Edward Snowden has been warning of what he calls “turnkey tyranny” in his first media interviews in the wake of his revelations in the summer of 2013. Now, three years later, the whistleblower has a concrete example to scare Americans: Donald Trump.
In an interview with Shane Smith of the HBO series Vice, Snowden cautioned that the government so many citizens willingly trust with their private data might not always be so trustworthy — but by then, it will already be empowered with the vast surveillance capabilities it inherited. “In our democracy, you’re never more than eight years away from a total change of government, and suddenly, everybody’s vulnerable to this individual,” Snowden told Vice in a Moscow hotel. “The systems are already in place.”
But we might be less than a year from the turning of the key if presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump is elected president, Snowden warned. “Will we…embrace the fact that people should have space to make mistakes without judgment, to have the unconsidered thought or conversation with your friend?” he said. “If that was recorded in a database, where you say, I think Donald Trump should be kicked off a cliff, and Donald Trump becomes president some day, and everyone who said that ends up getting thrown off a cliff — that’s a very dangerous world.”
Would a President Trump throw everyone who criticized him in private messages off a cliff? Probably not: there’s peace-and-love-preaching Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to contend with, not to mention the courts, federal administrators who would theoretically have to carry this out, and Trump’s own common sense.
Snowden is wanted on espionage charges in America for leaking massive amounts of data from the National Security Administration, where he was a subcontractor for Dell after a brief career in the CIA. Russia granted him temporary asylum in Russia, where he’s lived since the summer of 2013.
Trump officially tweeted about Snowden back in 2013 when his Miss Universe pageant was held in Moscow. He wrote: “Message to Edward Snowden, you’re banned from @MissUniverse. Unless you want me to take you back home to face justice!”
Why throw a hater off a cliff when you can more bloodlessly throw them into a virtual mosh-pit of vicious Twitter followers?
VICE’s “Surveillance State” airs on HBO this Friday, May 27 at 11:00pm.