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Watch: Guardian's Greenwald defends leak as essential to democracy

Some critics have charged Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald with endangering security after he published top secret U.S.
Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald on Morning Joe.
Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald on Morning Joe.

Some critics have charged Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald with endangering security after he published top secret U.S. materials given to him on the details of the National Security Agency's surveillance activities on Americans.

On Monday's Morning Joe, Greenwald defended himself saying that the U.S. government has abused its powers of secrecy to avoid accountability, so a massive leak was the only way to make the public aware.

Greenwald said that many attempted to hold these surveillance activities accountable in court or through public discourse, but the government had stopped it.

Several senators attempted to warn Americans about the surveillance, but were constrained by their legal obligation to keep secret information under wraps, he said. “Just go and Google Ron Wyden and Mark Udall and the Patriot Act and what you will see is those senators who are on the Senate Intelligence Committee have been trying to warn Americans vocally as they can for years,” he said.

Two Democratic senators, Oregon's Sen. Ron Wyden and Colorado's Sen. Mark Udall, wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, that “there is a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claims that allows,” referring to the Patriot Act’s section 215, which the government says makes it legal to broadly monitor Americans’ communications.

“You can say all you want that the White House has gone to Congress and briefed them on it, but when you impose restraints on what they can do about it, even their ability to warn the American public about it, that kind of consultation is impotent,” Greenwald said.

Greenwald added that the U.S. government is abusing “their secrecy powers to shield from the American public, not programs that are designed to keep America safe and not to prevent disclosures that would help the terrorists, but to conceal their own actions from the people they are supposed to be democratically accountable to.”

His remarks echo those by Edward Snowden who has come forward to say he is the source of the leaks to Greenwald and Washington Post reporters.

"It took a brave whistleblower to come forward and tell us," Greenwald said of Snowden.

Several lawmakers have said Snowden, a government contractor working with Booz Allen Hamilton, with compromising national security by leaking the information.

Rep. Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, slammed Snowden and Greenwald on ABC's This Week, saying "[Greenwald] doesn't have a clue how this thing works. Neither did the person who released just enough information to be dangerous."

Greenwald disagreed: “The only people who have been harmed are those in power who want to conceal their actions and wrongdoing from the people who they’re supposed to be accountable."

He also promised "there's a lot more coming" in these types of stories from him.