Stephen Colbert Slams Both the NSA and Edward Snowden

colbert1In my opinion, Stephen Colbert is a bit of an enigma.  Similar to people like Zach Galifianakis or Will Ferrell, he seems to live much of his life in a state of perpetual satire and character.  Even when outside of the confines of his show, it’s rare that you see him act in any form of serious manner.

So when I came across a recent speech where he spoke somewhat candidly about the NSA and Edward Snowden, I was intrigued.  And while he wasn’t completely serious throughout his speech, he definitely expressed several opinions that you could tell he strongly believed.

I wasn’t aware that Colbert actually believed Snowden belongs in jail.  Being someone who’s obviously a liberal, especially a popular liberal media figure, history tells me that they often side with those who think Edward Snowden is some kind of a hero.

I, like Stephen Colbert, do not.

Colbert was speaking at the RSA Conference when he decided to address a petition that demanded he side with the boycott alleging that RSA’s parent company is colluding with the NSA.

Colbert then went on to say that there was no evidence to support the Rueters story by Joseph Menn that claimed:

“Documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show that the NSA created and promulgated a flawed formula for generating random numbers to create a ‘back door’ in encryption products.”

He then went on a more serious note saying that “time and time again” Americans have supported the policies for which the Patriot Act allows.

“We the people voted for the Patriot Act. We voted for the people who reauthorized it, and re-reauthorized it. The American people have spoken,” he said. “You don’t change horses in mid-wiretap.”

But he didn’t exactly give a ringing endorsement of the NSA either, mocking how such a “sophisticated agency” like the NSA “can get pwned by a 29 year old with a thumb drive.”

He then further slammed the NSA, saying, “We have solid proof that this program saved zero lives. It was designed to root out terrorists. It shouldn’t bother you if you’re not hiding anything, and since you can’t hide anything from the NSA, nothing is bothering you.”

Then during the question and answer portion someone asked him about Edward Snowden, “Why, if Snowden was concerned with letting us know how we are spied on, why did he let us know how we spy on other countries? I think we should spy on other countries.”

Which is similar to the points I’ve expressed to people.

It’s not exactly as if I agree with all the policies of the NSA, but it wasn’t as if Edward Snowden simply grabbed a handful of documents hoping to expose the NSA programs which collected the phone records of Americans.  He then went out and exposed how America spies on certain countries in what seemed to me like an attempt to bribe certain nations into to offering him asylum.

I’ve said it before, I don’t believe for a moment that he hasn’t given something over to the Russian government.  They don’t have to turn him over to the United States but they could force him out of their country – and they haven’t.  To me, it’s clear that he’s been collaborating in some kind of way with Russian officials.

Colbert closed by saying that the “greatest threat to our security” was not knowing where the money comes from in politics and those who don’t vote.  Which I’ve also maintained is exactly true.

As Americans we often complain about our government, but the undeniable truth is that none of these politicians get elected without our votes.  The Congress and government we often complain about is the Congress and government we elected.  

I just found these comments by Colbert to pretty interesting.  Any time you see someone who seems to live a life frozen in perpetual satire it raises a few eyebrows when they take a serious tone on mainstream issues.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • Edward Krebbs

    I’d put it that he is first and foremost a satirist. He is closer to the middle of the road than extreme to either side. The combination of satire and non-extremist makes it difficult to determine his true position as well as attempting to place his positions in a rigid party line.

    • Sunny Ray

      I totally agree with you. I’d just add that his “lack of clearness” (which I’m sure is in purpose) shows that he is an excellent comedian and satirist as you mentioned, and that he should stay where he belongs, tv show… I would love him to go further and deeper on important debates because he is a veeeeeery smart guy, but not like that. You can’t play two different roles within one status.

  • Boris Wigglebotton

    I was puzzled by the outrage over the NSA wiretapping since the Patriot Act was put in place back in what…. 2004? What were people thinking? “Here’s an act that let’s the government spy on you.” … “Ok fine.” …. “The government is spying on you”…. “What the???”

    I don’t agree that Snowden must have given the Russians something. The fact that Snowden embarrassed the US government and revealed our internal surveillance program makes Putin look less evil since his reputation is to be the central scrutinizing control freak. Anything that appeals to Putin’s ego by making America look more like Russia is bound to win points is my guess.

    • Jonathon See

      Patriot Act was signed into law a record speed of 48 hours after 9/11/2011, so 9/13/2011.

      • LL11

        And you know NO ONE read it.

    • LL11

      They have been saying for years they don’t track Americans; unless they get calls from overseas, yada, yada, yada… lies, lies, lies.

  • LL11

    I am a big fan of Colbert’s and usually agree with most of his opinions. However, in this case, you and Colbert are wrong, wrong, WRONG. Snowden did what was right. And no, “WE” did not vote for the damn “Patriot” Act”…. the American people do not support this vast state surveillance.

    • Melvin Moten

      Well said. I despised the Patriot Act when the Bush/Cheney war criminal axis started it and I’m ashamed the Obama administration continues to rationalize it. If YOU like it, swell but saying that WE like it is the height of presumption. You may as well say I voted for Bush.

      • lil

        c’mon now. We all know on Colbert’s side it’s 99% probably over stated parody.
        I mean “war criminal” for one.

        Just watch out for the ones who claim it’s not. The new talking point. “see, even colbert hates snowden”. Bit like this article.

        Can’t defend the NSA/GCHQ and WORLDWIDE spying on everyone. cough cough*
        Attack the messenger by any means.

        NSA using other countries to spy on “their” country…etc…
        I wonder why countries spying on other countries is relevant. Who knows?

        NSA and Pro-Establishment apologist’s Logic:
        Can’t defend that the murderer killed 1,000 people. But that man had no right to tell anyone about it. He is the real criminal for telling people.

  • hue

    “”It’s not exactly as if I agree with all the policies of the NSA””, but


    Here comes the white knight to rescue the Five Eyes.

  • lilbear68

    what happened? did this nitwit accidently step into this room to empty the waste baskets and sweep up and someone inadvertently ask him a question?