tv Talk to Al Jazeera Al Jazeera May 17, 2014 5:00pm-5:31pm EDT
the world. head to aljazeera.com. thanks for watching. there are enormos costs to having this ongoing surveil an. >> gleann greenwald has led the talk on the security leaks and he said more revelation are yet to come? >> among the biggest stories are left to be reported. >> the journalist believes there is a limit to the public's right to know. everybody acknowledges some limited discriminating. it's out with a new book "no
place to hide" which details his first encounter with snowden on his trip to hong kong. >> everything we did needed constantly to be shrouded in extreme levels of secrecy. he joined me to talk about his work and answered questions from our viewers. >> let me start with the book and go back to the first time you met edward snowden in hong kong. the book reads like a spy novel at that moment. >> it was like living in a spy film essentially because we knew a couple of things, that this was certainly the biggest leak in national security history, that if the u.s. government found out what it was that he was doing that they would take very extreme mezto put a stop to it one way or the other but we didn't know much else. we didn't know whether the u.s. government knew anything or what they knew or whether hong kong and chinese authorities knew d anything that was happening. everything that we did needed constantly to be shrouded in extreme levels of secrecy and snowden as a highly trained
operative was very well versed in how that needed to be done. everything we did was in that context. >> you were surprised what he looked like? >>ists shocked by what he looked like. i had spent several weeks talking to him. i knew that he had access to enormous amounts of top secret material, that he had sophisticated insights and most of all knew he was prepared to spend the rest of his life in prison. so, i assumed that he was in his 60s or 70s. >> did that give you pause, that you might be writing articles that would in essence send him to prison? >> it made me need to know that he was making the choice with a full understanding of what the likely consequences would be and that the decision-making process was one grounded in rationality and a lot of agency and autonomy. i got that assurance pretty quickly. you did? >> yes. >> how did you do that? >> i sat him down and questioned him very aggressively for sec quan sec you've been hours in the hotel room on the first day. i insisted upon understanding the thoughts behind his
thoughts, the moral framework that led him to this reasoning that led to this decision and i needed to know it was co hasn't and cogevent and rational. it was extremely well thought out. >> do you think he rec niced all he might go through and has been through sense. there was a video clip in which i asked him what do you think are theling consequences for you for having made this choice? he said, i am going to be called a traitor by the united states government. i am certain to be charged with multiple felons. there will be people digging into all aspects of my life and my freedom of my life as i know it will never be the same. >> there is a moment when you talk about the impact on his girlfriend and his family. how is he handling all of that now? >> remarkably well. you know, he, when we were in hong kong, the working assumption was that he was going to spend the next several decades, probably the rest of his life in the cage in the american penal state. >> you thought that would happen? >> all three of us thought that
would happen. he thought that would happen. and to now see him being able freelly to participate in the debate around the world that he helped to galvan eyes for him is something incredibly fulfilling. it is the case that he has had contact with his family cut off. he has been forced to be in a country that he didn't choose. his life has unraveled. at the same time, of all of the people i know in my life, the one who is most at peace and most fulfilled and probably the happiest is edward snowden because as he put it to me recently, he gets to put his head on his pillow every night that he took action in defense of his principles. >> do you talk to him on? >> regularly. >> what is his life like. >> he the reform movement, he is asked to speak at various events and increasingly doing that. he speaks to journalists. he always has been a person of the internet spending time indoors, orlando and he continues to do that. >> does he feel like a prisoner in russia? >> he doesn't.
