Confronting Edward Snowden’s Remarks on Bradley Manning

Note: This is the first piece I wrote regarding what became a recurring motif in the Snowden Spectacle, which I call Good Whistleblower/Bad Whistleblower.  There are links to other posts about the same topic listed in the topmost update below. I encourage you to read them, particularly this one, which summarizes how this motif has entered the discourse on the leaks again and again.

I wrote this before Chelsea Manning disclosed that she is a trans woman. I realize that seeing her identified as something else is objectionable for some — I don’t like it myself — but as this piece refers to a very specific point in time, and was written then, I am uncomfortable with making changes that would confuse the history. I have therefore retained the use of Manning’s family-given name. 


I haven’t digested The Guardian’s explosive NSA stories well enough to do any full-fledged posting about them. However,  I feel duty-bound to at least address problematic  statements that the self-avowed source of the leaks, Edward Snowden, recently made about Bradley Manning.

In the fascinating Guardian article in which Snowden explains himself, we’re told that “he admires both [Pentagon Papers whistleblower, Daniel] Ellsberg and Manning, but argues that there is one important distinction between himself and the army private.”

I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest… There are all sorts of documents that would have made a big impact that I didn’t turn over, because harming people isn’t my goal. Transparency is.

Of course, I like this Snowden guy, and I am not going to assume that the context in which this quote was placed is his doing and not The Guardian’s. But, whatever the case, the passage reads like a borderline smear, essentially parroting the conventional wisdom that Manning was reckless, even going so far as to imply that Manning’s purpose went beyond revealing a corrupt system to deliberately bringing harm on its agents. Unsurprisingly this has been picked up by many of the usual suspects as one more cudgel with which to beat Manning, whose trial only just started, even though he has been in prison for three years.

As ever, MSNBC is a useful indicator of how the hack wind is blowing. Here’s the ever-reliable Chris Hayes:

Here’s SOPA lobbyist, corporate errand boy and co-host of The Voice, Ari Melber:

MSNBC’s lofty clowns can’t have all the smeary fun, so here’s HuffPost libertarian and ex- torture enthusiast, Radley Balko, concurring with Snowden on proper whistleblower protocol:

Finally, here’s Josh Marshall, the hack’s hack, who, you may recall, checks in with Dear Leader himself for help with his blog posts:

[Snowden makes] clear that he did not leak information that would harm individuals or do what he deems real harm to the United States as opposed to revealing the existence and full scope of the NSA’s and US Intelligence Community’s surveillance apparatus. As some of you know, I’ve never been very sympathetic to Manning, thinking him mainly a naif who revealed US government secrets in such a wildly indiscriminate manner as to lose almost any conceivable justification for his acts.

Now I’m not going to let my own permissive views on whistleblower obligations intrude except to say that all of this emphasis on Manning’s recklessness would be indefensibly misplaced even if Snowden’s characterization of Manning’s leaks was factually true. But it’s not, at least not by Manning’s detailed account recently given at trial.

Before considering Manning’s methods, you must first consider the profound differences between him and Snowden in terms of what they leaked and why. Snowden wants to shed light on the extent to which a single agency is developing the means to keep the entire world under surveillance. This is a goal that, unless I’m missing something, does not require a lot of data. It mostly requires his eyewitness account as someone who has worked for the NSA for four years as a contractor, supplemented with what must be a fairly small number of top secret supporting documents.

Manning, on the other hand, was blowing the whistle on empire, particularly with Cablegate, the huge trove of State Department cables he released to Wikileaks in November of 2010, and the source of most of the criticism of his methods. In one of his chats with Adrian Lamo, the man who ratted him out to the government, Manning described the trove like this:

260,000 state department cables from embassies and consulates all over the world, explaining how the first world exploits the third, in detail, from an internal perspective…

…theres so much… it affects everybody on earth… everywhere there’s a US post… there’s a diplomatic scandal that will be revealed… Iceland, the Vatican, Spain, Brazil, Madascar, if its a country, and its recognized by the US as a country, its got dirt on it .[Source: Wired]

Clearly Manning felt, correctly, that the whole trove was the story. As a whistleblower, he had the choice of selecting a handful of scandals  and thereby telling only an arbitrary fraction of the story (with a commensurately smaller impact), or releasing the whole trove unedited so that journalists and others could crowd-source the big picture. In light of the trove’s size, telling the whole inside story of American imperialism was just not compatible with the kind of meticulousness with which Snowden is being credited. Manning’s documents also had a far lower secrecy classification than Snowden’s; most were not classified at all. In other words, it’s simply not fair or substantive to compare Manning to Snowden in this regard.

Nevertheless, comparisons are being made and, despite the particular challenges of the project Manning undertook, he still compares well.  Listed below are all the items provided by Manning that Wikileaks published, along with remarks about their sensitivity. Where warranted, I have quoted Manning’s trial statements regarding his thinking at the time about the impact of each leak:

1. Reykjavik13, a diplomatic cable suggesting that Iceland had sought the United States help in resolving a dispute with the United Kingdom over the UK’s use of anti-terrorism legislation to secure payment by Iceland of the guarantees for UK depositors. Since this is a matter that involved neither US intelligence nor military, Manning obviously had no reason to believe it put anyone at risk.

2.  “Collateral Murder “, the military’s gunsight footage from a Baghdad air strike on a group of eleven mostly unarmed people, including two Reuters journalists whose cameras were allegedly mistaken for weapons. Eight people were killed,  rescuers were fired upon and children were injured in the attack. There is no national security argument that can be credibly made against the leaking of a video that documents war crimes, particularly one documenting an incident that happened three years before Manning leaked it and which had already been covered in several news accounts.

