Snowden to VF: We are the "post-terror generation"

The whistle-blower opens up in an upcoming interview about his decision to leak, his politics and his plans

Published April 8, 2014 3:41PM (EDT)

In an upcoming interview (released April 10) in Vanity Fair, Edward Snowden speaks at length about his decision to collect a vast trove of classified NSA documents and leak them to journalists.

The interview spans over 20,000 words, but teaser excerpts reveal that Snowden talks candidly about his motivations to leak, and the attendant fear of doing so:

"Every person remembers some moment in their life where they witnessed some injustice, big or small, and looked away, because the consequences of intervening seemed too intimidating... But there’s a limit to the amount of incivility and inequality and inhumanity that each individual can tolerate. I crossed that line. And I’m no longer alone."

He also combats the narrative that he could have gone through proper routes within the government to report what he (and now so many of us) see as gross overreach and unconstitutional practices by the spy agency:

N.S.A. deputy director Rick Ledgett, who led the internal investigation of Snowden, claimed Snowden made no formal complaints. And if he complained personally to anyone, Ledgett tells Vanity Fair, he or she has not acknowledged it.

In response to this claim, Snowden replies, “The N.S.A. at this point not only knows I raised complaints, but that there is evidence that I made my concerns known to the N.S.A.’s lawyers, because I did some of it through e-mail. I directly challenge the N.S.A. to deny that I contacted N.S.A. oversight and compliance bodies directly via e-mail and that I specifically expressed concerns about their suspect interpretation of the law, and I welcome members of Congress to request a written answer to this question [from the N.S.A.].”

Snowden also reveals information about his politics more broadly, asserting that he is no radical and believes in protecting constitutional values:

"What we’re seeing today in America is a new political movement that crosses party lines. This post-terror generation rejects the idea that we have to burn down our village in order to save it—that the only way to defend the Constitution is to tear it up... I’d describe my political thought as moderate.”

By Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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Edward Snowden Leaks Nsa Privacy Spying Vanity Fair Whistle-blower