Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Season 2 Episode 8
Aired on April 5, 2015
Main segment: Government Surveillance
Guest: Edward Snowden
There are very few government checks on what America’s sweeping surveillance programs are capable of doing. John Oliver sits down with Edward Snowden to discuss the NSA, the balance between privacy and security, and dick-pics.
* * *
[John] Our main story tonight is government surveillance. And I realize most people would rather have a conversation about literally any other topic, including, “Is my smart phone giving me cancer?” To which the answer is, “Probably.” Or, “Do goldfish suffer from depression?” To which the answer is, “Yes, but very briefly.” But the fact is it is vital that we have a discussion about this now because an important date is just around the corner.
One big date to circle on the calendar when it comes to a very controversial subject– the reauthorization of the Patriot Act and all of the controversial provisions therein. June 1st, they’ve got to come to an agreement to reauthorize or curtail this program.
[John] Yes, some controversial provisions within the Patriot Att– Patriot Act– are set to expire on June 1st. So circle that date on your calendars, everyone. And while you’re at it, circle June 2nd as well, because that’s Justin Long’s birthday. You all forgot last year and he fucking noticed. Now over the last couple of years, you’ve probably heard a lot about strange-sounding programs such as XKeyscore, MUSCULAR, PRISM and MYSTIC, which are, coincidentally, also the names of some of Florida’s least popular strip clubs. “Welcome to XKeyscore! Our dancers are fully unredacted and Tuesday is wing night!” But if you don’t mind, I would like to refresh your memory over some of this. And let’s start by focusing on the most controversial portion of the Patriot Act that is up for renewal– section 215, which I’m aware sounds like the name of an Eastern European boy band. “We are Section 215. Prepare to have your hearts throbbed.” There’s– there’s the cute one, the bad boy, the one who strangled a potato farmer, and the one without an iron deficiency. They’re incredible. But the content of the real section 215 is actually even more sinister.
It’s called section 215, nicknamed the Library Records Provision, which allows the government to require businesses to hand over records of any, quote, “any tangible things, including books, records, papers, documents and other items.”
[John] If that sounds broad, it’s because it was very much written that way. Section 215 says the government can ask for “any tangible things “so long as it’s for an investigation to protect against international terrorism,” which is basically a blank check. It’s like letting a teenager borrow the car on the strict condition that they only use it for car-related activities. “Okay, Mom and Dad, I’m gonna use this “for a hand-job in the Wendy’s parking lot, but that is car-related, so I think I’m covered.” Section 215 is overseen by a secret intelligence court known as the FISA Court. And they’ve interpreted it to mean the government could basically collect and store phone records for every American, the vast majority of whom, of course, have no connection to terrorism, unless Aunt Sheryl has been gravely mischaracterizing in the activities of her needlepoint club. “It’s a sleeper cell, isn’t it, Aunt Sheryl? “You will hang for this, Aunt Sheryl! “You’re a traitor and a terrible aunt, not in that order!” Now the government will point out that under 215, they hold phone records and not the calls themselves.
[President Obama] What the intelligence community is doing is looking at phone numbers and durations of calls. They are not looking at people’s names and they’re not looking at content.
[John] Yes. But that’s not entirely reassuring, because you can extrapolate a lot from that information. If they knew that you called your ex 12 times last night between 1:00 and 4:00 AM for a duration of 15 minutes each time, they can fairly sure that you left some pretty pathetic voice-mails. “I don’t care who’s monitoring this call, Vicky! “We should be together! Pick up the phone, damn it! I’m a human being, not an animal!” Now the Patriot Act was written just after 9/11, and for years, it was extended and reauthorized with barely a passing thought. In fact, it became so routine that when it was extended in 2011, one newscast just tacked it onto the end of a report about a presidential trip abroad.
Chip Reid, CBS News, traveling with the president in Deauville, France. Also in France, by the way, President Obama assigned into law a four-year extension of the terrorism-fighting Patriot Act.
