As a prelude to reopening discussion on my problem with the Leak Keepers, here’s a little light entertainment in the form of Shit I Have Recently Learned Presumably Intelligent People Believe:
1. The engine of all change with respect to a huge, unaccountable, global surveillance apparatus is a ‘debate’ aiming at changes in ‘policy.’
2. Despite the global in ‘global mass surveillance’ the engine of The Debate is the U.S. news cycle.
3. One wrong move with respect to The News Cycle and it’s goodbye Debate! Goodbye change!
4. Glenn Greenwald possesses a near God-like understanding of The News Cycle and thereby keeps himself and The Debate crucially injected therein.
5. Greenwald’s mastery of The News Cycle owes to the patented Drip Drip method of painfully slow leaking, which keeps the story hot and the NSA in complete agony.
6. Glenn Greenwald’s virtues, particularly his mastery of The News Cycle by way of the patented Drip Drip method, are so rare and important it justifies his and The Guardian’s near monopoly on NSA leaks, no matter what he or his shady, subservient editors say or do; no matter how much their reformist politics, narrow interests, ambitions and convenience dictate tactics, priorities and timing; nor how objectionable a monopoly on state secrets affecting billions of people is on principle.
There really is quite a lot wrong with this picture. Right off the top, I don’t share the popular view that everything we want from whistleblowing is subordinate to the news-driven debate. But let’s put that on hold for the moment, for the sake of showing that even if one accepts the primacy of The Debate and The News Cycle, most of the arguments for leak hoarding have the unmistakable scent of bullshit to them.
Let’s first off dispense with the idiotic idea that this alleged water torture of the NSA has any method to it. For one thing, these stories take a long time to produce. Before they see daylight, the very small number of journalists working on them have to read a large number of documents, many of which are hard to aggregate and understand without technical assistance. For a glimpse of how difficult and time-consuming this is, see this interview with staff from ProPublica about the two months they spent working on the recent piece about encryption.
Once written, the stories certainly go through multiple reviews by layers of editors and risk-averse lawyers. At some point in the process, The Leak Keepers must carefully select the NSA documents that will be published alongside the stories, mindful of potential ‘threats to national security’ — you know, that thing that no one but the NSA gives a shit about — and redacting accordingly. Finally, The Leak Keepers must consult with the NSA and the White House, not simply for comment, but for any concerns they may have about national security.
There is also the matter of money and prestige, which clearly no one wants to talk about, since ambition gets in the way of the warm fuzzy feelings corporate-mediated David and Goliath spectacles are supposed to produce. But certainly whatever slows disclosure down also keeps the information commercially valuable longer, so The Leak Keepers must at the very least occasionally feel glad that this publishing ‘method’, that we’re to understand so deftly plays both the news cycle and the last nerves of the NSA, also greatly limits the competition for exclusives, Pulitzers, book/movie deals, contracts for stories with other news outlets and advertising revenue.
I know, cynical me. But does anyone else wonder if their interests and Greenwald’s always coincide when they read stuff like this —
Greenwald’s publisher, Metropolitan Books, announced early Thursday that [his] as-yet-untitled book will [contain] …”new revelations exposing the extraordinary cooperation of private industry”
and consider how the ‘cooperation of private industry’ — which, to me, is easily as critical as anything else — is always strikingly vague in Greenwald’s Guardian stories, like the PRISM stories, for instance? Will Greenwald’s book answer the question of direct access definitively? If so, why the wait? Will we see any of the many slides he and his colleagues, in their infinite wisdom, withheld? Well we won’t know until next year, when Greenwald’s book drops. Of course, we’ll also never know what agreements he’s made with his publisher about withholding disclosures to keep the those ‘new revelations’ new, because, y’know, transparency is for other people.
In any event, between commercial interests and the plain old difficulty of writing this shit up, clearly THERE IS NO FUCKING DRIP DRIP METHOD, and it’s cringe-makingly foolish for the savvy knowing knowers on the outside, and outright dishonest for the book deal makers on the inside, to insist that there is. So stop it, already.
Still, one may ask, even if the slow drip isn’t intentional, is it nonetheless possible that the claims made for it are true? Here’s what Greenwald said in comments here on this blog a few weeks back —
1. A mass dump gives the NSA an opportunity to ‘demonize and distract attention away from [the leaks’] substance.’
2. (Quoting verbatim) ‘A staggered release prevents the NSA and its defenders from knowing what is coming, so [that] things that are untrue that you can then prove are untrue, and it also prevents them from developing effective neutralizing strategies.
Here’s what Greenwald said around the time Snowden was having asylum problems:
“Snowden has enough information to cause harm to the U.S. government in a single minute than any other person has ever had,” …
“The U.S. government should be on its knees every day begging that nothing happen to Snowden, because if something does happen to him, all the information will be revealed and it could be its worst nightmare.”
So which Greenwald should we believe? Perhaps the NSA can break the tie by way of this from Barton Gellman’s prolix ‘Mass surveillance is Really Fucking Expensive!‘ WaPo ‘exclusive’:
The [NSA and other intelligence agencies] had budgeted for a major counterintelligence initiative in fiscal 2012, but most of those resources were diverted to an all-hands emergency response to successive floods of classified data released by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.
Obviously, Greenwald and the NSA are in agreement — at least some of the time — that a less meticulously managed gush of secrets is really not something the NSA relishes, which is what any reasonably intelligent person would guess if left unmolested by ambitious opinion leaders and their sycophants.
So let’s be realistic, then, about the game being played here.
It’s rather naive, and maybe even grandiose for people on the left to think that on the rare occasions when their concerns land on successive front pages of The New York Times and on CNN, this is due to the supernatural savvy of a Greenwald, rather than that people in high places are very ok with certain information getting out and certain debates taking place. To quote myself on the ‘miracle’ of Chris Hayes:
…there are no miracles on cable news networks co-owned by defense contractors and cable monopolists; there aren’t even happy accidents…
That statement has become less controversial over time as Hayes proves himself a more shamelessly servile tool than even I’d originally claimed. So it’s vexing that people who rightly reject the preposterous idea that an ‘unabashed man of the left’ has talked his way into corporate media don’t wonder at all why Greenwald is suddenly all over television strangling Jeffrey Toobin and David Gregory with their own assholes. Greenwald himself is ‘genuinely amazed that it’s gone as well as it has’ as is Snowden and all their colleagues.
Hey, maybe we’re having this debate because people in high places want us to!
I certainly don’t believe the conspiracy theory that Snowden is a CIA warrior in a turf dispute with the NSA, but its conception of competing crime syndicates is truer in broad strokes than the left wing vision of power as one undifferentiated mass of united malice. People who use ‘NSA’ and ‘the government’ and ‘the oligarchs’ interchangeably and within that framework see Snowden and Greenwald as gatecrashers are seriously missing the point. Along with rival agencies and corporate elites who covet a bigger share of post 9/11 loot and power, there are certainly those who realize how the NSA’s virtually unlimited snooping capabilities give the agency and its friends a tremendous amount of deal-breaking leverage. Surely the destruction of General Petraeus based on the FBI’s snooping in his girlfriend’s emails made a few elite hairs stand on end. Where elites are concerned, totalitarianism, like law, is for other people. A failure to come to grips with this is a failure to comprehend the scope of the NSA threat.
From this perspective, then, comparisons of Snowden to Manning, who is the mostly unnamed subject of Greenwald’s broken record about dumping, are both unfair and irrelevant. Manning was blowing the whistle on American foreign policy, which weighs much more lightly on American imaginations, particularly elite imaginations, than the prospect of NSA analysts jerking off to their pics, stalking them online, stealing their business secrets, blackmailing them or sending them to jail forever over a hyperlink.
It was almost certainly the story Manning wanted to tell that made her non-newsworthy except as a bad example, not the way she attempted to tell it, and no amount of Greenwaldian media savvy could have made her something else. Therefore, depending on how invested certain elites are in constraining the NSA, it’s unlikely that Snowden or Greenwald could do anything that would kill any discussion important people want to have, though Greenwald/Snowden could certainly do something that would reduce their stature in it, such as leaking too much too soon.
For the moment, Greenwald is the perfect point man for a neatly circumscribed debate in which elite interests and public interests coincide, with his wide-eyed faith in reform through government policy; his zeal, from day one, to helpfully delineate between good whistleblowing (Snowden) and bad (Manning); his uncritical genuflections to the idea of ‘national security’; his willingness to redact and withhold; his anodyne preoccupation with ‘privacy’ to the exclusion of malfeasance; the relatively high credibility he has with harder lefts and libertarians, now rubbing off on, and immunizing, the clowns at the Guardian; and last, but certainly not least, for the determination with which he and his cultish fans smack down critics calling for more leaks, more technical information, less redacting, less subservience and greater accountability. In short, Greenwald has proven a surprisingly capable gatekeeper, whether he sees himself as such or not.
Given that the leaks are now out there, can the NSA and its proxies be anything but sincerely grateful that the kind of resistance developing right now in Brazil and Germany isn’t exploding all over the world for no reason but that Greenwald and his colleague Laura Poitras live and work in Brazil and Germany and aren’t sharing the leaks with journalists elsewhere ? Can they be anything but glad that Greenwald, when confronted by security experts begging for more technical information — because they want to fight the NSA with software rather than debate it on the evening news — lectures them on how that’s really not a priority, that is, when he’s not doling out shit like this?
I’m sympathetic that there are all kinds of things weighing on Greenwald, Poitras, Snowden and their colleagues, not least fear of more government reprisal. But I don’t think this explains everything they’re doing given the extent to which they stonewall and contradict themselves. Considering that this whole thing is at least in part about transparency, and that Greenwald is one of transparency’s most vocal advocates, the extent to which we’re all left guessing about what they’re up to, and made to feel like shitty little ingrates if we do anything but applaud, is really not good.
When I took this all up after Alan Rusbridger ‘s weird, meandering, and long-overdue blog post about harassment by Cameron’s goons, I posited a dump of the leaks on Cryptome as a possible alternative. In retrospect, I think that was a mistake if only because it plays too easily into a false dichotomy that Greenwald invokes every time he or his colleagues are criticized.
So I am going to concede that for reasons of Snowden’s safety among other things, we’re stuck with a paternalistic system we have, but I am not going to concede that its current form is the only shape it can take. I feel that people should continue to put pressure on Greenwald and co to do things differently, and when they refuse, to press them on why.
To put this on more concrete footing, I am offering the following questions.
1. Considering what’s happening in Brazil and Germany right now, is there a sound strategic reason why Greenwald and Poitras have tasked themselves with writing the stories for non-UK/US markets, rather than distributing leaks to partners in other countries for more efficient propagation? I understand that Greenwald is now branching out into India and Poitras is also working in another country. That’s great, but considering that by Greenwald/Poitras’s own account, the NSA has 150 listening posts around the world, a drip drip strategy seems particularly ill-advised and, at first glance at least, unethical.
2. When choosing partners in the US, why did the Guardian choose the New York Times, with its abysmal record on Wikileaks and on truth-telling generally? If, for some reason, Snowden wants to keep this under the auspices of establishment journalism, could he be encouraged to open it up to less dubious institutions, like say, McClatchey? Are there any plans to seek out additional partners?
3. Considering that a lot of people in the security field are starting to resent the withholding of technical information that would assist them in building tools to circumvent the NSA, are there any plans to distribute the leaks to engineers so that technical measures for resisting the NSA can be improved and so that more specialized stories are available to technicians?
4. To what extent, if any, are commercial considerations affecting the timing and placement of the leaks? What financial dealings, if any, have potential to cause conflicts of interest?
Having asked these questions, I fully expect to be frothed on and trolled by Greenwald’s revoltingly dimwitted fans and various people who are clearly way more invested in the David and Goliath spectacle than in genuinely confronting the problem of establishment-managed dissent. For the last few posts, I engaged with them. This time I won’t. I also won’t entertain more bullshit from Greenwald or his clownish editors, nor should you.
UPDATE 2 (link to this update)
A newly discovered Twitter thread featuring car-wrecklicious extremes of Glennbotic weirdness suggests ‘Drip Drip’ has additional benefits. Intrepid reader, contemplate some of Glenn’s most avid and repulsive sycophants flirtatiously eroticizing his ‘drips’, and remind yourself that what those drips contain are disclosures of mass surveillance. In other words, contemplate the likening of Glenn’s promise of state oppression details to sexual teasing, and the likening of receiving those details to sexual satisfaction. Yes, I know, it’s only a joke — an embarrassingly witless and unedifying one — but I also think it’s revealing. The Glennbots are all kinds of disturbing, not least because it never seems the promise of reform is the main attraction. A snippet follows, but read the whole thing for the full cringe-making effect.
This piece just got a mention in D.J. Pangburn’s Vice interview with Sci-Fi Author Norman Spinrad. (Hi Vice readers!!!) Since Vice has one of those horrible comment sections restricted to Facebook users I was unable to reply to the post directly, so I will do so here:
As the blogger who criticized Greenwald’s methods, I appreciate the mention, but not the mischaracterization of my post. I did not criticize Greenwald’s ‘god like awareness’. That phrase was used to characterize his adherents’ tendency to imbue him with special qualities to justify his top-down, elitist approach to whistleblowing. And if you read the piece all the way to the end, you’ll see that I did not advocate ‘putting it all out there.’ I advocated more rapid distribution of the leaks to other journalists and technicians.
I do very much appreciate that between you and Spinrad, though, you completely typify everything I was ridiculing at the top of my post. I am also glad that, like me, Spinrad recognizes Greenwald’s vigilance with respect to national security interests. His credibility-enhancing ‘Manning is nuts’ is the icing on the cake. Thanks!!!
My reply to Glenn Greenwald’s Comments on This Post
A Harbinger of Journalism Saved
A Heat Vampire in Search of a Movie Deal
Oligarchs Approve The NSA Debate. I Guess We’re #Winning
Dr. Rosen and The Snowden Effect
it’s chinese water torture for the nsa … drip by drip, ever increasing lies become exposed .. one big dump, and it is gone with the next drama
im with u Thankx!
I hate that hype like all other hypes and i hate that no one sees all those other agencys in tha world
fuck the guardian 🙂
I have been following your tweets back and forth. I understand where Glenn is coming from regarding snowden’s security and following his wishes. Which given he took the risk is only fair. However, I also understand where you are coming from. Yes, the reporting of these stories, despite Glenn’s claims have been really slow.
Two, when Glenn claims he and the guardian decide what to publish based on what they think is in the public interest, and what is national security i have a hard time swallowing it.
First, AR as the editor of the guardian has shown to be pro govt on all things such as war. One can look at the history of the newspaper and see that it fully promotes govt propaganda on war, the financial system, and markets just to name a few. Trusting AR judgement on what is in public interest is incredibly naive on Glenn’s part. What should make Glenn pause is how the Guardian has handled the syria debate. It has non stopped beat the war for drums, and posted comment after comment from well known liars such as clapper, kerry, haque to name a few. Why this should give Glenn pause is the same people who the guardian quote without any attempt to cross reference what they say to facts etc that show them to be at the very least hypocrites, seems to also be at odds with the guardian’s role of exposing the govts as liars when it comes to NSA. But then let them lie or say the opposite of what they have done without any counter facts or push back.
