Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman writes about his interactions with Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old federal contractor who leaked details of the NSA's PRISM program to The Guardian and the Post:
“I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions, and that the return of this information to the public marks my end,” [Snowden] wrote in early May, before we had our first direct contact. He warned that even journalists who pursued his story were at risk until they published.
The U.S. intelligence community, he wrote, “will most certainly kill you if they think you are the single point of failure that could stop this disclosure and make them the sole owner of this information.” [emphasis added]
In case you weren't already sufficiently skeptical of Snowden's claims, his belief that the U.S. intelligence community "will most certainly kill" a U.S. journalist to stop a leak is so detached from reality that it should serve as a wake-up call.
At the Daily Beast, Michael Moynihan cautions that journalists should resist the "the insta-consecration" of Snowden:
As is clear from his interview with TheGuardian, Snowden is a deeply intelligent guy but also one who indulges in the conspiratorial. The CIA, he says, could “render” (i.e., kidnap) him at any time, which is highly unlikely but not symptomatic of the paranoid. But in the same breath, he warns that United States government could “pay off the Triads,” or any of their “agents or assets,” to do him harm. He also claims that “sitting at my desk, [I] certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal e-mail.” Possibly, and it’s a claim that should be vigorously investigated, but was a relatively low-level, 29-year-old NSA subcontractor authorized to wiretap anyone in the United States? Let us, at least, hope this isn’t true.
The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald, the indefatigable writer who broke the NSA story, has hinted that more documents are to come, and it’s possible that further evidence could clarify the story and add much-needed detail to the growing outrage. But until we know more, let’s take a few breaths and resist the insta-consecration of Edward Snowden.