lasts


forever right and they have a record of that they can get that from Google and so this was this was the whole thing how do we correct for that so when you have somebody who wants to inform the public of something and we'll get into the proper channels arguments later but you can't go through the institution to get these corrected because the institution knows it's wrong and is doing it anyway right that's the whole origin of the program is they want to do something that they're not allowed to do what do you do right and so I didn't want to say I'm the president of Secrets I didn't want


to just put this stuff on the internet and I could have on the technologist right I worked with the journalists and then that to create an adversarial step right someone who would argue against what I believed and hopefully what the journalists believe once they consulted the documents and basically authenticated them can we get the government to play that role right and so before the journalists published any story this is a controversial thing people still criticize me for this actually they say I was too accommodating government think they could be right is that the journalist would go to the government and give them


warning say we're about to run this story about this secret program that says you did X Y & Z bad thing one is that right and the government always go over no comment right - is this gonna cause harm is anybody gonna get hurt is this program effective is there something we don't understand right as if something Snowden doesn't understand it is this guy just not get it right are these documents fake whatever you want say we shouldn't run this story in every case I'm aware of that process was followed and that's why right it was because there's a lot of people out there who don't like me who criticize me who go this was unsafe this caused harm


to people or whatever we're in 2019 now I came forward and these stories weren't the Pulitzer Prize for public service journalism starting way back in June of 2013 we've had six years to show bodies we've had six years to show harm and you know as well as I do the government's happy to leak things when it's in in their interest nobody has been hurt as a result of these disclosures because everyone who was involved in them was so careful we wanted to maximize the public benefit while mitigating the potential risks and I think we did a pretty good job but just to get back to the the main thing and the original


thing that got us off on that trail when I came forward in June of 2013 and I gave one interview to the people who were in the room with the documents Laura Poitras Glenn Greenwald you and McCaskill and I said who I was I said why I was doing this I said what this was about why it matters and that we were constructing a system of turnkey tyranny and even if you trust that to Obama you never know whose hand is gonna be on that key next and all I have to do is turn it and there's nothing we can do to stop it the only thing that's restraining these programs really is is policy more so than the law and the President and anytime can sign a napkin


and those policies change well after that I went six months without giving any interviews because I didn't want people to talk about me and I wanted them to talk about what actually mattered and the government of course was trying very hard to change the conversation as they always do to be about who is this guy what have they done right what's wrong with them what are their problems who is this this loony guy so they can controversial eyes the source of a story rather than having to confront that the story itself and that's why I said it's I I really kind of appreciate your your take on the media and everything like that because


when you don't tell your story you know other people will tell it for you they'll say so many things about you and they'll have these misimpressions like I did because if something is stupid as the avatar that you were using on Twitter right well I think it's a certain kind of show with a certain kind of guy and it's this crazy stuff but when I actually listen to you when I actually look at the facts right and when I hear you just speak I go actually this is a thoughtful guy actually this is somebody who does care who does want to look at these things deeply and appearances and our first impressions can be very misleading I work hard on


that I try to mislead people it's good works to my advantage do a good job man thank you I want to bring it back to when you first started with the NSA you started as a contractor right what was your initial impression and when did you know that things were really squirrely with the programs that sort of thing so I'm not saying this to put put you on the spot I know you've been a busy guy I don't know you hadn't done I think shows recently you come back from break right but have you read the book because it'll just help me your boyfriend if you haven't got a chance you know no I have not read your book or


got a copy of it okay well I will send you a signed copy brother beautiful I don't hope you'll read it and I hope you enjoy it but alright so I had a really weird history in the intelligence community I grew up in a federal family in the shadow of Fort Meade right all these little suburban communities in Maryland where basically the entire industry of the state is the federal government of all these different agencies and then all the subcontractors all the defense industries that serve that government and really are kind of our war making a machine are our system of control for the country and the world broadly all that stuff spreads and you


know a couple hundred mile radius out of DC my mother worked for the district courts rather than federal courts and it's kind of funny because she still works there and those are the courts that are trying to throw me in jail for the rest of my life now my father worked for the Coast Guard retired after 30 years my grandfather was an admiral and then he worked for the FBI as far back as it goes my my family my whole line of family even generations back was working for the government um so it was pretty ordinary pretty expected for me to go into the same kind of work now I started and I wasn't super successful in school because it I felt and you know this is


the most arrogant thing in the world than anybody says that I had more to learn from computers than I did from you know biology class and so I spent more and more time focusing on technology then I got mono and I dropped out of high school and now it's like alright how do I make this up I drop out of high school but I'm actually going to Community College right they called it concurrent enrollment where I'm not taking any classes at high school I'm going to Community College instead and I'm not doing that great they're either like it's fine you know I'm enjoying it but you know


school is school I I want I can't wait to be grown you're aboard um and I think a lot of people have felt that but I ran into somebody at the Community College who ran their own home-based business doing web design and they could see I was kind of technical and they went hey do you want to work for me and I was like the woman that sounds great and so I started doing web design really really early on this is like gosh I don't know probably a 1998 vintage during the big boom and then the collapse that followed and the funny thing is she worked she was married to an NSA analyst a linguist right and so she lived on Fort Meade and she ran her business out of their home


on Fort Meade that's right up the street from the NSA so before I'm even working there I'm driving past this building all of the time and trying to figure out you know what the next step is gonna be and I enjoy this it's it's a good thing for me and it like it works well and I start getting trained and certified all these little industry stamps you've got to get as a technologist to say oh you know this program or whatever and just start climbing the ladder but then 9/11 happens and I'm on Fort Meade when 9/11 happens I'm just going into work and I tell this in the book in some detail and I think it's very much worth reading four people don't know this because this


forgotten history but how old were you at this money uh uh OSH I was I was born at 83 so I was probably 18 years old and yeah yeah I just turned 18 a couple months before and what people forget is who knew what was going on before anybody else Wow on September 11th the intelligence community right and what did they do right did they give out a public warning did they tell you guys to evacuate did they say do this adder doesn't know no not for everybody not for a long time but at the NSA then director Michael Hayden he was a general he later became a director of the CIA ordered the entire campus evacuated of thousands tens of thousands of people


actually just said go home right the CIA did the same thing they were running on skeleton crews at the moment the country needed them more than they ever had right and I get a call well not hear a call that's from my boss's wife her husband to her he's calling from the NSA he's saying hey you know I think edge leave for the day because I'm the only employee of this business besides her because I think they're gonna close the base down and I'm like this is crazy they've never closed us down we don't know what's happening then we start checking the news which is through websites right because we're we're doing all this stuff and suddenly it's the big


story everywhere and you know nobody understands how big it is yet most of us are like oh it's gonna mess with our workday oh it's gonna mess with our commute but when I'm leaving I hear car horns all over the base it's the craziest thing because this is a military base right it's right outside the NSA and I entered just this absolute state of pandemonium as I go past k9 road which is the road that travels right and Pat it in front of the NSA's headquarters and it's just a parking lot as far as you can see they have military police out under the stoplights directing traffic because this is this mass evacuation and


I still have no idea what's happening like the the story is still developing but I will never forget that image why did these people have so much power and so much money and so much authority that if at the moments we need them the most there are the first ones in the country that are leaving their buildings and you know later on they said and this is uh covered in a book I believe I think it's James Bamford who interviewed that director of NSA who gave that order about what was happening he was going well you know he called his wife and he was asking where their kids were and everything like that and then after that he wanted to think about well where


could these other planes that they knew were in the air that it hadn't struck yet where could they be headed and this sort of shows how self centric the intelligence community is this is the DC metro area right they get hit the white house they get hit Congress they get hit the Supreme Court right I think oh they're gonna fly their planes into the CIA headquarters oh they're gonna fly their planes into the NSA headquarters and of course it was never realistic that these would be the targets but on that basis they were like oh let's get our bacon out of the pan but why say this I'm sorry but just in the interest of what wasn't it possible that they


could have attacked those places I mean they attacked the Pentagon they you know they knew that there was attacked look it's it's absolutely possible they could have attacked your Denny's right you know but it's a question of risk assessment if you have planes in the air if you believe there's an ongoing terrorist attack that's happening in the United States right now and if you have built history's greatest surveillance agencies right that the most powerful intelligence forces in the history of the species you are gonna take those off the board or at least the majority of their personnel off the board then in a


chance that you have no sort of grounds for substantiating that they could be targeting you to begin with simply because they could well somebody else will get hit with those as you say it's gonna be the Pentagon right it's gonna be the World Trade Center it's gonna be someone somewhere and the more minutes you're in front of that desk the higher the chances even if it's a very small chance even if it's somebody who doesn't work on terrorism right maybe if it's somebody who normally works finance in North Korea right but they go look this is an emergency everybody understands you don't need to explain this you just go stop what you're doing look at


financial transactions related to who purchased these plane tickets and do this you just go full spectrum and go anything you can do right now if the building gets hit we get hit that's what we signed up for nobody wants that right that that's not the desired outcome but if they had asked the staff to do then they all would have agreed that's what these people signed up to do and yet the director goes no you know we're just just know like we're not gonna take that writ and this is I think it says so much about the bureaucratic character of how government works right the people who rise to the top of these governments it's about risk management for them


right it's about never being criticized for something and this is look if we want to get really controversial this is something that'll that'll haunt me because people will bring it up again and again and again people ask about you know people still criticize me in the book you know I talk about aliens and chemtrails and things like that effect there there's no evidence for that I went looking on the network right and III know Joey I know you want there to be aliens a doob I know Neil deGrasse Tyson badly once there to be aliens and there probably are right but the idea that that we're hiding them if we are hiding


them I had ridiculous access to the networks at the NSA the CIA the military all these groups I couldn't find anything right so if it's hidden and it could be hidden it's hidden really damn well even for people who are on the inside but the main thing is conspiracy theories right everybody wants to believe in conspiracy theories because it helps life make sense it helps us believe that somebody has control in control right that somebody is calling the shots that these things all happen for a reason to stand the other there are real conspiracies but they're not typically you know they've got tens of thousands of people working on them


unless you're talking about the existence of the intelligence community itself which is basically constructed on the idea that you can get I I think there's a four million or 1.4 million people in the United States who hold security clearances and you can get all of these people to not talk ever the journalists in this that or the other but when you look back at the 9/11 report and when you look back at the history of what actually happened what we can prove right not what we can speculate on but what are at least two commonly agreed facts not it's very clear to me as someone who worked in the intelligence community not during this


period of course I was too young but very shortly thereafter that these attacks could have been prevented and in fact the government says this too but the government goes the the reason that they these attacks happen the reason that they weren't prevented is what they call stovepiping right there was there was not enough sharing they needed to break down the walls and the restrictions that were chaining these poor Patriots at the NSA and the CIA and the FBI from all working on the same team and to some extent they're they're correct on this right there there were limits on Way agencies were supposed to play ball


with each other but I worked there and I know how much of this is and how much as this is not those are procedural and policy limits in some cases legal limits on what can be shared without following process without doing this that or the other without basically asking for permission without getting a sign-off or anything like that if the FBI wanted to send absolutely everything they had to the CIA they could have done so if the CIA wanted to send everything they had to the FBI they could have done so they didn't and people died as a result now government goes bureaucratic procedural ISM was responsible and it's because we had too


many restrictions on the intelligence community and this is what led to the world post 9/11 where all of our rights sort of evaporated was they went well restrictions on what these agencies can do are costing lives therefore naturally we just have to unchain these guys and everything will be better right and if you remember that post 9/11 moment you can understand how that actually could come off as persuasive how that might be a kind of thing to go you go all right well will that make sense because everybody was terrified right there were people quite quickly who got their heads back on their shoulders the right way there were some of them who never lost


their heads at all and who protested the Iraq war at the same time lion-o himself was signing up to go fight it volunteering for the army and we're getting into that a minute but everything that has followed in the decades past came from the fact that in a moment of fear we lost our heads and we abandoned all the traditional constitutional restraints that we put on these agencies and we abandon all of the traditional political restraints and just social constraints ideological systems of belief about the limitations that the secret police should have in a free and open society and we went look you know terrorists we


