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Naomi Klein and Glenn Greenwald

"I come to this as a journalist and author who has used leaked and declassified documents to do my work," Naomi Klein argued. (Photos: Adolfo Lujan, Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

Naomi Klein and Glenn Greenwald Tackle Ethics of WikiLeaks' Podesta Emails

'There's debate, even among people who believe in radical transparency, over the proper way to handle information like this'

Nika Knight

A discussion between The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald and author and activist Naomi Klein tackled thorny privacy issues surrounding WikiLeaks' indiscriminate release of John Podesta's hacked emails in a 30-minute discussion published by The Intercept late Wednesday.

The Intercept has covered the release of thousands of emails from Hillary Clinton's campaign manager in depth, from exploring Clinton's speeches to Wall Street to examining the Clinton campaign's inner workings, and Greenwald had previously described the decision to cover the emails as "an easy call."

"I'm concerned about the subjectivity of who gets defined as sufficiently powerful to lose their privacy."
—Naomi Klein

But Klein wondered whether The Intercept might be betraying some of its core principals—most prominently, its privacy advocacy—by not taking note of the moral issues raised by such indiscriminate email dumps.

"Personal emails—and there's all kinds of personal stuff in these emails—this sort of indiscriminate dump is precisely what Snowden was trying to protect us from," Klein said. "That's why I wanted to talk with you about it, because I think we need to continuously reassert that principle."

"Certainly Podesta is a very powerful person, and he will be more powerful after Hillary Clinton is elected, if she's elected, and it looks like she will be," Klein added.

"But I'm concerned about the subjectivity of who gets defined as sufficiently powerful to lose their privacy because I am absolutely sure there are plenty of people in the world who believe that you and I are sufficiently powerful to lose our privacy," Klein said, "and I come to this as a journalist and author who has used leaked and declassified documents to do my work."

"But I'm also part of the climate justice movement, and this is a movement that has come under incredible amounts of surveillance by oil industry-funded front groups of various kinds. There are people in the movement now who are being tracked as if they were political candidates, everywhere they go," Klein continued, referring to right-wing groups' harassment of prominent climate activists.

Greenwald noted that WikiLeaks has radically changed its stance on privacy since its start, moving from curating leaked material to simply releasing all of it to the public.

"So there's debate, even among people who believe in radical transparency, over the proper way to handle information like this," Greenwald said. "I think WikiLeaks more or less at this point stands alone in believing that these kinds of dumps are ethically—never mind journalistically—just ethically, as a human being, justifiable."

Listen to the whole discussion here:


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