Film 'Snowden' Reignites Privacy and Security Debate

Sep 23, 2016

'Snowden’- is a theatrical film about the intelligence leaks that revealed the extent of U.S. government spying on its own citizens.   Three years after the actual leaks by Edward Snowden…the film is re-igniting a debate over the competing American values of national security and privacy.

The film is based on whistleblower Edward Snowden; a former intelligence contractor who leaked sensitive material revealing the extent of government spying on U.S. Citizens.

Produced by Oliver Stone…the film is a fact-based indie espionage thriller that presents the significance of what Edward Snowden revealed.  Cynthia Fabrizio Pelack saw the film…she said it humanized Snowden for her.

“For folks that don’t know too much about the issues or the back story. It is a very engaging personal film – so you not only see his work at the NSA and CIA and you also see his personal life” she said.

Tied in with a personal love story and some charming one liners from adored indie leading actor Joseph Gordon Levitt, the film footsteps Snowden’s evolution from a devoted and dutiful intelligence contractor to disillusioned civil disobedient.

Fabrizio Pelack said the film allowed her to really digest the extent of what Snowden revealed about government spying she said she hopes it has the same impact on others.

“I wanted to know more in details in watching it . Ed Snowden is a 29 year old  when he took this leap and I am sure it is going to resonate with younger folks who are our future and thus it is critical that we do reach those folks and listen to what they have to say.”

Snowden’s major reveals were the U.S. government’s monitoring of what everyone is doing on the internet, surveillance of foreign leaders and governments and the indiscriminate collection of phone records…along with wiretaps without a warrant.  The real Edward Snowden talked about it in an interview with The Guardian.

“Any analyst at any time can target any one any selector any where. I certainly in my desk had the authority to wire tap any one to you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president.” Snowden said.

The American Civil Liberties Union hosted advance screenings of ‘Snowden’ across the country. Vicki Gaubeca is director of the ACLU regional center for border rights in Las Cruces she said celebration and advocacy for whistleblowers like Snowden is at the heart of the ACLU’s mission.

“A lot of the information the government is surveilling is actually private information about individual citizens. It is a violation of our privacy to gather this information, what are they doing with it is actually the bottom line.”

Gaubeca said the film raises unique questions and concerns for people living in the border region.

“I think there is a natural connection to the service technologies that are being used in the border region and the huge amounts of data that are being gathered on border communities as they go about their daily lives.” she said.

The film’s release coincides with an ACLU campaign for a Presidential pardon for Snowden. Currently, Snowden lives in exile in Russia because of the charges under the espionage act he’d face if he were to return to the U.S..

“He was basically engaging in his first amendment right to inform the public of what the government was doing.”

That is not how the powers that be see it.  (Snowden was widely condemned by government leaders.

Still some said many government reforms probably never would have happened had it not been for Snowden’s leaks. And Former Attorney General Eric Holder acknowledged the public virtue and benefit of Snowden’s revelations.

“I think he actually performed a public service by raising the debate we engaged in and by the changes that we made.” Holder said.

Though Holder affirmed that Snowden’s actions were still inappropriate and illegal.

Gaubeca says the U.S. still has some ways to go in reforms and oversight…

The government can still collect data on Americans without a warrant.

Cynthia Fabrizio Pelack says she expects the film will re-ignite the kind of public discussion that could take accountability and reforms further

“In society- things don’t change too quickly  - and it is really movements in the streets and prolonged discussion and dialogue.”

Fabrizio Pelak says it may take some time for Snowden’s actions to fully be recognized.. she hopes he will get a Presidential pardon but that may not come for several years.  
“Nelson Mandela was in jail for 27 years.  Change can happen, change does happen we see it. Change is not easy and Snowden makes it a little easier for us.” Fabrizio Pelack said.