Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Barton Gellman ’82 was among the first journalists to write about the National Security Agency’s controversial data-collection program, co-authoring an extensive Washington Post feature on June 6. A few days later, he revealed that he had been in direct contact with NSA leaker Edward Snowden since mid-May. In the busy month that followed Snowden’s leaks, Gellman has investigated earlier data-collection initiatives, helped to uncover NSA documents outlining rules for surveillance without a warrant, and reported on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s role in the secret programs.
Last week, in an interview with PBS NewsHour, Gellman noted that he’s not alone on the path of discovery: “. . . many members of Congress are learning things that they didn’t know to ask until Snowden released into the public documents describing secret programs that the Obama administration wanted to keep secret. We have had a national debate that was enabled only because of him, and that includes most members of Congress.”
Gellman appears well positioned to be part of the ongoing coverage. He was part of the Washington Post team that won a 2002 Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the war on terrorism, and with collaborator Jo Becker, he won a 2008 Pulitzer for a series exploring the influence of vice president Dick Cheney in areas that included warrantless surveillance. The series figured prominently in Gellman’s book Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency. The New York Times reported that Gellman’s latest reporting will be part of a forthcoming book chronicling the expansion of government surveillance.
Gellman majored in the Woodrow Wilson School as an undergraduate and has since returned to teach classes, including a 300-level course on “Secrecy, Accountability and the National Security State” in the fall of 2012.
Below, watch Gellman’s full interview on PBS NewsHour.
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