A Conversation with Edward Snowden (Part 1)

Post Date: 18 September 2015

Listen now:

Season 6, Episode 36

Neil deGrasse Tyson and Edward Snowden. Photo Credit: Carlos Valdes-Lora.

Neil deGrasse Tyson and Edward Snowden. Photo Credit: Carlos Valdes-Lora.

In this week’s episode, Neil deGrasse Tyson chats with whistleblower Edward Snowden via robotic telepresence from Moscow. The two card-carrying members of the geek community discuss Isaac Newton, the difference between education and learning, and even how knowledge is created. They also dive into the Periodic Table and chemistry, before moving on to the more expected subjects of data compression, encryption and privacy. You’ll learn about the relationship between private contractors, the CIA, and the NSA, for whom Edward began working at only 16 years old. Edward explains why metadata tells the government much more about individuals than they claim, and why there’s a distinction between the voluntary disclosure of information and the involuntary subversion of individual intent. Part 1 ends with a conversation about Ben Franklin, the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the CIA’s oath of service, and government Standard Form 312, which is the agreement Snowden violated.

Edward Snowden

Somebody’s Watching Me” – Rockwell
Iron Lion Zion (Bob Marley cover)” – Santana ft. Ziggy Marley
Every Breath You Take” – The Police
No Place Left to Hide” – Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas
Search the Searches” – Desaparecidos

  • Toni Kei

    😀 Nice 😀

  • Otaru1921

    Starts at 1:23

  • Liz Johnson

    This is an amazing interview. I could listen for HOURS! Thank you both for bringing this to us, and most importantly for me, THANK YOU Mr. Snowden for all you have and are doing that will ultimately benefit ALL of us! You are one of my heros!

    • Shaun Salisbury

      Liz the problem is like Colbert’s interview pointed out he failed to go through all the data and censor data leading under cover agents names being compromised.

      • C.Larz

        Not a valid reason to discredit Snowden.

        • Shaun Salisbury

          Do you not care about the lives of people that could have died or the terrorist that found out the plots were being monitored and allowed them to go into hiding to kill more innocent people?

          • Matt

            IMO He made a mistake not censoring the data. It’s a big deal. I know. But we must credit him for seeming to have enough heart to do something courageous for what he believed was the greater good. It’s not that we don’t care about the lives of those undercover agents. Their lives are as precious as anyone’s. But Snowden did this for the millions of lives who he believed were being unfairly monitored. He made a mistake. But his intentions were noble. He wanted the truth to be known. Whether the world misuses that truth or not is a different matter. He’s in hiding now. I think he knows he made a mistake in some capacity at least.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Yea but the point is like Colbert pointed out that what he did was useless and the NSA will now just continue doing the same thing just clandestine without anyone knowing now so in the end he changed nothing except risk lives of people who had nothing to do with the projects of spying on Americans.

          • MH

            There have been a few small positive changes, but there is certainly a long way to go. He was practically forced into dumping the data when he did. They revoked his passport in Russia. His options were to dump it to reputable journalists before he could censor any of it, or enjoy a visit from the KGB.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            It’s actually the FSB not the KGB and he likely had to give the data to them as part of the deal of being allowed to stay their otherwise Russia would have extradited him to the US.

          • MH

            *FSB, you’re right. I always call them the KGB. I suppose really they are really just the same thing anyway.

            I’m not sure why they would extradite him… keeping him in Russia gives them bargaining power with the US, extraditing him gets them nothing.

          • Merry Binder

            shaun please remove your head out of your arsh… for god sakes.. time for evolving and stop being so darn pompous. you are full of shhhhheeeeetttsss.. ~ Blowing out same o same o ~ pooffff . ~look~ at american history (the truth, not what we read in school). talk about Innocent People..will ya~.. are you programed so damaged that you can not see how annoying/ sad/ and sickening it is to hear people like you #RECITE your Unthinking thoughts.. ugh 😛 sorry, feeling irritable today.. but, please stop.. with the holier than thou crap.. peace.. PATHETIC/ UNACCEPTABLE) In an Intelligent Society!!
            Innocent / Naive / We were once blind, but now can see! Thank God *UNIVERSE* For Honorable Human Beings!
            Humanity! People as Priority Not FINANCIAL Gain, Control, Power, no matter what is KILLLED To Reach the Goal!
            We Must.. Change what Does Not HELP US -(LIFE) and Our EARTH– (Home) Peace..

          • Shaun Salisbury

            All I see is a person attacking another person that’s not very evolved now is it.

          • Adrian Tabalanza

            Well, didn’t you just do that to the other posters? Look who’s talking now.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Nope because I am not using offensive language to try and attack someone personally.

          • Adrian Tabalanza

            Your problem is predilection to supposition against the merits of Snowden’s arguments. All you do is quote an interview by a person. Hard data make the difference.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Considering that CIA operations against terrorist are classified it’s not like anyone can access this information but letting terrorist know about operations against them allows them to figure out who the CIA agents are.

  • Travis Kalchik

    Information is Free to exists, even when the conscious state of mind is Non existent, It makes my life Better to know that you 2 actually Exist =), and that my conscious state of mind is Honed in this way. By of course people like you, its as if we run parallel with one another in different spaces in time. each giving each other the edge in understanding Life as we know it. perhaps maybe someday we can become excellent at being conscious as well as increase our capacity to love, feel, understand and many more things. Thanks for the chat guys!!
    Travis Kalchik 24 MI

  • Jeavonna Chapman

    Great interview. Some serious food for thought.

  • gSkeptic

    I feel that ultimately our loyalty should be to our species, not any of the nation-states that divide us up and have caused so many casualties..

    • Doulton William Schweizer

      “All wars are civil wars, because all men are brothers. Each one owes infinitely more to the human race than to the particular country in which he was born.” – Francois Fenelon, 1651-1715

      • Taxil Necrobane

        I disagree on the premises of that. Warring among ourselves is simply within our own nature. The better question is this. “What is worth fighting for?” The methods, tools, time and places of war do change. But the central reason for war will never change and never go away for good.

        • MH

          “Warring among ourselves is simply within our own nature.” — I don’t see how that’s contrary to Fenelon’s point. He’s arguing against the us-vs-them mentality that leads to war much more quickly than when a dispute is domestic.

          • Taxil Necrobane

            Well until we go to war with real life face hugging, acid for blood xenomorphs aliens, people will turn to fight each other and not see it a domestic event.

    • Amarendra Mishra

      I wish everyone thought like you..

    • Taxil Necrobane

      You might be surprised and disheartened once you find out just how many people who would sell out and betray all of humanity that are in this world. Being evil and causing strife is easy. Being good, healing wounds, being kind and forgiving. Now that is hard.

    • andresroot

      Excellent point of view!

  • kosmopolitisch

    STANDARD FORM 312 (CLASSIFIED INFORMATION NONDISCLOSURE AGREEMENT): An agreement between an individual and the United States Government.

    CIA Oath of Office: “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

    • Don McLaughlin

      Sooooo…. Having read and understood these words, what do you imagine your personal obligation, had you taken this Oath to be when you become aware of the activities of others …that you evaluate and conclude violate that very Constitution you have sworn to “support and defend?” Do you simply think ” I am not involved in this violation” …. and walk silently away? Do you “Run it up” the chain of command, see the question quashed, and silently walk away muttering …I did my part…. ? How far would you go to satisfy what you yourself conclude is your “Duty” under the Oath?

      • kosmopolitisch

        As much as I consider myself to be a man of conscience, I am not quite certain which would have been the most moral and ethical course of action to take. If I had the sworn duty to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, then I would not want to jeopardize my oath by making individual decisions that went against what was expected of me without having some sort of checks and balance system at my disposal. Put in other terms, I wouldn’t want to depend solely on my own judgment due to my awareness that I am blindly affected by my own personal bias. In practice, we have nine Justices that determine the Constitutionality of law and practices. I believe that we would all be in trouble if there was only one Justice even if I was that Justice. That said. It doesn’t mean that one person cannot get it right. And it’s not to say that what Snowden did was right or wrong. It’s only to say that when Snowden made his decision, he took a huge risk. And he risked more than his life and his freedom, he risked harming us all and without our prior consent or council BUT he did it for all the right reasons. So, to answer your question as to how far would I go to satisfy what I conclude is my duty under oath, I would go to limits of my ability to confidently reason that the steps that I am taking are consistent with the provisions of the Constitution and our method of protecting it (considering checks and balance).

        • MagicCuboid

          That’s true, but remember that the sheer secrecy of the program subverted the effectiveness of our checks and balances system. Enemies “foreign AND domestic” includes those who would manipulate or subvert the constitution within our country itself, and under that interpretation, Snowden was actually living up to his oath more than any other agent complicit in the data collection program.

          Perhaps, however, he should have brought the evidence to a lawyer, or a sympathetic Supreme Court Justice’s clerk. Would they have been equally ostracized as Snowden was? Anyway, it’s a great conversation to have: is the government beholden to the Constitution alone, or is it beholden to the people? I guess this is the question Snowden asked himself, and he decided the latter.

        • Don McLaughlin

          Thanks for your reasoned thoughts.
          Mine differ. Having decided that Constitutional;y prohibited actions are taking place, I can, at some actual risk, seek the counsel of others. Let us assume that they agree with me and depart, leaving me with my now corroborated conclusion that foul deeds are afoot. Am I, are you, as persons of conscience, logically obliged to go forward and expose this wrongdoing? Can our Oath be honestly construed otherwise?
          In the end, I conclude that in serious matters, decision making is a very lonely and personal responsibility, but not one that honest men can just sidestep. Once I/we conclude, after whatever support we feel sufficient, that unconstitutional workings are afoot, I either act or cower, and cowering is not a comfortable position for free moral persons. Freedom just isn’t free.
          I/we are fortunate that we were not thrust by outrageous fortune, into Snowden’s shoes. I don’t know if I would have had the courage ….

    • Maggie Miller

      He swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, not to protect the powers that be. I’d say he met his obligations.

  • Guest

    Eyes opened. A hero. Amazing.

  • April Ghalami

    With pictures such as these, a scroll-over description of the items around the office (bookcase in general), would be entertaining and greatly appreciated 😀

  • http://www.designableweb.com Bill Lyons

    Excellent interview! Mr. Snowden is clearly a thoughtful person who had good intentions. What a pity that his message has fallen on so many deaf ears.

    • Shaun Salisbury

      The problem is like Colbert’s interview pointed out he failed to go through all the data and censor data leading under cover agents names being compromised.

      • C.Larz

        The agents being compromised is not a valid reason to discredit Snowden exposure of widespread and massive violations of the Constitution..

        • Shaun Salisbury

          Actually it is when you put peoples lives on the line it does these people could have died and you are ok with that?

          • Astraithious

            I would be perfectly fine with that. It is essentially what they are supposed to do. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few right? The public needed to know the government is corrupt and dealing with underhanded tactics in the name of “safety” The government should serve the people , not the other way around. It still fascinates me how many people were outraged at this for being unamerican or being a traitor. Isn’t the entire point of american to be the land of the free with justice for all? If justice only applies to people who are deemed friendlies and of no potential harm then what parameters are those determined from? If some people try to overturn the corrupt government practices it seems they just label them as enemies of the state and scapegoat them as being against america when in fact they simply believe in the intentions that america was founded upon.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Because like a parent raising a child you have to keep a eye on your child to make sure they don’t do anything stupid like you know join ISIS or any other terrorist organization that plans to kill innocent people.

          • Cipriano Mauricio

            You are obviously brainwashed by Fuax News and Rush Lipbalm. Come up with some original thought will you.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Last time I checked Colbert wasn’t on fox news.

          • PithHelmut

            Well I guess then our government shouldn’t be funding these terrorist organizations such as ISIS. Anyone who defends the government in the face of the atrocities it does every single day with special mention for gaffs like going into Iraq based on lies, (and several other bare-faced deceptions like 9/11 for one of the major ones) is showing themselves to be an enemy of the people. Because that is what exactly what government is today.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Well you just discredited yourself with the 9/11 inside job line and that the US is funding ISIS so it’s not worth responding to you anymore.

          • Aaron Johnson

            He didn’t say “Inside Job”. Nice strawman.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            He didn’t need to say anything he implied it from his comments.

          • Aaron Johnson

            Prove it.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            He already he unless you are blind or have selective reading which is likely the case.

          • Aaron Johnson

            “He already he unless you are blind” LOL, wut?!

            When in doubt, write something that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

          • Astraithious

            That doesn’t make sense though. You don’t watch your child like a hawk forever. The fault lies with the parent not the child. The American people are not all children nor should they all be treated as such because of the lowest common denominator. Which by the way is exactly how the public systems are set up. Designed by people wanting workers not thinkers. We have such mind numbing garbage on TV brain washing generations into spending money on pointless things that kill more people in the us than isis ever will but heaven forbid we give up consumerism. I hope young blood doesn’t learn from the greed of our father’s and creates a learning based society that isn’t interested in personal wealth to satisfy the image media portrays as happiness.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            You should probably ask all the women who ISIS sells as sex slaves to gain money how they feel about that.

