March 12, 2013
"There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly". - James R Clapper
Pre-June 2013, it seemed more like science-fiction to suggest the National Security Agency (NSA) was collecting data on millions of Internet communications and phone calls.
Then whistleblower and former CIA contractor Edward Snowden, in conjunction with journalists like Glenn Greenwald, blew the doors open on the depth and scale of actual communications tapping orchestrated by the US government. The monitoring went beyond phone calls and deep into the servers of major internet firms—monitoring not just enemy governments, but allies, too. What wasn’t directly against the law, was definitely in a dubious grey area.
Greenwald was a logical person for Snowden to reach out to, having already distinguished himself as an adversarial investigative reporter focused on government abuses of privacy while writing for The Guardian and elsewhere. The ultimate release of what lengths government actors were going to in pursuit of communications were staggering and unsettling.
Greenwald ended up creating a whole new media outlet, The Intercept, alongside Jeremy Scahill and Laura Poitras.
Greenwald then critiqued the press establishment over complacent approaches to reporting and accused the federal government of attempting to criminalize investigative journalism by suggesting that dealing with confidential sources is akin to conspiracy.
Read Glenn Greenwald's reporting on the NSA
Whistleblowers like Edward Snowden are drawn to independent journalists like Glenn Greenwald over mainstream journalists because they trust reporters who are willing and free to criticize major institutions of power.