NSA Surveillance - Public vs. Private

Image © Ivelin Radkov

What one article has done for the life of Glenn Greenwald, who has just struck a book deal with Metropolitan, must baffle even Greenwald himself. One day, he's your typical reporter for The Guardian, chasing leads, milking sources, and dishing scoops with average fanfare. The next, people are demanding his arrest and sincerely questioning his legal footing and loyalty to objective journalism. What joins the disparate days is June 5, 2013 (Eisenhower's original date for D-Day), when Greenwald rekindled the forgotten fires of an ongoing American privacy debate by revealing the US government's indiscriminate collection of data from non-threatening Americans.

Like fishing, chances of catching a big scoop are proportionate to the patience employed, and Greenwald has been quite patient. His ability to hook Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower now seeking temporary asylum in Russia, comes after a decades-long career in journalism, much of it spent covering NSA surveillance. Now, Greenwald is writing a book in which he promises additional revelations, ones concerning the profound complicity of telecom companies, and new questions regarding the far-reaching effects controversial monitoring can and will have on the world stage.

Glenn Greenwald's original story in The Guardian reached 142,222 Facebook shares since it went live. There have been 2,511 comments on the article, and near-daily follow up reports as Edward Snowden now fears for his life. The documentary We Steal Secrets, which questions why whistleblower's do what they do (effectively halving the ramparts of their own homes), has a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In short, this is a ripe subject, and won't quickly fade from public discourse. Greenwald's new book, then, will likely be met with insatiable demand.

Americans, it seems, have been more riled by the perceived breach of our inalienable rights than they have been, for instance, by America's lagging wars in the Middle East. Perhaps that's because humans respond to what's closest to us, and while friends and family members fight bravely on our behalf, more still have cell phones and a strong sense of privacy. Now, we are being forced to reconcile that sense of privacy with a more nebulous sense of future safety. To many, the question becomes: "At what cost?"

We're hoping Glenn Greenwald's new book, set to be published in March 2014, will shed light on an issue that all too often leaves Americans with more questions than answers. But Greenwald needn't answer the question of whether the end justifies the means. People are simply looking for more information, so that we may intelligently answer it ourselves.

Glenn Greenwald's prior books have likewise dealt with the issue of selective constitutionality. For a glimpse into the unequal application of America's legal system, check out With Liberty and Justice for Some.