Jun 24, 2013 No Comments ›› Chuck Biscuits
Excerpted from The Washington Post: Glenn Greenwald isn’t your typical journalist. Actually, he’s not your typical anything. A lawyer, columnist, reporter and constitutional liberties advocate, Greenwald blurs a number of lines in an age in which anyone can report the news.
But has Greenwald — one of two reporters who broke the story of the National Security Agency’s classified Internet surveillance program — become something other than a journalist in the activist role he has taken in the wake of the NSA disclosures?
Defining who is and who isn’t a journalist isn’t just an academic exercise when it comes to revealing matters of top-secret national security. Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), the former chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, suggested earlier this month that Greenwald had stepped beyond typical journalistic boundaries and should be prosecuted for revealing state secrets.
Greenwald, an American living in Brazil who writes for the British newspaper the Guardian, has reacted combatively to such suggestions. He bristled again when asked about it Sunday by moderator David Gregory on “Meet the Press.”
“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,” he said. He maintained that he had done only what other investigative journalists have long done, and denied that he had “aided and abetted” Snowden in any fashion.
Greenwald has been close to Snowden ever since the government contractor approached him anonymously early this year, offering to relate secret information. Snowden was apparently attracted to Greenwald’s work as an opponent of the government’s domestic and international security regimes since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Greenwald did not respond to a request for comment Sunday.
Although Greenwald has appeared frequently on TV to plead Snowden’s case as a whistleblower — an advocacy role many mainstream journalists would be uncomfortable with — there is no evidence that he has helped Snowden evade U.S. authorities who are now seeking Snowden’s arrest.
Edward Wasserman, dean of the University of California at Berkeley’s journalism school, said having a “social commitment” doesn’t disqualify anyone from being a journalist. But the public should remain skeptical of reporters who are also advocates. “Do we know if he’s pulling his punches or has his fingers on the scale because some information that should he should be reporting doesn’t fit [with his cause]?” Wasserman asked in an interview. “If that’s the case, he should be castigated.”
Still, the line between journalism — traditionally, the dispassionate reporting of facts — and outright involvement in the news seems blurrier than ever. Greenwald, for one, has left no doubt about where he stands.
“This is how the government always tries to protect themselves from transparency .?.?. by accusing those who bring it of endangering national security,” Greenwald said on “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “There’s been nothing that has been revealed [in the NSA case] that has been remotely endangering national security. The only .?.?. people who have learned anything are the American people, who have learned the spying apparatus is directed at them.”