          • lexie

            stop trying to misdirect the argument with random points and appeals to emotion. Either you can defend your point with facts, citations and logic or you can’t…which you’ve basically proven.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            I am using logic because those people lives do matter and they do factor in on how you should decide a course of action but people like you don’t want to know about the lives ruined by the actions you back because it doesn’t affect you.

          • Aaron Johnson

            Short answer – He can’t.

          • MattiusLang

            “Because like a parent raising a child you have to keep a eye on your child to make sure they don’t do anything stupid ” are you kidding me? This is EXACTLY the authoritarian utilitarianist claptrap that leads to the oppression he is talking about. “The government” is just a group of humans who has decided for you that they are your betters and decide for you that they are they ones to make your decisions about ‘what would be stupid for you to do’. The ONLY place another human has morally interfering an another’s life is to stop violence against a third or self, period. How on earth can you justify the idea that that “government is like a parent” for Hades’ sake? Are you to be a child your entire life? If not for the fact genders are being erased these days, that would just leave us all being permanent Julias and Pajama Boys shuffled from one gov. overseer’s program to another our entire ‘lives’ such as they would be.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Given the poor choices humans make in this country it’s better that someone is on the lookout to prevent mass killings before they happen and not let it happen then cry about how no one saw it coming.

          • MattiusLang

            Subjective feelings are not logical arguments, please rephrase or provide data on how a totalitarian police state is “better” than freedom for 320 million of whom a dozen so are killed by a mentally disturbed person in a mass shooting or some such per annum. Our own government kills far more of us with immunity. If someone wants to go join ISIS, who cares, it’s a free country, they’re an adult, so be it. Just forfeit their citizenship and passport so they can’t come back..

          • Shaun Salisbury

            So basically you don’t care about all those people that person will murder and rape because hey it’s not effecting you so big deal?

          • lexie

            Isn’t that what happens anyway? Though we have “someone on the lookout”. So your point is making absolutely no sense.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Nope because without those people watching the amount of incidents would greatly increase as they can’t stop every plot because they can’t be everywhere at once.

          • Amber Thompson

            D*** Straight. It is every citizens duty, to point out illegal acts; even when done by the government. If you enlist in the military, you swear an oath to protect the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. That oath, is binding, even when you leave the military.

          • Cipriano Mauricio

            Who died? Nobody died.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Nobody died that you know of it’s not like you know the outcome of those operations that had to be dropped because of Snowden not doing his job and censoring the names.

          • PithHelmut

            Wow you really know how to defend the defrauders. Inventing deaths based on pure supposition.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            I defend the work of agents that put their lives on the line to stop terrorist from killing innocent people.

          • RadicalRuralDem

            Really, who cares? It’s not as if there is virtually any objectively moral or altruistic covert operation being carried out by the US government in foreign countries. The government is initiating these operations to gain advantages over other governments/forces or to proactively harm foreign interests, and the agents are performing them because they want a paycheck. They also signed up for the job and the risks it entails in the first place. There isn’t any actual noble work going on via intelligence agencies. All of the reasons for damage control that I’m sure you’ll justify as being necessary because “muh terrorism” or whatever are largely only needed in the first place because of all the meddlesome nonsense we do on a global level, interfering with sovereign governments and antagonizing/terrorizing the ever-living s*** out of most of the planet.

            The data and revelations – unfiltered, unadulterated and pure (like they should be) about what our government is doing to us, with our resources and behind our backs – would be worth a thousand dead civilians’ lives as far as I’m concerned.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            That’s pretty sad you should ask the families of the people who ISIS has behead how they feel or the women who are kidnapped and sold as sex slaves by ISIS how they feel about this whole ordeal because I can tell you that they see the reality of these terrorist.

          • Stephen

            you’re right, if the operations were moral/altruistic they wouldn’t need to be “covert” and they wouldn’t be called operations, they’d be called “missions.” Obviously this person is an antagonist or simply embellishing his/her stance, amateurish debating skills 101. It all comes down to perspective. Sometimes when following the “masses” only certain people can tell that the “M” is silent, and which side to really follow.

          • FiendishGOPlardass

            This is a little vague and speculative – any case specifics?

          • Shaun Salisbury

            It’s the CIA yoy aren’t going to hear about missions on the news or on the Internet.

        • Teodoro Laurain

          I agree He only exposed it after seeing everyone else who tried to do it through legal channels be discredited or jailed or both. He is an american hero. Finally someone has made us have the conversation about what Our government has been doing for a long time, and is now out of control. Anybody who loved Our Country and saw what He did and didn’t do it would be the real traitor.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            That still doesn’t excuse his sloppy handling of the data risking the lives of agents that were working to prevent terrorist attacks.

          • Teodoro Laurain

            Shaun as any operative will tell You. Sometimes there is collateral damage. But it seems like You are fixed on a small part of it. Most studies have said that He did not put any lives at risk. I suspect You would find any reason to not like this.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Those studies are done by people who don’t care and who want to expose the US at the cost of innocent people.

          • PithHelmut

            What about the innocent people that are jailed or killed on account of what government does? And who has been threatened prey tell? Or are you merely surmising?

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Who are you taking about most of the people who are in jail actually broke the law and Snowden did break the law regardless of how you see his actions what he did was illegal.

          • Dex Luther

            Citation needed for this.

          • uberfu


            At Shaun — Those agents are permitted to commit acts of collateral damage that is justified in doing their jobs but hypocrasy plays out if those agents are the collateral damage. Because how dare anyone ever compromise an american citizen for any reason whatsoever as long as its in the best interest of the politicians involved at the top.

          • Cipriano Mauricio

            Which agents were risked? Where’s your proof? Otherwise your point is just a regurgitation of fascist media talking points.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            The agents that were running those operations against the terrorists just watch Colbert’s interview with Snowden and he shows it clear as day.

          • FiendishGOPlardass

            good point– I think anyone following this eventually sees the post 9/11 explosion in US government abuse of power, sheer lying and dissembling and blanket claims of “national security” etc.

      • john

        Being outed as a secret agent is the risk you take when you work for criminals.

        • Shaun Salisbury

          Considering that those agents were investigating terrorist activity to stop the from killing innocent people you can hardly call that a work of a criminal organization.

          • Chris428

            Shaun: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” You don’t seem to understand how much greater the threat of a despotic government is over foreign enemies. When a foreign power rolls through your streets with tanks and uniformed soldiers you know who the enemy is and can fight back. When it’s done behind the curtain in an insidious manner in order to amass more and more power that will eventually be used to enslave everyone it’s usually too late to stop. Look at Germany. By the time they realized what had happened they had already been subjugated, monitored, disarmed, and strong-armed by the the S.S. and made completely powerless. You are wrong in believing that Snowden should have just kept his head down and continued to do his job for the sake of secret agents abroad. The freedom of the American people will always be more important. The only thing I can suggest is that if you like the “protection” offered by an overbearing government there are many others around the world you might move to…I think you’d change your tune though if you actually lived under that type of “safety”.

          • ImJustice

            Which brings us to the very intent of the 2nd Amendment, unfortunately too many have already been exposed to the virus of a tyrannical government… and now an entire generation has been infected, it is only a matter of time before they come to take our guns since we’ve forgotten what they’re for. The frog is in the pot and the water is boiling

          • RadicalRuralDem

            “The CIA and NSA have given proper Intel it’s not their fault if the government used it poorly or manipulate what the data means to suit their objectives”

            The CIA and NSA have violated basic constitutional guarantees in private and it’s not Snowden’s fault if the media sources used his leaks poorly or manipulate what the reasoning or justification behind the leaks mean to suit their objectives.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Wow you really don’t get it at all he handed data to people that know nothing about securing data and he could have gone through and censored the names of agents like a professional and handed the data over but know he recklessly gave unsecured data to people that know nothing about securing data.

          • andresroot

            It is very sad that for you it is more important to protect the life of an agent than the life of the people that end up being tortured or killed because CIA/NSA did “bad intelligence”. It’s totally stupid to pretend that you care about life and human rights when your army and intelligence agencies are spying, torturing and killing people that in a LOT of cases were innocent. Nobody deserves that, nor americans, nor Muslims. What I think is that you would prefer to keep in secret all of this this embarrassing facts, because you and your government are ashamed of this.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            The CIA and NSA have given proper Intel it’s not their fault if the government used it poorly or manipulate what the data means to suit their objectives the data they have gained from internet spying and spys on the ground has been invaluable.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            The problem is you don’t understand he handled the data poorly and he put the lives of agents at risk because he was sloppy and didn’t bother to actually read the data he took and censor the names before handing it over like any professional would have and your “freedom” is not worth anything if it is done at the price of the lives of innocent people.

          • Ironbunny IonBunny

            I hope youre not that blind. Spies we’re used to sabotage and get information. Not save lives. It’s just that the work they did went hand in hand with it. Whatever reason we have now for spies and infiltrators is certainly not of good heart intentions lol. Although having eyes everywhere makes it easy to control some things.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Yea and when you tell everyone hey the CIA is sending agents in to mess up your operations that helps the terrorists not hinders them.

          • willibro

            Like terrorists don’t already know that.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            They suspect but they don’t know the details so leaking the details of which operations they target risks the lives of not just the agents but the people who the terrorists are planning to kill.

          • AstroPhD

            Most of the information released had nothing to do with terrorist activity. You should perhaps, actually read some of the wires.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Doesn’t matter if most of it didn’t the fact that some of it did that jeopardized the lives of innocent people to get a News headline says a lot.

          • PithHelmut

            It’s honorable of you to care about lives but you haven’t mentioned one yet. You’ve merely suggested it. Please a little more substance if you’re to be taken for anything other than a tool.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            That’s because those things are classified it’s not like you or I have any details if someone died or not but their cover being blown like got them killed or at least allowed the terrorists to escape.

          • willibro

            Oh really? “They won’t tell us because it’s classified”? Then please explain how serving field agent Valerie Plame managed to get “outed”. Not be Snowden, that’s for sure.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            She was outed as a political move no more no less.

          • willibro

            It says that you are a credulous idiot who will believe anything the heads of intelligence agencies tell you, without evidence.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Nope I just live in the real world where I understand that sometimes things have to be done to protect the greater good IE they do these things so you don’t have to do them yourself.

          • Cipriano Mauricio

            More hot air repeated from propaganda sources. Greenwald, Poitras, and the news agencies that handled the documents where very careful to not jeopardize any one. You are getting your facts mixed up with an unrelated case. You have no credibility.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            That’s funny because in the Colbert interview he showed the documents as clear as day and showed Snowden himself who admitted that he messed up so why can’t you accept it like he did?

          • Jonno Williams

            go home kid, you lost.

          • andresroot

            What agents are you talking about? I think you’re confused, it was Assange
            who did this, none of the Snowden documents have agent names, and all
            the names published are for targets, people under surveillance. Codenames are usually for assets not targets.

          • willibro

            There is no evidence of that. None whatever. If there is, point to it, or STFU. BTW: You keep pointing to the John Oliver interview with Snowden as some sort of “evidence” that his revelations hurt people. But anyone who watches that interview can clearly see that Oliver is simply asking about this repeated accusation, not offering evidence to support it. That accusation has been made ONLY by the heads of some intelligence agencies, who have never presented a single bit of evidence to support it, and by credulous idiots who repeat it. We also know for a fact (thanks to Snowden) that these agency heads are liars.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Nope he showed Snowden the news report that had not been properly censored so that is clear evidence right there and Snowden agreed he messed up so just accept it.

          • deaconb

            I’m a proponent of healthy Big Brother paranoia, but please don’t let an inaccurate view of history fuel your fire to unwarranted heights:


          • freedomNH

            If the US government wants to investigate terrorist activity, they should start looking at their employment sheets.

          • willibro

            Absolutely no evidence has been produced by anyone, anywhere, at any time, that any US field agent or US-aligned human intelligence asset was “outed” or harmed in any way (let alone “killed”) by Snowden’s revelations. All that exists are some accusations by few US intelligence agency head, which some credulous idiots and pundits repeat. Given how much these agency people have lied to us about practically everything — including the substance of the Snowden revelations, which they have also tried to deny are factual — I’m suprised *anyone* believes a thing they say.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Nope because even Snowden himself admitted to John Oliver that he didn’t view the data himself to verify everything he took so for all you know he had data on Russian and Chinese operations that were compromised by his leak.

          • Aaron Blankenship

            Dude either way. The agent signed up for the risk. He dies before an innocent citizen’s rights are violated. End of story. NO agent of any nation is innocent, ours or the “enemies”.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            I doubt that the agents want to die in vain because some reckless agent leaked their names and details of their operations.

          • MH

            No agents have died in vain. It technically doesn’t matter ‘what they want’, though. I imagine they also don’t want to die in general.

            If agents have died, as a handful of propagandists seem to claim, that implies that the enemy found out about them because of leaked information. If that’s the case, why would the government *continue* to hide information about that incident from the American public? The damage has been done already, and it gives them very strong ammunition against leaking information.

            These claims are being manufactured whole cloth by organizations which were designed with information warfare in mind. I would not so readily take them at their word.

            As for Snowden not verifying data he leaked– Snowden didn’t have time to verify the data, otherwise he probably would have. It’s not like there was an alternative. If he kept it longer, it most likely would have ended up in the hands of Russia.

