As a part of Secrecy Week, lawyer and journalist Glenn Greenwald, spoke to a full auditorium about the NSA and United States transparency in light of the Edward Snowden leaks.
“Secrecy is an epidemic in this county,” Greenwald said. “Throughout my reporting, I have spoken with members of Congress, on both sides, who praise Snowden’s leak. These same people were on an oversight committee on abuses of in-government security and had no idea what the NSA was doing.”
Greenwald refused to give exact figures but said the number of papers Snowden was able to take from the NSA was in the tens of thousands.
“We will never publish everything that we have. Some of the documents may undermine or put in jeopardy a number of programs, as well as potentially endanger individuals listed,” Greenwald said.
However, Greenwald said despite files being labeled “Top Secret,” some documents do not contain information of consequence.
Charles Fink, an engineer from Salt Lake City, wants the papers to be available to the public and said it’s not Greenwald’s place to “play God.”
“It’s hypocritical for Snowden to be called a whistle-blower and not have released everything he has,” Fink said. “If the American public is already being spied on, and that’s been exposed, shouldn’t we see what was collected from that surveillance?”
Addressing Utah’s proximity to the Bluffdale’s NSA collection agency, Greenwald reassured residents there was nothing to be worried about. Greenwald said Utahns are “no more being watched than someone across the country,” but being so close does tie the community to the agency.
“Perhaps the most shocking thing about the NSA is that their motto, that appears over and over, is ‘Collect it all’ — and they have set out to do just that,” Greenwald said.
In his speech, Greenwald said Snowden was “courageous in what he did and very clear on the conscientiousness of his decision.” Greenwald noted that Snowden could have easily posted everything online but instead contacted Greenwald and partner Laura Poitras to do research on the security abuses.
Because Snowden faces criminal charges if he returns to the U.S., he is currently living in Russia.