Fuck the Guardian: Part 2

Ok, so yesterday my intention for this post was to go into a little bit more on why I think the Guardian is so particularly unsuited to the near-monopoly on info Snowden apparently gave it and to touch upon what an alternative situation might look like. However, my first post has been so ANNOYINGLY misunderstood, mischaracterized and poorly argued against I have no choice but to defer that to a Part 3 (lucky Tarzie fans!) and deal with all the shit people are talking right now in comments and on Twitter.

Fans of Greenwald will be pleased to know that the man himself weighed in today on Twitter and I doubt the really dumb, besotted ones (of which there are A LOT) will be as disappointed as I am by the overwhelming bad faith, though I kind of like the dig at NSFWCorp by way of a dig at me. It’s flattering that he knows where to put the knife. A sample reproduced below:

I still love Greenwald, but I have to say I love him less than I did before Snowden laid a Golden Egg in his lap. He’s becoming stonewall-y, arrogant, and really rather dishonest in ways I don’t recall from the days when he talked about things that interested elites, filmmakers and book publishers far less than mass spying does

Since Greenwald’s intent today was simply to make me feel like a divisive, ungrateful shit for not seeing blazing sphincter-sun emanating from him and colleagues there isn’t much there that a super-savvy  troll person like me should bother with. However, I would like to address the claim that my beef is with Snowden and not with the Guardian since there is quite a lot embedded in that that seems to resonate with a lot of the people. So here:

  1. I don’t believe that the terms of how the Guardian manages its scoops ARE dictated by Snowden.
  2. Even if the terms are dictated by Snowden, I am not obliged to find them meritorious, so to the extent that he is dictating how the Guardian behaves, yes, my beef is with him. So what.
  3. The Guardian has been objectionable in ways that I am quite sure Snowden has nothing to do with so while I may have a beef with Snowden, I have a beef with the Guardian (and Greenwald) also.

On the matter of how Snowden has influenced the Guardian’s coverage, we only have Greenwald’s word, and sadly, I take that a lot less seriously than I used to. He invokes Snowden’s authority every time anyone criticizes him for withholding information or slides — when he doesn’t stonewall altogether — and then turns around and contradicts himself when the need arises.  If he and his colleagues are just jumping through Snowden’s hoops, what are we to make of these remarks to O Globo following David Miranda’s Heathrow shakedown (h/t Arthur Silber):

I am going to publish many more documents now. I am going to publish a lot about England, too, I have a lot of documents about the espionage system in England. Now my focus is going to be that as well.”

Yeah, I realize he’s angry and everything, so what about these statements he made a while back to Huffpost:

Snowden hasn’t been doling out documents one by one…He gave a few to the Post, and then a bunch to us — weeks ago — and left it to us to decide what should and shouldn’t be published and in what order.

And this:

Is this a reporter who is jumping through whistleblower hoops? Clearly not, so it’s really disingenuous when confronted with complaints about one’s reporting to say otherwise, that is, to lay one’s shortcomings on someone who is incommunicado instead of simply dealing with the complaint head on.

Second, I appreciate Snowden’s whistleblowing and courage and all, but that in no way obliges me to see his view on whistleblower ethics and strategy as in any way authoritative, even in the unlikely event that Greenwald and the Guardian are conveying them in any way but self-servingly. It is really quite dishonest of Greenwald  to say I am too cowardly to criticize Snowden since he is well aware that in my first post about Snowden I critiqued the self-flattering comparison he made of himself to Manning, a comparison that Greenwald alludes to — offensively — every time he goes on about the non-efficacy of dumping.

Yes, as the whistleblower, Snowden has a lot of leverage to place conditions on his media partners, but that doesn’t give his conditions theoretical weight with respect to media elites monopolizing information that rightfully belongs to the public.

Finally, the Guardian has been fucking up again and again and Rusbridger’s suppression of the hard-drive smashing story is only the straw that broke the camel’s back. I will get to the matter in detail in part three but the short version is this: they wait too long between stories,  a lot of the reporting is half-baked, they withhold and redact too much;  and finally, they are on far too amicable terms with the NSA and GCHQ.

Now with respect to a lot of the other crap I got for my piece, I am simply going to try to state my point of view as concisely as I can since so much of what came at me seemed unrelated to anything I think or said:

Alan Rusbridger is a dick for having shielded the Cameron government from a global free speech scandal for two months before finally addressing it with a meandering, weird and trivializing blog post instead of the front page of his newspaper.

Alan Rusbridger is also a dick for dispatching David Miranda into the jaws of British anti-terrorism after smashing the  Guardian’s computers on government orders under the supervision of GCHQ goons.

Monopolies on information are objectionable on principle and also tactically problematic. Any monopoly that media elites want to hold on critical information should be warranted by some greater good. I don’t see that greater good in the case of the Guardian.

More tomorrow.


Did the Independent Just Spin and Old Guardian Slide

Fuck the Guardian: Long Live The Independent?

Fuck the Guardian: Part 1

Homework for Fuck the Guardian: The Impact of Chelsea Manning

Confronting Edward Snowden’s Remarks on Manning 

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112 Responses to Fuck the Guardian: Part 2

  1. AmishRakeFight says:

    I followed your exchange this morning with Glenn, and I must say I was quite disappointed with the way he handled it, and I thought you did a good job of staying cordial and on topic in the face of his snark.
    I certainly agree that he, and the Guardian, have developed a frustrating habit of vanishing or dodging whenever they are asked a perfectly appropriate, though difficult question. The one you asked him today was a perfect example. I’d very much like to know why Alan Rusbridge waited weeks before bringing up the hard drive destruction.
    I think you have a perfectly valid point that a journalist’s source shouldn’t dictate the reporting, even a high-profile source who courageously ruined his life to blow the whistle. I mean, imagine if Snowden gave the documents to Greenwald and said, “I want you to wait until a Republican is president before you report on any of this,” or “Wait until the 2014 elections so they will have more impact.” Does anyone believe Greenwald would comply with that, or that he would be obligated to?
    I guess in my view, the journalist does have a responsibility to their source, but they have a greater responsibility to the public, to provide the public with important information that is trying to be withheld from them. Please let me know if I need to re-think that view.
    And lastly, regarding the drip-drip-drip theory. i am amazed that people would defend this. The rate of information release has been agonizingly slow. I understand Greenwald’s explanation about it taking time, but see my previous paragraph: if the process is resulting in the public not getting information they need, then it’s perfectly appropriate to question that process. And Greenwald has claimed that Snowden gave him thousands of documents. At the rate they are currently being published, it will be 2020 before we know all the information in them.

  2. If Snowden/Greenwald are unwilling to do a big document dump — perhaps because they believe the threat of a retaliatory big document dump helps their physical safety — then they could consider at least sharing many of the documents with other media outlets, the more the merrier. I would suggest ProPublica, which has done good work on the NSA and can’t be accused of having any particular political ax to grind; perhaps other commenters can offer other suggestions.

  3. Tesseractress says:

    I highly agree with most of what you said, I think you make some very substantial points about the Guardian and Greenwald.

  4. Vulgar Liberal says:

    Eh, Glenn has always liked idiots like Digby and Maddow. Like this gem


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

  6. poppsikle says:

    Your posts show so much distrust of the Guardian and what some commentators are referring to as “elite media”. What everyone needs to understand is that there has been an alarming drop in investigative journalism, its been happening over the past 4 years and the results have been devastating.

    Its an open door to crime.

    The Snowden revelations have made clear the importance of investigative journalism, there is no replacement for it. Instead of lashing out at it, understand how much it is needed. Its a corner-stone of a democracy, it protects the People.

  7. Abonilox says:

    After reading yesterday’s post, and following the exchange between you and Greenwald on Twitter it does appear that we need Snowden to chime in on this at some point. Why would Snowden have an interest in doling out information in small bits?

    Another person I’d like to hear more from is Poitras. Has she confirmed everything Greenwald has said about Snowden’s instructions?

    Greenwald is behaving predictably. He’s not an anarchist. He’s an ambitious journalist with the scoop of a lifetime, and controlling the story keeps his name in the papers (and his face on TV) longer. I’d like to see how much ad rates have gone up for the Guardian in the past 60 days.

    Anyway, you have brought up a lot of very important points that have mostly been overlooked.

  8. ~lb*/ says:

    “I am going to publish many more documents now.  publish a lot about England, too, I have a lot of documents about the espionage system in England. Now my focus is going to be that as well.”

    Thank you for highlighting this. Between the kakfaesque Rusbridger (Until par 9!!!) piece and this statement which made it to DW, BBC, all US newtworks with voice-over, yesterday was extremely disorienting.

    If the above is, in fact, a good translation, Greenwald has more to answer than being vengeful —which he was accused, but statement isn’t. (And who could blame anyone being in such case?)

    I think of the Snowden revelations as charity, not food stamps. Once a charitable contribution is made, the contributor has no control over the purse. (Though there is certainly an argument to be made that with a large enough donation, one does have control.) With state aid, the state options to restrict recipients use, excluding certain types of goods and all services.