            He didn’t just give it to some random person on the street with *no* concept of securing data, as you claim. These were respected journalists who have dealt with sensitive information before. I seem to recall him giving them other specific instructions on how to secure the data. They also physically destroyed the disks.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Yes because leaking more information on operations that lead to death of agents only serves to embolden the terrorists because they will get confirmation that they actually killed a government agent rather than assuming they killed the right target and he had plenty of time in that hotel room to go over the sensitive data before he handed it over and it very likely that all the major spy agencies have stolen the data from the reporters as it would have been a simple task for them.

          • MH

            Pros: Potentially stem the desire to leak sensitive data by proving that it has consequences, and provide a sound basis for pursuing Snowden and other leakers so vigorously.

            Cons: Potentially validate a choice made by some terrorist yahoos.

            Gee, that’s a tough choice.

            It would not have been a simple task for them at all. You’re just making up stuff now. Mission Impossible is not realistic. Plus, you don’t think our own agencies were perched Dikembe Mutombo style on top of anyone holding the data?

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Many of those yahoo terrorist control vast amount of territory in Iraq now so you are taking them too lightly.

          • MH

            You’re right. They’ll probably lay down their arms because they aren’t 100% certain that they ‘killed the right one.’

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Nope but they can’t embolden their people if they don’t know and if they aren’t sure they got the right one they will spend more time trying to find out and less time on killing people.

          • MH

            Several points on that:

            1. Do you seriously think they spend ANY time trying to verify that they killed the ‘correct’ person? I genuinely cannot imagine these bloodthirsty zealots murdering someone based off a news article and then sitting back and doing some investigative research into who that person really was. As if gleaning a name from an article would not be enough for them. Again, you are just manufacturing talking points to try to support your existing position.

            2. Even IF they spent, say, an entire WEEK trying to figure out if they killed the right person, that wouldn’t counter the propaganda value to the US.

            3. This is STILL all hypothetical. There is no proof of any deaths being caused. Which leads to…

            4. While it is, in my opinion, highly unlikely that the US would decline to use asset losses to argue against Snowden and leaks in general, it is still slightly plausible. What is not likely in the least is that terrorist groups like IS would decline to parade that person’s corpse around. This is a culture that loves to announce “look at us, we got one! We outsmarted those pigs!” If the leaks ended up in people getting killed by terrorists, there is no possible way that they wouldn’t turn it into propaganda.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            No not in this case because if they did that and if it was the wrong person the agent is in the clear to continue his operation which is a tactical error which they aren’t likely to make as ISIS has been recruiting people with military backgrounds from Russia which Russia has said number around 2500 people.

          • MH

            It’s also a tactical error to kill a bunch of noncombatants. These are not people who are thinking logically about things. Go look at some of their propaganda. E.g. this video doing exactly as I described:


          • Shaun Salisbury

            Other spy agencies do keep track of who comes into there country you know it’s not like they didn’t know he was in Hong Kong and then all of a sudden reporters known for leaking information come to visit him so it’s not hard for them to know who got the data and just steal it from them and copy it and put it back.

          • MH

            Yes, yes it is hard for them when the data never leaves your side.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Actually it is easy because you got to sleep sometime and everyone makes mistakes so it would be a simple task against news reporters.

          • MH

            Again, you’ve been watching too much Mission Impossible. With so many eyes on the data, no country in their right mind is going to be able to assemble and send a spec ops team to grab heavily encrypted drives from a locked hotel safe(I’m assuming it was put away– personally I would have locked it to myself) in a double-locked room *hoping* that the owner is asleep and the noise of the disc cloning hardware they lugged along wont wake them. Cloning data is limited to the block transfer rate of the drive. They would have to sit there for quite a while to actually accomplish this. You are fabricating this stuff, man.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            You do realize that China has the best agents when it comes to cracking through secure data it wouldn’t be a issue at all for them and it would be worth it to know the names of all the US agents in China.

          • MH

            As an IT person, I can tell you definitively that this is false. First of all, “agents” have little to nothing to do with cracking encryption. It also doesn’t occur sequentially. It’s all or nothing, and it’s all about processing power. Generally this involves distributing the problem among many, many processes. Cracking high-bit encryption is quite literally impossible if you expect it to be completed before the inevitable heat death of the universe. The few exceptions are when a backdoor are built into the encryption via weakened components(such as the ones that the NSA were forcing into certain products), or a vulnerability in the algorithm is found. I will assume that the encryption wasn’t heat-death strong, though. I don’t know what level of encryption was being used on this data, but seeing as it was provided by Snowden, someone well versed in the ins and outs of encryption and cracking, I will assume that it was sufficiently strong.

            Even a moderate-strong encryption key would take a long, long time to crack by brute force… even by a government-sponsored effort.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Considering that the Chinese regularly break past our best cyber security you are underestimating their talents plus with the recent breakthroughs in quantum computing it would be only a matter of time before all encryption is obsolete.

          • MH

            No, they don’t. They exploit human weakness and antiquated systems and then pivot from there. I am in IT. My study was networking with emphasis in security. I promise you that you’re incorrect here. The only way they could break state of the art encryption would be if they discovered the weaknesses that the government was injecting into it. Which I will grant you is possible, because the government wouldn’t be particularly forthcoming about that if it were the case.

            As far as quantum computing goes, there haven’t really been any breakthroughs. We are very, very far from being able to create a quantum computer. We can observe singular instances of the necessary phenomena in carefully controlled laboratory settings, but that’s about it. Scaling that down to a level that makes current transistor logic obsolete will take quite some time.

            But that’s irrelevant to what we’re talking about in the first place.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            They wouldn’t even need to break in the hotel would give any government agents access to any of the rooms and they have plenty of chemicals that can knock a person out with no issues at all hell they could vent it into his room while he was sleeping and just walk right in and get the data.

          • MH

            ” they have plenty of chemicals that can knock a person out with no issues at all”

            Yeah? Which chemicals might those be? There’s a reason that anesthesiologists go through insanely vigorous training and are paid a ton of money. It is incredibly dangerous to ‘knock someone out.’ It requires precisely measured doses and careful medical supervision. Veterinarians who deal with animals, including dangerous ones like untamed lions will typically try to provide vital care(pulling teeth, etc.) without knocking the animal out. They only use tranquilization as a last resort. In some instances, the mortality rate can reach as high as 10% when tranquilizing animals.

            “While he is sleeping” implies that they can tell when he’s sleeping. Not to mention that there is no easy way to stealthily vent a single room without affecting other rooms. Not to mention that the affects would be felt after he woke up. Have you ever been put under for an operation? It doesn’t just magically pop out of your system before you wake up. Not to mention there’s no evidence of anything of the sort happening. Not to mention there is no evidence that anyone knew for sure what kind of data he was holding, so this INSANELY risky operation would need to be greenlit on the basis of “I think the dude might have something important.”

            Again, this is a hypothesis you’ve just fabricated based on your imagination and absolutely no research.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Nope he was a known NSA worker who just randomly enters in a Chinese supervised area that sets of red lights and they would have investigated it also it wouldn’t be hard at all for them to clear out a floor in order to vent in a gas and plenty of hotels have cameras in rooms.

          • MH

            Yet again, facts from the ether. Although I’m sure there’s some weird exception SOMEWHERE in the world, virtually no respectable hotels have in-room cameras. Nobody would want to stay there. This is in addition to that being highly illegal in many, if not most, places. You’d be surprised to hear that other countries have laws as well.

            Seriously though? You think that clearing out an entire floor of a hotel is possible? And that it’s possible to do it covertly? You think that it’s actually plausible that this occurred, again, based off of nothing more than a hunch that they might have some data of importance?

            You honestly aren’t able to step back and objectively look at your arguments here to see if you are forming them based on wanting to reach a conclusion rather than based on rationale and plausibility?

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Given that a NSA agent with high level clearance shows up in your country with a laptop and thumb drives which airport security would have noticed and reported in it was a safe bet he had top secret information on him.

          • MH

            Again, Homeland is one of my favorite shows, but that is not an accurate depiction of what happens in real life.

            In the last few posts, you have made several assertions, clearly based on zero research as usual, and I will attempt to address each:

            1. “NSA agents with that much clearance rarely go to Hong Kong”

            He had the same clearance as anyone that has Top Secret level clearance– which is to say about 1 million people. He also wasn’t “an NSA agent.” He was a contractor. Further, I’d like to see your source for claiming that none of those people travel regularly.

            2. “Airport security would have reported that he had a laptop and thumb drives”

            It is highly unlikely that airport security would flag someone based on a laptop now that virtually everyone has a laptop, and certainly most travelers have one. I’d like to see your source for this. I’d also like to see your source for the claim that the Chinese know every contractor with the US government and their clearance level.

            3. “It was a safe bet he had top secret information on him.”

            No. No it wasn’t. He broke protocol in having that information with him. The safe bet is to assume he DIDN’T have any information of value on him. You don’t risk causing a severe international incident based off of the wild assumption that everyone is breaking protocol.

            4. “You wouldn’t know they were gassing the room if you were asleep”

            That glosses over:

            a.) they need to know you’re asleep
            b.) the person who is gassed will absolutely know that something happened when they were asleep due to the lingering effects of the anasthetic
            c.) this whole situation being ridiculous to the extreme

            Please provide any evidence that this ever happens.

            5. “China has different laws” and “China doesn’t care about the privacy of citizens or visitors”

            Yes it does have different laws. Have you bothered to look them up? In any case, there are several issues with this claim. First off, Hong Kong, being a former British territory, has separate laws than the rest of mainland China. Secondly, you don’t seem to be making the distinction between privacy with regard to business owners and privacy with regard to the Chinese government. People in Hong Kong have their privacy protected by Article 14 of their Bill of Rights Ordinance. If you have people that work in your own house, you can’t even record them there without a good reason. See http://www.hkhrm.org.hk/english/law/eng_boro1.html and http://www.pcpd.org.hk/english/publications/files/DH_e.pdf Recording every one of your guests without reason in areas where they were likely to undress, have sex, etc. would be overwhelmingly illegal.

            6. “Quantum computing, etc. etc.”

            Again, this is beyond the scope of the argument because it is a theoretical technology and had absolutely no bearing on the outcome of the Snowden affair. Regardless, did you bother to read the article you linked to?

            “This usually means that a quantum algorithm must be run several times in succession to confirm that the solution is correct. So, in practice, classical computers will probably be faster and more practical than quantum computers for day-to-day operations, and quantum computers will only come in useful where massive parallelism is involved.”

            Essentially, code-breaking problems are largely the kind of problem that requires traditional logic to solve. Quantum computing is useful for a few other reasons, for example multidimensional non-convex problems where the traditional approach tends to get hung up at one point, the randomness can nudge the computer out of an endless loop.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            1. Show me the data that proves otherwise.
            2. see number 1.
            3. never a wild assumption about someone who works for the NSA doesn’t have some information they can use and if he died they have plenty of ways to cover it up the Triads being one of them.
            4. A) plenty of ways to do that from the window with thermal cameras to all types of camera and audio devices that could find out if he was sleeping.
            B) not really as many people feel that way after falling a sleep sometimes if they slept in too long.
            C) noting is too extreme when it comes to recovering data look at all the past project from trying to create flies that could be used as spies to all sorts of other animals.
            5. that’s only if people know about the camera’s as these days with the advent of tech it’s easy to hide camera’s in room and not have anyone even notice and the Chinese government wouldn’t report them for any violation due to the assistance they would have provided.

          • MH

            1. (Regarding travel) Typically the burden of proof on a claim lies with arguments that are counter to the typical(which is that people in general take vacations,) but I will indulge you here. Each quotation is a separate person:


            “I have traveled to Russia, China and other places. Plan accordingly, report to your bosses as needed and you are okay.”

            “Travel to China, report it to your security dept (FSO), most likely not a problem, I had a Top Secret for 30 years, enjoy yourself, I had a great time (vacation) in China, just abide by the reporting requirements.


            “I hold a Secret clearance and have a foreign relative who married into the family and I have traveled a few times to other nations, including overseas. I was never given a hard time about any of it, provided I documented everything thoroughly – all the info about my foreign relative, where I went overseas and when, etc.”

            “After your clearance is granted, you must report any new relationships with foreign nationals to your security officer, as well as any foreign travel. Plenty of people with clearance travel all over the world. The most important factor is that you honestly report what is required and follow all security protocol.”

            “Go ahead and talk to foreigners and have fun, heck, I even married a foreigner while having my TS SCI in the military, and went on to obtain my TS in the fed gov. I know more foreigners than Americans, and have traveled extensively and still do.”

            2. (Regarding carrying laptops through an airport) There is no possible way that this information would be public if it were true, however, as I mentioned, since virtually everyone has electronic devices nowadays(and in particular those wealthy enough to travel), it is exceedingly unlikely that this would raise red flags.

            3. (Regarding the assumption that he had TS data) Yes. Yes it is a wild assumption. As I proved in #1, these people take vacations just like everyone else. Possibly more than the average Joe, since they have salaries that can support it. Once again, Snowden was not an NSA employee. He was a contractor with TS clearance. There is absolutely 0 proof that these people routinely experience Mission Impossible-style raids as you describe. Please provide evidence of this.

