Reading List: Snowden and Surveillance

For our reading list this week, we’ve got all the best Snowden, NSA and surveillance coverage we could find, starting with a video of the message he released on Christmas day. Enjoy!


Edward Snowden, Whistle-Blower – NY Times

A quick and dirty overview of the entire Snowden story to get you up to speed.

Snowden: The Mission’s Already Accomplished – Second Nature

“In a new interview with the Washington Post, Snowden tries to explain what his mission is: “I am not trying to bring down the NSA, I am working to improve the NSA. I am still working for the NSA right now. They are the only ones who don’t realize it.”

President Obama claims the NSA has never abused its authority. That’s false – The Guardian

“President Obama continually evokes the phase when defending the NSAin public. In his end-of-year press conference, he reiterated, “There continues not to be evidence that the [metadata surveillance] program had been abused”. Former NSA chief Michael Hayden says this almost weekly, and former CIA deputy director and NSA review panel member Mike Morrell said it again just before Christmas. This mantra is likely to be repeated often in 2014 as Obama is set to address the nation on government surveillance, and Congress and the president debate whether any reforms are necessary.

There’s only one problem: it’s not true.”

Glenn Greenwald: ‘A Lot’ More NSA Documents to Come – Wired

“It is literally true, without hyperbole, that the goal of the NSA and its partners in the English-speaking world is to eliminate privacy globally,” he said. “They want to make sure there is no communication that evades their net.”

Edward Snowden Evolved From Gaming Geek to Conscientious Whistleblower – Truthout

But back in May 2003, Snowden was a little-known teenage tech geek helping friends at Ryuhana Press, a website where the young Snowden worked at what he described as “Web Editor/Coffee Boy. “His avatar was a geek, with a T-shirt emblazoned “I [heart] Me,” spiky hair, granny glasses on the tip of his nose and a green scarf draped around his neck. “I really am a nice guy,” was the intro to his online web profile that continued, “you see, I act arrogant and cruel because I was not hugged enough as a child, and the public education system turned it’s [sic] wretched, spiked back on me.”

NSA seeks to build quantum computer that could crack most types of encryption – Washington Post

“In room-size metal boxes ­secure against electromagnetic leaks, the National Security Agency is racing to build a computer that could break nearly every kind of encryption used to protect banking, medical, business and government records around the world.

According to documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the effort to build “a cryptologically useful quantum computer” — a machine exponentially faster than classical computers — is part of a $79.7 million research program titled “Penetrating Hard Targets.” Much of the work is hosted under classified contracts at a laboratory in College Park, Md.”

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About the Contributor

Benjamin Robertson

Benjamin Robertson
Benjamin Robertson is a founding editor at Second Nature. He has worked in advertising for the Chicago Tribune and Gannett, and now is a web developer at Mediacurrent. He studied Communications and Media Studies under Dr. Read Schuchardt at Wheaton College in Illinois. He has presented papers on Marshall McLuhan, media ecology, and Christianity at the Media Ecology Association, National Communication Association, and the McLuhan's Philosophy of Media Centennial Conference in Brussels. He lives with his wife, Ruth, in Greenville, SC. His personal website is


  1. Howard Wetzel says:

    On the one hand, the very desire for connection undermines the control of privacy; the more constant the connection, the more easily its privacy can be violated. On the other hand, if privacy is principally about secrecy and security, the greater battle has already been lost. Privacy should be principally about the freedom to stand apart from the prevailing consensus, reflect, and form a nuanced or creative perspective apart from the hum of the hive.

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