Despite federal claims, “not a single revelation” in the leaks about the National Security Agency’s sweeping surveillance program jeopardizes the country’s security, the reporter who broke the stories about the case insisted Monday.
“The only thing that has been jeopardized is the reputation and credibility of the people in power who are engaged in this massive spying program and wanted to do it in the dark,” Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald told TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie.
“As journalists, I think our number one obligation should be to not to allow government officials to scream ‘terrorist,’ and try to scare people every time there’s transparency brought to them, but instead scrutinize whether those claims are valid,” he said.
Greenwald last week broke stories about the surveillance programs the top-secret NSA engaged to monitor millions of phone records of unsuspecting citizens. The stories recounted how Verizon turned over the phone records to NSA as part of a court order for a massive data-mining program.
On Sunday, 29-year-old Edward Snowden, who described himself as a former CIA employee, went public as the source behind those leaks, citing the public’s need to decide the intent behind the programs.
Greenwald said he last spoke to Snowden “five or six hours” before his TODAY appearance, and that U.S. government officials had not reached out to the whistleblower.
“I’m not sure they actually know where he is or how to communicate with him,” he said.
Greenwald said Snowden felt compelled to provide Americans with the tools they need to scrutinize the actions of the NSA and shine some light on government officials.
“They do everything in secret, which is why we need whistleblowers to come forth like Mr. Snowden, so we can have some transparency on political officials."
Greenwald said ACLU and other civil liberty advocates have tried to challenge the constitutionality of the surveillance programs but federal courts have rejected the efforts, saying they have no proof any eavesdropping has actually occurred.
Among the documents Snowden turned over is “the list of the people that the U.S. government has been targeting,” Greenwald said.
“Those lawsuits finally can proceed so we can finally know who has been subjected to surveillance, so 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 millions of Americans,” he said.