I have often thought of Oliver Stone as a brilliant screenwriter, climaxing with the movie Scarface starring Al Pacino. As a director, I liked JFK and Natural Born Killers—which I thought were very ambitious. I also liked his movie The Doors for the style of his approach to the subject. But too often, Stone fizzles out in the second act and his movies never live up to the hype. Art and activism are tricky bedfellows and most of the time the result just isn’t very good—so when he brought out Snowden just before the 2016 election as an obvious appeal to get a pardon for Edward Snowden stuck in Moscow with his longtime girlfriend unable to return back to the United States due to charges of treason and espionage—I wasn’t all that excited to see it. However, due to the recent Wikileaks dump from the CIA called Vault 7 I thought it was time to at least see what all the fuss was about and learn the back story of Snowden. Disappointingly, the last act was flat, as most Oliver Stone movies have been for years where the big payoff sort of sputtered out the moment that Snowden learned that you could turn on a laptop and watch women undressing in their bedrooms. After that the story was really about a young twenty something who had his sensibilities hurt and had lost his nerve. A story that was meant to show Snowden as a hero instead showed to me a 29-year-old genius who didn’t know how to handle a veiled threat from the upper levels of the CIA.
When Snowden’s bosses at the CIA let the young contractor know that they had been watching him in his private time he showed a naiveté that couldn’t match his big brain and the two things crashed into each other. Snowden had been given too much access to too much at too early of an age. That scene based on real life was essentially the moment from the John Grisham novel—The Firm where a bright young prospect is nurtured along by older and wiser mentors only to have them reveal that they have control over every aspect of his life. It’s essentially a hazing ritual that goes on in just about every place on earth that deals with the flow of money—where gatekeepers want to let someone who might be able to knock them out of a job in a few years, know that they are in control until they decide to hand over the reins. According to Stone’s movie on Snowden—the kid got cold feet and let his mind erode away his logic. No, I don’t like that the CIA and FBI are spying on everything we do as Americans, but there is a better way to make the case than what Snowden did out of a neurotic grasp on reality.
One thing that did surprise me was how determined Snowden was to become a special forces trooper, and once he broke his legs joined the CIA. During his entry interview, he was asked what his influences were—artistically, and he stated pretty much verbatim what I would have said, Joseph Campbell, Star Wars, Ayn Rand and Thoreau. I also didn’t know that Snowden was a pretty straight-laced conservative who didn’t drink or smoke. After the first act I was pretty excited about Edward Snowden—he seemed to me to be a freedom fighter of a reasonable caliber.
But after watching him with his liberal girlfriend who was a sweet girl, but dreadfully naive—then with his co-workers, I realized who the guy was—and he was no hero. He is an excessively smart guy who essentially flew too close to the sun, and his wings melted. Down to earth he fell as The Guardian newspaper from England broke the story which they knew would embarrass the United States who was obviously struggling with a rogue government that had become the Deep State. There are a lot of parasites out there in the media who want with every fiber of their essence to see any American do anything to embarrass their country even if its justified. Because they are jealous of America and its reach into and around the world.
Now that the act is done however, there are lessons of plenty to go around. Our intelligence people in the federal government have assumed that everyone wanted to make that deal for security which I illustrated recently in an article about James Comey—and I’m not one of those people. I don’t need some pinhead in the CIA to protect me from a terrorist. If I see one, I’ll take care of it—better and cleaner than those idiots. I practically begged some terrorist in Paris recently to attack me—I was wearing my cowboy hat around a radical poverty-stricken Muslim neighborhood and there were no takers. These terrorists aren’t nearly as tough as the people in the CIA want to make them out to appear. The CIA dramatizes everything so that they can get funding and more power—just like everyone else. And when Snowden was confronted with an invasion of his privacy at the start of the third act of the Stone movie—he should have turned the tables on his bosses. That would have been the manly thing to do—I would have gathered up pictures of those CIA heads in every compromising position and published them for all to see with even the hint of a threat—instead of overreacting and doing the whole—“I’ll show you” thing and reveal every state secret. Needless to say, I couldn’t relate to how Snowden handled things in the second part of the film—he went from being very much in control and determined, to being a beaten young man under the emotional manipulation of a liberal girlfriend. As I said about her, she was sweet and would have been a good match for someone with a fraction of Snowden’s ambitions, and ultimately she likely changed him to the point that he didn’t have the sensibility to work for the CIA anymore seeing people blown up on deserted streets in Syria as designated terrorist cells complete with collateral damage.
The undercurrent of the Snowden film which could have been good—but wasn’t—was that America had no right meddling in other country’s affairs—which of course we do. When other countries don’t solve their own problems, their immigrants come knocking on our doorsteps—so to protect our own nation—we have to go into nations that still entertain socialism, communism, and extreme religions and do what we can to diffuse bad guys planning to harm Americans domestically—and if left alone to their own devices will steal planes and run them into buildings, or bomb us in our many public gatherings as a punishment for embracing capitalism. Snowden as a conservative changed during the film into something of a millennial crybaby and Stone seized on that aspect of the young man rather than that earlier much more conservative person. Snowden’s character arch went from something likable to something rather pathetic and I blame the CIA for being second-handers and latching onto the kid so fast because they were essentially out of ideas themselves.
I am all for dismantling the Deep State which was revealed by Snowden and most recently caught manipulating the Presidency of Donald Trump but I’m not willing to throw the baby out with the bath water. If I were Trump I’d make Snowden a deal, I’d prosecute him for sure under Jeff Sessions and make him go through the embarrassment of public scrutiny. But I’d put him into community service as an intelligence operative for a fraction of the cost of what he’s worth as a brilliant mind for 30 years. A little freedom cheaply paid is better than rotting in prison, and so long as he’s in Russia, or other places—he’s helping other bad guys out there beef up their personal security and he’s not working on behalf of the United States. With a mind like Snowden—he deserves a second chance not for his benefit, but for the benefit of our country. But his work would have to be more community service at a low wage instead of being thrown in jail only to be useless. It’s good to keep enemies close, and Snowden should be in the United States doing work toward the next generation of threats instead of letting people like Oliver Stone make movies like Snowden to support in an indirect way George Soros’ open border network. Yes, it’s a complicated problem but the solution is very easy. Make a deal with the kid and put him to work limiting his freedom for decades—and we’ll all be better off.
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