Glenn interviewed Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Glenn Greenwald on radio today to talk about his new book, Snowden, and much more. Greenwald launched to international fame when Snowden sought him out and chose him as the reporter he trusted with top secret information on the NSA’s domestic surveillance program. Fascinating stuff.
On the show, Greenwald took on the doubters who think Snowden had selfish motivations and may even be collaborating with Russia.
"The debate about his motives has always confounded me," Grennwald said. "Put yourself in Edward Snowden's place, where you decided you would take tens of found of top secret documents from one of the most secretive agencies of world's most powerful government because you think there's serious wrongdoing hidden from your fellow citizens."
"You could sell it in secret to pretty much any intelligence agency on the planet and enrich yourself for the rest of your life without anyone knowing. If you were intending to harm your country or government, you could pass it secretly to adversaries of your government without anyone knowing about it," Greenwald said.
"He could have just taken it all and put it up on the Internet, if his goal were to have this indiscriminate publication and harm the country," Greenwald said.
"Instead, he did what you would want a whistle-blower in that circumstance to do; to meet with journalists who work with some of the largest news outlets in the West and say I am giving you this material, but based on promise that you will be extremely meticulous about going through every word of it and not publishing anything that can harm people, but instead only things necessary to inform the public debate," Greenwald said.
"So you can have different views on surveillance policy, the extent to which government should be spying on us, but I think it is hard to call into question his motives were anything what he says they were and patriotic, and he genuinely believed if the government is going to spy on us indiscriminately, without any evidence of wrongdoing, we ought to at least know about that," Greenwald said.
I agree with that," Pat said. "I think my problem comes later, where he seems to have cozied up in a pretty friendly way to Russia and Putin, and has great things to say about Putin and Russia. Maybe he's been treated well. But my suspicion now is he's a little too cozy with them and perhaps disseminating information to them"."
"I think the key word is suspicion," Greenwald shot back, "which is just another word for I have a tingling feeling that leads me to believe something even though I have no evidence."
"Edward Snowden didn't decide to be in Russia. He was actually flying through Russia, on his way to Latin America, where he intended to seek asylum knowing the Obama administration would put him in prison for the rest of his life. Like most rational people, he didn't want to be put in prison for the rest of his life. The reason he couldn't get out of Russia was because on the plane form Hong Kong to Russia, they revoked his passport, then told the Cubans, if you let him pass through to Latin American, there will be all kinds of recriminations for you," Greenwald said.
"So yes, he did seek asylum in Russia. It was the only alternative he had, but he's been quite critical of Russia. He wrote an op-ed in 'The Guardian' saying Putin lied in that television appearance he did where he asked him about mass surveillance in Russia. He said Russia engages the mass surveillance against their own citizens as well and is quite oppressive," Greenwald said.
He's been pretty outspoken, but the reality is right now the Russian government is the one thing standing between him and an American cage for the rest of his life. So I think it's easy for us to say he should stand up and denounce Putin more aggressively, but he's been put in a very difficult position," Greenwald said.
"But there's zero evidence that he gave a word or a piece of paper to the Russian government. And why would he? Why would he unravel his life and risk going to prison to stop mass surveillance in the United States, only to then help the Russian government figure things out. That's not what he has done. There's no evidence for that because he hasn't done it," Greenwald said.
"For a more comfortable life in Russia," Pat said.
"But he already proved to you, given the choice between a comfortable life and sanding up for what he believes is right, he will choose stand up for what he believes is right and give up a comfortable life. He already had a comfortable life he gave up," Greenwald said.