3. Afghan War Logs/Iraq War Logs, a collection of SigActs, records created by US Military regarding Significant Activities, including civilian deaths. Here is what Manning said in his court statement about their sensitivity:

In my perspective the information contained within a single SigAct or group of SigActs is not very sensitive. The events encapsulated within most SigActs involve either enemy engagements or causalities. Most of this information is publicly reported by the public affairs office or PAO, embedded media pools, or host nation (HN) media.

Although SigAct reporting is sensitive at the time of their creation, their sensitivity normally dissipates within 48 to 72 hours as the information is either publicly released or the unit involved is no longer in the area and not in danger.

4. “Cablegate” leak of 251,287 State Department cables, written by 271 American embassies and consulates in 180 countries, dated December 1966 to February 2010. Manning’s remarks:

I thought these cables were a prime example of a need for a more open diplomacy. Given all of the Department of State information that I read, the fact that most of the cables were unclassified, and that all the cables have a SIPDIS caption [denotes a cable is appropriate for widely sharing within an interagency audience],  I believe that the public release of these cables would not damage the United States.

5. Guantanamo Bay Files, a collection of Detainee Assessment Briefs (DABs), memos giving basic and background information about a specific detainee held at some point by Joint Task Force Guantanamo. Manning’s trial statement indicates, once again, that he carefully considered intelligence and national security risk:

Reading through the Detainee Assessment Briefs, I noticed that they were not analytical products, instead they contained summaries of tear line versions of interim intelligence reports that were old or unclassified. None of the DABs contained the names of sources or quotes from tactical interrogation reports or TIR’s. Since the DABs were being sent to the US SOUTHCOM commander, I assessed that they were intended to provide a very general background information on each of the detainees and not a detailed assessment.

In addition to the manner in which the DAB’s were written, I recognized that they were at least several years old, and discussed detainees that were already released from Joint Task Force Guantanamo. Based on this, I determined that the DABs were not very important from either an intelligence or a national security standpoint.

Any discussion of the alleged recklessness of Manning’s leaks must also include the reminder that prior to the publication of the State Department cables, Wikileaks’ Julian Assange sent a letter to the U.S. Department of State, inviting them to “privately nominate any specific instances (record numbers or names) where it considers the publication of information would put individual persons at significant risk of harm that has not already been addressed”.  Harold Koh, the State Department’s Legal Adviser, rejected the proposal, stating: “We will not engage in a negotiation regarding the further release or dissemination of illegally obtained U.S. Government classified materials”.  Despite the State Department’s apparent lack of urgency, Wikileaks redacted the names of sources and others in potentially vulnerable positions before publishing. Unredacted cables were only published after a security breach by a Guardian writer necessitated it. (Source: Wikipedia).

Similarly, Wikileaks offered to allow the Department of Defense to review the War Logs for potentially risky material, but this offer too was declined. (Source: Salon).

Considering the nature of the leaks themselves, the care with which Manning considered the military and intelligence risk of each document set, and the way both the US State Department and Department of Defense declined to review the leaks and thereby vindicated Manning’s risk assessment, it should come as no surprise that not a single injury to, or death of,  U.S. military or intelligence personel can be attributed to his extraordinary whistleblowing.

In other words, Manning’s alleged recklessness is pure legend, a lie told again and again to minimize the real significance of his disclosures, to foster fairy tales about his emotional instability, to justify both the hideous treatment he has received at the hands of the U.S. Military and the disgusting extent to which he has been smeared and trivialized by the few reporters  and pundits who even bother with his extremely consequential case.

It is unfortunate that the indoctrination to which we have all been subject with respect to Manning has apparently infected Snowden too, a remarkable whistleblower in his own right. One hopes Glenn Greenwald, who has been Manning’s most vocal high-profile advocate and who is now instrumental in making Snowden’s leaks public, will give him an opportunity to possibly reconsider or clarify his position.



Five months on, we now know that Snowden’s trove was far too big for him to have meticulously gone over every document, even if he’d spent every day of his working life since 2009 going over them. So this was all a lie, told by Snowden out of the gate — just as Manning had gone to trial — and then recited again and again in one form or another by Greenwald. For more details on this, see this post, ‘Good Whistleblower/Bad Whistleblower‘, ‘Edward Snowden’s Incredible Mutating Document Trove‘ and this,  Another Snowden News Story, Another Lesson in Proper Whistleblowing.

UPDATE 2 (link)

So the meticulous Snowden vs reckless Manning narrative continues to proliferate. It is amazing how much members of the media establishment want to talk about Manning now, whom they have mostly ignored since his arrest in 2010. It’s weird and sad that their work has been made so much easier for them with disparaging talking points the Guardian helpfully furnished when it introduced Snowden to the world. It’s hard to say how much the chatterers would have done this anyway, but it’s very clear from the language they’re using, and their well-known penchant for mimesis that the Guardian has done no favors for Manning, his supporters, and the larger discourse on whistleblowing.

Here are three recent examples, which I will link to without quoting.

Is Edward Snowden the Anti-Manning? – The New Republic

Surveillance: Snowden Doesn’t Rise To Traitor – The New York Times

The Snowden Prism – Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo

Perhaps more troublingly, Glenn Greenwald, Snowden’s primary contact at the Guardian and one-time ardent Manning defender was on this bandwagon during at least one TV appearance, MSNBC’s Morning Joe. This is sadly fitting, I suppose, since he coauthored the article that first injected this stuff into the discussion.  I have run the video of this appearance by about ten people and all have had the same general reaction I did: Wow, Greenwald is really at the top of his game here.  It’s really a shame about the Manning bit near the end.

Here’s the text from his Manning remarks :

Thomas Roberts: What makes Bradley Manning any different from Edward Snowden . . . because Manning is widely considered to be a traitor and not a whistleblower?

