Source – democracynow.org
Greenwald joins us in the studio to talk about this and other new revelations about the NSA, including its global economic espionage, spying at the United Nations, and attempting to monitor in-flight Internet users and phone calls.
The NSA is doing invasive, stealth surveillance on its allies in their own consulates and embassies, even breaking into their offices and implanting surveillance devices within the machine. That’s the extreme lengths to which the NSA goes for spying that has always been deemed essentially illegitimate.
AMY GOODMAN: Today we bring you a Democracy Now! special: the first of a two-day interview with investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald. He has just published a riveting new book, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State. The book chronicles the inside story behind perhaps the biggest leak in the nation’s history.
Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras were the journalists who first met former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden in Hong Kong last June. Days after their first meeting, Greenwald published an explosive article in The Guardian about the NSA collecting the phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily. It was the first of hundreds of articles based on documents leaked by Snowden. And more disclosures are now coming out. Greenwald’s book includes dozens of previously secret NSA documents.
For his reporting on the NSA, Glenn Greenwald recently won a George Polk Award and was part of the team from The Guardian that just won the Pulitzer Prize in Public Service.
Glenn Greenwald came to Democracy Now!’s studios on Monday.
AMY GOODMAN: Glenn Greenwald, we welcome you back to Democracy Now! Great to have you in our studio for the first time since the Edward Snowden revelations, because of concerns you had of coming into this country with threats that you could be arrested. It’s great to have you here with your new book.
GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah, it’s great to be here, always great to be on Democracy Now!, and particularly in person, so I’m thrilled.
AMY GOODMAN: So, let’s go through the remarkable revelations in these documents, that you and Laura and other of these news publications have released one by one. Start with PRISM and then go on to what you think are the most significant now.
GLENN GREENWALD: The first story that we actually reported on was the bulk metadata collection program, where the NSA is collecting the telephone records of every single American every single day, so that they always know who we’re calling, who’s calling us, how long we speak, where we are when we talk, and the device that we use. And that was one of the reasons why the story had such a huge impact in America, was because this was not spying on Muslims in Muslim countries, which Americans are easily able to ignore or dismiss or justify, but spying on Americans domestically.
The second story which I think was probably even more responsible for the worldwide explosion was the PRISM program, because this program revealed that Facebook and Google and Yahoo and Skype and Microsoft were directly cooperating with the NSA in all sorts of extensive ways to ensure easy NSA access to the communications that take place through those companies. And the reason that was so significant is because, unlike the NSA story of 2005 that involved AT&T and Sprint and Verizon, U.S. domestic telephone companies, these Internet companies are the primary means that the entire First World, for lack of a better term, uses to communicate, and even lots of people in developing countries who are now looking to these companies as the primary means. So you’re not just talking about one country; you’re talking about hundreds of millions, probably billions of people around the world who use these companies. And so, to learn that the NSA had invaded these systems to such an extent made this a global story. I mean, I remember the day after we published PRISM, my email inbox was filled not just with requests for interviews from U.S. newspapers and U.S. networks, but from television outlets and newspapers all over the world, literally all over the world. And that was what made it such a global story.
And then I think every story after that, there are lots of very independent, individual significant ones, but I think what became apparent to people is that literally the mission of the NSA—and this is them in their own words—is to eliminate privacy globally. And that’s not hyperbole. Literally, their institutional mandate is to collect and store and, when they want, analyze and monitor all forms of electronic communication that take place between human beings around the planet. And once people understood that this extraordinary system of suspicionless surveillance, which was truly unprecedented in scope, had been created completely in the dark—I mean, no one knew about any of this, even though it had been done by allegedly democratic governments—it became more than a surveillance story. It became a story about government secrecy and accountability and the role of journalism, and certainly privacy and surveillance in the digital age.
AMY GOODMAN: Your book is called No Place to Hide. In it, you reveal previously—previously secret NSA files. Why don’t you go through some of those?
