On Tuesday, Jared Leto will interview former CIA employee Edward Snowden, who leaked top-secret documents that showed the NSA was spying on American citizens. Yes, that same Jared Leto. The actor-musician, who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in Dallas Buyers Club and fronts the band Thirty Seconds to Mars, can now add interviewing some of the world's most famous newsmakers to his long list of accomplishments. You can tune in to Tuesday's episode featuring Snowden on AOL, host to Leto's web program Beyond the Horizon.
AOL, the former internet service provider of millions of millennials, has expanded its video offerings since its June acquisition by Verizon Communications. The $4.4 billion takeover was seen as a way for Verizon to up its online video content as more internet users watch video over wireless networks on their cell phones and tablets. Leto's program, which is not surprisingly "presented by Verizon," first aired in October and consists of about seven to 15 minutes of one-on-one interviews with famous personalities as varied as Deepak Chopra, the spirituality and alternative medicine speaker, and former Vice President Al Gore. The AOL landing page for the show is the easiest place to find the video, both Tuesday's and past episodes.
In a preview released by Mashable, Snowden talks about mass surveillance, and explains how everything people do online from Facebook posts, email, and online shopping is intercepted, collected, and stored. By letting the NSA do this, he says, citizens lose power in civil society, their influence and their rights because the data collection is done on everyone, investigating in advance just in case someday they do something wrong:
What the NSA will say is the difference is "yes we have it, yes we keep it, yes we do things with it", but we promise we won't use it for a bad purpose unless you're a bad guy.
In last week's episode, Leto interviewed one of his high school teachers who serendipitously is another CIA whistleblower. In a series of "odd twists and turns" John Kiriakou went from high school government and history teacher to CIA operative. He worked for the agency until 2004 and was the first official to confirm waterboarding of Al Qaeda prisoners in 2007. He was indicted in 2012 and imprisoned for two years for passing information on to reporters about CIA operations including the name of another CIA agent.
Kiriakou complimented Snowden in the interview and reiterated the warnings he gave his fellow whistleblower:
Ed Snowden opened so many doors for people around the world to discuss these issues. That courage is just so rare and so special. He risked everything. And because he did it in such a public fashion, the big guns were pulled out against him. And I told him, "Don't come home." I said, "You won't get a fair trial in the Eastern District of Virginia. Your jury will be made up of people from the CIA, FBI, DOD, Homeland Security, and every intelligence and defense contractor in Washington." I said, "Don't come home — not until the American people come to their senses and realize what a national service you have provided."
Tuesday's episode with Snowden will be the 10th and final episode of Beyond the Horizon. Given the high profile of his guests and AOL's goals to expand its video content — Making a Scene With James Franco debuted its second season in September — there's a chance we could see more of Leto in 2016. Let's hope so.