….But it is a mistake (albeit a common one) to survey the NSA-surveillance controversy and to conclude that Greenwald represents the radical position. His writing can be acerbic, mordant, biting, trenchant, scathing, scornful, and caustic. He is stubbornly uncompromising in his principles, as dramatized by how close he came to quitting The Guardian when it wasn’t moving as fast as he wanted to publish the first story sourced to Edward Snowden. Unlike many famous journalists, he is not deferential to U.S. leaders.
Yet tone and zeal should never be mistaken for radicalism on the core question before us: What should America’s approach to state surveillance be? “Defenders of suspicionless mass surveillance often insist … that some spying is always necessary. But this is a straw man … nobody disagrees with that,” Greenwald explains. “The alternative to mass surveillance is not the complete elimination of surveillance. It is, instead, targeted surveillance, aimed only at those for whom there is substantial evidence to believe they are engaged in real wrongdoing.”
That’s as traditionally American as the Fourth Amendment.