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October 28th, 2013
10:15 PM ET

Sean Penn on Edward Snowden: "A legitimate whistle-blower is one who is the curator of the information that they're distributing ... I don't think that that is the case with Snowden"

Monday evening's edition of "Piers Morgan Live" offered a decidedly Hollywood feel, as two-time Academy Award winner Sean Penn joined the program for a live interview from Los Angeles.

Well known for signature roles in such films as "Milk," "Mystic River," and "Dead Man Walking," Penn is equally passionate about a variety of human rights causes and often speaks openly and passionately about politics and world affairs.

As his conversation with Piers Morgan turned to Edward Snowden and leaked information on government agencies use of secret data-mining programs, the 53-year-old took exception with specific terminology:

"A legitimate whistle-blower is one who is the curator of the information that they're distributing," said Penn, referring to the tag often affixed to the former CIA employee and NSA contractor. "I don't feel that that's the case with Snowden ... I think that we will find forgiveness in our justice system and in our hearts when somebody has called foul on crimes ... by our government against our people, or against other governments or people."

In the truest sense of the word, Penn felt that gathering and sharing information can be a noble endeavor, so long as it's in the interest of protection, safety and transparency:

"The whistle-blower term is being associated with a blitz of information, based on the kind of narcissism of the so-called whistle-blower," he began, before explaining the ways in which the act can be positive. "I encourage the whistle-blower who sees that the constitution of our country is being violated and who takes the risk to sacrifice themselves, but they've got to be very careful."

Watch the clip for more of Morgan's interview with Sean Penn, and to learn about the actor's work with Haitian runners competing in Sunday's New York City marathon, check out The Long Run for Haiti crowdrise campaign.

For the next edition of "Piers Morgan Live," watch CNN every night at 9.
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Filed under: The Big Story
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Exposé Saudi Arabi

    How long will the Media stay silent about Saudi Arabia's brutality?

    October 28, 2013 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Runner

    NYC is the next 'major' marathon post-Boston? Clearly Mr. Morgan wasn't in Washington DC this weekend for the Marine Corps Marathon and it's 23,720 finishers, and the amount of those wearing "Boston-Strong" shirts.

    October 29, 2013 at 12:08 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. William

    You have to be a curator to be a whistle blower? Wow. Where do these people come from?

    October 29, 2013 at 12:17 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • KB

      ya, how exactly are those two connected? does this mean Sean Penn isn't an actor because he's not the curator of the theaters his movies are shown? I can't even comprehend what his point is.

      October 29, 2013 at 7:09 am | Report abuse | Reply
      • William

        Excellent point.

        October 29, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
      • Eric Palmer

        @William and KB

        I don't get the "curator" point, either, and I'm surprised because I find most of Mr. Penn's politics admirable.

        October 31, 2013 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
      • tom

        I think he chose his words poorly, but I believe I GET what his point was. What he is saying is Snowden was never a true 'insider'. He was not a 'policy maker', or 'decision maker' of any sort. Matter of fact, he was low rank and file, and going public has set him for life, assuming he avoids charges and extradition. He is the equivalent of a new sports reporter, who really doesn't know football strategy yet. He can 'report the game' fine, but has no insight. That said? I don't really know why that would be very relevant either.

        November 5, 2013 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  4. Brent


    I have watched you from the beginning of your actual socio-political campaign. To have an "intellectual" discussion with an American that essentially calls a quarter of the country uneducated because they didn't graduate from Santa Monica college and don't have the money to help the Haitians recover from their tragedies, is well who you have always proven to be. While I do not agree with what the tea party has done in the past two months I am not afraid to say the other side of the isle is just as at fault. Understandably, you pretend to understand this country and the principles on which it was created only because you have been blessed to know the spoils. You've never suffered here. You've never wanted here. You've never experienced what it is to be an American and fight for that dream to which it is so often referred. I for not one second deny nor wish any one person to not live and absolutely thrive in our country, for my father is from Manchsster, England. However, what does bother me is that when I see a prominent and high profile figure not only continue to promote his or her one-sided and more than biased opinion but promote his anger on national television when confronted by invited opposition; and I couldn't be more disappointed. You have valid political points and your arguments could very well influence the likes of your "uneducated" audience; however, your tactics have become violent and unacceptable, to which I truly hope ratings are not the driver. Please consider moving to an unbiased, two-sided, and educational program that allows the American people a chance to judge the facts for themselves, rather than cast a god-given right to vote because a celebrity television host told them so.

    God Bless you sir and wish you the best.

    October 29, 2013 at 12:48 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Nicole Joanna Haymes

    Our Country is Nothing without an Education! Great point!

    October 29, 2013 at 1:16 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. losangelesmobilemechanics

    Reblogged this on losangelesmobilemechanics.

    October 29, 2013 at 1:25 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Sven Penn

    Actors with agendas makes my head hurt. Sean Penn is an undereducated overpaid puppet. Please exit stage right!

    October 29, 2013 at 7:39 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. SIg-Britt

    I respect Sean Penn and feel he is a thoughtful, good American. I do think he's covering his A** here so to speak, and acquiesing to the powers that be and towing the party line about Snowden and Manning. Ellsberg himself defended both and insisted they were "whistle-blowers".
    In this article he hits the nail on the head...yet, the national dialogue has been directed
    and driven by the goverment agencies that need to be exposed....this talk of treacery,betrayl and traitor-ism. has obfuscated the issue... we need to be talking about what happens if these same people keep leading us toward a closed society. The real traitors here are those eroding our democracy.The spin doctors are in control and even people like Penn are drinking the kool-aid or he's afraid to say what he really feels on national television.

    October 29, 2013 at 10:29 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Finnski

    Asking Sean Penn for an informed opinion on Ed Snowden is apparently as useful as asking Daffy Duck for his thoughts on recombinant DNA technology.

    October 29, 2013 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. olecap

    We are at the point where anyone with any degree of notoriety, be it acting, rap music, sports, or comedic mediocrity (aka Maher) has whatever podium available to espouse their personal positions, educated or no, about whatever the "hot topic" for discussion is at this place in time. While I applaud Mr. Penn's efforts in Haiti to improve the quality of life (IF in fact he is still focused on that mission), I don't believe that his capacity for judgment on every social issue is
    pertinent, just because some numbskull shoves a mic in his face, validating his comments as those of import...

    October 30, 2013 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. sammy whie

    will quit piers as of today. i didnt know he hate american people so much. he need to leave and go back where he came from

    October 30, 2013 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. samuel johnson

    Sean who? I think I recall him in a movie or two years ago. None of his movies have ever been very good. He should move on to greener pastures. His views are so left that he comes across as a fanatic. Sad that he has drugged or pickled his brain to near senility.

    October 31, 2013 at 11:37 am | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Johnny Hutchinson

    As per Sean Penn and his ilk, Aesop had a good fable about the "Monkey Who Would Be King".

    November 3, 2013 at 12:57 am | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Haha

    Sean Penn seems frustrated.

    He needs to have another drink and beat his wife some more....

    November 3, 2013 at 1:34 am | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Terry Wojick

    How sad,,,Sean Penn selling out to the Feds

    November 4, 2013 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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    November 25, 2013 at 3:00 am | Report abuse | Reply
  17. mbckps

    why have you edited Mr. Penn's full statement on Snowdon? edited what he said to preclude anything negative (except, "narcissistic,, which most of your viewers have no clue the meaning of anyway)? y'all are becoming quite the "progressive" equivalent of FOX news (and the like)......

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