created shows like 24 and Jack Bauer where he's like threatening knife people's eyeballs out if they won't tell him this that the other and we entered this era of increasingly unlimited government as a result and now in hindsight we go we should have been surprised but at the time everyone everyone panicked trying but if you go back to you did that help and we know the answer now is in fact no it did not it made things worse I don't think any historian is gonna look at the Bush administration and go this improved the position of the United States in the world but if you go back you don't wind


back the tape to that pre 9/11 moment lying back the tape to those silos and those walls that they said needed to come down because that was restraining government instead of the rules that said we can't share these things but there's got to be a basis there's got to be a justification you've got to go why are we trading people's information like baseball cards and all of this stuff it's super easy as an intelligence officer to justify sharing information about a suspected terrorist who you think is planning to kill people or is even just in a country they shouldn't be or a place they shouldn't be or doing something you don't think they should be


with another agency because no one's gonna question that a judge isn't gonna question that any judge in the world will stamp that warrant without even thinking about it and go to bed that night you know without a care in the world because you're not spying on a journalist you know spying on a human rights defender right this is not an edge case now this is someone that you believe to be associated with al-qaeda or whatever now this is all a lot of preamble to say that essential fact government agrees everyone agrees the attacks probably could have been prevented if information had been shared so why wasn't the information shared


government says information wasn't shared because of these restrictions and it's half true because every important lie has has some criminal truth to it and and there were these barriers but the reality is why were those barriers respected in the case of a major terrorist plot why wasn't the CIA sharing information with the FBI why wasn't the FBI sharing information with the NSA why was the Anastacia sharing information with the CIA in the case of Mary major terrorists and if you've worked in government if you've worked in the intelligence community if you worked in any large institution you know if you work at a


company that sells batteries you know that every office is fighting the other office for budget for cloud for promotions and this is the sad reality of what actually happened every one of those agencies wanted to be the guy who busted the plot they wanted to be the one who got credit for it and they didn't realize how serious it was until it was too late because they were competing with each other rather than cooperating that's exactly what I was gonna ask you if that was the issue the competition between these agencies because they are very proud of the CIA accomplishing something with the FBI accomplishing something and they they


want to be the one to take credit for that yeah and I mean I think it's important like in their defense because nobody else here is gonna provide a defense for them is that that's actually darkly human again this happens in every industry this happens in every sort of big corporate thing because you want to get promoted and you know everybody's putting in their like achievements at the end of the year for what they did if you're the guy who does that you're going straight to the top but their solutions status was the the so we we have a weird delay here for folks that are listening claim their solution instead of having someone be responsible


for bridging the gap and providing that information to each individual agency their solution was mass surveillance well no they're they're different things this is 9/11 is what woke these guys up ROM basically and they went well we screwed up and Americans died as a result we really don't want to take the hit on that and to be honest the government had no interest in putting the hit on them to be honest the public had no interest in putting the hit on them at the time because everybody understood terrorism is a real thing there are bad people in the world and that's true right that will always be true there's always going to be


criminals there's always going to be terrorists whether they're at your Church whether they're across the ocean there are people out there who are angry they're disenfranchised they're violent and they just want to harm something they want to change something even in a negative way because that's what they feel is all they have left which these are criminals right these are people that we don't need to pity but if we ever want to stop it we do need to understand it and where those things come from where there's there's drives come from in the first place but basically everybody went alright how do we stop this because nobody wants to


feel unsafe nobody wants to feel like the building's gonna come down then the next time you go in it and so everybody just went I don't care who does it stop it and they said this to Dick Cheney which is a historic mistake but cuz date Dick Cheney knows how government works he was the person in that White House who was best placed to know all the levers of government all the interagency cooperation where we were strong where were weak what we could do what we were not allowed to do and what he did was he took that little dial on what we're not allowed to do and he changed it all the way until it broke and snapped off and then there was nothing that we couldn't


do anymore and you were in there why this was happening this was this no I was I was not again this is 2001 I was I was 18 years old I was working on the base I had drove past the building but that was it this is all hindsight this is biography this is documented history but this is not you know the Gospel of Edward Snowden I I don't know this right this is public record this is Ken what we all know what we have though the the reason that I bring this up is this is a teachable moment because there's so many people right now in the Trump administration who go look this guy has too much power he's abusing it against immigrants he's abusing it against


domestic ponents he's doing whatever he's trying to hurt political rivals in the next election all of this stuff and you know we can get into this stuff later if you want in detail but the bottom line is they're going this is a guy who's in the White House is throwing elbows right he doesn't really care he wants to hurt people as long as he can convince the Americans that those are the bad guys right that's the enemy doesn't matter if they're far away it doesn't matter if they're close at home whoever he's against he's gonna harm and the dark thing is this is actually why he was elected in moments of fear where


the world starts falling apart and this happens in a thornton country after country this is why you have Vladimir Putin in Russia who's been there for 20 years right president for basically 20 years think about that you know he sort of skipped in the middle there because he had to dodge the fact that presidents can only serve so many consecutive terms so he dropped down a prime minister and then came back as president but think about that how do you get that kind of political longevity and it's because if you know anything about Russian history which you know I even I don't know that much about it the 90s after the collapse of the Soviet Union we're an


extraordinarily dark time if you look at Russian cinema all they had or gangster movies right all they had were the disintegration of society how things are dark and broken no one trusts each other pensions were no longer being paid Social Security's not there anymore like there's nothing to buy there's nothing to do there's no job no one had a future and so they went if there's somebody who can lead us out of this if there's somebody who will fix this who will find us an enemy and defeat that enemy to restore prosperity we'll put them in office we see it happen in Turkey with Iran right we've seen it happen successively with bad governments even


in Western democracies we see it happening sadly in places like Poland and Hungary you can even argue it's happening in the United Kingdom right and now there are a lot of people arguing that sisk exactly what we're seeing with Donald Trump's White House in the United States and this is the lesson that we didn't learn from 2001 is when we become fearful we become vulnerable right to anyone who promises they will make things better even if they have no ability to make things better even if they will actively things worse even if they will make things better for themselves and their buddies by taking from you but if they


tell you that they'll make things better and you believe them in a moment of fear that typically leads to unfortunate outcomes so sorry let me let me turn this back over to you because we got way off track there no that's all right I want to bring it back to the initial question so you're working for the NSA when do you realize there's a huge issue and when do you feel this responsibility to let the American people know about this issue like when when do you contact these journalists and what was the thought process regarding this like what what steps did you go through once you realize that this was in violation of


the Constitution and that even with the laws of the Patriot Act in the Patriot Act two things had changed so radically that you knew this was wrong and you had to do something about it you felt a responsibility to speak out okay so since we gave so much historical preamble let me just give the the Cliff Notes version okay to get us up to that so after September 11th I'm a little bit lost I'm doing my technical stuff but it doesn't really feel like it matters anymore like I'm making more money I'm becoming more accomplished but the world's on fire right if you remember there was a crazy mood of patriotism in the country


because we were all trying to come together get through it you remember like people were sticking Dixie Cups on the top of every chain-link fence on every overpass that was like stand together you know never forget mm-hmm united we stand flags on every car exactly and you know I was a young young guy who is not especially political right and I come from a military background federal family all that stuff and so that means I'm very vulnerable to this kind of stuff I see it on the news and Bush and all his sort of cronies are going look it's al Qaeda it's terrorism terrorist organization they have all these international connections


there's Iraq you know dictators weapons of mass destruction they're holding the world at ransom you got Colin Powell at the UN dangling little vials of like fake anthrax and so I felt an obligation to do my part and so I've volunteered to join the army yeah you you probably can't tell from from looking at me but I'm not gonna be at the top of the MMA circuit anytime soon so it didn't work out I joined a special program that was called the 18 X ray program where they take you in off the street and they actually give you a shot at becoming a Special Forces soldier so you train harder and special platoons you go further and I ended up


breaking my legs basically so they put me out of your legs discharged yeah it was basically what it was when they were shin splints that I was too dumb to get off of right so I kept marching under wait I'm a pretty light guy to begin with I had a 24 inch waist when I when I joined the army girls are jealous my way yeah I think I weighed like a hundred and twenty-eight pounds III got I was in great shape you know in boot camp because I came up really quick because it was a you know all I could do was gain but it was it was just too much on my frame because I wasn't that that active and so when you keep running on a stress injury right and you're running


under weight with like rucksacks and things like that you're running in like boots and then you're doing exercises and the Army's like a whole chapter in the book you you got your battle buddy right because they never allow you to be alone I was gonna have somebody watching you they thought it was funny to put me the smallest guy in the platoon that the drill sergeants did with the biggest dude in the platoon it was like an amateur bodybuilders like you know 230 260 something like that he's a big fellow and so you know he would uh when we're off in the woods doing these these marches and things like that we have to practice but he carries like the


fireman's carry and things like that he throws me around his neck you know I'm like a towel he's just skipping down like it's nothing and then I gotta put him on me and I'm just like oh god die and it was it was it was weirdly fun I I enjoyed it but it was no good for my body and so in a land navigation movement I step off a log because I was on point and on the other side of the log because it's the woods in Georgia I'm at Sand Hill I see a snake and so in my memory you know it's like time slows down because North Carolina you know where I grew up you think all snakes are poisonous sorry there's an issue we know we're good it's


completely fine no we're fine I just there was something that happened on the screen I wanted to make sure it was okay no that's just so by joining the chat that's what I was worried about ii opened up here yeah so anyway I try to take a much longer step in midair I land badly and it's it's just one leg is like fire I'm limping I'm limping and whipping but you know everybody says don't go to sick call cuz you go to sick call you lose your slot you'll end up general infantry our regular infantry and so I go back I just tough it out I get my rack in the next morning when I get out of the rack which is the the top bunk bed right


I jump down in my legs they just give out underneath me and I try to get up in and I just can't get up and so I got a sick call and I end up going to the hospital and they end up x-ray and me and they also x-rayed my battle buddy because I gotta go there was somebody else and he has a broken hip where they had to bring him to surgery and it's in the book there's a lot more detail about it was kind of a dramatic moment but for me they just said I had bilateral tibial fractures right all the way up my legs they said I had spiderwebs and the next phase of the training was jump school right where you gotta jump out of a plane and the doctor you know I was like


son if you jump on those legs they're gonna turn into powder and he's like I can hold you back you know we can put you for like six months you stay off them then you can go back through through the whole cycle right start basic from scratch but you'll lose your slot in the special forces pipeline because of the way these things are scheduled and everything like that and then you'll basically be reassigned to the needs of the army or which probably meant I was going back to IT which was what I joined the army kind of escape or you can go out on this special kind of discharge that's called


an administrative discharge right normally got honorable discharge dishonorable discharge things like that this is something for people who have been in for I think less than six months where it's like a mulling a marriage it's as if it never happened is is if you never joined and at the time I was like well you know that's very kind of him to do that and I took it you know they they dissent me to sit call or sorry the sickbay where you're in like the medical platoon and you do nothing for I think about a month and then then they let you out once the paperwork all finishes but in hindsight I realized that if you take it


administrative discharge it exempts the army for liability for your injuries so actually what I thought was a kindness was just you know now if I had future problems with my legs they wouldn't have to cover it or health insurance on any of those things anyways it was just a funny thing but anyway I get out of the army and here I'm on crutches for a long time and just sort of trying to figure out all right well what's next in life because I had gotten basic security clearance just for going through signing up for the military process I applied for a security guard position at the University of Maryland because it said you had to get a top-secret clearance


which was with a higher clearance than I had at time and I went well that sounds good because I knew if I combine my IT skills which were now suddenly much more relevant again to my future with the top-secret security clearance because of the way it works if you have a top-secret security clearance and tech skills you get paid a ridiculous amount of money for doing very little work so I was like alright well you know I can basically make twice what I would be making in the private sector working for government at this level at this phase because what we talked about earlier with September 11th and how the intelligence community change they no


longer cared that I hadn't graduated from college right and I had gotten GED just by going in and taking a test so for government purposes it was the same as if I was a high school graduate so now suddenly it was like these these doors are open now this University of Maryland facility turned out to be an NSA facility it was called a castle the center for the Advanced Study of language at the University of Maryland College Park and all I was was literally a security guy walking around with with a walkie-talkie making sure nobody breaks in at night managing the electronic alarm system and things like that but once I had my foot in the door


