NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden recently published an eye-opening memoir about his time in the intelligence community and his decision to tell the world about the massive surveillance state that had been created by the United States government. The book, called “Permanent Record,” quickly rose to the top of the charts as soon as it was released, but as expected, the United States government was not very happy that it was being published.
On the day that the book was released, the US government filed a lawsuit against Snowden, claiming that he violated non-disclosure agreements that he signed with both the CIA and NSA when he was employed with the agencies.
According to the lawsuit, the terms of the agreements that Snowden made during his employment specified that he was not allowed to publish a book without first submitting it to both agencies for approval.
The lawsuit also points to Snowden’s other interviews and speeches about the spying program that he revealed to the world. This is somewhat ironic considering that becoming a whistleblower in the first place is a violation of the non-disclosure agreements that he signed.
The information contained in the book must not be too sensitive at this point, because the lawsuit is not seeking to block publication of the book, but is looking to intercept all of the money that is made from the sales.
G Zachary Terwilliger, the US attorney for the eastern district of Virginia, said that this measure was intended to prevent Snowden from making any money off of US government secrets.
“Intelligence information should protect our nation, not provide personal profit. This lawsuit will ensure that Edward Snowden receives no monetary benefits from breaching the trust placed in him,” Terwilliger said.
In a statement announcing the lawsuit, assistant attorney general Jody Hunt of the justice department’s civil division said:
“Edward Snowden has violated an obligation he undertook to the United States when he signed agreements as part of his employment by the CIA and as an NSA contractor. The United States’ ability to protect sensitive national security information depends on employees’ and contractors’ compliance with their non-disclosure agreements, including their pre-publication review obligations.”
By now, most of the world knows about the specifics of the information that was leaked by Snowden. Essentially, everything that everyone is doing, at all times, is closely monitored and recorded. However, Permanent Record explains exactly how the surveillance state was built, and explores the complex rationalizations that the intelligence community has used to get away with it.
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In an interview with the Guardian after the book was released, Snowden said that he believes that the world is a better place now because of his decision to become a whistleblower.
“We live in a better, freer and safer world because of the revelations of mass surveillance,” he said.
The day after the release, the book was already on the bestseller list.
Yesterday, the government sued the publisher of #PermanentRecord for—not kidding—printing it without giving the CIA and NSA a change to erase details of their classified crimes from the manuscript. Today, it is the best-selling book in the world: https://t.co/oMJLOvUjG7
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) September 18, 2019
In addition to the recent lawsuit, Snowden is still facing criminal charges under the Espionage Act. He is currently living in exile in Russia, where he got stuck and remained while attempting to evade US authorities after the now-infamous leak.