BY ANDREW MOODY
To many liberal Americans, Edward Snowden is a hero. To others (like Presidents Obama and Trump) he is a traitor who should be executed.
In left wing auteur Oliver Stone’s weak film adaptation of the NSA whistle blower’s life and career, the very important and difficult job of National Security is treated like an all-powerful version of S.P.E.C.T.R.E and Snowden is portrayed as an unassuming James Bond somehow managing to save the world before escaping military incarceration to a reasonably nice house in an undisclosed location in Russia with his beautiful girlfriend.
A hero to the liberal press, briefly becoming the most famous American in the world and with his soft good looks (Snowden was a former model), Snowden is something of an anti-government teen icon. He even now has a Twitter account, and to even have one seems in poor taste, despite his millions of conspiracy junky followers.
The irony of warning the culture of Instagram and amateur Porn Hub that the government is spying on you was clearly lost on journalist Glen Greenwald, author of the excitable “No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the Surveillance State”. Never before have so many people, billions in fact, shared themselves willingly on the internet on a daily basis. Really, if you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about.
Of course Snowden worked for American intelligence, and there are more CCTV cameras in Croydon than there are in the whole of Manhattan, making his messianic mission against the American government certainly exceptionalist. Journalist Luke Harding wrote of Snowden:
“His skills are unprecedented. Until the present generation of computer nerds came along, no one realised it was possible to make off with the electronic equivalent of whole libraries full of triple-locked filing cabinets and safes – thousands of documents and millions of words. His motives are remarkable. Snowden set out to expose the true behaviour of the US National Security Agency and its allies. On present evidence, he has no interest in money – although he could have sold his documents to foreign intelligence services for many, many millions. Nor does he have the kind of left-wing or Marxist sentiments which could lead to him being depicted as un-American. On the contrary, he is an enthusiast for the American constitution, and, like other fellow ‘hacktivists’, is a devotee of libertarian politician Ron Paul, whose views are well to the right of many Republicans. What Snowden has revealed is important. His files show that the methods of the intelligence agencies that carry out electronic eavesdropping have spiralled out of control, largely thanks to the political panic in the US which followed the terrorist attacks of 9/11.”
Sounds good, and I imagine it was the political romance of Snowden’s story (capturing the most selfie taking generation in history’s hearts) that led Oliver Stone to make his lacklustre, mawkish film.
Back in the late sixties, after returning from Vietnam, Stone published an appalling Joyce pastiche about a young romance; I could stand no more than ten pages. He did of course attempt to solve the mystery of JFK’s assassination (in what is now a rather bizarre, rambling film) but failed at that too, unable to realise that Jack Ruby shot Oswald to protect the First Lady from a traumatic murder trial and Oswald, trained in the marines, got a perfect position and, tragically, a killshot.
No one knows the scale of Snowden’s double agent espionage, but NSA director Keith Alexander estimated it was between 50,000 to 200,000 confidential military files, including, according to GCHQ, 58,000 British Intelligence files. Almost certainly Snowden is responsible for the deaths of combat soldiers, making him eligible for the death penalty if he ever returns to the USA.
Stone is (as we typically find) a wealthy socialist, so his film is a love letter to his handsome turncoat with a huge budget and Joseph Gordon Levitt playing Snowden.
It is Oliver Stone’s worst film by a country mile, but available on Netflix if you want to see the way liberal, progressive Hollywood is crumbling in the face of the Trump administration.
Follow Andrew Moody @VoguishFiction