            4. A) This special ops team sure is lugging around a lot of gear.
            B) Have you ever been put under for surgery or some other medical procedure? There’s a reason that you can’t drive afterwards. It’s entirely different than waking up groggy.
            C) Technically, this wouldn’t be data recovery, it would be espionage. I would also take issue with your equating the risk assessment of this contrived Hollywood-style operation with the development of an mobile camera hide.

            5. Again, provide a shred of evidence. If a customer or employee found one, the hotel would be very susceptible to lawsuit from anyone who’d stayed or worked there in the past. It would endanger their ability to retain future customers. This would be a silly and illegal business practice. As such the burden of proof lies with you in proving that this is commonplace.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            This part here is proof enough of not being allow to visit China without clearance. “Travel to China, report it to your security dept (FSO)” Which means you need clearance to visit China as they consider it a security risk for the very reason I listed.

          • MH

            No. I am calling bullshit. You have swam so far away from your initial position that you aren’t even in the same ocean that you started. I’m not even sure what claim your ‘proof enough’ is supposed to be validating. Here is the chain of arguments:

            You: “Given that a NSA agent with high level clearance shows up in your country with a laptop and thumb drives which airport security would have noticed and reported in it was a safe bet he had top secret information on him.”

            Me: “He was a contractor. Further, I’d like to see your source for claiming that none of those people travel regularly.”

            You: “Show me the data that proves otherwise.”

            Me: (links to data that proves otherwise)

            You: “This part here is proof enough of not being allow to visit China without clearance.”

            You just tried to make a lateral move to a different argument. That’s not how this works. The argument you’re switching too isn’t even a solid one, either, which I am reluctant to mention because now you are going to completely ignore the original premise.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Nope was just clearly pointing out that it says you have to get clearance if you can’t grasp that from the line you posted then that’s on you.

          • MH

            Please quote me where I ever said that clearance wasn’t necessary. I never made that claim. You are deflecting because you were proven wrong.

            Your first argument was that top secret security clearance holders DO NOT take vacations with any sort of regularity.

            My counter-argument was that they do. I provided links to prove this.

            Informing a superior to mitigate risk has nothing to do with falsifying or verifying the argument that they don’t take vacations, nor does it attest to vacation frequency.

            I (genuinely) don’t mean this to sound like an insult, but I would suggest reading up on some basic debating concepts, core philosophical logic concepts, or scientific logic concepts.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            This part “Travel to China, report it to your security dept (FSO)” is referring to them needing clearance I know it’s hard for you to grasp but that is what they are talking about.

          • MH

            Am I debating with an AI? Are you stuck in an infinite loop? What’s going on here?

            It would appear that you are the person that is having a hard time grasping. Or perhaps it’s just that you’re grasping at straws at this point.

            I explicitly stated that I never disagreed with the fact that they need clearance (more technically they “should get” clearance– they aren’t breaking laws by not, but it makes life easier for everyone.)

            I then stated that the fact that they need clearance has no bearing on the fact that they DO take vacations, contrary to your original claim.

            Is your argument that they are talking about clearance and not going on vacations? That is nonsensical, if so. The discussions I linked are between people asking if they need clearance because they want to take vacations and people saying that vacations are absolutely fine if they get clearance, and that they take vacations all the time.

            You can glean multiple pieces of information from this discussion. Each piece is independent from the others.
            1.) People with top secret security clearance should inform their supervisors of any vacations they plan to take.
            2.) Vacationing abroad is not frowned upon, given you are transparent about it.
            3.) Vacationing abroad is not particularly uncommon.

            I was using points 2 and 3 to counter your explicit assumption that people with top secret security clearances rarely take vacations, and as such are a massive red flag warranting an operation of abundantly comical over-the-toppedness.

            In response, you are arguing point 1. You can perhaps see why I suggested a debate or logic book– it doesn’t make sense why you would argue as you did. Before you respond with the same thing a third time, let me be crystal clear: I am not saying I don’t understand what you are arguing. I am saying that it doesn’t logically follow.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            You don’t seem to under that the need to get clearance is required for certain countries for a reason if you bother to think about it and notice that China is one of the few countries listed where they bring up seeking clearance for the very reason I have been talking about that China above all the other countries has the highest security risk so agents are very rarely if ever granted clearance because of that risk.

          • MH

            False. Unequivocally. You are once again just fabricating information. I am quoting from those sources here:

            “Traveling to another country and interacting with the local populace, is NOT looked at negatively unless you are routinely heading to Pakistan, North Korea or Iran.”

            The fact of the matter is that TRAVEL alone is not a problem. People in those links even mention having taken several trips there. Developing foreign contacts is a different story. If, while overseas, you are found to be talking with, say, a prominent businessman who has ties to an anti-American organization, you could risk losing your clearance, though even then it’s not necessarily guaranteed. There will be an investigation though. There has to be a reason for them to deny you travel to a location.

            I’ll give you a real life example of how and why they might deny travel to China:


            Here, an applicant for Top Secret clearance was almost denied because he had dealings with, and owned 1.5% of the stock of a Chinese company. It goes without saying that he also had several Chinese contacts as a result. In exchange for being able to obtain his Top Secret clearance, he signed an agreement to surrender his share of the company without compensation, to sever communication with those contacts, and to agree not to travel to China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

            The key concept here is that had he not had a stake in a Chinese company, he would not be prevented from traveling to China.

            Again, traveling to China is not a risk, because you don’t take any sensitive information with you, and your superiors are informed, so they can look into it if need be. They just don’t want you making nice with other governments or anti-US organizations. Having sensitive data on a home computer is by far more of a risk than simply traveling abroad without that data. That is why when you claim that simply entering a country is a red flag, large enough to warrant a (hypothetical) MASSIVE operation, is so ridiculous .

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Nope it’s very much true because they aren’t going to talk about all the reasons as somethings need to be kept secret and they always take sensitive information with them it’s called memory and with proper social engineering one can get that accurate information out of them that is why they are denied clearance to China.

          • MH

            Again, you are making up fake information. Give me a source that says they they are denied clearance. I provided a source that proves they aren’t. I also gave evidence from an authoritative source regarding in what instances they would deny access to travel. As I mentioned before, they cannot deny you the right to travel, provided you’ve done nothing wrong. Here is the reason that they request to know if you plan to travel abroad:


            “This advance notification allows ample time for the FSO to engage the Cognizant Security Authority (i.e., the entity with whom you are engaged in classified work) and obtain any special safety, security, or counterintelligence briefing materials which may be appropriate for your trip. Your security officer will incorporate this material, if any, into the travel safety and security briefing you are going to receive prior to your travel.”

            Here is an example of the form they request that you fill out. Note that this form is a “report” and not a “request.”


            I will give you a another piece of evidence, though I really don’t need to:


            “But a secret, top secret, Q clearance, or top secret SBI clearance does not prevent the holder from traveling in foreign countries.

            Heck, i traveled all over asia on personal trips with a top secret SBI clearance.”

            I have now provided quite a lot of evidence. You have done nothing but fabricate information to argue your point. If you wish to continue this discussion, it is your intellectual responsibility to do research.

          • MH

            Yes, because every time one of the nearly 1 MILLION people with top secret clearance take a vacation, they are immediately raided by a special operations team out of a movie.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Russian spetsnaz security forces used a fentanyl-based gas to incapacitate people rapidly so it’s safe to say the Chinese has access to such a gas.

          • MH

            I will grant you that fentanyl gas can knock people out, but it’s hardly safe. Of the ~850 hostages in the event where Russia used that gas, 130 of them died from it. And it’s hardly covert — you’ll know you’ve been gassed.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            The funny thing is that when it comes to all the data they collected they didn’t violate any of your rights because all those online sites own and control your data because you agreed to the terms of service.

          • MH

            Those are agreements between two private parties. That doesn’t entitle the government to log all data transferred between parties. Even if the agreement explicitly stated that you wave your constitutional rights to search and seizure, that wouldn’t be legally binding.

            Not to mention that the scope and type of data collected by sites, while fairly broad, is restricted. Sites can’t collect (for the purpose of profiling) financial or medical data, data about children under 13, or to some extent “privacy sensitive” information.

            Additionally, the government’s collection is far more broad than just sites that collect your data. They have the capability to collect data about non-web traffic as well as private, direct communications between parties.

            The pre-internet equivalent of this would be for the government to open every piece of mail sent, and to copy down the first few lines. And to hire someone to stand at every vendors point of sale, and record every transaction. And to hire another person to literally follow you around and log every movement you make(precise locational data from GPS or rough location data from WiFi SSIDs and cell towers.)

            There is absolutely no comprehensible way to argue that it;s not a gross invasion of privacy on a mass scale.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Problem is that those companies willingly gave the NSA access to that data so if you want to blame anyone blame the companies for agreeing to give access to that data and the reason for the vast amount of the data collected is because the computer program that goes through all the data is just being systemic as a program like the one they use doesn’t view age as invalidating the data due to the fact a terrorist can steal anyone’s identity.

          • MH

            They don’t give it willingly. No company wants to potentially alienate their users. They used the threat of severe legal repercussions to gain access to it.

      • citizen762

        SS, if you check out the documentary citizenfour you’ll see that snowden was very thoughtful on how the information was presented. He admitted he’s not expert in media and only presented the raw data to the selected media outlets leaving it up to their professional discretion to redact or not redact anything they deemed problematic. All of what was leaked to the public before the government quelled the operation had nothing to do with undercover agents or spies. It was only the exposure of the mass data collection violations of the constitution that was exposed. No harm came to any agent as a result of it, except for the US federal government’s credibility. The talking point to of leaked material putting undercover agents in danger is old, overused, and lame. … but you seem to have bought it, so there’s your verification that it still works.

        • Shaun Salisbury

          Like I said in Colbert interview he clearly points out that he gave the data to people who don’t know the 1st thing about properly securing data which was proven when they released information without properly censoring the names of agents.

          • MattiusLang

            Would be nice if somewhere you cited a source of information other than a comedian…

          • Shaun Salisbury

            He might be a comedian but he took the whole deal seriously so don’t just brush it off because it proves you wrong.

          • MattiusLang

            Ummm, proves me wrong about what exactly? Totally lost on that one. My comment was only in regard to your spamming this thread about John Oliver, John Oliver, John Oliver, citing no other sources but one of the increasingly tiresome breed of pseudo-journalistic performers who present their biased opinions as “obvious truth” and then when they get called on their lack of journalistic integrity or impartiality hide behind the “Hey man, I’m just a comedian” routine, if you’ll pardon the pun. Were you’re coming for the POV of “In interview X, Y and Z he has said this, and hell, even John Oliver found that also” it’s one hell of a lot more credible, that’s all.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            If you watched the interview he was very serious when he talked to Snowden about giving uncensored data to people that know nothing about properly securing data and from how he is talking to him at that moment you know he means it.

          • Lance L

            Shaun, you’re correct – sensitive data was handed over without first censoring names that may or may not represent agents in the field. Snowden did admit to that and agreed that it was something that he did very much regret. Now, moving on – read this ( http://tinyurl.com/p7r88ka ) and tell all of us again how this is not a far more complex issue that the focus of your argument and that it’s not just about the U.S. citizens’ privacy being compromised here, but the entire planet’s. And hey, doesn’t that tie in with what Prof. Tyson’s philosophy is all about?

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Honestly the only issue here is that on the internet you don’t own the data you store on sites the companies that manage them do as in the new report you posted about Facebook the data you put on Facebook actually belongs to Facebook because you use their servers and agree to their terms of service so honestly if you have a issue with them handing over data it’s not the NSA that is at fault it is the companies running those sites.

          • Adrian Tabalanza

            That’s very subjective. Heck, my dog can’t even wag his tail in disagreement.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Nope because Snowden admitted that he messed up on that end.

          • Adrian Tabalanza

            Okay, that’s ad hominem if they attack the comedian. But I don’t get your point. Can you simplify your arguments against Snowden?

          • Shaun Salisbury

            He gave sensitive uncensored information to people who know nothing about properly censoring the data properly or securing that data which pretty much cost the counter terrorist efforts a lot.

        • cyberpunk

          He looked like a naive kid who was in way over his head in citizen. He saw the fire and couldn’t handle, he got scared and ran away, ironically to one of the leading countries of state sponsored hacking and citizen snooping. Has he been brave enough to speak out against Putin? or China? Also, in citizen he said he didn’t even fully know what was in the information he took?? That is the definition of reckless…Also, the media has made mistakes in both protecting and releasing data… He was reckless, and is to scared to answer for that… All that being said technology is outpacing policy, so Snowden is product of the time, that does not mean he shouldn’t be held accountable.

      • M.

        That is the job of the journalists who were given access to the information.
        No agents names have been compromised.

        • Shaun Salisbury

          Actually there were names compromised as Colbert pointed out that the media did a poor job of censoring the names that anyone could easily remove the censoring they did.

          • M.

            Well, let’s say someone’s cover was compromised, as you claim. There’s been no evidence presented that it has resulted in any casualties. So if there’s any crime, it’s no worse than Cheney, Rove and Scooter Libby’s crime of outing Valerie Plame in retribution for her husband’s reporting on their war-mongering lies. Those puppeteers were acting out of malice; Snowden is acting out of conscience to uphold his sworn oath to the constitution.

