Tuesday, January 26, 2016




"A child born today will have no conception of privacy at all. They'll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought.  And that's a problem because privacy matters; privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be." -- Edward Snowden

"BLUE" JIMMY:  I rarely do DVD reviews, but I found an exception in the documentary, "CitizenFour" first aired on HBO in 2014  and then released on DVD last year, about the Edward Snowden case and subsequent, worldwide explosion on right-to-privacy issues.  I had followed the Edward Snowden case with some interest ... 


"BLUE" JIMMY:  ... Some investigative journalist curiosity ...


"BLUE" JIMMY:  ... Ok, "motivated fascination" ... 


"BLUE" JIMMY:  This is the story millions of journalists of my generation anticipated for decades!  If you were a journalism student  like me in the 70's and 80's, you were no doubt, inspired -- scratch that -- moved to action, by the 1976 film, "All The President's Men" starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman which was based on the non-fiction book by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.  The book, written by these two Washington Post reporters, blows the lid off the complex web of lies, deceit, corruption and criminal acts committed mostly during the Nixon Administration which culminated in the burglary of Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel.  Washington Post reporters Woodward and Bernstein (jointly referred to as "WoodStein" by their editor-in-chief), conducted an investigation which was much more like a police investigation than one typically done by a newspaper.  Putting their weiners on the chopping block and relying on mostly anonymous sources (something taboo in journalism), they got the scoop on The Story Of The Century and became legendary in the field of investigative journalism.

BLIND DOG OZZY:  And probably got laid on a regular basis!

"BLUE" JIMMY:  When the Edward Snowden case came to light, I was thrown back many decades and was envious of the journalists involved in this case.  Basically, the documentary "Citizen Four" shows how documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald of the British newspaper The Guardian were sucked into this case by a stranger on the internet who sent them encrypted emails under the screen name "Citizen Four" and gave them information on grossly illegal surveillance practices by the National Security Agency and other government offices all done ostensibly, to fight the War On Terror.  In the documentary, Poitras and Greenwald travel to Hong Kong where "Citizen Four" is hiding out in a hotel room.  "Citizen Four" reveals himself to be American citizen, former CIA employee and NSA contractor, Edward Snowden.  Unlike NSA whistleblower William Binney, who resigned from the NSA in 2001 and alleged unconstitutional violations of privacy by his former employers, Mr. Snowden brought the goods.  He provided thousands and thousands of stolen documents that showed that the NSA and other agencies have illegally collected massive amounts of digital data on American and foreign citizens and even friendly, foreign government officials.

BLIND DOG OZZY:  Oh, B**ch!!!  As if America didn't have enough enemies already!

"BLUE" JIMMY:  Although missing all the car chases and explosions and Kung Fu fighting, the documentary has the feel of a spy movie.  And Snowden, looking pale and nerdy and living off of room service, looks less James Bond and more "Big Bang Theory."  But patient, determined, meticulous and displaying a big set o' brass cannon balls, he starts spewing out information that he knows will ruin his comfortable life and change the course of history.


"BLUE" JIMMY:  With his permission, his identity is revealed to The World, his information gets published and the media blitz is on.  Reporters start making phone calls to his room, he changes rooms as an evasion tactic but realizes that the U.S. government will soon ask that he be extradited to face criminal charges.  It becomes obvious to Snowden that he will have to leave Hong Kong and with the help of various human rights crusaders and even Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, he heads for South America but becomes stranded in Russia.  Those involved in his case are either harassed, followed or feel threatened and have to sever direct contact with him.  

BLIND DOG OZZY:  They felt they might get "taken out!"

"BLUE" JIMMY:  That's what adds an element of suspense to the documentary.  Despite the sensitive and classified nature of the information being handled here,  there is a rush to get it the f**k out!  Snowden and the journalists he's chosen to share this information with, are the hub of this information which can be conveniently made to "disappear" by sinister government authorities if this story is not published on a wide scale and given to the public.  Once the information is published, most of the threat to their lives is removed.

BLIND DOG OZZY:  You can't put the genie back in the bottle!

"BLUE" JIMMY:  In the aftermath, Snowden is stuck in Russia, not because he is a Russian spy as some have alleged, but because his passport has been revoked and he cannot travel to South America where he had originally planned to ask for asylum.  Eventually, he was granted a three-year stay in Russia and has applied for political asylum in countless countries but they have all bowed to the pressure of the Obama administration's "requests" that they not grant him asylum.  

BLIND DOG OZZY:  Even countries that were outraged over the NSA spying such as Germany, have acted like total pussies and refused asylum for Snowden on technical grounds!

"BLUE" JIMMY:  Ultimately, Snowden is better off for now, in Russia.  Being a former CIA employee, he has pointed out that the CIA has a strong presence in South America and he could easily be snatched off the street and taken back to the U.S. to face charges.  The U. S. government can't lean on the Russians the way it does with everyone else.  

BLIND DOG OZZY:  I never thought in my lifetime, I would see Russia aiding and abetting a champion of right-to-privacy and free speech while the United States persecuted that same person ... WTF!!!

"BLUE" JIMMY:  President Obama maintains that Snowden is a criminal and that before Snowden's revelations came about, he ordered an investigation of NSA practices.  Yet, the Obama administration revealed nothing about NSA spying and violations of The Constitution. Every discussion of the Snowden case by the U. S. government revolves around the legal aspects of his copying of classified documents and completely ignores the fact that he caught the government in the act of creating an Orwellian, "Big Brother" society.  This is a much bigger deal than many people think.  Many think that a society like this is inevitable and that we should just bow down and accept it.  Snowden unexpectedly, threw a big monkey wrench into the "1984" machinery and may have bought us years of time to "Kick Out The Jams Motherf**ker!" as the rock band The MC5,  so directly put it.

BLIND DOG OZZY:  So why should anyone see this documentary?

"BLUE" JIMMY:  The FBI, CIA, NSA, the DOD and many other acronyms claim that we as citizens, have the luxury of not seeing all the dirty deeds that they do to keep us a free society.  "Citizen Four" shows an American Citizen in real time, committing one of these dirty deeds to do exactly the same thing and not once did he ever deny it.  As Henry David Thoreau said in an essay on civil disobedience, "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation ... "  "Citizen Four" shows a man refusing to lead a life of quiet desperation and in step by step fashion, we see a man ruining his life to preserve the freedom of  others.  You're a goddamned, thieving criminal Mr. Snowden! ... So why don't I hate you?

BLIND DOG OZZY:  I can't ...

"BLUE" JIMMY:  Sake's Alive!


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