Maybe, Glenn is somehow able to reconcile that the newspaper that says it is committed to exposing the truth on spying and showing the govt to be lying to its people is also the same newspaper that has no problem day after day printing their lies, and hypocrisy, and banging the drums for war. In fact, the guardian by allowing them to lie and BS about Syria is basically telling those in power that not only can they do this, but we will print it, and thus endorse and let them get away with it. Yet, at the same time we are meant to believe that AR intends to hold their feet to the fire.
Anyway, this was a long winded way of saying that if the guardian is making decisions on what should be published, edited, etc then I suspect that a lot of things in the public interest is being withheld, and subjects deemed “national security” caste a wide net.
The bit where Greenwald and publisher promise “new revelations” in next year’s book is really damning. The call for this stuff to be much more widely disseminated in the engineering community at least is a good one.
It seems to me that the right journalistic function here, for Greenwald, is to reach as wide an audience as possible and to accurately and meaningfully raise that audience’s awareness of significant facts about the world in which they live; facts about which they had previously been kept in the dark.
I think the evidence is that for the most part Greenwald is failing at this. Looking around the US I don’t see any massive awakening to the situation, only a relative handful of wonks and domain experts.
Greenwald keeps replying (I paraphrase): “Bu…bu…but…. Brazil! Germany!” but I don’t see any mass awakening there either. In those places the governments have shown some reaction but so what: Greenwald is a journalist, not a diplomat. His success can’t be measured in the number of times Angela Merkel tut-tuts.
Claims that this is all about Snowden’s safety only go so far. Eventually the leaks run out one way or another. Meanwhile, Greenwald is a journalist, not a hostage negotiator.
The claims that “drip drip” keeps the NSA off-balance and constantly in fear of what might come next seem ridiculous. The NSA will by now have already started planning for a worst case: “assume everything will come out. everything”. All the drip does is give them the luxury of time to work that problem.
It’s crazy making. The guys a lunatic.
I agree that by themselves Germany and Brazil don’t count for much, but if there was pushback from all sides could have a synergistic effect.
You make a lot of sense. But according to Glenn he is doing what snowden asked, so maybe snowden told him to focus on brazil and germany, and only slow drip in us/uk.
I don’t believe it. Greenwald made it clear here in these comments and elsewhere that Snowden gave them a lot of discretion on where to publish. This ‘Snowden told me’ is getting old, when he’s flatly contradicted it.
One more thing. While i have no problem Glenn writing a book etc and making money from this, i do hope that he is not withholding information that he plans to only use in the book. If that were the case it would seriously undermine his credibility.
Also why Glenn would want to write a book and make money off this does seem to a tad distasteful to snowden who risked everything to give him this information. i can understand glenn doing a book, but maybe he should publish it for free, unless he intends to give the money generated from it to help snowden legal efforts, or those of other whistleblowers
Yeah, I have no problem with people making money either except to the extent that it works against wider propagation of the leaks. Still an open question in my view, and I don’t feel guilty about asking it. People are a mixed bag. I don’t require them to be selfless.
Duh, the question is before or after.
That should have been below. w/e fuck your reply placement
If Glenn is withholding information to release in a book that would be extremely damning. Not because of the timing, I think Glenn’s arguments are all correct, but because no one fucking reads books.
And that would undermine Glenn’s argument, which again I agree with, that the current method leaking is correct because it’s the most effective. In case that wasn’t obvious from “no one fucking reads books”.
Everything newsworthy in the book will certainly make it into other sources.
Glenn needs to stop attacking everyone with “easy for you to say when you are taking no risk”
Glenn you are no longer taking any risk you are already in it, so your argument has zero credibility.
Also, i am still curious why miranda flow home through london. Something about that whole episode just stinks.
As an initial matter: having someone who won’t even tweet or write under his own name incessantly demand that those of us already taking massive legal and criminal risks – Laura, Snowden, myself, even the Guardian – deliberately subject ourselves to even far higher risks – by simply dumping all the documents on the internet – is like having Bill Kristol stand outside your house with a megaphone demanding that you enlist in his latest war.
Snowden is already exiled in Russia, facing espionage charges that could send him to prison for life. Laura and I are both being advised that the risk of going back to the US right now is too high. I’m not going to deliberately hand the US Government an easy gift that endangers both them and myself further by stupidly and indiscriminately dumping all these documents on the internet without regard to their contents or the consequences of publication- no matter whether a handful of self-proclaimed Brooklyn “radicals” (so radical that you won’t even use your name for your harmless tweets) don’t like it.
And that’s all independent of the fact that when Snowden **risked his life** to come to us with these documents, he didn’t want mass, indiscriminate disclosure. He could have done that himself if he wanted that. I gave him my word that we use this much smarter and more focused strategy, and I’m going to keep my word to him no matter how many petulant tweets or accusatory cliches you write (gate-keeper!).
The idea that we’re engaged in some sort of “slow” leak strategy is moronic. We’ve published dozens upon dozens of articles, in multiple countries around the world, and have published hundreds of top secret NSA documents. And that’s just the start. Laura and I both work 16 hours a day on this, for more than 3 months straight, and nothing else. We’re churning out articles at the fastest possible pace. It’s easy – but worthless – to sit on your anonymous, lazy, cowardly ass on the sidelines and demand that more be done.
As for partnering with media outlets, we’re already doing that, and have long been doing it. I’ve published enormous amounts of material in Brazil, and Laura has done the same in Germany. I’m partnering right now with media outlets in India, France, and Spain, and Laura is working on others as well. That’s all on top of the countless articles we’ve published in the Guardian (and Laura in the WashPost).
As for why we don’t just hand out the documents like lolipops around the world, the answer is simple: we can’t legally. If we were to do that, we’d become distributors or sources, not journalists. We can only publish the documents journalistically, which means we have to work in partnership with those media outlets as journalists.
The idea that the NSA is thrilled with what’s going on is so patently stupid that I would probably throw myself off the nearest bridge if I heard myself saying something so dumb. Yeah: the NSA is totally thrilled with our going around the world publishing their top secret documents, having Brazilians and Germans furious that they’re being spied on, having a new coalition in Congress trying to de-fund their programs, not knowing ever what’s coming next. I’m sure they have big photos of me, Laura and Snowden on their walls and blow kisses to them every day in gratitude.
As for whether the NSA would benefit from a mass, indiscriminate leak: I’m sorry you can’t keep 2 thoughts in your head at the same time. A massive document dump would hurt the NSA to the extent that it would enable competing states to replicate their surveillance systems – something that nobody wants, including Snowden, because he didn’t do what he did to help Russia, China andI Iran spy more efficiently on everyone.
But that kind of a dump would also *help the NSA because it would allow everyone and everything associated with these leaks to be instantly demonized to the point where nothing we said or did would have any value. It would aid the US Government in the public opinion battle around the world. It would give them a much eaiser way to prosecute Snowden and others.
More importantly, it would destroy the ability of the public to digest the materials. These are incredibly complicated documents. They take a lot of work and effort and time to understand. A one-time dump would generate lots of attention for about a week, and then everyone would permanently move on, and most of the key disclosures would be lost in a cloud of pointless debate over treason and Terrorist-helping.
It would be a stupid, stupid thing to do.
Yeah: I know it’s so shocking – and so unusual – that my publisher hyped my book as containing new revelations. Wow, that’s really meaningful.
The reality is that given the magnitude of these documents, their scope, and their complexity, it will be at least a year to 18 months before everything that should be published is published. So yes: some of the long-term projects I’m going to do in my book because they take a book to have the space and the time to lay out the case. Only an idiot thinks that a book is a sign of suspicious motives rather than another instrument for spreading ideas.
As for the idea that nothing should be withheld, I’d ask you self-perceived super-^radicals^: should we publish all the names of anyone who has been surveilled by the NSA, and thus smear people who are innocent as Terrorists? Should we disclose the names of undercover agents or informants in tyrannical countries, all of whose lives would be instantly endangered upon disclosure? Unless you’re sociopathic, demanding full, indiscriminate disclosure of every document without regard to the impact on a whole variety of human beings is just warped.
These were all lessons already learned by WikiLeaks. They realized early on that posting tons of documents to the internet generate little media interest or impact- because media outlets ignore things if they don’t have some vested interest in them. That’s why WikiLeaks began partnering with large media outlets: to motivate them to pay attention. WikiLeaks withholds some information from documents. They redact certain things. They publish in an orderly, incremental way – not just dumping everything at once.
Few people have done as much to support WikiLeaks or Chelsea Manninhg as I have. I founded a group that raised and still raises a ton of money for WL. I’m the one who exposed and then repeatedly denounced the abusive conditions of Manning’s detention.
The claim that I see their leaks as bad or have condemned them is an obvious lie. I have been, and remain, one of the most vocal and active supporters of both WL & Manning – not by anonymously tweeting about them, but taking action to keep them strong.
But i don’t think their method is the only one that works best for every case. I’m very happy with how these NSA revelations have gone so far, especially the impact on the worldwide perceptions about these issues. More importantly, so is Snowden- you know, the one who actually risked something.
Sometimes, when we feel really bad about our own unwillingness to take risks and sacrifice our self-interest for some cause we claim to believe in, we get to feel a bit better about ourselves by attacking as inadequate those who actually are doing that. That’s why so many journalists attacked WikiLeaks: because the actual adversarial reporting done by WL made those journalists feel inadequate and afraid, so they lashed out.
But a much better use of one’s time in the face of those emotions is to do what Snowden said he finally realized he had to do: lead by example. Take the risks yourself that you demand others take.
NOTE FROM THE HOST: For those who came directly to this comment without being detained by a single fragment of anything I said, here’s my reply. Also, if you’re inclined to actually think about the matters under discussion — in lieu of doing a little victory dance over big person smacking small person — please do scroll up and read the post.
Wow you are thin skinned. I would like an answer to my question. You said that decsions of what is in the public interest and national security are taken by you and the guardian.
However, what gives me pause is the guardian is a war hawk. I wold have thought its recent work with you on NSA, and AR piece on how we are this close to full on govt control might result in push back. But no. day after day in their blog they push the war drums and quote the BS from our so called leaders. While i understand they have to quote them they could also in the same blog show how they have lied about what they are now saying, or how what they are saying is hypocritical etc. believe me the writers of the blog know because poster after poster has pointed it out, given them solod links to refute what they wrote etc, and said they are beating war drums for govt.
I find it odd that the paper claims it exposes nsa/govt lies on spying and then at the same time prints wants these liars say about syria, and does nothing to push back on their claims. What is more shocking is they don’t need a snowden to show what the govt just said is BS, as the incormation that shows it is BS is neither classified or secret.
Yes, I worry, and so do many posters in the guardian worry, how this can also be the paper that decides what stoies are in the public interest and what are national security. i would be curious to know if you have agreed to all their assements as to what stories fall into which camp, or have you pushed back, and if so what has been the result.
BTW te guardian is not only a mouthpiece of govt when it comes to war, but if you understand the monetary system and how it works well its reporting of the situation is clownish
“Wow you are thin skinned.”
This is so stupid. If you answer scathing, insulting, innuendo-laden criticism with anything other than polite gratitude at being smeared, then you are “thin skinned”
If you don’t answer, then you are an insular, arrogant elitist who refuses to engage critics.
“I would like an answer to my question. You said that decsions of what is in the public interest and national security are taken by you and the guardian.
However, what gives me pause is the guardian is a war hawk.”
There has not been a single article that I’ve written in which the Guardian has blocked anything I wanted to disclose from being disclosed. Every single document that I proposed be disclosed has been disclosed.
If the Guardian ever refused to let me publish documents I wanted to publish or otherwise suppressed what I wanted to report, I would just go elsewhere to do it.
Glenn please consider this proposal.
I think you’ve made a case that:
1) Some information in the documents must be redacted in the interest of not causing undue harm.
2) The journalistic task of interpreting all of this information is vast. It would take you and partners much more than a year to even make a first cut at it.
3) For legal reasons, your releases of information must be journalistic, not wholesale giving away copies.
Leaving aside for the moment the question of Snowden’s safety, I’m led to the suggestion that you and your partners would do the greatest journalistic good by spending at least 50% of your work time preparing copies with only essential redactions, and publishing those directly. Save your particular interpretive narrative for the other half of your work time.
As things stand you are thrashing the expert community who can make more sense of this than I think you or your advisers can. You’re delaying analysis by other journalists who have perspective on related issues that you might not see.
As for Snowden’s safety I’m not sure that or how my proposal here would hurt him. You’ll have to explain that to me if you think it will.
“Leaving aside for the moment the question of Snowden’s safety, I’m led to the suggestion that you and your partners would do the greatest journalistic good by spending at least 50% of your work time preparing copies with only essential redactions, and publishing those directly.”
Publishing things you don’t understand is a really bad idea for a lot of reasons.
Publishing things that virtually nobody in the public will understand is worse.
I’m already working with security experts, including one of the most well-regarded, Bruce Scheiner, who just spent a week working with me in Rio on several different security articles. Those will be published shortly.
Glen, you wrote:
“I’m already working with security experts, including one of the most well-regarded, Bruce Scheiner, who just spent a week working with me in Rio on several different security articles. Those will be published shortly.”
Is it your claim that Scheiner endorses your refusal to disseminate even the redacted source material more quickly?
“As for why we don’t just hand out the documents like lolipops around the world, the answer is simple: we can’t legally. If we were to do that, we’d become distributors or sources, not journalists. We can only publish the documents journalistically, which means we have to work in partnership with those media outlets as journalists.”
Thanks. Hopefully you can understand how this answers the actual question (why don’t you let other people work on the articles without you/Poitras/The Guardian involved?) in a way that “we’re working with lots of people!” doesn’t.
But this also confirms part of what Tarzie’s arguing above: the “drip drip” methodology that your more sycophantic supporters have been praising isn’t deliberate, just a product of the circumstances. You yourself say that this isn’t intended to be a “slow leak”, it’s just the rate at which you can process the files. Your answer above is an actual answer to why there haven’t been more articles: because you don’t feel legally okay with handing out the files without you (meaning yourself, Poitras, or Guardian staff) also working on the articles, and there’s only so many of you.
That answer is much appreciated, regardless.
“The claim that I see their leaks as bad or have condemned them is an obvious lie. I have been, and remain, one of the most vocal and active supporters of both WL & Manning – not by anonymously tweeting about them, but taking action to keep them strong. ”
Yes, you *are* one of WL & Manning’s most devoted and vocal supporters, and you didn’t *explicitly* condemn them. But you have *also* repeatedly drawn a contrast between the actions of you & Snowden and “indiscriminate dumping” in some of your television interviews regarding these leaks that clearly insinuated an unfavorable comparison to WL & Manning, regardless of your support elsewhere. I know you can “keep 2 thoughts in your head at the same time”, so I assume you can understand how both of those are true.
It seems pretty clear those insinuations were a deliberate, strategic choice aimed at preventing a dismissal of these leaks by the American media similar to what happened with Manning’s leaks, not an accidental interpretation, so I’m not sure why you’re so perturbed–is the semantic cover really that important?
“But this also confirms part of what Tarzie’s arguing above: the “drip drip” methodology that your more sycophantic supporters have been praising isn’t deliberate, just a product of the circumstances. You yourself say that this isn’t intended to be a “slow leak”, it’s just the rate at which you can process the files. Your answer above is an actual answer to why there haven’t been more articles: because you don’t feel legally okay with handing out the files without you (meaning yourself, Poitras, or Guardian staff) also working on the articles, and there’s only so many of you.”
