42 Years Before Edward Snowden Leak Finishes
The files leaked to the press by former NSA contractor and international fugitive Edward Snowden will take 42 years to reach the light of day, one website that tracks the matter estimates. Since the documents were dumped on Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras in June, 2013, only around 3,400 of the estimated 250,000 to 1.7 million pages of documents have been leaked.
There is a discrepancy in the tally of files available, after all, since the Department of Defense says there were 1.7 million but those in possession of the documents have not given a stated number. In the first trove received, there were 58,000, they have said.
This is a major difference from the documents leaked previously by BradleWikiLeaksy Manning, which were released without much review and as a result, some argue, numerous Afghani and Iraqi lives were put at risk when their names were not redacted from informant reports. A website that tracks the Snowden leak with a tally of how many of the documents have been used in reporting.
One of the first things the trove of secrets revealed was a domestic surveillance program by the United States so vast that the Soviet Union would have been envious. Without having access to the rest of the documents, it’s hard to guess what else might be hidden from the view of the regular public.
The major media outlets who have published the majority of the documents so far are the New York Times, Der Spiegel, the Washington Post, and, of course, the Guardian. The site estimates that at the rate the files have been released so far, it will be more than four decades before the public sees the full truth. A dump on WikiLeaks would have made this process a lot faster, but many speculate that for various reasons Snowden felt that WikiLeaks would have failed in the mission of actually getting the documents to the public.
What’s Taking So Long?
There are several possible explanations for what’s taking the press so long to release the entirety of the trove. If the trove’s pages number in the millions, it would certainly take some man-hours to review it all. The media outlets will want to do their best to avoid butting heads with the government any more than they have to, and that will mean not publishing documents that the government can then use to say the outlets have somehow put members of the government in jeopardy. Another explanation could be that there is not that much more which is particularly interesting amongst the documents. Alternatively, the outlets could be releasing the documents at a slower rate in order to get the maximum amount of attention for each one.
In the end, Snowden’s leak has illuminated to many in the US the fact that the Constitution may not be fully respected, and it has left him as an individual with an unsure future. People in the government have called for his execution. He has been the subject of countless profiles and documentaries. We can only hope that the people Snowden entrusted with the documents will make use of them to expose the rest of what we don’t know so that we can make better-informed decisions about where we want to live and pay taxes in the future.
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