there I could start climbing ladder step by step and I applied for or I went to a job fair actually that was only for people who had security clearances and I ended up going to the table for one of the technical companies it was a little tiny subcontractor nobody's ever heard of and they said you know we've got tons of positions for somebody like you are you comfortable working nights and I was like yeah you know I wake up in the middle of day anyway that that's fine with me and suddenly I've gone from working for the NSA through a university in a weird way where it's like the NSA holds the clearance but I'm formerly an employee


of the state of Maryland at the the college and this is government man it's all these weird dodges and boondoggles for how people are employed there now suddenly I'm working at CIA headquarters right the place where all the movies show you swoop over the marble seal and everything like that I'm the king of the castle right I'm there at the middle of the night when no one else is there the lights are on motion sensors it's the creepiest thing in the world there's like flags on the wall that are just like gently billowing in the air-conditioning like ghosts the hallway lights up as you walk alongside it because it's like a green building and


they disappear behind you and there's there's no one there I can go down to the gym at like 2:00 o'clock in the morning at the CIA and it's like not see a soul on the other side of the building then go all the way back and this kind of thing was was my end because they were like look it's the nightshift nothing that bad is gonna happen um but it was on a very senior technical team that was basically handling systems administration for everybody in the Washington Metropolitan Area right so every basically CIA server this is a computer system that like data is stored on the reporting is stored on that traffic is moved on all of this


stuff suddenly me this is a circa 2005 I think I'm in charge of and it's just me and one other guy on the night shift and if you're interested in the book there's a lot of detail on this but I get sort of scouted from this position because they realize I actually know a lot about technology they were expecting me just to basically make sure the building doesn't burn down all these systems don't go down overnight and then never come back up but they go well are you willing to go overseas and to a young man at that age that's actually like hey that sounds kind of exciting you know who doesn't want to go work overseas for


the CIA and there's a lot of people listening the podcast who are like oh not me wait the CIA's the bad guys right yeah exactly they're like what are you gonna go overthrow a government somewhere but you have to understand that I'm still very much a true believer the government is like the living compressed embodiment of truth and goodness and light you know the shining city on the hill so I want to do my part to spread that to the world I didn't have skepticism is really what I'm trying to establish here and so I sign up and I go through this special training school like people hear in movies about the farm which is down at


Camp Peary in Virginia I'm sent that's actually much more secret facility called the hill which is in Warrenton Virginia and this is been covered a few times and open-source media but I think this is one of the few book length discussions of what happens there in permanent record but yeah so I go through training and then I get assigned overseas and I end up in Geneva Switzerland undercover as a diplomat right I think I'm my formal title for the embassy is like something super playing like diplomatic attache and what I am is I'm a forward deployed tech guy they send you through this school to make you into


kind of a MacGyver right yes you can handle all the computers but you can also handle the connections for the Embassy's Power Systems right the actual electrical connections you can handle the HVAC systems right you can handle locks and alarms and security systems basically anything that's got an on button on it at the Embassy that's secure now you're responsible for and I traveled from Geneva to other countries in Europe for sort of assignments and it was like it was an exciting time I actually still enjoyed it but this was where I first working with intelligence started to get doubts and the story's been told many times so I won't go over


in full detail here but the CIA does primarily and it's not the only thing they do what's called human intelligence now there are many different types of intelligence than the intelligence community is responsible for the primary ones are human intelligence and signals intelligence you want to think of signals intelligence right as tapping lines hacking computers all of these sort of things that provide electronic information anything that's digital or analog signal that can be intercepted then turned into information human intelligence is you know all that fun stuff we've heard the CI for decades and decades which is where


they try to turn people basically they say look we'll give you money if you sell out your country they don't it's not even your country a lot of times it's your like organization these guys could be working for a telecommunications provider and they want to sell customer records over they worked at a bank which was the thing that I saw and we wanted records on the banks customers so he wanted a guy on the inside but anyway that that's sort of how it works and what I saw was they were way more aggressive for the lowest stakes than was reasonable or responsible they were totally willing to destroy somebody's life just on the off


chance they would get some information that would that wouldn't even be a tremendously valuable and so you know ethically thatthat struck me as a bit off but I let it pass because what I what I've learned over my life short though it's it's been you know it's that skepticism is something that needs to build up over time it's a skill something that needs to be practiced or you can think of it as something that you developed through exposure I kind of like a radiation poisoning but in a positive way it's when you start to realize inconsistencies or hypocrisy that Ward lies and you notice them and you know you you give somebody the


benefit of the doubt or you trust them or you think it's all right but then over time you see it's not an isolated instance it's a pattern behavior and over time that exposure to inconsistency builds and builds and builds until it's something that you can no longer ignore now after the CIA I went to the NSA in Japan where I was working there in Tokyo and then from there a couple years later I went to the CIA again now I was working as a private employee for Dell but I was the senior technical official on Dells Sales Account the CIA you know people these big companies they have say accounts to the CIA and so this means


I'm going in and now it's crazy because I'm still a very young man but I'm sitting across the table from Chiefs of these enormous CIA divisions I'm sitting across from their chief technology officer for the entire agency or the chief intelligent her chief information officer for the entire CIA and these guys are going look here's a problems here's what we want to do and it's my job to pitch them a system right and I've got paired up with this sales guy and the whole thing is just go how much money can we get out of the government right that's the whole goal and we'll build them what we were pitching was a private cloud system right everybody


knows about cloud computing now it's like why your Gmail account is available wherever you go it's why Facebook has this massive system of records for everyone everywhere the government wanted to have these kind of capabilities to Dell ended up getting beat out by Amazon people well you know some people aren't familiar with this many of them are but Amazon runs a secret cloud system for the government I forget what they've rebranded it now but this is just there's this massive connection between industry and government in the classified space that just goes deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper but at this point I I was


already I had misgivings because of what I'd seen in Japan about government but I was just trying to get by I was trying to ignore the conflicts I was trying to ignore the inconsistencies and I think this is a state that a lot of people in these large institutions not just in our country but around the world I struggle with every day right there they got a job they got a family they got bills that they're just trying to get by and they know that some of the things they're doing are not good things they know some of the things they're doing are actively wrong but they know what happens to people who rock the boat eventually


I changed my mind and when I had gone to Hawaii which was the final position in my career with the intelligence community I was because of an accident of history here I wasn't supposed to be in this position at all I was supposed to be at a group called the national threat Operations Center and talk but because of the way contracting works and again this is covered in the book I end up being reassigned to this little rinky-dink office that nobody's ever heard of in the light called the Office of information sharing and I'm replacing this old-timer who's about to retire a really really nice guy but he spent most of his days just reading novels and


doing nothing and letting people be content to the fact there are letting people forget that his office existed because he was the only one in it there's there's a manager who's like over him but it's actually over a larger group and he just looks over him as sort of a favor so now I come in and now I'm the sole employee of the office of information sharing but I'm not close enough to retirement that I'm ok with just doing nothing at all so I get in business and I come up with this idea for a new system called the heartbeat and what the heartbeat is gonna do is connect to basically every information repository in the intelligence community


both at the NSA and across Network boundaries which you normally can't cross but because I've worked at both the CIA and the NSA I knew the network well enough both sides of it sides that normal workers at the NSA would never have seen because you have to be in one or the other I could actually connect these together I could build bridges across this kind of network space and then draw all of these or records into a new kind of system that was supposed to look at your digital ID basically your your sort of ID card that says this is who I am I work for this agency I work in this office these are my assignments these are my group


affiliations and because of that the system would be able to eventually aggregate records that were relevant to your job that were related to you and then it could provide them and basically you could hit this site it would be an update of what we used to call read boards which were manually created there we go look you work in network defense right these are all the things that are happening on a network defense you work on I don't know economic takeovers in Guatemala you know if this is what's going on for you there but in my off time I helped the team that sat next to me which was a systems administration team for a for Windows Networks because


I had been microsoft certified systems engineer' which means basically I knew how to take care of Windows networks and this was all those guys did and they always had way too much work way too much work and I had basically no work that I needed to do at all because all I was supposed to do was share information which was not something that was particularly in demand because most people already knew what they wanted her what they needed so it was basically my job was to sit there and collect a paycheck unless I wanted to get ambitious and so I did some side gigs for these other guys and one of them was running what were called dirty


word searches now dirty word searches are let me let me dial this back because I know we're sort of this is hard to track everything that the NSA does in large part is classified everything the CIA does in large part is classified if I made lunch plans with other people in my office it was classified that was the policy it's dumb they this over classification problem is one of the central flaws in government right now this is the reason we don't understand what they're doing this is why they can get on wrong way this is why they can get away with breaking the law or violating our rights for so long you know five years ten years fifteen fifty


years before they see before we see what they were doing and it's because of this routine classification right but every system computer system has a limit on what level of classified information is supposed to be stored on it and we've got all these complicated systems for code words and caveats that establish a system of what's called compartment ation and this is the idea when you work at the CIA when you work at the NSA you're not supposed to know what's happening in the office next to you right because you don't have need-to-know right again that thing from the movies and the reason they have this is they don't want one person to be able


to go and know everything Ryan tell everybody everything they don't want anybody to know too much particularly when they're doing lots of bad things because then there's the risk that you realize they're doing so many bad things that it's passed the point that we can justify and they might develop sort of an ideological objection to that well in the office of information sharing and actually in basically every part of my career before that I had access to everything I had what was called a special caveat on my accesses called protec which means privileged access what this means you're kind of super user you know most people have all of


these controls and the kind of information that can access but I'm in charge of the system right people who need information they have to get it from somewhere they don't know even the director of the CIA right he says I need to know everything about this well he doesn't know where to get it he's just a manager somebody has to be able to actually cross these thresholds and get those things that guy was me and so dirty word searches were these kind of automated queries that I would set up to go across the whole network and look at all of the different levels of classification and compartment ation and exceptionally


controlled information that's kind of you could think of it as above top secret in these special compartments right where you're not even supposed to know what these compartments are for you only know the code word unless you work in them unless you have access to them unless you read into them one day I get a hit on the dirty word search for a program that I'd never heard of called stellar wind it came back because the the little caveat for they're called handling caveats which is like you know you can think of like Burn After Reading or for your eyes only but this one's called STL W which means stellar wind unless


you know what stellar wind is you don't know how to handle it all I knew is it wasn't supposed to be on my system you know this is a little bit unusual and it turned out this document was placed on the system because one of the employees who had worked on this program years before had come to Hawaii and this person was a lawyer I believe and they had worked in the inspector general's office and they had compiled a report part of the inspector general's report which is when the government is investigating itself into the operations and activities of this program well this was the domestic mass surveillance program that I talked about in the very


beginning of our conversation that started under the Bush White House stellar wind was no longer supposed to be really an operation it had been unveiled in a big scandal in December 2005 in the New York Times by journalist James risin and I I'm not gonna name him because I don't want to get it wrong another journalist you can look at the byline now if you want to see their involvement but and there's there's a lot of history here too but um what they had found was of course the Bush White House had constructed a warrantless wiretapping program if you remember the warrantless wiretapping scandal that was affecting


everyone in the United States well the Bush White House was really put in a difficult position by this scandal they would have lost the election over this scandal because the New York Times actually had this story in October 2004 which was the election year they were they were ready to go with it but at this specific request of the White House talking to the publisher of the New York Times Saul's burger and Bill Keller than the executive editor of the New York Times the New York Times said we won't run the story because the president just said if you run this story a month before the election that's very tight margin if you recall you'll have blood


on your hands and it was so close to 2001 the New York Times just went you know what fine Americans don't need to know that the kind of sushis big violator they don't need to know that the Fourth Amendment doesn't mean what they think it means if the government says it's alright and it's a secret you shouldn't know about it that's fine now December 2005 why did that change why did the New York Times has suddenly run this story well it's because James Rison the reporter who found this story had written a book and he was about to publish this book and the New York Times was about to be in a very uncomfortable position of having to explain why they


