Meet the Press   |  June 23, 2013

Greenwald: Obama administration known for targeting whistleblowers

Glenn Greenwald, columnist for The Guardian, discusses Edward Snowden’s decision to be a whistleblower and the danger to individuals who shed light on classified government programs.

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

>> that would meet the criteria for what you've outlined this morning on where he'd like to be.

>> right. well, venezuela has a democratically elected government, though it has lots of problems in its political system . and i think the real question is why should an american who joined the u.s. military , worked for the cia, worked for the nsa, why does he feel that he has to flee the united states simply because he stepped forward in a very careful way, goes to newspapers, reveals wrongdoing on the part of government officials , why does he feel he has to flee? the mcclatchy article answered that question. it said the obama administration has unprecedentedly aggressive and vindictive in how it punishes whistle-blowers as enemy of the state . why are whistle-blowers being treated in this fashion?

>> you are a columnist, you are also a lawyer. you do not dispute that edward snowden has broken the law, do you?

>> no. i think he's very clear about the fact that he did it because his conscience compelled him to do it, just like daniel ellsberg did 50 years ago when he released the pentagon papers and also admitted he broke the law. the question is, though, how can he be charged with espionage? he didn't work for a foreign government. he could have stole this this information for millions of dollars and enriched himself. he didn't do any of that either. he stepped forward and learned of wrongdoing and exposed it so we could have a democratic deit the bathe about this system and do we want to put people like that in prison for life when all they're doing is telling us as citizens what our political officials are doing in the dark.

>> final question for you, but i'd like you to hang around. i just want to get pete williams in here as well. to the extent that you have aided and abetted snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn't you, mr. greenwald, will charged with a crime?

>> i think it's pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies. the asummings in your question, david, is completely without evidence, the idea i've aided and abetted him in any way. the scandal that arose in washington before our stories began was about the fact that the obama administration is trying to criminalize investigative journalism by going through the e-mails and records of ap reporters, accusing a fox journalist of the theory you just embraced, bag co-conspirator in felonies for working with sources. if you want to embrace that theory, it means every investigative journalist in the united states who receives classified information is a criminal, and it's precisely those theories and that climate that has become so menacing in the united states . that's why jean mayer said investigative reporting has come to a standstill, as a result of