Glenn Greenwald on 'This Week'

The Guardian columnist who broke the NSA phone surveillance report.
7:50 | 06/09/13

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Transcript for Glenn Greenwald on 'This Week'
welcome to "this week." Watching everything. Americans' phone records and also internet searches are under surveillance. The secret government programs tracking our phones, casting a wide net across the internet. Has it protected national security? This program was used to stop a terrorist attack. And at what cost to personal privacy? I'm appalls. This morning, we cover the controversy from all angles. The reporter who broke the story, glenn greenwald, the senator who sounded the alarm, mark udall, and the committee chairs who approved the program, dianne feinstein and mike rogers. That and all of the week's politics, with abc's george will and matthew dowd, paul krugman and congressman keith ellison and greta van susteren from fox news. Hello, again. The secret struggle to balance national security and individual liberty broke out into the open this week after a series of blockbuster revelations starting in "the guardian" newspaper. We learned that the government has the capacity to track virtually every american's phone call and scoop up data across the internet. Our first guest is "the guardian" columnist getting these scoops, glenn greenwald. Thank you for joining us. You broke another story yesterday. Showing the data-collection scale. The government collected 97 billion pieces of information. What's the key finding here? There are two key findings. One, there are members of the congress who have the responsibility for oversight, for checking the people who run this vast secret apparatus of spying to make sure they're not abusing their power. They have continuously asked the nsa to provide information about how americans they're spying on. And the nsa continuously tells them we can't give you rough estimates. With these documents publish show, marked top secret, was that the nsa keeps extremely precise statistics. All the data that the senators has asked for, that the nsa has falsely claimed doesn't exist. As you said, it indicates how vast and massive the nsa is in terms of sweeping up all forms of communication around the globe including domestically. You also drew new criticism yesterday from the director of national intelligence, james clapper. He called the disclosures reckless. And added that the articles are filled with inaccuracies. Your response? Any time that a media outlet reports on something that the government is hiding, that political officials don't want people to know, such as the fact they're collecting the phone records of all of americans regardless of any suspicion of wrongdoing, people in power do exactly the same thing, they attack the media as the messenger and try to discredit the story. Ever since the pentagon papers were released by "new york times," the only thing we have endangered is the reputation of the people in power who are building this massive spying apparatus without any credibility, who are trying to hide from the american people what they're doing. There is no national security harm to letting people know they're collecting data. These are things that the american people have the right to know. But one of this things that you reported that the government has, quote, direct access to major internet companies, like google, microsoft and facebook. All of the companies have come out and denied that. The u.S. Government doesn't have direct access or a back door to the information stored in our data centers. Similar statements from facebook and apple. Now, I take it there could be some word games being played here. What is your understanding about what's actually happening? It does appear they don't have direct access to the servers. Our story was very clear. What we said, we presented it as a story from the start. We have top-secret nsa documents that there's a new program called p.R.I.S.M. That provides collection directly from the servers of these companies. We then went to all of those companies named and they said no, we don't provide direct access to our servers. So, there was a conflict, which was what we reported. Nsa claims they have direct access to companies but they deny it. Agreements have been reached between these internet companies that store massive amount of around the country. And the government. We should have this debate out in the open. Let these companies that collect massive amount of information about people and government resolve this discrepancy in public. We reported these precisely because we want those parties toresolve it in public, and let people decide whether or not that's the kind of country they want to live in when the government can get this massive amount of information. The spokesman also said that a crimes report has been filed by the national security agency, have you been contacted by the fbi or any federal law official yet? No. I would be more than happy to speak to them. I will tell them that there's a thing called the constitution. I have every right and even e obligation as a journalist to tell my fellow citizens what the government is doing. They don't want people in the united states to know about. I'm happy to talk to them at any time and the attempt to intimidate journalists and sources of con sent the threats of investigation aren't going to work. A career government official who's concerned about these programs. A former prosecutor called the source a double agent. I know that you're not going to reveal the source. What can you tell us about the source's motivation? I'm not going to confirm one individual or more than one. Let me make this point. Because, I think, this is so critical. Every time there's a whistle blower, someone who exposes government wrongdoing. The tactic is to demonize as a traitor. They risk their careers, lives and liberties. What they were seen being done in secret, inside the united states government, is so alarming they simply want one thing. And that is, they want the american people to learn about this massive spying apparatus and what the capabilities are, so we can have an open, honest debate. If people decide they want the government knowing everything about them, intervening in all of their communications. Monitoring them, keepings dossiers on them, so be it. At least we should have that debate openly and democratically. With the threat of criminal prosecution, the only way for us to live about them is through these courageous whistle blowers. Finally, should we be expecting more revelations from you? You should. All right, glenn greenwald, thank you very much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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