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DeRay Mckesson, Edward Snowden discuss FBI, surveillance, race in new podcast

DeRay Mckesson, Edward Snowden discuss FBI, surveillance, race in new podcast
Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who revealed information about NSA surveillance programs, is seen in a hotel room in Moscow in December 2013. (WP-Bloomberg)

National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden doesn't use a cell phone, but he can use Twitter and Google Hangout, he said — at least, when he wants it to go public.

The former NSA contractor appeared on Baltimore educator and activist Deray Mckesson's podcast, "Pod Save the People," which he launched this April.

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In the bonus episode, released Friday, Mckesson and Snowden talk surveillance, race, their run-ins with the FBI and the most recent news regarding President Donald Trump's controversial decision to fire FBI director James Comey.

"Despite all the bad that has come from the policies of this guy … the idea that the president should be firing the man that is in charge of investigations in his administration or his administration's ties to others organizations, affiliations and contacts is a very dangerous precedent to set in our democracy," Snowden said. "I think it's destabilizing. I think it's quite negative, and it's fairly extraordinary that when people ask the Trump administration why they went ahead with this, because the action has been immediate … they go, 'Well, we didn't expect it would be a big deal.' How can that be?"

Snowden said that reports that say Comey's firing is unrelated to investigations looking into Russia's possible interference with the past U.S. election seem deceptive.

"I mean, absolutely nobody believes this," he said.

Mckesson and Snowden also discuss how the FBI has unfairly surveilled major civil rights movements, including those run by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Black Lives Matter.

The episode, which runs just over an hour and a half (including ads), caught the attention of many Twitter users, including the CEO and founder of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, who endorsed Mckesson's latest episode with a simple tweet: "This is excellent."

This isn't the first time Snowden has engaged in an in-depth conversation with a Baltimorean. Snowden and "The Wire" creator David Simon discussed U.S. intelligence, rights to privacy and burner phones on Twitter last March.

To listen to the podcast, visit iTunes here.

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bbritto@baltsun.com

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