Over the past several months, Glenn Greenwald has tussled with talk show hosts over his reporting on surveillance programs. But on Monday, the often-intense Pulitzer Prize winner showed some rare levity when he dueled with a fake pundit.
He continued his book tour with a visit to the “Colbert Report,” where the in-character Stephen Colbert posed a question that the reporter has been asked repeatedly.
“Why should you not be prosecuted for aiding and abetting an enemy of the United States?” Colbert asked, referring to Edward Snowden.
It was nearly an identical question to the one pointedly raised by David Gregory last summer, prompting a passionate rebuttal from Greenwald. This time around, however, Greenwald answered with a smile.
“Yeah, I mean, that’s the argument that has been made every single time somebody comes forward in an act of conscience like Daniel Ellsberg did in 1971 and revealed that the American government was systematically lying to the population about the Vietnam War,” Greenwald told Colbert. “And everyone said, or a lot of people said he’s a traitor, he’s damaging national security —”
“He lost the Vietnam War for us!” Colbert said, cutting him off.
The host eventually turned his attention to “this Snowden fellow,” asking if the former NSA contractor feels “more comfortable [in Russia] because it’s a regime that’s totally open and free.”
“Was Mordor not accepting asylum requests?” Colbert joked.
Greenwald said Snowden didn’t actually flee to Russia.
“The point of seeking asylum is not to declare which country you love the most,” explained Greenwald, whose book on the Snowden revelations came out this week. “It’s to get protection from your own government when they’re trying to persecute you, such as putting you in prison for 40 years for coming forward with information his fellow citizens ought to have known.”