Glenn Greenwald: Germany’s Reaction to Edward Snowden’s NSA Revelations & the History of Surveillance

Glenn Greenwald

In this video acTVism Munich asks Glenn Greenwald at a press conference in Munich about German governments reactions towards Edward Snowden’s revelations and whether its actions were meaningful. Greenwald also provides his opinion about previous programs that were implemented after World War II which were targeted at the civilian population of the US that include the FBI’s COINTELPRO & CIA’s CHAOS operation.


Summary: Germany & the NSA Scandal

Although the US long considers Germany as an “indispensable” and “valuable” ally within NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), the highly classified documents made public by Glenn Greenwald & Edward Snowden in 2013 reveal that the NSA collects more data from Germany in contrast to any of the other 27 European Union (EU) member states. Bulk surveillance and collection is not only targeted at the German population, where around 500 million Meta-Data connections are collected (normal days for up to 20 million telephone calls and 10 million Internet data exchanges) but also at high level politicians such as the current chancellor, Angela Merkel (CDU), whose phone was tapped by the US agency.

More recently in April, 2015, Wikileaks released documents that exposed how the German BND assisted the spying operation of the NSA aimed at European firms and officials. In July, 2015, the whistleblowing website also exposed how the NSA tapped the phones of the political offices of the last three German chancellors – Angela Merkel (2005-Present), Gerhard Schröder (in office 1998–2002) and Helmut Kohl (chancellor from 1982 to 1998).


VIDEO: Glenn Greenwald talks about Germany’s Reaction to Edward Snowden’s NSA Revelations & the History of Surveillance


Notable quote from the interview:

“I would put Germany as sort of the other country alongside Brazil that has benefited the most: spying on the German population but also German political leaders. The reason you have that is because there was one individual, who was willing to risk everything in order to protect the privacy rights of German citizens and German political leaders, and they (both) benefited greatly from that. To watch the same very people who have benefited so much from the sacrifice of Edward Snowden, namely German politicians, be unwilling to risk anything in order to do for him what he did for them, which is to protect his political rights from persecution has been, I think, not just surprising but kind of horrible to watch. I actually do not think that the German government would have to risk all that much if it were to give asylum to Snowden but what we saw even in the investigation that the German Parliament pretended to do was that they weren’t willing to risk anything, even bring Edward Snowden to Germany just to interview him or to question him if it meant alienating the United States or angering the United States in any way. So I think the investigation here, the attempts to find out what the NSA was really doing were more symbolic than they were genuine.”

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About Glenn Greenwald:

421952-970x600-1Glenn Greenwald is an American lawyer, journalist and author. In June 2013 Greenwald became widely known after The Guardian published the first of a series of reports detailing United States and British global surveillance programs, based on classified documents disclosed by Edward Snowden. The series on which Greenwald worked along with others won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

His reporting on the National Security Agency (NSA) won numerous other awards around the world, including top investigative journalism prizes from the George Polk Award for National Security Reporting,the 2013 Online Journalism Awards, the Esso Award for Excellence in Reporting in Brazil for his articles in O Globo on NSA mass surveillance of Brazilians (becoming the first foreigner to win the award), the 2013 Libertad de Expresion Internacional award from Argentinian magazine Perfil, and the 2013 Pioneer Award from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

His work on the NSA files was in part the subject of the film Citizenfour, which won the 2014 Academy Award for Best Documentary. Greenwald appeared onstage at the Oscar ceremony with the film’s director, Laura Poitras, as she accepted the award.


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