Tonight I saw the documentary Citizenfour, created by Laura Poitras.
The film documents Edward Snowden's journey in leaking information about the National Security Agency (NSA) to the media, thus igniting a firestorm of controversy that rippled across the world.
I'll admit—when I first heard about Snowden's leaks, I had mixed emotions. Part of me thought he seemed like a brat who probably just wanted attention (and could have taken a more appropriate path to reveal what he knew); the other part of me silently hoped he was just an attention-seeker, because if he was revealing the truth, our country was in real trouble.
Over time, after reading up on the case against him and hearing about how extensive the surveillance was (is) on all of our American communications, I couldn't help but think he's a hero with a noble cause. After seeing this movie, which is admittedly biased in his favor, I still think his actions took courage.
What was most frightening was how quickly the authorities moved in on his girlfriend, the journalists investigating his claims, etc. Being a whistleblower is dangerous; loving a whistleblower or helping them blow said whistle is undeniably risky.
I appreciated the candor of Snowden in this film, and the way that Poitras virtually took herself out of the narrative unless she was reading their correspondence aloud.
Whatever side you're on as an American (or as a foreigner who may also be affected by such intrusions of privacy), this film is powerful enough to give you pause.