Snowden, John Oliver Explain NSA Spying in Terms of Dirty Pics

HBO host traveled to Russia to meet with whistleblower
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2015 7:45 AM CDT
Snowden, John Oliver Explain NSA Spying in Terms of Dirty Pics
John Oliver interviews Edward Snowden in this screenshot.   (YouTube/Last Week Tonight With John Oliver)

Not long ago, Edward Snowden's NSA leaks were the focus of vast media attention. But two years later, "it seems like we've kind of forgotten to have a debate over the content of what Snowden leaked," John Oliver tells his HBO audience, showing them a series of interviews with people in Times Square who had no idea who Snowden is. With the Patriot Act due for renewal on June 1, Oliver has restarted that conversation—with a trip to Russia to meet Snowden himself. Oliver wasn't sure Snowden would actually show up, but when he did, the two got down to business.

  • First of all, does Snowden miss the US? "I miss Hot Pockets very much."
  • How does he feel about the ramifications of what he handed over to journalists? "You're giving documents with information you know could be harmful, which could get out there," Oliver says, noting that a New York Times piece on the matter accidentally leaked information on ISIS. "I did this to give the American people a chance to decide for themselves the kind of government they want to have," Snowden notes.
  • Finally, Oliver notes the central problem with the whole debate: People just don't seem to care. But he finds a way to make them passionate about the topic—by explaining it in terms of whether the government can see penis photos you might happen to send or receive. "Your junk ends up in the database," Snowden says as Oliver asks for details of each surveillance program. PRISM, for instance, "is how they pull your junk out of Google with Google's involvement." Says Oliver: "If the American people understood this, they would be horrified."
(Read more Edward Snowden stories.)

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