The Man Who Knew Too Much Enough Is Enough


“One of the things … that I think has been misunderstood about Edward Snowden … is that he actually hasn’t released a single document to the public. He could have if he wanted to: He could have uploaded the documents to the Internet on his own; he could have given them to foreign powers. There are all sorts of things he could have done, and what he did instead is he came to journalists and said, “I don’t actually think that I, Edward Snowden, am the person who should be making the decisions about what the public should and shouldn’t see. I actually think that’s journalists who ought to be making that call and I want you to work within media organizations that have experience in making these decisions and make those judgments yourself.” … There’s a huge responsibility that comes from making those choices. […] Edward Snowden does not think that there is one or two discrete programs within the NSA that are abusive and out of control. He believes the NSA system itself, the entire ubiquitous system of suspicion-less surveillance, is itself inherently abusive and the public has a right to know, not about every detail, not about every program, but about the capabilities that this agency has developed so that the world can have a debate about whether we actually want a system like that.” — GLENN GREEENWALD, on Fresh Air today

PREVIOUSLY: The United States Of Secrets

EXCERPT: The relatively lighter mood we had managed to keep up over the prior few days now turned to palpable anxiety: we were less than 24 hours away from revealing Snowden’s identity, which we knew would change everything, for him most of all. The three of us had lived through a short but exceptionally intense and gratifying experience. One of us, Snowden, was soon to be removed from the group, likely to go to prison for a long time – a fact that had depressingly lurked in the air from the outset, at least for me. Only Snowden had seemed unbothered by this. Now, a giddy gallows humor crept into our dealings.

“I call the bottom bunk at Gitmo,” Snowden joked as he contemplated our prospects. As we talked about future articles, he would say things such as: “That’s going into the indictment. The only question is whether it’s going into yours or mine.” Mostly he remained inconceivably calm. Even now, with the clock winding down on his freedom, Snowden still went to bed at 10.30pm, as he had every night during my time in Hong Kong. While I could barely catch more than two hours of restless sleep at a time, he kept consistent hours. “Well, I’m going to hit the hay,” he would announce casually each night before retiring for seven-and-a-half hours of sound sleep, appearing completely refreshed the next day. When we asked him about his ability to sleep so well under the circumstances, Snowden said that he felt profoundly at peace with what he had done and so the nights were easy. “I figure I have very few days left with a comfortable pillow,” he joked, “so I might as well enjoy them.”

At 7.27pm, British summer time on Sunday 9 June 2013, the Guardian published the story that revealed Snowden to the world: “Edward Snowden: The Whistleblower Behind the NSA Surveillance Revelations.” The article told Snowden’s story, conveyed his motives, and proclaimed that “Snowden will go down in history as one of America’s most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley [now Chelsea] Manning.” We quoted from Snowden’s early note to Poitras and me: “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions … but I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant.” MORE

UPDATE: Sony Pictures Options Glenn Greenwald’s No Place To Hide