I think I made quite clear that I’m not going to indiscriminately dump everything for two reasons: 1) because it’s legally dangerous, not just for me but many others, and 2) it’s a counter-productive thing to do strategically.
Moreover, being able to decide what to publish strategically – in reply to government/Obama/NSA lies, in conjunction with key news events, when debate is focused on that issue already – has absolutely been vital in sustaining the debate and public interest and preventing the US Government from using their normal tactics of neutering and demonization.
Glenn I think you took a quick glance at this post, concluded that I didn’t see the sun shining from your ass and started ranting. Stupidly. Defensively. Dishonestly.
I never called for more risks, at least not any additional risks I was aware of. Nor did I call for dumping.
I have recommended loosing your iron grip on the leaks and inviting more people into the process. A completely reasonable request. I asked for more transparency in commercial activity affecting disclosure. Also reasonable. You’re of course at liberty to reject all of this. I’m at liberty to judge you for it.
I don’t know you, Glenn. You’re just some asshole, so I don’t feel obliged to trust you on faith. I have no idea what you’re up to, but these leaks you’re bent on controlling affect everyone, so we’re within our rights to both ask questions and tell you you’re full of shit, which anymore, is most of the time.
If your purpose in dropping by here was to dissuade people who are even slightly inclined to think I might have had a point in my post about what a controlling, dishonest, gatekeeping creep you are, I think you failed.
There are more options that what you’re doing and indiscriminate dumping, Glenn; that’s a false dichotomy, as you well know. Tarzie’s post isn’t acknowledges the dangers of indiscriminate dumping and isn’t arguing for that; he asked why other papers can’t be trusted with the documents to write articles on without the direct involvement of you/Poitras/Guardian staff. Which seems to be a result of the legal issues involved.
After a fashion, I suppose it’s good to see you clearly endorse your methods as deliberate strategy aimed at “sustaining the debate”–I don’t agree, but it hasn’t been entirely clear to what extent it’s deliberate and to what extent it’s factors like the legal issues.
I’d like to comment on another point you made in defense of protecting some of the technical details of the NSA’s systems, though:
“A massive document dump would hurt the NSA to the extent that it would enable competing states to replicate their surveillance systems”
Now, I’d be very curious if Snowden made that case to you, because that’s not a position that is commonly held among cryptos and security fetishists. The default position of computer security is that all standards should be open because crowd sourcing is so powerful in the age of the Internet: that is, the collective knowledge of the Internet would be faster at finding ways around a surveillance system (or vulnerabilities in a security standard), if it knew the details of how it worked, than the states implementing that system would be able to update it. Exposing the technical details of the NSA’s surveillance systems helps other states only if these systems are impenetrable to crowdsourced defenses, which I find implausible based on the reports so far (especially considering Snowden has made clear that properly maintained encryption *does* work)–but hopefully someone like Schneier can make that argument from a more knowledgeable position.
This is also related to the more general argument about priorities that I haven’t seen you engage, though perhaps your reluctance is understandable given that your position is already very clear: is it more important to influence “the debate” and pressure the US to reform these systems or to build technological means of circumventing them? I think a major issue for most of the radicals you are having trouble with is that we are not interested in being saved from the NSA by policy reforms; we are interested in figuring out what tools can defeat the existing NSA systems and what we don’t have but need to build. To those of us with these priorities, the technical details of these systems, not the broad strokes, are the most important part. I imagine there are many people out there who would be willing to put themselves on the line to help build such systems if they had the knowledge needed to do so.
The first part of your reply, Glenn is so moronic that it made it hard to read the rest with the bad taste in my mouth. Of all the ways to criticize someone, to insinuate that their choice to be anonymous on the internet is due to cowardice is fucking ridiculous, especially coming from you. You have personally revealed the extent to which the average person’s online and electronic activity can be monitored. Your own revelations make the strongest case for remaining anonymous that I can think of. Jesus, I can’t believe that you would actually give someone shit for being anonymous. Besides, does knowing Tarzie’s actual name change the substance of his critique at all? Of course it doesn’t.
And in case you read this, and because apparently giving you my name lends extra credibility to my criticism, I’ll glady tell you that my name is Fred Hoffstetter. Or is it David Newbanks? Maybe it’s Mary Poppins. Fuck, it’s so important to you, it’s a damn shame I can’t remember it!
Mr Greenwald would prefer that wish-to-remain-anonymous people use more believable on-line identities, like “Rick Ellensburg” or “Thomas Ellers” or “Ryan” or “Ellison” or “Wilson.” Those names most assuredly indicate a real, serious commenter lurks beneath. Even when they all are issued from the same internet address.
I’m gonna go with Digby Atrios.
“Of all the ways to criticize someone, to insinuate that their choice to be anonymous on the internet is due to cowardice is fucking ridiculous, especially coming from you. You have personally revealed the extent to which the average person’s online and electronic activity can be monitored.”
I don’t have a problem with people who comment or criticize me on the internet anonymously.
I do have a problem with people who demand that others they attack disregard all of their risks (publish everything!! who cares about you legal danger!!!) while insisting that the risks to them justify their behavior (I can’t use my name on the internet because we live in a surveillance state!!!!).
If he is afraid to use his name to write his tweets because we live in a surveillance state, I totally understand. I get why he doesn’t want to take that risk. I don’t berate him to disregard those risks and use his name.
He’s the one demanding that Snowden, Laura, Guardian editors and myself all disregard the much more significant risks to ourselves by dumping all the documents indiscriminately.
If he really wants to demand that others disregard all risks, he should lead the way.
“He’s the one demanding that Snowden, Laura, Guardian editors and myself all disregard the much more significant risks to ourselves by dumping all the documents indiscriminately.”
Who is demanding an indiscriminate document dump? Tarzie said above, “I posited a dump of the leaks on Cryptome as a possible alternative. In retrospect, I think that was a mistake if only because it plays too easily into a false dichotomy that Greenwald invokes every time he or his colleagues are criticized. So I am going to concede that for reasons of Snowden’s safety among other things, we’re stuck with a paternalistic system we have, but I am not going to concede that its current form is the only shape it can take. I feel that people should continue to put pressure on Greenwald and co to do things differently, and when they refuse, to press them on why.”
I think given Tarzie’s concession about Snowden’s safety, along with the answer you provided above regarding you and your colleagues’ legal constraints about becoming a source of the documents, should dispel this false categorization you’re so fond of, that anyone who wants more documents released doesn’t care about the risks posed to Snowden, yourself, and your colleagues. I think this is the false dichotomy Tarzie refers to (correct me if I’m wrong): that anyone who doesn’t favor your strategy must instead favor a complete, un-redacted document dump, including the names of operatives that could be harmed. I am aware of no one who actually wants that (at least I don’t), and surely the documents could be dumped and/or distributed to more outlets with the names and other obviously dangerous information being withheld. So can you please stop using this false dichotomy to deflect criticism? There are people out there who favor more broad disclosure/distribution who are also sensitive to the safety and legal ramifications facing Snowden, you, Laura, and your colleagues, and who don’t want to see information released that could put sensitive people in danger.
Lastly, I think one of the strongest arguments for more disclosure is to get the NSA’s collection methods in the hands of the software/engineering community who wish to thwart it using software, as opposed to waiting for policy reforms. The NSA obviously has vast powers, and it seems that willfully denying an additional means to combat them is unwise if the goal is to check their power. Could you please respond to that?
Such a cheap argument!
“As an initial matter: having someone who won’t even tweet or write under his own name incessantly demand that those of us already taking massive legal and criminal risks – Laura, Snowden, myself, even the Guardian – deliberately subject ourselves to even far higher risks – by simply dumping all the documents on the Internet – is like having Bill Kristol stand outside your house with a megaphone demanding that you enlist in his latest war.”
If the NSA has the capabilities you & Snowden in fact tout, then all the folks who might harm those who chose broader public anonimity may do so.
The sort of anonimity you discredit is that of a citizen who seeks protection from peers, local trouble-makers, the psychopathic community(I assume Kristol fits there nicely). Not the blank identitied men and women who spy, stalk, discredit/confabulate-leak and even kill in the darkness of black ops.
This sort of anonimity also has no monied interests which buy it’s way into friendleier states, provide protection, etc.
This sort of anonimity trades on opinion, not hordes facts.
Since you have blocked me on Twitter, I will ask you here:
What exactly are the ephemeral instructions of Snowden? Be so kind as to ennumerate as now they are just some screen used when you are uncomfortable with criticism.
And a comment: legalshmegal. You have repeatedly condemned illegal acts by the USG against its own citizenry. What has been revealed to date from Snowden is a sweeping conspiracy by various
agencies, each acting as it’s own govenment against the citizen’s which are it’s funders and reason for being. What would be more honourable and legal(what is necessary is…) than to expose such a system and opportune a better?
You seem to be claiming, but do not in fact explicitly claim, that your decision not to share documents within the international journalistic community to encourage a parallel effort in the international public interest (or as you diminishingly put it, “hand out documents like lollipops”) is based on legal considerations. Are you claiming that you are avoiding legal liability you would otherwise incur by sharing documents the way WikiLeaks did in 2011?
Can you explain what you mean here? What definition of a “journalist” or a “source/distributor” are we dealing with here? Is this a statutory definition? Which law defines these statuses? What state does that law apply in? Where is it stipulated that a journalist who shares his scoop with another journalist suddenly goes from being a journalist to a source?
How does that law distinguish between you sharing your scoop with Ewan McCaskill, James Ball, Julian Borger, Nick Davies, Nick Hopkins, Dan Roberts, Spencer Ackerman, Luke Harding et al and sharing them with journalists from other newspapers, such as Barton Gellman or Ellen Nakashima? How does that law distinguish between the Guardian sharing their scoop with the Times and ProPublica, and you sharing documents to journalists in a national newspaper who then go off and do their own important work on it? How does this law differentiate between sharing documents with Bruce Schneier for a report under your name and sharing documents with him for a report you don’t write and has nothing to do with you?
Does this law define distribution and journalism as mutually exclusive activity?
Under the same (assumed) law, did WikiLeaks’ Cablegate roll-out cross the line between journalism and distribution? If WikiLeaks can/did/was able to do it, why can’t you?
If the Guardian was able to share documents with the New York Times without running foul of these rules, could it be arranged to carry out a distribution through that method, so as to avoid liability?
How is it that journalists reporting on documents leaked to them is protected speech under the First Amendment, but journalists sharing documents against their own commercial incentives because they perceive there is an overriding public interest in parallel reportage is not protected speech under the First Amendment?
You are not a government employee. If First Amendment protections are supposed to mean something, I would have thought you’d have been keen to assert your First Amendment right to share information with fellow journalists in the interests of doing journalism as you are keen to assert your right to publish important information in a newspaper.
Is this your own assessment of the legal risks of sharing documents vis a vis publishing everything yourself? Or is this legal advice bestowed by Guardian lawyers?
It seems convenient, Glenn, that some unspecified set of rules enjoins you to a course of action which also, conveniently, means that you dominate nearly every international headline that comes from these documents.
The negative side effect of this is, of course, that the bandwidth for publishing these leaks becomes extremely low. I’m a great admirer of Glenn Greenwald, but on information of this significance, I think even a Glenn Greenwald bottleneck is something to be avoided.
Irrespective of the apparent legal considerations you allude to in your comment, I can’t help thinking that “handing out documents like lollipops” would start giving this story the bandwidth it needs to acquit itself properly to the international public. I would have thought that would create the political, if not the strictly legal, cover necessary to ensure that you and others survive this story.
It will be interesting to see if Glenn responds to this. Who is giving him the legal advice, what is it based on, etc. he claims this is the reason for having to hold the documents tightly, so be great if he explained it better
You mean like Raymond Davis?
Undercover agents are committing espionage against other countries. They are violating the sovereignty and domestic law of other countries to gather intelligence and to influence the internal affairs of other countries.
That is criminal activity.
It is one thing to withhold documents to protect innocents. I think we’re all tractable to argument on that. It is another thing to withhold evidence of criminal activity in order to protect government criminals from the consequences of the risks they themselves take.
I am sympathetic with a lot of what you write here, but I want to challenge you on this just a little bit. Above you give a very thorough set of questions to Greenwald about which law he would be violating by distributing documents to other journalists; I find your set of questions compelling and I do not see what good answers Greenwald might have.
Yet here, you blur lines about legality in a very similar way to what you accuse Greenwald of. Espionage against a foreign country is not typically against the law of the country doing the espionage–that is, it is NOT a violation of US law or the constitution for US agents to spy on foreign powers. It most certainly is a violation of their domestic law, but the fact is that there are de facto international allowances for this sort of activity for any number of reasons, principally that states want to spy, and it’s easier to let them spy on us to get that than to start all-out litigation wars. This has been going on between every state since time began. You may not like it–I don’t like it–but this issue is far afield from the NSA activities Greenwald and Snowden are revealing.
Meanwhile, there is a much clearer law close at hand, which is that it absolutely is illegal for a US citizen, or even a citizen of a country with whom the US has a security treaty, such as the UK, to knowingly reveal the name of an espionage agent.
The goal you express here is an entirely different one from what Snowden appears to have intended: Snowden believes that NSA surveillance violates the US Constitution. He does not argue either (a) that espionage should be stopped or that (b) the way to stop it is for citizens to reveal the names of agents.
This whole issue, to me, is about rule of law, and constitutional governance. You are welcome to argue that espionage should be stopped, and I am likely to agree that it should, but this story is not about that, and suggesting that Greenwald or anyone should commit what does amount to death penalty offenses in the jurisdiction we are currently most concerned with seems counterproductive. Argue, protest, write about the evils of espionage, but I don’t think it’s fair to say that Snowden’s significant revelations about the widespread NSA surveillance capabilities should be mixed up with and possibly sidetracked by another, much less obvious issue. (By “less obvious” I mean: I think it’s easily arguable that those who wrote the US Constitution would be *absolutely appalled* at the NSA programs–but they themselves employed and even functioned as spies in foreign nations at various times.)
Is it? I am not aware of the US law that makes it a death penalty offense – or any offense – for a civilian to reveal the identity of an espionage agent. I am sure – although I am not aware of which statutes – that it is criminal for people in government or military or intelligence to do so, but I am not aware that it would be a criminal offense for a journalist to do it.
Could you cite the law that makes it a criminal offense (of any description) for a civilian (i.e. a journalist) to reveal the name of a US undercover agent, upon receiving that information from someone else?
There is a broader response to your comment, which I will follow up in another comment.
I’m going to address your argument about it being a de facto international agreement that spying occurs.
I think it’s inaccurate to describe it as a “de facto international agreement.”
It is certainly true that it is an accepted reality that countries are locked into a pattern of mutual espionage. Because it is an accepted reality, aggressive spying on other countries is justified by intelligence agencies on realist pretexts. “They are going to spy on us anyway, so we have to spy back.”
But if it was a de facto international agreement, spies wouldn’t be prosecuted once caught.
Appreciably, the nature of espionage is that even when some spies are found out, their activities can be tolerated for strategic reasons. There are all sorts of odd complexities in this domain that leads to tacit tolerance for mutual spying. But to take that mutuality and apparent equilibrium as a “de facto international agreement” is to deny that spying on another country is an essentially hostile and aggressive activity.
