A 'simple, clear' case: Why Edward Snowden thinks U.S. Congress will support the Trump-Ukraine whistleblower
Thursday - 26/09/2019 12:15
Efforts to discredit whistleblower — if ID'd — should be ignored, Snowden says
Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden says a whistleblower's complaint, which triggered U.S. President Donald Trump's impeachment inquiry, is strategically "quite wise" in its focus on the president versus an institution.
Snowden, himself a whistleblower, who has been living in Russia since 2013 to avoid arrest, told The Current's interim host Laura Lynch that Congress could be "more than happy to throw an individual abusing their office under the bus, in a way that they are not willing to do when they themselves are implicated by the same allegations."
"This whistleblower is doing something [that's] a little bit unusual," Snowden said in his only Canadian interview about his new book Permanent Record. "They're alleging that an individual is breaking the law who, of course, is the president, [who] is historically unpopular at this moment."
Last week, U.S. media reported a complaint from an unnamed whistleblower that alleged Trump called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July, and tried to recruit him in an effort to undermine his own political rival Joe Biden. Days before, Trump withheld $391 million in military aid to the country.
But Snowden said efforts to discredit the whistleblower — if their identity is made public — should be ignored. The public must "set aside our feelings and assess the actual concrete facts," he said.
He added he feels "a sense of optimism" about better protections for whistleblowers.
"There's very much at stake for the president, but there's far less at stake for the system, and so I think we actually will see this whistleblower protected," he said.
'They're going to retaliate'
In 2013, Snowden, then an NSA contractor, revealed the U.S. government was conducting mass surveillance of the public's emails, phone calls and internet activity in the name of national security. He was charged under the U.S. Espionage Act.
"No one has to this day ever shown a single bit of evidence that there has been any harm either to national security broadly or to especially any individual particularly," he told Lynch.
"Destroying my reputation was the most important thing these people could do," he said.
"If they could pick up a phone at any moment and go: 'Look, he got this person killed. Look, we lost this access to this terrorist cell,' and leak that to a friendly newspaper … it would have happened by the end of the day.
"But six years later, it still hasn't."
Written by Padraig Moran. Produced by Howard Goldenthal.