    Greenwald, Snowden, the Guardian, the NSA & HCHQ all seem to feel a varying degree of right to dictate dissemination and edit of these documents.

    In contrast, Snowden and his media contact(/lawyer/business manager) have no compunction to make the (very reasoned) kill-switch threat. So there is a condition which warrants release of all information. Just not one that serves the world’s citizens who are subject to this at once draconian and futuristic-dystopian surveillance.

    I look forward to Pt. 3

    • poppsikle says:

      Its ridiculous to compare Greenwald, the Guardian and Snowden with the NSA and GCHQ! Someone has not followed all that has gone down, does not understand the sacrifice Snowden made, does not understand the important of what the Guardian has done.

      Snowden himself was worried about these kind of misguided reactions:
      “The great fear that I have regarding the outcome for America of these disclosures is that nothing will change. [People] won’t be willing to take the risks necessary to stand up and fight to change things… And in the months ahead, the years ahead, it’s only going to get worse. [The NSA will] say that… because of the crisis, the dangers that we face in the world, some new and unpredicted threat, we need more authority, we need more power, and there will be nothing the people can do at that point to oppose it. And it will be turnkey tyranny.”

  9. Jeff Nguyen says:

    Snowden grew up in Fort Meade, MD, in the shadow of Langley. Both parents are on the government payroll and one might say he was groomed from an early age for such a time as this. For me, this whole story doesn’t pass the smell test. Perhaps, Greenwald was so excited to get the story of the decade (understandable for a journalist), that he can’t see his blind side mirrors aren’t working.

    • Tarzie says:

      I keep hearing this from people. But I don’t understand what the theory is. Can you elaborate?

    • thedoctorisindahaus says:

      Tarzie’s the only meanie on here who can pull it off so don’t take my snark the wrong way.

      1st link post is based on a conspiracy stance. Of which I entirely approve as cautious reasoning, not as dispositive.
      2nd link, huffpo article, is safe anecdotes, terrible conjecture/rumor and totally pointless for any conclusions. Take away the money and the skills and Snowden’s mystifying development fits half of millenials, who can’t look forward to job security and wander, whatever their field, unless they are particularly hard driven achievers or science phds stuck in a specialized expert lane.
      You could, with that info, connect the dots as much as anything else. His history is checkered just enough to be too hard to research (note, not impossible to research). What a coincidence! He must have picked the lies to be plausible but stay unverified as long as possible.

      I’m not saying it’s not true, I’m just saying any sense of incongruity or spy thriller games in Snowden’s mysterious bio are not proof of anything. Though everything is worth exploring.

      With a tweet just now about obama doj seeking/setting up ‘immunity’ for bush admin war crimes, whatever that means, I just have one question;
      when are we all going to die? They must be setting themselves up for a maneuver against WE THE PEOPLE!

      More to the point is that the conspiracy approach is based upon a belief that the people have enough power to disrupt things and that there would be a motivation for them to activate their powers (activate people power ring force friends!) given the right information and circumstances.
      Say, witnessing the murder or imprisonment of a set of wealthy industrialists who will seem to have not been in the military/nsa side of things. That might motivate them. The way it absolutely does not in Russia, only because Russia has so much tighter a grip on its people that good countries do.

      Get real. Whatever the game is, it certainly isn’t to scare the public into submission and resignation. We are so there already and if we weren’t it would be no problem to shut people up if they tried anything. Maybe one day, when food is no longer secure, and people see their babies and their brothers starving and know they’ll soon follow, we’ll have a revolution. That’s why the cameras are there everywhere.
      Just the way starving somalis do now and the way starving ethiopians did in the 80s. Because the people have that power especially when they’re at their weakest. Gotta be prepared and keep control of them.

      Conspiracy is fine. Just don’t tell me it’s about me. All I am to the system is another bill they can extract with taxes and fines and when that’s gone, another bill they can send to corrections department for my imprisonment.

      Just imagine you’re rich and committing crimes against people. Are you afraid of the people? Or are you afraid the prison industrial complex might enjoy spending money prosecuting you, if you don’t bribe them enough?

      Now to go back to the internet, find out what this business of Oba the dread seeking immunity for the last guys who lived there and see that oh-by-the-way, there’s martial law in a few towns for no reason. Thank god, for elites’ sake, Snowden came along to trickle out just enough to frighten me or I might have felt like I could really do something about it.

    • thedoctorisindahaus says:

      Although I do think the ‘snowden is a plant’ meme is the most seductive and if I can make a request, would love to hear more about it in this ongoing series about the many ways in which this leak is deeply underperforming. Maybe that sounds strange after what I just harangued about but it’s true.

    • thedoctorisindahaus says:

      As far as manning is concerned as an individual, Snowden unquestionably creates a more sympathetic atmosphere to manning, regardless of the stupid reckless/responsible dichotomy that snowden/greenwald started. I don’t think that dichotomy has any teeth or staying power, its just a meme that other reporters jumped on early on and is basically noise around the rest of the story.
      So, if Snowden has anything to do with manning, other than being inspired by manning, it isn’t to destroy him. Maybe to destroy other things, not manning. And by destroy, I mean manning’s public image. His life is and has been in the hands of the elites, for their purposes.

      • Tarzie says:

        That’s a good thought. I hadn’t really considered that despite that annoying comparison, Snowden may create a more sympathetic environment overall. Not sure, though.

    • thedoctorisindahaus says:

      The idea that this meme is shaped by elites is also dubious. The people who will notice the meme most are people following this story to the ant fucker level. Greenwald is still “that reporter from the guardian/ that reporter that snowden gave the files to”. Not “the guy who meticulously released…”.
      The release cycle is a function of greenwald-guardian’s method, not our submissive meta awareness of it. The greenwald beliebers themselves are a tiny portion of the greater public who is being condescendingly dripped out to.

      Perspective people, even though you have to dive in first before you can pull back to get it.

      • thedoctorisindahaus says:

        Sorry I meant with the last post to point out especially that Greenwald himself could not be manipulated by elites to put out that dichotomy. It’s just a shitty greenwaldism to try and make the case for his source. His source’s initiating of the meme is another issue.

        But I would like to point out that the CNN interview where Greenwald brought it up again was not for the purpose or even the effect/implication of discrediting Manning. He was arguing with Toobin, who the previous evening had attacked manning with the long existing meme that the wikileaks dump was espionage and an attack on America because it was a huge exposure of info, not a purposeful one.
        The next evening, Greenwald’s point, and even his phrasing, was pointed directly at Toobin’s state worshipping anti-leakerism. It was something like,
        Greenwald: “So, Toobin, you fucking phony asswipe, last night you said Manning was an enemy of the state for his giant leak exposing life’s work of the nation’s diplomats….but tonight, in the face of Snowden’s meticulous leak, so meticulous his archive has directories organized by subject proving he read all of it, you STILL say Snowden is wrong…one might be forgiven, MrToobin, for thinking you hate any info that informs the public and you hate whistleblowing at all! Because, as we see, regardless of how even you characterise the leaks, you always come out against them!”

        Now, given the zippy back and forth of the exchange on piers, Greenwald wasnt/couldnt be his usual pedantic, point-by-point-by-fucking-point antfucking style of legal document writing. But if you go back to the clip, it is clear.

        I will look for a link to piersCNN that night but it will take some time, if I find it at all.

      • thedoctorisindahaus says:

        Your credulity at both greenwald and the lack of conspiracies is very confusing. Are you lmao’ing at the conspiracy? At the reality? At the criticism?
        Lmao is great work if you can get it. But. Does. It. Pay?
        The returns on your investment in all things will take a hit if you only sign them with a lmao.

  10. Kevin Dooley (@kevindooleyirl) says:

    Thanks for doing this. Its important that someone on Greenwald’s radar actually thinks about how he’s proceeding with the information he’s been given and criticizes him when he makes mistakes. If he’s actually interested in serving the public, you would think he would be more open to public criticism of his work, especially given the stories global impact.

    Hopefully he will lose the pouty attitude and take the arguments more seriously. Using his commitment to the story and the personal risk he(and Snowden) have taken on as a bludgeon to silence criticism from the left is complete bullshit. He of all people should understand that its incumbent on people in privileged positions to answer legitimate grievances about how they exercise the power they’ve been given. The notion that we’re just supposed to trust his judgement/the way he marshals these documents because Snowden decided he was the least incompetent establishment journalist is not a real defense.

    All that said, I must admit I’m not exactly sure how I think he(I make no distinction between Greenwald and The Guardian here) should proceed assuming he’s unwilling to dump everything in a database for public consumption. A good place to start maybe going back to a story he already reported on(PRISM) and releasing the rest of the slides. Or, he could continue to do the reporting he has been, while also releasing some of the less explosive stuff for us to comb thru without parental guidance. He says, “Mass, indiscriminate document dumping would have helped nobody except the NSA.” He doesn’t bother making an argument to back this up(not that I’ve seen, anyway), but even assuming its true, why does all releasing of documents without attached reporting have to be “mass” and “indiscriminate”. It may not be optimal, but a gesture like the one I mentioned could inspire further public participation, partially address legitimate criticism like yours and help further the project of reform that he’s ostensibly committed to.

