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17 September, 2016

New film tells the story of Edward Snowden

Here are the surveillance programs he helped expose

Oliver Stone’s latest film, “Snowden,” bills itself as a dramatized version of the life of Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower who revealed the global extent of U.S. surveillance capabilities.

Stone’s rendering of Snowden’s life combines facts with Hollywood invention, covering Snowden being discharged from the military after an injury in basic training, meeting his girlfriend, and training in the CIA with fictitious mentors (including Nicolas Cage’s character, most likely a composite of whistleblowers like Thomas Drake and Bill Binney). Snowden then goes undercover, only to see an op turn ugly; becomes a contractor for the CIA and NSA; and finally chooses to leave the intelligence community and disclose its vast surveillance apparatus, some of which he helped develop.

The movie hits key points in Snowden’s story, including his growing interest in constitutional law and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, some of the U.S. surveillance programs he eventually unmasked, and parts of his furtive meetings in Hong Kong with Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras (co-founders of The Intercept), as well as The Guardian’s Ewen MacAskill.

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