Saint Glenn Greenwald is a little irked by suggestions that he may have aided and abetted NSA leaks that came from his 'source' (and fellow Ron Paul admirer) Edward Snowden. Being a lawyer, Greenwald of course knows that such a possibility removes from him the cloak of journalism and instead makes him an instigator in a criminal conspiracy. So what if he bragged just earlier this month that he'd been working with Snowden since February,before Snowden's job with NSA contractor Booz Allen, a job Snowden reportedly admittedly took with the specific intent and purpose of collecting intelligence information he could leak?
Greenwald spoke with Greg Sargent, basically saying "I did not have working relations with that
It was only in May — and not before — that Snowden told him who he was, who he worked for (at that point he identified himself as affiliated with the NSA) and what sort of documents he had to share, Greenwald says. It wasn’t until June — when Greenwald visited Snowden in Hong Kong — that Snowden told him he worked specifically for Booz Allen, Greenwald adds. [...]What? Did I say I worked with Snowden since February? I meant I did not work with that guy I didn't even know the name of until May!
“We had early conversations about setting up encryption, so we worked early on to set that up,” Greenwald says. “We didn’t work on any documents. I didn’t even know Edward Snowden’s name or where he worked until after he was in Hong Kong with the documents. Anyone who is claiming that somehow I worked with him to get those documents or helped him is just lying.”
Here's what you're supposed to believe if you believe Glenn Grenwald: A completely anonymous source calls him and tells him he's got "explosive" documents to expose the NSA (which turned out to be completely legal, court-permitted intelligence gathering). This source also tells him that he needs to set up a secure channel of communications. Greewald's response: mmkay. He doesn't bother to find out who this guy is, if he is credible and if so why, what type of documents, or what those documents would show. After all, Greenwald explicitly claims that they "didn't work on any documents." And that encrypted communications system? It took 3 months to set up - whoever was setting it up sure as heck took their time.
Then Snowden took the documents, flew to Hong Kong, which of course Greenwald also could not have known, contacted Greenwald and dropped the pile of documents in his electronic lap.
That's it, that's all there is to it. Move along, folks, nothing to see here.
Except there is. Was the twit-bragging about working with Snowden just chest-thumping? If you look at the stream, Greenwald's tweet that he'd been "working with" Snowden came in response to someone asking him if Snowden went to The Guardian because the Washington Post insisted on publishing all the PRISM slides, which Greenwald says Snowden didn't want to publish documents indiscriminately. If all that "work" involved was setting up a secure communication system (without even knowing this guy's name), then why mention it when the conversation is explicitly about the documents/slides?
Next, think about the statements that he did not work with Snowden on the documents - presumably even the nature of the documents except that they were "explosive" and from the NSA (and really, I think GG would be hard pressed to think any document coming from the NSA can possibly not be 'explosive') - he went along setting up the communication system without knowing if this guy was really some 14-year-old pulling a prank? Who the heck does that?
There are two explanations for the confluence and sequence of events here: the first is that Greenwald is a attention-seeking chest thumper who likes to exaggerate and give false impressions of the true nature of his relationship with his 'sources.' He is also too dumb to realize that his twitter stream could be discovered later and put in context by people with a critical eye on it. This would explain why his tweet seems more than he now says it was meant to convey. I don't think Greenwald is this dumb, but maybe he is.
The second, and in my mind more likely explanation is this: Greenwald is an attention-whore, and he was saying in that tweet exactly what most reasonable people thought he was saying: that he's been working with Snowden on the documents since February. Which would mean that he is now lying to Greg Sargent because he's afraid of that being discovered.
But why? Working with a source over a period of months on the content of the source material is not a crime! It would only be a crime if he were instigating and influencing (or directing) his source about the documents/what documents to get/etc. The logical conclusion from that would be that the only reason Greenwald would be worried about this timeline being exposed is because he wasn't simply workingwith his source to get the material, but that his involvement was more than that of a journalist. And hence now the backtracking and the handwringing about how he had no idea who Snowden even was at the point (February) he himself admitted to "working with" him.
Of course, Greenwald, to his worshipers Transparency Personified, could clear this all up: release all of his communications - emails, phone calls (which I am sure he recorded as a journalist), notes he took - with Edward Snowden. That way, we can all know. But you won't do that, will you, Mr. Transparency? I wonder why. After all, it could no longer hurt the reporting, since the reporting is done already.
I don't know about you, but something smells. Something smells fishy here.