    Look forward to the rest of your analysis.

  11. Chris Andersen says:

    Welcome to the world of “I liked Greenwald until I asked for a clarification and got roundly trounced in response.” It’s a world that is growing by the day.

    I just wish some of his supporters might actually come to appreciate this side of Glenn Greenwald before they or someone else they admire is caught in the cross-hair.

  12. poppsikle says:

    Its funny to me how many of the commentators claim to be free thinkers, yet their thinking is so obviously coming from current trends on Twitter, I won’t name names.

    • Tarzie says:

      I hope you soon finish. Your contributions here are mostly irrelevant.

      • poppsikle says:

        No they aren’t, you just are willing to face the truth.

      • poppsikle says:

        *aren’t willing. Or maybe a more accurate answer is that you want to dig up hidden motives etc. You clearly find a lot of fault with the Guardian. I think you and everyone needs to consider that without media, without exposure, its totally possible to hide massive atrocities and crimes, that’s how the NSA hid what it was doing for so long for instance, and the whole time there were those trying to expose it, they just couldn’t reach the larger public awareness. I know this from personal experience.

  13. Happy Jack says:

    Mass, indiscriminate document dumping would have helped nobody except the NSA—

    Is he referring to the State Dept cables when he says dumping? If memory serves, Wikileaks partnered with the media on those, and as I recall, “Iran” was a favorite search term when they perused the documents. Some of the more juicy stuff (internationally that is) didn’t come out until the cables were released into the wild. Interestingly, David Leigh of the Guardian played a major role in that affair.

  14. thedoctorisindahaus says:

    I think we’re going to need to come up with a provisory way of discussing this story. This story is the biggest story in decades and the behind the scenes has to be the most exciting gattaca shit evar.

    There should be the beautiful “IDEA of Snowden/Greenwald”.
    and then there should be the real Snowden/Greenwald.

    Sort of like candidate obama/president obama. But at the same time and with effects stemming from both. Instead of one being bait and switch for the other.

  15. availablealias says:

    As to which is better, the document dump or the drip drip drip, look who’s in jail (or holed up in an embassy). Are Greenwald, Rusbridger, or Gellman in jail? No, it’s Manning, Assange, Barret Brown. So ask yourself, who’s the real threat?

    • thedoctorisindahaus says:

      Your support of dumps is clear. But like, that’s the worst defense yet.

      Rusbridger is an establishment editor of one of the world’s biggest papers. Bill Keller isn’t in jail either and he was releasing wikileaks cables.
      Gellman is an NSA asskisser who had documents thrust upon him and is protected by the NSA ass-kissing washington post. Gellman, if his tale is to be believed, in the middle of partaking in this massive exposure of truth, could have gotten snowden trapped by the NSA and thrown in jail by going to the government and talking about the fact he was getting all this stuff. Gellman almost blew Snowden’s cover long before he was out of the country and snowden cut off relations for that, according to gellman. Greenwald may or may not be arrested if he returns to US/heathrow, we don’t know. But it sure would be a stupid risk in the middle of this to try and find out. And likewise with the rest.
      It’s obvious both are real threats. It’s also obvious that exposing the NSA, if it is utterly against the wishes of the powers that be, is a far greater threat, regardless of how it comes out.

      The links should be in this politico article but if not the politico article sums it well.

      I also won’t look up the cnn piers link. I’m just that lazy and again I’ve spent my entire evening reading through the latest.
      But in that link there’s this reminder:

      ‘On the issue of conditions for publishing the information from Snowden, Greenwald tweeted, “I have no idea whether he had any conditions for WP, but he had none for us: we didn’t post all the slides.” ‘

      HE HAD NONE FOR US. So he said back then. While the day earlier was probably all “meticulous redactions required” as the day after. Greenwald is completely his own agent on this, serving his own purposes, following his own plan. The story is all there is. Plus whatever there is that we don’t know. Everything beyond Greenwald’s tweeting of links to the fact that someone else has a published article you should go look at, is just spin, spin, spin.
      The only thing I can say good about Greenwald the celebrity journalist is that, as far as his tv interviews go, he has remained impeccable. In that he hasn’t slipped up on any point.

  16. thedoctorisindahaus says:

    Could it be, is it plausible that we are down to 2 copies or maybe 3?
    Brazil, NY and Berlin?
    Are these totally servile imbeciles as bad as they claim or pretend to be? When greenwald says on cnn “of course we have copies all over the world”, is he lying, blustering, because he has no more than 3 copies, none of them in the cloud, all seizable physically, due to retarded respect for NAtional Security of these horrible countries?


    They expressed fears that foreign governments, in particular Russia or China, could hack into the Guardian’s IT network. But the Guardian explained the security surrounding the documents, which were held in isolation and not stored on any Guardian system.

    The Guardian’s lawyers believed the government might either seek an injunction under the law of confidence, a catch-all statute that covers any unauthorised possession of confidential material, or start criminal proceedings under the Official Secrets Act.

    Either brought with it the risk that the Guardian’s reporting would be frozen everywhere and that the newspaper would be forced to hand over material.

    “I explained to British authorities that there were other copies in America and Brazil so they wouldn’t be achieving anything,” Rusbridger said. “But once it was obvious that they would be going to law I preferred to destroy our copy rather than hand it back to them or allow the courts to freeze our reporting.”

    Any such surrender would have represented a betrayal of the source, Edward Snowden, Rusbridger believed. The files could ultimately have been used in the American whistleblower’s prosecution.

    “I don’t think we had Snowden’s consent to hand the material back, and I didn’t want to help the UK authorities to know what he had given us,” the Guardian editor said.

    Furthermore the computer records could be analysed forensically to yield information on which journalists had seen and worked with which files.

    Rusbridger took the decision that if the government was determined to stop UK-based reporting on the Snowden files, the best option was destroy the London copy and to continue to edit and report from America and Brazil. Journalists in America are protected by the first amendment, guaranteeing free speech.

    Ok. The above is an incoherent, unexplained babbling brook of diseased evasions.
    So a UK law can demand return of info, presumably by what they’re implying. So not just digital copies, but info.
    How would such an injunction performed against the guardian in the UK interfere with the guardianUS continuing its work under 1A protections?
    If the UK can forbid the guardian in court from publishing in the UK, why would they back off if the physical drives are not the issue but the data?

    In the full article, talk of chinese spies using lasers to listen to the vibrating windows of the guardian offices is mentioned. So instead of installing window vibrators or shades or boarding up the windows, they destroy the drives? Although they could take them to court to prevent publication and really put an end to ‘discussions’, since they’d have no right to report?

    All one can hope is that they’re lying or referring to places they work as storage sites. If they really now have, for the sake of respecting the national security of countries vowed to use this technology, as greenwald et al surely believe, not to protect people but to control and destroy people, this is like dumb fuck jerkoff land or it’s all a setup, too. Snowden’s having copies everywhere seems like a backup that’s either a lie or a setup or a true threat made exactly due to fears that the data could be destroyed, not just that it’s his only insurance.
    If it is his insurance, the UK just decided to say they don’t play ball. They don’t care about insurance. They’ll take their chances trying to destroy as much as they can rather than waiting for it to come out and hoping it’s mostly redacted.

    What are the odds of not going with electronic transfers of data here?
    The only ‘motivation’ that comes to mind for such behavior is that:

    the NSA/ghcq can see EVERYTHING.
    They monitor a computer and they can break https and replace streams of data with other streams, making it a challenge for green/poitras to communicate and trust that they’re exchanging the data they want to.
    They’ve cracked encryption and vpn’s so that using those things provides nothing and gives away all their conversations and data.
    Transferring the files over a network then just means the NSA will hold onto them and take the time needed to decrypt.
    Maybe the 400GB wikileaks dump has to be 400GB because it’s that level of encryption that is required to protecting nothing more than a megabyte of data. Maybe they’re playing games with the nsa and it’s encrypted just enough to be cracked and reveal false data.

    It isn’t necessary to travel through London by plane to go between Brazil and Europe.
    On the assumption that this ferrying of physical data is necessary,
    and on the assumption that the people involved are not unnecessary risk takers,
    one might wonder if there wasn’t some need to transfer data, in the airport, to Guardian reporters, physically.
    And if so,
    how stupid and bad are they at this undercover reporting game?
    It would be so much easier to do this in ways that anyone can imagine.

    Did the thugs intimidate or “send a message”? Or did they prevent an exchange from taking place? And get a copy of the data which they can send to utah for decryption. Decryption which is possible so that they transfer files physically.
    Otherwise, if encryption really, truly works,
    what goddamn business do these reporters have to be traveling with docs instead of sending it encrypted and storing thousands of copies encrypted everywhere.
    maybe encryption doesn’t work anymore.

