Citizenfour, film on Edward Snowden, review

This video from the USA says about itself:

Bill Maher interviews filmmaker Laura Poitras about her Oscar-nominated documentary, CITIZENFOUR, in this clip from January 30, 2015. The film follows Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald as they travel to Hong Kong for a meeting with former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

On 31 May 2015, I went to see the film Citizenfour.

A review of the film is here.

Before the film started, there was an introduction by Sasja Koetsier, of  Dutch movie magazine De Filmkrant.

According to Ms Koetsier, Citizenfour is in the tradition of French Cinema verité and United States Direct Cinema.

The film is about attacks of secret services, especially the United States NSA, on civil liberties, especially of people on the Internet.

There is an NSA blacklist of ‘public enemies’. On it, 1.2 million people from the USA, and many more from other countries. How do you land on that list? To become an ‘enemy of the state’ it suffices to download the Internet privacy program Tor.

Supporters of secret service spying on people use to say: ‘If you don’t have anything to hide, then you don’t need to be afraid of the NSA spies’. The reverse seems to be true, Sasja Koetsier said. ‘If you use Tor software, then that makes you a suspect to the spies’. Let us compare it to police in a street. If they see a home with curtains drawn, then police might, in a parallel to the NSA, immediately demand access to that home. It is like someone pointing a gun to your head, and then saying: ‘Don’t worry, I won’t shoot.’ What is the gun for then? one might ask. For making people practice self-censorship?

This is a 2008 satirical video by Mark Fiore from the USA; depicting privacy violations as disguising themselves as a harmless looking toy teddy bear. It says about itself:

Snuggly the Security Bear: Wiretapping is about love!

A review by Rejo Zenger in De Filmkrant points out that civil liberties violations are not limited to United States spies. The Dutch secret services would like to have the right to spy massively, including on people not suspect of any crime. Secret police of various countries exchange data. A secret service with few data will get few data in return from foreign spying organisations. So, secret services with comparatively few data will lobby in a race to the ‘top’ to be able to get as many data as the service which gets most data because they are the ‘best’ in violating civil liberties.

Laura Poitras starts the film with her own experiences. Her 2006 film My Country, My Country on the Iraq war causes her to be spied upon and her material being taken away during the making of a new film, The Oath, on Guantanamo Bay torture camp. She has to leave the USA and go to Germany.

She intended to make a third film in her series on ‘the war on terror’, this time about mass spying. In early 2013, Edward Snowden e-mailed her, at first under the pseudonym citizenfour. Later that year, Ms Poitras and Glenn Greenwald meet Snowden in Hong Kong and help him publish the files on mass privacy violations. They also help him to escape from NSA, or CIA, vengeance.

The film exposes the lies of NSA bosses to the United States Congress. When questioned about various massive spying practices, they answer ‘No. No. No’ to all questions about things which they do practice.

Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda was arrested as a ‘terrorist’ at London airport. David Miranda’s sadness after this ordeal is a poignant highlight in the film.

Another ‘highlight’, or ‘lowlight’, is the destruction on the orders of British Prime Minister David Cameron and the United States ‘security’ establishment of a laptop computer with Edward Snowden’s files on the NSA spying on millions and millions of people all over the world.

An important film. Not just for people interested in Edward Snowden as an individual. Not just for people in the USA. For all people everywhere in the world who care about civil liberties.

USA: SENATE LETS PATRIOT ACT PROVISIONS EXPIRE “Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) succeeded Sunday in forcing certain controversial provisions of the Patriot Act to expire, including the NSA’s sweeping data collection program. But the lapse isn’t likely to last long. Running down the procedural clock in a sensational emergency session Sunday night, Paul left the Senate in a stalemate on the House-passed USA Freedom Act. The bill would have allowed the NSA’s controversial bulk data collection, justified under the expiring Section 215 of the Patriot Act, to continue while the intelligence community works with telecommunications companies to reform the program. The legislation failed in a last-minute vote in the Senate last week, leaving lawmakers with a mere eight hours in session before the Patriot Act provisions expired at the stroke of midnight.” [Ali Watkins & Jessica Schulberg, HuffPost]

The White House refused to reconsider its legal pursuit of Edward Snowden on Monday, while it sought to take credit for outlawing the bulk telephone surveillance programme he revealed: here.

THE US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is using a fleet of civilian aircraft registered with phoney front companies to snoop on citizens, it emerged on Monday. The powerful and shady agency was forced to admit to the domestic spying programme following a journalistic investigation by the Associated Press: here.

“USA Freedom Act”: A fig leaf for illegal spying: here.

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