GLENN GREENWALD: Well, one of the first set of documents that I wanted to publish, that were new, was about this NSA mission—collect it all—because what had happened was when we first reported that Keith Alexander, the longtime chief of the NSA, went to the British version of the NSA, which is the GCHQ, and gave a speech and said, “Why can’t we just collect all of the signals, all of the signals all of the time?” the NSA’s claim was, “Oh, that was just an off-handed joke. You’re vesting far too much significance in this comment. That was just sort of an out-of-context quip that he made.” And the reality is, is that document after document after document in the NSA boasts of how “collect it all” is their driving mission. In fact, one document not only says what we want to do is collect it all; it says, our, quote, “new collection posture is collect it all, sniff it all, process it all, partner it all, exploit it all.” And so I just wanted to settle that debate once and for all, that the claims that the NSA is making versus the claims that we’re making don’t need to be resolved based on faith, but just look at what the NSA’s documents say.
There are other documents that talk about the strategic partners that the NSA has in the corporate world. In fact, they list 80 of their most significant corporate partners, that include companies like AT&T and Hewlett-Packard and Oracle, essentially the leading lights of the technological world. And we detail how they use those partnerships to access not only domestic communications, but communications all over the world. There’s lots of documents that detail—that are new—that detail how the purpose of the spying system is not to detect terrorist plots or national security plots, but is overwhelmingly economic in nature. They spy on the U.N. They spy on oil companies. They spy on corporations. They are spying on behalf of the Department of Commerce, which the NSA considers one of its, quote-unquote, “customers.” So that’s a big part of it.
And then, one of the biggest stories that’s new in the book is this program that really is quite remarkable, which is, all over the world, people buy routers and switches and servers, which are the devices that let corporations or municipalities or villages provide Internet service to large numbers of people at once, hundreds or even thousands. And there are American companies that are leaders in these products, such as Cisco. And what the NSA will do, whenever it decides that it wants to, is, once somebody orders a product from Cisco, Cisco then ships it to that person; the NSA physically intercepts the package, takes it from FedEx or from the U.S. mail service, brings it back to NSA headquarters, opens up the package, and plants a backdoor device on one of these devices, reseals it with a factory seal and then sends it on to the unwitting user, who then provides Internet service to large numbers of people, all of which is instantly redirected into the repositories of the NSA.
AMY GOODMAN: You, Glenn Greenwald, show a photo of this happening in No Place to Hide.
GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah, it’s courtesy of the NSA, because what this document is, is it’s an internal newsletter, where the NSA communicates with itself and essentially boasts of what it considers its, quote, “successes.” And it’s a very gushing, easy-to-read document that describes with excitement how they do this. And they even show pictures of them cutting open the packages and then resealing them.
AMY GOODMAN: So, they get the Cisco router—with the knowledge or without the knowledge of Cisco?
GLENN GREENWALD: It’s unclear. There’s certainly no evidence that Cisco knows about this or participates in it. They could be an unwitting victim. But at the same time, Cisco is listed as one of the NSA’s strategic partners, so they certainly cooperate in some way with the NSA. Whether they cooperate on this specific program or are victimized by it is something that we’re not able to discern.
AMY GOODMAN: So there’s a lot of people who are watching or listening or reading this right now, Glenn Greenwald, who are looking at their Cisco routers. Maybe they’re in the ceiling. Maybe they’re in some box somewhere. What should they be thinking or doing?
GLENN GREENWALD: You know, I mean, it’s hard to say. I mean, one of the remarkable parts about this story, this specific story, is that for many years the U.S. government has been warning the world not to buy routers, switches and servers from Chinese companies, on the grounds that the Chinese government is invading these products and putting backdoor surveillance devices onto them, and saying, “You cannot trust Chinese products.” And in fact, the largest Chinese technology company, Huawei, recently announced it was leaving the U.S. market, because they had been so demonized by the U.S. government that they couldn’t sell their products anymore. And so, to find out that the U.S. government is doing exactly that which they’ve been accusing the Chinese doing—
AMY GOODMAN: Or maybe saying it because they don’t—they want people—they want to push people in the direction of Cisco, so they can monitor?
GLENN GREENWALD: Precisely. I mean, it’s not just a case of typical gross hypocrisy, right, where the U.S. government criticizes another government for doing exactly that which they’re doing. That is there, of course, but it’s way more extensive than that. Here, I do think that a big part of the motive in warning the world off Chinese products is so that the world will instead buy the products that the NSA can invade.
AMY GOODMAN: Any more on Cisco and the memo that the NSA had that you read about Cisco?
GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah, I mean, there’s documents in which they discuss failures in the system and how to fix that and the communications that they’re losing because they’re not able to operate very effectively the Cisco routers and switches, just showing some kind of daily, banal problems that arise as part of how widespread this program is.
AMY GOODMAN: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, author of the new book, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State. We’ll be back with him in a minute.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. We’re speaking with Glenn Greenwald, the George Polk Award-winning, Pulitzer Prize award-winning journalist, who is back in the United States after, well, almost a year since those first revelations came out from Hong Kong. His new book, out today, called, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State. Let’s turn to Edward Snowden in his own words speaking to German television in January.
EDWARD SNOWDEN: I don’t want to pre-empt the editorial decisions of journalists, but what I will say is there’s no question that the U.S. is engaged in economic spying. If there is information at Siemens that they think would be beneficial to the national interests, not the national security, of the United States, they will go after that information, and they’ll take it.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Edward Snowden. Talk about economic espionage.
GLENN GREENWALD: This is a really critical point, not so much because the U.S. government has vehemently denied that they engage in economic spying—though they have—and not so much because they’ve accused other countries, particularly the Chinese, of engaging in economic spying while they do it—although that, too, is true—but it shows how deceitful the U.S. government is with its own public, because they have vehemently denied to American citizens that they engage in economic spying, and yet so many of the revelations that we’ve managed to report on, from targeting the largest Brazilian oil company, Petrobras, that funds huge numbers of Brazilian social programs, to spying on economic conferences that take place in various regions throughout the world that are designed to negotiate financial treaties, to spying on the World Bank and the IMF and the SWIFT banking system, are all about, obviously, spying for economic gain.
And there are documents in the NSA’s own archive, which we publish in the book for the first time, that simply state explicitly that a function of the NSA is to gain economic insight into what is taking place in the world. There are what the NSA calls its customers, which are the agencies within the U.S. government who submit requests to the NSA, just like any other customer would to a business, and ask it to spy on certain people. And some of those customers are the ones you would expect, like the CIA and the Department of Defense. But others are the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Commerce. Exactly as Mr. Snowden said, there are clear, ample mountains of evidence that the NSA engages in exactly the kind of economic spying that they’ve vehemently denied to the American people they engage in.
AMY GOODMAN: One slide presented by the NSA and GCHQ shows targets include, as you said, Petrobras, the SWIFT banking system, the Russian oil company Gazprom and the Russian airline Aeroflot. It says, “In 2009 … Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon wrote a letter to Keith Alexander, offering his ‘gratitude and congratulations for the outstanding signals intelligence support’ that the State Department received regarding the Fifth Summit of the Americas.” Shannon wrote, “[T]he NSA gave us deep insight into the plans and intentions of the other Summit participants.” Shannon went on to name Cuba and Venezuelan government—oh, and the—Cuba and the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez.
GLENN GREENWALD: Right. I mean, this was a really fascinating story, because this is part of actually what we had reported on in Brazil, and the amazing thing about the summit was that the summit was actually spearheaded by then-President Lula of Brazil, who wanted a regional summit to essentially let all of these countries who have tensions in the hemisphere band together on the one area where they can agree, which are economic contracts. And what this document showed is that Thomas Shannon, who was then at the State Department, was effusive in his praise for the NSA, essentially saying, “Thank you for letting us learn the negotiating strategy and what they were really willing to do,” these other countries in negotiating these financial contracts. And we broke that story in Brazil. And at the time, very awkwardly, Thomas Shannon was the U.S. ambassador to Brazil and was sort of the person who had been taking the lead in responding to our stories there and saying, “We don’t do this, and we don’t do that,” and then suddenly he was the one who got revealed to not only be leading and encouraging and cheerleading the spying and asking for it, but doing so specifically at an economic summit that Brazil itself had helped to organize. So it was a very awkward moment for Thomas Shannon.
AMY GOODMAN: And the response of President Dilma Rousseff? And again, this is a story you know extremely well, because you live in Brazil.
GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah, and I did, essentially, all the reporting on the NSA in Brazil. I mean, it was really interesting because the first story we did in Brazil, with O Globo newspaper, which is a large daily in Rio de Janeiro, was about spying on Brazilians indiscriminately, the collection of two billion email and telephone events each month by the NSA. And it shocked Brazilians, but the Brazilian government wasn’t particularly moved by that. But then, once we began reporting on things like the invasion of this economic summit, and particularly the targeting of President Rousseff herself, and then the targeting of Petrobras, and then finishing with the Canadian targeting of the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy, it became an enormous story in Brazil, to the point where President Rousseff, despite really not wanting to, was forced to cancel her state visit, her planned state visit to the White House, the first time a Brazilian leader was going to appear there, and then went to the U.N. and gave a stinging denunciation of the American spying program, while Barack Obama waited in the hallway and was next to speak. So, it was really some impressive leadership on the part of the Brazilian government, even though it took a lot of stories to get them there.
AMY GOODMAN: And, of course, President Obama just met with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and much of the coverage of what happened in Washington had to do with what was happening to her and her cellphone.
GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah, I mean, it was almost ironic. The same thing that happened in Brazil happened there, which was the first story that Der Spiegel broke about the NSA story was done by Laura Poitras and several Der Spiegel journalists, and the article was about spying indiscriminately on the German population. And the Merkel government really made clear that they didn’t really care about that much. They issued some meek denunciations but were very willing to ignore the story. Only once it then got reported that Angela Merkel herself was the target of surveillance did it suddenly become a serious issue. But that has now created real difficulties in the U.S.-German relationship because of the history of spying abuses in Germany, both under the Nazi regime, but especially the Stasi regime.
AMY GOODMAN: No Place to Hide, Glenn Greenwald, also includes a letter from a high-level Australian official asking the U.S. government to help it spy on Australian citizens.
GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah, I mean, this is a big part of the story, which is, if you listen to these governments, in response to the stories that we’ve been reporting, what they’ll say is, “Oh,” to their own citizens, “you don’t need to worry, because there’s all these restrictions on how we can spy on you. Yes, we can spy on the rest of the world as much as we want. But,” these governments say, “when it comes to you, our wonderful citizens, we have all kinds of legal restrictions.” And yet, what this document shows, that’s being published for the first time, is that what these governments will do is they will ask their surveillance partners to spy on their own people for them and then give them the fruits of that surveillance so they can learn everything that they want to know about their own population while pretending to abide by the legal restrictions that have been imposed on them.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, Glenn Greenwald, a lot of people are happy that in planes you can increasingly get access to the Internet. Can you talk about your new revelations in this book, GCHQ and NSA, their access to the Internet in planes?
GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah, I mean, you know, the reason why I published this story was because it reveals so much about how these agencies think. And, you know, the documents demonstrate that there have been tens—hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars spent to make certain that the NSA and the GCHQ can listen to any in-flight cellphone calls that they want, from those phones that are embedded on the seats in front of you, and, more importantly, to be able to monitor all Internet activity that takes place over the wi-fi service of a commercial jet. And they didn’t do this because there was a case where someone on a plane plotted something that they weren’t able to monitor. They’re not doing it because there are specific, targeted concerns. The reason they’re doing this is because they are obsessed with the idea that there might be some place on the planet that you can go for a few hours and communicate without their being able to monitor what it is that you’re saying. That shows the institutional mindset, which is there should never be a moment where you can develop the capability to go and speak without their surveillance net. And that’s the reason why they targeted airplanes as the one place left in the world, other than in person in the middle of nowhere, that you can actually speak or do things without their knowledge.
AMY GOODMAN: One NSA chart that you have lists some of the countries whose embassies and consulates were targeted by the NSA—the countries, as you mentioned, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, the EU, France, Georgia, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Slovakia, South Africa, Taiwan, Venezuela, Vietnam—and also lists the methods of collection. And you can explain some of them—computer screens, sensor collection of magnetic emanations. Go on from there, including jumping the air gap.