  17. Glenn Greenwald says:

    Several points:

    (1) There’s zero conflict between saying that (a) we’re publishing in accordance with our agreement with ES and his wishes and (b) ES isn’t dictating specific publishing decisions.

    When he came to me, he told me what strategy he wanted to use: careful, deliberative disclosures that would inform the public of what they should know without giving NSA and its defenders a plausible way to claim that we were gratuitously exposing damaging secrets.

    That’s because he cares about how this plays out in public opinion. Affecting public opinion is one of his key goals. And he believed – and still believes – that mass, indiscriminate document dumping outside of what is viewed as the normal reporting process would harm these disclosures from the perspective of public opinion, because it would make them (and him) easier to demonize and distract attention away from their substance by allowing the focus to be on the USG’s claims about national security damage. Doing that would be a gift to the NSA and its defenders.

    He gave us general principles for how he’s wanted this reporting to proceed. We agreed to those principles. I consider that agreement binding. Independently, I also agree with those principles – not as a moral matter but as a **strategic one. And we – meaning: Laura and I – have then been making the specific choices about what gets published and in what order based on those general principles we all agreed to from the start (and which we’ve since re-affirmed many times).

    (2) While it’s true I can’t offer you mathematical proof that what I say about ES’s wishes are true, the evidence that it is true is his own actions.

    Had ES wanted the kind of disclosures you crave, he could have done all sorts of things to make that happen. He could have uploaded the documents himself directly to the internet. He could have given them to someone (WikiLeaks or whomever) on the condition that they all be published within two weeks or two months. He could publicly demand that more be published.

    He still could do those things. Easily. Yet he hasn’t. He’s also obviously continued to work with me. But if he shared your views about the need for greater or faster disclosures, he could have made that happen – and still could make it happen – in a minute.

    He’s extremely happy how things have proceeded and, like all of us involved from the beginning, genuinely amazed that it’s gone as well as it has. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t go better, that we didn’t make mistakes, etc. Criticize away: I view that all as valid and healthy, as evidenced by my responding. But if there were serious discrepancies between ES’s desires and our choices regarding the rate of publishing, you’d know it.

    (3) The fact that he vetted all the materials before giving them to us doesn’t mean he wants them all published. Some of the documents he wanted us to have for context, others to understand things, others because he wasn’t sure if they should be published or not and wanted help in deciding that, others which he think should be published down the road but not now.

    Also, the fact that some documents shouldn’t be published now doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be published later. But right now, how this is all viewed in the public debate in the US and around the world – preventing these disclosures from being easily demonized and giving the NSA an easy out – matters a lot: both to him and to me.

    (4) As for the pace of the disclosures:

    (a) You seem to be counting only US articles. Laura and I have worked continuously in partnership with foreign media outlets to publish all kinds of NSA stories there, sparking huge debate and even scandals. Laura has published a half-dozen or more blockbuster articles in Germany, while I’ve done the same in Brazil.

    That was done by partnering with other media outlets. Right now, I’m working with a large paper in India for nation-specific disclosures there, while she’s also now working with media outlets in another country.

    We are partnering with other media outlets to maximize both the rate and impact of the disclosures. That we have made this into a global controversy rather than just a domestic one has been crucial, and that has happened largely by our devoting a huge amount of our time to partnering with foreign media outlets and publishing there.

    (b) For the first two weeks of our disclosures – when we published one new story in each of the first five days – the complaint I heard most from allies was that we were publishing too quickly, that not even they could keep up with the disclosures, that we were suffocating our own revelations by piling one on top of the next.

    What I’ve found is that you need to give each story breathing room. It takes time for people to process what you’ve reported. Fallout develops. Other journalists advance the reporting by using what you’ve disclosed. The media latches on. The fire gets inflamed. Then you do another new one.

    That’s been, by far, the most effective strategy for keeping public interest in these disclosures high. It also prevents the NSA and its defenders from knowing what is coming, so they things that are untrue that you can then prove are untrue, and it also prevents them from developing effective neutralizing strategies. It keeps them uncertain and thus unable to use falsehoods and propaganda to drive the debate the way they want.

    (c) There are only so many hours in the day. I’ve worked 16 hours a day, literally every day, for the last 3 months on nothing but churning out disclosures, publicly explaining and defending them, etc. So has Laura. We’ve involved as many people and institutions as we could consistent with our trust levels. Whatever other criticisms one might make of us, that we haven’t produced enough news stories is, I think, easily one of the most unreasonable.

    More top secret NSA documents have been published in the last 3 months than in the prior 50 year history of the agency combined. And in the next 3 months, that number will be substantially higher.

    (d) The fact that this very public-opinion-conscious strategy currently is shaping how documents are released doesn’t mean this will always be the strategy. One can certainly envision how a different, more aggressive strategy will prevail in the future for all sorts of reasons.

    But one of the things ES wanted to achieve in unraveling his entire life and risking life in prison was to win the public debate. Like everyone, he shouldn’t be immune from criticisms. But given the courage and self-sacrifice he’s shown, I think he’s entitled a presumption that his motives are the right ones. And I’m certainly going to defer to what I know are his goals and his beliefs for how they can be achieved.

    I understand the values of radical transparency. I believe in it. Few people, if any, have been as aggressive in defending WikiLeaks and others over the years than I. I still am a huge supporter of theirs and that model. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right tactic for every situation and that other tactics shouldn’t also be used.

    As for the criticisms of the Guardian waiting before denouncing the GCHQ’s behavior: that’s a reasonable criticism and I’m not defending that choice here.

    • P Chayd says:

      If ES was as careful in selecting the documents as you say, nothing he gave you should “gratuitously [expose] damaging secrets.”

      You’re protecting the state and members of the state by holding back the docs. And waiting actually gives them more time to develop and implement “neutralizing strategies.”

    • brooklyndown says:

      I question how effective this strategy of controlled leaks has been so far as a tactic. In many ways, it has had the opposite effect as your stated goal: instead of keeping the NSA apologists on their toes, it has enabled them to confuse the narrative. The most obvious example was early on with reporting of direct access to servers. Might this not have been cleared up by a full document dump? Don’t you think allowing public to crowd analyze the documents would enable push back against NSA distortion of the various program’s more quickly and decisively? Now, when the NSA makes a claim, we have to wait–hoping–that at some point future information will come out clarifying the point in question. And when it does, finally, come out, one way or another, time has passed and the public is left confused. For public perception, the power of the initial “he said/she said” is hard to overcome, even when countervailing facts eventually come to light. This could be avoided if the public had the information to combat these lies immediately, before they have the chance of becoming false truths by repetition.

    • Thomas Lord says:

      I would have some confidence in what Glenn is saying if I had credible assurance that there were several third parties, holding all the documents, planning to dump them en masse, by a date certain, in the not far off future.

      It is not credible that Glenn and Laura are such high authorities on managing PR that they should be trusted to run “the campaign” indefinitely. Nor is there judgment about what to or not to permanently withhold credibly great.

    • poppsikle says:

      Glenn Greenwald, I hope you know by now, that a hack has been placed on my Twitter accounts which is shadow-banning my comment replies on your threads, they show up on my profile, not on your threads. This hack has been applied to other NSA related posts as well.

      Clearly my enemies are very afraid of my both communicating with you and my voice being a part of the NSA debate, and I know all too well why they are afraid. Three years ago I spoke out about the NSA and Topix, based on anonymous comments made to my blog. I have faced years of persecution for this, my post was hidden from the larger public and they were able to do this with every devious method possible. All it showed me was how angry they were at my post and how they had a mentality of the effectiveness of intimidation. It proved to me my post was accurate.

      I would therefore conceivably have more reason to be angry than any other poster here, as my years of suffering over an issue has not seen an end. But unlike them, I am not angry, I am glad the issue has been brought to the public’s awareness, I appreciate very much, the work you have been doing and the Guardian, I know more than most about the predictable lashing out and persecution that comes with outing the truth about the NSA.

      I am very aware of the simultaneous issue of the decline in investigative journalism, its interconnected with Topix, I have long spoken out about the danger of it and been an advocate for journalism and ethics in media. I have seen first hand the timidity of the large majority of our press, timidity that has continued and been exposed by the Prism issue.

      I have watched the lashing out at Snowden, I understand where much of it is coming from, the inability of many to understand the courage it took to do what he did, the suspicion of his motives, the inclination to shoot the messenger. I worry as he does about all of this taking away from the importance of his revelations. We have a chance here to end the massive injustices going on, to insist on our rights, that is the direction that needs to be followed.

    • ~lb*/ says:

      In item 3 par 3 Greenwald concludes the most solid case for the leaks strategy. Yet this is the conclussion of one to three folks. Why wouldn’t the exact opposite argument be equally convincing, to wit:

      Staggering releases gives the USG time to lie and be caught, but also time to create ersatz scenarios by which the president, senate or public sternly wag a finger at some guy old enough to fall on his sword while vital enough to enjoy retirement to the good life of his choice —all the while the next generation of  statist authoritarian takes his place.

