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Edward Snowden voted top Global Thinker for 2013

Edward Snowden tops the list of Foreign Policy journal’s list of Global Thinkers for 2013. The top ten people were all associated with the NSA scandal, almost all of them critical of it, except for one (NSA director Keith Alexander) who came second and was immediately followed by Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras.

They held a reception for the recipients on Wednesday. Snowden’s short message to the magazine thanking them reveals someone who is a serious and thoughtful thinker but hasn’t lost his sense of humor, and is worth reproducing in full.

It’s an honor to address you tonight. I apologize for being unable to attend in person, but I’ve been having a bit of passport trouble. Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras also regrettably could not accept their invitations. As it turns out, revealing matters of “legitimate concern” nowadays puts you on the list for more than “Global Thinker” awards.

2013 has been an important year for civil society. As we look back on the events of the past year and their implications for the state of surveillance within the United States and around the world, I suspect we will remember this year less for the changes in policies that are sure to come, than for changing our minds. In a single year, people from Indonesia to Indianapolis have come to realize that dragnet surveillance is not a mark of progress, but a problem to be solved.

We’ve learned that we’ve allowed technological capabilities to dictate policies and practices, rather than ensuring that our laws and values guide our technological capabilities. And take notice: this awareness, and these sentiments, are held most strongly among the young–those with lifetimes of votes ahead of them.

Even those who may not be persuaded that our surveillance technologies have dangerously outpaced democratic controls should agree that in democracies, surveillance of the public must be debated by the public. No official may decide the limit of our rights in secret.

Today we stand at the crossroads of policy, where parliaments and presidents on every continent are grappling with how to bring meaningful oversight to the darkest corners of our national security bureaucracies. The stakes are high. James Madison warned that our freedoms are most likely to be abridged by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power. I bet my life on the idea that together, in the light of day, we can find a better balance.

I’m grateful to Foreign Policy Magazine and the many others helping to expose those encroachments and to end that silence.

Thank you.

We should note that Foreign Policy is not some leftist rag but a solidly establishment journal in which foreign policy scholars publish. The government should be seriously concerned that even they have chosen to honor someone so critical of them.

Comments

  1. Chiroptera says

    We should note that Foreign Policy is not some leftist rag but a solidly establishment journal in which foreign policy scholars publish.

    Yeah, which is what makes this kind of surprising. I hope this is a positive sign.

  2. colnago80 says

    We should note that Foreign Policy is not some leftist rag but a solidly establishment journal in which foreign policy scholars publish.

    The journal in which mainstream establishment writers publish in is Foreign Affairs Quarterly. Foreign Policy was founded as a left wing counter to Foreign Affairs Quarterly during the Vietnam era as opponents of the war found that the articles published by the latter were almost entirely authored by writers who supported the war (e.g. the founders of the former considered that the latter was a shill for the administration).

  3. wtfwhateverd00d says

    We’ve learned that we’ve allowed technological capabilities to dictate policies and practices, rather than ensuring that our laws and values guide our technological capabilities. And take notice: this awareness, and these sentiments, are held most strongly among the *young*–those with lifetimes of votes ahead of them.

    I wish I could believe this, and it may just be my over 50s cynicism, but my sense is the young are too busy with their iPhones and games to care and worse, have been brought up in gender studies courses and with post 9/11 invasive TSA procedures to ignore these issues.

    Slight derail to demonstrate:

    As a demonstration, examine what happened in the past 48 hours with 4chan’s parody “Feminist Software Foundation’s Feminist Programming Language” which you can google for and discover:

    A Pitzer student seriously proposed a new programming language based on paraconsistent logic and Quantum Entanglements to be the basis for a Feminist Logic programming language. And explicitly she wanted Feminist Logic and not just a feminist oriented or female oriented language.

    This was met with discussion around the net. As part of that discussion, 4chan created a parody to comment on that language and to comment on feminism. That parody was placed at Github.

    Yesterday on twitter, feminists grew outraged and demanded github remove it. It was misogynistic. It was a rape joke. It was of low effort. It was not even funny.

    By the end of the day, github had removed the parody giving no explanation.

    In the past github has been used as a repository for political purposes. Here for instance is someone distributing the activist group, Anonymous, Security Handbook: https://github.com/bibanon/bibanon/wiki/Anonymous-Security-Handbook

    But somehow this Feminist Software Foundation parody crossed the line.

    On twitter today, people are still talking about it, and the take down is getting huge support by feminists and feminist software developers, most of whom are precisely those young people that Snowden wants us to believe care about our freedom.

    That is, there is lots of support for github’s censoring and demands that the new location for the repository be taken down as well.

    In the past 24 hours there have been multiple statements on twitter that people who tweeted favorably for the parody or just “followed” the parody on github should be outed and a list should be kept of who they are and who they work for.

    If you would like to examine this parody you can start at http://feministsoftwarefoundation.org and follow the link to BitBucket.

    So sadly, I don’t have the faith that Mr. Snowden does that our youth are strongly concerned with civil liberties or the interplay of technology and law.

    I don’t see Occupy 2.0 taking over the Mall.
    I didn’t see Occupy discussing US v. Jones.
    I don’t see college teachins or college protests over the NSA abuse even though the NSA recruits heavily from college campuses.

    I am told there is a new XBOX or PlayStation or something and that Alan Thicke’s new song is sexist but the nude version is really hot.
    Also Spiderman reboots.

  4. Sandy Small says

    Addendum: Damn lazy, entitled kids! When I was your age, we didn’t have “video games” and “hip hop”…sit up straight when I’m speaking to you–!

  5. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Thinker?

    I’m not sure exactly what’s meant to constitute a “thinker” but I’d have thought it would be more along the lines of a philosopher, mathematician or cosmologist /theoretical physicist than someone who just leaked classified information.

  6. Nick Gotts says

    Slight derail,

    No, airing your fuckwitted obsessions at tedious length cannot reasonably be considered a “slight derail”.

  7. Wylann says

    StevoR, that sounds an awful lot like an argument from authority. So what is Snowden doesn’t have any official titles or degrees. What he did was take a stand that (most likely) endangered his life for what many of us consider a very important principle.

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