Glenn Greenwald has refuted a Reuters report that suggested that he or Snowden were blackmailing or threatening the US government with leaks of classified materials.
A number of news outlets have characterized an interview of Glenn Greenwald as representing a threat to the US government. For example, Reuters/Huffington Post said:
Fugitive former U.S. spy contractor Edward Snowden controls dangerous information that could become the United States' "worst nightmare" if revealed, a journalist familiar with the data said in a newspaper interview.The original interview is here.
"Snowden has enough information to cause harm to the U.S. government in a single minute than any other person has ever had," Greenwald said in an interview in Rio de Janeiro with the Argentinian daily La Nacion.
"The U.S. government should be on its knees every day begging that nothing happen to Snowden, because if something does happen to him, all the information will be revealed and it could be its worst nightmare."
Reuters hasn't misquoted Greenwald that I can see, but it decontextualized what he said in order to sensationalize it. Greenwald points out what they cut out of his answers. For example:
"Q: Beyond the revelations about the spying system performance in general, what extra information has Snowden?For Snowden to have created an insurance policy for himself by having damagingdocuments released if he is murdered is very different from Snowden planning to release documents to damage the US.
"A: Snowden has enough information to cause more damage to the US government in a minute alone than anyone else has ever had in the history of the United States. But that's not his goal. [His] objective is to expose software that people around the world use without knowing what they are exposing themselves without consciously agreeing to surrender their rights to privacy. [He] has a huge number of documents that would be very harmful to the US government if they were made public." (emphasis added)
Indeed, what Greenwald said in the interview about how release of damaging information could occur is not much different than I have been saying in comments for weeks:
1) the full information, especially the most damaging parts, has not been released, nor will it be as long as Snowden is alive. The Russians don't have it. The Chinese don't have it.
2) should the full information be released, it will be a nightmare for the US, though not necessarily in the way people think. I think it's doubtful that the documents include, for example, the names of personnel in foreign countries who have facilitated data collection. However, they could well explain the technical means by which collection is done. That isn't exactly secret, by the way. Some of it is contained in the EFF lawsuit, for example.
3) the real danger is that the US government will force Snowden's hand. Keeping Snowden in Russia could force Snowden to barter the information he has (which goes far beyond anything he has in documents) for his freedom. It would have been far wiser to let him flee to a country which doesn't have experts in surveillance or the potential to damage US interests directly, as Russia does.
I have to leave this diary incomplete, but the links are there.
Time to stop hyperventilating, folks. It is what it is. What is the best way for the US to get out of this without damaging itself? It does not look like that it will be able to accomplish that by threats, bullying, or murder. So, what should our government do?
Update: CroneWit points out that the word "rogar" in Spanish can be translated "pray" rather than "beg." So, instead of Greenwald saying, "The U.S. government should be on its knees every day begging that nothing happen to Snowden..." the correct version should probably be "The U.S. government should be on its knees every day praying that nothing happen to Snowden..."
I agree with this interpretation. Greenwald likely gave the interview in English, where "praying that nothing happens" is idiomatic, and "begging that nothing happens" is not. So those who would like to turn this into Greenwald wanting to humiliate the USG should probably try elsewhere.
Update: The people who think Snowden is a traitor or that his revelations are meaningless are losing the argument:
Snowden — who is currently seeking political asylum while holed up in Russia — is viewed as a "whistleblower" by 55% of poll respondents. Only 34% view him as a "traitor."
But the most significant change came in the public's view of the NSA's surveillance programs, which Snowden exposed in a series of leaks to the Washington Post and The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald.
By a 45-40 margin, voters now say that the government goes too far in restricting civil liberties in the name of anti-terrorism efforts. That's a huge reversal from January 2010, when the public said by a 63-25 margin that the government didn't go far enough.