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June 6th, 2013
10:48 PM ET

Glenn Greenwald on the NSA and PRISM: "It's well past time that we have a debate about whether that's the kind of country and world in which we want to live"

On the heels of Thursday's news that revealed government agencies have been using a secret program to collect various types of data from some of the largest digital companies – including Google, Apple, and Facebook – so as to monitor Americans communications, "Piers Morgan Live" invited Glenn Greenwald to offer his perspective.

One of the reporters credited for delivering the scoop, the columnist for "The Guardian" shared specifics of a program that we now know to be called "PRISM":

"There is a massive apparatus within the United States government that with complete secrecy has been building this enormous structure that has only one goal," he told Piers Morgan. "And that is to destroy privacy and anonymity not just in the United States but around the world."

Visibly impassioned, and notably distressed by what he's uncovered, Greenwald called for action, insisting something must be done to address the movements of the National Security Agency:

"It's well past time that we have a debate about whether that's the kind of country and world in which we want to live," he declared. "We haven't had that debate because it's all done in secrecy and the Obama administration has been very aggressive about bullying and threatening anybody who thinks about exposing it or writing about it or even doing journalism about it. It's well past time that that come to an end."

Watch the clip, and listen to the interview, as Greenwald goes on to explain his inspiration for digging deeper into the scandal, in the process detailing the bravery he feels his sources have shown in coming forward with information in the interest of privacy and freedom.
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soundoff (90 Responses)
  1. Terry

    Poor Mr. Morgan! It's terrible to find out that it's not just people like yourself that steal other peoples information. After all, it was the liberal media that got Mr. Obama elected, not once, but for a second term. And you wonder why people who own guns legally and are law-abiding are not willing to have the government vacuum up any more information on them than they already are. Mr. Obama said he would close Gitmo in his first term, and he still hasn't. Matter of fact they are renovating one wing of it right now! Now, Mr. Obama has all the scandals and will eventually end up getting impeached. You really seem upset by the fact that the government was gleaming and still is so much information. What is it that you have to hide Mr. Morgan? Maybe you are hiding something? And yes, if you stole, or anyone stole $150 from me, I would shoot you! I would not necessarily try to kill you, but if it happens it happens. And think that it is not just Texas that you would spend four years in jail waiting for your trial and having a jury of your peers, not convict you! Welcome to the United States, don't tread on any of my rights when you really don't like our way of life.

    June 6, 2013 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Max

      You do realize that PRISM started under the Bush administration, right?

      June 7, 2013 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
      • Abby

        It started at the very end of his administration, when Obama was already elected so who's to say he had any chose in the matter.

        June 7, 2013 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
      • martin

        Patriot Act was the Starting point....
        Everyone agreed upon throwing the first stone...
        It seemed like good idea at that point of time...

        June 16, 2013 at 7:21 am | Report abuse |
    • randomguy

      Maybe we should just destroy the parties system and become a Single Party State. It's already starting to feel that way with all the surveillance measures undergone, and might I also note both parties should take blame in some part for the events unfolding.

      June 7, 2013 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • westvillageblog

      You do realize that it's Congress who has to VOTE to close Guantánamo...? And Congress refuses to do it, because Republicans refuse to believe that terror suspects can be tried in US criminal courts...? Do you also realize that Congress has passed, and renewed, the Patriot Act with a veto-proof majority, and that NO REPUBLICAN has voted against the Patriot Act?

      June 7, 2013 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
      • sm

        YES Congress does! and you know what else? A special commity of congress authorized the cell phone tracking plan............. get your facts straight instead of blowing off at the mouth of what you personaly put together as a thought.

        June 10, 2013 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
      • westvillageblog

        We understand by now that it's LEGAL, and how it got that way; with a deceptive rush to war and national security rationalizations. The point is not that it's legal... it's that it should not be. The permanent war footing is corrosive to democracy.

        June 11, 2013 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shirley Mc Leod

      Abby – It did NOT start at the end of the Bush Administration. It started in 2004.... It has been approved by the Congressional Committee in charge of intelligence, etc. ALSO – It is not a wire tap – which BTW was done during the Bush Administration WITHOUT supoenas. There was a big outcry about that – they then stopped the taping without supoenas and changed the program to be less intrusive.
      As for is this how we want to live, of course it is not, but 9-11 has taken away our blindness to the possibilities of terrorist attacks. I have Verizon – don't care if my phone # (which is in telephone books and all over the internet in search engines) is collected with regard to other #s which I call, and which are also all over the internet and in public phone books. If it stops just one terrorist attack, I'm all for it, as are many Republican and Democrat Congress people. Who knows, it may actually save YOUR or MY life or the life of someone YOU or I love.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
      • Abby

        Well nether do I, but its call civil liberties. Look at the link I put and read what this person says who lives in a government that has this ;
        I have formed my opinion, and nothing can change.