didn't run this story and how they got scooped by their own journalists and so they finally did it but it was too late Bush had been reelected and now he was sweeping up the broken glass of our lost rights so Congress the bush White House was very effective and as I said before telling a very few select members of Congress that this program existed and they told them this program existed in ways that they wouldn't object to but made them culpable for hiding the existence from the program the existence of the program from the American people and this is why someone like Nancy Pelosi who you wouldn't exactly think would be buddy-buddy with George Bush


was completely okay in defending this kind of program in fact and you know later she said oh well she had objections to the program that she wrote in a letter the White House but she never showed us the letter she went on well that was that was classified right and this is not to bag on her individually it's just she's a great example in here an unnamed example everyone knows of how this process works the White House will implicate certain very powerful members of Congress in their own criminal activity and so on when then when the White House gets in trouble for it the Congress has to run cover for the White House and so what


happened was Congress passed an emergency law in 2007 called the protect America Act now which should have been our first indication this is a very bad thing because they never named a law something like that unless something terrible and what it did was it retroactively Lee immunized all of the phone companies in the United States that had been breaking the law millions of times a day by handing your records over to the government which they weren't allowed to do simply on the basis of a letter from the president saying please do this and these companies went look now that we've been uncovered now that we've been shown that


we're breaking or now that these journalists have shown that we've broken the law and violated the rights of Americans and a staggering scale that could bankrupt our companies because we can be sued for this we will no longer cooperate with you unless you pass a law that says people can't sue us for having done this and so we get the Patek tamerica Act which stays you know as an emergency yeah this is all public history - yeah you can look this up on Wikipedia you know and so then they they go it's an emergency law we have to pass this now we have to keep this program active Bush is going to end the warrantless


wiretapping program and continue it under this new authority where it's gonna have some special level of oversight and these kind of things eventually but for now we just have to make sure people are safe again they go to fear they say if we don't have this program terrorist attacks will continue you know people will die blood on your hands blood on your hands blundering hands think of the children protect America Act passes the companies get off the hook the Bush White House gets off the hook the Congress that was then sharing in criminal culpability for authorizing or rather letting these things go by without stopping them then


passes in 2008 the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments of 2008 this is called the the FAA 5-minutes Act of 2008 and rather than stopping all of the unlawful and sort of unconstitutional activities that the intelligence agency was doing they continued it in different ways simply by creating a few legal hubs for them to jump through now this is not to say you know these things aren't helpful at all it's not say they're not useful at all but it's important to understand when the government's response to any scandal then this applies to any country is not to make the activities of the person who is caught breaking the law comply with the


law but instead make the activities of the person who is breaking the law legal right they make the law comply with what the agencies want to do rather than making the agencies comply with law that's a problem and that's what happened here now the intelligence community's powers actually grew in response to this scandal in 2008 because Congress was on the hook and they just wanted to move on and get this over with there were objections there were people who knew this was a bad idea but it didn't passed on now what the public took away from this because a part of these laws was a requirement


that the Inspector General of all of these different intelligence community elements and the Director of National Intelligence submit a report saying this is what happened under that warrantless wiretapping program this is how it complied with the law or how it didn't comply with the law and basically look back at how this program was constituted what it did what the impacts and effects were and that was supposed to be sort of the Truth and Reconciliation Council right now why am I talking about all this ancient history well I'm sitting here in 2012 with a classified Inspector General's report draft report from the NSA that names names that says Dick


Cheney it says David Addington this is Nancy Pelosi that says all these people who are involved in the program the tick-tock of how it happens it says the director of the NSA that guy who is evacuating the building at the beginning of our our our podcast here that guy was asked by the President of the United States if he would continue this program after being told by the White House and the Department of Justice that these programs were not lawful that they were not constitutional and the president said would you continue this program on my say-so alone knowing that it's risky knowing that it's unlawful and he said yes sir I will


if you think that's what's necessary to keep the country safe and at that moment I realize these guys don't care about the law these guys don't care about the Constitution these guys don't care about the American people they care about the continuity of government they care about the state right and this is something that people have lost we hear this phrase over and over again national security national security national security and we're meant to interpret that to mean public safety but national security is a very different thing from public safety national security is a thing that in previous generations we


referred to as state security national security was a kind of term that came out of the Bush administration to run cover for the fact that we were elevating a new kind of secret police across the country and what does it mean when again in a democracy in the United States the public is not partner to government the public does not hold the leash of government anymore but we are subject to government right we are subordinate to government and we're not even allowed to know that it happened no not in in the book I tell the fact that I had access to the unclassified version of this report back in Japan and what's interesting is the unclassified version


of a report and we've all seen this today with things like the Muller report and all of the intelligence reporting that's happened in the last several years when the government provides a classified report to the public it's normally the same document the unclassified version the classified version are the same thing just the unclassified version has things blacked out or redacted that they say oh you're not allowed to know this sentence for this paragraph or this page or whatever the document that the public had been given about the warrantless wiretapping program was a completely different document it was a document


tailor-made to deceive and mislead the Congress and the public of the United States and it was effective in doing that and in 2012 what I realized was this is what real-world conspiracies look like right it doesn't have to be smoking men behind closed doors right it's lawyers and politicians it's ordinary people from the working level to the management level who go if we don't explain this in a certain way we're all gonna lose our jobs or the other way they go we're gonna get something out of this if we all work together civilization is the history of conspiracy right what what is civilization but a conspiracy for all


all of us to do better by working together right but it's this kind of thing that I think too often we forget because it's boring as hell I want all your listeners right to go to the Washington Post because this document that I discovered that that really changed me has been published courtesy of The Washington Post it's called the the inspector general's report on on stellar wind and you can look at the actual document that I saw that was unredacted right I had no blacked-out pages on mine and what I believe it shows is that some of the most senior officials in the United States elected and unelected worked


together to actively undermine the rights of the American people to give themselves expanded powers now in their defense they said they were seeking these powers for a good and just and noble cause right they say they were trying to keep us safe but that's what they always say that's what every government says that's no different than what the Chinese government says or the Russian government says and the question is if they are truly keeping us safe why wouldn't they simply just tell us that well why wouldn't they have that debate in Congress why wouldn't they put that to a vote because if they were and they could convince us that they were they'd


win the vote and particularly we all know like the Patriot Act passed more the worst pieces of legislation in modern history passed why didn't we get a vote and I think if you read the report the answer we clear so I'm sorry Joe I went on for various no is amazing it's act don't don't apologize at all it's just completely fascinating that the continuation of this policy came down to one man and the president having this discussion that is so well it's it's much it's much more much more but right right literally the president at the heart of it yes at the heart of it in every expression of executive power right and by executive we mean the White


House here the CIA the NSA the FBI the DOJ right beat these guys exist as a part of the executive branch of government in a real way they work for the White House now there are laws and regulations and policies that are supposed to say they're supposed to do this and they're supposed to say they're not supposed to do that but when you look at federal regulations when you look at policies as an employee of government when you violate these policies the worst thing that happens to you is you lose your job because there's no criminal penalty for the violation of these laws and so it's very easy for people who exist in these structures


particularly the very top levels of these structures to go look we have a given set of lawful authorities and these are defined very broadly to give us leeway to do whatever it is we think is proper and appropriate and just now take that proper inappropriate and just from the perspective of any given individual Ryan any given president now intersect that with what's good for them politically and that's where problems begin to arise now the safety measure that's supposed to protect us from this in the u.s. system in a democracy broadly is these people are supposed to be what are called public officials that means we know their decisions that means


we know their policies that means we know their programs and prerogatives and powers like what they are doing both in our name and what they're doing against us and because they are transparent to us we the people can then police their activities we can go and disagree with this we can protest it we can't campaign against and write we can try to become the president do whatever they are public officials and we are private citizens they're not supposed to know anything about us right because we in relative terms hold no power and they hold all the power so they have to be under the tightest


constraints we need to be in the freest circumstances and yet the rise of the state-secrets doctrine right this whole classification system that goes all the way back to last century about the middle of the last century I believe is is when it really started getting tested in court and I think you know more about this in many cases than I do when you start talking about what happened in the FBI and the CIA and the NSA is sort of old dirty work in the the 20th century is they abused their powers repeatedly and continuously they did active harm to domestic politics in the United States the FBI was spying on Martin Luther King and trying to get Martin Luther King to


kill himself before the Nobel Prize was going to be awarded in fact after MLK gave his I have a dream speech two days later the FBI classified him is the greatest national or I think it was the greatest national security threat in the United States and yet this is the FBI this is the the group that everybody's applauding today saying all these these wonderful Patriots and heroes now I'm not saying everybody the FBI is bad I'm not saying anybody everybody the CIA and the NSA is bad I'm saying that you don't become patriot based on where you work patriotism is not about a loyalty to government patriotism in fact it's not


about loyalty to anything patriotism is a constant effort to do good for the P of your country right it's not about the government it's not about the state and this is well we'll get into loyalty later because you know I think one of the big criticisms against me there should be talked about is um they go look this guy is disloyal he broke an oath he did whatever a loyalty loyalty is a good thing when it's in the service of something good but it is only good when it's in the service of something good if you're loyal to a bad person if you're loyal to a bad program if you're loyal to a bad government that loyalty is actively harmful and I


think that's overlooked but yeah when you get back into this whole thing about sort of where it came from why it happened how it could come out of just this small group and then they could slowly kind of poison by implication by complicity by bringing them into the conspiracy and then having them not say anything about it a wider and wider broad a body of people and then once you've got enough people in on it it's much easier to convince other people that it's legitimate because they can go look we've got 30 people who know about this and none of them have objected to it why are you gonna object to this all of this derives from that original sin


which is in a democracy creating a system of government that is in fact a secret government a body of secret law body of secret policy that is far beyond what legitimate government secrets could be this is not saying like government hasn't can have no secrecy at all if the government wants to investigate someone without having them respond right we're talking traditional law enforcement sure you're not gonna tell this mobster hey you know we're gonna start investigating you we the public don't need to know the names of every terrorist suspect out in the world right but we do need to know again the powers and programs the policies that a government is asserting


at least the broad outlines of it because otherwise how can we control it how do we know if the government is a it's authorities that are supposed to be granted to it by us if we don't know what it is that they're doing and so this is the the main thing and really the story behind the title permanent record is look Joe when you were a kid you know when I was a kid when you were a teenager riling what's the worst thing you've ever said you know did you say anything you weren't proud did you do anything that you weren't proud of something that today in like the whoa kissed of Twitter land you would get in trouble for I'm sure and that's one of


the horrible things about kids growing up today is that they do have all this stuff out there on social media forever and they can be judged horribly by something they did when they were 13 it's exactly that our worst mistakes our deepest shames were forgotten right they were lost they were ephemeral even the things we did get caught for they were known for a time maybe they're still remembered by people who are closest to us whether we like them or dislike them but they were people connected to us now we're forced to live in a real way naked before power whether we're talking about Facebook whether we're talking about Google whether we're talking about the


government of any country they know everything about us or much about us rather and we know very little about them and we're not allowed to know more everything that we do now lasts forever not because we want to remember but because we're not allowed to forget just carrying a phone in your pocket is enough for your movements to be memorialized because every cell phone tower that you pass is keeping a record of that and 18t keeps those records going back to 2008 under program called Hemisphere if you search for Hemisphere and AT&T you'll get a story in The Daily Beast about it 18 he keeps your phone records going back to 1983


if any year listeners were born after 1983 right born after me or it might be 1987 excuse me 1987 if they're born after 1987 and they're 18 is he customer or their calls cross 18 days network ATMs he has every phone call they ever made rather the record that had happened not necessarily the contents on the phone call um and so I mean let me turn this around for you Joe cuz I feel like I've just been given a given of speech when you look at this stuff right when you look at what's happening with government when you look at what's happening with the Trump White House the Obama White House the Bush White House you could see this trend happening when


you look at what's happening with Facebook when you look at what's happening with Google when you look the fact that you go to every restaurant today and you see people look at the phones you know you get on a bus you get on a subway you know you see somebody sitting next to you in traffic you see people looking at phones these devices are connected all the time now people are getting Alexa right now now people have okay Google they have you know Siri on their phones that are in their house they've always got these connected microphones where do you think this leads and what is it that gives you sort of trust in the system faith in the