      More these person hours, work output, age]nts, senators, judges, and president and cabinet are paid for with public monies. That means taxes. The folks who have been underwriting this secret government debaucle for half a century have every right to see the big picture, understand their place in this particular scheme, not have it released after the only damage doable is slightly less confidence ratings, rather than  exposure to what these programmes and operations will have evolved.

      Finally Tarzie, sad but true, Greenwald spent just about as much time debating his opinion on Barrett Brown with Jen Deville, BB’s chippy turned snitch cum “match made in FBI” to Lamo [ungaying and lightening the mood with a whimsical Tumblr featuring “Learning to love Lamo”]. Together they’re bringing Manning back …(sing to fav boy band melody), while the woman who jumped into argue with GG, Natalie Banks, has moved on to play a role in the WA Wikileaks Party cock-up. No end to coincidences which might make sense in 50-75 years when all the government files on Manning, Hammond and Brown are released, and we all are dead and the truth will hold no timely relevance.

  18. Bad Glenn says:

    Glenn, the biggest problem with this drip-drip strategy is not just that it is condescending and insulting to the public intelligence, but also that ultimately it does not amount to much reporting at all – i see not much reason for taking too much professional pride in what has been published so far, other than for daring to talk about it, unlike say WaPo. These little drips so far have failed to paint a comprehensible picture of the origins, nature, extent, implementation, implications, actual capabilities and abuse of these spying programs, and in spite of the high absolute number of ‘stories’, all that the public is ultimately left with is “OMG, spying!”, with no clarity on anything other than that “NSA doing something fishy!”.

    Partial punctures in state secrecy do not empower anybody – they leave the subjects even more confused, despondent, and disorganized, and this is the reason I now consider you a part of the problem, and if your strategy empowers anybody, it is elite rule, not the public.

    • Mud says:

      This is about effecting cultural change and establishing institutions that exist as checks on power. Those institutions have to have a widely recognized value and be sustainable through something other than pure sacrifice.

      If whistleblowers and journalists believe that they will end up as Manning or, to a lesser extent, Assange — caged and even tortured — people won’t do it much. Expecting that much personal sacrifice is unreasonable. People treasure their own lives. They want at least the chance to be publicly redeemed, or at least able to enjoy their lives.

      And there are leaks that can be easily demonized: ones with agent names and exact procedures, or ones so large that claims they are dangerous are too inconvenient to deny. People can too easily be convinced that those who reveal such information should be treated as criminals. You may not like it, but it’s true.

      The way to combat this is to build institutions that can earn trust: the trustof those who wish to reveal information, and the trust of the public to not do so in a fashion that disrupts or endangers their lives. Whether people are stupid or not in their assessments of what is dangerous is irrelevant; the only way to educate them is to first earn their trust, and then give them more information and see if they change their minds about what they need to know.

      This is about building an institutional, culturally valued bridge between nervous whistleblowers and the public, one that is difficult for elites to discredit or destroy. Such an institutional bridge is ultimately the only thing that can enable the public to protect said whistleblowers.

      • How exactly has this process accomplished any of the goals you laid out? Last I checked, Snowden was stranded in a Russian airport for almost a month, was unable to apply for asylum in his desired country because the US revoked his passport and the public generally considers him a traitor who should be charged with treason. If Snowden had, say, flown to Hong Kong and then released all of the information, then everything he’d be in the exact same situation: the only difference would be that we would know more and maybe the public would actually support him because we would understand exactly what the NSA is doing.

        The theory that the drip-drip release strategy somehow increases public support would hold more weight if the public actually supported Snowden. The longer this plays out, the more time elites have to spin it: they know exactly what’s coming and have somehow crafted the message that it’s a good thing that we know the NSA is spying on us (we need to have a serious conversation!!!!!), yet Snowden is still a traitor and should be imprisoned for a long time.

      • thedoctorisindahaus says:

        The public does not generally consider him a traitor. The poll numbers are ambiguous but given the balance of things and the several polling questions on the matter, it seems the public leans to approving of Snowden. As to issues of sacrifice, it should be abundantly clear by now that the types of leaks that challenge abuses of real power will never be met with anything but further abuses of the justice system to criminalize and torture the leakers.

        The rationale that a court will see that these leaks were in the public interest is ludicrous, given the insane over conviction on manning both in length of sentence and charges succeeded.
        You really have to be in denial to imagine that the courts wouldn’t be manipulated into excessive prosecution, if Snowden is ever brought to trial. No matter how judicious he was. I guess I can see it as reaching for straws and he’s entitled to do so. But the real world shows that it is nothing more than reaching for straws.

        We are unfortunately in a system where the people who do leak important information, should expect that they will be making a huge sacrifice one way or another. And they’d better find a country that will shelter them or allow them to remain undiscovered.
        The sacrifice we shouldn’t impose on them is the nonsense that gets spouted by fascist pundits and pols: they should stay and be tried. Nobody is asking them to make that sacrifice. That’s just an insulting meme used as slander.
        “We” are not going to be making it safer and easier for leakers any time soon.

    • The problem isn’t the slow release. It’s not about the public’s inability to judge. On that note pick 1000 random twitter accounts, scan for #NSA, say a prayer to St. Carlin so I don’t link to his average people joke, and be honest about the results. It’s about lack of context.

      I don’t know how the public would take it. I do know the public have their head in a vise. The economy is pushing on panic instinct, the politics is pushing on crusade instincts. Intelligent audience or not, that’s a powder keg for anyone who knows how to use it.

      The problem is as Bad Glenn said, “Where the fuck is the context?” It is this lack of context that allows the NSA to inject fears of carelessness, which is what ultimately screwed Chelsea Manning, if you remember the forced apology. I agree with the drip, explain, spread, action strategy. Maybe if journalists would get out of their comfy-air-conditioned-career-chasing-not-my-problem-i’m-just-journalizing attitude and formed an org, let’s call it LeakSplainer, then Edward Snowden would know a group of journalists who wouldn’t cave to pressure, like Project PM was.

      I’ll give you a context. We don’t need the information. We are addicted to information for the false catharsis it produces, which is why we don’t take act. We’re behaving like rabid beavers fixated on the latest thing to scream about.

      What we need as a country is a goal, a stance, a spirit of perseverance, and an understanding that much of media is corporate owned and the story is already spun beyond recognition before it gets inked. For crying out loud, NYTimes and USAToday do not have the integrity and courage to call Chelsea Manning female or utter the word “she”. What we need as a country is to declare that it’s not the spying that’s bothersome, but that the NSA is guilty of insubordination to citizens. What we need to do is not analyze the extent of the information, for which doubt is sufficient to call us to action, but to declare that the information is 1) public property and 2) the NSA is behaving as a corporation after its own interests not an institution operating in the interests of citizens.

      I don’t care that the NSA knows when I shower. I care that they dare even approach their masters with such disrespect. That’s isn’t creepy. It’s an insult.

      The collection of information isn’t the problem. The problem isn’t privacy concerns or possible abuse. The problem is privacy violations. The problem is guaranteed abuses when an institution casts itself above the will of those it is intended to serve.

      • Nemo says:

        “Maybe if journalists would get out of their comfy-air-conditioned-career-chasing-not-my-problem-i’m-just-journalizing attitude and formed an org, let’s call it LeakSplainer, then Edward Snowden would know a group of journalists who wouldn’t cave to pressure, like Project PM was.”

        There already is such a group. It’s called Wikileaks.

      • @Nemo Wikileaks does not analyze nor should they beyond their own commentary. People who are peers to the public should do the work. WL is seen as outside.

    • parink says:

      Pretty potent drips considering the whole world is talking about them.

    • “Partial punctures in state secrecy do not empower anybody – they leave the subjects even more confused, despondent, and disorganized”

      That’s a pretty big claim. Do you have any evidence for it – or could you at least elaborate why you think that’s true?

      • Tarzie says:

        I think it’s self-evident. Do you feel empowered after a day of contemplating the jail cell on Twitter?

      • (Replying to Tarzie below here since I can’t below).

        “Do you feel empowered after a day of contemplating the jail cell on Twitter?” No. Certainly not. But that introduces new variables. I rarely if ever feel empowered after spending a day on Twitter.

        But my question was aimed more on the 2nd half of Bad Glenn’s assertion – “Partial punctures in state secrecy leave subjects even more confused, despondent, & disorganized.” There’s a specific claim there that the Snowden has moved us backwards. I don’t see that so was curious what that was based on.

  19. DK says:

    Bad Glenn, could you explain how a document dump (or other method) would paint a more comprehensible picture of the surveillance state? In some theoretical sense, more information means more understanding, but in practical terms that might fail to hold. If ES had dumped everything, undoubtedly specialists would know more than they do now. But would the rest of the public? I’m not convinced that the impact would be stronger. Drip drip means ongoing, long term coverage and separate treatment of different aspects of NSA surveillance. Drip drip means a long term *narrative* develops.

