Synopsis: In January 2013, Laura Poitras started receiving anonymous encrypted e-mails from "CITIZENFOUR," who claimed to have evidence of illegal covert surveillance programs run by the NSA in collaboration with other intelligence agencies worldwide. Five months later, she and reporters Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill flew to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with the man who turned out to be Edward Snowden. She brought her camera with her. The resulting film is history unfolding before our eyes.
Director(s): Laura Poitras
Production: Radius-TWC
  Won 1 Oscar. Another 43 wins & 35 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
114 min


"Laura, at this stage,

I can offer nothing more than my word.

I am a senior government employee

in the intelligence community.

I hope you understand that

contacting you is extremely high risk

and you are willing to agree

to the following precautions

before I share more.

This will not be a waste of your time.

The following sounds complex

but should only take minutes

to complete for someone technical.

I would like to confirm out of email

that the keys we exchanged

were not intercepted

and replaced by your surveillance.

Please confirm that no one has

ever had a copy of your private key

and that it uses a strong passphrase.

Assume your adversary is capable

of one trillion guesses per second.

If the device you store the private key

and enter your passphrase on

has been hacked,

it is trivial to decrypt

our communications.

Understand that the above steps

are not bulletproof

and are intended only

to give us breathing room.

In the end, if you publish

the source material,

I will likely be immediately implicated.

This must not deter you from releasing

the information I will provide.

Thank you, and be careful.


Bottom line is... surveillance means

that there are facts

that we no longer abide to.

If you take away the surveillance,

there are no facts that

the government can manufacture.

Ah, that's right, and this is all

about creating an independent record.

To me, this goes to the question

of independently verifying

what the government is doing.

That's why I keep going

back to that question.

More with David Sirota after CBS news,

traffic, and weather

on KKZN Denver/Boulder, AM 7...

Hey, can you hear me?

I am here, David, how are you?

Well I would just point...

start by pointing to

what Barack Obama himself

said about those questions

when he was running for the office

that he now occupies.

In December of 2007, he said, quote,

"The president does not have

the power under the Constitution

to unilaterally

authorize a military attack

in a situation

that does not involve stopping

an actual or imminent threat

to the nation."

So by Obama's own words,

the president does not have the power

that he is now exercising

under the Constitution.

And as far as why it matters,

in... on August 1, 2007,

when he laid out his reasons

why he was running for office

and why he thought it was so important

to change the way we were doing things,

he said, quote, "No more ignoring

the law when it's inconvenient.

That is not who we are.

We will again

set an example for the world

that the law is not subject

to the whims of stubborn rulers..."

You asked why I picked you.

I didn't. You did.

The surveillance you've experienced

means you've been "selected,"

a term which will mean

more to you as you learn about

how the modern SIGINT system works.

For now, know that

every border you cross,

every purchase you make,

every call you dial,

every cell phone tower you pass,

friend you keep,

article you write, site you visit,

subject line you type,

and packet you route

is in the hands of a system

whose reach is unlimited,

but whose safeguards are not.

Your victimization by the NSA system means

that you are well aware of the threat

that unrestricted secret police

pose for democracies.

This is a story few but you can tell.

Thank you for inviting me here

to give me the opportunity

to express my story.

Let me give you some of my background.

I spent about four years in the military,

and then I went into NSA.

Directly, so...

So I ended up with about

37 years of service combined.

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Citizenfour" STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 28 Sep. 2023. <>.

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