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In an hour long testimony, Greenwald discusses contents of secret documents, importance of metadata, and Europe’s obligation to help Snowden.
Secret documents leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden reveal that the U.S. National Security Agency’s goal is the “elimination of privacy worldwide,” Glenn Greenwald said to an E.U. investigatory committee.
As RT reported, in statements made during an hour long testimony to the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties and Home Affairs, Greenwald, who has worked extensively with Snowden to publish classified NSA documents, said that ending personal privacy was the “literal description of what the NSA and its closest surveillance partners are attempting to achieve.”
Greenwald referred to the U.K. Government Communications Headquarters as the NSA’s “most loyal, subservient junior partner.” He indicated that the U.K. has equated his and the Guardian’s reporting with terrorism, pointing out that the practice of drawing that parallel between journalism and terrorism has been broadly condemned by the U.S. government.
He added that the goal of collecting all communications, regardless of the source, is “repeatedly said in their private documents,” the majority of which have never been revealed to the public.
Supporting his claim, Greenwald said there are “numerous programs” whose sole purpose is to find places on the planet where humans are communicating beyond the reach of the NSA. One such program, he says, is aimed at finding ways to “better invade Wi-Fi systems on airplanes” so that the agency can monitor and activity by air travelers.
“Just the fact that humans are communicating with one another is reason enough” for the NSA to set up a spying operation, Greenwald said.
However, he said content was not in fact the main goal of NSA collection. Instead, metadata is the “supreme priority.” “It isn’t just surveillance experts that think that way,” he told the committee. “It’s the NSA itself.”
Greenwald went on to scold European governments for exploiting Snowden’s leaks for their advantage but then “turning their back” on him. Though he didn’t elaborate on the statement, Greenwald is no doubt speaking about Europe’s unwillingness to offer permanent political asylum to Snowden. Currently, the fugitive intelligence contractor is living and working in Russia under temporary protection.
“Most governments around the world have decided to turn their back not only on him but on their own obligations both ethically and legally” to grant political asylum to those who deserve it, Greenwald said. He called Europe’s behavior “strange and disappointing.”
“When we know that we are being watched by other people,” Greenwald concluded, “our behavior is much different than when we act in a private realm.” He noted that creativity and individuality are stifled when people fear they are being watched (whether or not the actually are at that moment). “A society in which the private realm is abolished [is] a society that breeds conformity.”
Photo by Francisco Antunes/Flickr
Joe Kloc is a former Daily Dot contributor who covered technology and policy. He's contributed to Newsweek and Mother Jones, discussed his reporting on air with WNYC, and written Weekly Reviews for Harper's Magazine.