“It’s really risky,” Snowden tells Greenwald in the scene. “That person is incredibly bold.”
“The boldness of it is shocking,” Greenwald responds, “But it was obviously motivated by what you did.”
In the scene, Greenwald also tells Snowden the security tools the Intercept is using to communicate with the source, writing the names of the software on a piece of paper in what may have been an attempt to avoid eavesdroppers. Those security tools, along with the Intercept‘s reputation for combative, unapologetic investigation of the U.S. government, may help explain how the site seems to have found another Snowden-like source of national security secrets. The Intercept and its parent company First Look Media employ world-class security staff like former Googler Morgan Marquis-Boire, Tor developer Erinn Clark, and former EFF technologist Micah Lee. Far more than most news sites, its reporters use tools like the encryption software PGP and the anonymous upload system SecureDrop to protect the identities of its sources.
Whether those measures can actually protect this particular source—or whether the source Greenwald told Snowden about is even the same one who leaked the Intercept‘s Drone Papers—remains to be seen. Yahoo News reported last year that the FBI had identified a “second leaker” to the Interceptand searched his or her home as part of a criminal investigation.
If that reported search of the leaker’s home did happen, however, it doesn’t seem to have slowed down the Interceptor its whistleblower. A year later, no arrests or charges have been made public, and the site has now published what appear to be the biggest revelations yet from its new source.
In the Citizenfour scene, Snowden tells Greenwald he hopes that the new leaks could help change the perception of whistleblowers in general. “This could raise the political situation with whistleblowing to a whole new level, he says.
“Exactly,” Greenwald responds. “People are going to see what’s being hidden by a totally different part of the government.”
Read the Intercept‘s full Drone Papers release here.
1 Correction 10/15/2015 12:45pm: An earlier version of this story stated that a former US citizen, Bilal el-Berjawi, was killed by a drone. In fact, el-Berjawi was a former British citizen.
2 Updated 10/15/2015 2:15pm to include Erinn Clark in the list of First Look Media security engineers.