[John] “Also in France, by the way…” “By the way!” He threw that in like a mother telling her grown daughter that her childhood pet just died. “Oh, nice talking to you, sweetie. “Also, by the way, Mr. Peppers is dead. See you at Christmas.” Bang. But all of that was before the public was made aware of what the government’s capabilities actually were. ‘Cause that all ended in June of 2013.
Man: Edward Snowden has just taken responsibility for one of the biggest government leaks in US history.
We learned that the government has the capacity to track virtually every American phone call and to scoop up impossibly vast quantities of data across the Internet.
Revelations that the NSA eavesdropped on world leaders.
If you’ve ever been to the Bahamas, the NSA could have recorded your phone calls and stored them for up to a month.
[John] Yeah, all that information was exposed by Edward Snowden, and it is still kind of incredible that a 29-year-old contractor was able to steal top-secret documents from an organization that literally has the word “security” in its name. Clearly that was not great for them, because the only place where it should be that easy for employees in their 20s to steal is a Lids store. “Dude, you sure I should take this?” “Relax, dude, it’s a Miami Marlins cap. We’re not exactly selling Fabergé eggs here.” It is still unclear exactly how many documents Edward Snowden stole, although he has consistently tried to reassure people that he put them in good hands.
Honestly, I don’t want to be the person making the decisions on what should be public and what shouldn’t, which is why, rather than publishing these on my own, or putting them out openly, I’m running them through journalists.
[John] And that sounds great, but of course it’s not a fail-safe plan, as was proven when the “New York Times” published this slide, but did such a sloppy job of blocking out redacted information that some people were able to read the information behind that black bar, which concerned how the US was monitoring al-Qaeda in Mosul, a group now known as ISIS. So essentially, a national-security secret was leaked because no one at “The Times” knows how to use Microsoft Paint. And look, you can think that Snowden did the wrong thing or did it in the wrong way, but the fact is, we have this information now and we no longer get the luxury of pleading ignorance. It’s like you can’t go to Sea World and pretend that Shamu is happy anymore when we now know at least half the water in her tank is whale tears. We know that now. You can’t un-know that information. So you have to bear that in mind. But here’s the thing– it’s now two years later, and it seems like we’ve kind of forgotten to have a debate over the content of what Snowden leaked. A recent Pew report found that nearly half of Americans say they’re not very concerned or not at all concerned about government surveillance, which is fine if that’s an informed opinion. But I’m not sure that it is. Because we actually sent a camera crew to Times Square to ask some random passersby who Edward Snowden was and what he did. And these are the responses that we got.
I have no idea who Edward Snowden is.
I have no– no idea who Edward Snowden is.
I’ve heard the name. I just can’t picture– think right now exactly what it is.
Edward Snowden? No, I do not.
[John] Just for the record, that wasn’t cherry picking. That was entirely reflective of everyone we spoke to. Although to be fair, some people did remember his name, they just couldn’t remember why.
He sold some information to people.
He revealed some information that shouldn’t have been revealed.
I think from what I remember is the information that he shared was detrimental to our military secrets and keeping our soldiers and our country safe?
I think he leaked documents about the US Army’s operations in Iraq.
Edward Snowden revealed a bunch of secrets, I guess, or information into Wiki– WikiLeaks?
Edward Snowden leaked– he’s in charge of WikiLeaks.
Edward Snowden revealed a lot of documents through WikiLeaks?
