The biggest national security breach in U.S. history was a warm-up for Glenn Greenwald. The former Guardian columnist who published Edward Snowden’s revelations is to launch a well-funded news outlet with a priority to share secrets from the world of surveillance, raising fears that U.S. national security will suffer.
Pierre Omidyar, the founder and chairman of eBay, has pledged a minimum $250 million to the “mass media organization” and specifies a focus on “government transparency and accountability”. Along with Greenwald, fellow NSA publisher Laura Poitras will be a founding member, as well as Jeremy Scahill, the man who exposed the Blackwater scandal in Iraq (when security contractors killed 17 civilians) and CIA torture practices.
Omidyar has been coy on details – the location and launch date have not been announced – but the billionaire is known to support a horizontal model that gives more freedom to journalists than traditional media. Greenwald has said this freedom was a major incentive for leaving The Guardian newspaper, which redacted many of Snowden’s documents for security reasons, although the published reports were still explosive enough to cause the resignations of leading NSA directors. Thousands of the documents remain unpublished.
“I think Omidyar is mission-driven,” Jay Rosen, director of journalism at New York University and close to both Greenwald and Omidyar, told Metro. “What he gets out of it is the prestige of public excellent public service journalism…that reveals what would have remained hidden.”
Greenwald’s supporters will demand something closer to a war on the security sector.
“We expect Glenn and Laura will produce hard-hitting investigative journalism on the ever-expanding surveillance state,” said a source at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is organizing an anti-NSA rally in Washington. The next revelations will be hotly anticipated
But security agencies will not wait to be attacked. “Given the kind of journalism it intends to practice, security, encryption, and protection of journalists are all going to be key,” says Rosen. British intelligence agency GCHQ are keen on prosecutions of people involved in the leaks, while security specialists in the US say lives will be lost unless Greenwald is stopped.
The new initiative promises to be explosive, and so does the confrontation.