Has Greenwald Crossed The Line?

Jul 15 2013 @ 1:35pm

A reader thinks so:

Up until now, Greenwald has been within bounds as a journalist. But Snowden’s [Saturday] message, delivered through Greenwald, is criminal extortion and not remotely anything like whistle-blowing or journalism:

“Snowden has enough information to cause more damage to the U.S. government in a minute alone than anyone else has ever had in the history of the United States,” Greenwald told the Argentinian newspaper La Nacion. Asked if he was afraid that Snowden might be killed, Greenwald said: “If something were to happen, those documents would be made public. This is your insurance policy.”

“The U.S. government should be on your knees every day praying that nothing happens to Snowden, because if something happens, all information will be revealed and that would be their worst nightmare,” Greenwald added.

Separate and apart from anything they’ve done up to know, this is despicable. I’d love to get your take on this. I fear the fame this episode has brought Greenwald has gotten to his head and he is now becoming just a criminal and a traitor.

The latest from Greenwald and Snowden is also unsettling:

“In order to take documents with him that proved that what he was saying was true he had to take ones that included very sensitive, detailed blueprints of how the NSA does what they do,” said Greenwald in an interview with the Associated Press published Sunday.  Greenwald said Snowden had “literally thousands of documents,” which he called “basically the instruction manual for how the NSA is built.”

I can understand the reasons for exposing the security state’s innards if you want to render the entire program moot. I’m not sure I understand the motive for withholding that information as a form of blackmail or “life insurance policy”. This sentence from Greenwald is troubling to me as a journalist:

Snowden has enough information to cause more damage to the U.S. government in a minute alone than anyone else has ever had in the history of the United States.

If Snowden and Greenwald want to expose what they regard as illicit programs, why not just expose them? Bragging about their capacity to blackmail or terrify their own government seems, well, at best hyperbolic, and when the threat is made in a foreign newspaper, disturbing.

Update: Glenn responds here.