After watching NBC’s ancho Brian William’s interview with self admitted spy Edward Snowden we see body language,facial language vocal tone and speech content which reflect arrogance, cockiness, anger, sadness, and even fear as he attempts to set the record straight about himself
As soon as we see the B roll footage of Edward Snowden walking down the hallway with NBC Anchor Brian Williams, who ventured to Russia to interview him, we can tell a lot from Snowden’s body language well before he opens his mouth to reveal that he was actually a trained spy.
We see two contradictory movements- side to side swagger which shows someone who is way too confident and thinks very highly of himself and on the other hand a hunched over, eyes looking down on the floor , hand in pocket gait complete with a and tight jaw. The latter shows that deep down he may not be feeling that confident and may in fact, be feeling some fear, as his hidden hand reflects his being protective and hiding his true feelings of fear and also sadness as we see later when he discusses wanting to come home.
This is not a warm and fuzzy interview as Williams physically distances himself from Snowden as Williams keeps him at a good arm’s length and even walks quickly so that he leaves Snowden a step or two behind as you can see in the photo above.
As they both sit down you see hear the arrogance in Snowden’s tone and see it in his body language as he describes who he really is and his training.
When he describes himself as a spy, Williams mentions how we think of James Bond as a spy and now spys may look more Ed Snowden than James Bond. It was interesting to note as you can see in the photo above that as Brian brings up James Bond, we see Snowden’s eyebrow raise in Sean Connery Style James Bond) . No doubt Snowden was flattered by this comparison as he subconsciously mirrors the Connery Bond eyebrow raise.
“I was trained as a spy in sort of the traditional sense of the word — in that I lived and worked undercover. As he says this he away and shakes his head which reflects a type of haughty movement. He then continues” overseas, pretending to work in a job that I’m not — and even being assigned a name that was not mine,” Snowden said. There is a tone of anger as he says. It is as though he feels forced into this.
He then uses his body language in an attempt to be emphatic about his work experiences and he taps his fingers with his opposite hand each time he presents a new job in his employment history on his resume, as you see in the photo above. Using his body language in this manner shows that he is angry he has been misrepresented. He demands to clearly and emphatically set the record straight. The finger tapping appears hostile and angry.
His anger at being misrepresented is reflected in his speech content as in a defensive tone says
“But what they’re trying to do is they’re trying to use one position that I’ve had in a career, here or there, to distract from the totality of my experience, which is that I’ve worked for the Central Intelligence Agency, undercover, overseas.”I’ve worked for the National Security Agency, undercover, overseas. (finger tap) And I’ve worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency as a lecturer at the Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy, where I developed…
As he says the word developed you hear the nuances of his tone as it changes with a slightly upward inflection. Here he clearly wants you to know how important he feels he was and that he didn’t just carry out orders. Instead he was the one who devised and invented “sources and methods for keeping our information and people secure in the most hostile and dangerous environments around the world.”
Then the pace of his speech pattern becomes more rapid which indicates he is angry as he makes a dismissive smile as you can see above reflecting reflecting how stupid he feels those in the government are who have depicted him as a “low level systems analyst,”
As he says this we see his smile get even broader. It’s a sarastic smile and an angry smile as you can see the lack of raised cheeks and the tight jaw.
Then just as he says “It’s somewhat misleading,” we see a very revealing micro facial expression of how he really feels . In essence. his smile was all along masking his true feelings. But it was finally revealed in a sudden serious flash of anger as he looks down and clenches his teeth which you can see in the above screen shot.
In essence he is extremely angry at people not looking at him as who he really is- a trained professional high level spy.
His constantly looking down and failing to make eye contact with his interviewer says it all. Its screams having something to hide as well as some real feelings of fear which he is attempting to mask.
Why did he decide to now, after almost a year speak up and out and clarify who he really is? It raises a lot of questions. Is his life in danger? Does he have a death wish? Does revealing he was a spy offer him some sort of protection? Soes revealing who he really was make him feel more powerful?
Was he not only a spy but a double agent? Was he working for Russia as well as for the US or was he always on Russia’s side? What made him turn if indeed he went over to the Russian side? Is that why they accepted him with such open arms?Is he a puppet or mouthpiece for Putin?
Russia under Putin has been so restrictive in having people speak up and out publicly. Look at what they did to the female punk Band Pussy Riot. They put these young women into gulags as they severely punished them for speaking out. Russians are not at all tolerant of any gay person who wants to speak out. So why are they allowing Snowden who is essentially now a Russian resident speak out so publicly. Is it to embarrass President Obama? Is it to thumb their nose at Obama who has put forth sanctions for the Russian’s involvement in the Ukraine? The question is why now?
When he was perceived as a low level technician who stumbled across an injustice it seemed to many like a David and Goliath story. Innocent little David taking on the Mean and Dangerous Goliath was a story that was palatable to many as they discovered that he released all of Goliaths secrets.
But now that Snowden was a trusted member of Goliath’s minions, it changes the entire perception of Snowden and not in a good way. If he did all of those high level jobs he said he did and worked for the CIA as a spy, he knew what he signed up for. He knew the requirements and what was expected of him. His job was to keep secrets. If the job was so repugnant to him or damaging to his psyche he could have opted out in some way But instead, he chose to spill the secrets of his job to the world. Whether it was a good thing or a bad thing can be debated forever. If it was a breech in the Constitution he needed to have consulted with lawmakers and involve them and not take this task on by himself in my view.
The bottom line is that there were some signals of fear and sadness leaking out in his body language as he spoke. His vocal and verbal arrogance in contrast to his non confident, anxious body language with bowed head and upward gaze say that he is indeed afraid of something and very well may be the reason he close or it was chosen for him to come forward now.
The fact that he said that coming home was foremost on his mind is also revealing. Perhaps things aren’t so rosy or secure in Russia as his temporary Russian visa expires in three months. As he talks of home and of how much he gave up in his “very comfortable life, “he purses his lips and we see a flash of sadness. This indicates that he doesn’t want to say more or he might get too emotional.
His level of arrogance is evident when he in a disgusted tone blames the US for “stranding him in Russia because they decided to revoke his passport. But what did he expect?
He is after all the govenment’s public enemy number one in the US who has charged him with theft and two counts of espionage. Government officials like Secretary of State John Kerry call him a “coward” for not facing the judicial system in America and essentially running away. Kerry says he is also a “dumb traitor” because he has now exposed a lot of mechanisms for terrorists to accomplish their goals in “making it harder for the United States to break up plots and harder to protect our nation.”
Snowden does not come across likable or sympathetic in the interview. In my view this may sway many who once supported him in the opposite direction, especially now that they learned he was a professional spy.His arrogance and bravado may be a coverup for his fear and sadness of not knowing what lies ahead in his future.