Greenwald: Well I consider him a whistleblower and a hero and lots of other people do around the world as well…But if you ask [Snowden] what the difference is, he will say that he spent months meticulously studying every document. When he handed us those documents they were all in very detailed files by topic. He had read over every single one and used his expertise to make judgments about what he thought should be public–and then didn’t just upload them to the internet–he gave them to journalists who, he knew, and wanted to go through them each one by one and make journalistic judgments about what should be public and what wasn’t, so that harm wouldn’t come gratuitously, but that the public would be informed, and that he was very careful and meticulous about doing that.

If you’ve ever been an activist who has worked with lawyers, you know that they get very focused on a case at hand and don’t really worry much about the larger ramifications.  But the problem with this sometimes is that they make a bad tactical call and feed poison into the system without any commensurate gain. Assuming this battle can even be won with just the right argument, I honestly don’t understand why, in a discussion that is already too focused on personalities, anyone thinks flattering comparisons of Snowden to Manning are more compelling than simply insisting on the unconstitutionality of what the NSA is doing and on Snowden’s right to expose it as illegal activity.  I am also at pains to understand why Snowden’s meticulousness in selecting Top Secret documents can’t be established without unkind comparisons to a whistleblower who has been languishing in jail for the past three years.

Perhaps Greenwald can explain, but he’s not talking, even though he should be well aware that a lot of people who support both Manning and Snowden are not happy about this. The cat’s out of the bag, and it can’t be put back in, but perhaps it can be made a little more quiet.  Greenwald and the Guardian made a mistake here and they should walk it back. At the very least they should stop fostering a degraded, dishonest line of discussion.

Here’s the full video. Section about Manning begins near 15:40.


In the first draft of this post, I referred to Radley Balko as a “barely rehabilitated torture enthusiast.” Balko has objected on Twitter:

Fair enough, but career pundit, please understand that here in the Rancid Sector, we don’t do forgiving and forgetting the way it’s done out there in pundit land, where unprincipled support for state violence is no hindrance, but rather an asset, to a long and successful career. See, I never supported torture, because SUPPORTING TORTURE IS AN EXTREMELY FUCKED UP THING  TO DO, even once, and particularly unbecoming in an alleged libertarian.

Recalling Balko’s support for torture was not an arbitrary slap. His present willingness to parrot smears against Manning — predicated on the quaint notion that a high priority for whistleblowers must be keeping imperialists and their accomplices safe from harm — is in the same bad neighborhood.

I said, ‘barely rehabilitated’ because an admittedly too-cursory reading of the record suggested Balko’s original rethink –based on the grounds that government fucks everything up — wasn’t principled.  In light of numerous articles Balko has written since, this language was too harsh.

Sadly, Balko thinks my original overstatement is grounds for not considering the other things in this post. So I guess you could say that, pending further notice, I’m really not that sorry for anything, though for accuracy’s sake, I’m now calling Balko an ‘ex-torture enthusiast.’

Related Reading:

Good Whistleblower/Bad Whistleblower

Another Snowden News Story. Another Lesson in Proper Whistleblowing

Edward Snowden’ s Incredible Mutating Document  Trove

Viva The New Journalism

Fuck The Guardian: Take Your Drip and Stick It

Fuck The Guardian: Part 2

Fuck The Guardian: Part 1

Edward Snowden: The whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations – Glenn Greenwald,  Ewen MacAskill and Laura Poitras

Bradley Manning’s Statement Taking Responsibility for Releasing Documents to Wikileaks

The Liberal Betrayal of Bradley Manning – Charles Davis

Ezra Klein, Josh Marshall Summoned to West Wing, write Identical Opinion Pieces – Tarzie

A Real Shill: The Nation’s Ari Melber – Tarzie

The Cable News Heroism of Chris Hayes – Tarzie

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

62 Responses to Confronting Edward Snowden’s Remarks on Bradley Manning

  1. Pingback: National Security Agency | WTF! AYS?

  2. Balko is such a dick, he refuses to come back to his claim that Manning was “reckless” and is focused on Tarzie being mean to him about an old column.

  3. Fitzwhillikers says:

    I hope Greenwald did a REAL GOOD vetting of this source. Call me paranoid (yes) but Snowden is kind of impossibly perfect and unsmearable and he leaked stuff everyone kind of knew anyway if they were paying attention – and it may end up with the public approving the program. In the process, he’s distinguishing himself from Manning and possibly even providing tacit support for our nasty overclassification problem by emphasizing how super careful he was in giving us only their shitty powerpoint. What if he had permission for this at some level? Just saying.

  4. Will Shetterly says:

    While I wish Snowden hadn’t compared himself with Manning, he was probably just trying to cover his ass if he gets caught be claiming now that these papers couldn’t hurt anyone.

  5. I think there’s too much attention being paid his Manning comments, which may have just been poorly worded. Snowden has been otherwise unequivocally pro-Manning and in other comments didn’t seek to distinguish one action from the other.

    • I agree with his Sassiness that Snowden has been otherwise really pro-Manning. It’s telling that some are being very selective about Snowden’s Manning comments.

      And thanks for doing this post, Tarzie. It’s infuriating that Manning’s recklessness is taken as a given. It’s even worse that it’s spewed by people like the Brennan Center, who get presented as the “pro-Manning” side in media debates (“Manning was reckless, but punishment is excessive.)

      Obviously, Manning couldn’t have read everything he leaked, but he knew exactly what type of document he was leaking.

    • ohtarzie says:

      “I think there’s too much attention being paid his Manning comments”

      Well, yeah. But he did make those comments and unsurprisingly, they’re being exploited against Manning. Not a small thing. Hence, this post, which clearly is about the facts of Manning’s alleged recklessness, not Snowden.