    Just pointing out that what really matters is *public* perception. Computer security experts, civil libertarians and other assorted lefty types saw much of this coming and wrote about it extensively–the ES docs just confirmed what was strongly suspected. On an actual informational level, there isn’t always a huge difference between the writings of the more perceptive security experts over the last few years and the Guardian stories. There have after all been previously disclosed NSA violations, whistleblowers and so on–sufficient info for an informed person to get pissed off. And yet compared to the ES revelations, all that prior info did jack shit for public perception. So clearly the mere *availability* of info wasn’t sufficient over the last 5-10 years to cause a public firestorm. Yet you seem to think that maximizing info *availability* is the most important thing. I say the evidence goes the other way. But maybe you see it differently?

  20. I support posting all stolen government data in multiple places as rapidly as reasonable. By reasonable I basically mean keeping the whistleblowers safe.

  21. DK says:

    Dunno where your comment went. But here is the idea: look at what happens when GG writes a new scoop. The entire media (even elite, establishment press) zero in on the new story, it gets into the cable news cycle, everyone’s focus is directed at some specific part of the program. If you do a dump, will GG (and others) still write thoughtful, deliberate, careful analyses of the documents? Yeah, obviously. But will the media reaction be the same? Highly doubtful. In the context of a dump, specific articles wouldn’t be remotely as significant, which means a softer media focus. Broader but less deep. Would that strategy result in a stronger public impact? I haven’t seen anyone compellingly argue how it would

    • Joe Emersberger says:

      Agreed. GG will write way better articles than the vast majority of corporate media reporters and pundits. That is why Snowden – quite wisely – went to him. A dump would allow corproate writers to effectively drown GG out. Marginalized writers and researchers with small audiences would do fine work but that woud not balance out the impact of letting the corporate media set the agenda and control what most of the public actually learn. Regular folks won’t invest hours to read through the docs themselves.

      Important to recall that the Guardian desperately wants to break into the US market. That allowed GG to negotiate a signifiicant amount of autonomy from them when he came over from Salon. He came with a US audience – great leverage to have. The Guardian’s deficiences are very real and significant, but present circumstances allow GG and a few other fine witers to exploit an openning.

    • Tarzie says:

      Right and as we know, the US news cycle is the most important thing ever.

    • When you say “it get’s into the cable news cycle, everyone’s focus is directed at some specific part of the program”, you should also point out that the stories are generally portrayed unfavorably. The news generally gets reported like this:

      “Yeah, the NSA is spying, which is something we should talk about, but what about that traitor Snowden who fled the country and now lives in Russia? He’s an asshole and a traitor and thus the leaks are suspect. Did you know that he accepted a job only to obtain and link confidential information?!?!? Also, that Greenwald character hates America and even though I’m outraged that his boyfriend was detained, I he is a treasonous asshole, right? Now back to the spying: Terrorism. We have to stop it and sometimes shit happens. But seriously, at some point we should start a dialogue about privacy”.

      I don’t understand why anyone has any faith that forcing the msm to cover this is going to shift public opinion domestically (things may be different internationally, but I can’t speak on that). All they do is create a cartoonish caricature of the leaker and then use that to distract the public. If we had all the information, then maybe some incredulous reporter — or team of reporters — could put all the pieces together and actually tell us what is going on. Unfortunately, leaking the documents in this manner seems to actually give credence to the phony war on terror and thus the NSA. After reading Greenwald’s justification, I got the impression that Snowden didn’t want to release all of the documents because doing so, he believes, would expose crucial anti-terrorism strategies. This implies that the NSA actually do a lot of important stuff and they’ve just kind of lost their way a little.

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

  23. Off Center says:

    I can’t depend on the Internet chronicle as a serious news source. Your use of satire in an attempt to be “funny” makes it so that I often can not determine which stories are actually true.

  24. mbi@mbi.com says:

    “Monopolies on information are objectionable on principle and also tactically problematic. Any monopoly that media elites want to hold on critical information should be warranted by some greater good. I don’t see that greater good in the case of the Guardian.”

    Having read both your posts, I can only say that I have no idea why you believe these things, nor can I imagine a reason why you would. Considering how many words you’ve already wasted on basically nothing but being snide, I also can’t imagine why you didn’t start with that.

    Honestly, the person who seems like a dick is you, and reading both of these articles has provided me nothing. I do not understand your beef with The Guardian. I do not understand why you are angry at Glenn Greenwald. I do not understand why you think your article is being unfairly attacked. I do not understand why you believe Greenwald has acted in bad faith. I do not understand even the tiniest bit of what motivated you to write these angry but utterly substanceless articles.

    • Tarzie says:

      I guess I am underestimating how dumb and authority-loving people like you are and my summary of my point of view at the end of this post was ambiguous. In your honor, I’ve rewritten it as follows:

      Alan Rusbridger is a dick for having shielded the Cameron government from a global free speech scandal for two months before finally addressing it with a meandering, weird and trivializing blog post instead of the front page of his newspaper.

      Alan Rusbridger is also a dick for dispatching David Miranda into the jaws of British anti-terrorism after smashing the Guardian’s computers on government orders under the supervision of GCHQ goons.

      Monopolies on information are objectionable on principle and also tactically problematic. Any monopoly that media elites want to hold on critical information should be warranted by some greater good. I don’t see that greater good in the case of the Guardian.

      As to Greenwald, yes of course, there is no bad faith in replying to criticisms with snark and insults. After all, Greenwald’s A REALLY BIG DEAL and I am a peon. Why on earth did Greenwald finally bother to reply as if I deserved something better??? As if perhaps this is part of a series, or as if I’d written about this before, had several discussions with him and might do so again? Why are so many people engaging at all? How silly everyone is to see something worth discussing here.

      Thanks for the lecture on being snide. You self-aware types are my faves.

      • mbi@mbi.com says:

        “How could anyone POSSIBLY believe that there might be anything wrong with a monopoly on a trove of leaks held by New Labor media elites”

        Holy crap, you really believe this is something other than ridiculous babble, don’t you?

        I don’t know why Greenwald deigned to respond to you, but all of his reasons should have been blisteringly obvious to you already, if you weren’t hung up on ludicrously pedantic issues of no importance whatsoever.

      • Tarzie says:

        Teach me all about substance, serious person, but don’t let a single fucking idea about anything beyond your superiority intrude.

        What on earth do you think you’re accomplishing with this apart from a really persuasive performance of an asshole? Go talk to Greenwald. Surely if he talks to a babbling pedant like me he’ll talk to you.

      • mbi@mbi.com says:

        If you want my criticism more constructively, here it is: Your argument is one I feel is very easily refuted by the strategic and logistical reasons Greenwald put forward, ones he didn’t even have to put forward because they should have been obvious. But more importantly, you have chosen a position that seems to be shared by virtually no one, and you have not put forward the effort to justify it or make it convincing. You believe it is in the public good to release all the information right away. On what grounds?? For God’s sake, WHY DO YOU THINK THIS? Your arguments are not convincing, because you haven’t even put them forward. I guess they’re coming later. But you’re not writing a book, you’re writing a blog, so you should have made a justifying argument for your unorthodox position right away, especially if you were going to post it under such an inflammatory title as “Fuck the Guardian.”

      • Tarzie says:

        Thanks for not being an asshole. Three’s a charm!

        I think we differ on Rusbridge and what he signifies. Also what the shakedown of Miranda signifies. Also how we feel about The Guardian generally and the mediation of dissidence by non-dissidents.

        Like I said this is part of series, and I am going to deal in more detail with my problem with the Guardian. I summarized what those problems are in my post.

        I have also written about this previously. I thought Greenwald’s handling of PRISM was abyssmal as one example. I think the Snowden vs Manning contest they want to publicly have is awful too.

        Greenwald and the Guardian would not be such a problem for me if they had not made themselves the only game in town, but they have. I tend not to like monopolies on information any more than I like any other kind of monopoly on a resource. It makes for shitty products at high cost.

        I don’t find assertions about why a certain strategy is better, based on assumptions about what good is that I don’t share, persuasive. People keep telling me Greenwald’s strategy is just obviously superior but the evidence is very slim, putting aside objections to this kind of elite control on general principle. A performance of largely evidence-free certainty might work on stupid, easily intimidated people, but it doesn’t work on me.

  25. Tom Stanwell says:

    I still love Greenwald, but I have to say I love him less than I did before Snowden laid a Golden Egg in his lap. He’s becoming stonewall-y, arrogant, and really rather dishonest in ways I don’t recall from the days when he talked about things that interested elites, filmmakers and book publishers far less than mass spying does

    Stonewall-y, arrogant and really rather dishonest is the way Greenwald always has written. You probably didn’t see it before simply because you agreed with the general tenor/angle of his writing’s content (subjects and approval-or-not).

