Glenn Greenwald: "Tide is clearly turning" against NSA

Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald broke the story about the U.S. government's surveillance programs concerning data mining. CBS News

A journalist who has been making waves for his revelations about secret U.S. espionage programs based on documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden said Tuesday that the "tide is clearly turning" against the NSA.

Glenn Greenwald, in an "Ask Me Anything" discussion on the social news site Reddit, said that the public response to the NSA surveillance programs shows that "even the most seemingly insurmountable institutions can be weakened or uprooted when they become abusive enough."

Greenwald said the NSA's ability to "dictate and control the debate" is diminishing.

"What will ultimately determine the outcome here is how much pressure citizens continue to apply in defense of their privacy rights and against massive, ubiquitous, secret spying systems aimed at them," he said.

Greenwald said he was heartened not only by the public outcry over violations of civil liberties, but also the political ripples the revelations caused.

"The vote in Congress where they came very close to doing something completely unthinkable even 5 months ago - de-funding a major NSA program, based on an incredible coalition of liberals and conservatives and everything in between - shows how consequential and enduring these revelations have been," Greenwald said. "That will keep building."

Following the public outrage and Congressional scrutiny, the NSA recently posted an opening for a "completely new role" at the agency: Civil Liberties & Privacy Officer.

Greenwald, who so far has only reported on a portion of the documents provided by Snowden, promised "huge new stories to come," though he wouldn't offer any details.

"There are still many specific revelations that I think will surprise most people, coming imminently," he said.

On Saturday in Rio de Janeiro, Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill, a contributor to The Nation magazine, said they have teamed up to report on the NSA's role in what Scahill called a "U.S. assassination program."

However, the journalists provided no evidence of the purported program while speaking at the Rio Film Festival.

"The really important thing to realize is the desire for surveillance is not a uniquely American attribute," Greenwald said Saturday. "America has just devoted way more money and way more resources than anyone else to spying on the world."

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for CBSNews.com

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