With the launch of a new book this week, Glenn Greenwald makes a compelling case against the vast surveillance that threatens core American freedoms.
I saw Greenwald in action at a May 14 lecture in Washington, DC, read his No Place to Hide, and sampled his other interviews and critical commentaries.
Greenwald documents the historic threats we face to our constitutional rights. Also, he persuasively counters the complaints of critics from both the right and left, leaving them for the most part diminished. His assessment of the mainstream media this week was harsh: “Neutered, Impotent and Obsolete,” he told Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman.
Greenwald’s judgment is accurate on the kind of sensitive stories here at issue. By contrast, a review of the book by Georgetown professor David Cole published in the Washington Post understates the problems because, not so coincidentally, the Post is both ostensibly a watchdog organization but is also a longtime ally of the governing class.
First, let’s summarize Greenwald’s content. His book’s core centers on the NSA’s purported motto of “Collect it all” regarding electronic communications of the world’s population, including Americans under no suspicion of wrong-doing.
Subtitled Edward Snowden, the NSA and the U.S Surveillance State, Greenwald’s book describes in engaging fashion how he and his videographer colleague Laura Poitras met the National Security Agency contractor Snowden nearly a year ago in Hong Kong, and proceeded to publish stunning news reports based on NSA documents.
The book and a free website for documentation provide (at Document No. 97) a 2011 top-secret NSA presentation to four English-speaking U.S. allies (Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand) portraying a slide headlined: “New Collection Posture.”
The slide expands on the theme “Collect it all” to argue that the intelligence process should also include such steps as “Process it all,” “Partner it all” [to allies], and “Exploit it all.”
NSA and its defenders have suggested that the slogans do not mean in practice what they specifically state. Shortly before the Snowden revelations last year, White House Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, shown in his official photo, falsely told a Senate oversight panel that the federal government does not collect bulk intelligence.