  6. Awful says:

    While this doesn’t explain or rationalize Balko’s unfortunate remarks, he did get Cory Maye off of death row. That has to be a first for any kind of libertarian reporting.

  7. thedoctorisindahaus says:

    I don’t think we can but guess at Snowden’s or Greenwald’s motivation for the remarks/paraphrase or other statements.

    With regards to Manning, one could posit that Snowden has taken a stance of resignation: if you can’t beat em join em.

    Manning is more useful to Snowden as someone to look down upon. If the public sees Snowden as better than Manning, that’s a positive impression established. He’s not going to save Manning by himself, in an atmosphere of concerted media hatred and servility to state (either overt or just by their intentional censorship of the story). I personally don’t think Snowden disapproves of Manning in any way at all, though I too am just guessing.

    The question of why the media goes along with this fragment is also more guessing. It may accord with their established stance of jingoist and militarist Manning disparagement. It may be they decided to play along to help Snowden, picking up on the cue: this is a zero sum game and if you want to save one, you can’t save more than one.

    My fantasies that Balko or any other reporter in fact cares enough to want save something other than their own paycheck and pride are perhaps too far fetched. They have something to gain, short term, from slandering whistle blowers. However, even people who don’t, join in eagerly.

    So many liberal black democrat voters, looking at twitter, who have nothing but to benefit from these whistles, condemn all public exposure of surveillance institutions that, in the time of their parents, were busy watching and controlling law abiding black people, for the non crime of being black. Just to keep them in their place. And here they are, wounded egos, selectively ignorant of history, talking about how if you just obey the laws and the illegal dictates of power then you should be sheep-fine and completely free to improve your condition. And these leakers can hang themselves for all they care. In fact, they better, for they have endangered the surveillance state they so cherish now. The one that humiliated their parents walking on the wrong side of the street for a block.

    I would have brought up the issue of hostile policing of blacks today but the argument from these people is predicated on a belief that mass policing is in fact OK. They believe that it does not harm blacks who, when stopandfrisked, if they just never have any illegal object, should just be content to meekly tolerate the harassment. It’s inconsequential and only lasts 15-20 minutes at a time.

    Those people are indoctrinated. Snowden may be rationally accepting their indoctrination and respecting them (in all their ghoulish depravity). You can’t always hope to speak only truth and ask people to remove their indoctrination for a moment. Although I suppose you like to.

  8. thedoctorisindahaus says:

    Everything I just said about black people can apply to any other ‘race’ including whites. I was playing the hypocrisy, bestgay, gaysareradical type argument for effect.

  9. danbojangles says:

    Enjoyed this. Seems as though Snowden is pretty familiar w/ how Manning’s been unfairly/inaccurately labeled “reckless”.. despite the abundance of evidence to the contrary.. (some of which is new to me thanks to this post). Can only imagine how difficult it would be for a seemingly principled guy like Snowden to be put in the position of preempting the media narrative.. in effort to distinguish himself from “recklessness” of Manning.. knowing that Manning was probably anything but.. OK.. back to praying that Snowden’s never for one fleeting moment questioned his sexuality.

    • ohtarzie says:

      Right, I get that Snowden is being tactical and also that he is a huge fan of Manning. This post isn’t about Snowden. It’s about refuting the smear he and Greenwald offered up in The Guardian, for whatever reason.

      • danbojangles says:

        Yes, I know.. I enjoyed your refutation! Just kinda sympathetically restating the obvious…it must be hard to try to strategically plot your moves against folks who can convince the world of anything. The “for whatever reason” part seems obvious..until you remember that Greenwald (and now Snowden) seems exceedingly principled. Perhaps by going to lengths to differentiate themselves from appearing “reckless” the leak will push the bounds a bit further than Manning did.. and, hopefully, soften the audience to Manning’s plight. That’s my hope, at least.

  10. thedoctorisindahaus says:

    By the way, I’m only abusing your blog comment section to think out loud. I should have added that an equal amount of push-back, generating a defense for Manning, is perfectly valid.

    There’s nothing to be sorry about towards Balko more than any other, regardless of rudeness or overstatement. The justification being offered for this whole game is Machiavellian, not moral. If you drop the tactical justification issue, it’s nothing but a condemnation of Manning for things he did not do.

  11. Brendan Moody says:

    An excellent takedown of a depressingly-common smear. That it is so common reflects, I think, the extent to which even people who tell themselves they’re skeptical of government have accepted various unconvincing excuses (including the overblown threat of terrorism) for a government culture of secrecy. People look at the size of the “Cablegate” leaks, and simply assume that the leaking of that many documents must have been indiscriminate and dangerous, when a better conclusion is that the State Department reflexively treats as secret even comparatively trivial matters.

    That Snowden (toward whom, for those who think critical analysis bespeaks hostility, I should say I feel considerable gratitude and no ill will) feels obligated to present himself as Mr. Careful Evaluation vis-a-vis a straw version of Manning says something as well about the statist fetish for procedure, and the liberal fetish for (pretend) complexity. Just as liberals want to imagine an anguished Obama weighing checks and balances before he rains death down on foreign civilians, they’re only going to like Snowden if he seems to have dotted the i’s, crossed the t’s, and made his Serious Face as he considered these Weighty Matters. To regard these questions as morally easy is beyond the pale.

    • ohtarzie says:

      Thanks, Brendan. Great points, eloquently said.

      I must admit I felt some ambivalence about debunking a ‘smear’ that is only really a smear if you accept some really dubious assumptions about whistleblower obligations and government secrecy. To be honest, prior to writing this, I didn’t know how carefully Manning had deliberated each document type’s impact on intelligence and military security. I didn’t really care and, apart from how this made-up story continues to be used against Manning by the riff-raff, I still don’t.

