Journalist Glenn Greenwald: Obama's NSA Reforms 'Trivial'

Image: Journalist Glenn Greenwald: Obama's NSA Reforms 'Trivial'

Friday, 17 Jan 2014 08:01 PM

By Cynthia Fagen

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Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who has been reporting thousands of leaked documents from renegade spy analyst Edward Snowden, told CNN that President Barack Obama's NSA reforms — outlined in his speech on Friday — are "trivial."

Obama's promised changes also fail to get rid of the National Security Agency's controversial phone metadata surveillance on Americans, Greenwald said.

Speaking to CNN's Jake Tapper, Greenwald said Obama's claim on the bulk collection of phone records of Americans has "zero evidence this stops any terrorist plots."

Greenwald also refuted the president's claim that metadata phone collection might have been able to prevent 9/11. Obama argued in his speech that one of the hijackers had made a call to Yemen that could not be traced back to the United States.

Greenwald also struck back at the president's warning that if the NSA is stripped of its powers Americans may regret it later if a terrorist attack happened. "This is just fear mongering," Greenwald said.

"Nobody in the debate at all is opposed to targeted surveillance," Greenwald said, but bringing people to justice at any cost is a poor argument for government intrusion into an individual's privacy, he said.

"We could eliminate all sorts of crimes, Jake, like rape and murder and kidnapping and pedophilia, if we just do away with the requirement that police officers first get a search warrant before entering our house or if we let the government put video cameras in all of our homes and offices and watch what we're doing all the time.

"We make the choice that we'd rather not do that because we'd rather live with a greater risk of crime than let the government invade our privacy," Greenwald said.

He also said Obama was ramping up the fear factor by saying the same things President George W. Bush had said about security.

Greenwald did not say if he had talked to Snowden after the president's speech, but the former NSA contract worker and leaker of thousands of national security secrets "is extremely grateful [for] the role he played in triggering the debate."

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