The pattern of mutual spying our international order has come to accept as the status quo is not an expression but an abrogation of the so-called rule of law. It is a form of constant, low-level hostility continuous with the open hostility we call warfare.
This is discernable from the fact that “intelligence work” has traditionally involved not only “intelligence gathering” but the full gamut of criminal activity, from political assassination and sabotage through to deliberate subversion of the political systems of other countries. The new field of so-called “cyber-espionage” similarly blurs the lines between “just spying” and “attacking.”
The so-called “intelligence community” is the clandestine arm of the government. Clandestine, because its purpose is to break the law. One branch of government enforces the law, the other must be empowered to act free of its constraints. That is the purpose of secrecy, ultimately.
I do not see a way to defend a “good way” to do this. If we are going to bandy around “rule of law” mythology as a regulatory ideal, espionage as an international institution has to go, just in the interests of consistency.
You see, when you say “another, much less obvious issue” it is apparent that we have very different perspectives on this. As far as I am concerned, the “debate” “we” are “having” (i.e., the superficial, narrow set of views which enjoy currency in the commercial media and its attendant fans in the “blogosphere”) is the distraction and not the main issue. We seem to be failing to address vast, systematic crimes against humanity in order to have a furious and inconsequential “debate” about whether America’s Immutable and Eternal intelligence agencies violated American law while they were carrying out their Necessary Crimes Against. I am watching the “debate” in increasing horror, because I see the idea that most of humanity is not entitled to basic communications privacy being normalized (whether or not that is Glenn Greenwald’s intention), and America, as usual, disappearing into another bout of narcissistic navel-gazing. The Debate is the sidetrack. I’ll explain more next.
You might be right. Snowden was a spy. He has given a certain amount of his time to hedging statements that seem to imply that the “intelligence community” is a qualified good, or a necessary evil, but that there is a “right way” and a “wrong way” to do things.
This logic is more amenable to the liberal conscience. “Spying is ok, but NSA went too far.” It looks like pandering to beef up reformist, liberal whistleblower hero credentials. Allusions to Ellsberg, etc. Manipulating the mindless statists in the press corp. Snowden might even believe it. OK.
This logic is intolerable as soon as you take it seriously. As far as the “debate” has come in the United States, it seems to have begun to be accepted in certain elite circles (liberal opinionati, twitter commentariat, academics, legal advocacy types, politicos, “journalists,”) that how dare NSA spy en-masse on Americans without a warrant?. And the “debate” has progressed from there to secondary discussions of James Clapper lied to Congress!.
You don’t have to lack a US passport – you just have to think about it a bit – to find this debate profoundly insulting to the millions of international citizens whose expectation of and right to personal privacy has been effectively eradicated by the US intelligence community and its “big data” partners, and who just don’t count in this “debate.” If the new normal is bulk spying, and the reformist agenda is about something as modest as restoring the spirit of FISA, excuse me if I don’t give a fuck what Snowden thinks.
Bulk spying is a profound and systematic evil. It is also an expression of the logic of the so-called “intelligence community.” Any liberal pining after a “more moderate” version of these voracious criminal syndicates is unrealistic. I’ve said on Twitter before, the only moral perspective on what Snowden revealed is that bulk spying is a crime against humanity – even moreso because it was done without consulting anyone. While there were many who guessed at what was going on, it is as far as mainstream humanity is concerned the biggest secret that has ever been kept in history. The great conspiracy against humanity ever: a crime against humanity. That is the only appropriate language with which to take in what has been happening. In terms of its scale and systematicity – if not its fatal horror – it is comparable to the paradigmatic crimes against humanity of the mid-20th century. And the only moral response to that is to desire to eliminate entirely from our world the intolerable institutions that made it possible, and to get the militant extremists who inaugurated it as far away from power as possible.
There are also hints in Snowden’s rhetoric that he is sympathetic to this. But to grace a rancid cliche, I don’t care if Snowden agrees with me or not. His leaks confirmed (not revealed) that a vast, systematic crime against humanity was being carried out by these institutions. Until those leaks happened, evidence that those things were happening was dismissed as a “paranoid conspiracy theory.” The leaks necessarily precipitated a rapid transition from a state of prejudicial disbelief, through a short period of credulity, and now seems to be settling, only a few months later, into a blase state of acceptance and rationalization. “Duh,” say the apologists who last year said “paranoid!” That transitional period represents the single greatest opportunity for popular movement against the criminal syndicates which are called “the intelligence community.” Along with that, it has to be considered that various ancillary opportunities piggybacked on the main one: fatally damaging the credibility and reputation of the commercial media industry, for instance.
Once that moment is passed, which I believe it probably is now, that singular opportunity is shot. Wasted. It will be a long time before we see a period during which public opinion is so fluid again as to potentiate such an opportunity.
If Snowden believes that opportunity should be wasted in favour of moderate, self-defeating efforts at reform because he subscribes to some happy delusion about the Founding Fathers and “constitutional government” and the inherent goodness of American political institutions, then I don’t care what Snowden thinks. I’m thankful he did what he did, and I celebrate him, but I disagree with him, and I think there are higher priorities than caring what Snowden thinks, or capitulating to fatuous, censorious slogans like “We should respect his wishes! He made the debate we’re having possible!”
Just to round off the above comments, consider this:
If cherishing “the debate we’re having” as a thank you to Snowden ritual is what we’re doing, I think it is important to point out that the questions that Tarzie and others have been raising are part of that debate. It simply doesn’t make sense to wield some abstruse duty to Snowden incurred by his “making this debate possible” as a way to close down important parts of that same debate. But that is one of the things that has been going on.
I want to use this popular “debate” rhetoric to summarize (as I see it) the point Tarzie is making.
There was a “debate” before Edward Snowden appeared. It went like this:
That was “the debate” less than six months ago. And I think everyone here recognizes that we had that “debate” because of the way “debates” are structured in our society by the media on which those debates are regulated and created, but most of all, we had that “debate,” rather than the one we’re having now because the US government withheld all information from the general world public that would have enabled a different “debate,” and the press sucked up and failed to uncover anything we could debate about.
Most of the us didn’t even realize we should be having a debate, because we were kept in a position of ignorance about the very thing about which we might have debated. Which is to say, the entire character of the debate is powerfully shaped and controlled by choices made by people who control information about what information we get to debate about, and what information we don’t get to debate about. The “debate” was on the terms of the US government. They got to choose what kind of a debate we got to have.
To his credit, Glenn Greenwald has been, throughout that time, one of the most ardent and crusading advocates of having a wider debate than the one the government wanted us to have: a more democratic debate, a more proper debate.
Now we get to what Tarzie is trying to draw attention to. What has happened since Snowden came to our attention is not that suddenly all of the gatekeepers have disappeared, all the information is out there, and “the debate” is no longer structured by choices made by people who control information. We do not suddenly have a “debate” where previously we had none.
The fact is that the US government no longer controls the information exclusively. The information is now also controlled by the three or so journalists Edward Snowden chose to give information to, and also by a gradually enlarged group of commercial media organizations, who because of the incentives involved in getting the news, are taking a slightly less deferent position towards the government than is customary.
The information is still controlled, and as before the choices made by its controllers intrinsically structure and form the character of that debate. The people who control the information still get to choose the terms of the debate. The debate is on their terms.
Everyone basically grasps this. That is why many people are willing to see the wisdom or otherwise of Greenwald’s choice (allegedly on Snowden’s instigation) of releasing the information very gradually, and paying lip service to the myth of “the responsible journalist or “the journalist as expert” or “the journalist as bureaucrat.” This is seen as a strategic choice, and everyone has had a merry time of discussing its genius or faults.
But we must remember that “the debate we are having” is a debate that is structured by those choices. If we have seen only 1% (or whatever) of the material Snowden leaked, the debate is potentially profoundly different to what it might be with a larger percentage.
And there can be a difference of perspective on whether that is the debate we should be having. The consensus emerging from “the debate we are having” is a more or less liberal/reformist position which accepts a large portion of the assumptions undergirding the use of surveillance and security powers to shape the world according to US interests, but objects to a a few formal transgressions about the use and abuse of those powers. The position taking shape is explicitly not one which regards all use of such powers to be an abuse. People who take a position more like the latter are inclined to feel underserviced by “the debate that we are having.”
Consequently, and also in principle, they are inclined to question the choices being made that shape “the debate we are having” and question the nature of the debate, and question its priorities and terms of reference. They are also inclined to question whether anyone should be entitled to make choices about the kind of debate we should be allowed to have, by picking and choosing what gets released according to their own tastes and interests. They are inclined to ask whether “the debate we should be having” is one made in the fullness of the available knowledge. And those questions also get to be part of “the debate that we are having”.
I share Tarzie’s frustration that many of those who are happy with the calibre of “the debate that we are having” are intolerant of those kinds of questions, and are in turn attempting to curate the debate that is happening by marginalizing those types of discussions and castigating people who raise those kinds of questions.
Much of the above might be long-winded and thunderously obvious and tedious to many. But I think it presents a good explanation – using the vocabulary that appears to be popular – to people who can’t see why Tarzie doesn’t find a great deal of succour in the exhortation to “Respect Snowden’s wishes! He made the debate we are having possible!”
Greenwald writes: “It will be at least a year to 18 months before everything that should be published is published.”
So you’re saying that with 9,000 to 58,000 documents Snowden read himself and hand-picked to leak to you, and your current rate of reporting, “everything that should be published” will be published in 18 months? Your math and time estimates seem to be way off. At the current rate of reporting, leaking and redacting, we’ll never see everything we “should.”
“More importantly, it would destroy the ability of the public to digest the materials. These are incredibly complicated documents. They take a lot of work and effort and time to understand. A one-time dump would generate lots of attention for about a week, and then everyone would permanently move on, and most of the key disclosures would be lost in a cloud of pointless debate over treason and Terrorist-helping.”
That’s bullshit. Open-sourcing the documents would exponentially enhance our ability to digest them. Stories are still being written using Manning’s leaks, and those stories and the resulting debates don’t focus on treason and Terrorist-helping. If anything, Chelsae’s role in the leaks and making the stories possible is being completely ignored.
“It’s easy – but worthless – to sit on your anonymous, lazy, cowardly ass on the sidelines and demand that more be done.”
We’re not all in the position you’re in, Glenn. Our decisions in life haven’t enabled us to achieve the level of success in the journalism that you have. We’re left with whatever crumbs of information we get from government officials and journalists like yourself. And Tarzie conceded “that for reasons of Snowden’s safety among other things, we’re stuck with a paternalistic system we have.” And you just chose to insult him and everyone else asking questions about your methods and calling for more information.
Reading these responses has brought an image and sound byte from US pop-culture to mind. The first an image of (Lance) Armstrong before his fall with a teenaged(looking) supermodel on his arm and a blurb to the effect: This bloke pro-athlete from Texas has learned to enjoy French cuisine and adoring women and all the things fame can buy.
The second the sign-off of an absolutely salacious tv show on before something we like to watch when home, “I’m a lawyer!” Meaning that in however poor taste, libelousness, misogynismt, chauvinism…it’s legit!
Why think of these now? You decide.
Everyone the Little Red Hen knew thought she was crazy, until the bread came out of the oven. Then they all wanted a slice.
‘Pathetic’, ‘lazy’, ‘cowardly’, ‘stupid’, ‘moronic’, ‘[unable] to keep two thoughts in [my] head at the same time’, ‘an idiot’ ‘from Brooklyn’, ‘anonymous’. Wow, stimulating stuff, Glenn. I’m so wrong to have suggested that you might be something of an asshole. On your main point, that people who do worthy things affecting billions of people are above reproach, I beg to differ. My full reply is Here
“As for why we don’t just hand out the documents like lolipops around the world, the answer is simple: we can’t legally. If we were to do that, we’d become distributors or sources, not journalists.”
Mr. Greenwald, I understand that you must have grave reasons to not distribute the material which Snowden obtained risking his life. But it does not convince me, that your argument is what you say in the above paragraph. I will explain why as good as i can.
1. The legal status of the Snowden-material is: it is stolen. But the political status of the material is: it is a product of a whistleblowing act, of major importance to the global community, revealing corruption of an unprecedented scale and order.
2. As a lawyer and engaged Journalist you have position yourself as one who fully recognizes the importance of whistleblowers and whistleblowing. You have demanded protections for sources, journalists, organizations and media outlets that engage in the political dimension of Information.
3. You have stated in diverse interviews, especially in that one after Miranda´s detention, that you have full desicion power over the modus of the publication of the material.
So i would like to ask you referring to your statement: Which legality do you mean: The one according to which all material is illegal de facto? Or that one according to which the material is of such significance, that you become complicit of their immanent criminality by not making it available to the public immediately but controlling its impact?
If you mean the first one, then you are illegal already, since you have the material. If you mean the second one – which i have understood was your engagement so far – i would like to know what has changed in your position, because in earlier articles and interviews you were clearly supporting the political dimension of the act of whistleblowing, of whistleblowers as couragious high consciousness individuals in postwar society, of the material obtained by such acts, and of the necessity to adjust the legal frame for the mentioned as political entities.
When’s the last time anyone heard a story pulled from the Cablegate leaks? Were all 700,000 mined out? No more stories of possible relevance to current issues in that pile? Or is it that there’s no one going through the pile any longer? How many other examples does the Guardian have of working with sizable security leak datasets? Seems a pretty safe bet that the drip-drip keeps the whole story alive much longer than it would with a singular data drop.
The New York Times did a story on Syria this week based on the leaks.
That’s as support for the Syria story though. Largely, after the five paper publishing consortium fell apart, Cablegate stories dried up too. Compared to Cablegate, the Snowden leaks seem to be much more productive and capable of sustained efforts.
Dump too much at once, and all they’ll talk about is the size of the pile, not the diet that produced it.
Do you people even read a post before you weigh in with this stuff. There is no comparison. Manning was pitching a different story. One no one wanted to hear. God.
I think you’re confusing Manning’s story with the Cablegate documents. While intricately linked, they are not the same thing. Perhaps you are likewise confusing Snowden’s story with the documents he produced.
WTF are you talking about? He’s arguing that Manning’s leaks concerned foreign policy, which American elites have no interest in changing, while Snowden’s leaks concern the NSA, which many American elites have an interest in changing and are demonstrably afraid of.
Pretty sure NYT published one on Syria recently sourced to the Wikileaks cables.
So, one. Cool. One since when from a pile of 700,000 documents, more or less? I kinda think the counterexample proves the point.
no, it’s just recent example ready at hand. Please see Greenwald’s own writing on her impact.
Snertly, perhaps you should research the topic before you start making claims about it.
The State Department cables are referred to nearly every two or three days in a new story. They are not, in this context, referred to to break new stories, but are typically referred to to provide deep context for developing events. This does not occur solely in the English news industry, but all over the world in different languages. Try looking on Lexis Nexis to see how wide and long its influence is proving to be.
This is alternative history. When the initial five paper publishing consortium began to slow down and then stop publication, WikiLeaks carried on opening new publishing partnerships with local and regional news partners all over the world, in a coordinated effort to provide journalistic oversight and local expertise for the graduated release of the entire cable set. There was a partnership in Pakistan, in India, in Malaysia, in Tunisia, in Egypt , in Lebanon, in the Carribean, in Brazil, in Argentina, in Chile, in Mexico, in Ecuador, in Haiti, in El Salvador, in Costa Rica, in the Balkans, in Italy, and so on and so on. The thing kept on going for most of 2011 – massive parallel publishing – until Daniel Domscheit-Berg told the German newspaper Freitag that David Leigh and Luke Harding had published the password for the unredacted archive to Cablegate in their book in February. On September 1st, the whole thing came out.
