One of the three reporters at the center of NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s leaks is planning to enter the country that charged Snowden with espionage. Glenn Greenwald plans to “force the issue” by returning to the United States despite the possibility that he may be arrested.
Recent comments by government officials have made the situation even more tenuous such as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers who called Greenwald “a thief” who was “selling” national security secrets based on Greenwald’s freelance work. An accusation that came after Director of National Intelligence James Clapper referred to Greenwald and other journalists as “accomplices” of Snowden’s leaks.
When we last spoke in August, Greenwald was cognizant of the risks he’d face if he visited the United States, but he was also pointedly defiant. “I take more seriously the Constitution’s guarantee of a free press in the First Amendment,” he said at the time. “So I have every intention of entering the U.S. as soon as my schedule permits and there’s a reason to do so.”
Today he remains defiant — “I’m going to go back to the U.S. for many reasons, but just the fucking principle is enough … On principle I’m going to force the issue” — but recent comments by Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee; James Clapper, the director of national intelligence; and others have intensified his doubts.
The contest appears to be between the national security state and the Bill of Rights – a contest that in theory should be no contest. The First Amendment exists for exactly these circumstances. So if the national security state is able to legitimize their surveillance activities by imprisoning Greenwald it might be bedtime for democracy or at least an informed one.
But does the NSA and friends want this showdown?
“Everybody I’ve talked to, including experienced lawyers — nobody has said ‘this is crazy,’” Greenwald added, stipulating that he doubts he’d actually be charged with anything — less than 50 percent chance of that in his mind. Nevertheless, “Everybody recognizes that there’s some risk.”
What Greenwald might be actually charged with is one thing, he will undoubtedly be spied on and one imagines that NSA operatives will be trying like hell to break into his electronic devices the moment he arrives to learn about stories and sources. Because, freedom.