TODAY | June 10, 2013
>>> thank you. glenn greenwald is the columnist that broke this story. good morning to you.
>>> good morning.
>> the department of justice now opened a leak investigation. when was the last time you spoke with edward snowden?
>> i spoke with him probably around 5 or 6 hours ago.
>> have there been any contact to him by the u.s. government ? any agency of the u.s. government as far as you know?
>> i don't believe there has been. i don't believe they know where he is or how to communicate with him and have not to my knowledge.
>> snowden makes a rather remarkable claim saying, quote, i sitting at my desk certainly had the authorities to wiretap you, your accountant, a federal judge , even the president if i had a personal e-mail. let's make a distinction. he didn't say he had the ability to do it, for example if he went rogue. he said he had the legal authority to do it. did you follow up and ask him what legal authority that proports to be?
>> that isn't what he said. he didn't say he had the legal authority . that's a word you included --
>> he said authority.
>> yeah, he said authority, but legal authority which is what you quoted him as saying. that is a misquotation because what he was saying and the point you ought to be interested in as a journalist more so than the one you asked is people that sit at the nsa desk, thousands of them have the authority meaning that the nsa has given them the power to go in and scrutinize the communications of any american. it may not be legal but they have the power to do it and because all of this takes place in the dark with no accountability and no checks he felt compelled to inform his fellow citizens about the capabilities this surveillance apparatus provides.
>> but it is an interesting point. he's saying it's conducive to abuse but what he isn't saying is that doing so would be within the strictures of u.s. law . in fact, u.s. law allows him to do something like this?
>> well, i think the really important point here is there have been many efforts on the part of the aclu and other advocacy groups to go into court and challenge the constitutionality of the surveillance system and ask federal courts to rule about if whether or not what the obama administration and bush administration before them is consistent with the 4th amendment . the government said it's too secretive to allow courts to review and because we do all of this in the dark nobody can prove they have been eves dropped on. so if this is legal, why doesn't the government allow federal courts to rule on whether or not our constitutional rights are violated as citizens? they do everything in secret which is why we need whistle blowers to come forth so we can have transparency.
>> the government makes the argument this is protected by the state's secret privilege then a federal judge rules on that and in this case a federal judge said that the privilege was asserted properly. that is within the law, is it not?
>> actually, that's not at all what happened. what happened was the aclu went into court and asked for a ruling on the constitutionality of the law and what the federal government said is you have no ability to prove that your clients were actually eaves dropped on. you can't prove they were subjected to surveillance because everyone we surveil we keep that a secret. therefore you have no standing to sue. part of the documents he turned over is a list of the people the u.s. government has been targeting. one of the reasons he did that is so the lawsuits can proceed so we know who has been subjected to they can go into court and ask for a court ruling on whether or not this is a violation of the constitution to have this massive surveillance system aimed at many many of americans regardless of wrong doing.
>> as you know, the director of intelligence called them gut wrenching. you tweeted save melaodrama and rhetoric for coming stories. you'll need it.
>> right. in every single case when there are revelations of wrong doing done in secret t strategy is to scare the america public into saying these people have jeopardized you. there's not a single revelation that we provided to the world that jeopardizes national security . the only thing that has been jeopardized is the reputation and credibility of the people in power engaged in this spying program and wanted to do it in the dark. as journalists, i think our number one obligation should be not to allow government officials to screen terrorists and scare people every time there's transparency brought to them but scrutinize whether the claims are valid. there's not anything we can disclose to the world that can be said to harm national security in every way.
>> thank you for your perspective this morning, we appreciate it.