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Over Easy: The New Snowden Interview Blackout

It appears that somebody doesn’t want the U.S. public to see this January 26th broadcast interview with Edward Snowden by Hubert Seipel — in English — for the television network ARD, a German consortium of public broadcasters. The ARD is the world’s second largest public broadcaster after the British Broadcasting Corporation, and the 30-minute Snowden interview was big news in Germany and in much of the world, both in broadcast media and in print. Snowden chose the German broadcaster for his first live TV interview since he blew the whistle on the NSA and U.S. spying. It was conducted in strict secrecy in an unidentified location in Russia, where Snowden is living under temporary asylum.


There is speculation that the U.S. government authorities have blocked the interview intentionally. The U.S. media has been suspiciously silent on the interview, despite the interest in Edward Snowden in the U.S. and the prominence of the German broadcaster that aired it — ARD is no 150-watt small-town station. The video was posted several times on YouTube, but has promptly been taken down, and Vimeo, where the video of the interview also has been embedded, has been under possibly related DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks.

Caricature of Edward Snowden with a multicolored spiral in his hand

Snowden speaks … but you won’t hear it in US mainstream media.

I searched YouTube and could not find the full interview, although there were many news reports in German and other languages discussing the interview. In fairness, the removal of YouTube videos of the interview could be related to copyright issues. But it is curious that no major U.S. media organization has even linked to it or discussed it on a news broadcast.

The Snowden Interview Transcript is here on the website. NDR (North German Broadcasting) is a public radio and television broadcaster, based in Hamburg, and is a member of the ARD consortium. (via Wikipedia)

Many of the interview questions and Snowden’s answers are not brand new information.

What was the decisive moment or was there a long period of time or something happening, why did you do this?

I would say sort of the breaking point is seeing the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, directly lie under oath to Congress. There’s no saving an intelligence community that believes it can lie to the public and the legislators who need to be able to trust it and regulate its actions. Seeing that really meant for me there was no going back. Beyond that, it was the creeping realisation that no one else was going to do this.

Snowden speaks about how the U.S. engages in economic spying. In response to this question,

Does the NSA spy on Siemens, on Mercedes, on other successful German companies for example, to prevail, to have the advantage of knowing what is going on in a scientific and economic world.

Snowden’s reply is careful.

I don’t want to pre-empt the editorial decisions of journalists but what I will say is there’s no question that the US is engaged in economic spying. If there’s information at Siemens that they think would be beneficial to the national interests, not the national security of the United States, they’ll go after that information and they’ll take it.

Snowden also discusses how countries can state that they do not spy on their own citizens, and still receive information gleaned from spying.

In many countries, as in America too the agencies like the NSA are not allowed to spy within their own borders on their own people. So the Brits for example they can spy on everybody but the Brits but the NSA can conduct surveillance in England so in the very end they could exchange their data and they would be strictly following the law:

The actual memorandums of agreement state specifically on that, that they are not intended to put legal restriction on any government. They are policy agreements that can be deviated from or broken at any time. So if they want to spy on a British citizen they can spy on a British citizen and then they can even share that data with the British government that is itself forbidden from spying on UK citizens. So there is a sort of a trading dynamic there but it’s not, it’s not open, it’s more of a nudge and wink and beyond that the key is to remember the surveillance and the abuse doesn’t occur when people look at the data it occurs when people gather the data in the first place.

Several times throughout the interview, he is circumspect with his answers (and is upfront about it), because he has turned the information over to journalists with the insistence that they should vet the materials, and decide what to release that is in the public interest and will not harm individuals or compromise legitimate investigations.

Snowden’s interview was covered as a major political event (in print and broadcast media) in Germany, and across much of the world. So why the “radio silence” on this interview here in the U.S.? Could it be that the virtual blackout of this insightful interview is another attempt to conceal the truth from the view of the American public? Most of the U.S. media has attempted to shill the official government lies about the NSA’s mass domestic surveillance programs, characterizing them as necessary to fight the War on Terror™ and painting Edward Snowden as a traitor. Inquiring minds should definitely want to know why the blackout?

Video from Live Leak (

Photo by DonkeyHotey released under a Creative Commons license.

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I retired from the University of Notre Dame in the Office of Information Technology in 2010. I'm divorced, with two grown children and 8 grandchildren. I'm a lifelong liberal and a "nonbeliever."