    Most of Greenwald’s long-time fans seem to be Democrat partisans, who have during the time reading Greenwald come to be either skeptical of the Ds or dismissive toward them. When Greenwald started in 2005 at UT he was railing on the Rs, and praising Ds generally while saying a few Ds were DINOs or Bad Apples. This made him seem skeptical and somewhat critical while still being D-partisan. Which matched his fanbase’s sentiments.

    What he’s done is ride that tide. His M.O. is to “break” (his term, not mine) stories that other, more perceptive writers have already been discussing for months, if not years. He re-packages them in his pseudo-legal-ese, link-heavy, UPDATE-pregnant style. He’s always had his eye on what the Donkey Dissidents have been saying, and most of his essays mirror what some other, more forceful dissident already has said — but again, repackaged in The Greenwald Style. The Style includes shrillness, cattiness, and general flowery adjective/adverb modifiers.

    If you haven’t ever had a reason to admire him, or claim him as “one of your own”, these things have been readily apparent. They’ve also been fairly obvious if you preceded Greenwald, time-wise, in rejecting the Ds — those who rejected both Ds and Rs could see Greenwald’s partisanship from the start. Those who reject Ds, Rs and Greens as well could see the partisanship in Greenwald’s posturing Oct/Nov 2012 where he talked aboud POTUS candidates that year. He had some softly kind words for Jill Stein.

    Remember he stumped for Obama 2008. Remember he plied the “more, better Democrats” theme pretty regularly from 2005-2012. It’s only since the 2012 elections that he’s been willing to really stick his e-neck out and bash Obama — and that’s likely because as of the 2012 elections, Obama is a lame duck.

    His angle has always been obvious — fame, fortune, and being this generation’s Alan Dershowitz.

    If you contrast his legal career to his writing career, it’s obvious which one has been more fruitful for him, fame-wise. He was a nobody lawyer. His claim to legal fame is getting hired by a big Manhattan firm, but he didn’t distinguish himself while tenured there. He was an oar-puller in the galley, not a deck hand or first mate or skipper.

    So mostly, if he says what you want to hear, he gets “expert” or “authority” or “insider” cred, but he’s never really demonstrated expertise, authorial depth/breadth of knowledge, or true insider status.

    Snowden looks for all purposes to be continuing as a CIA worker, and if Greenwald were really a dissident who criticizes the US Govt and statism, he’d probably have noticed this. But then maybe his fame-seeking is more powerful than any impulse toward being a man of integrity?

    The Guardian’s chief area of expertise is criticizing Repubs in the USA and their analogs in the UK. Soft-left, poseur lib/prog is its theme. Not truly investigative and not really insightful, it’s a small step above the gossip rag Salon. Which is a fashion magazine.

    What should be interesting to students of journalism and media is the way Greenwald’s been sanctified as the expert-du-jour, while never really proving his credentials as such an expert. Kinda looks blown up and puffy, like marketing.

    Wondering if Greenwald will sock-puppet a response to this. He’s already been called on the carpet for his sock puppetry in the past. Quite a fragile ego on him, quite a strong need to control the public’s perception of him. I’d say he’s got some psychological weaknesses that are ripe for exploitation.

    • Tarzie says:

      Is that you, Oxy?

      Anyway, interesting comment. Definitely some truth here, though I am less negative on GG than you. I think he’s more independent and original than you give him credit for and also more likable when he’s not being defensive.

      I am only just now learning that there is a CT to the effect that Snowden is CIA in a turf war with the NSA. If you want to elaborate on that it would be most entertaining.

      • Tom Stanwell says:

        Not Oxy. Not Contin either.

        I’m not sure how he’s been brave. Maybe you could recite what you see as his bravery, what contextualizes the acts as evincing bravery? I don’t think it’s brave to lie about one’s background, I don’t think it’s brave to steal others’ intellectual legwork and present it as one’s own, I don’t think it’s brave to say one moves to Brazil for their tolerance of homosexuality when it’s really a federal tax debt problem and perhaps a long-distance romantic interest that prompted one’s move. Again, marketing!

        I would see bravery inherent in not just releasing all these “whistleblown” documents, but more in the fact that they reveal something nobody else has discussed, and thus the documents reveal things nobody save the spookery gang have known about. To date there’s been no revelation via Snowden of anything that hasn’t been old hat for many years. The MSM have catapulted Snowden & Greenwald into hero status — and this is the same MSM conglomerate who, in most other scenarios, are seen as beholden to powerful moneyed interests. Why that doesn’t raise red flags for Greenwald’s many fans, I’m not realy understanding.

        There’s a distinct lack of humility in his writing, and it shows in his theft of others’ legwork and his presentation of that work as his own. Why wouldn’t that be seen as a negative, I wonder.

      • Tarzie says:

        The MSM have catapulted Snowden & Greenwald into hero status — and this is the same MSM conglomerate who, in most other scenarios, are seen as beholden to powerful moneyed interests. Why that doesn’t raise red flags for Greenwald’s many fans, I’m not realy understanding.

        Yeah, this is a problem for me too and I am planning to address it in an upcoming post. People think this discussion is happening because Greenwald and co are so savvy with their Drip Drips and cable news invective when clearly this discussion is happening because people in high places either want it to, or don’t really mind.

        Greenwald is perilously close to being Chris Hayes for a savvier kind of rube.

    • Nemo says:

      “Snowden looks for all purposes to be continuing as a CIA worker, and if Greenwald were really a dissident who criticizes the US Govt and statism, he’d probably have noticed this. But then maybe his fame-seeking is more powerful than any impulse toward being a man of integrity?”

      What? Even if Snowden is actually still working for the CIA, how is that apparent? What do you have to back this up besides the fact he used to work there?

      • Tom Stanwell says:

        Good gosh almighty. Did you actually just issue that challenge, imagining that every single facet of one’s life is documented for proof on the internet?

        What proof do YOU have that Snowden is a real genuine whistleblower?

        What proof do YOU have that the “whistleblown” documents reveal anything new?

      • Nemo says:

        @Tom Stanwell
        “What proof do YOU have that Snowden is a real genuine whistleblower?”

        He blew a whistle. What other requirement is there to be a whistleblower?

        “What proof do YOU have that the “whistleblown” documents reveal anything new?”

        They reveal names of specific programmes, they clarify some details and they provide confirmation of things that some of us already suspected existed. This is useful. Before, when I told people the American government could read every e-mail that went through American corporations, they thought I was nuts.

        Now what proof do you have that he’s working for the CIA? Or, even easier, what did Snowden do to make you believe he could be working for the CIA? What is the source of your suspicion?

  26. Tom Stanwell says:

    Also, Tarzie — I don’t have any dogs in the fight embodied by the alleged NSA/CIA turf war. It’s an interesting theme, but to my mind it goes essentially nowhere. It reminds me of argument over which extra virgin olive oil is truly the best, where one’s energies would be better spent asking if olive oil is the best choice.

    All of these issues in spookery are easiest understood by ditching all partisanship impulses, and thinking of spooks not as “incompetent” (as many are wont to do, with citations to ancillary traits or acts that supposedly “prove” the lack of competence), but instead merely as people who seek to keep the USA as the world’s leading capitalist force on the planet. With a nation as populous as the USA, psychological manipulation is a key factor when there appears to be unrest among the citizenry.

    The only theme I think interesting in the alleged NSA/CIA spat is the humint/sigint divide, which is a real thing. As of 2013 it’s obvious that manipulations of perception on the internet (e-life) are more fruitful than on-the-ground, in-person machinations. What I think distractive about the supposed NSA/CIA spat is that I think both entities realize e-life is the battleground.

    • Tarzie says:

      Fascinating stuff, but I don’t think you can brush the proposition of Snowden as CIA mole aside as largely trivial.

      • Tom Stanwell says:

        Well I didn’t say that was trivial, I said the supposed intramural spat is trivial.

        Snowden’s got a good track record of CIA employment. BAH is known (maybe only in smaller circles, though) as a CIA runner/front/assistant. Snowden’s also got armed forces experience. Throw all that together with the idea that NSA and CIA are not in a deeply motivated spat, and you get the conclusion that CIA and NSA simply do their spookery slightly differently, different tools, different styles. The differences are not really the issue, not if you see the differences as complementary.

        The spat could be taken more seriously if these “whistleblown” documents revealed something new AND the new thing showed the intramural spat to be as powerful as the theorists say it is.

        But they don’t reveal that. Instead they just confirm what numerous other MSM stories from the past 15 years have said, although at lower levels of popularity in discussion. And I’d say the past stories’ lack of popularity has more to do with the e-life power. In the late 90s we didn’t have twitter and facebook, and only a few of us were regular users of internet discussion. News, in all its forms and all its qualities, traveled slower.