Here’s Bill Keller, the former executive editor of the New York Times, and source of some of the most odious distaste for WikiLeaks, on that point:
And having been demoted to a source of deep background context to local matters in foreign lands, the Cablegate drop compares to the ongoing reveals of NSA’s particular combination of ability, arrogance, and blatant disregard for the rule of law how?
Perhaps one answer is that Greenwald is more difficult to disrupt than Wikileaks was.
I have no idea what point you are trying to make.
Surely the destruction of General Petraeus based on the FBI’s snooping in his girlfriend’s emails made a few elite hairs stand on end.
Petraeus no more “destroyed” than Karl Rove was “destroyed” when he was demoted while serving Bush/Cheney, and no more than Scooter Libby’s supposed public shaming in the same era worked any kind of dissolving of Scooter’s connections or income.
I’m not sure why you’d assume that Internet Gossip is the reality landscape inhabited by David Petraeus. If you look at his career, he’s a politician who serves in the armed forces. If you look at the armed forces, you see that during the past 30 years they have changed toward a privatization (remember Erik Prince, please) and so a person like Petraeus would have no qualms seeing his “military prestige” (such as it is) besmirched on/in the Internet Gossip Columns. He’s got a bright future, income-wise, in either the private sector or the War Hero Turned (direct) Politician Sector (see: Dwight Eisenhower).
The Internet Gossip Columns do not define or describe reality-as-it-lays. They might define a reader’s/follower’s chosen pseudo-reality in the same way putting a set of tinted lenses in your eyeglasses gives you a slightly different chromatic view of your visual landscape, but that’s not the same as the actual landscape changing. Perception isn’t reality, no matter what your favorite gossipist tells you.
As to Mr Greenwald, it could not be more patently obvious that he is engaged in self-promotion and uses his so-called revelations as a way to keep the public’s eye on him. Of course, for him, perception indeed is reality — like all entertainers playing a role, his success depends on the acted role’s projections and how they shape the audience’s perceptions. He doesn’t know anything about national “security” mechanisms even though he’s been writing about them for several years now. It would be good to learn his sources, for examle, on how NSA and CIA actually ply their trades in the world. Mr Snowden is not high-ranking enough to know that information, nor is Bradley/Chelsea Manning. So where does Mr Greenwald get his perspective? From reading Ray McGovern? From reading Michael Scheuer? From that one time he watched Three Days of the Condor? Or maybe from Robert Ludlum sexy-spy books and Tom Clancy chest-thumping jingoist novels?
In other words, a better signal reception apparatus would help refine your thoughts here, Tarzie. This would involve more discernment between the manufactured landscape which creates an artificial reality, and the actual events and real outcomes as they play out for the actors in their non-acting lives. To recap: Petraeus not destroyed beyond your imagination of that destruction; Greenwald not well-informed enough to help anyone see the landscape; Snowden not deeply embedded and operationally senior enough to feed anything worthwhile to Greenwald; Manning unreliable because of psychological issues (identity).
Eyeroll. There’s a difference between money and power. Yes, Patraeus will be fine financially, but he lost a lot of power when he got booted, and while he might regain it, he’ll have to overcome the damage done.
“eyeroll”? Well, whoop-de-doo for you! You’ve shown that you can’t comprehend what I wrote, and instead transposed your inherent biases onto the every-4th-word or whatever you actually read.
Pretending money and power are two separate categories for Petraeus is nothing more than pseudo-academic hair-splitting wankery. What do you know of high-ranking military people who are busier as politicians than they are as commanders of field operations? Anything?
What “power” do you think Petraeus lost from the supposed “leaks” of his affair’s existence? Do you think Mrs Petraeus didn’t know her man David was sleeping around? Do you think the other members of the US Army at coordinate levels didn’t know he was sleeping around? For pietro’s sake, you show an immense naivete about military reality here. There would be no more shock, surprise, or denigration toward Petraeus for that leakage than there would be to Charlie Sheen if someone “leaked” that he liked hookers, cocaine, and more hookers — in no particular order.
You may have your eye-roll and feel sufficiently superior for the gesture. I just do not understand what you think you’ve achieved with the act. Perhaps you’ll tell us?
I thought you might be disingenuous before, what with the vague ranting about “military realities”, but straightforwardly arguing that “no longer running the CIA” is not a loss of power is, uh, a bit transparent, don’t you think?
Rancid Tarzie is such a brave dissident that we don’t even know his/her real name. I mean, you can’t have a better example of a whiny diaper baby pooping his/her pants in a temper tantrum — all done anonymously. It’s literally hysterically funny to see an anonymous blogger on wordpress blast others for not measuring up. There’s virtually nothing more cowardly than repeated anonymous attacks on others.’
Nothing of interest on this “blog”.
What a bore you are. A carbon cutout.
Horseshit comment. “Nothing of interest”? Greenwald even thinks its of interest, or he wouldn’t have bothered writing multiple hundreds of words on it. Agree or disagree with the author, the blog is the definition of “interesting.”
Greenwald thinks this blog is of interest? Please show me the evidence of that. You won’t of course, because he doesn’t. In fact, a recent response from Greenwald on Twitter called this anonymous Rancid Tarzie person “the most self-victimizing baby on the internet”. Doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement. But, it’s an accurate response to anonymous whining/attacks/trolling. It’s the proper response from GG.
Ok, you’re officially fucking up my blog. I don’t mind abuse if it’s witty or smart, but you’re a dolt and other people will engage you, which is bad. So know that from now on, all your shit is going to be deleted.
*cue tiresome carping about the freedom to be a doltish asshole all over my blog.
Of interest, or particularly annoying?
Ah, I see you don’t understand the English phrase “Nothing of interest.” Maybe you shouldn’t use it, then. One can disagree with someone vehemently and still find his opinion “of interest.” I guess I won’t bother responding to what you write, given that you don’t quite understand the language. It is a tough one. I recommend this kind of phrasebook they probably sell somewhere…it will explain common turns of phrase for you.
Could you please ignore him? He’s not adding a whole lot here.
Every comment you leave on GG’s feed will now be ghosted with the announcement:
“Ignore Anonymous Tarzie, aka The Biggest Self-Victimizing Baby on the Internet!”
Good luck blocking it mighty mouse! LOL!!
I am keeping this up, because one, you’re now harassing me and two, as an example of the bizarre loyalty Greenwald commands from people who presumably don’t even know him.
Terribly wrong. EXTREMELY interesting – and Glenn, despite being perturbed, thought so too or he wouldn’t have responded so thoughtfully.
‘Thoughtfully’ That’s hilarious. He fed his Twitter trolls bait and they’ve taken it up.
Tarzie, tricia, Lange et al: No one knows anything about you people, your financial or emotional goals, or anything else besides the air of world-weary knowledge and intellectual authority you attempt to convey about yourselves. All of the aspersions you heap upon Greenwald, Snowden, Assange, Manning, etc., have yet to be answered in kind about yourselves. Frankly I distrust your blanket statements about this case and its actors, their motivations, etc., as I distrust any other blanket statements made from afar.
So far, I think the revelations have been just that, and I enjoy the drip drip and the inexorable exposure of the scrambling police state. I’m willing to give Greenwald the benefit of the doubt about the structure and timing. He’s got a process and I judge that it’s working — getting results. Other processes might work better — or they might work the same or worse — but that is unknowable, even by you. Griping about better processes rather than the achieved results is, it seems to me, pedantic and more suitable to computer programming textbook exercises.
But I think you ask some good questions, and I think eventually we will get the answers.
‘Scrambling police state’
Nobody knows who I am? I’m sure that I do. I’m not sure how your knowing who I am would change anything. I’d ask you to explain the relevance of your distraction, but I just explained the relevance in the foregoing clause. Distraction. Which makes me wonder, which of my observations threatens the artificial reality you’ve concocted for yourself, and thus drives you to try to discredit my observations?
The easiest way to see if my observations are valuable is to compare them to reality. Of course, that presumes you would know what is real, and could distinguish it from what is manufactured for the purpose of surrogate reality.
I simply observe that you don’t give what you expect to be given. You say that this observation is a distraction, and I suppose all observations are distracting to someone. But your word games can be seen as a distraction to avoid answering all these questions about your unexplained motives. Not by me, of course — I trust you. It’s the people who question my ability to sense reality and claim that they see through everyone else’s surrogate reality that I need to watch out for.
I myself cannot and do not claim to know all, or even most, of the machinations in play here — the REAL reality behind all those claimed surrogate realities — though you suggest that you do. What I’m trying to convey is that based on your own criticisms of GG, no one should trust your observations, claims, or motives either. You’ll grant that, won’t you?
Just to be clear i have great respect for what snowden and all have done. It takes a tremendous amount of courage.
However, i do not trust the guardian. It is more often than not a mouthpiece for the govt especially on two key fronts that impact all of us: war, and financial control. Yes, when Glenn writes a gushing praise about the paper a few months back, and then says that they make the decisions, with him, what is in public or national security interests, i am more than concerned.
Glenn has to see how strange it looks that the paper that seems to be exposing the lies of govt on spying is the same paper that pushes the lies of govt on war and what is in our national security interest. So given the paper seemed to have no problem pushing that bombing syria was in our national security interest according to govt, without any or little push back by the paper on this, you have to wonder when it comes snowden how wide the caste the net and say that is “national security”. Really, their blog on Syria shows that they have little clue what constitute “national security” and seem to just take the govt word for it.
As for Glenn I think if he has so much information that it could take 18 months to publish it then yes he should consider partnering with many more outlets and fast. i get that is complicated but there does need to be a pick up in speed, because despite what Glenn thinks many have not yet woken up to what is going on. Also, imagine that snowden wanted the information out there so people could find a way to hinder nsa capabilities. For that to happen, one thing is the tech community does need more insight and detail to counter the nsa
Rancid Honeytrap, Gregory, Tricia, Tarzie, Snertly, Circadian, Glenn, Thomas-
Look, you guys, read this. Read it five or six times.
“Hey, maybe we’re having this debate because people in high places want us to!”
Now, stop. Just stop. Turn your eyes away from your computer monitors and think. Is it possible that this statement is true? Honeytrap, you wrote it; could it be true? Glenn, you’re being assailed; could it be true?
Unwrap yourselves from your egos and have a look around at our world. All of you are brilliant, so I’m positive I don’t have to point out that humanity is getting screwed. Everywhere. In every nation and culture. All four corners.
So what the hell is up? I’m gonna tell you what the hell is up and if you roll your eyes at me in a snooty way and blow me off as a crackpot, I’m gonna reach through these internet wires and smack ya!
The shift in consciousness is here. It’s here. Now. That’s why we’re seeing the death throes of the old barbaric way of thinking manifesting itself in more war, more murder, police-state countries, losses of liberties, nuclear disasters and brain-dead politicians making inane decisions.
Look, you guys, where the hell do you think you’re living? Seriously. Think about it. Is it possible that such a fucked up world is only an illusion and all of our constant deliberating and debating is just feeding the damn thing?
Yes, it’s possible. It’s possible because it’s the truth.
Consider what I wrote a load of crap and go about your business; I don’t care. Makes no difference to me. But Glenn, there isn’t enough time left for you to release all of the NSA bullshit to the world. Time’s up. Our “experiment” is over.
Each of you will see what I’m talking about very soon. Just be ready.
That’s one fine bit of distraction. I especially enjoy the vague platitudes about consciousness shifts and illusions. And the blank challenges issued to me and a few others? Quite convincing! They definitely make me conclude I’m mistaken and have been for some time. In fact, I’m growing ever closer to deciding that, contrary to what I’ve believed, 2 + 2 = 4,197 and that what I’ve always called the color blue is, in fact, the color orange. Thank you for helping me see what has long been hiding under the evil-doing mask of the wrong consciousness.
Actually if i kept you isolated growing up and showed you the color blue and always said it was orange that is what you would believe. In fact, much of what we see and think is based on perception, which is based on belief. Reality. Whatever that means is actually filtered through ones perception and belief system, and while they might think it is real does not mean it is.
As shakespeare said: all the world’s a stage and we are mere players or puppets.
I wish you luck, but you do not what you are proposing has been proposed by countless others throughout time, all to be wrong, and nothing really changed. I know, this time is different right
Orange and blue are separate wavelengths, not the same wavelength “perceived differently.”
Please stop. You’re completely off topic. There is nothing I want less on my blog than heady ‘What is reality’ discussions.
This is interesting…. do you have a blog where you write more on this?
1) The dynamic of power aggregating you posit between government security establishment agencies is compelling and should probably be extended to contractors and corporate suppliers.
It’s impossible not to think of Hoover vs. all branches of the USG & local (police) authorities. That should have ended with McCarthy and a sealed envelope. Of course it didn’t. The people elected Joey boy, he spoke to them, he was them. Folks who were beguiled by new appliances, television and not being european.
There are comparisons to be made with the current handling of the Snowden revelations, which are really just gossip as they now exist, only with a super-narrow audience. Perhaps LOVEINT will have spied on Gaga and the story will take of on the billion or so hours of gossip “news”. [#journalism]
2) My perspective is that common sense —and certainly the ProPublica article reveal that there is being created yet a new hierarchy of persons (tech consultants, editors, researchers, attornys & even USG staff who review their work) who also have access to all the information which the citizens of the world have given up healthcare, public education and housing, a more literal voting democracy and privacy to fund yet have no full access or even passing interest from its presentation (and what taking public transportation tell me).
3) The x7o account is quoted, not to best advantage. What isn’t revealed is the capitulation in interest of good relations which follows x7o’s cornering of folks like Greenwald who share interest in Manning, Assange, Snowden, academic leaking and a shared social perspective (what x7o would condemn as being product of the same (university) system in critique of the UK media/military/government). Just before the “four questions”, Tarzie, radically critical of “Greenwald’s fanboys” makes the same capitulation.
Yes, it’s nice to #UniteBlue. Probably almost as much as having guarenteed responses from Greenwald, especially on blog posts written criticizing/in homage of him. Everyone seems to understand the publishing game these days.
I don’t really understand most of what you’re saying in the last two paragraphs. I don’t care about any conflicts x7o has had.
Tarzie, Nor do I. I find it disappointing that you both level relevant criticism, then refute the martyrdom responses, only to excuse thewhole thing [something like: I cannot imagine what you all are going through with all the pressure and surveillance and fear for loved ones and long hours and personal integrity], which seemingly you can imagine, but also fail to offer that just dumping the entire bundle.
Sure, it might not change the world for the better, but it’s far more ethical (and legal as I commented to Greenwald, what is necessary is legal) and allows the outcome to be shaped by all rather than a Brahmin class.
I don’t really understand the point either.
Tarzie, x7o, I have to reply here.
1) There are more revealing engagements between x7o and Greeenwald, however it’s the author’s choice.
2) x7o is known for eviscerations, as is Tarzie. However you both seem to make some(no idea) “club” distinction with Greenwald. By the end of any exchange you set the record straight that he is awesome, you support his work against various external pressures, etc.
