Last Sunday on Sixty Minutes, the lead NSA investigator — tasked with determining how much damage Edward Snowden has done to national security — floated the idea of giving him amnesty to entice him to return to the U.S. and bring back everything he stole.  The head of the NSA, General Alexander, was not of the same mind. He compared Snowden to a hostage taker that kills ten people then asks for amnesty if he’ll release the rest.  I agree with Alexander, but not for the reasons he stated.  Snowden doesn’t need amnesty.  What he needs is a set of press credentials.

Think about it:  this release of top secret information required two parties.  One to steal it, and one to report it.  Glenn Greenwald is on the record saying he was working with Snowden before Snowden began working for the NSA (then, when he realized that statement could potentially get him in trouble by taking him out of the vaunted “journalist” circle and placing him in the less sexy “co-conspirator” circle, he backpedaled).  Snowden has stated that the only reason he took the job was to steal secrets.  Both worked together to harm our national security, yet one became an international fugitive and the other an Internet darling.  What’s the difference?  Press credentials.

What Snowden should have done was build up his cover before he started.   I remember the breathless revelations that occurred in the seventies and eighties when a reporter went “undercover” to get a scoop at a business or organization, then outed himself and began shoving a microphone in everyone’s face.  Snowden should have done the same thing, because apparently being a reporter means you can do whatever the hell you want, harm anyone you see fit, and generally get away with murder simply because you can claim the mantle of journalist.  Why is it the government keeps debating Snowden’s fate, yet the mouthpiece of his leak is untouched?  Hard to believe, but claiming to be a journalist gives Glenn Greenwald complete immunity even though he was/is instrumental in the stealing of secrets.

The New York Times has reported that the NSA may never know how much information Snowden stole, and yet there’s one way to at least neck down the size.  Ask Greenwald to show what he has.  The NSA is combing through its databases and painstakingly piecing together what Snowden might have stolen, and Glenn Greenwald is sitting there with – according to him – the entire trove of Snowden data.  Glenn Greenwald, amazingly enough, is an American citizen.  He claims that he has the United States’ best interests at heart, and that he has all of Snowden’s data.  Given that both of those statements are absolute bullshit, he does have upwards of 1.7 million documents, and he shouldn’t mind the US looking at it.  I mean, what harm would that bring to him?  Why would he refuse to let the NSA see what he has?  Is it because it would damage his ability to titillate and shock with future revelations?  Is that what trumps national security in his mind?  One thing is for sure:  it would clearly show his true colors, because I guarantee if the US asked to see – not take, just see – the data in order to prepare against the damage the leaks will have to national security, Glenn Greenwald would say no.  His newspaper already did.  When the UK asked to see the data just to determine the damage, instead of letting that happen The Guardian destroyed its trove of documents.  Yes, that’s right.  They destroyed it instead of letting its own government take a look, knowing they could always count on ol’ Glenn to give them another copy.  Does that sound like anyone in this sordid affair gives a tinker’s damn about damage to national security?

I’ve blogged about it before, but clearly the modern journalist has no quantifiable left and right limits on integrity or honesty.  Glenn Greenwald can repeatedly report falsehoods about the NSA, like his initial story on PRISM, which was pretty much proved to be bullshit within forty-eight hours, or his habit of printing half the story and conveniently leaving out the other half that provided much needed context.  When called out on it by a privacy lawyer, he whips up his Internet trolls and attacks the messenger, which apparently is his method of operation as reported by news outlets that have worked with him.  And yet everyone takes what he says at face value as being true.  By contrast, 60 minutes gives the NSA a chance to rebut the story and is immediately trashed as being a sycophant of the government and a pack of liars.

It used to be that a journalist was unbiased and set out to report the truth of what he found.  In today’s cable world, that’s ridiculous.  Every news outlet reports with a slant, but few bend so far over that they reach the horizontal position like Glenn Greenwald.  He’s hated the United States since he went through puberty, and has had an agenda since he learned to type.  He genuinely wants to harm national interests and has overtly threatened to do so, against both the United States and England, yet he gets a complete pass.  Oh, and for those that still think Snowden is a “Whistleblower” looking out for the average US citizen, he’s just offered to tell Brazil everything he knows about our intelligence operations in exchange for asylum.  What’s that got to do with the fourth amendment?

Snowden should have learned a thing or two from working with Greenwald.  If he had claimed to be a journalist, he wouldn’t have had to leave Hawaii.  Instead of amnesty, he should be asking Santa for a set of back-dated press credentials.