system like how just-just-just so we can start a conversation here what strikes you about this well it's completely alien and it's new this is something that's unprecedented we don't have a long human history of being completely connected via technology this is something we're navigating right now for the first time and it's probably the most powerful thing that the human race has ever seen in terms of the distribution of information there's nothing that even comes close to it in all of human history and we're figuring it out as we go along and what you exposed is that not only are we figuring out as we go along but


that to cover their ass these cellphone companies in cahoots with the government have made it legal for them to gather up all of your phone calls all of your text messages all of your emails and store them somewhere so that retroactive Lee if you ever say anything they don't like or do something they don't like they can go back find that and use it against you and we don't know who they are we don't know why they're doing it and we didn't know they could do it until you exposed it the the connection of human beings via technology is is both amazing and powerful and incredible in terms of our access to knowledge but terrifying in


terms of the government's ability to track our movements track your phone calls track everything and under the guise of protecting us from terrorists and protecting us from sleeper cells protecting us from attacks look if they really are attacked protecting us from these attacks that's great but there's there's no provision in the Constitution that allows any of this and this is where it gets really squirrely because they're making up the rules as they go along and they're making up these rules the way you're describing it this is step by step this has happened to sort of protect their ass and keep themselves from being implicated in what has been a


violation of our rights and our privacy's and the Fourth Amendment yeah I mean I I think I think one of the things that everybody needs to understand when you look at these things and the reason you know we talked about before when I got this information why I didn't just put it on the internet and people criticize me for this they go I didn't share enough information because the journalists are gatekeeping right they've got a big archive and they haven't published everything from it and I told them not to publish everything why did you do that why did you do that because so again I get back to legitimate secrets an illegitimate


secrets um some spying from my perspective you know career spy is okay right agreed if you have hacked a terrorists phone right and you're getting some information about that useful agreed yeah if you're spying on a Russian general in charge of a you know rocket division useful right but there there are lines and degrees in that where it's not useful now the examples that I just gave you these are targeted this is where you're spying on an individual there no named person that is being monitored for a specific reason that is related hopefully from a warrant people write well even for foreign


intelligence and some indications you don't need a warrant strictly although I think they should have warrants for all of these investigations because they established a court for precisely this reason called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court right yeah and there's not a judge in the world who wouldn't stamp a warrant saying hey spy on Abu jihad over here right and if you want to spy on another guy Boris badenov with the rocket division right that that's okay they're gonna go with that but then you look at these edge cases and in the archive that I provided to journalists that meant stories that have come down


where they've spied on journalists right they've spied on human rights groups and these kind of things I think people miss I'm gonna throw up some slides here so forgive me if this gets weird and I put up the wrong ones but since I came forward this Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that the government says authorized these programs 15 different times was overruled by the first open courts to look at the program these are federal courts here right that said no actually these programs are unlawful they're likely unconstitutional when you start looking at the facts you see even within the context of the very loose restrictions and laws that apply


to the NSA and surveillance they say they broke their own laws you know two thousand seven hundred and seventy six times in a single year and then you asked about that thing that motivates me like why I came forward we had been trying as a country before I came forward to prove the existence of these programs legally because this is our this is our means of last sort of recourse in our system right we get the executive we got the legislature we got right so Congress makes the laws the executives supposed to carry them out the courts are supposed to play referee the executive had broken the laws Congress was turning a blind eye to the


laws and the courts were and this is just months before I came forward going well it does appear that the ACLU and Amnesty International like all of these human rights groups and non-governmental organizations had established that you know these programs are likely unlawful they likely exist they're simply classified but the government responded with this argument that you just saw saying that well it's a state secret if they do exist you the plaintiffs don't have hard concrete evidence that they do exist and the government is saying legally you have no right to discover evidence from the government right documents demand documents or demand an


answer from the government as to whether things these as to whether or not these things exist because the government's just gonna give its standard what they called Glomar response we can neither confirm nor deny that these things exist which leaves you out in the cold which leaves the courts out in the cold the courts go look the government could be breaking along here look they could be violating the Constitution here but because you can't prove it and because the government doesn't wanna play ball and the government says if we were doing this it would be legal and it would be necessary for national security or whatever the court can't presume to know


national security better than the executive because the courts aren't elected and so this leads to this fundamentally broken system where okay if the only way to have the courts review the legality of the programs is to establish the programs exist but the programs are classified so you can't establish they exist unless you have evidence but providing that evidence to courts to journalists to anyone is a felony right that's punishable by 10 years per count the Espionage Act and the government has charged every a source of Public Interest journalism who's really made a significant difference in these kind of


cases since Daniel Ellsberg really going back to that under the same Espionage Act it's always the same law and this is there's no distinction to government between whether you've sold information to a foreign government for private benefit right or whether you provide an information only to journalists for the public interest and then that's a fundamentally harmful thing I think when you look at things that have come in the wake of this we're talking about the the post 2013 court rulings that found what the government was doing was unlawful you see the courts saying actually that leaks or air quotes leaks can actually be beneficial leak is used in the


government's and this you know this is from a federal court these are not exactly my biggest supporters they are recognizing that although leak implies harm it implies something that's broken it's actually helpful it's a leak that's letting in daylight in this context that is the only thing that allows the system to operate in a context where one year before I came forward we had the NSA saying this kind of stuff didn't happen we had hang on this famous exchange which more than anything made me realize this was a point of no return because I've told you this you've heard this but if you haven't seen it


you might not believe me right maybe I'm a sketchy guy whatever one of those senators I told you that objected to this stuff that was doing the lassie barks for all those years Ron Wyden was confronting the most senior spy in the United States a General James clapper who was then the Director of National Intelligence right there's no guy higher than him the buck stops with him when it comes to intelligence he's testifying under oath in front of Congress right but more broadly in front of the public this is televised and ron wyden asked him a very specific question about a program mind you that ron wyden knows


exists because he has security clearance he sits on the Intelligence Committee and he knows there's domestic mass surveillance and this is how it goes this is how the top spy responds under oath so what I wanted to see is if you could give me a yes or no answer to the question does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans no sir it does not not wittingly there are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect but not not wittingly so that was a lie Wyden knew it was a lie clapper knew it was a lie he actually admitted it was a lie after I came forward you know three


months later but he said it was the least untruthful thing he could think of to say in the context of being in the hot seat there but what does it mean for a democracy when you can lie under oath to Congress and the congressman even knows you're lying to them but they're afraid to correct you and widened by the way it wasn't a surprise Wyden gave him those questions twenty-four hours in advance and he wrote a letter afterwards asking for clapper to amend his testimony right now not even at a press conference but just to say this was incorrect whatever so he could go through the legal process and show his fellow congressmen that there was a


problem and they needed to do it but all of that was refused to us all of it was denied to us and Here I am sitting at the NSA next to my buddies who I've talked to about these programs you know I've gone look at this and they're laughing at it you know I'm laughing at it and it's not it's not that we go oh ha ha ha he's getting away with it it's like what are you gonna do these guys are you know they're they're bullshitters that the system is built online that even many people many experts who have studied this know are lies but if you can't prove their lies how do you move beyond that and that's really a


question that has never been more relevant than I think it is today under the current White House so you're in this position where you have this information and you know that these surveillance systems are in place and they're unconstitutional and you feel this deep responsibility to let the American people know about this what what makes you take the leap so this is covered extensively in the book because it took a long time I would imagine people people you know yeah right exactly people like to think it's like a cinematic moment where I find this golden document like this stellar wind report and that's the closest thing to a


smoking gun right that exists but look if you found that you you can read that later look at that and like imagine yourself being like oh I'm gonna go outside on the courthouse steps and wave this thing burn my life to the ground burn my family to the ground I'm never going to be work again I'm going to jail for the rest of my life the question is what would it take for you to light a match and burn your life to the ground too long the answer was nothing and I'm ashamed of that it took me so long to get over that home because I was waiting for somebody else to do it when I saw people like Ron Wyden on this when I saw people like the court case that I showed


before where people were actively challenging these programs right journalists had the scent of it and you know there are a lot of people who are gonna be in the you knows of the YouTube comments or whatever go oh I knew this was happening no you didn't well Bill bimini you had he bill Binney he built built excuse me bill Binney he initially was the one that came out and spoke about this issue and so yeah bill Benny is a part of shall we say the group of early NSA whistleblowers who came with Thomas Drake bill Benny Kirk Wiebe I believe in Edie Loomis and these guys all got their doors kicked and you know they got


harassed by the FBI Tom Drake who was a senior executive at the NSA this is a guy who had a lot to lose was charged under the same law was the Espionage Act and these guys were doing it earlier during the Bush administration some of them were talking to the journalists that in you know maybe it's alleged I don't want to put them on the spot maybe they deny it maybe they don't leave that to them but somebody somewhere was informing this reporting right that got into the New York Times about the Bush era warrantless wiretapping program and eventually journalists put this out there people knew these capabilities existed but yeah then there's the person


in the YouTube comments so it's like oh we knew all about this is nothing new and the thing is you can know about some programs and not know about others you can have a suspicion you can know with a certainty that this stuff is capable or it is possible to capability exists you can know that the government has done this stuff in the past you can know they are likely to do it again you can have all these indications you can have like the jewel versus NSA case that's run by the e FF which is about the eighteen or it's about AT&T setting up secret rooms in their telecommunications facilities where they basically drag all the fibers for their


domestic Internet communications and like phone communications into a room that's purpose-built for the NSA and then they bring it out but AT&T Nuys it's the NSA the NSA denies that these things happen or that are done at all right and so this is the context I you say you know and you know let's put it the other way maybe you do know right maybe you are an academic researcher maybe your technological specialist maybe you're just somebody who reads all the reporting and you actually know you can't prove it but you know this is going on but that's the thing in a democracy the distance between speculation and fact the


distance between what you know and what you can prove to everybody else in the country is everything in our model of government because what you know doesn't matter what matters is what we all know and the only way we can all know it is if somebody can prove it if you can prove it and if you don't have the evidence you can't prove it and of course when we talk about the earlier stuff right like this or more corporatized media they've got a thousand incentives not to get involved in this stuff they need access to the White House they need these officials to sit down with them and give interviews right that's constant content that they


need that's access that they need they need to be taken seriously they need to be a you know admitted to briefers it is a codependent relationship and yet rather and so the only way to make sure people understand this broadly is if we all work together all right if we collectively can establish a corpus of evidence right a body of facts that is so large and so persuasive it overcomes the natural and understandable resistance of these more corporatized media groups it overcomes the political and partisan sort of loyalties that that all of these political factions in the country do where they go you know it's it's my president even if I don't like


this stuff even if I don't agree with this stuff I don't want to say it exists I want to deny it until it's proved you know in HD on video you know signing the order to do this that or the other because otherwise this is a chance my guy might not get reelected and that's the only way this kind of stuff can happen and the sad fact is the opportunities that we have to prove this like the the moments in history where we do prove something anything beyond a reasonable doubt are so few and so rare that they almost always only come from whistleblowers and I think that's one of the problems that we have particularly in that the climate


movement did look go ahead I'm sorry did you take any comfort from knowing that Obama when he was running for office and in his hope and change website he had provisions to protect whistleblowers and provisions to to reward people right I mean do you remember all that I mean it was eventually redacted or eventually deleted it from the website from yes but that was a big part of his program or what he was running on was that when people were exposing unlawful activity he was going to protect those people did that did you take any comfort in this one campaigned well Obama also during his campaign said he campaigned actively against the warrantless wiretapping the


bush ministration because remember Bush's in the scandal in the height of this on 2007 you know the elections coming up right after and he's going oh bomb Assange uh you know that's not who we are right not what we do and yet within a hundred days of him becoming president now he's sitting in that chair rather than extinguishing these programs he embraces them and expands why do you think that is more entrenched I think it's actually again what we talked about earlier first thing every time a new president comes into the White House they get their clearances right they get read into all this stuff during the campaign they get clearance isn't to get


rid of that stuff but when they find the president right now they're the only people who can sign what these are called the covert action findings and things like that which are basically you know the intelligence community wants to assassinate somebody they want to run this illegal program here there or everywhere and they can't do it because their executive agencies without that top level executive sign-off fine so they got to open the vest right they got to get these guys on on side and basically every president since Kennedy they have been successful in what they call fearing up where as soon as they come in