This is a similar approach to Greenwald’s capitulation to state security apparatus. The blog calls to question various motives from maintaining the status quo to financial benefit. I suggested that benefit isn’t always financial. It can be numbers of followers/visitors or who will “take one’s tweets”.
3) In my response to Tarzie, “…which seemingly you can imagine, but also fail to offer that just dumping the entire bundle.” Either I mistyped or my cut/paste lost something. Point: All the documents will either be released in a future which few of us will be alive, and by which time humanity will have found some other brilliant means to violate itself, or the documents will be partially destroyed and partially declassified leaving the story ever half-told. Dumping all the documents now might force individuals to rethink their rights, the society they wish to live, how necessary is ethical collaboration with others, etc. Alternatively, it might change nothing, in which case no good nor harm will have been done.
4). There is white noise between Greenwald’s need to protect Snowden, while Snowden himself has stated repeatedly that he is such a red-white-blue bleeding patriot that he would die to make these revelations.
This might be cleared up by producing whatever document actually lists the guidelines set up with Snowden. Does it seem reasonable that a lawyer agreed to only an ephemeral sense of instructions?
It bears repeating that once the documents were fully disseminated, Snowden …or Greenwald or Poitras, would be the very least of the worries for the USG, NSA, CIA, TSA, Microsoft, Google, military contractors, Disney, GazProm, etc.
5) Money becomes a mad dance of excuses: everything was sacrificed, must survive under ever more constrained conditions, etc. Better profit taking occur up front: set up a kickstarter or wepay. Let the people and governments of the world contribute to a stated sum. Then put everything in the public domain. I don’t want to read Greenwald’s recounting or Snowden’s airport diary. I want to read the NSA documents.
6) It also bears repeating that if good intentions ameliorate criticism even when founded, the a massive government(s) conspiracy run like a retail chain in which each department is in competition with their own previous ytd statistics, all others departments, and collectively in competition against all other chains and shops, then surely those very conspiracies and collaborations against the people of the planet deserve less rigorous clinging to laws fitted to protect said conspiracies and collusions. There are no equivalent arguments of magnitude against the dissemination of whatever Snowden took. The only arguments are those pro-status quo.
I’ll tag on that responses seem fewer in number and less robust from the previous two posts. If I’m correct, it is yet another proof that the drizzle of information is boring and stifles thought and debate.
Thanks for clarifying.
I doubt that Glenn thinks I bend over backwards making concessions for him, but I will cop to thinking that he is both more helpful from a left perspective and more well-intended than most of his colleagues. I think x7o tends to be more generous on these points than I am.
I get it now.
I am not sure I’d put much store in my more conciliatory comments with Greenwald. I do think things have probably been personally difficult for him, and I have a lot of sympathy for that. But the case I was making runs contrary to that, I think. It was not my intention to undermine the case by suggesting that it is possible to have human sympathy. I don’t think it logically undermines it.
Actually, considering the way he treats anyone who doesn’t see the sun shining from his ass these days, I think you are laying it on too thick. He’s being an asshole and people should stop making excuses for it.
I simply observe that you don’t give what you expect to be given. You say that this observation is a distraction, and I suppose all observations are distracting to someone
Actually, that’s not what you did. But if reframing someone else’s comments to dilute their import is your best pitch, your trump card — well, I would encourage you to keep doing it. Eventually you will near competence, and from there you can work on excellence.
What exactly did I label as distraction, which you feel is not one? Can you be more specific?
The “real reality” of Petraeus either losing or maintaining power depends on whether you think his “image” as a man of fidelity-based marriage is what he truly cares about, and whether you think Mrs Petraeus and the General’s cohort both were (1) completely unaware of the affair, and (2) forced to lose all respect for the General as a result of the “leak.” I’m not seeing you providing evidence that either of those 2 points holds here, and I’m not seeing you providing evidence that you understand the general nature of military officers and their hound-dogging ways. Perhaps that’s why you turned toward splitting hairs on money vs power and implying that the “leak” caused him to lose “power.” That conclusion’s supposed reality would depend completely on whether Petraeus, his wife, and his cohort of officers both superior and inferior actually were surprised by the “leak.” Which is what I said already, but which you sidestepped.
OK. You’re all about the word games. Here’s one:
> Actually, that’s not what you did.
Actually, that is what I did. But if reframing someone else’s comments to dilute their import is your best pitch, your trump card — well, I would encourage you to keep doing it. Eventually you will near competence, and from there you can work on excellence.
See how easy that was? I place no value on your game because you’re trying to be personally insulting in a generic fashion that is easily repurposed. It’s a waste of effort.
BTW, I was not talking about Petraeus at all. Perhaps if you look at my first comment in the thread hierarchy you’ll see that. Again, my point was that I find comments such as yours, Tarzie’s and tricia’s to be hypocritical, and that the focus on process, while interesting to some, should be less important than the results for all — and the results and all the facts are not yet in. All you have to do is prove to everyone everything you’re asking Snowdon, GG, etc. to prove. I think that will be difficult and perhaps impossible. Which is my point.
Okay, you find me “hypocritical.” And you say it’s because of what you projected onto me as my supposed thoughts, which I say because you haven’t noted a single observation I’ve made that you are able to refute as surreal or hypocritical. In other words, you are talking about a theme and criticizing a theme, but you’re not showing how I am working under that theme.
I haven’t asked Mr Snowden nor Mr Greenwald to “prove” anything. I don’t need them to. I realize that neither Snowden nor Greenwald has anything relevant to offer, and I realize that the entire story they’ve conjured is done for fame, attention, and possible book/movie deals.
The fact that the majority of so-called news media sources are treating the conjured story as new, relevant and critical tells me more than the labels Mr Greenwald uses to suggest urgency and cruciality. There’s nothing new in the conjured story — it’s all very old information. And as I said, Snowden wasn’t high placed and experienced enough to have any world-crashing revelations he could share with Greenwald. And Greenwald doesn’t have any background or knowledge in the field of national security, in the field of electronic data management, in the field of internet security, in the field of domestic governmental affairs, or in the field of foreign governmental affairs.
The story of massive documentation and overwhelming data collation, used to excuse the drip-drip-drip nature of the conjured story’s incremental telling — well, it’s comical to anyone who has any familiarity with the machinations of the federal government’s security sectors. It’s believable only to someone who thinks The Bourne Conspiracy is closer to reality than any George Smiley tale written by John LeCarre.
Please stop. You’re completely off topic. There is nothing I want less on my blog than heady ‘What is reality’ discussions.
Oh please forgive me, I didn’t realize it was me doing that. I thought it was MV and tricia. Surely they’re innocent of the act, and I’m the only one guilty. Surely.
I thought you might be disingenuous before, what with the vague ranting about “military realities”, but straightforwardly arguing that “no longer running the CIA” is not a loss of power is, uh, a bit transparent, don’t you think?
Oh. So who really runs the CIA then? Just the guy with the nicest office in Langley? Just the guy who has the title? Does Obama run America? Is every act by a bureaucrat in Research Triangle Park, working for US EPA’s branch office, actually something done by Obama?
Petraeus has been angling to move out of high-profile “public service” and into the private sector for some time. People within both parties have wanted him as a candidate for President. He also shows signs of wanting to replicate Erik Prince’s big financial success in the soldiers-for-hire sector. A “leak” regarding an extramarital affair would not hinder either avenue’s progress.
It’s common for a relatively high-placed person to become a fall guy for heat-sinking the pressures put on someone of higher profile. That’s why I mentioned Libby and Rove and their supposed embarrassment (Libby) and demotion (Rove) during Bush-Cheney. Both men retained their access to the Bush-Cheney Admin, even if they lost their formal titles.
Is this kind of low-level political (un)wisdom really what passes for “informed comment” in your corner of the world? That would explain many things!
You make some decent observations, but surely you can’t be arguing Petraeus’ political aspirations didn’t take a hit with the revelations.
Surely I can, because if you’ve been paying attention to American federal politics since 1776, you’d notice that people hopscotch all over the supposed power map and still end up in high places. Why, even those who were roundly excoriated as Neocon Lackeys under Bush-Cheney were found to inhabit high positions in the Obama-Biden administration. Also, please re-read my points about Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.
As to extramarital affairs, they didn’t affect JFK’s power nor the admiration of his fans, many of whom are/were Roman Catholic in faith, and the RC church isn’t known for its tolerance of marital infidelity.
You need to discern the difference between the media saying Petraeus was undone and demoted, and the actual development of his chances for further gain being demolished. I see no evidence that he can’t continue in an upward career trajectory. For pietro’s sake, Erik Prince has navigated many tsunamis of public disapproval and shaming with respect to his and Cofer Black’s little mercenary enterprise, and each time a minor shift in public relations has ensured Blackwater, then Xe, continued gaining plenty of contractual benefits from Uncle Sam.
Being more holistic and detached, and less judgmentally partisan, would help you here.
Love this piece, Tarzie. I think bringing in the Hayes analysis is great, pointing out the inter-elite piece-of-the-pie wars as the difference between this and Chelsea’s leaks is really important, and love the questions at the end. Really ties the series together.
Thank you. Always happy to see your jowly visage around here.
In short, Greenwald has proven a surprisingly capable gatekeeper, whether he sees himself as such or not.
I have read your post several times and i have to say the line above is one of the most astute observations. Glenn has told us that he and the guardian decide what is public interest and national security. The problem with that is from a govt perspective virtually everything is “national security” as shown for example by detaining miranda under the pretext. So the question then becomes how does Glenn and his editors decide what is “national security”. They can not relay on the govt to tell them as they will try. To classify as much as possible under that. So what metrics do they use? Apart from the obvious, not putting operatives in danger by naming them, or giving away information that would enable others to build a bigger better bomb, how are they making these decisions.
If they are relying on govt expertise then yes Glenn will have become their gatekeeper, and while they might be upset with what he does publish, they know they can not stop it all, so maybe they are happy to stop what is most important to them.
I think it would be very informative if Glenn could tell us he is making these determinations. What criteria he is using. Be also interesting to know what percentage of the documents that snowden gave him does glenn think falls under “national security”.
Here’s someone who is posting as “Glenn Greenwald” —
He’s the one demanding that Snowden, Laura, Guardian editors and myself all disregard the much more significant risks to ourselves by dumping all the documents indiscriminately.
I am entertained by the suggestion that there are “significant risks” in revealing data that reflects facts already disclosed to the American people long ago. I suppose the “risks” resemble having to be constantly on the run like Jason Bourne — even though Edward Snowden was able to “hide out” in a hotel just a few blocks from US espionage offices in Hong Kong. If there were such “risks” they would attend the possession of supposedly damaging data, which US espionage officers or their contractors would have found reason to capture, detain, and punish Snowden or anyone else affiliated with this story, like David Miranda or Laura Poitras or Glenn Greenwald or editors at The Guardian UK. But instead, we see the media faithfully reporting the tales Mr Greenwald writes about “significant risks” to himself, his husband, his source Snowden and his compatriot Poitras.
Maybe if Mike Judge ever makes a follow-up to Idiocracy, he could use this entire charade as a template for a running joke about how stupid the American citizenry has become.
This is fast on its way to becoming the most popular installment of the series.
I love that part 1, started it all, is stuck at 69 comments.
This is actually my second most trafficked post ever.
Are you basing this on commments? “Part 2” and “Admit it” both have 100+ comments
@notapedo, yeah that’s why I said “on its way” for this series and referred to comments. ohtarzie’s “trafficked” mention means views/hits on the page, not comments. Unless he’s speaking sloppily, which is highly uncharacteristic.
Yeah, I meant views.
Between your comment and the fact I can’t see the traffic stats myself I got confused.
From Greenwald’s reply; “should we publish all the names of anyone who has been surveilled by the NSA, and thus smear people who are innocent as Terrorists? Should we disclose the names of undercover agents or informants in tyrannical countries, all of whose lives would be instantly endangered upon disclosure? Unless you’re sociopathic, demanding full, indiscriminate disclosure of every document without regard to the impact on a whole variety of human beings is just warped.”
Do Greenwald and Snowden have this information or is this some hypothetical to try and defend their withholding? Either way, the answer to the first question should be, “yes, absolutely.” Nothing would damage the credibility of the agency more than the release of tens of thousands of innocent names who unknowingly live under gov surveillance (were I personally being surveilled, I would like to know about it). People would, most for the first time, be able to put a face to what the gov means when they say, “suspected terrorist.” Ordinary citizens would find many “suspected terrorists” to be fellow coworkers, colleagues, neighbors, friends, family, and/or themselves. In other words, victims of the most oppressive and expansive dragnet in history. The risk for vigilante justice is real, but I think it’s remote enough that the advantages would surely tip the scales towards leaking the names.
The second question is perhaps more debatable and as Greenwald alludes to, may hint at where an individual falls on the spectrum of sociopathy. Personally, fuck the undercover agents and informants the world over. Everyone makes a choice, and choosing to trade-in the allegiances of one “tyrannical gov” for another hardly makes a person deserving of protection when the dice no longer fall in that particular government’s favor. Greenwald shouldn’t cover for the state and argue against disclosure on the grounds that harm might potentially befall some state’s functionaries and lackeys. He is in no way ethically responsible for the fallout due to the collapse, partial or otherwise, of a criminal enterprise.
I’m sympathetic to the principle you invoke: exposing victims of unjust policing and exposing agents of abusive surveillance abroad.
The particulars may not work though. What if innocents surveilled IS in fact mostly arab/muslim names and faces. Those people will be tarred and it will play to the NSA’s favor for many racists and unconsciously racist scaredy-cats.
What if the undercover agents are agents who are ‘serving’ the USofA primarily by undermining their own repressive rulers, whatever the long game is for the US. That’s not the same as a CIA agent who informed on an anti-american-corruption activist in that country.
But this whole issue was more of a distraction. Unless it was intended to convey that some of the info can indirectly expose innocent people, etc, rather than just name names.
“What if the undercover agents are agents who are ‘serving’ the USofA primarily by undermining their own repressive rulers”
I’ve no sympathy for that lot either and I imagine this is where I would part company with a lot of like-minded folks. Using one repressive gov to take down another still leaves you with pretty dirty hands and if a more powerful group one day shows up to do some cleansing of their own, it’s unfortunate, but you ain’t innocent either.
“But this whole issue was more of a distraction.”
I’m not convinced it is. Snowden himself has said he has the ability to set fire to the whole damn thing. Criticism’s like Tarzie’s point out the limitations and the failures of the strategy undertaken so far by Greenwald and co. and hopefully lead to the point where Snowden (or the next Snowden) decides to finally light that match.
Not sure how reform keeps the state in check. Every major reform from the Church committee was process liberalism writ large.
You have a secret court, which since it is secret, that there’s no way to know if it protects anyone’s rights. But at least they get warrants.Then there are the congressional secret committees. I’m sure Ron Wyden could say a thing or two about a watchdog that is incapable of barking. But at least there are watchers watching the watchers. Finally, presidential hit jobs were outlawed. That is, by exploding cigars and such, as Hellfires clearly don’t fall under the letter of the law.
I am approaching a point where I find the continued reporting on NSA pretty much pointless, as long as it is confined to simply revealing more details of what the agency is up to, what programs and technologies are under way etc. If that’s all it is ever going to be, it is indeed pretty hard to make a case for any “value added” by rationing and vetting every piece, forever, if all that is going to be revealed some more detail. As a citizen (or more accurately – a peon), I increasingly don’t care about any of these “new revelations” –> I don’t need all this detail to understand that a massive surveillance project is under way, and that it is basically a done deal, public hand-wringing notwithstanding.
