Pivotal Keynote by Glenn Greenwald

Here’s Glenn Greenwald’s awesome 50-minute keynote, teleported LIVE to over 6,000 CCC’ers present, and just 4 days later I’m viewer #22,290 (!) … It’s on YouTube (which is owned by what CCC’ers call ‘the Faceboogle,’ which is ironic) so …sorry Spooks!


Here’s Cory Doctorow’s shorter report, and here’s my summary of Greenwald’s points, in quotations whenever possible, in 5 sections:

  1. Since breaking Edward Snowden’s story, Greenwald and colleagues, and people who contact him, have started to overcome the obstacles to communicating securely with one another – huge sea change in the right direction, though motivation had to be high for laypeople (like Greenwald) to become proficient with the most rudimentary of tools.
  2. The appearance of government “reform” / judicial ‘oversight’ (LOL) / congressional committees / intelligence committees is called into existence for PR, but is actually run by pro-NSA people whose intentions are to maintain/intensify surveillance.  “The answer to whether or not we’re going to have any meaningful reform definitely does not lie in the typical processes of democratic accountability that we’re all taught to respect, but they do lay elsewhere.”  He names a few places/levels in order of increasing proximity to our self-empowerment, and follows with “but I ultimately think that

    the greatest hope lies with
    the people in this room
    and the skills that all of you possess.”

    please help me attribute this to the artist
    • Beware impostors tempting the young talent to work for the dark side (his message, my word choice).  Greenwald: stick with defending human beings.
  3. It’s true, many would-be whistleblowers and transparency activists cannot rationalize paying the price of the extreme punishments that have been doled out so far.  “The paradox is that, there are a lot of other people, I think even more people, who react in exactly the opposite way:  when they see [governments] willing to abuse power, they don’t become scared of deterred, they become even more emboldened.  And the reason for that, is that: when you see these governments are capable of that level of abuse of power, you realize that you can no longer in good conscience stand by (…).  It becomes an even greater imperative to you to come forward and shine a light on what they’re doing.” “there’s a really sweet irony, and – I think – cause for optimism – that it is [the US and Britain] who are sowing the seeds of dissent, who are fueling the fire of this activism with their own abusive behavior.”  And he wishes that the elected ‘leaders’ of other nations, whose privacy was served by Snowden’s actions, would be bold enough to act on treaties that obligate them to protect his rights, or moral enough to, based on the debt they owe to him.
  4. The first document Snowden ever showed Greenwald was proof of outright lying by officials

    “by lie I mean advisedly: things they know to be false that they’re saying anyway, to convince people of what they want them to believe.”  Names specific examples.  The recording quality gets hazy, but I believe I hear clear statements that

    it’s not anti-terror, but economic negotiations and -investments that have been heavily spied upon without a warrant.  

    Journalists are supposed to be watchdogs for this, but “at the same time, the same media that sees it, acts scandalized if you suggest that [officials’] claims should not be taken at face value.  Because their role is not to be adversarial.  Their role is to be loyal spokespeople to the [very government] that they pretend to exercise oversight [on].”  Reporters are bold and “very ‘brave’ in condemning Snowden.”  “And yet the top of senate lied to their faces, and you will be hard pressed to find even a single one of those [‘brave’ reporters]” interrupted by applause  “… express the idea that Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, be subject to the rule of law and be prosecuted and imprisoned for the crimes that he committed.  Because the role of the U.S. media and their British counterparts [has been twisted into] to be voices for those with the greatest power, and to protect their interests and serve them…”

  5. One overarching point, meant quite literally:  The goal of the NSA and its 5-eyes partners of the English-speaking world (…) is to eliminate privacy globally, to ensure that there be no communications (…) that evades their surveillance net.  They want (…) all forms (…) all online activities are collected, scored, and analyzed by these allies.”  “That’s their goal.”   “They target every form of communication.”


For more context, see the links in my previous post, titled Chaos = Just Plain Love? Chaos Communications Congress.

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