Movie Review: Snowden (2016)

“Truth is only treason in the empire of lies.” (10/10)
Directed by Oliver Stone

snowdenWatching Snowden will be a life-changing experience for just about anyone who cares about civil liberty… around the world as well as on (and inside) our own US doorsteps. [The next day I placed these pimple band-aids over the camera lenses on my two computers… even though I have never configured or used my cameras. I’m also thinking about storing my smart phone in the microwave oven when not in use, and regularly sweeping my cat’s whiskers for listening devices.] The constant underlying theme that I take away from Snowden: the snooping capabilities being applied to anyone and everyone can literally pick pepper out of gnat feces… from a distance of, like, say, Jupiter.

Stone is brilliant in laying out how unbridled high-tech spying along with the military’s super weapons, that we KNOW about—chiefly Hellfire-missile-equipped drones—, is used to basically to murder men, women, and children in any of the 156 countries (staging from the 700+ American military bases) where we have a military presence around the world. Check this photo collage below, I superimposed the prestrike still and the poststrike still from this YouTube video on an American flag.[1]

drone1_flagAbout the Movie

I do want to get into the details of the horrific attacks that unlimited surveillance sets up in conjunction with terminally corrupt government. But let me begin my review in a more standard way, namely by listing what’s so special to me about this once-in-a-lifetime film:

  • We’re skillfully reminded of Ed Snowden’s humanity—Stone [who took part in writing the screenplay from two books (and for shorthand purposes I’ll just use his name to refer to the movie’s creators)] establishes from the gitgo that a) Ed Snowden loves his country, b) that he is quite a bit smarter than those who are smarter than the average bear, c) that he’s shy and caring about people in general [falling deeply in love with Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley)], and d) Ed eventually finds the cojones to expose the crimes of government rather than taking the ‘see-no-evil-because-not-looking’ option, living in status and luxury.
  • Speaking of humanity, Snowden exudes this Terminator aura—Recall the story from the 1984 classic produced and directed by James Cameron, how the Skynet defense network ‘comes alive’ and “in a nanosecond decides on its policy toward human beings: extermination.” I see in Snowden the threat to humanity coming from humans themselves as they look the other way… letting increasingly sophisticated hardware and software do the democide for them. Ed tries to pull the plug on this techno-beast. Will we help him?
  • Snowden makes you aware that “‘They‘ have the technology”—And they are not afraid to use it. Why? Because they, the global mob, have broken the chains of America’s constitutional governance, installing their petty bosses around the world. Since WWII, they run the mainstream media with an iron hand… also the factory-state schooling systems since the 1850s—turning out vast numbers of cannon fodder and consumers, soulless robots and Blue Pillars who bow down to TV gods and sophisticated mind-control authorities.
  • If our Rights fall in the forest and no one cares, do we still have them?— No other movie in my experience makes it so dramatically clear that if we do en masse what we’ve been doing en masse, like, forever—namely nothing, namely abdicating our individual responsibility of moral judgment and legal action vs. the most horrific atrocities by high officials OF OUR OWN GOVERNMENT—we will lose it all. To Orwell’s 1984 or Gibson’s Mad Max.
  • blow_the_whistleSnowden is a true hero in the Randian vein[2]—He’s smart, principled, and goes about what he’s doing with the utmost confidence… considering that he’s unleashed all the dogs of war, and their gazillion-dollar chest down on his solitary neck. Moreover, his courageous actions lie fully along the scale of the creative, independent individual vs. the conforming, craven collective. It’s note- worthy that in the film an interview early in Snowden’s career shows him claiming that Ayn Rand was one of his major boyhood influences.
  • Full of peak visceral experiences—It’s an emotional roller coaster watching Snowden, with some statements and events that leave you alternately terrified (with the hair standing up)[3] of Big Brother’s black bag men knocking on your door… then feeling chills of joy that this man has done such an heroic thing and that we are rising as one with him to bring down the Death Star once and for all. The film is empowering of our deep desires for liberty to the nth degree. For a while it’s unsettling, but ultimately Snowden makes you feel good about your fellow man—patriots worldwide who will be standing up to corrupt power.

Stone has not lost his touch with casting, cinematography, sound, music, production design, the whole enchilada. He turns what looks like a documentary into a heart-pounding thriller. Perhaps his greatest achievement is packaging the bells and whistles of our high- tech, poli-spy-war machinery into comprehensible dramatic units. He makes the conflict between good and evil crystal clear, never losing the impact of the message.

There’s a precise understatement to the film, full of nuance and subtlety, from the beginning… that steadily builds to the heroic mission at the end. Joseph Gordon-Levitt IS Ed Snowden. I can’t imagine anyone else fitting this role more closely.