[John] Okay, so here’s the thing– Edward Snowden is not the WikiLeaks guy. The WikiLeaks guy is Julian Assange, and you do not want to be confused with him, partly because he was far less careful than Snowden in what he released and how, and partly because he resembles a sandwich bag full of biscuit dough wearing a Stevie Nicks wig. And that is– that is critical. Julian Assange is not a likable man. Even Benedict Cumberbatch could not make him likable. He’s un-Cumberbatch-able. That was supposed to be physically impossible. But I don’t blame people for being confused. We’ve been looking at this story for the last two weeks and it is hard to get your head around, not just because there are so many complicated programs to keep track of, but also because there are no easy answers here. We all naturally want perfect privacy and perfect safety. But those two things cannot coexist. It’s like how you can’t have a bad-ass pet falcon and an adorable pet vole named Herbert. Either you have to lose one of them, which obviously you don’t want to do, or you have to accept some reasonable restrictions on both of them. Now to be fair, the NSA will argue that just because they can do something doesn’t mean they do do it, and that there are restrictions on their operations, such as the FISA Court, which must approve requests for foreign surveillance. But in 34 years, that court has approved over 35,000 applications and only rejected 12. Yes, much like Robert Durst‘s second wife, the FISA Court is alarmingly accepting. “Listen, Robert, “I’m not going to ask you too many questions, I’m just going to give you the benefit of the doubt that you clearly don’t deserve.” At least tell him to blink and burp less. The burping might be the most troubling thing about that show.
So– so maybe it is time for us to talk about where the limits should be, and the best place to start would be section 215. Not just because it’s the easiest to understand, but because there is widespread agreement it needs to be reformed, From the President to Ted Cruz to both the ACLU and the NRA, to even the guy who wrote the thing in the first place.
I was the principal author of the Patriot Act. I can say that without qualification, Congress never did intend to allow bulk collections when it passed section 215. And no fair reading of the text would allow for this program.
[John] Think about that. He was the author. That’s the legislative equivalent of Lewis Caroll seeing the Tea Cups ride at Disneyland and saying, “This has to be reigned in! No fair reading of my text “would allow for this ride. “You’ve turned my perfectly nice tale of psychedelic pedophilia “into a garish vomitorium! This is not what I wanted.” And even the NSA has said that the number of terror plots in the US that the section 215 Telephone Records Programs has disrupted is one. And it’s worth noting that one particular plot involved a cab driver in San Diego who gave $8500 to a terror group. And that is the shittiest terrorist plot I’ve ever seen other than the plot of A Good Day to Die Hard. But here– here’s the big problem here. If we let section 215 get renewed in its current form without serious public debate, we’re in trouble. Because section 215 is the canary in the coal mine. If we cannot fix that, we’re not going to fix any of them. And the public debate so far has been absolutely pathetic. A year ago, a former congresswoman was discussing the 215 program on the news. Watch what happened.
This vast collection of data is not that useful and infringes substantially on personal privacy. I think at this point we should seriously consider not just changing–
Andrea Mitchell: Uh, Congresswoman Harman? Let me interrupt you. Congresswoman, let me interrupt you for a moment. We’ve got some breaking news out of Miami. Stand by if you will.
Right now in Miami, Justin Bieber has been arrested on a number of charges. The judge is reading the charges, including resisting arrest and driving under the influence. He’s appearing now before the judge for his bond hearing. Let’s watch.
[John] Oh, oh, actually, you know what? Bad news– we’re going to have to interrupt your interruption of the Bieber news for a new interruption, this time featuring a YouTube video of a tortoise having sex with a plastic clog. Let’s watch. (tortoise wheezing) (woman giggling) That is essentially the current tone of this vitally important debate. “Heee!”
And again, I’m not saying this is an easy conversation, but we have to have it. I know this is confusing. Unfortunately, the most obvious person to talk to about this is Edward Snowden, but he currently lives in Russia, meaning if you wanted to ask him about any of these issues, you’d have to fly all the way there to do it, and it is not a pleasant flight. And the reason I know that is that last week I went to Russia to speak to Edward Snowden. And this is what happened.
[John] Yes, last week, I spent 48 paranoid hours in Moscow, arguably the last place on Earth where you can find an overweight Joseph Stalin impersonator arguing with an unconvincing fake Lenin. And after experiencing Russia’s famously warm hospitality, I went to meet Edward Snowden, who was supposed to show up in this room at noon. However, at five minutes after the interview was scheduled to begin, I had a troubling thought.
