In the latest “Sunday Special” with Daily Wire editor emeritus Ben Shapiro, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald reveals details about his bombshell 2013 reporting on the NSA and former NSA sub-contractor Edward Snowden, and explains why American institutions have targeted and continue to target former President Donald Trump.
Greenwald, a constitutional lawyer and bestselling author, told Shapiro during their hour-plus long sit-down that he firmly believes Snowden intended to act as a patriot and was not in any way working with an adversarial government, like Russia.
“[Snowden’s] father was in the Coast Guard, he was kind of a lower-middle class family, he didn’t really have a lot of educational opportunities, and after 9/11, he wanted to go and fight for his country, including in Iraq,” Greenwald said of Snowden. “He wanted to be enlisted in the U.S. Army — broke his legs in basic training, and instead ended up at the CIA. He was a true believer in what he was being told about what the security state does, that it protects the greatest democracy in the world, the United States, and that it does so with good intentions, and he wanted to be a part of that.”
After he saw that the NSA was “turning its powers inward on the American people,” he knew he had to “blow the whistle,” Greenwald continued. “He decided not to dump it all onto the Internet like he could have done if you wanted to harm the United States; he didn’t want to sell it to foreign powers, like he could have done and got very rich. He, in fact, came to journalists and told us, only release the information that you believe the public needs to know to understand these issues, and keep everything a secret that might endanger people, or in which you’re in doubt. And to this day, we’ve only released a small portion of that archive in accordance with his direction, because he really was acting patriotically.”
“You may disagree with the methods and all of that, but there’s no question, for me at least, that his motive was pure, which was that he was offended that the Internet — which is supposed to be this technological innovation designed to empower the citizenry, free us from centralized state and corporate control — was instead degraded into the opposite, the most powerful force for surveillance and coercion ever invented in human history.”
Greenwald also said Snowden is now in Russia because the Obama administration stopped his attempted route to Latin America, where he was going to get asylum, effectively trapping him in Russia.
“To get there, he had to transit from Hong Kong, where he was meeting with us, through Russia and then Havana and onto Latin America,” Greenwald said. “Ben Rhodes, in his book, a senior national security official for the Obama administration, boasted of the fact that they knew Snowden was trying to get out of Russia and trying to get to Latin America. They called the Cubans, at which point they were negotiating the lifting of the embargo with Cuba, and they said, ‘If you have any hope of getting this embargo lifted, you better not let Edward Snowden pass safely through Havana. We want him trapped in Russia.’ The Cubans withdrew their offer of safe passage, and they trapped him in Russia.”
“He didn’t choose to be in Russia,” Greenwald said of Snowden. “He never wanted to be in Russia as an American. He has an American wife, he has two kids; he wants to come back home. They trapped him in Russia and then they turned around and said, ‘Oh, look, he’s in Russia. That’s proof that he’s somehow working for a foreign power.'”
Greenwald also discussed how the political establishment and U.S. institutions, such as the FBI and CIA, are uniquely threatened by Trump due to the former president’s challenges to the status quo in Washington.
“I think what happened with Trump is, […] he began questioning things that no presidential candidate that’s viable would ever have questioned previously, such as, for example, the ongoing viability of NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization),” he said.
“Whether NATO is viable, we can debate that, but you can’t debate that. That was declared off-limits,” Greenwald continued. “And when Trump started doing those things, or questioning the CIA attempt to remove Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and the entire premise of the U.S. posture about this war, he became a real threat to the permanent power centers in Washington. When he started kind of saying everything there is dirty: ‘It’s a swamp. I could get any politician on the phone I wanted by writing them a check and they’ll do my bidding.’ This started to really threaten, I think, the stability not of one party or the other, but just of the entire status quo order in Washington.”
“They, for that reason, viewed him as a very unique threat and united to try and sabotage first his campaign and then his presidency,” he said. “Even if you hate Donald Trump, even if you agree that he’s a danger, this unique danger, which I don’t, [what’s] at least as dangerous, if not more so, is the fact that these institutions are now very willing to interfere in our domestic politics way beyond what they were ever supposed to do. And I regard that, and not any particular politician like Donald Trump, as the greatest threat to our democracy.”
Greenwald and Shapiro also talked about the state of journalism and social media censorship, and debated, from opposing viewpoints, U.S. foreign policy and American interventionism.