Back to why “‘They’ absolutely do NOT hate us for our freedom”

drone_usaThink for a minute what the US flag must mean to the father of a boy slaughtered by some armchair technician, wielding drones from a cubical in Nevada, following orders of the US imperial command. Who decides the targets? The movie makes it clear: the targets come from a database developed using pure sleaze and intrusive surveillance of individuals in countries with which we are not at war. Here’s how it goes (and by the way, an ironclad case for why it matters even though “I have nothing to hide.”):

We, the CIA, learn of an upper-class Pakistani banker with absolutely no black marks in his CIA/NSA profile. OK, let’s see if we can turn him to work for us. We’ll use this sophisticated software that Snowden’s NSA counterparts have put together called PRIC (Public Reconnaissance Integration Central).[4] PRIC runs thru <banker’s> friends and family, then does another level of search, finding the daughter of <banker’s> 2d cousin who has been helping to shield two of her male friends from being served with an unpaid parking ticket subpoena in Karachi. Red Lights! Bells and Whistles!

Immediately our field supervisor, looking to be promoted up the status-and- money food chain to a cozy desk job with all the Washington parties and perks, tells his team to tag the two male friends as potential <terrorist, insurgent, anti-US> targets for UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) ‘visitation.’ He instructs a subordinate to notify <banker> that <banker’s> second cousin’s daughter is suspected of harboring terrorists but we’ll go easy on her— i.e. not kill her or her family—if <banker> will play ball, inform on his associates and channel funds into the agency’s special projects account.

<Banker>—fully aware of agency black bag and torture ops—caves immediately, names a guy he knows who organizes street protests against the US launching drone missiles into hospitals, kindergartens, and wedding parties… then writes a big fat check payable to CIA. [<Banker> also greases the palms of ambitious field supervisor with serious cash money.] Using PRIC once again, high-level field staff prepares full dossiers on the 2d-cousin daughter, her two parking scofflaw friends, and the protest organizer. Whereabouts of said individuals is then tracked precisely, 24/7, by ‘Skycam’; from scouring their personal commun-ications, PRIC et al know exactly where they’ll be and when.

Two days later, with perfunctory presidential go-ahead (if he knows he’s going to be on the golf course he leaves an automated message to the team leader: “Do what you think is best, and God bless America.”), the team goes into action. Or rather, the computer program set up by Snowden-types of the interlocking military-intelligence agencies is initiated via signoff by the field supervisor. At every step of the process, approval is routine, secret, and anonymous. Bang! The drones strike, then double-tap bomb again to kill rescue personnel.

That’s how it goes. The movie is much more effective in presenting the mechanics. Is the 2d-cousin daughter spared? Nah! Every body counts in the body count metric. The more dead people, the more promotions and other perks… if you know what I mean. It’s one sick, sadistic system—and the current president, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, apparently gets his jollies from it. Even more than Bush II.

Guess what! Like the Terminator, this US/Israel-based global monster of universal surveil- lance and mass murder has its eyes on the ultimate ‘Sarah Connor’… I’m talking about you, people in your Leave it to Beaver neighborhood here in the ol’ US of A… without concern for status or condition—women, children, old people, pets, season ticketholders. And the monster won’t stop unless we stop it. Per Kyle Reese:

“Listen, and understand! That Terminator is out there! It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will… not… stop… ever… until you are dead!”

BTW, all you Trumpster fans out there, the Donald is all wrapped up in pax Americana, and an ardent believer in the faux war on terror narrative. His reaction to Snowden’s blowing the whistle on NSA’s universal spying was to call Snowden a traitor and say it would be fitting for ‘a Great America’ to execute him.

What Trump is unwittingly suggesting, and what anyone who can read Tea Leaves 101 knows, is that we the people do not need an election in 2016, rather an mass indictment … of political officials at the highest levels of government and especially in the international technogeek industry who are continuing to ruthlessly violate our liberties and our lives. We need another Nuremberg Trials. Rather a grand jury system to set things aright, not to mention putting the nuclear war genie back in the bottle.

An inspiring and challenging movie for all time. Thank you Ed Snowden, Oliver Stone, and all the rest of you who assembled this labor of love. We the people can (and absolutely must) take it from here.


[1] The idea came to me a few days ago, in the quiet comfort of a bar, where I watched the pregame show for Monday Night Football. I saw a couple of hundred people carrying this 50-yard-long American flag probably with a squadron of F15s doing a flyover (but the sound was off so I couldn’t tell), and I said to myself, “Why not start a new ‘support the troops’ campaign using our sacred emblem?”

I imagined a collage [like in that Winona Ryder movie, How to Make an American Quilt (1995)] showing graphic pictures of dead victims of US bombings or bodies mangled and screaming for help. [Then, of course, rescue workers being blown to bits thru drone ‘double tap’ attacks.] This collage of gut-wrenching images would be sewed LARGE onto all the Old Glories being paraded about town in marching bands or flying from homes and government buildings. Or better yet, displayed as a slideshow on one of those jumbo stadium TVs. THAT would truly bring our teeming throngs of rabid sports fans to their feet!