I don’t know. You think he’s coming? Man: Yeah, he’s coming. ‘Cause my argument is, why would he, when you think about it. I’ve got 2,000 rubles that says he doesn’t make it, without understanding how much that is. All I’m saying is, a 10-hour flight for an empty chair, I’m gonna lose my shit.
Okay, it turns out there may be a bit of a problem, because our Russian producer booked us in a room directly overlooking the old KGB building and the home of the current Federal Security Bureau. And we’ve just been told they know we’re here. So, um, so that happened.
Um, just if the Russian– Russian KGB is listening, ring the fire alarm if he’s not coming. Oh, shit. Oh, God. So sorry for the delay. It’s fine, don’t worry about it.
Holy shit! He actually came. Edward fucking Snowden! The most famous hero and/or traitor in recent American history. And I’m starting with a question designed to test his loyalties.
[John] How much do you miss America?
[Edward Snowden] You know, my country is something that travels with me, you know? It’s not just a geography–
[John] That’s already a way-too-complicated answer. The answer is, “I miss it a lot. It’s the greatest country in the world.”
[Edward Snowden] I do miss my country. I do miss my home. I do miss my family.
[John] Do you miss Hot Pockets?
[Edward Snowden] Yes. I miss Hot Pockets very much.
[John] Okay, um, the entire state of Florida? Let’s just let that silence hang in the air.
[Edward Snowden] Um, truck nuts?
[John] Do you miss truck nuts?
[Edward Snowden] I don’t know what they are.
[John] Lucky for you, Edward. Not just truck nuts– stars-and-stripes truck nuts. That is two balls of liberty in a freedom sack.
[Edward Snowden] You really thought ahead.
[John] Well, at least one of us did. You know, ’cause of the– the quandary– the Kafkaesque nightmare that you’re in. Okay, let’s dive in. Why did you do this?
[Edward Snowden] The NSA has the greatest surveillance capabilities that we have ever seen in history. Now what they will argue is that they don’t use this for nefarious purposes against American citizens. In some ways, that’s true. But the real problem is that they’re using these capabilities to make us vulnerable to them and then saying, “While I have a gun pointed at your head, I’m not gonna pull the trigger. Trust me.”
[John] So what’s the NSA you want look like? Because you applied for a job at the NSA, so you clearly see an inherent value in that shadowy organization.
[Edward Snowden] I worked with mass surveillance systems against Chinese hackers. I saw that, you know, these things do have some purpose–
[John] And you want your spies to be good at spying, to be fair.
[Edward Snowden] Right. What you don’t want is you don’t want them spying inside their own country. Spies are great when they’re on our side, but we can never forget that they’re incredibly powerful and incredibly dangerous, and if they’re off the leash, they can end up coming after us.
[John] But just to be clear– we’re talking about two different things here, domestic surveillance and foreign surveillance.
[Edward Snowden] Right.
[John] ‘Cause domestic surveillance, Americans give some of a shit about. Foreign surveillance, they don’t give any remote shit about.
[Edward Snowden] Well, the second question is, when we talk about foreign surveillance, are we applying it in ways that are beneficial–
[John] Uh, no one cares. No one–
[Edward Snowden] In terms–
[John] They don’t give a shit.
[Edward Snowden] We spied on UNICEF, the children’s fund.
[Edward Snowden] We spied on lawyers negotiating, uh–
[John] What was UNICEF doing? I mean, that’s the question there, isn’t it?
[Edward Snowden] The question is are these programs valuable? Are we going to be safer when we’re spying on UNICEF and lawyers who are talking about the price of shrimp and clove cigarettes?
[John] I don’t think people will say that’s good. I think they’ll say, “I definitely don’t care.” Americans do not give a shit–
[Edward Snowden] I think you’re right.
[John] –about foreign surveillance.
