ASPEN, Colo.—Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, told an Aspen Ideas Festival panel Wednesday that forthcoming revelations about the NSA will provoke new debate about the propriety of government spying. According to Romero, Glenn Greenwald will reveal that Muslim Americans in public life were "subject to the kind of surveillance that Hoover did on Martin Luther King." In a question-and-answer session, I asked for details.
Romero said he could speak openly about the forthcoming story due to another press report, but that he didn't know many details because, although the ACLU represents Edward Snowden, these stories are being worked on by journalists, not his organization. "It will be interesting to see who is on this list but I don't know," he said. "It will be interesting to see if there were members of Congress on this list, what kind of judicial review was provided." He said that ferreting out this information is harder than it once was. "This isn't a manila folder put in a filing cabinet. This is a database. So all the data is there. The question is, what have they pulled from the database. So you actually have to recreate the queries from the databases to see that which they've pulled. It's very labor intensive. It doesn't just spit out something that says, 'Romero, they followed him' ... you have to read the code, it involves a lot of technologists, and part of the reason the journalists have taken as long as they have with these stories is that it's very complicated to pull them out of these massive amounts of data. So we'll stay tuned."
In fact, a major Greenwald story was supposed to be released a couple days ago, but was delayed at the last minute due to claims from the government that required additional reporting. Greenwald still expects to publish the article very soon.
The Aspen Ideas Festival is co-hosted by The Aspen Institute and The Atlantic.