Snowden reporter Greenwald quits Guardian

Greenwald facing the press
Greenwald facing the press

Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who broke so many of the stories about government surveillance leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, has been a nightmare for the Obama administration.

Now he’s leaving the Guardian, the British newspaper where he published those articles, to pursue what he calls a “once-in-a-career dream journalistic opportunity.”

News of Greenwald’s departure was broken by the website BuzzFeed. The journalist, who is also a lawyer, says he’s not ready to provide specifics. “Because this news leaked before we were prepared to announce it, I’m not yet able to provide any details of this momentous new venture, but it will be unveiled very shortly,” he said in a statement.

But whatever the particulars, it’s probably safe to anticipate that his new news operation will specialize in hard-edged, investigative reporting fueled by a liberal agenda.

In an interview with BuzzFeed, Greenwald indicated he didn’t plan to be playing small ball. He said his new organization would be “a very well-funded… very substantial new media outlet.” He won’t say where the money is coming from until the official announcement.

And he will clearly be the man, building the operation from scratch. “My role, aside from reporting and writing for it, is to create the entire journalism unit from the ground up by recruiting the journalists and editors who share the same journalistic ethos and shaping the whole thing — but especially the political journalism part — in the image of the journalism I respect most,” he said.

Greenwald, who lives in Rio de Janeiro, says he’ll continue to do so. But while some of the staff will be based there as well, he says the news outlet’s main outposts would be in New York City, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco.

The Snowden correspondent’s new gig will be funded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, Reuters reported, citing “people familiar with the matter.”

Greenwald, known for his crusading liberal approach, had nothing but good things to say about the Guardian. The two seemed a perfect fit, since the British news outlet is also known for its activist, left-leaning approach.

“My partnership with the Guardian has been extremely fruitful and fulfilling: I have high regard for the editors and journalists with whom I worked and am incredibly proud of what we achieved,” Greenwald said.

Right back atya, the Guardian responded. “Glenn Greenwald is a remarkable journalist and it has been fantastic working with him,” spokeswoman Jennifer Lindenauer said. “Our work together over the last year has demonstrated the crucial role that responsible investigative journalism can play in holding those in power to account. We are of course disappointed by Glenn’s decision to move on, but can appreciate the attraction of the new role he has been offered. We wish him all the best.”

Greenwald, who began his journalism career with the pioneering online magazine Salon, has had an enormous impact on the political climate in the United States. His stunning disclosures of massive government collection of email and phone data of ordinary Americans with absolutely no connection to terrorism shook lawmakers and ordinary citizens alike.

At first the conventional wisdom in Washington was that this was no huge deal. Much of the initial outrage focused on leaker Snowden rather than the stunning information he had leaked.

But that soon changed as new details continued to emerge. In July, the House came close to passing a measure to block the NSA’s wholesale collection of telephone records. Before Snowden and Greenwald, such a close vote, or even a vote at all, would have been unimaginable.

In September, four senators introduced legislation to rein in the NSA. And even staunch defenders of the snooping like Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, say that reforms are in order.

Greenwald is aggressive, passionate and fearless. It will be fascinating to watch his new venture take shape. – USAToday