GLENN GREENWALD: Right, I mean, this is—the reason this document is so significant is because, as you can see, you know, we took some of the names of the countries that were on that list out, which were the ones that you would expect them to be targeting. But these are the lists of countries that are democratically elected, for the most part, and allies of the United States. And these are buildings that are supposed to be sacred. They’re consulates and embassies in the United States that are a crucial part of diplomacy, of the ability of nations to communicate with one another and have diplomatic relations. And what the list shows is that for pretty much every single one of these buildings, the NSA has invaded the communication systems and is collecting the information that take place, even with some really extreme tactics, like, for example, an air gap computer is a computer that is used that never connects to the Internet, the idea being that you can work with very sensitive documents on this computer, and since you never connect to the Internet, it’s almost impossible for someone to know what you’re doing. We use that as journalists all the time when we work on these documents. And the only way to, quote-unquote, “jump the air gap,” meaning to actually invade those computers, is to physically go into the computer itself and implant a surveillance device within it covertly. And what this document shows is that the NSA is doing even that kind of invasive, stealth surveillance on its allies in their own consulates and embassies, even breaking into their offices and implanting surveillance devices within the machine. That’s the extreme lengths to which the NSA goes for spying that has always been deemed essentially illegitimate.
AMY GOODMAN: Computer screens?
GLENN GREENWALD: Computer screens, computer—to be able to monitor what it is that they’re doing on their computers.
AMY GOODMAN: Magnetic emanations?
GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah, these are ways of essentially figuring out what a computer is doing, tapping into how it functions, and then being able to suck all the data up.
AMY GOODMAN: Customs?
GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah, I’m not sure what that is, actually. We’ve asked several experts. It could be, you know, some tactic that people aren’t aware of.
AMY GOODMAN: And the document you include from October 3rd, 2012, about the NSA targeting of, quote, “radicals”?
GLENN GREENWALD: You know, one of the interesting things is, obviously, people are very aware of the COINTEL abuses. I know you’ve had people on your show who actually participated in the break-in of the FBI and took the documents that unveiled that program. People are aware of J. Edgar Hoover’s abuses. The nature of that series of events is that the United States government looks at people who oppose what they do as being, quote-unquote, “threats.” That’s the nature of power, is to regard anybody who’s a threat to your power as a broad national security threat. And a lot of times people will say, “We don’t yet have the reporting in this case that shows that kind of abuse.” And a lot of that reporting is still reporting that we’re working on and that I promise you is coming.
But there has already been reporting that shows that—the document, for example, in the book that shows the NSA plotting about how to use information that it collected against people it considers, quote, “radicalizers.” These are people the NSA itself says are not terrorists, do not belong to terrorist organizations, do not plan terrorist attacks. They simply express ideas the NSA considers radical. The NSA has collected their online sexual activity, chats of a sexual nature that they’ve had, pornographic websites that they visit, and plans, in the document, on how to use this information publicly to destroy the reputations or credibility of those people to render them ineffective as advocates. There are other documents showing the monitoring of who visits the WikiLeaks website and the collection of data that can identify who they are. There’s information about how to use deception to undermine people who are affiliated with the online activism group Anonymous. So there are lots of—
AMY GOODMAN: No mention of Occupy?
GLENN GREENWALD: Right, no mention of Occupy, which hardly means that it wasn’t done. It could be by other agencies. It could just be documents that were not among the ones Edward Snowden collected. But it certainly is the case that they are targeting people who engage in similar kinds of political activism for surveillance targeting.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re speaking with Glenn Greenwald, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author of the new book, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State. If you want to get a copy of the show, you can go to our website at democracynow.org. When we return, Glenn tells us just who NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is. What is his life story? Stay with us.
Transcript – Part 2
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we turn to part two of our special, an extended interview with Glenn Greenwald, author of the new book, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State. Four weeks ago, Glenn Greenwald returned to the United States for the first time since breaking the Snowden story. He and filmmaker Laura Poitras flew in from Berlin to accept the George Polk Award. Days later, the Pulitzer Prize was given to The Guardian and Washington Post for their coverage of the Snowden leaks. Former NSA director, General Keith Alexander, criticized the Pulitzer Prize committee; he said, quote, “I’m greatly disappointed that we have rewarded those who have put so many lives at risk.” I asked Glenn Greenwald to respond.
GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah, first of all, I mean, as a journalist, I consider it sort of an additional prize that somebody like Keith Alexander is so angry at the journalism I’m doing that he’s willing to make those things up in order to discredit it. I mean, the idea of a journalist is that you ought to be adversarial to people like Keith Alexander. And I would be a lot more worried if he liked the reporting that we did and praised it than I am that he’s saying things like that.