to the extent that i know for myself that i spent 10 months feeling that i couldn'tsale travel back to the u.s. i did my reporting in brazil and felt like a free person in the sense i could do what i wanted within those confines so it deprives you of his freedom. he is aware he can't leave russia. he is not completely free but free when one come pays it to what we thought was going to be the outcome of his choice. >> we asked people to submit questions on the web? >> great. >> we have a couple. one in regards to russia. this is from gary in honolulu. he says, has mr. snowden expressed opinions regarding his life in russia in light of the annexation of crimea, support for pro-russian thugs and eastern ukraine, restraints on the media? >> i find that a bizarre question in part because he different choose to be in russia. but more so because people seek asigh lem in the united states by the thousands every single
year. i never heard anybody ask any of those people who have asylum in the u.s. how do you feel about seeking asylum from a country that invaded another country of 26 million people or erected a torture for over a decade in guantanamo because it is not to declare which country you love the most. it's to seek protection from persecution at home. he didn't choose russia. it's odd to demand he be accountable for it abuses. i think the point of why he is there, he is forced to be there because it wants to put him in prison. >> he could have chosen to come back to the united states? >> he could do that now. >> if you were to come back to the sdmrus, with the u.s. media and political elites, when they are in public, they say, he should man up. if he thinks that he did the right thing, come back to court and make his case before a jury. the reality is, which they know but hide when speaking publically is that the way the law works, if you are accused of violating the espionage act, the
fact you worked as a whistleblower in court under those charges and so, it is not a fair trial or fight. his conviction would be virtually guaranteed. there is no reason why he should meekly submit to that. >> we have from linda, she said how many agents had to be removed because their cover had been blown and they were in danger? none. none that the u.s. government identified. the u.s. government makes these claims without any evidence every time there is unwanted disclosures going back to daniel els bergenhagen and it turns out to be false and without evidence. >> that's the case here. >> coming up, has he published information that could put people in danger? my conversation with glenl greenwold continues in a moment.
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journalism and you want to do adversarial journalism, you have to expect you will anger a lot of people. if you are not prepared for that, you probably shouldn't go into journalism. >> you are critical of mainstream journalism in america. what's your biggest beef? >> the idea of why there is a free press is supposed to be that journalits are an adverse earlier force to those who we'lled power and for a variety of reasons over the last several decades, the american immediate qua has become subservient to and hep to those in power rather than adversarial to it and it has neutered journalism. >> you believe in a new form of adversarial journalism. is it -- does it include your opinions on things and your opinions of -- like the nsa, let's say. there are a lot of people who say, so, what do you think the nsa should do? should it exist? >> i don't know of anybody who
believes of all forms of surveillance should be abolished or that they are all illegitimate. >> you don't know? >> i don't know anyone who does including myself. i think everybody acknowledges some limited, targeted, discriminating oversight driven surveillance is justified. i made my opinions clear as part of the journalism which isn't actually a new form of generalism. if you look at american journalism for the last two centuries, it's been crusading journalism where they don't deceit fully say they have no opinions. they acknowledge them and say you can rely on the facts i am reporting and ultimately, that is what determines the credibility of a journalit. >> mainstream journalism might include. the pulitzer committee. you won a pulitzer prize. what was that like for you >> gratifying and vindicating given the debates that have arisen. and it was a little bit disconcerting to be honest about why this sort of establishment
journalism is giving this award. i think it was good for the story and for what he had ward snowden did. >> it also, i mean, there were some people who thought you might be arrested the next time you came back to the united states. do you think getting the pull it's certain and the awards you have received recently helped? >> i do. you know, part of why i was willing to return to the u.s. when we did was because our plane landed when there was a roomful 300 journalists waiting for our arrival waiting to receive awards for the journalism that the u.s. government would have had to arrested us for conducting. it made the costs too high for anyone in the government to do that. >> you went with "the guardian." they went with your story. it wasn't easy. becaused upon your book, you describe a very difficult process of getting "the guardian" to publish the information. didn't you expect that from the start? >> the real issue is when i started this reporting, i had only been at the guardian for eight months. i hadn't done much reporting
with the other edits because i generally work exclusively on my own, independently. there was no relationship with trust. i didn't know how aggressive they were willing to do. they different know how i was going to handle the story. in retrospect, there really wasn't all that much delay on the part of the guardian. at the time, it seemed as though there was. when i wrote the story, i wanted it done that minute. and, ultimately, i think the guardian did report the story very aggressively and intrepidly and that was a big part of why it made a big impact. >> you have made a points of mainstream publications, new york times, washington post go to the united states government before they print things. you don't like that. it isn't so much i am opposed to the idea of advising the government. what i dislike about the process is one that results in the suppression of information that the public ought to know because it's news worthy has has happend so many times before. >> can you describe the
excitement and the fear that you felt when you had this information in your hands? and you knew that this was going to go public? what is that like for a journalist? >> it was really overwhelming. i mean on the one hand, there was a huge amount of excitement. i have been working on surveillance and nsa issues many years and the difficulty has been you don't have the instruments to make the public aware of what is going on. suddenly in my laugh -- lap, there were all of the instruments in the world i could ever dreamed of having but i knew it was an enormous responsibility to the source, to the public, to my colleagues at the "guardian". >> why not dump all of the information to the public and let them make up their own minds? >> for one thing, edward snowden didn't want that. he came to me and actually demanded that we enter into an agreement about how it would be report reported. if he wanted to do that, he won't have needed me. he could have uploaded those to the internet, himself. i think his belief -- and it's actually a belief that i share -- is that the impact from
