Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald, who broke the story of the NSA’s data grab that has roiled the media in the past twenty-four hours, spoke to MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell Thursday night about the extreme reaction his story has produced.
O’Donnell asked Greenwald about the possibility of leak investigations, which Dianne Feinstein has intimated would include Greenwald.
“Let them go and investigate,” Greenwald said. “There’s this document called the Constitution. One of the things that it guarantees is the right of a free press, which means that as a citizen and journalist, I have the absolute Constitutional right to go and report on what it is that my government is doing in the dark, and inform my fellow citizens about that action.”
“There is this massive surveillance state that the United States government has built up,” Greenwald continued, “that has extraordinary implications for how we live as human beings on the earth and as Americans in our country, and we have the right to know what it is that that government and that agency is doing. I intend to continue to shine light on that, and Dianne Feinstein can beat her chest all she wants and call for investigations and none of that is going to stop and none of it is going to change.”
O’Donnell played Greenwald a clip of Lindsey Graham speaking in Senate chambers about how he didn’t mind that the government had his phone data, even if his number showed up on a terrorist’s phone.
“I think it’s notable that one of the most right wing members of the United States Congress is stepping up to be the most vocal defender of what the Obama administration is doing and what the Bush administration did before that,” Greenwald said. “That’s a very right wing mentality. The idea is that the government should simply know everything that citizens in a free society are doing, regardless of whether there’s evidence that we have committed any crimes.”
“The idea that, if you have nothing to hide, then there’s no reason you should care?” Greenwald continued. “People know instinctively that’s false. They put passwords on their e-mails, they put locks on their bedroom doors. There’s all kinds of value we have in having privacy as individuals that is destroyed when we allow the government to monitor and store everything that we’re doing. But, of course, the Lindsey Grahams of the world are thrilled with that, because that’s the mentality in which this is all rooted.”
Greenwald also spoke on PRISM, a government program that accesses the content of Americans’ internet activities, knowledge of which compounded Greenwald’s scoop from yesterday.
“This is a program in which the NSA takes its hands and sticks them directly into the servers of all of these internet giants,” Greenwald said, “Facebook, Google, Skype, Apple, Youtube, that people around the world use to have communications, and lets the NSA grab whatever it is they want—either stored e-mails or real-time communication—with nobody looking over their shoulder, nobody watching what they’re doing. Any analyst in the NSA sitting at a keyboard can at any moment go into the system and listen to whatever he wants, read whatever he wants, and then store it. It is extremely menacing, and there are no checks. This is how the world communicates, and the NSA is monitoring it at all times.”
Watch the whole interview here:
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