they lead you read you the litany of Horrible's and they go these are all the threats that we're facing and let's be real it is a dangerous world it's not just all made-up BS some of it is right where it's inflated it's not that it's completely false but they make it sound more serious than it actually is but there are real bad people out there who are trying to do real bad things and you have just gone through a hellish election because our our electoral politics are so diseased and now after you've crawled through fire you're already thinking four years ahead you know how how do I stay in this seat and these guys are basically saying if you


don't do X Y & Z this is gonna fall on your lap and the implication which I don't think they actually say but every president knows is these guys can undermine you to death if you've got the ISEE against you right they can Stonewall you they can put out stories that are gonna be problematic for you every day your presidency and it's not that it's necessarily gonna gonna catch you out of the White House but it's a problem that as president you very much don't want so in the most charitable interpretation of this you've got a new guy coming in in Obama's case this is a pretty young guy doesn't focus in this kind of national security foreign policy


stuff throughout his earlier career he's more interested in domestic policy and always has been that's actually one of the positive things to say about Barack Obama he's just trying to make things better at home and now suddenly they go look you need to worry about this country you need to worry about this group that you've never heard of you need to worry about you know this technology you need to do all this stuff and the only reason we can tell you this stuff and the only thing dividing America and the abyss are these terrible terrible terrible terror programs right that are in fact wonderful things because they keep back


the darkness and so here's here's the real problem every president hears that and every president you know first off they've got so many other things do is they just kind of nod their head and they'll go I'll deal with this later in my administration and this is one of the ironies when I come came forward in 2013 right this is now Barack Obama's second term president one of the responses that they had to the mass surveillance of the scandal was yes we think they went a little too far this is after the initial thing where they went nobody's listening to your phone calls you know just made a data right nobody nobody can have a perfect privacy and also have perfect


security so we got to sort of divide a line here between the Constitution and you know what the government wants to do but they said we were gonna get to it we knew these programs were problematic but if they just gave us more time we would have fixed them maybe it's true right seems awful convenient in hindsight that throughout the entirety the first time well it seems like what you would say if you got caught right right right but look in if we're being the most generous that we are here the president is briefed on real and legitimate threats and they scare the hell out of them I'm sure and we can we can all imagine being there right those those of us who


remember what the world was like post 9/11 fear is a powerful thing but the guys who are doing that briefing they're no longer scared of it because they've been dealing with this for years this is the oldest thing they've given this briefing times before you know when we talk about people talk about the deep state right they talk about it like some conspiracy of lizard people it's not that it's something much simpler the deep state is simply the career government it's the people who are in the same offices who outlive and outlast presidents is right they've seen Republicans they've seen Democrats they don't really care


and they give that same briefing again and again and they get good at it they know what they want they know what this person saying where's the president they don't know who these people are these people who've been there before the president they're gonna be there after the president and so they give this very effective very fear inducing speech and then they followed up with their asks which are really demands just politely provided and anyone in that position who is not an expert on this stuff who is not ready for this sort of trade off and who you have to understand is a career politician is entirely used to the horse trading game Rango and I'll deal with


this later or not now or what are the this the cost-benefit here and the intelligence community goes if you give us what we want no one will ever know about it because it's classified it's obviously the easy answer and maybe Barack Obama and honestly did want to get to this later but what we can say today is for all the good that may have been done in that White House this is an issue where the president went through two full terms and did not fix the problem but in fact made it worse well it seems like the president has a job it's absolutely impossible and if you come across someone who has been in the position like you know someone who's the


head of an intelligence agency for a long time and it's very persuasive and has some you know legitimate credentials that show that he's very good at his job but he tells you this is important for national security we need to keep these things in place it doesn't seem like any one person can run the country and be aware of every single program that every single agency is implementing it seems completely unrealistic and the the job itself it just it doesn't seem like any person can do it adequately and when it comes to something like this mass surveillance state I could see a president being persuaded by someone who comes to him and says this is why we


need to do this yeah I mean one of the things that I think is the underlying problem and everything that you just described as the president has too much power right and because they have too much power that means they have too much responsibility and I I don't think people understand if they haven't lived outside the United States if they haven't sort of traveled or studied broadly just how exceptional the American presidency is most countries don't have a single individual with this level of power it's really only the super States and and that may be by design perhaps that's why they're they're super States but when we look at


sort of complex advanced democracies that are more peaceful they tend to have a more multilateral system that has more people involved in smaller portfolios and a lot of this derives from just the size of the government like you said you know the president is responsible for basically everything executive branch and the executive branch is basically every agency that actually doesn't work and so how do you how do you correct for that without breaking it up where you have smaller ministers and ministries and things like that that have different levels of responsibility having a smaller government overall you know back in 1776 the federal government you know


was pretty much a dream we weren't even interested in having standing armies the idea of an army that existed from year to year was terrifying forbidding thing and then when you move to this idea that we have a president that they have these extraordinary powers it's okay because the government's very small the federal government especially is seen as sort of this small and toothless and weak thing keep pause for one second is Spain pause for one second because my ear pods are about to die and I'm gonna swap over to another pair these these suckers are good for a couple hours but we're two hours and 15 minutes here we'll have a


little bit of a weird audio issue with the last half of it but Jamie Jamie I'll take care of it I wanted to talk about you like where you are right now in your life and how your hand this cuz you've been in exile for how many years now it's been more than six years six six years of 2013 yeah I mean well actually I left May so what is life like I mean are you in constant hiding I mean what what are the issues like in in the beginning my operational security level as we would call it was was very high I was concerned about being recognized was concerned about being followed I was concerned really about very bad things happening to me because


the the government made it very clear that from their position I was the most wanted man in the world they literally brought down the president of Bolivia his aircraft and would not let it depart as it tried to cross the airspace of Europe not even the United States they wouldn't let it leave until they confirmed I was not on board so yeah that made me a little bit nervous but you can't live like that forever and although I was as careful as I could be my still lived pretty happily because I was an indoor cat to begin with right I've always been a technologist I've always been pretty nerdy so as long as I have a screen an internet connection I


was pretty happy but in the years past my life has become more and more open you know now I speak openly I live openly I go out I ride the Metro I go to restaurants like you know how often II recognized so this is a funny thing as I'm almost never recognized one of those things is I don't give Russian interviews because I don't want my face all over the news which is nice because it just allows people to sort of forget about my face and I can go about my life but I it's one of the weird things that I'm recognized a couple times a year even when I'm not wearing my glasses in a museum or a grocery store or something like that or out on the street


just by somebody who I swear like these people are you might have read a story about them like super recognizers the people just have a great memory for faces yeah because I can be like ooh Oh wearing a hood and like a jacket it can have a scarf around my face like in the winter and it like you can barely see my face and they'll come up to me and they're like are you Snowden and I'm like whoa that's what he uses pretty impressive I'd say yeah it's nice to meet you and yeah they've it's I've never had a negative interaction from being recognized but for me none because I'm a privacy advocate like I would much


rather go unrecognized like I don't want to be a celebrity but the other thing is I'll get recognized in computer stores and I think there's just like a mental Association where people are like their brain when it's cycling through faces that it recognizes it's going through like the subset of nerdier people or something like that when you're in a computer store because for whatever reason I'm recognized much more frequently when there's some kind of technological like locusts hmm so you're living freely did you had to learn Russian did you learn it yeah me my my Russian is still pretty crappy to talk to my great shame because all of my life


all of my work is primarily aimed right right no you've talked about returning home if you could get a fair trial is is that a feasible thing a fair trial for someone like you is that such a well is that yeah that even possible question I mean look if we're being Frank III I think all your audience knows the chance of me getting a fair shake in the Eastern District of Virginia a couple miles from the headquarters of the CIA is probably pretty slim because that's where they draw the jury pool from right but my objection here is on a larger print right what what happens to me is less important right if I spend the rest of


my life in jail that that's less important then what I'm actually requiring the government to agree to which is a single thing right they say face the music face the music and I'm saying great let's pick the song the thing is the law that I've been charged under the one that all these whistleblowers have been charged owner Thomas Drake Daniel Ellsberg Chelsea Manning Daniel Hale the drone whistleblower who is in prison right now going through a trial that is precisely similar to what I would be facing his lawyer is asking the court or telling the court that we want to tell the jury why he did what he did that the


government is violating the laws a government is violating human rights that these programs are immoral that they're unethical this is what motivated this guy to do it and the jury should be able to hear why he did what he did and the jury should be able to decide whether that was right or wrong and the government has responded you know to this whistleblower argument basically saying we demand the court forbid this guy from breathing the word whistleblower in court he cannot talk about what motivated him he cannot talk about what was revealed why it was revealed what the impacts and effects were if he can't talk about whether the


public benefited from it or was harmed by it because it doesn't matter now this might surprise a lot of people because to a lot of us we think that's what a jury trial is we think that's what a fair trial is but the Espionage Act that the government uses against whistleblowers meaning broadly here the sources of journalism is fairly unique in the legal system in that it is what's called a strict liability crime a strict liability crime is what the government considers to be basically a crime worse than murder because if you if you murdered somebody like if you just don't know beat Jamie with the microphone stand right now


you would be able to go to the court and say it was self-defense right yeah you you you felt threatened you were in danger for your life even if you weren't right even you obviously weren't even if you were on tape you could still argue that and the jury could go you full of crap right and they could convict you but if you were in fact acting in self-defense if the jury did in fact believe you they could take that into consideration in establishing their verdict right strict liability crime forbid then the jury is not allowed to consider why you committed a crime they're only allowed to consider if you committed a


crime they are not allowed to consider if the murder was justified they are only allowed to consider if the murder took place and the funny thing in this case is that the murder that we're talking about is telling the truth the Espionage Act in every case is a law the government exclusively uses against people who told the truth right like that that's what it's about in the context of journalism they don't bring the Espionage Act against people who lied then they would use fraud or some other statute they say the government is arguing in the context of whistleblowing the telling a telling a important truth to the American people by way of a


journalist is a crime worse than murder and I believe and I think most Americans would agree this is fundamentally in defensively wrong and so my whole argument with the United States government since the very beginning was been I'll be back for a jury trial tomorrow but you have to agree to permit whistleblowers a public interest offense it doesn't matter whether they are whistleblower or not it's just they argued it's the jury that decides whether they are always will blower or not if they have to be able to consider the motivations of why someone did what they did the government says we refuse to allow that because that puts the


government on trial and we don't trust the jury to consider those questions Wow so you have had these conversations then so this has been discussed no this is this is from the Obama administration there's been no contact since since the Trump administration because the government basically when they got to this point they went we have no good argument against this and we will never permit this to happen and again I just want to make clear this is not speculation this is not me thinking this is actively happening in the case of Daniel Hale right now I hope you guys can pull up a graphic for because this story just the papers like two or three


weeks ago saying the government is forbidding this guy from from making this argument so you're sitting in a state of limbo then you're they're not actively pursuing you it seems that if you're able to move around freely they they haven't discovered where you are you're just free to live your life you well yeah it's one of these things where you know whether they know where I am or whether they don't know where I am where I put my head on the pillow doesn't matter so much I'm in Russia right and and we should lean into that because I think people they hear Russia particularly in the context of today's news and you see like what people are


saying about tulsi gabbard and things like yeah any kind of Association any any time your name appears in the same sentence in paragraphs same story is the word Russia it's considered a negative thing now yeah and don't get me wrong I've been a longtime critic of the Russian government I just actually had a major story written about me in a Russian state news outlet called RIA Novosti you guys could probably pull it it's only in Russian though that's saying because I spoke favorably about a member of the Russian opposition Alexei Navalny which I wasn't even speaking positively about this guy I was saying look I think people have a


right to express their opposition in a country and they should be able to do that without fearing retaliation in the future because the background here is this this opposition figure has been a long time in the Russian administration side and they've just suddenly magically been accused of being foreign agents or something like that and so everyone connected to this which is like a big civil society body I had their doors like simultaneously kicked in across the country and they're being investigated for some kind of corruption or something indeed doesn't even matter and you know I I said I opposed that just like I was


tweeting you know footage of ballot stuffing in the Russian elections just like I've criticized the Russian president my name I've criticized Russian surveillance laws so many things again and again and again and again and again but yeah so look it does not make my life easier to be trapped in a country that I did not choose and people don't remember this I was actually on route to Latin America when the US government canceled my passport which trapped me in Russia and for those who are interested again I wrote an entire book that has a lot of detail on this but yeah it's difficult to be basically engaged in civil opposition to policies


of the United States government at the same time as the Russian government and it's it's a hard thing you know a it's not a happy thing but I feel like it's a necessary thing the problem is nobody wants to talk about that nobody wants to engage in that kind of nuance nobody wants to consider it those kind of conversations in the current world people believe and this sexy were the worst things that Western media does in in the context of discussing Russia is they create this aura of invincibility around the Russian president they go you know this guy's calling all the shots he's pulling all the strings you know this guy's in charge of the world and


that's very useful for the Russian government broadly because they can then take that and replay that on their domestic media and they go look how strong we are you know the Americans are afraid of us the Chinese are afraid of his everybody's afraid of us the French were afraid of us we are strong right there's no question that Russia is going to be interfering in elections there's no question that America is gonna be interfering in Russian elections right and nobody nobody likes to talk about this and again I need to substantiate that now that I've said that I've got an old note that I've signed a billion times the New York