      • Brendan Moody says:

        There’s a nasty double standard at work in those expectations about whistleblowers, who are apparently obligated to avoid any impact, however miniscule, on the (nominally or actually) innocent people who might be affected by what they reveal. Government actors, on the other hand, get to cloak the injury they do to innocents in rhetoric about the greater good and the naivete of expecting perfection. That argument has some validity, but only if the greater thing that’s being pursued is really a good. In other words, it supports whistleblowers, not bureaucrats.

        There’s also, of course, something deeply stupid in the idea that all the moral responsibility for the consequences of leaked actions rests with the leaker rather than with the actor. It’s the “I never meant for you to find out!” defense, and only an idiot imagines that to apply in real life. Perfect secrecy is impossible, and to the extent that government types believe they might have gotten away with it if not for these meddling kids, they’re dangerously ignorant as well as plain-old dangerous.

        What’s particularly noxious about the treatment of Manning is that he’s accused of having acted without the approved (pretense of) furrowed-brow soul-searching, even as his actual soul-searching about his identity, his place in the world, and the right course of action– which, far more than a prolonged cost/benefit analysis, is the moral responsibility of a whistleblower– is pathologized precisely because it’s real, and raw, and difficult for some to understand.

  12. thedoctorisindahaus says:

    You could argue it’s also bad tactics, in anything but the shortest term.

    Snowden wasn’t reckless like the bad Manning, he was a careful whistle while Manning was a reckless whistle.

    [time passes].

    Snowden was a leaker like the bad leaker Manning. Two bad leakers. All leakers are bad. Snowden is bad.

  13. thedoctorisindahaus says:

    If it is a tactic they’re using to pre-emptively snuff comparisons, it won’t work in this environment. They’ll never control it in the face of such sloppy animosity.
    Even though accuracy and Manning support are possibly just tactically moot and hopeless, too.

    I wonder if they’ve considered it. Or if anyone cares to consider it.

    This tactic is a mistake.

  14. Happy Jack says:

    Classified doesn’t mean top secret. Just as WMD doesn’t translate as nukes. The confusion isn’t an accident.

  15. Daniel says:

    Fantastic piece. I don’t think I’ve seen the argument put so cleanly and irrefutably.

    And if Balko should happen to come back across this: someone saying a few unkind words doesn’t enable you to turn a blind eye to your factual shortcomings. I’m tired of watching someone feign indignation at tone in order to never getting around to responding to what is a really straightforward point.

  16. thedoctorisindahaus says:

    I’m suspended on twitter and don’t want to go back, sorry about this. Just looking at polling data, sorry to bring good news in this sector.
    Lots can be said about nearly half Americans saying they want more surveillance or accept these excesses. But lots should be said for fact that around half oppose it. That is hard core opposition to police statism, not partisan bs. That’s pretty enormous anti police statism, given how we live our lives and what media say.
    If PRISM could be linked to Obama’s election, he would be impeached no doubt. I truly walk around uninformed. People complain that the polling shows high fascism support. It does. But I had no idea anti-fascism was so high. I had just pessimistically assumed anti-surveillance, that was non partisan and hardcore, was about %15. I am such a lazy, splainy dweeb that I’m having dissonance. Right now.

    I’m not even going to pretend like this comment was strictly relevant to the blog post.

  17. keiajin says:

    thank you so much for this post. as a bradley manning activist who is also super supportive of snowden – the comments put me in an odd/uncomfy position. however, its also important to note that both these courageous souls are under unimaginable amounts of pressure – and in huge danger – so shit like this is gonna happen. it does not detract one bit from the political movement they are both a part of.

    eventually (if not already) i believe snowden will understand how important manning’s decisions are to the environment that made his own contributions possible. in fact, every whistleblower who comes forward is paving the way for the bravery of the next. and i sincerely hope that bradley has gotten wind of snowden, somewhere in the bowels of mordor *cough* ft meade, so that he can see that he is not the only brave soul in the universe willing to risk his safety for the public good.

    my dream is to attend a panel lecture with both of them on it someday 🙂 i am such a classic hippie.

  18. Bill Wolfe says:

    You should mention that Glenn Greenwald did exactly yhe same thing in distinguishing Snowden fromManning and Wikileaks, thereby undermining both and legitimizing critics.

    He did so on one of the TV shows – there were so many, I forgot which one.

    • ohtarzie says:

      Yeah, I know. I saw him do it on Morning Joe, where he was otherwise at the top of his game. When I wrote this he hadn’t done that yet. Very disappointing and mystifying. Might do an update about it. Several people are angry about it.

  19. rsmatesic says:

    Sunday, in the Guardian, there was this:

    Edward Snowden: I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest… There are all sorts of documents that would have made a big impact that I didn’t turn over, because harming people isn’t my goal. Transparency is.

    Monday, on Morning Joe, there was this:

    Thomas Roberts: What makes Bradley Manning any different from Edward Snowden . . . because Manning is widely considered to be a traitor and not a whistleblower?

    Greenwald: Well I consider him a whistleblower and a hero and lots of other people do around the world as well. But if you ask—and the fact that his trial has been kept so secret and that he was sort of disappeared and not heard from for two years is one reason why Mr. Snowden was so concerned and wanted to be—speak out and got himself out of the United States to do that. But if you ask him what the difference is, he will say that he spent months meticulously studying every document. When he handed us those documents they were all in very detailed files by topic. He had read over every single one and used his expertise to make judgments about what he thought should be public–and then didn’t just upload them to the internet–he gave them to journalists who, he knew, and wanted to go through them each one by one and make journalistic judgments about what should be public and what wasn’t, so that harm wouldn’t come gratuitously, but that the public would be informed, and that he was very careful and meticulous about doing that.