these disclosures is higher because we took the time to report the stories one by one, explain to the public what their meaning was, did reporting around them and let the public digest each individual story rather than just dumping them all on one. >> is there information in there that could put people in danger? >> anything is theoretically possible. we have made the decision to with hold some information. >> because it was too sensitive? >> wasn't news worthy and had the potential to create halfway for innocent people. that was the process we engaged in for every document we released. as to weigh those considerations. >> how many more documents? >> many more stories to go. i can't quantify them for you. among the biggest stories that are left to be reported, obviously there were a lot of new stories in the book. there are still many left that we will continue to report. >> you have one big story spairmth coming at the end and you and edward snowdune deny discussed that. >> it's a story we haven't
deliberately saved it for the end. the story is a very complicated story to report. it takes a lot of time and there is legal sensetivities. but i do think it will help to shape how the story is remembered for many years to come because it answers some central questions about how surveillance is conducted that aren't answered. >> you think you are out of legal trouble in the united states? >> i think there is a risk for some of these impending stories the nsa is angry about. i think by and large, the cost for the u.s. government to take action against me or other gennists is too high for them to be willing to inquire. >> the man at the center of a global debate, glenl greenwald talks about how his life has changed. n greenwald talks about how his life has changed. ney ney
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surveillance, security, and the nsa, glenn greenwald joins us. >> i want to talk about how this changed your personal life. i have a question from a viewer who asked about your partner david miranda being detained at heathrow airport and on facebook says a panel of uk judges that will detaining your partner while he was in transit was legal. are there any challenge he knows to that ruling in progress? >> it's on appeal, and, you
know, part of what happened in the united states is the abuses of political power permeate the judiciary and the same is true in the united kingdom. >> ruling could get overturned on appeal. but. >> you said you were a fan of all of the president's men. >> yeah. >> in that movie there are a number of scenes in which woodward and bernstein seem pretty paranoid that the government is listening to everything they are saying and doing. do you feel that way now? >> the british government in that lawsuit that you just referenced filed documents making conclusively clear they were eavesdropping on e-mails and telephone calls of myself and david and/or my colleagues at the guardian. they knew what he was doing in berlin, what he intended to carry. there was innovations into our communication. >> that's why we take extreme steps to protect the communications with encryption. >> i can't they are following you around, on every phone call you make, every e-mail you send?
>> what i decided at the beginning was that i was going to be aware of the risks, take precautions i could take because i wasn't going to let them paralyze the journalism i was doing. i spent little time. >> you are famous around the world you had a reputation for reporting on this issue. are you luckiest guy in the world in reporting this story? >> there is a context because i have been working on these issues for seven or eight years when very few people cared about them i had a theory and conducted myself in a way he found appealing and there was a huge amount of work that went into building trust with him and it didn't fall into my lap. there was an enormous amount of work. i don't feel lucky to have gotten it, now does he get financial benefit from the book, the documentary that's going on,
maybe a movie? >> he has extremely lucrative offers from all over the world to write books to sell his life rights for a film. he gets paid to do speeches that include monetary prizes but he didn't do this for the money. he could have sold them for tennessee of millions of dollars to any intelligence agency on the planet, had he wanted. he did it because he believed in the principle and the cause and that, in his view is his payment. >> in one way, you talked about in the book he didn't want the story to be about him. >> right. >> in some ways, it has become about him. hasn't it? >> media figures make it babout him. i think he has done an outstanding job of avoiding the media spotlight to the fullest extent. he has never done a television interview in the united states or any other country. >> in south by southwest? >> he has made appearances when he was assured he would be able to confine his comments to
documents and revelations and issues surrounding privacy and surveillance and not be asked the kind of questions that virtually every t t.v. review would ask about his girlfriend and what he is doing in russia and what his life is like and those kind of things. he wanted to avoid having the issue personalized about him with the understanding he did something that there would be legitimate interest in him. the reason he stayed out of the lime line was that the focus to the fullest extent possible would remain on the story. >> when i was talking about your personal opinions, one of the personal opinions that is making news, your comments about hillary clinton former secretary of state? >> a journalist from gq came down to rio dejaniero and we spent time together. he talked openly and candidly. i have opinions about things. i don't think i have hiddep the fact that that's the case. i do think that hillary clinton's candidacy is representative of many of the
worst appettributes of this dinastic succession. politicians awarded for being calculating or devoid of passion. she supported the war in iraq, most of the post 9-11 abuses of the u.s. government and militarism around the world. i don't think she is a candidate worth getting excited about. quite the opposite. >> is there anyone you are getting excited about? what should the president -- the next president of the united states should be thinking about when it comes to the nsa and comes to the abuses that you talk about? >> i think clearly even if you don't believe that the system is inherently abusive, there are enormous costs now to having this ongoing surveillance. there are people around the world who refuse to buy american technological products because they are not confident that their privacy protected. there is a wide array of diplomatic harm come to the united states relationship to other countries. there is a perception on the part of the citizen rethat their own government can't be trusted. i think fund mental reform is something that any rational leader would want to embark on.
