Spy Edward Snowden’s Body Language Shows Arrogance, Cockiness, Anger In Trying To Set The Record Straight But Fear and Sadness Wanting To Come Home

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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.


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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.

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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.”

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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,”

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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13 thoughts on “Spy Edward Snowden’s Body Language Shows Arrogance, Cockiness, Anger In Trying To Set The Record Straight But Fear and Sadness Wanting To Come Home

  1. “If the job was so repugnant to him or damaging to his psyche he could have opted out in some way” — I think not. It’s not just another job, and NSA/CIA could simply blackmail him back to work. The conventional story from him being morally indignated over the breach of ordinary citizens’ personal integrity is a plausible story in itself — it fits his rage. There could also be an aspect of personal grudge against leaders in NSA. He *could* have been a double spy, but then why want to go home after making the grand revelation? Was he forced to make it, or was he just naïvely trying to “save the world?” (He did, for another very short time). Was he duped/manipulated by someone?

    1. I don’r see anything naive about him, He was a sophisticated spy that took things into his own hands because of ego and arrogance as we saw in the interview. And if he was indeed was overly distressed by his job he definitely could have transferred to another position. And even a double spy could want to come home because they miss their old life of nice things and good food and freedom.

  2. He knows a lot more than what he’s said of a corrupt government and Kerry knows that he will stop before revealing just how bad it is.The American people don’t want to know the truth and so it’s painstakingly kept from them. Snowden likely fears being killed because of what he knows so he chooses to sidestep the real issue. He is in danger of being knocked off by none other but his own people! If and when it happens it’ll likely be an “accident”and it’ll be all hushed up and the people will say it serves it right and go on in their ignorant ways.
    All countries need spies but when evidence is found they don’t want to have revealed to the common folk.they make it rough for said spy. He is not a bad guy, he’s just the messenger here!

  3. I have to strongly disagree with your conclusion that Snowden did not come across as likable or sympathetic. I am not specifically trained in decyphering body language, but I worked as a criminal defense attorney for 30 years, and I watched the interview with my wife, who has been a psychologist for 30 years, as well. We both thought that he came across as very open and not at all arrogant or cocky. He was incredibly calm and eloquent. I also thought that his eye contact was appropriate; to me, it seems odd if during a long exchange, one doesn’t occasionally look away from the person to whom he is speaking and to look down. Of course, there must be significant eye contact, but if he had constantly made eye contact with Williams, that, to me, would have seemed far more “cocky”. I can honestly say that if a criminal defendant client of mine on the witness stand answered questions as Snowden did, I would be ecstatic. He truly came across to me as someone with nothing to hide, someone who was telling the truth as he knows it, and someone who is a true patriot. (I actually thought that Brian Williams, a newscaster who I generally respect and greatly admire, came off much worse than Snowden did. At times, he seemed outgunned, somewhat sheepish and ill-prepared.). It amazes me that you could have reached a conclusion about Snowden that is so different than the conclusion reached by my wife and me. I am more sympathetic toward him now than I ever was.

  4. Just realized that I spelled “decipher” wrong in the post above. I’m not sure what word I was thinking of when I typed it, but it clearly wasn’t the correct one.

  5. I agree with Lorraina and with Jim Farmer. I find Snowden direct, open and forthcoming. He did not side step any questions put forth to him. He is a highly intelligent man. It does not surprise me that his supervisors did not understand the programs Snowden found worrisome because they intrude into the lives of the average citizens. He discussed his concerns with his colleagues. The average reaction from both his supervisors and colleagues was you are likely right, BUT do you know what happens to people who stand up and talk about this?

    During my fairly lengthy time living here in the U.S. I notice people often prefer not to know more than is required of their job, most people prefer not to upset the apple cart, and prefer to remain silent to keep their job. On some level they get the message do what we say, and don’t ask too many questions if you want to keep receiving your pay check.

  6. Thank you so much for this in-depth analysis. It makes me feel as if I’m not crazy! As I expressed my views to friends, indicating that I could sense Snowden’s arrogance, no one seemed to agree with me. Arrogance is easy to recognize if you’ve ever lived for a long time with someone who acts and moves the same way and has a belief system that he or she knows what to do much better than any one else. It comes, I believe, from having a significant authority figure in youth such as a mother or father who were less intelligent than you coupled with that person emotionally abandoning you. (I wasn’t surprise to see that his parents were divorced, and not to play the psychologist, I would venture a lay person’s guess that the sorrow behind his arrogance started there.) Arrogance, intelligence, and the gift of logical articulation are a dangerous combination because someone with those qualities can dupe every one around him or her, much like a con-man does. He out-logics everyone! Because the issues he brings forth have definite merit, we have millennials especially are viewing him as a hero, when in fact, he was essentially a young person too lazy to do the hard work of changing the system without endangering others. He assumed he was the “smartest kid in the room” but he forgets that there are millions of rooms with millions of smart kids who work to make change without endangering others by not knowing exactly what they’re doing. His was a paradoxically very selfish and arrogant act in my view. As one who has always admired eccentricity as a virtue and who has walked on the side of social justice, I don’t find his acts admirable. Rather, I find him to be an emotionally hurt young man who put at risk more people than he or we will ever be able to know.

