It isn’t surprising that Edward Snowden chose then Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman as one of the earliest recipients of his leaked NSA documents. Gellman is the author of a best-selling book about Dick Cheney as well as many influential articles about the war on terror, and thus was a natural choice for Snowden when he sought a trustworthy journalist to publicize the PRISM materials.
So was Snowden a hero? Not surprisingly, Gellman won’t be drawn into such a clichéd analysis. What he does insist, however, is that Snowden was an important figure who has sparked a massively important conversation—one, in his words, with “legs”—that is still going on today. It’s a subject, Gellman insists, that has not only changed the way that Silicon Valley companies like Google and Twitter do their data business with the U.S. government, but may have changed the nature of journalism. Indeed, it’s such a vital subject that Gellman himself is currently writing a book about what he calls our “surveillance-industrial” state of affairs. The book, he says, will break new ground in how we imagine our electronically networked world.