    As for Snowden’s quote to the Guardian, I can easily imagine why he felt he had to say it. He was on the lam, and knew he was in the crosshairs before he ever sat down for that interview with Greenwald and Poitras. Just as I can imagine he knew that upon publication of his identity he would arguably become the most wanted man on the planet, at which point his life would become even more imperiled.

    Before the Guardian went to press on June 5, 2013, one could plausibly distill Snowden’s main concerns as ensuring: (1) his survival; and (2) the disclosure of the materials he’d earlier provided to Greenwald, Poitras, and Gellman. By the time Poitras’ camera began shooting, the second was no longer in doubt. The first was, and still is.

    Unlike the NPRs, MSNBCs, Washington Posts & New Yorkers/Times of this world, Snowden didn’t frame the narrative against Manning. He’s not responsible for it. Yes, his remarks could be construed as a gratuitous smear. But does that fit into anything else you know about the guy? In contrast, his remarks can also be read as an effort to preempt a narrative he didn’t frame. Isn’t he entitled to do that, especially when the paradigm—the narrative as well as the evidentiary rules—was designed a long time ago to condemn people like him and Manning as the enemy within.

    Additionally, consider his circumstances just before the interview. One gathers he was entirely alone. Do any of us feel comfortable making life-altering decisions, and life-altering statements, without first vetting them to someone we trust? Whom could Snowden trust at that moment? Who was even available to talk with him, besides Poitras, Greenwald, and Gellman? Assuming he wanted a PR consultation, how might he have gone about getting one? Are you sure the meticulous angle was entirely his idea?

    You’ve been involved in group action, right? Ever been swept up in a mass arrest? When you get to court, your lawyer, assuming he or she is doing their job, is thinking about only one thing: getting you, and nobody but you, off. If it means calling the witness whose testimony is your only chance of acquittal, and your co-defendant’s most likely route to a conviction, the witness gets called. Period. It sucks, but it happens every day. Because neither you nor the lawyer wrote the rules. And if the rules say lack of meticulousness is a capital offense, and you decide your best defense is to argue against the rules, expect soon to be lying in a gurney, shaped liked the cross of Jesus, the levers of which will be adjusted until you get the most comfortable sleep you’ve ever had. Uh uh. You say, “I was meticulous.”

    If the feds ever do catch up with Snowden, expect him not to testify (assuming the Fifth Amendment hasn’t by then been abolished) and Poitras’ video to testify in his absence. What you saw on Sunday could have been nothing more and nothing less than Snowden appealing to his future jury for an acquittal.

    Like others here, I very much appreciated your on-point refutation of the Manning-reckless-dumping charge. But for now, I think you need to go easy on Mr. Edward (who if Yossarian’s account is to be trusted was not the first Snowden to spill his guts in service of some profound revelation). We don’t–and might never–know who baited his hook, or why, and we don’t have to swallow it to defend either him or Manning.

    And go easy on Greenwald. These have to be heady days for a blogger just now promoted to columnist by folks he doesn’t even work for.

    • ohtarzie says:

      What a long and strange comment, considering I barely blamed anyone but only wrote a post to set the record straight. Unlike a lot of people in this country, where everything reduces down to some infantile Manichean religion, I am not terribly concerned with people’s motives. I am concerned with their impact. I don’t care why Greenwald or Snowden or a Guardian editor injected this extremely toxic Snowden vs Manning meme into the ether. I am only concerned with providing some disinfectant. I find it quite disgusting that people feel that out of loyalty to Snowden or Greenwald they must now rationalize throwing Manning under the bus and feeding toxic assumptions about whistleblower protocol. They talk about teams and ‘our side’ the way the most horrible partisan liberals do. Sorry, I don’t play on teams. Teams are for kids and conformists. That’s not me. I’ll go easy on whomever I like. Go manage another adult.

      • rsmatesic says:

        And what a condescending and disingenuous reply. Onward to the motive-abating utopia, folks. (Just curious, what’s next in your minimization crusade, adjectives perhaps? You know, like “shitty” “smeary” and all the others you’re so fond of flinging around?)

        You say you don’t care about the reasons behind this extremely toxic meme. Then how do you expect to address it? What’s your strategy for, as you say, providing the disinfectant? The meme is nothing in the absence of motive: Snowden’s, Manning’s, to cull, to dump, to review, to not review, to publish, to save the constitution. How many people–whom you acknowledge do care a lot about motive–are likely to be persuaded to see it your way after you cut them off at the knees, screaming “I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT MOTIVES!”

        It’s not Snowden’s job to save Manning. And by saying it, I’m not throwing Manning under any bus.

        I thought I presented a reasonable way to understand Snowden’s defense as just that, and not a smear. Yes, it’s your blog, and you can go easy on whomever you like. Just as you can ignore what I wrote, and smear it in any way you choose.

        Long and pointlessly, good night.

      • ohtarzie says:

        “What’s your strategy for, as you say, providing the disinfectant?”

        Well, I wrote a lengthy, well-researched and widely read blog post setting the record straight about Manning’s alleged recklessness. Really not sure how it might have been improved by knowing why Greenwald and Snowden did a shitty stupid thing.

        What’s your contribution been, besides pooping your self-superior managerial class rationalizing bullshit all over my blog?

    • walterglass4 says:

      “And go easy on Greenwald. These have to be heady days for a blogger just now promoted to columnist by folks he doesn’t even work for.”

      You’re right, Greenwald must be going through a lot right now. Those of us who’ve just been told that the NSA is spying on all our communications, on the other hand, are doing fine – just passive participants in all this. Let’s all sit still and let Greenwald have his moment.

  20. rsmatesic says:

    Ideology trumps facts. If your strategy for overcoming the ideology now afflicting every Tweep on @nothingtohide is to blog the facts, well, good luck with that.

