The news media fell down on the job of acting as a restraint against excess government power after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Edward Snowden says in an interview with The New York Times Magazine published Tuesday
"After 9/11, many of the most important news outlets in America abdicated their role as a check to power — the journalistic responsibility to challenge the excesses of government — for fear of being seen as unpatriotic and punished in the market during a period of heightened nationalism," said Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who created a worldwide storm of controversy with his leaks about the U.S. government's top-secret data collection program.
"From a business perspective, this was the obvious strategy, but what benefited the institutions ended up costing the public dearly. The major outlets are still only beginning to recover from this cold period."
Snowden fled to Russia to avoid prosecution for his information leaks, which were first reported by The Washington Post and The Guardian newspapers. He has been granted asylum by Moscow for at least a year, to the anger and frustration of the Obama administration.
He told the Times magazine he was amazed to learn while his disclosures were being turned into stories that journalists didn't realize the extent to which they were being monitored by the government.
"I was surprised to realize there were people in news organizations who didn’t recognize any unencrypted message sent over the Internet is being delivered to every intelligence service in the world," Snowden said.
"In the wake of this year’s disclosures, it should be clear that unencrypted journalist-source communication is unforgivably reckless."
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