Glenn Greenwald on Edward Snowden and the 'Inept and Menacing' NSA

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

In May 2013, Glenn Greenwald went to Hong Kong to meet an anonymous source who claimed to have evidence of pervasive government spying and insisted on communicating only through heavily encrypted channels. That source turned out to be the NSA contractor Edward Snowden, and his revelations about the agency’s widespread, systemic overreach triggered a fierce debate over national security and information privacy. 

Interview Highlights

On his collaboration with Snowden in determining which documents would be published: "The idea was not to destroy the NSA or the programs. It was to inform the world."

On why he and fellow journalist Laura Poitras crafted a careful rollout of the news stories: “I think that one of the responsibilities a journalist has is to try and make certain that the story gets out in a way that has the biggest impact. And I also think that you owe it to your source not to let them be demonized and to let them speak in their own voice.”

On the NSA: "To this day, they have no idea what [Snowden] took. That shows how poorly managed the system is."

On whether the NSA is spying for economic reasons: “So much of the spying that is done is economic in nature, despite public claims to the contrary.”

"The problem here isn’t so much the NSA breaks the law. The problem is is that the law has allowed the NSA to do such extraordinarily vast things that there almost are no legal limits.” 

Glenn Greenwald's book is No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State.


Glenn Greenwald

Comments [12]

Sophie Dew from Lower West Side

Greenwald's recipe for Chimichurri Hanger Steak sounds wonderful. Can't wait to try it!!

May. 14 2014 01:52 AM
john from office

"I get to ask the tough questions" Len just said in the fund raiser, I guess he forgot that in the Greenwald interview.

May. 13 2014 02:00 PM

I was wondering whether Mr. Greenwald found that any of the material collected by the NSA was "weaponized" by way of this proposal?

" . . . In 2008, while at Harvard Law School, Sunstein co-wrote a truly pernicious paper proposing that the U.S. Government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-”independent” advocates to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and websites — as well as other activist groups — which advocate views that Sunstein deems “false conspiracy theories” about the Government. This would be designed to increase citizens’ faith in government officials and undermine the credibility of conspiracists. The paper’s abstract can be read, and the full paper downloaded, here. . . . "

May. 13 2014 01:49 PM
john from office

Wow, Len cannot see any problem with these disclosures at all.

May. 13 2014 01:41 PM

Don't blame the press for doing its job
Blame the government for its incompetence
Why hire these contractor/mercenaries?
Why be surprised when he turns on one sugar daddy for another.

May. 13 2014 01:37 PM
Steven from Brooklyn

GG: " never had a moment of doubt..."

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.
Bertrand Russell

May. 13 2014 01:25 PM
thomas from Astoria

Im generally the most liberal guy, but in the case of Snowden -he is no hero- I am not at all in agreement with what he did. The fact that CHINA and RUSSIA were put in a position to criticize US -- the United States -- on spying on our own citizens, is beyond the pale. This troublemaker had to find refuge with Putin? Just imagine what Putin does to dissenters in his society! Snowden is in this regard a traitor. No sympathy for him, nor Mr Greenwald.

May. 13 2014 01:21 PM

Leonard, why the sneer in response to Snowden's saying he was influenced by Joseph Campbell and video games? What do you consider respectable influences?

May. 13 2014 01:19 PM


You're confusing the Internet with the World Wide Web. The Internet did exist before 1975. It was created in 1969. The World Wide Web was not created until 1989.

May. 13 2014 01:18 PM

Russian spy?

May. 13 2014 01:16 PM

@john from office

Strong is power of the Dark Side.

May. 13 2014 01:11 PM
john from office

A lot of Americans are tired of these self appointied saviors. The ego to say, I know what the USA needs and should do!

Thankfully: Mr. Payne is dead, Snowden is now a Putin Sock Puppet, Prvt. Manning is in jail for life and Wikileaks is reduced to one room in London.

Mr. Greenwald, in a recent interview was not as smug as he normally comes across, reality has set in.

May. 13 2014 12:27 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.