[John] What some people do care about is whether Snowden considered the adverse consequences of leaking so much information at once.
[John] How many of those documents have you actually read?
[Edward Snowden] I’ve evaluated all the documents that are in the archive.
[John] You’ve read every single one?
[Edward Snowden] Well, I do understand what I turned over.
[John] But there’s a difference between understanding what’s in the documents and reading what’s in the documents.
[Edward Snowden] I recognize the concern–
[John] Well, ’cause when– when you’re handing over thousands of NSA documents, the last thing you want to do is read them.
[Edward Snowden] I think it’s fair to be concerned about, “Did this person do enough? Were they careful enough?”
[John] Especially when you’re handling material like we know you’re handling.
[Edward Snowden] Well, in my defense, I’m not handling anything anymore. That’s been passed to the journalists, and they’re using extraordinary security measures to make sure that this is reported in the most responsible way.
[John] But those are journalists with a lower technical skill set than you.
[Edward Snowden] That’s true, but they do understand, just like you and I do, just how important it is to get this right.
[John] So “The New York Times” took a slide, didn’t redact it properly, and in the end, it was possible for people to see that something was being used in Mosul on al-Qaeda.
[Edward Snowden] That is a problem.
[John] Well, that’s a fuck-up.
[Edward Snowden] It is a fuck-up, and these things do happen in reporting. In journalism, we have to accept that some mistakes will be made. This is a fundamental concept of liberty.
[John] Right, but you have to own that then. You’re giving documents with information you know could be harmful, which could get out there.
[Edward Snowden] Yes. If people act in bad faith–
[John] We’re not even talking about bad faith. We’re talking about incompetence.
[Edward Snowden] We are, but you will never be completely free from risk if you’re free. The only time you can be free from risk is when you’re in prison.
[John] While the risks were significant, Snowden himself has made it clear he feels the rewards have been worth it.
[John] You said in your letter to Brazil, “I was motivated by a belief that the citizens of the world “deserve to understand the system in which they live. “My greatest fear was that no one would listen to my warning. Never have I been so glad to have been so wrong.” How did that feel?
[Edward Snowden] I was initially terrified that this was going to be a three-day story, everybody was going to forget about it. But when I saw that everybody around the world said, “Whoa, this is a problem. We have to do something about this,” it felt like vindication.
[John] Even in America?
[Edward Snowden] Even in America. And I think we’re seeing something amazing, which is if you ask the American people to make tough decisions, to confront tough issues, to think about hard problems, they’ll actually surprise you.
[John] Okay. Here’s the problem– I did ask some Americans, and, boy, did it surprise me.
I have no idea who Edward Snowden is.
You’ve never heard of Edward Snowden?
Man: I have no idea who Edward Snowden is.
I’ve heard the name. I just can’t picture– think right now exactly what it is.
Well, he– he sold some information to people.
Woman: He revealed some information that shouldn’t have been revealed.
Woman: Uh, Edward Snowden revealed a lot of documents through WikiLeaks?
Uh, Edward Snowden revealed a bunch of secrets, I guess, or information into Wiki– WikiLeaks?
Edward Snowden leaked– he’s in charge of WikiLeaks.
[Edward Snowden] I’m in charge of WikiLeaks?
[John] Not ideal. I guess, on the plus side, you might be able to go home, because it seems like no one knows who the fuck you are or what the fuck you did.
[Edward Snowden] You can’t expect everyone to be uniformly informed.
[John] So did you do this to solve a problem?
[Edward Snowden] I did this to give the American people a chance to decide for themselves the kind of government they want to have. That is a conversation that I think the American people deserve to decide.
[John] Oh, there’s no doubt it is a critical conversation. But is it a conversation that we have the capacity to have? Because it’s so complicated we don’t fundamentally understand it.
