Greenwald on Snowden: there is more to come
A partial transcript of Glenn Greenwald’s talk at the Socialism Conference in Chicago last Friday is available on The Dissenter. It should be required reading for all aspiring journalists and part of any school of journalism’s syllabus. For anyone just emerging from a long coma, Greenwald is the Guardian journalist who published the Edward Snowden revelations about the NSA and GCHQ secret surveillance programmes.
For me there are two big takeaways: that the Snowden revelations have exposed as much corruption within the mainstream media as they have within the intelligence services; and there is much more to come from Snowden.
Let’s take the former first. Governments cannot deny the revelations, so they are left with two options: downplay the effect and discredit the sources. So we get politicians saying loss of privacy is a small price to pay for security; if you don’t do anything wrong you have nothing to fear; we operate strictly within the law and uphold the rule of law. All of these are false, misleading arguments; but are rarely challenged by the media.
We also get a steady stream of suggestions and innuendo that denigrate both Snowden and Greenwald. Snowden is a fame whore traitor who has endangered the life of NSA agents and put the public at greater risk of terrorist attack; and he was probably in the pay of the Chinese government anyway. None of this is supported by any serious argument or fact. Greenwald, of course, is as much a traitor and should be prosecuted for espionage for doing his job as a journalist – that very job that most other journalists shy away from.
For the latter — that there is more to come — Greenwald said of one coming soon, “It talks about how a brand new technology enables the National Security Agency to redirect into its repositories one billion cell phone calls every single day, one billion cell phone calls every single day.”
Verbatim from the transcript, Greenwald added:
What we are really talking about here is a globalized system that prevents any form of electronic communication from taking place without its being stored and monitored by the National Security Agency. It doesn’t mean they’re listening to every call. It means they’re storing every call and have the capability to listen to them at any time and it does mean that they’re collecting millions upon million upon millions of our phone and email records. It is a globalized system designed to destroy all privacy and what’s incredibly menacing about it is it is all taking place in the dark, with no accountability and virtually no safeguards and the purpose of our story and the purpose of Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing is not singularly or unilaterally to destroy those systems. The purpose is to say that if you the United States government and the governments around the world want to create a globalized surveillance system in which we no longer have any privacy in our individual lives or on the internet you at least ought to have us know about it, have you do it in the sunlight so that we can decide democratically whether that’s the kind of system and the kind of world which we want to live.
It is probably knowledge of that to come rather than that already revealed that has persuaded the US government to block access to the Guardian for US soldiers. After all, they have all sworn an oath to defend the US Constitution; and the real enemy of the Constitution is now a moot point.