For some time, working on The American Revolution, the documentary film about how underground media, including Boston radio station WBCN-FM, fueled great social, political and cultural changes in the late '60s and early '70s, I have observed how much change was created in the '60s with limited access to media, and wondered why the current ready access to media has not led to more efforts to create social, political and cultural change. Then comes the Snowden affair.
Whether you think Edward Snowden a hero or villain, in some ways, the most interesting person involved is filmmaker Laura Poitras. Snowden took a calculated risk in releasing the documents, and his act of civil disobedience is now the subject of world-wide debate. Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald is a working journalist and has the newspaper behind him. Poitras is an independent documentary film producer, last heard from in Hong Kong. She and Greenwald got the story after it was felt that the NY Times was not a viable option (see below). I know Laura from the festival circuit a decade ago when her film Flag Wars aired on POV in the same season as our West 47th Street, and saw her at dinner in Boston a couple of years ago. She is as smart and tough as they come, and is affiliated with and hopefully getting support from the Freedom of the Press Foundation, whose board includes Greenwald and Daniel Ellsberg, among others. At the same time, it was a big leap for an independent filmmaker to take on this critical story, and one hopes she is okay and will shout out for assistance if needed.
- The Huffington Post, "Laura Poitras: Why Edward Snowden Didn't Approach NY Times":
"'I can say from conversations I had with [Snowden] after that, I think he had a suspicion of mainstream media. And particularly what happened with the New York Times and the warrantless wiretapping story, which as we know was shelved for a year. So he expressed that to me but I think also in his choices of who he contacted. I didn't know he was reaching out to Glenn at that point.'"
Poitras was referring to the 2005 New York Times story about the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program under President Bush, written by reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau. The Times reporters had uncovered the NSA program a year earlier, but the paper held publication till December 2005."