            The preservation of the constitution is far more valuable than the lives of a couple spooks. Of course this is a moot point, because Snowden’s revelations have resulted merely in mud of the face of the security council and the NSA, who’s leadership has been breaking the law for decades under false pretenses, only to enlarge their unmitigated power.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            You wouldn’t be saying that if those CIA agents had prevent the deaths of thousands of people because more often then not you never hear about a under cover CIA agent death during a mission nor do you hear about them completing a mission because it’s all kept top secret so you should actually take that into account before saying stuff like that.

          • M.

            You’re totally right. Unaccountable and secretly funded government agencies always operate with the individual citizen’s best intention in mind. And they’re constantly just saving lives that hang in the balance of all the bad guys. That’s, like, what they do, right? Save lives?

            Just to be sure that nobody ever dies again, we should just trash the Constitution pre-emptively. I mean, it’s just a piece of paper with a whole bunch of impractical idealism. But human life…!

            [covers ears and closes eyes, chants “death is not real, death is not real, death is not real.”]

          • Shaun Salisbury

            They are held accountable and they aren’t secretly funded not sure where you are getting that from because their budget comes from the government but spying on it’s own people to weed out the terrorist that want to kill as many people as possible is a actually good thing it’s not like they are rounding up people who disagree with the administration and making them disappear.

          • M.

            Oh, they’re held accountable, eh? You mean relative to cocaine imports under Reagan? Heroin imports during Vietnam and as of W.’s reign? What about the terrorism they spurned on in Europe in the stay-behind operations to balance local political dissent? What about the theater they put on during cold war activities behind the iron curtain via radio and denim imports? What about the corruption of ‘southern’ politics, false coups and assassinations in south america and Iran? What about all of the informant inspired “terrorism attempts” to occur under FBI management that never quite get to trial? All of these things are acknowledged and celebrated? Are you serious? And all their budgets are confirmed by and visible to only 8 “specially confirmed” people, two of whom have been pulling their hair out just to open their mouths for a fucking decade, until Snowden actually did it for them. Are you really honestly telling me that terrorists are statistically a threat in your life at all? Seriously? Any more significant than your stupid fucking seat belt? You’d better live in Baghdad to answer honestly, “yes.”

            And as far as “not rounding up people who disagree with the administration and making them disappear,” you are clearly unaware of the way that precedent works in our system and the slow march of time. This scenario has become a virtual inevitability, for the simple reason that the mechanisms to enable it now exist, still without notable oversight and no breaks. The next time a person whose fear and desperation reach Cheneyesque levels of absurdity happens to win the white house, you better bank on the pograms going down. Because they will. Because they can. Now – They couldn’t before. But now: They will. It’s not a threat; it’s an inevitability, assuming it hasn’t already begun happening. If you actually had any political power you would be ultimately malleable, simply because you’re on Facebook and I can see your porn viewing habits, etc, etc. You no longer possess a private thought.

            “And if my thought-dreams could be seen,
            They’d probably put my head in a guillotine.
            But it’s alright, Ma,
            It’s life and life only.”

          • Shaun Salisbury

            You should probably see a doctor for your paranoia it is a very dangers thing and you could end up hurting yourself or someone else.

          • M.

            Paranoia is a dangerous thing? Tell that to the German Jews who thought it would be ok to hang around in the early 40’s. Or anyone else who’s not tuned in when shit gets real. Read your history and your behavior psych, kid. The Black Swan is ever eager to take flight. And study some systems theory and scenario planning before calling anyone else paranoid, because you’re unfit in your current condition to use the term with any meaning that’s helpful to anyone.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Considering I have a degree in criminal psychology I think I know a bit about paranoid people and you sir fit the profile of the paranoid person that believes in the men in black suits and that 9/11 was a inside job but it’s only human to try and draw lines to make sense of things but you just take it too far.

          • M.

            For a person with a degree in anything your spelling sucks. Get a clue. And read up on the Stanford Prison Experiment again to understand better what you and your paternalistic government capable of.

            Paranoia and compartmentalization/denial are two sides of a pendulum’s arc. Both are healthy by degrees at the right times and places, and both can be terrible vices. You are plainly such a victim of compartmentalization that you cheer for the reduction of your own liberties, the suppression of your own will, and the smug projection of your own self-loathing. Godspeed, citizen.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Typical deflection tactics as this isn’t about me but about your deep rooted irrational fear of the government a fear I might add that only is intensified due to the fact that you only seek information from people who believe the things that you do and that isn’t a very healthy thing to do.

          • Rocknrope

            The Stanford Prison Experiment was a hoax.

          • M.

            Link to source? Or at least explain yourself.

          • Rocknrope

            Well, “hoax” is probably harsh, but the experiment was somewhat slanted, and the outcomes were overblown in terms of the ubiquity of the behavior from both the guards and inmates.


          • M.
          • Shaun Salisbury

            You link to a story written by a conspiracy theory site doesn’t help your case at all.

          • M.

            If you think the Gothamist is a conspiracy theory site, your cultural literacy is worse than your psych evaluation skills.
            The link was to demonstrate to you how your belief in the innocence of state power and its incorruptibility is foolish on the face of it. But, based on your academic degree, and some mild inference about your likely career, I think it’s appropriate to quote Sinclair Lewis. “You can’t get a man to understand something when his paycheck requires that he doesn’t understand it.” And if the inference about your career is incorrect, then you have no excuse.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Nope I am just showing the people here how crazy you are by stringing you along and it’s sad that you are making it so easy but that is to be expected.

          • MH

            Their budget comes from the government, but it’s considered part of the “black budget,” which is highly classified. Forget breakdowns on who is getting what, even the total amount isn’t released to the public. A broad overview of the budget was one of the things leaked by Snowden. See washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/national/black-budget/

          • M.

            Just to be clear, thousands of people have died in the past to preserve the ideals established by the constitution, and I have no trouble with the idea that thousands more will die in the future to protect it. I have no trouble with the idea that it might include me and my loved ones. And I’d rather Americans sometimes die at the hands of her enemies, because the state is limited from controlling everything, than to coddle every single one of them.

            Death happens and it’s sometimes a beautiful thing. Maybe you should take that into account before saying stuff that defends the proto-secret police built on a platform of fear.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            I doubt those people who have lost love ones would agree with you and honestly you say that now but you would feel different if it actually happened to you just like most people who believe certain thing change when they are actually effect by the lost of a loved one.

          • M.

            Yeah, dude. I’m that zen about it. And had the nation more people harboring such resolve as mine, we’d be a better people. Deal with it. We’re a coddled, pathetic lump of pre-dead consumers, however special each of individually may prove, and we don’t merit all this pity and regret that Terror bestows on us. It’s loathsome.

            “He not busy being born is busy dieing.” RZ

        • Shaun Salisbury

          Also Colbert pointed out that Snowden a security expert gave uncensored data to people who don’t know the first thing about securing data.

      • John Longinotto

        Evidence of mass data collection – going through all the evidence.
        Pick one.

        • Shaun Salisbury

          Considering the super computers they use at the NSA search through all the data for certain word’s and phrases in order to find likely terrorist messages you kind of have to leave no stone uncovered because under that stone would be the one they would use.

          • John Longinotto

            No i mean, Snowden could either have given us evidence of mass data collection, or he could have given us data he had personally looked through first, but he couldn’t possibly do both.

            At the Guardian HQ, it took several teams of people working shifts around the clock to go through the data with the US gov. to figure out what they could release and what they shouldn’t.
            Snowden could never have released so much evidence of unconstitutional espionage on US citizens (and its allies) if he had to look through all of it himself first.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Actually he could for one he would know what to look for because he knows how the agency works and 2 he had plenty of down time when he was waiting for Russia to let him stay more then enough time to properly censor the files that could be released.

          • John Longinotto

            He released some of the documents in the USA, then traveled to Hong Kong to meet British reporters where he released the rest. At that time he had already been fired from Booz Allen Hamilton and issued with the theft of government documents. He THEN flew from Hong Kong to Ecuador with a stop-over in Russia, but got stuck in Russia after the US revoked his passport.

            By the time he ever got to Russia, the newspapers had already published the leaks.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            That doesn’t mean that he still didn’t have the data on him as a bargaining chip for the Russians as they aren’t exactly known for helping people out without a price.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Still also had plenty of time to censor the documents as he was locked away in a hotel room afraid to go outside.

      • Christopher Busch

        That is an unfortunate side affect. I would never put any of our soldiers or agents at risk. All though you would think they would have code names and that their actual identities would have been at a more restricted level. Snowden didn’t only expose some unsavory truths but it also shows how unsecure things are and/or the lack of sufficient dual authorization before allowing access those files. Just my thoughts.

  • Arjhun

    Wonderful Conversation there :)

  • http://natehevens.wordpress.com/ Nathan Hevenstone

    Thank you so much, and I can’t wait for part 2.

    One thing… Neil, I think it would be incredible to get the unedited, complete version of this interview at some point, preferably in the near future, without commercials and all that. Think about it… :)

  • Joseph

    Very good interview, especially towards the end! I understand his motivation and reasoning much better now!

  • Finkdoobiest

    A few years ago I watched interviews with Snowden and Clapper back to back and noticed that they both referred to the intelligence services using exactly the same phrase – “Good people doing hard work”. It occurred to me that perhaps Snowden is still in the NSA’s employ. Perhaps Snowden was chosen because their statistical analysis of voting patterns suggested, being rather stoic and cerebral, he is only relatable to a subsection of the American public that isn’t large enough to affect political change (bearing in mind that American politics is directed more by identity than rationale). This is an entirely unsupported hypothesis, but one I believe should not be dismissed as controlling the “enemy’s” figurehead seems like quite a CIA/NSA thing to do. The question I would have asked him is – “How can we know you’re not part of a CIA/NSA long game?”

    • MH

      I’ve heard the phrase a number of times outside the context of the intelligence community– applied to scientists and nonprofit workers and the like. If Snowden did in fact pick up that term during his tenure in the intelligence business, I would be much more inclined to believe that he found that specific depiction of his coworkers apt, and so continues to use it. He certainly *could* be part of a long game, but that would generally require all of the other actors involved (Greenwald, etc.) to be conspirators. Since the people he’s given material to have had to filter through it extensively to sift out the potentially harmful material, that means they would have sent an operative with highly sensitive documents to Russia, hoping that they didn’t intercept them. There are a number of other oddities that would have to be accounted for along those lines.

      It’s also hard to imagine what the endgame would be. I can’t think of any single benefit to the intelligence community that leaking this information would provide where simply leaking it directly in a much more controlled fashion would be less damaging to public opinion.

      As for the ‘using him as a figurehead’ argument– Snowden himself has stated (as shown in the documentary footage released far after the leaks themselves) that he doesn’t want to be a figurehead, and asked the Poitras and Greenwald to try to avoid talking about him at all because he felt that adversaries would try to use the traitor angle to try to redirect attention away from the issue itself.

      • Finkdoobiest

        I didn’t mean to infer that his parroting of the phrase was evidence of anything; It was merely an anecdote explaining how I personally initially faced that suspicion. I mean here we have a member of the intelligence community who came from obscurity, immediately disappeared back in to unaccountable obscurity and completely controls the narrative.

        “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum….” ~ Noam Chomsky, The Common Good.

        Greenwald and Poitras need not be conspirators. They are journalists/activists who predictably invest themselves in stories that they perceive to advance their political agendas and careers. Prediction and manipulation – the remit of the intelligence community and the true power of big data.

        It is difficult to imagine what the end game would be because we are in the dark about so much. Schroedinger’s Whistleblower one might say. Snowden did say he didn’t want to be a figurehead, and yet here we are talking about him after one of his many many interviews – slightly incongruous, no?

        I’m not advocating dismissing Snowden based on this reasonable suspicion. I do, however, advocate that we assume the assault on our liberties is much much worse than what Snowden revealed.

    • Taxil Necrobane

      ……That theory I can not dismiss either. I can not rule out entirely that Snowden is pulling a con job on all of us.

  • Androkles

    Sad to see a great man like Tyson get involved with a traitorous spy like Snowden, that man should be hunted down.

    • Maggie Miller

      Glad to see Mr. Tyson interviewing Mr. Snowden, a man who gave up his personal liberty to expose a clearly illegal and unethical government surveillance program

      • Androkles

        What absolute nonsens, Snowden is a spy and traitor nothing else, hes exposed our secrets to our enemies and reduced our ability to defend ourselves dramatically. He is among or the worst spy in US and western history. The insanity of making that man out to be some sort of hero is utterly incredible.

  • http://www.aperfectemployee.com Veal Slab

    I think Edward was trying to be diplomatic in the support of radically changing our school system, but I’m not willing to say I’m 100% sure on that. I like listening to Mr. Snowden, and I’m glad Neil is interviewing.

  • SaiyanHeretic

    A very illuminating conversation. I always thought it was hypocritical that the Snowden’s staunchest critics, the ones who argue the most vehemently that exposing the NSA’s gross and flagrant breaches of the Constitution have compromised national security, are also frequently the same ones clamoring the most loudly about the dangers of “big government” and federal overreach.

  • John Wick 1

    Video ?

    • Galloe Threetails

      Well it is called a “Radio show”… I know, its been years sense that really mattered, but I also understand that, that little picture looks like it should be the opening to a video. Alas though, yeah?

