Glenn Greenwald: US learned wrong lesson from 9/11

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Media captionJournalist Glenn Greenwald tells the BBC another big revelation is in the works

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After the attacks of 9/11 the US government concluded it didn't know enough, journalist Glenn Greenwald told BBC's World News America on Wednesday. In reality, it knew too much.

"The point of 9/11 was that the US government failed to detect the plot," he said. "Not because they hadn't collected enough, but that they collected so much that they didn't even know the meaning of what they had."

The US government response was not just to collect more intelligence, Greenwald said, but to "collect everything". That, he added, created a problem:

When you're collecting billions of calls and emails every day, which is what they're collecting, it's almost impossible to detect people who are planning an attack on the Boston Marathon or to explode a plane above Detroit on Christmas day. It becomes overwhelming.

He said that although there have been attempts at reform, "the history of the US government when they get caught doing things that the public is outraged by in secret is to offer the pretence or the gesture of reform but not really to reform in any meaningful way what they were caught doing".

Greenwald, who was one of the first reporters contacted by National Security Agency (NSA) leaker Edward Snowden, spoke with the BBC about his new book on his experiences, No Place to Hide.

Georgetown University Prof David Cole writes in the Washington Post that the book is a "revealing and disturbing overview" of the NSA surveillance programme.

"Relying on newly disclosed and already disclosed documents, Greenwald shows that the scope of the NSA's surveillance exceeds not only our imagination but also the agency's capacity even to store, much less analyse, it all," he writes.

Cole expresses concern, however, that Greenwald does not differentiate between justified and unjustified surveillance, being content with "lobbing grenades at all who are less radical than he is".

Greenwald ends his interview with the BBC with a hint that some of the most important revelations gleaned from Mr Snowden's documents are yet to come:

The question that is missing from the surveillance debate so far are things like exactly who have they targeted for domestic spying, what kinds of people do they consider sufficient threats to read their emails.

He says that he will have upcoming articles answering those questions.


Rooting against Brazil - Some segments of the Brazilian population seem to be actively hoping their nation fails as host of the World Cup, writes former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva in Brazzil Magazine.

"When I was president of Brazil, I worked hard so that the 2014 World Cup would be held in Brazil," he writes. "And I didn't do it for economic or political reasons, but for what soccer represents to all peoples and particularly to the Brazilian people."

If criticism of the handling of the event is "made with honesty", he writes, then it can help prepare the nation. But the attacks have become "increasingly irrational and sectarian", seeking to score points for political gain.

Opponents "don't hesitate to disseminate false information that sometimes is reproduced by the international press, which doesn't take the time to check its veracity," he says. "The country, however, is prepared, both inside and outside of the field, to perform a good World Cup - and will do so."


Government "ignorance" led to miners' deaths - With at least 245 individuals dead, Turkey is facing one of its greatest mine disasters, writes Murat Yetkin of the Hurriyet Daily News.

No one in Prime Minister Recip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party has yet taken responsibility for the tragedy, he says, despite evidence that they ignored ongoing safety concerns leading up to the disaster.

Instead Mr Erdogan responded to criticism by saying that accidents are "the nature of the profession".

"Has anyone thought of resigning?" he asks. "The government and the ruling party in Parliament ignored the warnings about the Soma mines, but the miners paid the price with their lives."


Income inequality matters - "Since the 1980s," writes Janna Thompson in the Sydney Morning Herald, "the trend in Australia is to greater inequality."

Australians should care about the growing gap between rich and poor, she says, because wealth "buys political influence" and "undermines equality of opportunity".

"The concept of Australia as an egalitarian society has become increasingly mythical," she concludes. "But myths that reflect values have power and those who are concerned about what binds us together as members of a nation need to take them into account."

North Korea

Latest propaganda war is counterproductive - The "slanderous propaganda" the North Korean state news agency has recently directed against US President Barack Obama will make Americans "more resentful" and less willing to negotiate, writes Tong Kim in the Korea Times.

"If based on facts or on some truth for credibility, international propaganda could be a legitimate instrument of statecraft," he says. "Yet, democratic states including the United States do not carry out planned information programs to manipulate public views."

By using racial slurs and "verbal provocation", he writes, North Korea will do nothing to help resolve the nuclear weapons issue or bring about reunification with the south. "It only backfires," he concludes.

BBC Monitoring's quotes of the day

Some Russian commentators have been casting a cynical eye over recent EU activities, particularly with regard to energy matters.

"The statement of the EU Commissioner for Energy [Guenther Oettinger] that the EU will not block Russia's constructing the South Stream gas pipeline bypassing Ukraine ... [does] not mean that the Kremlin has won a decisive victory and the West will forget sanctions, stop four-flushing and intimidating captains of business with the possibility of breaking ties with Russia. However, the top official's statement means that Europe has had to admit that there is and there will be no alternative for gas supplies from Russia." - Stanisalv Khatuntsev in Izvestiya.

"There is no doubt that Brussels is more willing to lift Iranian sanctions than it was before the Ukrainian developments. At the same time Iran will not be able to supply the required volumes of gas and oil to the EU or even become a rival for Russia in Europe. It needs investment and time." - Vladimir Sazhin in Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

"The events in Ukraine are directed by the evil spirit of Nazism and fascism... The all-purpose European politicians, androgynous and lacking ideas, are not much like the possessed fuehrers of the Third Reich. What they share is a maniacal conviction that they are right and a willingness to force people into obedience. The forms of coercion used by modern Euro-fascists are far softer, but their methods remain harsh. They do not leave room for dissent and allow the use of force against anyone who disagrees with Brussels's policies up to the point of physical elimination." - Sergey Glazyev in Zavtra.

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