  21. thedoctorisindahaus says:

    Everybody’s good at something but not as good as you are at this. It’s an all too recognizable desire to contribute to a discourse by trying to boss something that’s already on its way.

    This all started out so exciting but then, as it’s a consummable message, I’m dependent on the media to make me think it will keep choo-chooing. Then I see half of them (and all the prominent douchebags) have no desire to step up to any plate. It just feels so ordinary all of a sudden: the government does what it wants while the media either condemns its oppression, impotently or cheers it on for a small fortune. I wonder how hearing about Manning being reckless plays out with the general public.

    People are pretty reckless or they might have learned helplessness and feel themselves reckless. Maybe that makes Manning sympathetic (he’s incompetent and scared, just like me!!!). When people read a Brooks etc taking a bilious, hate filled dump on a young man and then another, it might make these two far more sympathetic. The whole spectacle is so reminiscent of an abusive, illogical boss that it’s like a disney retelling of cinderella.
    I read those kind of headlines and all I think is, my boss would talk to me like that if I disagreed. It’s rattlingly discreditable and unpleasant and obviously manipulative.

    And then watching msnbc’ers, they sound as uninviting as foxnews ever was. It’s all “fuck you, he’s a traitor, we BUUUURN traitors”. Whoa, ladies, if I’m an average citizen not interested in politics you sure aren’t making me cozy up to yours!

    It’s a bad tactic, coming from reasonable sounding voices like Greenwald. But it’s a good impression, when coming from the insane rage of psychotically oblivious bloviators. Everything is so absurd in this play: the public doesn’t matter and they always skew split. The media tries to matter but they may just reinforce our own tastes.
    If China would just have some balls and take on the role of safe haven to any and all, they’d entice more subversion in the states while losing nothing, since the right is loony with xenophobia anyway and couldn’t hate them “more” than they already do. And I could stop worrying.
    What disturbs me on thinking why China might say no is that US diplomacy is so psychotic right now, they might not mind a little nuclear showdown, under any pretense, in the short term. Why would China want to skirt that mess?
    It feels like we’re at the end of times. It’s either going to be Orwell fast or we’re all going to burn.
    Maybe it’s all just designed to make the audience feel scared, like everyone is against them. And this bad manning myth is more the spectacle of media trying to destroy a good person, as a warning to the rest of us to never step out of line. That’s the real message as medium. It really works on me. I’m scared of misbehaving just thinking about it. So it makes me like the traitors more and more.

    Like the paranoia gets you thinking where could they go? Where would they be credible going? Russia? Mafia Putin death torture and commies that never quit. Arabia? All client states or too weak to hold out. Africa? CIA will kill you in a field, white boy, nobody will notice. Europe, Australia, Canada? Instant extradition.
    Go to South America. In Colombia the anti-cartel US army presence will arrest you in snap. Everywhere else will be under a ton of pressure to give you up. And Ecuador has enough trouble as it is. Under the sea.
    Under the sea.
    There’ll be no a-ccu-sa-tions, just friend-ly crus-taceans, under the seeeeeeaa!

    Makes me wish I were a whistle blow hater, just to eagerly cheer on the inevitable power of the state.

  22. thedoctorisindahaus says:

    Oh man I’m sorry that’s so long.

  23. Pingback: Remaining Questions About PRISM | The Rancid Honeytrap

  24. thedoctorisindahaus says:

    To judge how truly pointless any exercise in mitigating the public relations problems Snowden will face, it is instructive to consider that partisanship trumps politics. There is no public relations problem. There is only a dumb partisan problem.
    Last night’s Piers Morgan had him confessing to Giuliani that he thought Snowden might have been more sympathetic to his own (Piers’ own) heart, before he “went globe-trotting” (sic). Essentially blaming the victim of oppression for not staying in his oppressive country. The reasoning that never came up (but is out there), to rebut, is that this is the US governments own fault for being so persecutive.
    I guess with partisanship, you have to play the game, because if you lose liberals, what are you left with to support transparency.

    Oh, wait:
    * * *
    Snowden on the Run

    Reuters: Snowden Whereabouts Unknown as Russia Resists US Pressure
    Washington Times: Support Grows for Petition to Pardon NSA Leaker Edward Snowden
    New York Times: Plane for Cuba Leaves Russia, but Snowden Is Not on Board

    “Why would a young man give up his life for a bunch of people, ourselves, who he doesn’t even know? He had a lot of guts to do what he did.” -Urbanski

    Snowden: Whistle-Blower or Traitor?

    “It took Snowden to prove to you and me that our worst nightmare has come true. The United States government spies on its own citizens. It’s not because you’re criminals or terrorists, but because they feel that they can. That’s why you’re seeing the words of Paul Revere pop up all over the Internet next to his name.” -Urbanski

    Edward Snowden, A Modern Paul Revere
    Politico: Rand Paul: Edward Snowden “Civil Disobedient”

    “It is an enormous sacrifice this young man has made, based upon what we know now. Moreover, and I think this gets lost in the conversation, this is not about our enemies. This is about us.” -Urbanski
    * * *

    Yes, that’s right. Without even principled liberals rejecting fascism when their fascist is power, there’s just noooooobody to fill the void. Except the opposition party. Which will inevitably switch to fascism once they get in again, no matter for how short a time.

    I’m wondering if it will be hilarious or just tiresome to see liberals switch to civil libertarian mode when they lose again.
    Gotta play that public opinion game.

    This is separate from the issue of gatekeepers and censorship, which remains for me a problematic one, not something that Greenwald is now hypocritical about. The law may have some things that can be played, even if only slim chances prevail.