  • jc89

    Awesome interview, Snowden is a true bro. He gave up a well paid gig in Hawaii for the betterment of the rest of the world. But sucks he’s stuck in Moscow though.

  • Emma

    it’s crazy to see how the NSA and the CIA can get away with so many unethical methods…

    • cineaste

      both at home and abroad

  • Surly Canuck

    Mr. Snowden definitely brings up an interesting point about encrypted communications!! Brave man with the best of intent vs a terrible government with the worst of intent!!

    • Maggie Miller

      I have to quibble a little, Surly. I’m sure that there are plenty of people in the government in general and NSA in particular who feel like they are doing the right things for all the right reasons. Some people actually seem to believe that we have to surrender our personal liberties in order to protect them. I disagree with them completely, but I think suggesting that they’re all bad people with the worst intent is to set up a straw man…

    • Tim Milligan

      What did NSA do that was so bad? They collected massive communications meta-data and mined it for correlations to known terrorist communications. Just because they may have ingested some of your phone records does not mean they were spying on you. They analyzed most data and then threw it on the floor.

      • Surly Canuck

        If I were to believe that it might be ok but reality closes in and we see the NSA and others rummaging through our email and other communications or internet activity. While there might be a rationale for the data mining it can also lead to misuse or abuse. I recognize we put the stuff out there but that doee not give carte blanch access to everyone out there especially when an email for instance is addressed to a specific recipient


      • RadicalRuralDem

        No, that’s exactly what it means. If an agency setup a specific wiretap or data-monitoring on you individually but only “mined it for correlations to known terrorist communications”, then that would definitely be spying. This is how the process works today with the latest technology. It’s no different just because it’s being done to everybody. Or do you think surveillance and spying in the modern era involves some type of 1950s-era TV drama portrayal where somebody sits outside your house with a listening device pointed at it 24/7, waiting for you to say something incriminating?

  • Tai

    Well Neil – why don’t you ever talk about UFOs or aliens? The one time you did you gave the simpleton’s response : “OH IF THEY ARE REAL WHY DON’T THEY LAND IN TIME SQUARE DURP”. I’m a huge fan of you but really? Come on…

    Michio Kaku admit UFOs and Crop circles are E.T Made. – watch interview

    All Apollo astronauts who walked on man admit to alien visitation – watch interviews

    I’ve seen it, it is 100% real…. someone with your IQ should know this…. sigh

    • MH

      I don’t doubt that you believe that, but there really is no objective evidence to support the alien visitation claim. Most intelligent thinkers agree that it’s more than likely that there could be another advanced civilization out there somewhere, but it’s also pretty much universally accepted that we haven’t come into contact with them. I mean, we have a number of respectable organizations that actively search for alien life, such as SETI. NASA makes it a pretty big priority to look for potential markers of life (both intelligent and not) as well.

      The most Kaku’s said regarding crop circles is that “he keeps his mind open,” but he knows of several ways that humans could create them, like using ,GPS and microwaves to soften the stalks.

      It’s worth noting that most crop circles are created near roads or other landmarks, which suggest more of a terrestrial origin. If generated by a being that can travel between star systems, there’s no reason they would need to pick crops directly adjacent to public roads. But then, putting abstract art into fields is a pretty peculiar thing for a member of such an advanced civilization in the first place, so maybe it’s just a trouble-making teenage alien. Or the E.T. equivalent of Banksy. Who knows 😉

      No Apollo astronaut admits actually seeing an alien visitation. (You said “who walked on man”, but I’m going to assume you meant moon there, hehe.) There is ONE astronaut, Edgar Mitchell, from Apollo 14, who claims that he “suspects” aliens had a hand in preventing the US and Russia from blowing each other up during the cold war. As with pretty much any claim of a similar nature, he also doesn’t provide any actual evidence to support this.

      If you could provide actual links to interviews instead of saying “watch interviews,” (i.e. providing evidence) it would probably work to your benefit, though I don’t think those interviews exist.

  • MaeBeaBaby

    A couple of thinkers, playing with their heads out loud. Nice conversation and exchange of ideas and thoughts.

  • Mark Braun

    I like how you, weave a Traitor of the US into your Science, may be we should have all the skinheads, sexual perverts, and anyone who espouses their on Science belief on your radio show as well as the KKK you should hear their sick perverted
    views on blacks. Everyone should have equal time on such a non science opinion and I’m sure the above have a number of Extraterrestrial views such as the “TRAITOR” you just interviewed.

    • America is no longer free

      Mad bro? No everyone shouldn’t have equal time. That’s why we don’t teach religious belief along with science fact in a science classroom. That would be ignorant, the problem here is just you thinking that Snowden is a traitor…

      • Taxil Necrobane

        But Snowden is a traitor much like many others in history. It does not matter what his reason were. The point being here is that Mr. Tyson is veering out of the realm of real solid science topics and into more of the news headlines, click bait, and celebs of the day. Science was the reason I came here, but more and more of these shows are giving me and others less reason to stay.

        • MH

          As someone in IT, I would vehemently disagree that this topic is outside the umbrella of science.

        • America is no longer free

          That’s what Star Talk is all about and there is a science to everything….There’s nothing without science. So no the conversation did not veer away from science talk.

    • MH

      All of those groups you mentioned are CLEARLY–with possible exclusion of ‘sexual perverts’ depending on what that alludes to– belong in the morally bankrupt category. You can’t say, with good conscience that what Snowden did is any worse than morally nebulous. Out of curiosity, have you bothered to listen to the interview, or did you decide to skip it out of prejudice(in the literal sense)?

    • America is no longer free

      He’s not a traitor. Our own government are closer to being traitors than Snowden.

  • Cyclo Hexanol

    Thank you Mr. Snowden for you service not only to this country…. but to this planet.

  • god

    Edward Snowden is a HERO!

    • Tim Milligan

      Sorry, let me fix the typo! Should be ZERO, not HERO!

      • https://twitter.com/TVMaury Steffen Stø

        Tim Milligan is a lazy ignorant pup.

        • Tim Milligan

          Ha, that’s another good one. Let me fix your typo… Should be poop, not pup.

  • Tim Milligan

    How dare you promote the traitor and asshole snowden. You just lost a follower.

    • KeithinCA

      Now you’ve got more time to polish your boots.

      • Tim Milligan


  • Tim Milligan

    How dare you promote this traitor and ahole snowden! Yo should be ashamed. You just lost a follower and admirer.

    • MH

      I get the feeling that you haven’t bothered to listen to Snowden speak about what he did and why he did it. A lot of people seem really quick to jump on the traitor bandwagon without fully contemplating both the underlying reasons, and the details of how events unfolded.

      • Tim Milligan

        Sorry, no excuse. 15 years Air Force Intelligence, I was affiliated with NSA. I KNOW the good work NSA does. What Snowden did was stupid and hopefully one day he will be executed for his crime.

        • MH

          So you’re saying, “no, I haven’t bothered to listen to both sides.”

          Snowden himself says that the NSA does good work. Nobody’s questioning that. His issue is with the (quite clearly) anti-constitutional search and seizure of every American’s communications in a Minority Report-esque manner.

          In my opinion, though, the silliest argument is to call him a traitor. While it is theoretically possible that he was severely misguided(I do not subscribe to that opinion, obviously,) what’s abundantly clear is that he did it for the greater good of America.

        • andresroot

          You’re a traitor of humanity.

          • Tim Milligan

            Ha! That is hilarious.

    • Brian

      He just gained one here. We’d never know what the gov’t does without Snowden and people like him.

  • I_M_Forman

    Gibberish. They might as well been babbling about Global Warming as for as I care.

  • David Lee Allen

    E.S. seemed to rehash what N.D.T. very clearly stated in chapter #7 – 0:24:35 – dvd disc #4 of Cosmos A Spacetime Odyssey 2014 when suggesting “aliens” could be communicating with “us” without our awareness due to our inability to distinguish specific details within the cosmic microwave background as a result of a narrow time sensitive window of technological innovation and the amount of time required for primitive communication/radio waves to traverse space. Hmm,..

  • David Lee Allen

    Check it out.

  • Jungle Beat

    Ed, cancer and capricorn moon <3 Love him so much! He gave his life for what was serving him ^_^ His synchronistic to his inner viberations and that is why eye have mad respect for him and his spirit can cheer the blue into the golden light! Carry on Ed, yew rock earth's boat 😀

  • Ronald Spamer


    A clash of great minds with some very interesting and insightfull spinoffs. Thank you!

    Did like the perspective that communication evolves and the need / inevitability of encription.

    We are a kind of vulnerable it seems at this point in time. I remember Carl Sagan who spoke about the sphere of
    “Hello we are here” … Being a stupendes 200 something lightyear across and growing.

    (hope if some more advanced life form listens in on us they mis the part where we are blowing up some nice islands in the pacific with some newly found toys, as it might make a “WoW they are realy stupid impression”)

    Hope our politicians when the time comes are sophisticated enough. :)

  • Joe

    Wow, this was a great interview !

  • Hovercycle

    Thanks guys! Really cool to get to know Ed on that level. I “dropped” out of high school and went to community college too. I also regret missing out on chemistry. I taught myself assembly language in high school… Muahahahaha

  • ThomasCollins1

    “SNOWDEN: Aliens could be trying to communicate with us right now…”

    Just what we need! As if the aliens from Mexico weren’t enough. I love these “alien” stories. If I were from an alien civilization, and had traveled many light-years to discover the earth, I too would visit the dark desert, not the populated cities.

  • AuBrix

    The TRUE War in America – Those who wrote, signed, and then now support the Constitution vs Those who have adulterated it ever since it was ratified. Benjamin Franklin was correct ” Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety” .
    I am looking forward to Part II.

  • Aaron Olsen

    I really appreciated this conversation. It humanizes Neil to see him learn in areas outside his expertise. It’s amazing to a hear brilliant mind learn/consider new points about the importance of human rights and the constitution for the first time. Awesome exchange. Wish there was a regular installment of these two.

  • Maggie Miller

    This is the second long interview that I’ve seen/heard with Mr. Snowden and I’m impressed with his thoughtfulness and apparent earnestness. He had nothing to gain and everything to lose by exposing the NSA program the way he did – and that tells me all I need to know about his motivation. Whatever harm he caused to our intelligence gathering agencies, it pales in comparison to the damage done by the NSA programs to our collective relationship with our government.

  • Bill Clinton

    Arrest Neil deGrasse Tyson for treason NOW!!! He is aiding and abetting crimes against the united states. Send the traitor tyson to Gitmo now!!!!

  • ocean

    UFO people are not using super Spread Spectrum signals.

  • andrewp3

    If you’re a Yank you should be proud of Mr. Snowden.
    Or you could just shoot yourself in the foot once again, which seems pretty much par for the course of late.

  • cds

    It’s easy to forget sometimes that the government is made up of people, human beings like us not this gargantuan oppression machine like some people make it out to be. So with these people there is conflict. Am I to uphold this contract or the interpretation of the Constitution? How do you decide how to think or feel if your contract asks you to violate the Constitution which is something they are also sworn to uphold? Which is more important and I think Snowden’s answer is the Constitution. This means his former colleagues choose to uphold their company contract over following the will of the Constitution. But they work for our government and also are not elected. This can be considered a crisis. However these programs and how to monopolize information goes back to the 60s. J Edgar Hoover being able to pool and control and react to information not available to most people yet. Even further, certain banking families during the Napoleanic Wars made off rich due to their quicker information gathering, the most important of which was which army hadn’t been slaughtered. Snowden mentions this term personal politics because every individual has their network of people in their lives. If your a government entity that can pull up vast amounts of personal information about 330 million individuals, they can create a communication web of who talks to who, who doesn’t know who, how do they know each other, how long, who are friends, who are his/her enemies, his family, camera footage so actually video location evidence, online activity, etc. To know all that information is power because its a vastness of knowledge that can be used for leverage. Personally, as a citizen, I think what Snowden is doing is something he feels a personal obligation to see change and I agree with him. If our rights aren’t increasing then they are decreasing. Rebelling against government is what America is founded on. How much government work is exported to private companies with board members nobody knows anything about. I didn’t vote for them. Many people don’t know these companies doing the government’s work for them. Snowden recognizes this conflict between following US laws and company policy and how it needs to be addressed but can’t if the public doesn’t understand the seriousness of the issue. Its this hidden mix of loyalties the public doesn’t know about. And this is what Snowden is trying to do in my opinion, to inform and let people lead to these new conclusions with the understanding of this rampant conflict. This could answer the question of is our political system broken. Different people play by different rules. These programs are reckless and its ridiculous to try and convince people to give up civil liberties. This is inherently un-american and sounds like those contracts written by company pods. The American Revolution and The Civil War didn’t have security concerns, they had solution concerns and deep disagreements. There is no security in life, we are all going to die and we don’t know when. Lets learn the lessons of our founding fathers about security, political parties, secularism, important of knowledge and exploration, to name some. There is great importance in ensuring everyone follows the same laws and our government is bestowed power it should be more accountable not less. These company contracts shouldn’t be allowed to undermine US laws. The NSA was not working in the interest of the Constitution, not a bit. It had its own ideas and has its own agenda and it affects everyone because it knows everyone. Certainly a 21st century problem at this scale.