        June 7, 2013 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
      • Badgerbyte

        Ms. McLeod, I'm so happy you're so secure and happy about the current wave after wave of egregious events however I as well as a majority of others, as will be evidenced, are finding it highly alarming, highly alarming regardless of political proclivity.

        June 8, 2013 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
      • arnie sonbreton

        “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety”, said Benjamin Franklin.

        June 9, 2013 at 4:31 am | Report abuse |
      • sm

        Hey genius! its started way before 2004. Wire tapping actually listens to your conversation, do you understand! I accept this technology to avert terrorism and give us the upper hand. you let all internet companies and the like of amazon and even you grocery and drug store track you internet and lively movement, RIGHT?

        June 10, 2013 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • TX Patriot

      Good point about background checks. We were told there was NO WAY the background check info would be stored permanently. Of course, that would be based on trust. Oh, the NSA is asking me to please speak more clearly into my phone....oh right, there is no way they are secretly recording content...

      How many times can they get caught lying and there are no repercussions?

      June 8, 2013 at 7:10 am | Report abuse | Reply
      • martin

        They just care about the "PR" problem.
        Sealing the diper thighter to prevent leakage.
        There is NO debate about the acctual surveillance,
        It,s existance is taken for granted
        Adapt & accept that freedom has been crippled,
        America is no longer best in class...

        June 16, 2013 at 7:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Josph Pomponio, Coffee Party U.S.A.

      I have a much longer response but have decided to use it in one of my blogs since it is to long for a simple reply. I will say this here, you seem to hold Mr. Morgan responsible for withholding information, I don't. Media, right or left, makes MONEY from our watching or reading what they have to say, the more controversy the more profits. If Mr. Morgan had more information its to his employers loss is its not revealed. The 1% media loves having people like us arguing, they make money off it. Since the media is owned by 6 corporations shouldn't you be wondering how much else needs reporting and how truthful it really is?

      June 9, 2013 at 7:24 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Laura Solway my body being moved by satellites 32 minutes 2 minute trailer for Killer Satellites 1 of 11

      June 9, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • martin

      Barabas barabas batabas...
      A democratic descision!

      June 16, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. hamptonhistory

    Glenn is a real journalist.

    June 6, 2013 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • arnie sonbreton

      Piers Morgan has had two guests recently who still understand what it means to be an American and what the idea of "America" is versus how it is evolving under those who find totalitarianism, even in small doses, to be acceptable as long as they can promulgate the illusion of safety. When did Americans become such fearful ninnies that they are happily lining up to have all that is at the very essence of being American erased as long as they are fed the illusion that they will always be safe, protected, "don't worry...Daddy is here" sheep? Those two guest, by the way, are Glenn Greenwald and the marvelous Bernie Sanders!

      June 9, 2013 at 4:39 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jason

      Correctamundo... Glenn is a national hero and his work on this for the past several years is worthy of a Pulitzer. He's been a lone voice in the wind, and while he leans progressive in his politics at times, on civil liberties issues there is no one more knowledgable. He's the Bob Woodward of his time and one of the few remaining in the 4th Estate willing to speak truth to power.

      June 9, 2013 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. niel cooperd

    Piers here is a question for you. What do Americans have for the last line of defence from a out of control corrupt tyrannical government?

    June 7, 2013 at 12:22 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • xenusparadox

      Oooh! I know! It rhymes with "buns" and Piers threatened to leave the USA over them!

      By the way, Piers, why are you still here?

      June 7, 2013 at 10:48 am | Report abuse | Reply
      • alfred

        Piers is getting his BUNS BUTTERED.

        June 7, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
      • arnie sonbreton

        I like Piers Morgan and would submit to you that he seems to understand what being an American really means far better than you do.