[Edward Snowden] It is a challenging conversation. I mean, it’s difficult for most people to even conceptualize. The problem is the Internet is massively complex and so much of it is invisible. Service providers, technicians, engineers, the phone number–
[John] Okay, let– let me stop you right there, Edward. ‘Cause this is the whole problem.
[Edward Snowden] Right.
[John] This is the whole problem. I just– I glaze over, ’cause it’s like the IT guy comes into your office and you go, “Oh, shit.”
[Edward Snowden] In fairness–
[John] “Oh, shit. “Don’t teach me anything. I don’t want to learn. You smell like canned soup.”
[Edward Snowden] It’s a real challenge to figure out how do we communicate things that require sort of years and years of technical understanding and compress that into seconds of speech. So I’m sympathetic to the problem there.
[John] But the thing is, everything you did only matters if we have this conversation properly. So let me help you out there. You mentioned in an interview that the NSA was passing around naked photos of people.
[Edward Snowden] Yeah, this is something where it’s– it’s not actually seen as a big deal in the culture of NSA because you see naked pictures all of the time.
[John] That terrifies people. ‘Cause when we asked people about that, this is the response you get.
The government should not be able to look at dick pictures.
If the government was looking at a picture of Gordon’s penis, I definitely feel it would be an invasion of my privacy.
Uh, yeah, the government looking at pictures of my penis? That would upset me.
Man: They should never ever, the US government, have a picture of my dick.
If my husband sent me a picture of his penis and the government could access it, I would want that program to be shut down.
I would want the dick-pic program changed.
I would also want the dick-pic program changed.
I think it would be terrific if the program could change.
I would want it to be tweaked. I would want it to have– have clear and transparent laws that we knew about and that were communicated to us to understand what they were being used for or why they were being kept.
Interviewer: Do you think that program exists?
I don’t. I don’t think that program exists at all.
Women and men: No. No. No. No.
If I had knowledge that the US government had a picture of my dick, I would be very pissed off.
[Edward Snowden] Well, the good news is there’s no program named “the Dick-Pic” program. The bad news is they are still collecting everybody’s information, including your dick pics.
[John] What’s the over/under on that last guy having sent a dick-pic recently? You don’t need to guess. I’ll show you.
I did. I did take a picture of my dick. And I sent it to a girl recently.
[Edward Snowden] (laughs)
[John] This is the most visible line in the sand for people. “Can they see my dick?” So with that in mind, look inside that folder. That is a picture of my dick. So let’s go through each NSA program and explain to me its capabilities in regards to that photograph of my penis. So 702 surveillance– can they see my dick?
[Edward Snowden] Yes. The FISA Amendment Act of 2008, which section 702 falls under, allows the bulk collection of Internet communications that are one-end foreign.
[John] Bulk collection– now we’re talking about my dick. You get it.
[Edward Snowden] It’s not–
[John] You get it though, right?
[Edward Snowden] I do.
[John] Right, because it– anyway…
[Edward Snowden] So if you have your email somewhere like Gmail, hosted on a server overseas or transferred overseas, or at any time crosses outside the borders of the United States, your junk ends up in the database.
[John] So it doesn’t have to be sending your dick to a German?
[Edward Snowden] Uh, no. Even if you sent it to somebody within the United States, your wholly domestic communication between you and your wife can go from New York to London and back and get caught up in the database.
[John] Executive Order 12333, dick or no dick?
[Edward Snowden] Uh, yes. EO 12333 is what the NSA uses when the other authorities aren’t aggressive enough or they’re not catching as much as they’d like. For example–
[John] So how are they going to see my dick? I’m only concerned about my penis.
[Edward Snowden] When you send your junk through Gmail, for example–
[Edward Snowden] –that’s stored on Google’s servers. Google moves data from data center to data center, invisibly to you without your knowledge. Your data could be moved outside the borders of the United States–
[John] Oh, no.
[Edward Snowden] –temporarily. When your junk was passed by Gmail, the NSA caught a copy of that.