Times published a story in the wake of you know this contestant 2016 election where they looked into the history of electoral interference in Russia and the Soviet Union and they found in roughly 50 years 36 different cases of election interference by Russia or the Soviets right this is not a new thing this is something that always happens because that's what intelligence services do that's what they think they're being paid for which is a sad thing but it's a it's a reality because we aren't wise enough to separate covert action from intelligence gathering but in that same study that they found 36 different cases by the Russians in the Soviets they


found 81 different cases by the US and this was published by a Scott chain in the New York Times and both the Washington Post as well but this is this is the thing like there is a way to criticize the Russian government's policies without criticizing the Russian people who are ordinary people who just want to have a happy life they just want to do better they want the same things that you do right and every time people go all Russia Russia Russia every time people go Russia bad every time they go Russia's doing this they go Russia's doing that Russian people who have nothing to do with the government feel implicated by that like do you feel like


you're in charge of Donald Trump like do you want to be have Donald Trump's legacy around your neck and then people go oh well you know you could overthrow Donald Trump you know you could overthrow Putin can you really like is that how it works so yeah I mean look I have no affiliation I have no love for the Russian government it's not my choice to be here and I've made it very clear I would be happy to return home is there any concern that they would deny you visa I mean how how are you staying there it's it's a good question so I have a permanent residence people think I'm on our side no longer it's like a green card now


it's got to be renewed every three years so yeah sure it's possible they could kick me out and this was what the story I was telling you about before in Russian media was they were saying you know the Russian government should take some action against me or shouldn't be welcome here or I should go home because why is he criticizing the Russian government right when they're the people is that like the Russian version of Fox News I don't know enough about Russian media to tell you I think it's supposed to be more like a Reuters or Associated Press but the hell if I know but the the the thing is this what's the alternative right yes the Russian government could


screw me but they could screw me even if I didn't say anything and so should I shut up and be quiet in the face of things that I think are in Justices because it makes me safer well a lot of pragmatic people will say yeah they say you've done enough they saying you've done your part you know they say whatever be safe live long be happy but I didn't come forward to be safe if I wanted to be safe I'd still be sitting in Hawaii making a hell of a lot of money to spy on all of you right and nobody ever would have known about this the system would have gotten worse but the system the world the future gets worse every day that we don't do


something about every day that we stay silent about all the injustice as we see the world gets worse things get worse and yeah it's risky yeah it's uncomfortable but that's why we do it because if we don't no one else will all those years I was sitting hoping for someone else to come forward and no one did right that's because I was waiting for a hero but there are no heroes right there's only heroic decisions you are never further than one decision away from making a difference doesn't matter where there's a big difference doesn't matter if it was a small difference because you don't have to save the world by yourself in fact you can't all you


have to do is lay down one brick right all you have to do is make things a little bit better in a small way so other people can lay their brick on top of that or beside and together step by step day by day year by year we build the foundation of something better but yeah it's not gonna be safe but it doesn't matter because individually it's it's not you know me whoever you are that's the Ironman well I don't care if you're the biggest doomsday prepper with cans full of beans if the world ends it's going to affect you we make things better we become safe together right collectively that is our strength that is the power of civilization that is the


power that shapes the future because even if you make life great for you you're gonna die someday you're gonna be forgotten someday your cans of beans are gonna rot someday you can make things safe or you can be more careful right you can be more clever and there's nothing wrong with that but at the end of the day you have to recognize if you're trying to eliminate all risks from your life what you're actually doing is eliminating all possibility from your life you you're trying to collapse the universe of outcomes such that what you've lost is freedom you've lost the ability to act because you were afraid


that's a beautiful into this mess that's a beautiful way to put it are you aware at all of the current state of surveillance and what if anything has changed since your revelations yeah I mean the big thing that's changed since I was in 2013 is now it's mobile first everything mobile was still a big deal right and the intelligence community was very much grappling to get its hands around it and to deal with it but now people are much less likely to use laptop then use a desktop than then use you know God any kind of wired phone then they are to use a smart phone and both Apple and Android devices unfortunately


are not especially good in protecting your privacy think right now you got a smartphone right you might be listening to this on a train somewhere and in traffic right now or you Joe right now you got a phone somewhere in the room right the phone is turned off or at least the screen is turned off it's sitting there it's powered on and if somebody sends you a message the screen blinks to life how does that happen but how is it that if someone from any corner of the earth dials a number your phone rings and nobody else's rings how is it you can dial anybody else's number and only their phone rings right every smartphone every phone at all is


constantly connected to the nearest cellular tower every phone even when the screen is off you think it's doing nothing you can't see it because radio frequency emissions are invisible it's screaming in the air saying Here I am Here I am here is my IMEI I think it's an individual manufacturers Equipment Identity and IMEI individual manufacturers subscriber identity I could be wrong on the break out there but the the acronyms are the IMEI and the IMSI and you can search for these things there are two globally unique identifiers that only exist anywhere in the world in one place right this makes


your phone different than all my other phones the IMEI is burned into the hand side of your phone no matter what SIM card you changed to it's always gonna be the same and it's always gonna be telling the phone network it's this physical handset the IME si is in your SIM card right and this is what holds your phone number right it's the basically the key the right to use that phone number and so your phone is sitting there doing nothing you think but it's constantly shouting and saying I'm here who is closest to me that's a cell phone tower and every cell phone tower with its big ears is listening for these little cries for help and going


alright I see Joe Rogan's phone right I see Jaime's phone I see all these phones they're here right now and it compares notes with the other Network towers and your smartphone compares notes with them to go who do I hear the loudest and who you hear the loudest is a proxy for proximity for closeness distance right they go whoever I hear more loudly than anybody else that's close to me so you're gonna be bound to this cell phone tower and that cell phone tower is gonna make a note a permanent record saying this phone this phone handset with this phone number at this time was connected to me right and


based on your phone handset and your phone number they can get your identity right because you pay for this stuff with your credit card and everything like that and even if you don't right it's still active at your house overnight it's still active you know on your nightstand when you're sleeping it's still whatever the movements of your phone are the movements of you as a person and those are often quite ly uniquely identifying it goes to your home it goes to your workplace other people don't have it sorry and anyway it's constantly shouting this out and then it compares notes with the other parts and network and when


somebody is trying to get to a phone it compares notes of the network compares notes to go where is this phone with this phone number in the world right now and to that cell phone tower that is closest to that phone it sends out a signal saying we have a call for you make your phones start ringing so your owner can answer it and then it connects it across this whole path but what this means is that whenever you're carrying a phone ever the phone is turned on there's a record of your presence at that place that is being made and created by companies it does not need to be kept forever and as fact there's no good argument for it to be kept forever


but these companies see that is valuable information Ryan this is the whole big data problem that we're running into and all this information that used to be ephemeral right where were you when you were 8 years old you know we're worried where'd you go after you had a bad breakup you know who'd you spend the night with who'd you call after all this information used to be ephemeral meaning it disappeared right like like the morning dew it would be gone no one would remember it but now these things are stored now these things are saved it doesn't matter whether you're doing anything wrong it doesn't matter whether you're the most ordinary


person on earth because that's how bulk collection which is the government's euphemism for mass surveillance works they simply collected all in advance in hopes that one day it will become useful and that was just talking about how you connected phone network that's not talking about all those apps on your phone that are contacting the network even more frequently right how do you get a text message notification how do you get an email notification how is it the Facebook knows where you're at you know all of these things these analytics they are trying to keep track through location services on your phone to GPS through even just what wireless access


points you're connected to because there's a global constantly updated map there's actually many of them of wireless access points in the world because just like we talked about every phone has a unique identifier that's globally unique every wireless access point in the world right you cable modem at home whether it's in your laptop every device that has a radio modem has a globally unique identifier in it and this is standard term you can look it up and these things can be mapped when they're broadcasting in the air because again like your phone says to the cell phone tower I have this identifier the cell


phone tower responds and says I have this identifier and anybody who's listening they can write these things down and all there's Google Street View cars that go back and forth right they're keeping notes on whose Wi-Fi is active on this block right and then they build a new giant map so even if you have GPS turned off right as long as you connect to the Wi-Fi those apps can go well I I'm connected to Joe's Wi-Fi but I can also see his neighbor's Wi-Fi here and the other one in this apartment over here and the other one in the apartment here and you should only be able to hear those four globally unique Wi-Fi access


points from these points in physical space right the intersection in between the spreads the domes of all those wireless access points it's a proxy for location and it just goes on and on and on we could talk about this for four more hours we don't have that kind of time can I ask you this is there a way to mitigate any of this personally I mean is shutting your phone off doesn't even work right well so it does in a way it's just no uhm the thing was shutting your phone off that is a risk is how do you know any phones actually turned off it used to be when I was in Geneva for example working for the CIA we would all


carry like drug dealer phones you know the old smart phones there sorry old dumb phones they're not smart phones and the reason why was just because they had removable battery bags where you could take the battery out right and the one beautiful thing about technology is if there's no electricity in it right if there's no go juice available to it if there's no battery connected to it it's not sending anything because you have to get power from somewhere you have to have power in order to do work but now your phones are all sealed right you can't take the batteries out so there are potential ways that you can hack a phone where it appears to be off but


it's not actually off it's just pretending to be off whereas in fact it's still listening in and doing all this stuff but for the average person that doesn't apply right and I got to tell you guys they've been chasing me all over the place I don't worry about that stuff right and it's because if they are applying that level of effort to me they'll probably get the same information through other routes I am as careful as I can and I use things like Faraday cages I turn devices off but if they're actually manipulating the way devices display it's just too great a level of effort even for someone like me to keep that up on a constant basis also


if they get me I only trust phones so much so there's only so much they can derive from compromise and this is how operational security works you think about what are the realistic threats that you're facing that you're trying to mitigate and with the mitigation that you're trying to do is what would be the loss what would be the damage done to you if this stuff was exploited much more realistic than worrying about these things that I call voodoo hacks right which are like next-level stuff and actually just a shout out for those of your readers who are interested in this stuff fun I wrote a paper on this specific problem how do


you know when a phone is actually off how do you know when it's actually not spying on you with a brilliant brilliant guy named Andrew bunny Huang he's an MIT PhD and I think electrical engineering called the introspection engine that was published in the Journal of hope and engineering you can find it online and it'll go as deep down in the weeds I promise you it as you want we take an iPhone 6 this was back when it was fairly new and we modified it so we could actually not trust the device to report its own state but physically monitor its state to see if were spying on you but for average people right this academic that's not your primary thread


your primary threats are these bulk collection programs your primary threat is the fact that your phone is constantly squawking to these cell phone towers it's doing all of these things because we leave our phones a mistake that is constantly on your constantly connected right airplane mode doesn't even turn off Wi-Fi really anymore it just turns off the cellular modem but the whole idea is we need to identify the problem and the central problem with smart phone use today is you have no idea what the hell it's doing at any given time like the phone has the screen off you don't know what it's connected to you don't know how frequently it's