        June 9, 2013 at 4:41 am | Report abuse |
  4. Daniel cooper

    Government has bought the courts in California. SEE Senate Bill SBX211 SECTION 5

    June 7, 2013 at 12:28 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Ken

    Piers, it's so funny that I actually stand with you on most subjects, but so many of your stories are so full of it these days, in that you're not a true journalist, but a sensationalist. Where are the facts for this story? I didn't hear you ask for one single piece of evidence in the whole interview, and yet, you literally increase the divide in this country between anti-Obama folks, anti-government folks, and generally, conspiracy theorists.
    Any good journalist should ask for the facts before jumping all over any side of any story. This should be a story advising Americans that this IS happening or NOT happening, with proof either way, not just a bunch of say-so, stirring up everyone who just feed off this stuff. I personally have little doubt that some level of this is happening, but that's not the point of my post. The point is simple: Proof first. I'm so every thankful you're not the judge in a trial where I was depending on your integrity to get a fair verdict. This kind of journalism is just one step above The Enquirer, Star, etc... whose stories are so obviously true – yeah, right.

    June 7, 2013 at 12:33 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alinde OMalley

      AMEN, Ken!! Sensationalism it is. Maybe Morgan is trying to get a job at Fox news?

      I'm certainly no computer expert, but I've known for years that emails are NOT really private anyway. Anyone who thinks they've not not to be cautious about emails and the internet does not deserve to be called a journalist.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
      • atypicalalias

        The leaker, a vetted long time member of the intelligence community, said that our government has the ability through this program to literally watch your ideas as they form while you're typing them. If you would actually do a tiny bit of research you could have found this our on your own. It has been shown and reported many times over the past few days. How about you stay with the important news?

        June 7, 2013 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. brasstacs

    I find Dershowitz comments to Greenwald disturbing,but typical ...Dershowitz said in one breath "we don't know what we don't know" and I agree with that ..but then he turned around and said that the white house wouldn't have had anything to do with this??.or words to that effect... .But how could Dershowitz possibly know that ?? And much to Piers Morgan's credit, he challenged Dershowitz on that. Even with one scandal after another and a mountain of evidence of deceit and corruption there are those who refuse to even think that the corruption could go all the way to the top ....Or if they do they won't admit it.....Until very recently, most of the media would blackout or spin any story that was negative to Obama or his administration,and now, like it or not the media is being forced to report on these stories and even the left leaning New York times has editorialized.that the Obama administration has lost credibility ..The benefit of doubt should always be given, but that doesn't mean we should stick our heads in a hole ..We most demand the truth,and if there is proven wrong doing we must also demand justice. I rarely agree with Morgan on anything,and I despise Morgan's twisted agenda and untruthful and misleading propaganda about gun control... however I find it refreshing how Morgan is reporting on these scandal stories with an open mind, and not the usual liberal spin.

    June 7, 2013 at 12:36 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • gmathol

      Dershowitz belongs to the chosen people! Those people who are in control of the USA, rob you blind with the instruments of Wall Street.

      Many of the chosen people coming out of the occupied areas of Palestine and run the US security systems.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Gordon

    The only thing interesting about this story is that people believe this is new. This began in the 1950's and is practiced nearly worldwide. Many agencys collect data on thier own citizens, not just Prism. Fear is the easiest way to manipulate people.

    June 7, 2013 at 12:55 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. sm

    Reality check people....... Get a and yahoo, and amazon, etc track everthing in your life....knowbody seems to care! your monitored by video camreas in every town, city and states ( and its good, it helps solve crimes.) People ( mostly the gop) cry foul when the government dosent see a terrorist attack coming. But Yet, we have the technology to head terrorism off at the pass and you act like you've got something to hide and don't monitor cell phone and computers for Terrorist activity? sounds like a Hippocrite to me......I sleep better at night, I don't have nothing to hide!

    June 7, 2013 at 7:18 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • xavier9999

      Sweet, now give me your guns.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
      • sm

        I would, and most people should!!!!!!! A National back ground check is coming your way Xavier soon in 2014 and 2016! The internet companies are monitoring your every move and so is and every other credit card and discount card you have, that's Ok huh?

        June 10, 2013 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Me

      Your spelling, grammar, and punctuation are awful. I hope your primary language isn't English.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
      • sm

        Your a wasted sucker of oxygen Me-me-me............. Do you want me to spell what you can do?????????

        June 10, 2013 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shirley Mc Leod

      You are so right, SM. I'm not sure anyone in the world has a reasonable expectation of privacy. I actually have my phone # listed without my name or address in my local telephone book. However, I can be found immediately on the internet. Not only is my address clearly shown, but so are the names of my children and anyone else I have ever been financially connected with. There are also maps to show exactly how to get to my house. I can also be traced on the net (as can most other people) from my maiden name all the way through whatever married name(s) I have used.
      Our privacy was lost as soon as the internet became truly world-wide.
      Greenwald is making much ado about nothing – and anyone who thinks they have privacy with regard to their address and/or telephone number just need to look themselves up on the net.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. shw

    When Greenwald was on the show Morgan hailed him as a hero that America was so out of control and when Darshwaltz was on the show later he changed his tone. It was so painful to watch how he struggles through the show. Morgan needs to quit CNN and go to work for Entertainment Tonight.

