Security Advisor

Glenn Greenwald: 'Significant' Government Surveillance Change Coming

The lawyer and journalist responsible for providing many of the details on government surveillance from Edward Snowden conducted an online Q&A on Wednesday.

It's been a very busy year and a half for American lawyer and journalist Glenn Greenwald.  Since being contacted by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, he's been one of the lead stewards of the countless documents and slides detailing the U.S. government's surveillance initiatives. Along with playing essentially the middle man between Snowden and news outlets like The Guardian, and The Intercept (with his work at The Guardian gaining him a Pulitzer this year), he's kept a busy speaking schedule on the issues of privacy and government surveillance.

Today Greenwald and colleague Murtaza Hussain from The Intercept took part in an online public question and answer session on this morning to discuss their recent article outlining five Muslim-Americans being actively monitored by the NSA and to field general questions on privacy and the impact they feel the year-plus-long information leak has had.

Responding to a question about the slow drip of constant information relating to the NSA's surveillance activites, Greenwald said that the decision to go this route over a large information dump was to maintain a constant level of public interest and debate.

"Aside from the fact that our source, Edward Snowden, insisted that we report the stories one by one, I think this method has proven to be the best for public consumption," Greenwald wrote. "I've been amazed at how long the interest level in this story has been sustained, and how intense it has been all over the world, literally."

Elaborating more on the impact of his and other's reports on the world, he discussed how, even after a year, media coverage of his speaking engagements and the turnout is still massive and he has not seen much in the way of disinterest over that time.

"There has been a major, profound debate around the world, not just in the U.S., about a variety of key topics: the dangers of state surveillance, the value of individual privacy in the digital age, the menace posed by government secrecy, the actual role of the US (and Obama) in the world, the proper relationship between journalists and those who wield the greatest power," Greenwald said.

And while he said he can't predict the eventual outcome of his reporting and  public debate, he believes " it will be significant."

While not providing a yes or no answer to the question on whether the NSA department is "salvageable" and able to fundamentally change how in conducts, Greenwald makes it very clear that it would be hard for the agency to make a complete turnaround. "Embedded in the agency is now this view that ALL communications both domestically and globally should be collected and stored: that it is all their domain. I don't see how you expunge such a deeply ingrained belief in their culture."

Greenwald and Hussain also fielded questions on their own personal safeties in reporting the issue, on which groups are being directly targeted for surveillance by the U.S. government and how foreign reaction to the U.S. surveillance leaks has been. You can read the entire Reddit AMA (ask me anything) conversation here.

What's your take? Many questioned Greenwald and  Hussain that the slow information leak has been both overwhelming and has led some to become apathetic. What's your interest level in the Snowden reveals a year in?


About the Author

Chris Paoli (@ChrisPaoli5) is the associate editor for Converge360.


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