Greenwald: Here's how to stop the NSA

The journalist tells a Reddit AMA that the bulk of important revelations about surveillance are still to come

By Natasha Lennard

Published October 1, 2013 6:27PM (EDT)

Answering questions Tuesday during a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) session, the Guardian's Glenn Greenwald revealed that the bulk of shocking revelations about NSA spy programs is still to come.

Since June, the continuous release of top-secret National Security Agency documents, leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden, has shed new and outrage-fueling light on the U.S. government's near totalized surveillance of communications within and going out of the U.S..

"Surveillance = power. The more you know about someone, the more you can control and manipulate them in all sorts of ways. That is one reason a Surveillance State is so menacing to basic political liberties," wrote Greenwald on Reddit, essentially revealing the undergirding principle behind reporting on the extent of the surveillance state. For Greenwald -- and rightly so -- the question of surveillance gets to the heart of shadowy operations of governmentality and control.

As the journalist and his colleagues like filmmaker Laura Poitras have teased, there are many more revelations to come from the thousands of documents leaked by Snowden. Greenwald noted Tuesday:

There are definitely huge new stories to come: many more.
... I think the public - not just in the US but worldwide - now has a basic idea of the objective of the NSA: to eliminate privacy worldwide, literally, by ensuring that every human electronic communication is subject to being collected, stored, analyzed and monitored by the NSA and its allies (UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia).
Still, even with the general understanding, there are still many specific revelations that I think will surprise most people, coming imminently.
... [T]here are thousands of documents, and the majority of ones that should (and will) be published still remain.

The sheer number of leaked documents and shocking revelations has, in some ways, muted the impact of certain hugely important stories to arise from the leaks. In his AMA, Greenwald agreed that two major stories should have created more of a stir:

In my view, the two most overlooked stories we've published are the one... about the secret presidential directive signed by Obama to prepare for offensive cyber operations: essentially the militarization of the internet... and the document we recently published showing NSA gives unminimized communications of U.S. persons to Israel with very few binding safeguards.

I have written here before about the huge challenges facing those of us who might want to push back against the surveillance state, but rely daily on devices and communications systems that render us ripe for surveillance. In the AMA, however, Greenwald spoke optimistically about how the public might resist totalized government surveillance, and how he believes the NSA's mission can be stopped if the popular will is amply engaged:

As for whether in can be stopped: I have zero doubt that it can be. All institutions built by human beings can always be restrained, or even torn down and replaced, by other human beings, when the right will and strategy are found.

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

MORE FROM Natasha LennardFOLLOW natashalennardLIKE Natasha Lennard

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Ama Edward Showden Glenn Greenwald Reddit Spying Surveillance Surveillance State The Guardian Whistle-blower