Meet the Press   |  June 23, 2013

NSA leaker on the move

Glenn Greenwald, columnist for The Guardian, speaks with Meet the Press about what Edward Snowden plans to do now that he has left Hong Kong.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> bring in the man who broke the nsa surveillance story for t"the guardian" newspaper, glen in brazil this morning. there's a very big delay between us on the satellite so i want to be mindful of that. glen, so as i begin this morning, tell us where snowden is, where he is ultimately headed.

>> well, i think the where he is question is one what you just answered, which is he's on a commercial flight to moscow, where he's ultimately headed unknown. in every conversation that i've had with him over the last three weeks he has stressed that the key contact for every decision he's making is as was reported this morning the obama administration has been engaged in an unprecedented war against whistle-blowers, people who bring transparent soy to what they're doing, and he believes it's vital he stay out of the clutches of the u.s. government because of the record of the obama administration on people who disclose wrongdoing that the political officials are doing in the dark. and he apparently is headed to a democratic country that will grant him asylum from this persecution.

>> so, he does not intend to return to the united states . he intends to fight extradition. what else does he intend to do? you have been in contact with him. is there additional information he is prepared to leak to bolster his and your claim that he is actually a whistle-blower and not a criminal responsible for espionage?

>> sure. i think the key definition of whistle-blower is somebody who brings to light what political officials do in the dark that is either deceitful or illegal. and in this case, as "the new york times" article just this morning that describes that one of the revelations that he enabled that we reported is that the director of national intelligence , james clapper , went before the u.s. congress and lied outright when asked whether or not the nsa is collecting any form of data on millions of americans . his response was, "no, sir." as "the new york times" said today, even clapper has to say that statement was absolutely false. the very first conversation i ever had with mr. snowden , he showed me the folder in which he placed the documents and labeled it "nsa try lying to congress," collecting millions of phone records of americans indiscriminately, exactly what clapper denied to the congress was being done. as for illegality, "the new york times" also said today the program exceeds the patriot act and there's a fisa court opinion that says that the u.s. government , that the nsa engaged in unconstitutional and illegal spying on american citizens. that court opinion is secret, but he showed me documents discussing internally in the nsa what that court ruling is, and that should absolutely be public.

>> with regard to that specific fisa opinion, isn't the case based on people that i've talked to, that the fisa opinion based on the government's request is that they said, well, you can get this but you can't get that? that would actually go beyond the skoem of what you're allowed to do, which means that the request was changed or denied, which is the whole point the government makes, which is that there is actual judicial review here and not abuse. isn't this the kind of review and opinion that you would want to keep these programs in line?

>> i don't know what government officials are whispering to you, david, but i know that the documents that i have in my possession and that i have read from the nsa tell a much different story, which is that there was an 80-page opinion from the fisa court that said that what the nsa is doing in spying on american citizens is a violation of both the fourth amendment and the bounds of the statute. and it specifically said that they are collecting bulk transmissions, multiple conversations from millions of americans , not just people that are believed to be involved in terrorist organizations or working for a foreign agent, and that this is illegal. and the nsa then planned to try and accommodate that ruling. but i think the real issue as journalists and as citizens is, why should we have to getsz? how can we have a democracy in which a secret court rule that what the government is doing in spying on us is a violation of the constitution and the law and yet we sit here and don't know what that ruling is because it's all been concealed and all been secret? i think we need to have transparency and disclosure, and that's why mr. snowden stepped forward so, that we could have that.

>> there are reports he's ultimately headed to venezuela. is that your understanding?

>> i don't -- i'm not going to talk about where he's headed or what his plans are. i think it's up in the air. i'm not sure where he's headed. he's my source for these stories. i'm not going to talk about where he's going.