Snowden: “I should have leaked sooner”

A day after Citizenfour, a documentary in which he stars, won an Academy Award, Edward Snowden along with director Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald sat down for a Reddit AMA.

Snowden, the former NSA-hand turned whistleblower, basically blew the lid off the National Security Agency’s intelligence-gathering procedures, embarassing the U.S. governnment, angering its allies and throwing tech vendors into a quandary over how to protect people’s data without running afoul of the government. His leaking of key information to Greenwald, Poitras and Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman, prompted some to call him a traitor while others see him as a hero fighting to protect citizens’ rights to privacy.

One burning question from the AMA was, what does Snowden, who has been in Moscow since June of 2013, regret most about the events of the past few years? Mostly that he hadn’t done what he did earlier:

Had I come forward a little sooner, these programs would have been a little less entrenched, and those abusing them would have felt a little less familiar with and accustomed to the exercise of those powers. This is something we see in almost every sector of government, not just in the national security space, but it’s very important:

Once you grant the government some new power or authority, it becomes exponentially more difficult to roll it back.

Another good tidbit: Citizenfour will not be the last film we’ll see out of this episode. Poitras said she plans to release more footage of the long Snowden interview she and Greenwald did in Hong Kong, as well as a separate interview with Snowden on the technical aspects of what he did.

“I also filmed incredible footage with Julian Assange/WikiLeaks that we realized in the edit room was a separate film,” she said.