  27. Ricki Tikki Tavi says:

    Glenn, I would like to challenge your repeated claims about how much time and effort it takes to vet and analyze the mountain of documents you have. Maybe that’s true, but we really have no way to know. However, a review of the stories compiled so far under “The NSA files” shows that approximately half of them are simply narrations of the slides you have received – something that does not require neither too much time, nor too much brain power, and surely can be done by most average educated people.

    • Tom Stanwell says:

      It would take Greenwald a very long time to review those documents for that purpose (or those purposes) mainly because he’s not expert in that field.

      It would be like asking a life-long auto mechanic to wade through piles of medical journals and then tell us what’s relevant in those journals for an auto mechanic’s repair of a faulty rear brake.

      In other words, Greenwald’s covering while he deals with the truth of his ignorance in this field, which ignorance he cannot admit publicly.

      Either that, or he’s controlled.

    • Tarzie says:

      I don’t doubt that reviewing and understanding the documents takes as long as Greenwald says it does, especially if you factor the review by lawyers, editors and the NSA, with whom Rusbridger and co meet regularly.

      To me the length of time this shit takes is an argument for my side, not Greenwald’s, and also makes mincemeat of the idea that the slow eking out of these documents is part of some super savvy drip drip strategy rather than the inevitable consequence of a small number of people moving this shit through layers of risk-averse bureaucracy.

  28. Tom Stanwell says:

    Tarzie, I’m sure it’s taking him that long! Mostly because he can’t understand what he’s reading, because he doesn’t have experience in the field covered by the documents.

    It’s possibly taking him that long because he’s arrogated to himself the authority to filter what should and shouldn’t be revealed. Whom or what is he truly protecting in that filtering process, that’s what I’d like to know — if he’s truly moving glacially because of the necessary filter process. But again, why is it necessary? The necessity suggests he’s not heroic, not a whistleblower, but instead is controlled.

    No matter how it’s analyzed, it doesn’t shine well on him. Quite the opposite, actually — except to the loyal fans, that is.

    • Tarzie says:

      That a journalist doesn’t have a certain technical background is a non-starter if he acknowledges the limitation and takes appropriate steps. Journalists are generalists, which is fine. But again, this demonstrates the limits of the Guardian monopoly

      • Tom Stanwell says:

        Academically, maybe.

        Greenwald presents himself as the expert here. Has he said anything about the out-of-depth experience reading intel dox, relative to his M&A background for 1 year at a big firm? No. Not a whisper. Not even implied anywhere. You have to infer it knowing his background, and how that background compares to his present e-life profile.

        He’s a shrewd marketer. It’s oddly synchronous that Mad Men would be such a popular and well-received show at the same time Greenwald is selling himself as the golden boy, while actually being plated in iron pyrite.

      • Tarzie says:

        Ok bub. I got it. You don’t like Greenwald.

        I know it’s you, Oxy.

  29. Tom Stanwell says:

    Snark? Seriously? Toward what end?

    As I said above, I have no money on this contest. At the same time, for different reasons, I have no favorites in the media who get deference because of favoritism. It’s a lot easier to see the truth that way, a lot easier to avoid being lulled by a story.

    Also as said above, not Oxy, and not Contin either. You can’t seriously believe that this “Oxy” referenced entity is the only person who sees through Greenwald’s presentation. And when you keep defending Greenwald that way, you don’t look nearly as objective as the main essay above purports to be. I’m not saying you’re aiming for journalism here, but you undercut your argument when you wheel around to throw snark and then defend Greenwald.

    I think he’s got plenty of defenders who will handle that aim for you!

    • Tarzie says:

      No it’s a certain style and emphasis that I think – perhaps wrongly – are giving you away. It’s not intended as an insult, though I think the beatdown on Greenwald might be getting diminishing returns. I hate that his fans are making this all about him and one can go too much the other way also.

      • Tom Stanwell says:

        Sure, it can go the other way.

        But you shouldn’t be taking me, or anyone else, to task for what I (or the other taken-to-task person) didn’t create. I’m definitely not responsible for the status accorded him, so there’s nothing insincere or personalized about my criticisms. I’m doing noting different from what he pretends to do when he “breaks” (again, his word not mine) a story with revelations about something which he feels isn’t getting proper attention.

        Perhaps your unstated quarrel is that I don’t have the profile he does, and therefore I shouldn’t be commenting on this?

        In any case, the legitimacy of the Snowden story, and the Guardian’s publication and stewardship of that story, are tied directly and inextricably to whether Greenwald deserves to be hailed or recognized as accurate and honest. I really can’t see any momentum or real weight in the idea that this is all due to the Guardian’s bias — whether ineptness, or competent control of information, it doesn’t matter really.

        Can you understand my point? I’m not taking the discussion afield, even if you would prefer I do not speak of the things I’m saying, or would prefer that I be more gentle.

      • Tarzie says:

        It should be obvious that it I am not terribly concerned about status. If he wrote comment after comment about you I’d remark about that too.

        I don’t like discourse that is all about personalities. I don’t want this comment section to be about Greenwald after I have worked so hard at chasing people off who want it to be.

        But anyway carry on. I can’t control people.

  30. Tom Stanwell says:


    I’m sorry, but restating your challenges, and declaring conclusions with no backing, is not advancing anything regarding Snowden’s status.

    He didn’t blow any whistles. His revelations –such as they were– were the equivalent of a referee’s flag thrown after 3d down for an infraction seen during 1st down.

    Perhaps you should consider something highly relevant here. You’re believing Snowden based on no evidence, while saying that anyone who doubts Snowden must produce evidence to your satisfaction. If analyzed closely, your position is seen as favoritism, not one that is a result of analyzing facts and using experience to inform what those facts suggest.

    • Tom Stanwell says:

      In other words, you seem unaware of how real analysis of real situations occurs. You can demand “proof” when it surely doesn’t exist, and then feel triumphant for not receiving the “proof” challenged. It’s fairly comical that you’d assume someone could prove current CIA agency or contractor status. The nature of spookery is a bit like nested Russian dolls. The real practical difference is that in the nested Russian dolls, there’s eventually a hand-carved tiny doll at the very center, whereas in spookery you’re unlikely to know with certitude (provable, in other words) if an asset is employed by CIA unless you are the assets handler or otherwise a supervisor, or are the person who hired the asset.

      It really does help to know a bit about these subjects before challenging someone with such hollow authority, Nemo.

      • Nemo says:

        “It really does help to know a bit about these subjects before challenging someone with such hollow authority, Nemo.”

        I’m not “challenging” you; just asking what I believe to be a very reasonable question, and you are very tellingly avoiding answering it. So last try: since you have so much knowledge, O, knowing one, impart unto me your infinite wisdom and tell me why should I suspect Snowden of being a CIA spook. What reason do I have to doubt his motives for blowing the whistle as he did? You don’t need to produce evidence, just a reason for suspicion; any reason at all. Because it seems to me that, if he was a CIA agent, the NSA would already have found it out by now, and would be working to discredit him. But clearly neither I nor the NSA is as acquainted with the secret telling signs of spies as you are. Was it the way he looks, the way he ties his shoes, his brand of glasses? What did you see that made you think “SPOOK!”? I honestly don’t see it. But I’m no enlightened authority like you, so I’d like to learn how the real pros do it.

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  32. On the one hand, Snowden and Greenwald are undoubtedly paternalistic here. All journalism is. Journalism is by its very nature a filter. Additionally, neither of them are radical anarchists who reject the concept of state secrets wholesale. It doesn’t surprise me that they disagree w/ Tarzie, because they do not share the same principles. Frankly, hurling invective at them seems as pointless as hurling invective at DNI Clapper, as if THAT would be able to change his mind, or as if we’d respect any human being whose principles are so easily swayed.

    On the other hand, I think Snowden and Greenwald should refrain from simply resorting to strategic explanations here. Strategy is not the bottom line in any of this. After all, Snowden has no problem reciting his moral reasons for acting in the first place against the wishes of the U.S. Why would he have a problem reciting his moral reasons for acting to limit public exposure to the information he claims shows misconduct, abuse, and other crimes?

    And I imagine that if he made such a recitation, we’d see that Snowden is no opponent of us staying in the dark of much national security misconduct. As somebody who used to hold a security clearance, I can attest that there’s a powerful identity there that confers an air of authority and, yes, paternalism. It’s built into any association with a paternalistic ruling class state, and it’s not something you can break down easily or quickly, even with the best of arguments.

    Is it the best strategic move to criticize Snowden/Greenwald in such an intense manner, assuming you agree with most of the above?

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  34. EJL says:

    Thank you for starting this discussion.

    Re: Greenwald’s constant reminders that he is revealing the slides exactly as Snowden wished to- I think it’s important to remember that Snowden does not own the files he downloaded. Nor does Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian, or the NSA, for that matter. They belong to and in the public domain. They are ours. The editors of the Guardian have no right to decide which documents we will be allowed to see. Nor do Greenwald, or Snowden. Though I do appreciate the great care they appear to have taken in planning the release of the NSA files, none of them has that moral authority.

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