He's totally separated from everything he has ever known, from his family. He is always going to be a fugitive, until they get him. And eventually, they will. He will never see his family again unless they go to him. And if they do go to him, he'll no longer be in hiding. The only way that he can truly hide is to abandon his whole past, his entire life.
When he realizes that, he's going to be racked with depression. I would imagine that his stress levels are at a point where they could actually make him physically sick. I'm sure everything is gnawing at him. And he's isolated. If I were him, I'd latch onto a couple of reporters that I trusted. He has a lot of enemies now. He has the whole intelligence community of the United States after him, including all of its allies. I sure as hell wouldn't trust the Chinese government, if I were him.
CNN: At what point, in your case, did you realize there was no going back? Were you fully aware, at the time, of the scope and depth of the trouble you would be in?
Boyce: I realized immediately that there was no stepping back, that I was doomed, and that my life would never go back to the way it was before. I was surrounded by an impending sense of doom, knowing this was something that could not end well. I imagine he will probably start drinking heavily. That's what I did. Think of it: How much bigger trouble can you possibly get into? How could you make more enemies, more people who would like to kill you, than by doing what he has done? He's got to be having second thoughts about it. He has to go someplace where he's safe, and I don't know if China is it.
CNN: To what extent were you motivated ideologically and to what extent were you motivated by the excitement of being an outlaw? In your opinion, how much ego is involved in the whistleblower's mindset?
Boyce: Edward Snowden is 29. I was 21. At that age, I felt indestructible. Nothing bad could ever happen to me, or so I thought. You just don't think about these things when you're young. You believe that bad things happen to other people. But you learn, after a while, that that's not true.
My view of the government at the time was that it was just a monstrosity that was getting worse and worse. I didn't like it. I was motivated to hurt the government. I was nuts. I thought I was going to wage a one-man war against the Federal Government and that I was going to make them pay for all the rotten things they had done and were still doing.
Ego played a great part in that -- having my own secrets, being in the know of something, getting (one) over on the bastards. It's an all-empowering feeling, in a somewhat demented way. But what you're really doing is just walking into a buzz-saw. It certainly was exciting. I'm sure Snowden feels a similar excitement. But that excitement, after a while, is not a good excitement -- it becomes terror.
CNN: Considering the minimal amount of damage the information that you sold to the Soviet Union caused, do you think your sentence was out of all proportion with the crime you committed? There is a sense with these whistleblower cases that the leaker has stepped into a zone where normal laws no longer apply. Do you think the secret services are more interested in exacting revenge in the cases of Assange and Manning than in protecting the interests of the state they serve?
Boyce: Regarding my sentence for espionage, I don't know if the punishment was disproportionate. That's for someone else to decide. Of course, I'm a bit prejudiced on that. I certainly think they decided to make an example out of me. There were very few espionage arrests before I was arrested. People never went to court -- the government didn't want these things brought out. In my situation, however, they decided to make an example. And then I escaped from Lompoc federal penitentiary for 19 months. And then I decided to rob some banks. I can say that the sentence I was given for bank robbery was certainly just.
Do I think the government wants revenge against Snowden? Absolutely, they want revenge. They want to ensure anyone who even thinks about doing what he did does so with fear in their hearts.
With respect to these agencies wanting to protect the interests of the states they serve, I ask this question: Is it in the interest of the United States and the American people to have billions of their communications secretly monitored by a government? And to have Congress lied to about it? I don't think that's in the interest of the American people. Is the interest of the United States government the same as the interest of the American people? Not always. Not in this situation, anyway.
Of course, there's still a lot that has to be played out. But I think that revenge is the key driving force by those individuals who stand to get into a heap of trouble as a result of these secrets being made public -- the big shot bureaucrats in the national intelligence community. Not that it's in the interest of the American people to be kept in the dark about it, but simply because of the repercussions those individuals behind the scenes could face. They could be retired early, or lose their pensions, or be disgraced, or be hauled in front of Senate subcommittees, or all manner of bad things. I'm sure there are many things the NSA and CIA don't want the public to know about, principally because the players behind the scenes could get into serious trouble if it became known.