    June 7, 2013 at 7:44 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Charles Wachter

    While I'm not in favor of this spying it seems to me if your not doing anything wrong what does it matter all your neighbors know what's going on in your home, those that yell the loudest are usually the guiltiest so if you don't like it move out of the country go live in N Korea where you don't have to worry about terrorist and since your monitoring this Uncle Sam kiss my Ass

    June 7, 2013 at 10:30 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Reality

      So, as long as I'm not doing anything wrong, I shouldn't have a right to privacy?

      June 7, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • gmathol

      I saw your wonderful police in Hawaii on the Big Island beating up and hand cuffing an old Canadian women who enjoyed a beer at the Kailua-Kona peer!

      That is what America represents? Please stay out of the civilized World and stop murder people and call this fight for human rights.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. gmathol

    USA is the continuation of the German Third Reich! But USA has a niece smiling dictator who uses death squads (Al-Quaida was created by the CIA) and drones.

    What for did our fathers and mothers who fought against the German menace die for?

    June 7, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Tony

    Do you want the government to monitor terrorist or do you cant have it both ways...and yes it began under Bush not Obama, just like the so called IRS scandal was under Bush.

    June 7, 2013 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Badgerbyte

      Oh Tony, go get some air. How long are you going to hold on, I'm done.

      June 8, 2013 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
      • sm

        I KNOW RIGHT!!!!!!!!!!! Only the ignorant and the people who have something to hide "most likely concerning or illegal"

        June 10, 2013 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mike K

    There is an Israeli angle here, and of course, for the most part, that means most of the media isn't going to touch it – but the companies that set up the tech for NSA were Israeli. This means, assuredly, that Mossad is spying on Americans just as it spies on the US government, military and corporations.


    June 7, 2013 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. George Washington

    Hero. One word. Hero.

    June 8, 2013 at 1:15 am | Report abuse | Reply
  15. stevenbeto

    That my calls and e-mails might be monitored is less a concern than how they might be interpreted. How does one define 'terrorist'? It is neither irrational nor out of the realm of possibility to suspect that one day 'terrorist' might be defined as 'whistleblower" or anyone who disagrees with Party rule. While the cowboys are busy defending their 2nd Amendment Man Cave, many of the other Amendments are being dismantled, and I fear it may be far past time to be concerned about it.

    June 8, 2013 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Badgerbyte

    Excuse after excuse after excuse with zero accountability from the Oval Office on down and I WAS an Obama supporter. Even the dimmest of American political bulbs are awakening. This is not going to end well but it will end, one way or the other it will end.

    June 8, 2013 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  17. ben

    I bet piers really wants to renounce his citizenship now.

    June 9, 2013 at 3:29 am | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Griff

    "Missed so much of CNN the past two weeks with the computer running so slow, suppose it will have to stay like this for a while as things are difficult these days. Still I can get my news from Fox I suppose, so it will make a change."

    June 9, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Wayne

    I worked on satellite spying systems when the fact it was happening was Top Secret codeword stuff. Our government denied we were invading other countries airspace (or space) but we did it and obtained critical information that guided American foreign policy for decades. We also had photography of the USA as well. Did that violate your privacy? (maybe). Did it make you safer from foreign attack? (certainly). If someone had "leaked" that program in the '60's, they'd still be residing in Ft. Leavenworth, Ks.

    June 9, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Joseph

    We now live the country our forefathers warned us about.

    June 9, 2013 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • sm

      My God..........Words of logic............Music to my ears.....There is some smart common sense people still out there! Thank you

      June 10, 2013 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Cici

    What world does Glen Greenwald live in, times have changed and if it means that the government needs to take a look at phone activity then go ahead if it saves my family and others from being blown up. I doubt they care or have the time to monitor innocent people. It is done legally and this program separates U.S. citizens from foreigners. Give me a break if people don't think they are being monitored on the internet and where and what they search. I can pay $25 to a search business and find out almost everything about a person. Edward Snowden should be prosecuted as a traitor.

    June 10, 2013 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  22. martin

    Give up a little freedom..
    Give up a little freedom.
    Give up a little freedom...
    Emporers new clothes...
    Noone dare to tell him that his naked...

    June 16, 2013 at 7:43 am | Report abuse | Reply
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