doing it Apple and iOS unfortunately makes it impossible to see what kind of network connections are constantly made on the device and to inter mediate them going I don't want Facebook to be able to talk right now you know I don't want Google to be able to talk right now I just want my secure messenger app to be the talk I just want my weather app to be able to talk but I just checked my weather and now I'm done with it so I don't want that to be able to talk anymore and we need to be able to make these intelligent decisions on not just an app by app basis but a connection by connection basis right you want let's


say you use Facebook because you know for whatever judgment we have a lot of people might do it you want it to be able to connect to Facebook's content servers you want to be able to message a friend you want to be able to download a photograph or whatever but you don't want it to be able to talk to an ad server you don't want it to talk to an analytics server that it's monitoring your behavior right you don't want to talk to all these third-party things because Facebook crams their garbage and almost every app that you download and you don't even know what's happening because you can't see it right and this is the problem with the data collection


used today is there is an industry that is built on keeping this invisible and what we need to do is we need to make the activities of our devices whether it's a phone whether it's computer or whatever more visible and understandable to the average person and then give them control over it so like if you could see your phone right now and at the very center of is a little green icon that's your you know handset or it's a picture your face whatever and then you see all these little spokes coming off of it that's every app that your phone is talking to right now or every app that is active on your phone right now and all the hosts that it's connecting to


and you can see right now what's every three seconds your phone is checking into Facebook and you could just poke that app and then BOOM it's not talking to Facebook anymore Facebook's not allowed Facebook speaking privileges have been revoked right you would do that we would all do that if there was a button on your phone that said do what I want but not spy on me you would press that button right that button is not a does not exist right now and both Google and Apple unfortunately Apple's a lot better at this than Google but neither of them allow that button to exist in fact they actively interfere with it because they


say it's a security risk and from a particular perspective they actually aren't wrong there but it's not enough to go you know we have to lock that capability off from people because we don't trust they would make the right decisions we think it's too complicated for people to do this we think there's too many connections being made well that is actually a confession of the problem right there if you think people can't understand it if you think there are too many communications happening if you think there's too much complexity in there it needs to be simplified just like the president can't control


everything like that if you have to be the president of the phone and the phone is as complex as the United States government we have a problem guys this should be a much more simple process it should be obvious and the fact that it's not and the fact that we read story after story year after year saying all your date has been breached here this companies spying on you here this companies manipulating your purchases or your search results or they're hiding these things from your timeline or they're influencing your you are manipulating it in all of these different ways that happens as a result of a single problem and that problem is


in any quality of available information they can see everything about you they can see everything about what your device is doing and they can do whatever they want with your device you on the other hand owns the device well rather you paid for the device but increasingly these corporations on it increasingly these government's own it and increasingly we are living in a world where we do all the work right we pay all the taxes we pay all the costs but we own less and less and nobody understands this better than the youngest generation well it seems like our data became a commodity before we understood what it was it became this


thing that's insanely valuable to Google and Facebook and all these social media platforms before we understood what we were giving up they were making billions of dollars and then once that money is being earned and once everyone's accustomed to this situation it's very difficult to pull the reins back it's very difficult to turn that horse around precisely because the money then becomes pot right right the information that becomes influence that also seems to be the same sort of situation that would happen with these mass surveillance dates once they have the access it's going to be incredibly


difficult for them to relinquish that right yeah no you're you're exactly correct and this is the the subject of the book I mean this is this is the permanent record and this is where it came from this is how it came to exist the story of our lifetimes is how intentionally by design a number of institutions both governmental and corporate realized it was in their mutual interest to conceal their data collection activities to increase the breadth and depth of their sensor networks that were sort of spread out through society remember back in the day intelligence collection in the United States even at Sigyn used to mean


sending an FBI agent right to put alligator clips on an embassy building or sending in somebody disguised as a workman and they put a bug in a building or they built a satellite listening site right we called these foreign said were foreign satellite collection we're on the desert somewhere they built a big parabolic collector and it's just listening to satellite emissions right but these satellite emissions these satellite links were owned by militaries they were exclusive to governments right it wasn't affecting everybody broadly all surveillance was targeted because it had to be what changed with technology is that surveillance could now become


indiscriminate it could become dragnet it could become bulk collection which should become one of the dirtiest phrases in the language if we have any kind of decency but we were intentionally this was intentionally concealed from us right the government did it they used classification companies did it they intentionally didn't talk about it they denied these things were going they said you agreed to this and you didn't greeted nothing like this I'm sorry right they go we put that Terms of Service page up and you that you clicked a button that said I agree because you were trying to open an account so you could talk to your


friends you were trying to get driving directions you were trying to get an email account you weren't trying to agree to some 600 page legal form that even if you read you wouldn't understand and it doesn't matter even if you did understand because one of the very first paragraphs and I said this agreement can be changed at any time unilaterally without your consent by the company right they have built a legal paradigm that presumes records collected about us do not belong to us this is sort of one of the core principles on which mass surveillance from the government's perspective in the United States is legal and you have to understand that


all the stuff we talked about today government says everything they do is legal right and they go so it's fine our perspectives the public should be well that's actually the problem because this isn't okay the scandal isn't how they're breaking the law the scandal is that they don't have to break the law and the way they say they're not breaking the law is something called the third party doctrine the third party doctrine is a legal principle and derived from a case and I believe the 1970s called Smith versus Maryland and Smith was this knucklehead who was harassing this lady making phone calls to her house and when


she would pick up you just I don't know is that their heavy breathing whatever like a classic creeper and you know it was terrifying this poor lady so she calls the cops and says one day I got one of these phone calls and then I see this car creeping past my house on the street and she got a license-plate number so she goes the cops and she goes is this the guy and the cops again they're trying to do a good thing here they look up his license-plate number and they find out where this guy is and then they go what phone number is registered to that house and they go to the phone company and they say can you give us this record the


phone company says yeah sure and it's the guy the cops got their man right huh so they go arrest this guy and then in court his lawyer brings all this stuff up and they go um you did this without a warrant that was sorry that was that was the the problem was they went to the phone company they got the records without a warrant they just asked for it or they subpoenaed it right some lower standard of legal review and the company gave it to him and got the guy they march amok in jail and they could have gotten a warrant right but it was just expedience they just didn't want to take the time with small-town cops you can understand how it happens


they know the guy's a creep or they just want to get him off to jail and so they made him I said but the government doesn't want to let go they fight on this and they go it wasn't actually they weren't his records and so because they didn't belong to him he didn't have a Fourth Amendment right to demand a warrant be issued for them they were the company's records and the company provided them voluntarily and hence no warrant was required because you can give whatever you want without a warrant as long as it's yours now here's the problem the government extrapolated a principle in a single case of a single known suspected criminal who had they


had real good reasons suspect suspect was their guy and used that to go to a company and get records from them and establish the precedent these records don't belong to the guy they belong to the company and then they said well if one person doesn't have a Fourth Amendment interest in records held by a company no one does and so the company then has absolute proprietary ownership of all of these records about all of our lives and remember this is back in the 1970s you know the internet hardly exists in these kind of contexts smartphones you know don't exist modern society modern communications don't exist this is the very beginning of the


technological era and flash-forward now 40 years and they are still relying on this precedent about this one you know pervy creeper to go nobody has a privacy right for anything that's held by a company and so long as they do that companies are going to be extraordinarily powerful and they're going to be extraordinarily abusive and this is something that people don't get they go oh well it's data collection right they're exploiting data this is data about human lives mistake about people these records are about you it's not data that's being exploited it's people that are being exploited it's not


data that's being manipulated it's you that's being manipulated and this this is this is something that I think a lot of people are beginning to understand the problem is the companies in the government's are still pretending they don't understand were disagreeing with this and this is reminds me of something that one of my old friends John Perry Barlow who served with me at the freedom of the press foundation I'm the president of the board he used to say to me which is you can't awaken someone who's pretending to be asleep he said it's an old Native American saying that's a great expression it's a good way that I think that's a good way to


end this thank you very much for doing this I really appreciate it please tell everybody the title of your book and it's it's available right now sure yes it is it's on shelves everywhere at least until the government finds some other way to ban it it is called a permanent record and I hope you'll read it I will read it and I think what you've done is incredibly brave and I think you're a very important part of history I think when all is said and done what you did and what you exposed is gonna change the way we view mass surveillance change the way we view government oversight and it changed the way we view the distribution

Key Themes, Chapters & Summary

Key Themes

  • Government Surveillance and Privacy

  • The Impact of 9/11 on National Security Policies

  • Ethical and Legal Implications of Intelligence Work

  • Media's Role in Public Discourse

  • Personal Journey and Whistleblowing

  • Technology's Role in Surveillance

  • Power Dynamics in Government Agencies

  • Public Awareness and Civic Responsibility

  • Critique of Post-9/11 Government Overreach

  • Challenges of Transparency and Accountability in Intelligence Agencies


  • Introduction to Edward Snowden

  • The Genesis of "Permanent Record"

  • The Post-9/11 Surveillance Landscape

  • Inside the World of CIA and NSA

  • The Ethical Dilemma of Intelligence Work

  • Choosing Joe Rogan's Platform

  • The Turning Point: Decision to Leak

  • The Heartbeat System and Stellar Wind Discovery

  • Confronting Government Overreach

  • Reflections on Power, Fear, and Democracy

  • The Role of Media in Shaping Perceptions

  • The Journey from Analyst to Whistleblower

  • The Future of Privacy and Surveillance

  • Final Thoughts: Advocacy and Moving Forward


Edward Snowden's appearance on the "Joe Rogan Experience #1368" delves into a range of topics, chiefly centered around his book "Permanent Record," his life story, and his insights into the changing dynamics of technology and government in the post-9/11 era. Snowden's decision to write the book and discuss these issues publicly stems from his experiences working with the CIA and NSA, where he witnessed firsthand the expansion of government surveillance programs. His book's publication was met with legal action from the government, aimed at preventing Snowden from benefiting financially, a tactic he interprets as a deterrent against similar disclosures.

During the interview, Snowden expresses his appreciation for platforms like Joe Rogan's podcast that allow for nuanced, in-depth discussions. This contrasts with mainstream media's tendency to condense complex topics into brief segments, often oversimplifying or misrepresenting the issues. Snowden initially had reservations about appearing on Rogan's show due to its unconventional nature but was eventually drawn in by the sincerity and depth of Rogan's interviews.

Snowden's journey began with his work at the CIA and NSA, where he was involved in global surveillance operations. He discusses how these experiences led him to question the legality and morality of these programs, particularly in relation to the U.S. Constitution and global human rights. Snowden stresses the need for public awareness and debate about government surveillance, which he believes operates often without adequate oversight or public consent.

Post-9/11, Snowden describes a significant shift in government surveillance practices. Under the guidance of figures like Vice President Dick Cheney, programs like "Stellar Wind" were initiated, ostensibly to monitor potential terrorist activities. However, Snowden points out that these programs quickly expanded beyond their intended scope, encroaching on personal freedoms and privacy without public knowledge or approval.

Snowden's path to becoming a whistleblower was shaped by his various roles within the intelligence community. His career progression, from a security guard to high-level positions at the CIA and NSA, exposed him to the inner workings of U.S. intelligence operations. His time in Geneva, particularly, heightened his skepticism about the ethics and objectives of these operations. This growing disillusionment, combined with his access to classified information, eventually led him to disclose these covert surveillance activities to the public.

In Hawaii, Snowden developed a system named "Heartbeat," granting him unprecedented access to classified information across multiple intelligence agencies. It was here that he discovered the "Stellar Wind" program, which confirmed his fears about the extent of government surveillance. Motivated by a desire for transparency and accountability, Snowden chose to leak this information, challenging what he saw as violations of constitutional and ethical standards by the government.

Snowden reflects on the broader implications of government power, particularly in the context of post-9/11 America. He discusses how policies driven by fear can lead to an expansion of government authority, often at the cost of public rights and influence. He warns of the potential for abuse of power under such circumstances, advocating for a more informed and critical public discourse on these issues.

The interview concludes with Snowden reiterating his commitment to raising awareness about government surveillance. He advocates for a more informed and engaged public discourse, stressing the importance of understanding and challenging the actions and policies of intelligence agencies and the government at large.