  • cds

    The 4th ammendment is underated. We should treat it the way we treat the 2nd ammendments

  • cds


  • Bill henderson

    Bill Clinton the only reason why the government is after him is that you got caught spying on us Americans what is really a fact the government has been gathering information on us since the 50’s and probably before but I was not born before 1950. Social Security is a way to keep track of us and learn about who we are census tells you where I live what kind of work I do taxes and the information you have us is to make sure we pay our taxes. You have been tracking us all along and there is really nothing we can do about it. I am not a criminal so it does not matter to me what you know about me everything we do today from credit cards to being on line tells everything about us so what Snowden did was show us how advanced the government has become that they can tracj us through more high tech than in the past.

  • nozanneti

    send it to the planet earth but to their brothers aliens already
    existing here, that’s why they use encryption.o.k. bro-alien ?

  • Beno Tsintsadze

    isnt there a video of this?

  • mark

    They are not trying to communicate with us. They are already here, and they have been here for decades. Open contact does not serve their interests, so they choose to remain covert.

  • Mark Greer

    If losing my privacy so a terrorist plot can be prevented, I am happy to make that trade. Few appreciate and celebrate the averted catastrophe.There is a shortage of wisdom for that. I don’t like Snowden. He’s full of himself. He seems to be acting for his own self-promotion. But I like worse that he is in Russia and likely sharing CIA secrets with other nations. Maybe dishonorable discharge and probation in the US are worth exploring. If we were housing a Russian spy under the same circumstances, I would extradite him back to Russia to handle as an act of foreign relations good will.

  • sepiae

    To say that one doesn’t care about privacy violations because one has nothing to hide equaling to say that one doesn’t care about freedom of speech issues because one has nothing to say – that’s a meme worth spreading.

    • andresroot

      let’s do it!

  • Josh Bedford

    How disappointing. Do you need viewers that bad to have on someone who is accused of a serious crime and fled the country? I am sure there are more experienced and knowledgeable people to interview on data compression, encryption, and privacy.

  • jhog

    Tyson, you’re creepin me out with your default settings set at ‘state obedience’.

  • UPIntelligence

    Was the Beijing, China train station wi-fi internet hacking operation on U.S. “Office of Personnel Management” ( OPM ) – holding both names of ‘most employees’ in-addition-to ‘all job applicants’ for positions’ ( including those within the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency / C.I.A. and other U.S. government entities ) provided with an ‘outstanding classified key entry system’ formerly used by Edward Snowden provided in-exchange for government of China safe passage on his flight to Russia?

  • Nelson

    Woudn’t an artificial radio signal be recognizable from natural sources by just having different properties like a narrower band and a higher power than background noise? I mean, being able to DETECT it is very different from being able to DECODE it, right?

  • PithHelmut

    Wow, I am thrilled to hear Snowden speak these words. How eloquent he is. Though Snowden doesn’t give much away, he is so correct about our rights and their whittling away over time rather than expanding. The world we have made for ourselves leads to torpor and resignation. Such a pity when we could be living in thrall every day, especially with the technology at our fingertips and the knowledge we have. You’d think we’d use it for something a little more elevating than bombing people and snooping.

  • Drugstar Cowboy

    We all who live and breathe in the greatest society mankind has produced, are forever in this man’s debt. His story defines the words hero & sacrifice. May we one day give you the honor you deserve Mr. Snowden!

  • uberfu

    At roughly 43 minutes in to this Neil references the TSA scanners at the Airport and how he’s okay with them as they are refernceing anonymous data during the scan adn are not connecting your personal information with the scan.

    This is inaccurate.

    Prior to the scanner in most AIrports are various security checkpoints — I know San Diego has 2 before the scanner. Where you have to show your Ticket and ID adn an agent verifies the information on the Ticket with the information on your ID and then compares the ID you hand them with the person standing in front of them. The first chekpoint was visual / manual. The second checkpoint my ID and Ticket were placed under some sort of scanner where a barcode on the Ticket signaled the agent and an ultravoilet light was flooding over the the Ticket and ID.

    Granted the UV light was probably looking for forgeries of the various paperwork. But still uncertain what the scanner was doing. Either way 2 people verified my ID prior to the TSA body scanner. Then I had to show ID and the Ticket a 3rd time as I got to the Gate to board the plane.

    And the various airports I’ve been to since 9/11 this is a regular thing with variation on a theme from LA to NY to Fla.

    I don’t buy that the Feds are so bent on tracking every detail of our lives in nearly every other aspect of society and yet somehow they lapse at the airport. With as many hoops everyone has to jump through just to get to a plane much less board one.

    But even beyond the simple privacy violations they are repeatedly committing this is an excessive abuse of their authority that they gave themselves and there are no checks and balances being placed the actions of those various government agencies. And the checks and balances that are being placed on some of them by say Judicial oversight or the Executive Offices — those other Branches are in bed with them too. The C & B fail when all 3 Branches are backing each other up without oversight.

  • gabydewilde


    Ed should not have done this and that then everyone would be safe.

  • Twig Inthewind

    Fascinating. Amazing this theory about alien civilizations encrypting their data flow has never been brought up before, at least not in any single (popular) science documentary or even a book I’ve seen or read. Not even Stephen Hawking brought this up, when suggesting that we, the humanity, should be cautious about interacting with alien civilizations to protect ourselves. It obviously needed the brain of a “whistle-blower” to count in this possibility. Well, will look at the starry night sky with different eyes from now on.

  • Comment

    Why don’t you wrap your episodes in the youtube format? Film it, upload to youtube, and frame the audio exactly like you do now…

  • Snake

    I loved this episode, but I must say that Neil is quite the let down at the end.

    Remember when Janeane Garofalo did a podcast with him (season 2 of Star Talk) ? She pointed out that Neil is a man that says “I’m choosing the middle”, when in reality, he is choosing the easy way. The way where nobody is getting hurt in his arguments, but where nothing advance as the debate is always put down to zero in the end.

    The same thing happened in the podcast about Dawkins with James Martin, a reverent from the Vatican. And now it’s happenning again, with Neil not daring to use the word “Hero” about Snowden even if he accepted all his wise words. Instead, he’s going for “Geek”.

    I love Star Talk, and I love Neil. I know that being on the middle ground is very important for a good clashing of ideas, without violence and with all the possible productivity and merging. But you got to recognize wich idea is the best in the end. That’s what Science is all about. You can’t just say “Yeah, well, the earth is definitly….Something.” finishing a podcast, without saying if it’s a sphere, a cube or a pancake to please all audiences.

    You have to choose, Neil. We got to choose. Even if it’s by saying “There’s still room for doubts”, because there always is room for doubts in science.

    But there is no room for cowards. Only for those who seek truth, whatever the cost. People like Snowden.

  • Stuart Macgregor

    i think snowden knows alot more than he lets on why not just blow the lid off this planet lol

  • Ronnie

    Wow. Mr. Snowden is exactly the type of person that our “school” system does not want to create. He thinks for himself and questions everything and stands up to wrongdoing. Good on you Mr. Snowden!

  • “><img src="justtryna" onerror

    quantum computers would be cool, just to be sure about the encryption program! 😀

  • solar_bullsh1t

    Nice choice of Desaparecidos!!!! Conor Oberst is the man.

  • Carlo

    The songs listed at the bottom fits perfectly the interview!

  • http://www.startalkradio.net startalkradio

    There are volume controls in most app players. Which one are you using?

    • awkur

      I meant on my computer screen. I didn’t find any. Loud as hell.

      • http://www.startalkradio.net startalkradio

        I’m confused. If it’s your desktop computer, Awkur, doesn’t your computer have volume settings? The Soundcloud player doesn’t have it’s own volume setting, you use the device to set it.

        • awkur

          that i had to figure out later on. Yes I used it. Too bad Soundcloud doesn’t have it! :(

          • http://www.startalkradio.net startalkradio

            I agree. But at least you figured it out, so… happy listening, Awkur!

  • Abel Zandamela

    Sure Snowden is a geek, people have different opinion on him, most people just fear the truth! something was wrong he saw it and he said it, security or not, its up to everyone to decide it.

  • james B Mande

    When you become a under cover agent for the government there are risks that you accept when taking such a job, including being outed…sorry i’m not sympathetic to those who claim information is a risk to those who spy and who do under cover work. You sign up for many risks other then being outed. If those who claim otherwise ask an agent if they know the risks by accepting such a job??? OH YEAh THEY KNOW….Shhhh!

  • http://www.startalkradio.net startalkradio

    Actually, yes, we did shoot video, and at some point, we will be making that available. It takes us a bit longer to release video than our podcasts and radio show.

    • fbobraga

      Please make it available soon (at this point, my opinion about this interview is that a person with a voice like his is used…)

      • http://www.startalkradio.net startalkradio

        Fbobraga, I (Jeff, the StarTalk Social Media Director) don’t normally get personal in these comments, but I can’t just leave that one alone.
        You just accused us of fabricating and misrepresenting the content of our podcast.
        What has this show ever done to give you any reason or data to doubt our honesty or our integrity?
        And, to follow your opinion to its conclusion, why would video convince you? Video is easily doctored or manufactured. (Just ask anyone who believes the US masterminded 9/11, or that we faked the moon landing, or who watched the movie “Gravity.”)
        We are primarily a podcast and a radio show, and any video we do produce and release is an extra bonus for our fans, not created to provide “proof” to support and back up what we say in our podcast.
        That said, you are quite welcome to your opinion. We love discussion and feedback, and we revel in the disparate viewpoints our audience provides through discussion here and on social media.
        Even the more outlandish comments, like those from people who refuse to believe we landed on the moon.

        • fbobraga

          it’s my ponion about it, and the reply contrubutes to it (note that te comments here are “a priori” moderated, i kind of sensorchip :/)

          • http://www.startalkradio.net startalkradio

            Let’s discuss how we “moderate” comments. In extremely rare instances we ask the commenter to remove extreme obscenity or ** some letters. In even rarer instances, we ask a commenter to remove personal attack language that crosses over into hate speech. And that’s it. We have never not approved a comment because we didn’t agree with it.
            I won’t dignify your “ponion” other to again say that you have the right to it, and we will continue to approve your comments, regardless of whether they are insulting to us, or offensive, as long as they don’t cross into hate speech.
            That said, it’s easy to have an opinion. If you are going to accuse us of misrepresenting who our guests are, some data might be helpful. Comparative voice recognition studies might be a starting point.

          • fbobraga

            but “before” it’s published is censorchip-like, I think….

          • fbobraga

            slashdot.org has a moderate mechanism that works, and is “à posteriori”

          • fbobraga

            “[…] We have never not approved a comment because we didn’t agree with it. […]”: it can’t be proven 😛

          • http://www.startalkradio.net startalkradio

            You’re right, it can’t be proven. I just went to slashdot and reviewed their moderation policy. It’s pretty awesome… as is most of what they do. That said, at one point they say they had over 425 moderators reviewing comments, before moving to their new, mass moderation system.
            But that’s sort of not the point here. If you don’t trust us, don’t listen. Or, listen, and raise your concerns here, and we, and our fans, will get to see them.
            We’re all for open, honest discussion, we believe in data-based skepticism, and frankly, if you listen to the show over time I think you’ll get to know us a little better, and perhaps, even, trust us.
            Or not.

          • fbobraga

            on slashdot.org the user (with mod points) are moderators: there’s no exclusive moderator persons, all are commentators (as far as I know :P)

            * “mod points” are earned by how often a user access the site (I’ve used it for more than 10 years now) :-)

          • http://www.startalkradio.net startalkradio

            Yes, I know… you can read the history of their moderation efforts here:
            As I said, and as you can read for yourself, at one point, not now, they had 425 moderators, recruited from their community, before they went to this other system.
            Our social media team consists of 2 paid employees and a handful of valiant, hardworking volunteers.

  • Shaun Salisbury

    That’s nice and all but comparing what America is doing to those countries is a great exaggeration as those dictators used that data to round up millions of people and kill them where that isn’t happening here.That quote from Franklin really only applies to the version of the world he lived in if he could experience the world today he would understand.

    • Aaron Johnson

      lol, he can’t see muslims and people labeled as “terorists” are the new Jews. Give your head a shake kid.

      • Shaun Salisbury

        Nope not really do you see interment camps or death camps in America full of those individuals and you would be a fool if you think they only look into middle eastern terrorist so give your head a shake kid because you see a world that doesn’t exist.

        • Aaron Johnson

          I guess you never heard of Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo or any of the other “black sites” where we put “terrorists” and hold them without trial and torture them.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Those aren’t on the US soil and Abu Ghraib no longer belongs to the US and like I said they aren’t rounding up Americans and putting them in their so once again this subject goes well beyond your understanding of the subject.

          • Aaron Johnson

            And Auschwitz wasn’t on German soil. What’s your point?

  • Shaun Salisbury

    Nope because if I post links people like you will just say they come from sources you don’t agree with so better to tell you to educate yourself.

    • lexie

      Spoken like somebody with absolutely no real proof to back up his childish regurgitation.

      • Shaun Salisbury

        Not really just the fact of the matter that people like you will believe what you want no matter what so long as it comes from a source that believes the things you do.

  • Christopher Busch

    I imagine it would be hard to choose between the morally right thing to do, the actual best thing to do and your country which may not always have one or the other or both in mind.