  7. Thank you so much for this in-depth analysis. It makes me feel as if I’m not crazy! As I expressed my views to friends, indicating that I could sense Snowden’s arrogance, no one seemed to agree with me. Arrogance is easy to recognize if you’ve ever lived for a long time with someone who acts and moves the same way as Snowden does and who believes that he or she knows what to do, much better than any one else. It comes, I believe, from having a significant authority figure in youth such as a mother or father who were less intelligent than you were, coupled, perhaps, with that person emotionally abandoning you. (I wasn’t surprised to see that his parents were divorced. Not to play the psychologist, I would venture a lay-person’s guess that the sorrow behind his arrogance started at that time of his life.) Arrogance, intelligence, and the gift of logical articulation are a dangerous combination because someone with those qualities can dupe every one around him or her, much like a con-man does. He out-logics everyone! (I thought Brian Williams’ body language indicated that even this seasoned journalist was a bit intimidated by him).
    Because the issues of privacy that Snowden brings forth have definite merit and have been sloshing around in everyone’s mind of late, we have many, especially new Millennials and young First Globals, viewing him as a hero, when in fact, he was essentially a young person too lazy to do the hard work of changing the system without endangering others. He had a definite obligation to bring forward his concerns until they were heard. However, he assumed he was the “smartest kid in the room,” forgeting, or not wanting to recognize, that there are millions of rooms with millions of smart kids who work to make change without endangering others by actions which indicate that don’t exactly know what they’re doing. His was an ironically very selfish and arrogant act in my view. As one who has always admired eccentricity as a virtue and who has walked on the side of social justice, I don’t find his acts admirable. Rather, I find him to be an emotionally hurt young man who put at risk more people than he or we will ever be able to know. It was not his to decide, but his arrogance made him think it was.

  8. It seems, Dr Glass, that you only respond to comments left that are in agreement with yours and that you, therefore, think are “excellent”. Let me be clear: I understand that you have studied body language and that you are likely considered an expert in your field. Like many of us, I don’t have that background, and I respect the fact that you do. However, I’d like to know what you think about the fact that I and others – legions of us, according to what I’ve seen on the internet – have reached conclusions that are in direct opposition to yours.

    As I said in my other post, I am an experienced criminal defense attorney and my wife is a very experienced psychologist. We bring alot of lifetime experience to this discussion. In our view, Snowden sat in a position that suggested openness. He responded to every question directly, a rarity in politically oriented interviews these days. And he did it in complete, intelligent sentences to boot! To me, he didn’t seem like he had an ax to grind, and he certainly never raised his voice. I thought that he was often conciliatory and modest in the answers that he provided. As I tried to indicate before, I think that eye contact is very important; I can’t tell you how often I talked to clients about it over the years. And I think that Snowden’s eye contact was more than approriate here. To me, constant eye contact smacks of rehearsal amd acting, and it makes the person not come off as truthful.

    I agree with you that Snowden seemed vaguely sad at times; of course, he’d like to come home to the US for any number of reasons. But I don’t see arrogance in the interview. Of course, one could – and probably should – conclude that his initial act of stealing/providing the documents and information that he did was arrogant. On some level, he apparently felt that only he could really take the bull by the horns and do what needed to be done, and that is arrogant. But that doesn’t necessarily make what he did wrong. And nothing that he did in the interview seemed arrogant or caused me to conclude that he is an arrogant person generally. I saw kindness, openness, honesty.

    So I guess I want to know is what you have to say to me, my wife, and many others who are educated and have been around the block more than a few times. Your conclusion that he is not likable or sympathetic goes against everything that I have learned and that I feel. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt in most situations, and I really try to listen to what they’re saying and how they’re saying it before jumping to conclusions. Since I think that you think – or at least originally thought when you wrote your piece – that people like me would have been likely to reach exactly the opposite conclusion that I did about Snowden’s likability, what is your response to the fact that I didn’t reach that conclusion? And does anything that I, or anything that any of the other dissenting voices have offered, change your opinion at all?

    1. No true I respond to people who agree and disagree with me. I heard an arrogant tone throughout the interview- the upward lilt was evident. Obviously there were times when he was explaining how things operated where there was more objective speech patterns but when he enumerated his credentials and on other parts I discussed in my blog I heard an arrogant tone. Eye contact is indeed inport and and when a person constantly looks down and breaks eye contact when discussing specific issues as he did it is revealing. Of course constant starring would be suspect but that is not what I am talking about here. Arrogance is not likeable to me. I appreciate your expertise as a criminal attorney and and respect that but in this case I am sticking to what I said inmy blog. As I said earlier, we can agree to disagree.

  9. Dr. Glass: Please do an evaluation of the preview tape of the Kate Plus 8 special. Thank you,

    Jill Scacco

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