Reporter Glenn Greenwald, who has been in the center of publishing Edward Snowden’s revelations on the illegal spying of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and Britain’s GCHQ, was the sole witness (via Skype) at a one-hour hearing of the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Commission on December 18; the hearing can be seen on the European Parliament website. His testimony will be followed by testimony by Snowden himself (from Moscow), perhaps as early as January, as the London Guardian reported December 12.
In his opening statement, Greenwald said that the objective of the NSA is to abolish privacy, and demonstrated this in several ways from from the NSA’s own documents. He said that privacy is necessary because if we believe that authorities may be monitoring our communications and actions, we become conformists. We lose our potential for creativity.
In answer to a question, Greenwald characterized Judge Leon’s (Federal District Court for DC) December 16 ruling that NSA warrantless mass data collection was plainly unconstitutional, as the first “real” court ruling on the program, since the FISA court, which has permitted it, is a so-called court which meets and rules in secret, and only hears from government spy agencies, never adversaries of spying. Few people would consider the FISA court to be a real court, he said. And Judge Leon is a highly-respected national security judge, who was appointed by George W. Bush and is a political conservative.
Greenwald also said that people are ignoring the “extreme and radical” view of the British government on press freedoms, with their characterization of the Greenwald newspaper stories as “terrorism.” Greenwald said his lawyers have advised him to avoid any travel to Europe in view of these British policies.
In answers to other questions, Greenwald demonstrated that NSA-GCHQ spying was often directed at economic and business activity, citing their spying on Brazil’s state oil company and on trade negotiations. He said there have been over a dozen newspaper articles using the Snowden documents to demonstrate this.
When one MEP expressed concern about Greenwald’s personal safety, he said that he and his colleagues have made arrangements under which they feel as confident as they possibly can, that these reports will continue, and that nothing and no one can stop them.