That’s how Hodding Carter III now describes the NSA surveillance program.
But in an interview withWhoWhatWhy, the former Carter Administration official recalled how that same word could have just as easily described his initial reaction to Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing revelations in 2013.
“I felt like Snowden was giving away the family jewels,” says Carter, his conversation a mix of old southern colloquialism, Yogi Berra-isms and sobering intellectualism.
And even today, Carter worries that the anger and fear generated by Snowden could doom the former NSA contractor to some nefarious “unforeseen event,” like a helicopter crash.
“We’re at the point in which we have elements of our security state who believe they must go way beyond the laws,” Carter says. “Killing what they consider to be a hard-core traitor would not be a big deal for them.”
The only thing clear about Edward Snowden is that America’s perception of him is still very much unclear. And it might be that way for a long time.
A Changing View of Snowden
Two years after Snowden’s bombshell, Carter’s own journey is complete with his co-authorship of a new book fiercely defending Snowden, After Snowden: Privacy, Secrecy, and Security in the Information Age.
Carter says he was initially torn between two allegiances—his time as an Assistant Secretary of State, protecting national security secrets, and his years as an investigative journalist.
Eventually, the deep-digging reporter in him sided with Snowden.