Snowden Vindicated—’Citizenfour’ Documentary Untangles the NSA Leak Saga

Ahaa

Laura Poitras unpacks a historic intel controversy.

Photo Credit: From the Citizenfour Trailer

Citizenfour must have been a maddening documentary to film. Its subject is pervasive global surveillance, an enveloping digital act that spreads without visibility, so its scenes unfold in courtrooms, hearing chambers and hotels. Yet the virtuosity of Laura Poitras, its director and architect, makes its 114 minutes crackle with the nervous energy of revelation.

Poitras, the first journalist contacted by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, mirrors her topic. She rarely appears on news programs or chat shows. She is a mysterious character in her own movie, heard more than she is seen.

But surreptitiously, Poitras has been a commander of a stream of disclosures for 16 months that have forced the NSA into a new and infamous era. Citizenfour demonstrates to the public the prowess that those of us who have worked with her on the…

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