But the thing that I think is so important to realize is, you know, if you go back 40 years and look at what was said about Daniel Ellsberg, who most people across the political spectrum now consider to have been heroic and justified and noble in what he did, the same exact things were said about him. In fact, Nixon officials went before Congress and accused him of being a secret Russian spy. They said that he put lives at risk. They said that people were going to die as a result of these disclosures, that he was a traitor, that he was engaged in treason—all of which have been proven to be utter fabrications.
And every single whistleblowing event that has happened since then, including the 2005 NSA story in which someone in the Justice Department told The New York Times about that program, the blowing the whistle on Abu Ghraib and the torture program and the rendition program, what WikiLeaks and Chelsea Manning did, this same rhetoric is constantly invoked, which is, if you shine a light on what we in political power are doing in a way that we haven’t authorized you to do, you’re going to have blood on your hands. I mean, there’s an obvious irony to being accused by a U.S. general who served in Iraq, of all places, of having blood on your hands or resulting—causing the death of innocent people. Nobody could ever surpass Keith Alexander and his fellow generals in their ability to do that. But the claim is made all the time, reflexively, without any evidence, because in reality the only thing that has been harmed by the disclosures is not the lives of innocent people, it’s the reputation and credibility of people like Keith Alexander. And so you can understand why they are so interested in demeaning it.
AMY GOODMAN: Now I want to ask you about the politics of the Pulitzer Prize. The Pulitzer Prize for Public Service that went to The Guardian and The Washington Post is perhaps the highest Pulitzer Prize.
GLENN GREENWALD: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s the first one named. And clearly, you and Laura Poitras led these teams. I mean, your—in the articles that are cited in The Guardian, your name is on one after the next after the next.
GLENN GREENWALD: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: And Laura Poitras is on both The Guardian website in bylining pieces, as well as The Washington Post.
GLENN GREENWALD: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: The two newspapers named. But technically, according to the rules of the Pulitzer, you each will have to say you were part of the team that won the Pulitzer, that you can’t be called a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, though, of course, here at Democracy Now! we will call you that.
GLENN GREENWALD: Right, thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: But what about the politics of this? Because although the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service usually goes to an institution, it often, even in going to an institution, cites the bravery of a particular reporter in reporting the series of stories. Can you talk about this?
GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah, I mean, I don’t think there’s any secret about the fact that the journalism that I advocate for and engage in is controversial among a large clatch of what I would call establishment journalists. I talked about before there being these unwritten set of rules that govern how you’re supposed to speak and what you’re supposed to do, that I consciously reject and set out to violate because I think they’re corrupting. And I’ve been a very vociferous critic of how the establishment media in the United States conducts itself, and that’s created a lot of animosity even before the Edward Snowden story. And so, the people who compose this committee are the targets of that criticism and also the targets of the reporting and the way I’ve tried to do the journalism. So it’s certainly understandable, and we’ve gotten reports that there was some effort on the committee to make sure that, you know, my name and Laura’s name didn’t sully their wonderful brand, you know.
But at the same time, I mean, the way I really look at it is, it is the prize that I’m glad that that was awarded, in part because I think some of the best reporting that has been done in history, including The Washington Post investigation of Watergate and The New York Times publication of the Pentagon Papers, won that prize, and that I do think, you know, what we tried to do was do the reporting in the public service. There’s certainly been no shortage of individual accolades and honors that Laura and I, and even Edward Snowden, have received. You know, I feel like we’ve gotten our due credit and much, much more. And ultimately, it really is true—and I think this has been a little bit obscured—is that we weren’t actually out there alone. You know, The Guardian did put its 190-year reputation on the line. We didn’t always agree on everything, but for the most part they did the story very fearlessly and very aggressively. There were teams of editors working on all of our stories, there were other reporters who were very brave and who did great reporting, and I think they deserved the award institutionally. And I think it’s obvious that a lot of the reporting that was won was reporting that I did, but they definitely deserve that recognition, as well. And, I mean, I definitely, overall, am thrilled with the way that the prize was awarded, even though I know there were these internal conflicts that I think are to be expected.
AMY GOODMAN: Does it also go to the issue of old media and new media?
GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah. I mean, you know, if you look at, for example, the way The Washington Post did its reporting, not only did they not send anybody to Hong Kong, which created a big rift between them and their source, but they published, I think, one story in the first several weeks, because I think that that—those were the kinds of rules. I mean, Bart Gellman is a great reporter, but the editors at The Washington Post are very much old-style, old-media, pro-government journalists, the kind who have essentially made journalism in the U.S. neutered and impotent and obsolete. And The Guardian is very much, especially in the U.S., this sort of newcomer, this outsider, this mostly web-based publication that has more of an Internet, new-media culture. And the reason I went to The Guardian is because they have a history in the past of deviating from this sort of very conservative, pro-government line and doing reporting that’s in the public interest. And I think that came through in how they stood behind the reporting and really supported it every step of the way.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the website that you are unveiling today, that is the backup information and documents with No Place to Hide?
GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah, one of the things that I insisted upon and that my publishing company agreed to is that whatever new documents were reported on in the book, I wanted to make sure that they weren’t only in the book and available to people who bought the book, but also online for free, because it’s information that ought to be public. And so, simultaneous with the release of the book today, we are publishing online dozens of new documents that are reported on in the book, including some of the ones that we’ve discussed, that I think shine a whole new light on the NSA and various programs that it has adopted.
AMY GOODMAN: And what is happening with The Intercept, your new web outlet that you and Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill have developed, with the support of Pierre Omidyar of eBay?
GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah, you know, the—I think we’ve published 12 or 14 new NSA stories in the three months or so since we’ve existed. And as I said earlier, we’re working on ones that I think are going to be among the biggest, if not the most significant, NSA stories still to come. And the benefit of it is, we have lots of reporters who are working on these with me and lots of editors and lawyers who are helping to make the story right. And we’re also simultaneously expanding, because we really sort of launched earlier than we were ready so we could do the NSA reporting, into the kind of daily news outlet and analysis provider that we intend to be.
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden, what happens to him now? It’s almost the first anniversary of Edward Snowden in Hong Kong with you releasing these documents. He has gotten political asylum, for now, in Russia. Talk about the debate that’s going on in the White House, in this country, about what should happen to him. He clearly wants to come home.
GLENN GREENWALD: He does, but he’s only willing to come home if he’s given a fair opportunity to make his case. And right now that is impossible. You know, there’s this sort of bravado that pervades the Washington political class and media class when they talk about Snowden, which is, “Oh, if he really believes what he did was justified, he should man up and come home and make his case in court.” But the way that they have created the rules that govern Espionage Act cases, which is what this would be, is that a defendant charged with violating the Espionage Act is barred from making the very defense that they’re trying to lure him into making or claiming he could make, which is: “I did what I did because it was justified.” That, a court would never allow. So the entire playing field of how the U.S. judiciary operates in these cases is completely warped and designed to ensure an unfair trial and an inevitable prosecution.
So, you know, he has asylum for a year in Russia. There are strong signs that that is going to be renewed, if not for another year, probably longer. There are also debates in lots of other countries, including powerful and influential ones like Germany and Brazil, about giving him asylum in those countries. So I think his future is relatively bright as far as being able to stay out of a cage in the U.S. prison system for the rest of his life. But where he ends up, I think, is still a question mark. But, you know, for him, I think, as long as he’s able freely to participate in the debate that he wanted to galvanize, and has galvanized, then he will feel very satisfied and happy.
AMY GOODMAN: And the debate that it has opened up in the United States, has it surprised you, who began this journey with Edward Snowden over a year ago?
GLENN GREENWALD: Oh, it’s surprised me greatly. I mean, I’ve been working on surveillance issues for eight years, and I know the difficulty of trying to induce large numbers of people to pay attention and care about them, because it’s a little bit more ethereal and abstract, and even a little bit remote, than, say, your inability to pay bills or to get health insurance for your children. And the ability that we’ve had to take these documents and show them to people, as opposed to just reporting on it and making them rely on what we’re saying, has been indispensable in engaging the public. I think it really shows the value of whistleblowing, not just for exposing specific programs, but for strengthening democracy and for the debate that is necessary to support it.
AMY GOODMAN: Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Glenn Greenwald. Visit our website at democracynow.org for part one of our conversation with Glenn, when he talks about the latest NSA revelations in his new book, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State.