Watch John Oliver and Edward Snowden Discuss Dick Pics and Liberty
Does anybody actually care about NSA surveillance?
That was the primary question at hand when Last Week Tonight's John Oliver flew to Russia to meet with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Snowden has been living in the country (after a stint in the Moscow airport) since Russian President Vladimir Putin granted him asylum in August 2013.
At first, Oliver takes a confrontational tone, asking, "How many of those documents have you actually read?" He also demanded that Snowden "own" any mistakes or problems that arise from the leaking of harmful classified intelligence.
"So the New York Times took a slide, didn't redact it properly, and in the end, it was possible for people to see that something was being used in Mosul on al-Qaida," says Oliver.
While Snowden admits "that is a problem," he never comes close to walking back his actions.
Things get lighter when Oliver suggests that Americans don't care about domestic surveillance. A montage of innocent bystanders grapple with who Snowden is, and several confuse him with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
The comedian then suggests that the answer to it all ... is dick pics.
While there is no official "Dick Pic Program," Snowden confirms that "[the government is] still collecting everybody's information, including your dick pics."
"When you send your junk through Gmail, that's stored on Google's servers," Snowden adds, saying that by that point, it's easily within reach of Uncle Sam.
Does that mean Americans should think twice before sending them? Absolutely not, says Snowden, who then offers perhaps the most memorable defense of dick pics ever.
"You shouldn't change your behavior because a government agency somewhere is doing the wrong thing," he tells Oliver. "If you sacrifice our values because we're afraid, we don't care about those values very much."
So watch out — a #DickPicsForFreedom hashtag may be coming to a Twitter feed near you.
Joking aside, Oliver and Snowden continue to provoke important conversations about how much the government should know about us. As the U.S Patriot Act comes up for repeal, and more and more Americans are consistently shown to be against excessive government surveillance, it's something we should all be thinking about.