[Picture of projector]

Laramie Movie Scope:
Citizenfour

Documentary about courageous whistleblower Edward Snowden

[Strip of film rule]
by Patrick Ivers, Film Critic
[Strip of film rule]

(2015) One of the most despicable aspects of the Obama administration, involving the Department of Justice and the president himself, has been the refusal to recognize Edward Snowden as a whistleblower, not as a spy charged with three counts under the Espionage Act, as a courageous patriot ("I accept the risk") who has jeopardized his liberty and safety (willing to endure the negative outcome) to alert Americans and everyone around the world to "indiscriminate and sweeping" surveillance by governments, especially the National Security Agency.

In the third part of her film trilogy on 9/11, director Laura Poitras recorded her communications and conversation with Snowden (who initially employed the codename CITIZENFOUR) in Hong Kong before he departed, as the US attempted to extradite him, with the help of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and WikiLeaks, for Russia. With its unlimited reach without adequate safeguards, the NSA has amassed enormous amounts of content, not just metadata, not for the primary purpose of preventing terrorism but for economic, financial, and commercial competition against other countries. Snowden offers proof for his allegations.

Dictatorships, not democracies, endeavor to obtain information about citizens in order to control them through intimidation. Speaking of Stellar Wind, the codename of information collected under the President's Surveillance Program (PSP) approved by President George W. Bush, which intercepted and ingested telecommunications, William Binney, formerly a crypto-mathematician with NSA who developed methods of automated mass-data analysis, says that it was "no more than a few weeks after 9/11 that they decided to begin actively spying on everyone in this country."

His efforts to keep the program constitutionally acceptable and subject to court jurisdiction utterly failed; his office was raided and he resigned in October 2001 after more than 30 years with the agency. NSA officials, lying in denying any illegal collection of data on US citizens, failed to convince Congress and the public - but were not prosecuted for their misrepresentations of fact. Yet as in Jewel v NSA in the 9th District Federal Court, the government's lawyers have argued successfully that allowing defendants to claim harm from NSA's interception of communications through AT&T's network, would permit "grave damage to national security."

In Hong Kong, beginning on June 3rd, 2013, Poitras with her camera along with journalists Glenn Greenwald and Ewan MacAskill of The Guardian, interviewed, videotaped their conversations for eight days, and began publishing stories about the wide surveillance without consent or adequate oversight. Referring to secret operations (e.g., PRISM and Tempora), secret policies, secret courts under the Patriot Act, a CNN journalist exclaims: "That's not freedom, is it?"

Such massive ingestion of information about everyone, not just targeted subjects, has an obvious chilling effect, forcing people to self-censor themselves while curtailing intellectual freedom. "So, for me it all comes down to state power against the people's ability to meaningfully oppose that power," explains Snowden, for at NSA as an infrastructure analyst in Hawaii as an employee for Booz Allen Hamilton with privileged access to information, he realized he was amplifying the state's power. Snowden declares that he can't be bullied into silence.

The US government has been far more focused on going after anyone leaking (whistleblowers) than those officials who approved of the program, which is why Greenwald wrote a defense of whistleblowers before introducing Snowden to the public as the person responsible for the leaks.

From IMDb: "Since Feb.16 2015 the feature film Snowden (2015) is in production and will be released in the US on the 25th Dec. 2015. Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt is set to play Edward Snowden in a film directed by multiple Academy Award-winner Oliver Stone. Academy Award-winner Melissa Leo will play filmmaker Laura Poitras."

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

[Strip of film rule]
Copyright © 2015 Patrick Ivers. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
[Strip of film rule]
 
Back to the Laramie Movie Scope index.
   
[Rule made of Seventh Seal sillouettes]

Patrick Ivers can be reached via e-mail at nora's email address at juno. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)