In the six-plus months since Edward Snowden exposed himself and the NSA to the entire world, only a small fraction of the information he hoped to illuminate has made its way out, but don’t blame Glenn Greenwald. That’s by design, says the journalist in an exhaustive defense of his handling of the documents — and his new job with billionaire Pierre Omidyar — published today on his blog.
“The claim that we are ‘holding back documents’ for some nefarious or self-interested purpose is and always has been false,” writes Greenwald. “I have discussed many times before — most prominently here — why our agreement with our source, along with related legal issues, prevents any sort of mass release of documents, but I have been working endlessly … to continue to publish stories all around the world, including publishing many stories and documents after we formed our new venture.”
The response was spurred by a reader who questioned the likelihood of Greenwald’s continued independence in light of his role in Omidyar’s new nonprofit media company/for-profit tech company hybrid, First Look. “The centrality of me and the NSA story to this new venture has been wildly overstated,” says Greenwald. “The very idea that Pierre would stop what he was doing and devote himself to building a new media organization with $250 million in funding — all motivated by one story that has already been reported elsewhere around the world for 7 months and will continue to be reported in all sorts of other media outlets — is simply ridiculous.”
Also absurd, Greenwald argues, is the notion that he’s saving the good stuff Snowden provided for the launch. “We will continue to publish aggressively with other outlets until we are up and running at First Look,” he writes.
To combat claims that his sole control over Snowden’s cache presents an opportunity for corruption, Greenwald counters that the progressive filmmaker Laura Poitras, who connected him with the NSA source in the first place, also has the full load — although she, too, is signed up with Omidyar.
“But beyond Laura, there are multiple organizations with tens of thousands of Snowden documents — tens of thousands! That includes the New York Times, the Guardian, ProPublica, and Bart Gellman/The Washington Post,” he writes, adding, “Our work is very far from done: there are many, many more documents and stories that we will publish.”