  • Word Warrior

    I love how Snowden thinks. As a former high school teacher, I totally agree with the difference between education and learning. A high percentage of our gifted and talented kids drop out of high school. They need to be given the option of attending college instead, as some districts do. We need to INVEST in our kids, not our war machine that continually produces new enemies.

  • juancarlos Ceballos>.

    Meanwhile the case found its critical value; the guy might also grown strong; finding at the very same time the chance to superate his own defense toward a serious case of state security trespassing and a concrete case of conspiration; main reason to obtain capital punishment base onto the US constitution. This is one of the legal conditions I found out as a beginner of legal studies back in 1993>.

  • MH

    All you are doing by linking those is demonstrating your lack of knowledge of IT security. Cracking encryption and breaking into systems are two ENTIRELY different things. There are many, many many, many different ways to exploit systems to gain access. Just look at http://www.exploit-db.com to see what I mean. There is only maybe two or 3 ways to break encryption, and with modern encryption schemes, that generally involves raw processing power.

    • Shaun Salisbury

      No noy really all I am is exposing your lack of understanding as they had access to their computers in when they decrypting data on a regular basis and would have had access to the data on how those programs worked so they have access to the keys to decrypting the data no problem.

  • Michael Rath

    Excellent discussion. Kudo’s to Edward!

  • MH

    And now you’ve pivot away from the actual argument because you can’t demonstrate that I’m incorrect. Your argument here is absolutely ridiculous on multiple grounds… but fine, I’ll indulge you anyway.

    Firstly, governments are not binary entities in a riddle where some only lie and some only tell the truth. Assuming that the government lies about everything would be a fallacy of composition. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallacy_of_composition. Everything needs to be carefully examined to determine if there is a benefit if they were to lie. If there is, it’s reasonable to investigate whether or not the truth is being told. It is more than probable that they will tell the truth about certain things and lie about others. Like most people do.

    Secondly, by accusing me of accepting certain things but not others you are conceding one of two things:
    Either 1) you accept everything, and have conceded my prior argument that vacations are not prohibited
    or 2) you don’t accept “what the government publicly lists” in this instance, in which case you are in the same boat as me, just with an inverted opinion as to which the correct bits are.

    In any case, the issue at hand is NOT that the government is out to oppress everyone. I never said that, nor would I. The issue at hand is that they have been proven to *blatantly and deliberately* violate the United States constitution on a continual basis. It doesn’t matter what their intentions are. They cannot, by law, do what they are doing. You can certainly make the argument that they should be able to, but for that, the constitution would need to be amended. You can’t just pass a law that violates the constitution. That’s what the constitution is there for– it’s the supreme law of the land.

    • Shaun Salisbury

      Nope my point was to show the double standard of people like you who believe the government is doing things without proof or evidence but when someone like brings up a valid argument you cling to the very government documents of a organization whose sole purpose is to lie and do what it takes to get the job done even if it means going outside the law which they have shown they are willing to do.

      • MH

        This is why I suggest that you should perhaps study a little philosophy or logic.

        Most importantly, this entire argument is a strawman. Nowhere did I state that the government’s “sole purpose is to lie.” Once again, you are replying to a post in which I EXPLICITLY state the opposite. You seem to do this every other post. I’ll say something like:

        “…governments are not binary entities in a riddle where some only lie and some only tell the truth. Assuming that the government lies about everything would be a fallacy of composition.”

        to which you reply:

        “…you cling to the very government documents of a organization whose sole purpose is to lie and do what it takes to get the job done…”

        In addition, you clearly didn’t understand the logical implications I was pointing out in my last point. I don’t think I’d be able to explain better without drawing you a graphic, though. Maybe some other time.

        I had a third point that I didn’t get around to typing up last time. I assumed you’d be able to connect the dots but I suppose that was wishful thinking on my part, since your reply clearly demonstrates the opposite. I’ll explain here.

        Broadly speaking, governments lie about some things and not about others. There are quite a few factors that go into whether or not they feel it’s information they need to lie about. A value judgement needs to be made by anyone assessing a particular statement or document as to if it is the type of thing about which a government would feel inclined to bend the truth. I will provide some examples of statements that an unspecified government might give:

        1. “We have no spies operating in Russia.”

        Assessment: This is pretty much guaranteed to be a lie, because no real good could come of outing your own spies.

        2. “Since the beginning of our operations, there have only been around 15 civilian deaths.”

        Assessment: While possible to be truthful, it is much more likely that this number is being whitewashed. In fact, civilian death numbers are (almost) guaranteed to be whitewashed, because any “military-aged male” in a radius around a targeted drone strike is automatically designated as an enemy combatant by association. Theres a number of sources for this, here is one: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/29/world/obamas-leadership-in-war-on-al-qaeda.html

        3. “The president was unaware of this issue at the time that it occurred.”

        Assessment: This assertion will be made by PR. Typically, this sort of statement will have political implications, so there is at least motive for it to be untrue. It is, however, entirely possible to be true, so it could go either way. It’s best not to make an assumption in either direction, though.

        4. “You will be able to take all major holidays off.”

        Assessment: There is little benefit to lie about something like this. It helps potential applicants judge whether or not they would like to go ahead with applying for the position.

        The type of evidence that I linked was most closely related to #4. It was not propaganda from PR. The two government sources I quoted to you were a legal document, which would be remarkably illegal (not to mention strange and pointless) to lie in, and a form that those in the military are encouraged to fill out. What possible motive or goal would there be to lie in a form?

        The documents leaked by Snowden were also government documents. Are you suggesting that I should have assumed those were lies as well? Can you not see the circular logic here?

        Now, with regard to “the government is doing things without proof or evidence”… What on EARTH are you talking about? The ONLY person in this entire conversation that has argued that the government is doing things without proof or evidence is you. You argued that the government denies vacations to China. While not *our* government, you certainly had a few things to say about what the Chinese government was doing too, I might remind you.

        You won’t do it, because you ignore my requests every time, but point out a single instance of me claiming that the government does something without providing evidence.

        • Shaun Salisbury

          Once again you fail to see why they would lie about the whole clearance deal but that is to be expected so I guess I will have to explain it to you it simply comes down to the fact that we are always in a spy war against other nations especially China and Russia but publicly they can’t make it appear that way so they make it seem like it’s not a big deal for agents to go to China because they want to give the appear to people like you that it’s not a big deal when it really is.

          • MH

            I don’t know why I’m arguing with you at this point– this has become beyond pathetic.

            “Once again you fail to see why they would lie about the whole clearance deal”

            I would suggest you go re-read my last post. See how I listed various statements and rated each how likely it was to be true? Clearly I would apply that same logic to your baseless proposition that the government denies vacation time. That’s why I did research. To be honest, I spent about an hour and a half researching it (yay, free time). I called up a friend of mine that had TS clearance about 5 years ago (he’s in the private sector now.) He’s the kind of guy that just wouldn’t answer if he wasn’t supposed to tell me something, but he pretty much gave me the same story as everyone else on those forums were saying. They will discourage trips but they can’t prevent you from going. They’re ultimately cool with it as long as you inform your boss. He also said that upon return, if anyone out of the ordinary tried to talk to you, that you need to report it. Apparently something that is/was done was where someone would approach visitors dressed in business attire and claim to be trying to get US business permits. I think it was mostly a scam, not espionage, but they wanted to keep their eye on it in any case. I don’t know any more details about that though.

            You did how much research exactly? Hmm? 30 seconds? 20? However long it took you to make up the claim in your head? What was it you said again? Oh right:

            “…people like you who believe the government is doing things without proof or evidence…”

            I’m glad you’ve put so much effort into backing up YOUR arguments. I would expect this amount of effort from a middle-schooler.

            I see you also passed over my request again:

            “You won’t do it, because you ignore my requests every time, but point out a single instance of me claiming that the government does something without providing evidence.”

            Man, I must be psychic.

            I want you to think about what you’re saying. Like… clear your mind from the biased viewpoint and look at it objectively. This can be hard to do if you aren’t used to it, but it’s the kind of thing you need to do if you want to be a good philosopher, scientist, engineer, etc. We’re evaluating the claim that the government in general, it’s employees, both former and current, as well as companies that deal in contractors, are all lying about vacation requirements. This claim requires that they have fabricated court documents, posted misleading forms, tasked innumerous individuals with faking conversations on online message boards.

            All of this so that China would think that “it’s no big deal for agents to go to China.” (I should point out that these aren’t “agents.” Agents are the assets doing the spying.) Lets assume truth in your argument and make a list of pros and cons:


            – China (and “people like me”, as you put it– not sure why they would care about me, but I’ll go with it) may think that it’s common practice for high security clearance holders to take vacations there, when in fact it is not.

            – China may spend more resources than necessary trying to determine who these people are.


            – This entire argument is based on the apparent assumption that nobody KNOWS anyone that holds a TS clearance. It can be disproved by simply knowing someone that has or had a clearance and observing them take a vacation (or traveling with them.) It would be bafflingly trivial for a foreign intelligence agency to verify the truth. Seeing as in 2013 the Chinese were able to hack into the government database containing the SF86 form of everyone who held a high security clearance, I’d say it’d be a step or two easier than trivial. It’s probably worth noting that they got the info specifically because it *wasn’t* encrypted.

  • Shaun Salisbury

    Poland belonged to Germany at the time it was controlled by German Soldiers and German appointed government so yes it was part of Germany.

    • Aaron Johnson

      No, it was’nt. They didn’t rename Poland “East-Germany”. It was what is today called “A sovereign nation under occupation”. America and her allies invade and occupy Iraq and yet they didn’t rename it. Why? Because the country is still it’s own regardless of who occupies it.

      I won’t grill you so hard on this anymore as it’s clear you are ignorant of these laws. But that’s okay as were all ignorant about some things. It only becomes a problem when you refuse to correct it.

      • Shaun Salisbury

        Nope It doesn’t matter that the name wasn’t change what matters is who controlled it and who was backing it and it was members of the Nazi party and those who backed them pure and simple and the fact that you can’t see that makes it a big difference then it’s just sad.

      • Shaun Salisbury

        Also Germany Annex Poland so yea because it was Annex that means it belonged to them. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polish_areas_annexed_by_Nazi_Germany

  • FiendishGOPlardass

    The search and seizure and privacy rights “gaurenteed” under the 4th amendment nonetheless depend on enforcement by citizens, as Ed says ~ 49 min.s, but Ed and Neil should read further and consider what that is up against: read the criticisms of the Anti Federalists in the Constitutional debates during the drafting, proposal, and state ratifications in 1787-90.

  • lexie

    so then cite it.

  • Shaun Salisbury

    You could call them moral criminals but not terrorist because terrorist objective is to create fear while a Banks objective is to make money and honestly you should be blaming the government for letting them get out of control.

  • Alienbeast

    I wish you would get rid of the ads, music, and narration. You don’t need to say “welcome back” and reintroduce us to the guest. No one tunes in to a podcast midway, right?

    • http://www.startalkradio.net startalkradio

      Alienbeast, I have to tell you that even if we move to an ad free model at some point, the music and narration aren’t going anywhere. Please remember that the podcast is one of three ways people can get StarTalk. We’re also on the radio, and on TV, and in both instances, “Welcome Back” is a staple when coming back from a break – and it is likely that many listeners or viewers tune in after the show has begun. Speaking of tuning in, we are streamed on our 24/7 channel on TuneIn, in which case at any point that you “tune in”, you are likely to come in on a show already in progress. Plus, in the case where Chuck or one of our other co-hosts is doing a live read, its just good practice to separate the ads from the show with a friendly welcome back.

      • Alienbeast

        I retract my comment…

        • http://www.startalkradio.net startalkradio

          No need. Your question gave us an opportunity to explain why we do what we do, which is useful, and required from time to time.

  • John H

    Not on the hot topic, perhaps, but relevant to part of the discussion – ref: at about 9m50s in: I have had a “that’s funny” moment that I may as well share, since I haven’t the foggiest idea what to do with it. I had a gallon zip-lock baggie about 3/4 full of water (probably washing it for re-use – a no-no, I know now). The bag had two pinholes about 1/4″ apart. Noticing the streams, I ran a finger over them and the streams merged into a single stream. Doing that again produced the original two streams, and doing it again produced a single stream. Fascinated, I did this for I don’t know how long. It worked probably better than 9 out of 10 times. And I probably even said, “Hmmm, that’s funny,” and then forgot about it. But some time later I remembered, and tried it again, this time making the holes deliberately (maybe with a used bag, knowing by then that I should throw it away anyway), and it worked again. And just now I tried it with a bag that I threw out yesterday, only it was quart-sized. I got it to work, but no where near as reliably. Couldn’t get it to work with the static water pressure, but squeezing the bag got it to work sometimes. Couldn’t keep the pressure constant, because it was awkward. Seemed like too much or too little it wouldn’t work.

  • Jeff

    Thanks guys In soon fine again .the interesting thing occurred some weeks ago when reports came to my attention of a magnetic field drained fast above the earth meaning a system designed pre 1970 came online and its a whopper of a dream come true Star Wars ..another drew power from lazing the ionisphere equal in estimation to the output of the Hoover Dam and rapid discharge /recharge …but the first mention was among 30 of high power the contractors had to bid on ..so we have never witnessed such a domination of force from space before