>> have there been threats to you and your partner? sure, there have been threats from the u.s. government to prosecute me action e-mail death threats that occur regularly but gener genuine genuinely, that journalists have those threats and worst. it's something you deal with. >> you say that, but i mean how has your life changed? >> my life has changed in every single way possible. the pressures of this story, the visibility of the platform that i have is muchdrate earn it ever was before. the opportunities i have to spread the ideas and talk about the things i believe in is much greater. so are the threats and so are the riveningdz and so are the costs and so but, you know, if i had to do it over again, i would do everything exactly the same way because this is what i went into journalim to do. >> i understand it, but it seems what's given to your partner detained in u.k. and the threats
that you have just described, that that might be just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how tough it's been for you. >> yeah. it has been difficult. it has, at the same time, been very accuragratifying. >> that's the balance. if you are going to do the story of your lifetime and if you are going to say all the time that journalists have the obligation to confront those in power, the nature of confronting people in power by definition is that they can do things back to you that are unpleasant. if they could, they wouldn't be powerful. so there are costs but i think the costs are very well worth it. >> i have one more question from the web, from jordan in delaware, said i have signed petition, made calls, sent e-mails to congressmen and attended protests in addition to changing my habits in using the web. what do you think citizens should do to stop the over reach of the nsa? >> those are all excellent things to do. everything that that haveindivi just said they were doing. but i think there are ways to pressure politicians toss make
clear that this is an issue of high priority and to encourage overs to run on the platform of opposing nsa and, also, not to use companies that aren't guaranteeing that they will protect your privacy by refusing to cooperate with the nsa. >> there is a story that suggests almost every company in america is collecting information from the electric company to all of the utilities, cable companies it's not just the nsa but it may be the nsa through some of those xaez as you suggested? >> there is a huge, huge difference, fundamental difference between having a single company collect the information about you that they are able to know when you use their service so google can collect your google searches, yahoo can direct your yahoo e-mails and it's divided and fragmented in the hands of these companies versus the u.s. government collect in a systemized weigh everything there is to know about you online. there is a difference between corporate and government power. the government that can put you into prison, take your property and en that can kill you which
is why the bill of rights and constitution limits what the government can do because we have always looked to government and state power as being particularly andniquely threatening. >> when you arrived at the museum, there were kids out, students that you probably walked through. do you think those young people in high school and college understand what you are saying completely? i mean what has fascinated me the most about the fall out from the story is that the reaction to the story really doesn't break down on partisan lines. democrats and republicans either decline or support the reporting i have been doing and what he had ward snowden does or on ideological lines, the most reliable metric of how people react to the story is age because younger people understand the 7 trality of the internet in a way older people don't. people have been inspired. >> your partner, laura in this endeavor, we don't see her that much. is there had a reason for that? >> she is an incredibly private
person, and she is also a film maker, and is comefortable behind the camera and doesn't like being in front of it. she likes to let her work do her speaking for her. she speaks through her documentaries, one of which is going to beforth coming about everything that happened in hong kong and about the broader issues of the surveillance tape. >> you say there is a possibility of a movie as well? >> there actually was announced today that sony has purchased the rights to produce a film based upon my book. >> that's likely to happen. >> we will look forward to that. great to have you. >> thank you. >> who is going to play you in the movie? >> just, you know, the twitter is all abuzz trying to cast the film in light of the announcement that went out. >> all right.