[2] As much as I hate to bring this up, it’s still entirely possible that Snowden is an ‘op’ set up by the Controllers to manipulate us in the liberty movement by rendering such an iconic figure, then having him and our hopes dashed. [Jon Rappoport has made some discerning commentary, e.g. here.] You have to admit a) that he’s shown superhuman abilities [and why in the world wouldn’t NSA/CIA top spooks have seen him coming or have had realistic internal security measures to prevent his breaks], and b) since he’s gone public, has any official been able to or willing to do jack to stop unconstitutional spying!? Stone’s movie seems to supply plausible counters to Rappoport and others who at least question some of the Snowden ‘official story.’

[3] About 2/3 thru the film, Ed makes an off-camera narrative statement that brought me to full attention with primal fear, as if I were out on the African plain with a lion about to pounce. It was something like: “When the government decides to go after you with these tools, it shreds the Bill of Rights… and no one will hear you scream.”

[4] I made this up.:)









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1 thought on “Movie Review: Snowden (2016)

  1. I agree with (2). Snowden had help.

    Inside help from multiple insiders can be highly persuasive.

    It had been Lincoln’s plan to convict Confederate leaders of treason, confiscate their plantations, divide them into 40-acre parcels and give them to veterans. Ex-slaves who enlisted and served as mule drivers, longshoremen, and bridge-rebuilders supporting Sherman’s March on Richmond, would get land from their former slavemasters.

    The fact that Wilkes Booth’s escape route, was the only road out of Washington left unguarded, convinced many that Confederate spy networks still had considerable power. 4 decades later, it was Wilson and the Democrats who dusted off Lincoln’s concept of an Income Tax and made it stick. Tax Day, April 15th, is the anniversary of Lincoln’s murder. (And as Dinesh D’Souza points out, the quid pro quo that bought Southern Democrat support for the Income Tax and the Federal Reserve Act, was a federal Jim Crow law that imposed racial segregation at post offices, army bases, and federal courthouses, thus creating the illusion that state segregation statutes were now accepted by the federal government as legitimate.)

    The seeming power of an underground movement can be influential.

    Since 1971, the Federal Reserve Note has been viewed as purely an arbitrary exercise of power. Nixon proposed that dollars have value, because Nixon could lock people up for not collecting and paying the notes in taxes. He could, in theory, print and circulate an unlimited number of dollars, and set the tax rate at whatever level he chose. That’s the orthodox view of money in Ben Bernanke’s classroom these days.

    A huge break from that paradigm is taking place in Russia. Under the authoritarian rule of President Putin, Russia is taking steps away from fiat money and China is supporting the move. Their new Asian Infrastructure Development Bank, proposes issuing bonds that are to be paid off in 5 different currencies at once. The US can cheapen the dollar by printing more, but that cheapening will force up the other currencies in value, thus eliminating the main cause of inflation.

    The primary threat to the power elites that run the US, is that when they default on the Social Security system, they can expect popular resistance. The people most dangerous to those elites, are retired police officers who own guns. As ex-cops, many know how to follow a money trail. As armed people, they’re unlikely to surrender, when attacked.

    After 8 years of fighting for gun confiscation and failing, the Trumpistas propose a different solution: Shutting down the human-trafficking and sweatshops business that thrives along with corrupt politics.

    And he may have found a weak spot in the elites’ armor. There are fewer than 100,000 addicts in this country and many of them are poor. The vast quantities of cash crossing the US-Mexican border in “drugs deals”, may turn out to derive from tax evasion and human trafficking, not from drugs. With 30 million Mexican citizens illegally living in the US, where they get no benefit of Mexican law (they’re out of jurisdiction) and no benefit of US law (if they sue someone and win, the US owns the money because they entered the US illegally), the only thing governing these people are the gangsters who own the sweat shops where they work, and who also brought them here. So-called Sanctuary Cities protect the gangsters, by prohibiting city police from talking to federal Immigration & Customs Enforcement agents. (Also some Mexican statutes have been passed, expelling certain illegal emigrants from ever returning to Mexico.). The combination is absolutely lethal to the economy of both countries. Gangsters get what they want. Politicians sell it to them. Farmers and small business owners are systematically ripped off by elitists and gangsters, in both the US and in Mexico, with lots of government help. The resulting poverty drives Mexican young people to surrender to the gangsters and get smuggled north to work in the gangsters’ sweat shops…precisely as it drives American young people to enlist in our armed forces and be sent abroad to fight wars that steal land and minerals for the elitists who cause the wars.

    In the end, what will make a difference, is China and Russia’s “basket of currencies” approach to paying debts. Take away the power to make the lender poor by paying her back with cheapened money, and there’s no reason for sovereign debt to exist.

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