  25. Pingback: Newly Revealed PRISM slides Make Liars of Google, Facebook etc. So Why Were They Withheld? | The Rancid Honeytrap

  26. thedoctorisindahaus says:

    The horrible, unnecessary martyr like benefit of snowden refusing any asylum that isn’t on the purest terms that back up his actions (and that may just be a cover story), is that all these countries get a tiny bit of awareness about how evil and or subjugated their governments are.
    I don’t think we as people deserve this kind of gift but it is a benefit, however small.
    Nobody in those countries can be left to doubt that their governments are not there to support them or their rights, given the lies about how he can’t apply for asylum unless on their territory.

    If not in a country, it’s perfectly legit to apply for asylum either at their embassy or by cabling a letter to their immigration service. That’s how it works for applying for asylum to the US.

  27. thedoctorisindahaus says:

    You have to admit, if it did turn out that Snowden got into the EU, a lot of new precedent could be set, regardless of what transpired and how fast, about asylum rights against the States, by the States’s allies.

    Canada would really be the ultimate thumb in the US’s eye, as an asylum against her for something like this. But after this pre-emptive airspace banning in Europe, is there any doubt a flight to Canada would be sent to NY ?

    The amazing thing about the manning snowden dichotomy, is that the same voices that call snowden out for being sloppy, make fun of how careful he is to protect himself. And the same voices that call manning a crazy slop, make fun of anyone who says he should’ve been more careful to save his hide. Two sides to every mouth, I guess.

  28. thedoctorisindahaus says:

    Snowden did walk back the comments. On his guardian live Q&A. I’ve avoided reading his words or watching the interview because I fear for him too much already. But, looking for some data, I just read one of his answers:
    No, I’m not. Wikileaks is a legitimate journalistic outlet and they carefully redacted all of their releases in accordance with a judgment of public interest. The unredacted release of cables was due to the failure of a partner journalist to control a passphrase. However, I understand that many media outlets used the argument that “documents were dumped” to smear Manning, and want to make it clear that it is not a valid assertion here.

  29. thedoctorisindahaus says:

    Today I was reading up on international diplomacy, looking for a solution or trick. And then this all happened. If capitals in Europe aren’t on fire tomorrow with raging protestors, I don’t know what planet I’m on anymore. But I’ll keep on keeping on.
    I guess we’ve (western, mostly white, people) all come to accept our national infantilizations, so it isn’t shocking. Could be a good thing, causes less fear that way.
    If this had happened during the cold war, it would be a scandal to last many weeks. Even months. Why not now? is it internet pornography? Is everyone happy enough just with that? What changed?
    I’d go console myself with porno but I feel like someone’s watching me jerk it, now. Lucky I have some saved on hard drive.

  30. Pingback: A real horror show | Deconstructing Myths

  31. Pingback: Fuck the Guardian: Part 2 | The Rancid Honeytrap

  32. Pingback: Homework for Fuck The Guardian: The Impact of Chelsea Manning | The Rancid Honeytrap

  33. Pingback: Fuck The Guardian: Part 1 | The Rancid Honeytrap

  34. Pingback: Fuck The Guardian, Long Live the Independent??? | The Rancid Honeytrap

  35. Pingback: My Reply To Glenn Greenwald’s Comments on my Last Post | The Rancid Honeytrap

  36. Pingback: The Pejorative Use of ‘Dumping’ | The Rancid Honeytrap

  37. Pingback: Edward Snowden’s Incredibly Mutating Document Trove | The Rancid Honeytrap

  38. Pingback: Another Snowden News Story. Another Lesson in Proper Whistleblowing. | The Rancid Honeytrap

  39. Pingback: In Conclusion | The Rancid Honeytrap

  40. Pingback: Reader’s Supplement To Chris Hedges Piece on the White Hatting of Snowden | The Rancid Honeytrap

  41. Pingback: Does digital messianism really means "trouble in paradise"? | Antidéveloppement

  42. How was Snowden able to read 1.5 million documents in about 3-4 weeks before he supposedly turned them all over to Greenwald and Poitras? A lot of them he stole toward the end of his stay at Booz, Allen. It’s not likely humanly possible.

    • Tarzie says:

      Do we know for certain how large the trove actually is? One and a half million is the government’s figure, so I take it with an even smaller grain of salt than I take the rest.

      No matter whose estimate you believe, the trove is far too big for Snowden to have exercised the care he is credited with. I have written about this quite a bit.

  43. As for Manning, no, she was reckless. Like Assange, he believed in the Leninist “the worse, the better” and like Assange, she ascribed to the crypto-hacker ideology that says that you force an open democratic state you hate to its knees by exposure of even legitimate classified files, make it behave in ways that are contrary to its reputation for freedom and openness, and therefore destroy it that way. This is in Assange’s writings and Manning, too, just wanted to stick it to the US which he blamed for all her problems.

    If Manning really wanted to carefully release each document, she would have prioritized the very documents that led originally (supposedly) to her epiphany that the US was “evil” because the US Army arrested those Iraq printers. But we never do find those documents. She then later mentioned at trial that Assange thought they weren’t important and shouldn’t be released. Funny, that. One wonders if they would have in fact proved, then, that the arrests were legitimate and the Iraqis weren’t mere printers.

    That’s among the single great things that discredits Manning for me.

    Your argument here is contrived.

    • Tarzie says:

      Manning felt that too much was classified. That diplomacy should be mostly transparent. You can disagree with that, but that doesn’t put you at liberty to second guess or mischaracterize her motives. I have no objections to the use of information to impede imperial functioning — though I don’t think it really can — but I don’t believe that was Manning’s intent. I think she really felt that the public should know what their government gets up to.

      In any event, it’s somewhat beside the point, which is that Snowden’s methods were not very different, though he and Greenwald vigorously waged a campaign to suggest otherwise.

  44. Pingback: Philip Agee and Edward Snowden: A comparision. | The Rancid Honeytrap

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s