It is not that push-back is not important, and what has been generated soothes my cynicism and despair a bit. But I find it problematic that the “debate” is largely confined to ‘what is NSA up to’, and how to ‘regulate’ and ‘oversee’ it better, so there are no ‘abuses’. This is almost a pointless debate unless it is forcefully connected to the broader catastrophe, which is that stabilizing and patching up the system inherently requires non-stop expansion of state power *by any means*. That increased surveillance plays role in this (e.g., in addition to sophisticated and growing bureaucracy, media, influence etc.) is part of the elite consensus. They may be a little unprepared about hot to handle some of the unexpected consequences that such powerful technologies may have, and may quibble a bit over implementation, but it does not seem that expansion in these capacities is being fundamentally questioned at all, and so the accompanying debate is rather harmless. And yeah, I can’t expect Glenn to martyr himself by really ruffling some feathers, but being careful to not step on government toes, and actually consulting with officials pre-release makes it even more harmless.
I too feel the pointlessness of the revelations at this point, as a ‘peon’. And that’s why I like the idea of tech specs to get results.
If you don’t think you can do anything with this much evidence, your assumption that educating the public to your level of social critique will get results assumes that the public will be more reactive than you are right now. Or that, together, they’ll make something more than a few hundred million times nothing.
I find it more and more disturbing the unwillingness to come to grips with what it means to be psychologically and technologically ‘defeated’, so that, even with a tool and the problem before you, you won’t try your hand unless victory is guaranteed.
Really keeps the revolution waiting that much longer, that we don’t come to grips with how paralyzed and impotent we are to effect any revolution again ever.
Scary times. There are known knowns yada-yada and unknown unknowns.
Best line old shakes Rumsfeld ever had.
After reading your piece and Greenwald’s responses I really don’t know where to stand on this.
Purpose conflates with method. Who knows who is in charge or what anybody’s so-called “methods” are.
That Greenwald & co. can imagine they have any effective control beyond playing PR games with White House press session responses to the story is itself weird. Narcissism? Delusions of Grandeur? Lowered Expectations?
Yet if your focus is the News Cycle, that can be delayed and played a bit. Elites wanting us to have this discussion is still different from Elites Designing the Details.
THEY, elites, could leak what they wanted. Do they see Snowden as a golden opportunity? Did they know everything he knows? They MUST have known. With millions of workers doing intel work, this stuff gets out. This is stuff intel workers talk about over dinner and beers with family and friends. This stuff is OUT. Just maybe not in verifiable details with wide reporting.
There’s no denying the risks to the reporters involved. There’s no imagining they aren’t concerned for their safety and want to do what they can to reduce the danger, even if they delude themselves into thinking they can. I always get the sense Greenwald has faith in the Justice System, that it will spare his life in a lawyerly fashion, if he can just play it properly.
He may be right. Judge Lind was effectively bribed with promotion into convicting Manning. She could have also been threatened or just been an authoritarian a-hole, we don’t know. We don’t know anything about exactly how power operates or who is competing with whom.
Maybe, as someone taking a risk, you never want to miss a point. So, you play as best you can even in a rigged game. Even once you’re already in it and buried, if you ever could be.
As for the compromise between a document dump and hoarding, it should be considered very seriously.
GG et al is working with a wider group now than at the outset. Whether that is a reactive move or just a matter of slower timing is for the reporters to claim and us to never know for sure.
Should he work with an EVEN WIDER GROUP is obviously a ‘yes!’.
But it highlights that the ability to make this choice, GG/Poitras’ choice (even that pile of crap Gellman, if you want to include), points out that, in doing their reporting using primary documents that nobody else can find independently (unless they can convince Snowden or another source; or hack the NSA), THEY ARE ALSO SOURCES. ALREADY.
Whether the law (without the corrupting players) would excuse or pounce on this fact is certainly a point for study.
The only Snowden directive that seems unquestionably non delusional, non naive, and ethical, is the one about not empowering even more governments, who are already as repressive as the US intends to be in short order, to spy on their own citizens with the NSA’s methods.
This too is seriously undermined by the high chance that other agents have sold those governments enough info for them to at least be well on their way to achieving parity, which they had their best minds working on anyway.
Let’s imagine that there have NOT been russo-chinese-indo-saudi-whatever moles at NSA or just leakers/traitors who have already spilled the beans (for money, or idealistic efforts or malicious efforts).
To the extent that the NSA’s abilities are based on subverted software/programs, not advances in the underlying mathematics, then these are pretty crappy abilities that should be easy to engineer out with open source patches.
Yes the explicit knowledge would guarantee that foreign agencies could use them right away but this would be a temporary thing.
OTOH, maybe the software subverting is half malicious programming and half mathematics. Now it’s an open question whether a defense can be designed quickly and maybe it really is empowering yet more evil in the world.
OTOH, maybe it’s ENTIRELY MATHEMATICAL advances. And you’ll need another Gauss or Newton, or at least a John Nash, to find a mathematical way around that problem. Why give an intractable mathematical advantage to still more pigs any sooner than they’ll eventually have it anyway?
How would greenwald know what he’s sharing into the community? How would even engineers and mathematicians know for sure?
This issue of not putting out further advantages to the other world controlling repressive regimes is really quite grandiose. What a burden for GG/Poitras et al. It’s absurd. In a way, if they don’t have enough info in their docs for even technicians to figure out, it’s really not their responsibility anyway. And yet it is still real enough.
The fact that elites even need to have a debate, even find a use for one, should itself suggest that these informations might not in fact be widely disseminated. Seems like, if they already knew about it in detail, a bunch of really rich elites can pay their own research labs to fix the problems, if they can be fixed, for their personal security against NSA.
Why would enough elites want a cultural shift, which is what a ‘debate’ might allow? Are they totally up against the ropes? If they “need” us, they really are on their last legs against NSA.
Because they won’t “have” us, even if the masses were smart/willing enough to help.
A point about the Size of the firehose:
I don’t know what division of documentation in text/image GG considers a single “document” but I’m not really counting ‘hundreds’ at this point without a government prosecution lawyer’s pedantry of saying each single image/bullet point is a document.
And before you say anything, I AM cutting down. But length seemed to be the style of the comments on this one. So I also didn’t cut down that much.
The idea that synergy and more world resistance might achieve something is plausible. But I fear just another broken heart. In any case, you could argue that Denmark and Luxembourg specific stories won’t be powerful, once the big player pieces are played out. Then again, the fact that the big players, like France, are not taking hints about how bad it is but siding with the NSA/WhiteHouse, is a pretty good sign that this is not an NSA problem but a Western problem. And that American passive aggressive ‘opinion’, government pseudo/fakeout action, and a few dedicated ACLU-type groups starting lawsuits, is not at all unique to America, Land of the Unfree and Clueless boob.
He may be right. Judge Lind was effectively bribed with promotion into convicting Manning
No matter whether you or I or anyone else likes it, when a person joins the US Armed Forces they surrender most of their liberties to two things: (1) the military code of justice (such as it is), and (2) a higher standard requiring an almost paranoid protection of whatever the President and his designees consider “national security” related information. Going into the military is a poor life path choice for someone who wants to blow a whistle on nefarious federal governmental doings.
None of that is to excuse the treatment Manning received. However, anyone tracking the post-9/11/2001 developments regarding the President’s plenary powers of detention without cause and his neo-dictatorial status (hey thanks John Yoo and David Addington, nice work fellas) would not be very surprised that the US military and the US DOJ decided to make an example of Manning, and detain him in a psychologically damaging situation. The end result of Manning’s travails was not shocking and did not require bribery to arrive. It was, instead, an obvious development, a foregone conclusion, given the present culture in American government (paranoid self-protection, secrecy, obfuscation being dominant qualities).
Whether you wish Manning were better respected for what he did is of no moment to Uncle Sam and his prosecution of Manning. I don’t like what happened to Manning, nor to anyone else who has suffered the bizarre and vague injustices at Uncle Sam’s hand arising in the post-9/11/2001 era. I’m not cheering for the Manning verdict. I’m simply saying that it would have been foolish to expect Uncle Sam not only to let Manning off without punishment, but also to go further and applaud Manning’s behavior. Sam isn’t that kind of Uncle these days, and I don’t think he’s ever been much different in the past. Ask Ezra Pound’s ghost what he thinks.
There’s no denying the risks to the reporters involved.
There is plenty. I see no such risks. I’ve commented separately, earlier in this thread, on the artificiality of the allegation of “risk” to Mr Greenwald, Mr Miranda, Mr Snowden, Ms Poitras, and the various Guardian UK editors with whom Greenwald & Co are working.
The primary reason why there are no such risks is the 800 lb gorilla in the room of this discussion. Namely, that what Snowden supposedly took from Ft Meade (I say “supposedly,” but for the sake of argument I’ll grant he took something) is not damaging in any way because it isn’t new information that differs significantly from what has been revealed by prior sources like Russell Tice, Mark Klein, William Binney.
Nobody is asking whether Snowden’s bootlegged information is meaningful. The likelihood of its lack of meaning is reinforced by the conjured story’s drip-drip-drip incremental telling. The drip-drip-drip is the twitter/facebook era’s commonest avenue of “guerrilla marketing” with leaks of spy photos of promised new technology, or leaks of supposedly inside info on an upcoming hot new movie, or juicy gossip on which celebrity is sleeping with another. It’s a modern social media cliche that bad publicity is still good publicity because it keeps people’s eyes and minds and moving mouths on the subject. Extrapolate that to a conjured story of dripped-dripped-dripped “shocking revelations” which turn out to be more evidence of what already was revealed by Binney, Klein, Tice, and more than that, just more confirmation that our “national security” entities are able to eavesdrop on our conversations and read our emails. And even that isn’t too shocking if read or understood in the context of the information J Edgar Hoover liked to gather.
It seems this entire debacle is managed as a star vehicle for the key players, and/or as a kind of controlled hangout in which the control vector = the key players and their “revelations”, and the fact that the revelations actually tell us nothing that is both new and significantly different from what already is known. My guess is the continued drip-drip-drip may contain some things that are superficially “new” but substantively not any different from what Binney, Klein, Tice revealed.
PS Glenn, WikiLeaks are NOT journalists – all they do is leak data dumps, it even says so in the name. Whether this is a legitimate, meaningful or unequivocally positive role is worth debating, but you can’t possibly criticize them for something they never intended or claimed to do. It sure betrays naivete on their side to think that information will ‘speak for itself’, but it is failure of journalism, not of WL to not to ‘help it speak’.
You, on the other hand, are a journalist, and an intensely committed one. If so, how and why is dumping all documents going to affect your commitment to write the best, most beneficial for the public discourse stories out of it – especially if the dump would be ignored anyway as you suggest? After all, if it is so complicated, and the public would forget about it, and it is hard to make sense of,, then why worry – if you think you will be the only one interested in and capable of writing about it. (Plus you have the head start and a strong brand working in your favor.)
Sadly, I have to concede that in principle it is possible in those document there might be some particular details that directly affect natl. security or could enable ‘bad regimes’ (ha!) to do bad things. However, Snowden already did some vetting by deciding what to take to begin with, and there has been little indication so far that any of the documents contain thorough and specific enough technical information to enable copying or reverse engineering.
We should all burn our phones and computers, stop shopping with credit cards and stick to landline phones.
We’ll lose the advantages of the internet but regain the freedoms of 1990.
Except for those pesky surveillance cams and satellites. But I’m sure someone will have an idea.
Oh, and disable the electronic controls on our cars. Problem basically solved but say goodbye to sexting.
There’s your revolution and even that’s not going to happen.
Your earlier questions about how very much of the PRISM presentation remains unreleased and the waffling and evasive and bad answers on the part of all involved hang out like a sore thumb in all this. Paternalism, information hoarding, information hiding, protecting national security as protecting corrupt power abusers. All of it.
“Tens of slides unreleased: they aren’t newsworthy! They ALL have detailed tech methods! We’ll NEVER release the rest of them! It’s staggered. It needs research!”
The PRISM powerpoint censorship/withholding and guardian/WashPost propaganda remains the most damning evidence of what is wrong with this reporting.
There has not been a single article that I’ve written in which the Guardian has blocked anything I wanted to disclose from being disclosed. Every single document that I proposed be disclosed has been disclosed.
If the Guardian ever refused to let me publish documents I wanted to publish or otherwise suppressed what I wanted to report, I would just go elsewhere to do it.
I find Glenn response very interesting. it could mean it has not run into this problem with the guardian because none of the documents snowden provided actually are a threat to “national security” or to the extent they are it is obvious. Naming operatives etc. In other words I think his answer suggest that any “national security” docs provided by snowden are obviously “NS” and or that very few of documents provided by snowden are NS.
i say this because I know the guardian and the english media very well and if they were tons of documents by snowden that were borderline NS glenn and the guardian would be having huge fights, because at the end of the day the guardian is very much an establishment newspaper.
“it could mean”… A whole lotta things with “the Guardian has a lot more confidence in Glenn Greenwald than tricia does” probably being in the lead.
When compelled to complain because reality does not meet your expectations, realize that the error is probably in your expectations.
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Just on the topic of the Primacy of Research.
Just as objective fact, you should research the documents to know what they “mean”, when reporting them.
To date, in this story, NONE of the published docs can be said to be incomprehensible if read without the accompanying articles and often the painstaking and slow work has yielded mainly repetiton and rephrasing of the content in the docs, by GG/Gellman. Less so for Poitras but only because she hasn’t released flashy slides that contain image and explanatory text tightly paginated.
ACRONYMS would not be recognized by readers and most people would be too lazy to research them. But the gist is clear in each one.
The Brazil globo published docs are even so well researched that they’ve been allowed to speak for themselves. The ‘reporting’ is mostly translation from English into Portuguese!
As for a general audience. I read somewhere that literacy is actually terribly low for many many people. And that there are several kinds of literacy: long prose is one. Document literacy: being able to connect a document with different formats/media/pictures/text/tables.
I don’t know how many barely literate adults take an interest or form an opinion on these revelations. They indeed require an accompanying text to “read” the docs for them. Not sure what that has to do with any strategy against the NSA unless you believe in the system so true and sure, that you think it’s responsive to the most disadvantaged, disenfranchised, impoverished and their “opinion”.
Wikileaks dumped a metric fuckton of diplomatic cables on the Internet and very little “debate” took place over their contents. Mostly, journalists mined them for useful nuggets of data but most people just didn’t care because there was so much data. A document or two every couple of days is enough for people to wrap their heads around and get pissed off about.
oh god. go away. this isn’t what we’re talking about you moron. just go the fuck away. or you could read the part in the post where I said I am no longer recommending dumping.
I’d still prefer wider dissemination than this slow drip drip process, which will not affect policy one iota. Just get the data out there, The Guardian (and GG) can still make money out of it over the next millennium’s news cycle 🙂
One stupid part of GG’s rhetoric on this is that he leaves out the fact that he’s asking to be trusted, by people on whose interest in the story he says he depends.
If this story is important to people, then why is their take not important? GG the limousine liberal, here to save the poor from their own ignorance, with doled out samplings of just the right lesson content.
