To his supporters, Snowden is a heroic whistleblower. To his critics, he is a “grandiose narcissist,” “a paranoid libertarian,” or perhaps Putin’s useful idiot. Despite Poitras’ best efforts, the movie confirms the views of his critics.
Transparency and the need for public debate are his battle-cry. But early in the film, he explains that his decision to begin leaking was motivated by his opposition to drone strikes. … [C]iting his opposition to a widely debated policy as his motivation for increasing transparency is, well, odd. But it’s also illustrative. Snowden’s leaks aren’t primarily aimed at returning transparency or triggering a public debate; they are about creating his preferred policy outcomes, outcomes that usually involve a weaker state.
I believe the general point applies to “journalist” Greenwald as well.