[Edward Snowden] PRISM is how they pull your junk out of Google with Google’s involvement. All of the different PRISM partners– people like Yahoo!, Facebook, Google– the government deputizes them to be sort of their little surveillance sheriff.
[John] Their dick sheriff?
[Edward Snowden] Correct.
[John] Um, Upstream?
[Edward Snowden] Upstream is how they snatch your junk as it transits the Internet.
[John] Okay, MYSTIC.
[Edward Snowden] If you’re describing your junk on the phone, yes.
[John] But do they have the content of that junk call or just the duration of it?
[Edward Snowden] They have the content as well, but only for a few countries. If you are on vacation in the Bahamas? Yes.
[John] Finally, and do you need to remind yourself–
[Edward Snowden] No, I’m just not sure what to do with this. It’s–
[John] Just hold on to it.
[Edward Snowden] It’s a lot of responsibility.
[John] Yeah, it is a lot of responsibility. That’s the whole point.
[Edward Snowden] Should I–
[John] No, you should absolutely not. And it’s unbelievable that you would do that. Actually, it’s entirely believable. Uh, 215 metadata.
[Edward Snowden] No.
[Edward Snowden] But–
[John] Come on, Ed.
[Edward Snowden] They can probably tell who you’re sharing your junk pictures with because they’re seeing who you’re texting with, who you’re calling.
[John] If you called a penis-enlargement center at 3:00 in the morning and that call lasted 90 minutes?
[Edward Snowden] They would have a record of your phone number calling that phone number, which is a penis enlargement center. They would say they don’t know it’s a penis-enlargement center. But of course they can look it up.
[John] Edward, if the American people understood this, they would be absolutely horrified.
[Edward Snowden] I guess I never thought about putting it in the– the context of your junk.
[John] Would a good take-away from this be, until such time as we’ve sorted all of this out, don’t take pictures of your dick? Just don’t do it anymore.
[Edward Snowden] No, if– if we do that, if–
[John] Wait, hold on. Wait, you’re saying no? You should keep taking pictures of your dick?
[Edward Snowden] Yes. You shouldn’t change your behavior because a government agency somewhere is doing the wrong thing. If we sacrifice our values because we’re afraid, we don’t care about those values very much.
[John] That is a pretty inspiring answer to the question, “Hey, why did you just send me a picture of your dick?”
[Edward Snowden] (laughs)
[John] “Because I love America, that’s why.”
[John] So there you have it, America. All of us should now be equipped to have this vital debate. Because by June 1st, it is imperative we have a rational, adult conversation about whether our safety is worth living in a country of barely-regulated, government-sanctioned dick sheriffs.
[John] And with my work here done, there was just time to take care of one more thing.
[John] Finally, congratulations on Citizenfour winning the Oscar. I know you couldn’t be at the ceremony for obvious reasons, so, huh?
[Edward Snowden] Wow.
[John] I thought we’d celebrate ourselves. Cheers.
[Edward Snowden] Wow, that’s– that’s really, really something. Thank you.
[John] You’re welcome. What’s the over/under on me getting back home safely?
[Edward Snowden] Well, if you weren’t on the list before, you are now.
[John] Is that– is that like, um, is that– is a that a joke or is that actually plausible?
[Edward Snowden] No, it’s a real thing. You’re associated now.
[John] Okay, just to be clear, NSA, I never met this guy, so take me off your fucking list. ‘Cause I do not want to get stuck in Russia.
[John] I want to go home, I want to go home, I want to go home!
[John] Now just for the record, just so you know, we got in touch with the NSA, the National Security Council, and the White House and we asked them to comment on the dick-pic capabilities of each of the programs Edward Snowden just discussed, which, incidentally, were some very fun emails to write to government agencies. They did not wish to comment on the record, and I can see why, for every possible reason.
But that’s it. That’s our show. Thank you so much for watching. Thank you to Edward Snowden. We’ll see you again next week. Good night! (tortoise wheezing)