Except the journos are also stonewalling people who are not poor or ignorant. They are stonewalling a highly skilled elite, in preference and deference to the manipulable good will of the NSA and the power of congress and the courts, who they used to harp on as broken systems.
If we take the legal value of concealing harder data like tech specs as valid. What argument is there then for those things EVER coming out? Except that, after the reforms, the environment will be so amenable to Snowden & co. that they’ll all be able to go on sesame street and explain the crypto hacks to kids.
GG has as yet, made no argument why this is, in fact, drip drip, rather than outright censorship and non reporting.
In absolute terms, the reporting is obviously better than no reporting.
If GG wants to play the authenticity/risktaker card, then he wins that one. But all he’s proving is that he’s not willing to take a risk to actually capitalize on the opportunity to the full extent. Which is fine, as far as risks go.
But it’s still deeply inferior reporting, as far as reporting goes, then.
No shame in it. But GG just covers up that he has that difficult trade off by indulging in natsec talk about methods. And never even acknowledging that there would be value in releasing methods.
From a public opinion standpoint, the one centered on the poor and useless masses, us, it seems to me like
THE BEST WAY TO GET PUBLIC OPINION ON YOUR SIDE WOULD BE TO TALK ABOUT HOW IT WOULD BE NICE IF YOU COULD SAFELY HAND TECH SPECS TO HACKERS SO THEY COULD REVERSE ENGINEER AND TAKE ACTION, ACTION THAT WOULD REDUCE NOT ONLY THE NSA’S ABILITIES BUT ALSO CHINA’S AND RUSSIA’S BUT YOU’D GO TO JAIL FOR IT.
If it is so very hard to discover a mathematical defeat of crypto that GG/Poitras think they can keep it under wraps, then why not say, “speaking to mathetmaticians, they say this looks like a mathematical defeat..so just don’t use crypto if you know what’s good for you”. Instead, there’s nothing at all.
You could see a method in drip drip, establishing the evil of the NSA in june before revealing more technical crypto cracking last week. But you could also see that it’s problematically unethical to let people keep using crypto, unaware that there are holes. But the hint was there to be paranoid anyway.
OOPS, no. ALL SUMMER GG KEPT POINTING TO EFF & CO PAPERS TELLING PEOPLE HOW TO USE CRYPTO, HOW TO STAY SECURE, SNOWDEN SAYS CRYPTO WORKS.
So either they’re lying. Or it’s just software hacks that hackers could get around by reimplementing software. WHICH WOULD THEN IMPEDE NOT JUST NSA BUT ALSO CHINA/RUSSIA’S ABILITY TO USE IT ON THEIR OWN CITIZENS OR “ON US” if you care about that sort of thing.
The more I consider it, this drip drip careful natsec method, if it is a method about something more than playing the “LIAR! HERE’S PROOF” game and saving their skins in court later, the more it seems like a method and like an asshole method at that.
For reporters who are so (justifiably) careful, they sure do believe in the benelovence and potential of the system, currently threating their lives, livelihoods, families, freedom, to solve the problem through legal channels.
“One stupid part of GG’s rhetoric on this is that he leaves out the fact that he’s asking to be trusted, by people on whose interest in the story he says he depends.”
exactly. it’s narcissistic.
Come on. We have a pretty good example of the methodology working as serial publications throughout the history of recent journalism, in terms of “multi part series” which allow other lazier and smaller news media to have weekly scoops, without doing any work at all. This is just basic logical understanding of how the media work, and how wedded they are to story of the day news cycles. If you give them one big story, they’ll basically miss 90% of it on that day, maybe get another 10% the next day and then move on with most of it unexamined.
Beyond that reality, probably tried and true for at least two decades if not more, the Wikileaks serialization created years worth of leaks, from essentially one dump. It kept that dump in the news FOR YEARS. Is anyone really questioning the wisdom of drawing out the dump, given the capitalist and consumerist logic of news media?
Beyond that, whether or not the leaks impact the system is another story. Effects, yes. Substantive, long lasting impact? The jury is still out, but I would argue that with all that wikileaks revealed, the impact was essentially negilgible in practical terms. That’s not Wikileaks fault, and when this ends up changing little, it won’t be the fault of Snowden, Greenwald, et. al. You can only do so much, the rest has to come from a significant number of Americans willing to resist US policies. That number is not big enough right now, and there’s a big question in my mind as to whether it will ever be.
Right and that would all be very interesting if I had posited a wikileaks model. I didn’t. But Glenn said I did so…maybe I did!
I literally wrote that this is not only the model of Wikileaks, but of journalism in general, and why multi part series have been on the rise for years; that’s why a big paper like the NYT can have podunk papers and broadcast journalists directing consumers back to their papers multiple times in a month, instead of once. This is just the way the business works. Is it bullshit? Yeah, but you’re the one interested in discussing the relative merits of the process.
Right, but you posited this as if I was proposing Wikileaks as better, when what I proposed at the end was more distribution in other news markets, more trustworthy sources in the US market, and involvement of engineers and technical journalists.
But as to wikileaks, I don’t think internet whistleblowing is so established that we can assume anything based on a handful of big whistleblowing events. Cablegate had more going against it than that it was too big. It was also about foreign policy, which altered things, as I said in my post.
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Leak it ALL or GTFO Greenwald Super-Hype ! The People are old enough to make up their OWN mind about the Documents. Otherwise you just part of a fucktarded hype machine like Assanges WikiLeaks.
Word. And not to forget The Guardian’s backstabbing of Julian Assange. Greenwald is playing it safe, but not honest.
I really really really wish that Greenwald would have answered circadianwolf’s comment:
“Now, I’d be very curious if Snowden made that case to you, because that’s not a position that is commonly held among cryptos and security fetishists. The default position of computer security is that all standards should be open because crowd sourcing is so powerful in the age of the Internet: that is, the collective knowledge of the Internet would be faster at finding ways around a surveillance system (or vulnerabilities in a security standard), if it knew the details of how it worked, than the states implementing that system would be able to update it. Exposing the technical details of the NSA’s surveillance systems helps other states only if these systems are impenetrable to crowdsourced defenses, which I find implausible based on the reports so far (especially considering Snowden has made clear that properly maintained encryption *does* work)–but hopefully someone like Schneier can make that argument from a more knowledgeable position.
This is also related to the more general argument about priorities that I haven’t seen you engage, though perhaps your reluctance is understandable given that your position is already very clear: is it more important to influence “the debate” and pressure the US to reform these systems or to build technological means of circumventing them? I think a major issue for most of the radicals you are having trouble with is that we are not interested in being saved from the NSA by policy reforms; we are interested in figuring out what tools can defeat the existing NSA systems and what we don’t have but need to build. To those of us with these priorities, the technical details of these systems, not the broad strokes, are the most important part. I imagine there are many people out there who would be willing to put themselves on the line to help build such systems if they had the knowledge needed to do so.”
I’d like to basically spam Greenwald’s guardian blog with variations on these questions.
Go for it. Tweet him also. But he tends to just ignore anything he doesn’t want to answer or hides behind some shit about snowden, risk, bravery, agreement blah blah. He’s got it down.
That is quite an excellent question.
I think he’s kind of answered this already though in that it seems as if he and Snowden are intent on maintaining the NSA’s intelligence advantage over the country’s official enemies. He’s been very clear on his unwillingness to reveal methods and told people on Twitter following the encryption story that circumventing the NSA is not a priority. He’s very fixated on The Debate.
Dear GG, willy nilly you are now in the midst of it. On the one side there is a state which is the creator of slaughterhouses in Vietnam, Indonesia, Central America ,Iraq and many other places. On the other side there are the wretched of the earth. You are protecting the security of the US state and its criminal operatives. Of course your situation is dangerous, not because you are the target of the US state’s hitmen, but because you may make decisions that determine who you are. This decision may end all the enjoyments of your life,you lovely dogs,your house. you may end up in a hellhole. So your situation is perilous. Thomas Lord’s suggestion seems reasonable as a first step:
“Leaving aside for the moment the question of Snowden’s safety, I’m led to the suggestion that you and your partners would do the greatest journalistic good by spending at least 50% of your work time preparing copies with only essential redactions, and publishing those directly. Save your particular interpretive narrative for the other half of your work time.”
I think the chance of Greenwald ending up in a hellhole is slim to none. This hyperbole about his risks is getting old. He’s not Snowden.
I hope he sees where he is standing at edge of the abyss.I hope he contemplates jumping and does it because I really like him. Or at least I hope he is truthful to himself and gives up, giving or sharing the documents with some other people. I suggest the Jungewelt or Neues deutschland in Germany or l’Humanite in France.
cant judge about with whom he should share the material, but he should – as a subjective argument i would propose – because he does not accept the importance for the self defence of others, which of course for a narcissistic persona does not count so much – : because he is whining all the time about his capacity to evaluate and narrate it. narrate later Glenn, plenty of afterhour.
Wating for cumshot, a play in 7,892 acts, by G3, Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian, former porn producer.
That Greenwald once invested in porn could not be less relevant or interesting to me.
It’s his business model! Pay just a little bit more in clicks and you’ll see it ALL.
It couldn’t be more relevant, yanno, for the guy who’s constructing the narrative..
You can’t do any better with your faux outrage than a simple dismissal? #fail
That’s fucking hilarious!
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Your arguments are the same old shill-like arguments we saw when Wikileaks was dripping. Leaking little by little is narcissism, fucktarded rapist narcissism which endangers the informants and kills untold civilians. Why don’t you dump everything? Who are you to control it! WE should be in the loop, because we write primitive politically oriented shit in our sad little blogs!
Why not dump everything? Because that way many important things would get lost in the noise. It’s really that simple. The attention span of the masses is short. You have to drip to keep the interest up. You have to distill the message to really sink it in. This way you get impact.
Without impact the whole thing would just die out. Maybe this is what you want? To sweep all this under the rug?
Feel free to label me as a Greenwald fan if that makes you happy.
I didn’t advocate dumping. Commenting here with such heat when clearly you haven’t read my post makes you look like an ass.
The Ancient Crocodile, you do underestimate the audience. This is not a psychoanalytic session about who understands what or mirrors what faces. We need the fucking info to work on the codes.
But I didn’t advocate dumping and I would be really grateful if the dumping advocates would concede that point too. I find people projecting whatever the fuck they want onto my posts and these arguments far more annoying than principled disagreements.
It’s really disgusting to me that people are clearly very stuck on my first post and that’s because they’re letting Greenwald’s mischaracterization of everything I said set the debate, even when they don’t agree with him. Greenwald made this about dumping and so it’s about dumping. Three cheers for intellectual independence.
At this point, everyone who is still talking about Dumping vs Not as if that’s what’s primarily been discussed in all the Fuck The Guardian posts can really just go fuck themselves for letting the Guardian set the terms, no matter what side of this exceedingly dull question they are on. I’m sick of it.
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I’m thinking that leaks really need to go somewhere other than news outlets – somewhere more productive – like maybe directly to people who have the wherewithal to understand them and know how best to use that information against the elites. Because the general public doesn’t seem to be phased by anything anymore, no matter how shocking or criminal in nature. They just shrug it off and change the channel. Is there any way to do this anymore without being caught by surveillance and intercepted before any action has a chance to materialize? Is there any way to succeed in fighting the system?
Buckminster Fuller once said: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change
something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
Yeah. I agree. I think the division here is over competing theories of how change happens. I like the Fuller quote. Really resonates with my post dust-up thinking.
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Holding back security exploits and methods might keep other governments from replicating the exploits. But only if they haven’t already figured them out on their own.
A software system with vulnerabilities remains vulnerable only to people who know about its flaws. If they don’t know, they can’t take advantage.
An open standard is done with a purpose: to create quality through peer review, fix bugs, maybe improve or add features. But working in the open just holds the opportunity for these things. It doesn’t guarantee them. Revealing a security vulnerability might empower china to oppress, if the crypto community can’t plug the hole, permanently.
Open standards are an ideal, not a guarantee of success. Important not to assume or take for granted that, once exploits are revealed, it will be easy for hackers to plug them. But they might be able to.
It seems to me that even if you can’t plug the hole, knowledge of it is more valuable than secrecy, so that at least people can be wary of certain software and systems. There is something exceptionalist to me in the idea that other regimes that have dedicated themselves to surveilling their people need the NSA to help them figure this shit out, especially since increasingly this shit is bought from third party guns for hire, like Palantir, for instance. Does a technological superpower with millions of engineers like China really need the NSA’s blueprints? Really? Can some broke-ass tinpot dictatorship afford any of it?
There is also the extreme likelihood, almost certainty, that the NSA IS helping other regimes with this shit, just not the country’s official enemies. If you add up cost/benefits, I can not see the rational for being overly-judicious with the redactions. Tasking a handful of engineers with solving this problem just seems like more paternalism and the road to two-tiered surveillance which seems to be where this ‘debate’ is going.
That the debate would allow the elites to access current cracks and hacks and defend themselves is illusory, though. The NSA might give them secrets today, hold back what they like and invent new ones tomorrow, never revealing it to the elites.
That elites aren’t hammering media to demand all the secrets get blown now and crush the NSA at least for a few months, is quite disturbing.
They might be afraid that their own enterprises would become vulnerable to everybody who knows about hacks, as well.
It all depends on what has been hacked and what the elites think they know, that drives their otherwise counter productive temerity.
If they really think they need public opinion, they are too weak. If they think they can guarantee their own safety without a more ‘just’ society, they are also delusional.
I agree it’s unlikely that only the NSA can do these things and that they keep it to themselves. But they might. Whatever they share with others can also be used back against themselves, their allies and their cronies.
This is all playing with fire and the open disclosure of methods posits that “what’s one more flame”? With which I’m inclined to…remain on the fence. What if the hacks are ingenious and broke ass dictators can use them? There’s always a slight chance. The Syrians hacked the NYT a few weeks ago. But that may be due NYT using minimal cyber security.
We also don’t know if these guys are just lying about not having the “chips and exact softwares” that are hacked. Or not having the exact algorithms.
Could all be moot.
I am less convinced than you that elites can’t buy their way out. I don’t think this debate is about public opinion. Making the debate public simply makes the having of it more efficient. Everyone can play. They don’t give two shits what the public thinks.
If as you think, surveillance will induce the self cannibalization of the global ruling class, then why on earth do you give a fuck? That’s the up side.
Cannibals eat until the best killers are left. They don’t eat until they disappear. Alone, an elite-eating machine like intelligence will only consolidate even more dominance among fewer elites, making them even more powerful.
That’s ingeniously and dramatically put, but I can’t begin to imagine how any ignorant soul in the lower orders will notice any difference at this point. Let them eat each other.
What if they can buy their way out. I’m assuming the NSA actually can keep a lid on things at all.
Forgiving Snowden enough to ensure some sloppiness would allow 2 tiered hacking. Whistleblowers for the elites, keeping them abreast of tech while the rest of us know nothing because public whistleblowers are punished. However, we’re back to the possibility of the NSA directorate guarding the best secrets close. What I like about this stuff is it never hits a point, just spirals into more counter-measures.
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Well, that was entertaining. I think we can all agree that Greenwald is a thin skinned bomb thrower who has totally bungled his roll out of the Snowden documents. What a shame, for had he done a professional job then we might today be celebrating the passage of effective reform legislation instead of mourning the sick joke that we just were handed.
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