Edward Snowden was born on June 21st, 1983. At age 30, in 2013, he became an American hero.
While employed at the NSA, Snowden discovered the agency was routinely and secretly scanning every email, listening to every phone call, tracking every phone, etc., of every person in the United States. Each and every instance of this policy constituted a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, which specifies that “unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause.” Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of NSA employees knew that this was going on but had done nothing to stop it. So Snowden alone summoned his courage to do the right thing and went to the press with bombshell proof.
The press offered to shield him from exposure by allowing him to make his charges anonymously. Snowden knew that doing so would undermine his allegations, that an unseen whistleblower might be brushed off. So decided to allow himself to be exposed to the full wrath of the authorities, in the name of getting the truth out. As he replied at the time, “No…Put a target on my back…Nail me to the cross.” The analogy is not lost, given the situation.
His allegations rocked the country. The Obama Department of Justice responded sharply by charging Snowden, on his birthday of that year, with espionage, forcing him to reluctantly flee for his life to the only country that would offer him protection — Russia, where Edward Snowden remains to this day, in exile. Obama himself came out to try to spin the story and his talking heads did likewise. But there was no putting the genie back in the bottle. Now everyone knows.
Two films have been made to tell Snowden’s story.
Citizenfour is a documentary, but it is so well crafted it is as much thriller, and it won the Academy Award for Best Documentary for its high caliber of exposition.
Riveting, as well as the most indispensable documentary of the year…”
Additionally there is the Oliver Stone film Snowden, which is more personal and biographical.