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WikiLeaks Names Country Held Back by Gleen Greenwald’s The Intercept

Glenn Greenwald, agree with him or disagree with him, is without question one of America’s most dedicated and perseverant journalists. So when in his latest report for The Intercept  Greenwald declined to mention the name of a country under near-total surveillance by the NSA, many reacted with surprise. The decision to not reveal the name was done so in order to protect innocent lives.

Wikileaks protested Greenwald’s decision to not name the country, especially since a second (the Bahamas) was named, and accused him of buying into the same “lie” that was said about their decision to publish State Department documents without retracting names. After giving The Intercept an ultimatum to reveal the country in 72 hours, Wikileaks took to Twitter to announce that it was Afghanistan.

According to TIME, it is unclear if Wikileaks “has obtained access to documents leaked by Snowden or if someone with access to the documents gave someone at Wikileaks the name of the country in question,” adding (emphasis mine), “it may be that Wikileaks simply believes that the mystery country is Afghanistan given the already-public information available.”

Still if it is or is not Afghanistan, the world will report that it is. This very well could mean that the more than 30,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan could face increased violence as well as Afghanistan civilians and public officials. Yet, there is one effect that Wikileaks most certainly didn’t consider: that this news might please Americans.

While almost every citizen was outraged after learning about the extent to which they monitor domestic data, learning that the NSA records almost all calls in Afghanistan causes some relief. Said one Facebook commenter simply, “Thank God.”

Greenwald, however, is taking criticism for the decision. One blog suggested that he was actually in cahoots* with the NSA about what to publish and then closes with an argument seemingly lifted from the last chapter of Greenwald’s book about how the media is subservient to the government.

While there is no reason to not take Greenwald at his word when he says he feared increased violence even if the country is Afghanistan, it is also possible that in not naming the second country he was making a calculated decision. “Country X” could be anybody and thus other world leaders might have put some pressure on the U.S. regarding intelligence overreach. Knowing that it’s Afghanistan may simply cause them to congratulate the NSA on their fine work.

*If Michael Kinsley can call Greenwald a “sourpuss,” I can get away with “cahoots.”

About the author

Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. Along with news and current events, he writes about parenting, art, and personal stories. His serial fiction story "The Prophet Hustle" is available at JukePop.com and a forthcoming independent ebook about the cam-modeling industry "Dirty Little Windows" will be available later this summer.