Category Archive for: ‘Michael Ferguson’

Snowden — Film Review


Directed by Oliver Stone



Every American should see this film as well as every citizen of every other country on earth.  This is a story about a true American hero, a man of principle and basic decency, who understands the Constitution and what American democracy is all about.  And he was appalled by what he saw in the innermost recesses of the American government.  He had the courage and the strength to take meaningful countermeasures.  He knew he would be vilified, discredited and crushed.  But he was very smart and savvy.  He didn’t let them destroy him and he continues today as a living repudiation of the excess, criminality, and utter disregard for law, human rights, and our own Constitution within this well protected, secret, cancer within the American government.  What makes Snowden a hero is not his brains, but rather his character, his courage, and his values.

The film tells the story of Snowden’s career in the government from his failed attempt to join the special forces in the military to his work as a CIA operative in Geneva, from which he resigned in disgust, to his work for the NSA under the guise of a subcontractor.  The film depicts his evolution, not within himself so much as in his perception of the activities of his government and his orientation toward the activities he was expected to further.  He went from facilitator to saboteur.  He remained true to himself throughout.  His values, his basic decency and common sense, and his sense of himself as a person remained solid.  He was not a self-doubting, self-questioning, ambivalent Hamlet.  He knew from the first moment that what he was seeing was outrageous and the development that he went through was a growing understanding that these atrocities and villainies were not aberrations or anomalies, but rather pervasive, institutionalized patterns of conduct.  He knew he couldn’t just walk away from it.  He wanted to strike a blow against it.  He knew it would be at great personal cost, but he had the strength in his character and the resourcefulness to pull it off.  It is a marvelous story of the triumph of courage and goodness.  This film portrays what is good about America, and depicts an American who believes in the goodness of the American vision and who had the fortitude and inner resolve to take a stand against these dark forces that are unfortunately prevailing within our government at present.

He was lucky to get Lindsay Mills as his girlfriend.  Unusual to get a good girlfriend.  The film gives considerable attention to their relationship and I think rightly so.  It personalizes the story and it emphasizes the human cost of taking on a formidable, sinister adversary such as the CIA or the NSA.  Their relationship hit a few potholes.  Not surprising with a hardcore paranoid like someone in the intelligence game has to be.  Such a person can never talk to you; they can never tell you what’s really going on.  A relationship with this type of person always has an atmosphere of remoteness or distance overshadowing it.  But she saw something pleasing in him and persisted with him.  Lindsey had some background experience with intelligence officers in her family that served her well.  At the end the film tells us she went to Moscow to live with Snowden after the whole thing blew up.  There appears to be a good strong bond between them that is vital and alive.

The film is a dramatization, a docudrama I guess one would call it, that sympathetically and straightforwardly tells the story.  It is very well made, all of the technical aspects are of the highest caliber, the editing and organization are flawless.  It creates a low key tension that steadily builds throughout the film, as Snowden becomes increasingly alienated from the work and the organizations he is in service to.  There is not a lot of spectacle, not a lot of dramatic action, but the film takes hold of you and does not let go.

I went on a Tuesday night and there weren’t very many people in the theater.  That theater should have been packed to the rafters.  This is what the American people should be paying attention to.  The presidential candidates are arguing about grabbing pussy, when the NSA is grabbing every e-mail, every phone conversation, every financial transaction, every item that is viewed and read, of every single citizen in the United States and around the world.  One good thing that the film makes clear is that this is not benign.  One can say to oneself, as Lindsay did, “I have nothing to hide, so what makes the difference?”  The film exposes the naiveté of that shallow thinking, and presents several cases that illustrate how innocent information can be used to pressure or coerce a person for a political or public purpose.

The CIA understands that information is power and gathering personal, financial, sexual, and political information on every citizen gives it enormous potential power over every aspect of public and private life in a society.  These information gathering operations are about extending the power and control of this small coterie of paranoids within the U.S. government, ultimately, over every person on the planet.  The so-called War on Terror is exposed for the sham that it is, a public relations device to promote an atmosphere of fear, and direct public attention toward false concerns, namely remote and vague external threats, while the much greater threat to our democratic institutions, our civil liberties, and our freedom to associate, move about, and speak freely is right here within the CIA, the NSA, and the Obama administration, surreptitiously spying on the public and private communications and activities of every citizen.

Edward Snowden falls into that great tradition of American heroes who exposed the folly and evil at the heart of the American government: people like Daniel Ellsberg, Philip Agee, Jim Garrison, John Stockwell, Frank Snepp, David Stockman, Chelsea (Bradley) Manning, Wayne Madsen, as well as many others lesser known, who all paid a heavy price for standing up to this vast, sinister, secret network intent on extending its power and domination over every person and every aspect of human life, not only in the United States, but around the world.  They are utterly ruthless and protected by secrecy that has been legally substantiated.  This secret, shadow government that is steadily growing in power and reach is blatantly unconstitutional, but political leaders aligned with it, and often promoted by it, have insinuated themselves into the legal apparatus and subverted the institutional structures that were established to prevent the very activities that these secret networks are engaged in.

Edward Snowden stood up to them and struck a hammer blow against them.  They have yet to snuff him out and he still represents a hopeful dissent against this steadily creeping tyranny that is enveloping American society.  I recommend this film in the strongest terms to every patriotic American citizen.



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