The award-winning, fearless filmmaker's documentary on her work with Snowden premiered yesterday, and it's full of bombshells.
Most significant is confirmation of a long-suspected second leak from within the NSA. This was first mooted in my post about the NSA's deep packet inspection rules, based on informed speculation from two sources with access to the Snowden leaks. This was significant because Snowden's leaks were the first-ever documents to be leaked from the NSA that anyone had ever heard of.
What I didn't know or suspect then, though, was that the second leaker is significantly senior to Snowden, and is still in the agency. The scene in which Greenwald reveals this to Snowden, in a Moscow hotel room, involves Greenwald writing Snowden a note and silently passing it to him, in deference to the likely existence of audio-bugs, and when Snowden reads it, "the revelation clearly shocks Snowden, whose mouth drops open."
Also revealed in the documentary is that Snowden's girlfriend, the dancer Lindsay Mills, with whom Snowden had been involved for a decade, has managed to travel to Russia and now lives with Snowden there.
Poitras has been part of the Snowden story since the earliest days. As Glenn Greenwald documents in Nowhere to Hide, he was unable to make sense of Snowden's earlier, anonymous messages explaining how to use cryptographic tools, so it was Poitras who got the Snowden leaks first, and who eventually coaxed Greenwald into travelling to meet her so she could explain the story's significance. Poitras was part of the team that travelled to Hong Kong for the initial Snowden disclosures, and her byline has appeared on many of the story's biggest bombshells, especially in the German press.
Poitras is an accomplished filmmaker, whose 2006 movie My Country, My Country, about the US occupation of Iraq, was nominated for an Academy Award, and got her placed on the US terror watchlist, with her reporting that airport security that "my 'threat rating' was the highest the Department of Homeland Security assigns."
While some of the exchanges are blurred for the camera, it becomes clear that Greenwald wants to convey that another government whistleblower — higher in rank than Snowden — has come forward.
The revelation clearly shocks Snowden, whose mouth drops open when he reads the details of the informant's leak.
Also revealed by Greenwald is the fact that 1.2 million Americans are currently on a government watch-list. Among them is Poitras herself.
And the surprises don't end there. Near the end of the film, which received a rousing standing ovation, it is revealed that Lindsay Mills, Snowden's dancer girlfriend of 10 years, has been living with Snowden in Moscow.
NYFF: Edward Snowden Doc 'Citizenfour' Reveals Existence of Second NSA Whistleblower [Seth Abramovitch and Chris O'Falt/Hollywood Reporter]