My Reply To Glenn Greenwald’s Comments on my Last Post

It’s grimly amusing that after a post in which I faulted the “determination with which [Greenwald] and his cultish fans smack down critics calling for more leaks, more technical information, less redacting, less subservience and greater accountability”, Greenwald replied to my call for more leaks, more technical information, and greater accountability with an infantile, largely fallacious screed in which he berates me for writing under a pseudonym, variously calls me ‘pathetic’, ‘lazy’, ‘cowardly’, ‘stupid’, ‘moronic’, ‘[unable] to keep two thoughts in [my] head at the same time’, ‘an idiot’ and then comically puts me on the couch to tell me what my real problem is. (Diagnosis: His courage and self-sacrifice make me feel inadequate).

It’s also amusing that after I had very explicitly walked back my original proposal for an upload to Cryptome, because, among other things  ‘it plays too easily into a false dichotomy that Greenwald invokes every time he or his colleagues are criticized’ Greenwald wastes about half of his frothing, and an intelligent reader’s forbearance, invoking this straw man.

Color me not sorry. Also, vindicated.

Since Greenwald is bent on making this about  dumping vs. the sun shining from his behind and since status-conscious people are way too happy to let him think for them,  I am going to quote myself, in full, from my last post, on dumping:

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.

See? Explicitly walked back dumping.

Also, there is an implied ‘argument’ in Greenwald’s comments to the effect that courageous people who work 16-hour days are above reproach. This is stupid on its face — something Greenwald would likely ridicule if it were used against him — and I am not going to credit it with any argumentative weight. Even if it were relevant, he has no basis to speculate on how any of his critics would behave if Snowden had chosen them instead of him to shepherd the leaks.

To me the most revealing thing about Greenwald’s reply — moreso than how weirdly defensive, childish and argumentatively inept it is — is that he only answered one of the four questions I’d posed at the end of my post. Only one and not persuasively. In the too few instances where he bothered to contend with things I actually said, using some semblance of an argument, it’s pretty thin stuff. I’ll take them all in turn, though I am not going to dignify the fallacies that made up the bulk of Greenwald’s remarks:

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.

If Glenn felt any obligation to carefully read something before he starts frothing about it, he’d have realized that while we differ on his prolificacy, we agree on the rest. Here’s what I wrote:

…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.

But see, the last time Greenwald commented here, he himself extolled the merits of ‘staggered releases’ as if they were a thing.  As he so often is, Greenwald is vexed that someone foolishly took him at his word, which is ever-changing.  But he should really take this up with his devoted followers, since not a day has passed since I first started posting about this stuff when someone hasn’t extolled the genius of slowly torturing the NSA with a handful of stories per month in a handful of news markets. 

Laura [Poitras] 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.

Glenn is clearly missing my point. I am doing the exact opposite of asking him and Poitras to work more. I am suggesting they work less, by sharing the leaks with other journalists, particularly those in other countries that have very few country-specific stories about them at all.

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).

Once again, Glenn confirms rather than refutes the point in question, which is that he and Poitras have tasked themselves with directly serving other markets rather than sharing the leaks with other news providers. There are 150 countries with NSA listening posts. That Greenwald and Poitras are working 16 hour days already to cover a mere fraction of these countries helpfully makes my point about how inefficient their method is.

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.

Well, that’s interesting, but also not obvious to lay people like me, considering that the leaks are being shared with other journalists at the Guardian, the New York Times and ProPublica. What is the difference in the relationship? And if there is some legal barrier to Greenwald’s and Poitras’ sharing the leaks, can’t Snowden share them since he has already crossed that line?

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.

I guess I can’t really fault Glenn for skimming, since I do that with him (who doesn’t?), but he probably shouldn’t do it and then tell me I should kill myself for saying shit I didn’t say.  I did not say the NSA was ‘thrilled.’ I said that, given that the leaks are out there, the NSA is probably somewhat grateful that thanks to Greenwald’s ‘methods’,  the leaks are not propagating more rapidly both in other countries and among technicians who can build software to thwart the NSA’s methods. That the NSA would prefer slowly proliferating news stories in the countries where the leak keepers live to rapidly proliferating stories in dozens of countries seems obvious to me. It seems equally obvious that the NSA would prefer a leak keeper like Greenwald, who scrupulously protects the NSA’s methods from inquisitive security specialists, to one that did not.

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.

What Glenn means is I should, like him, keep these two thoughts in my head at the same time: That a less mediated gush of secrets is something that “would only help the NSA” and that “Snowden has enough information to cause harm to the U.S. government in a single minute than any other person has ever had.”  Frankly, yes I do find that difficult and Glenn’s improvised gobbledygook about replicating surveillance systems is not making it easier.  While scandalous news can fly around the world in “a single minute”, I believe the replication of the NSA’s byzantine spying apparatus takes a good deal longer.  My point — that Greenwald says two entirely opposite things about the impact of rapid disclosure depending on circumstances — stands. I’ll note also that in keeping with his tendency to ignore any question he can’t answer or lie his way around, Glenn did not contend with my quote from the Barton Gellman NSA budget story, about how U.S. counter-intelligence was derailed by less meticulous data dumping from Wikileaks.

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.

Well, no, what’s meaningful — besides Greenwald’s apparent struggle to sound consistently like a grownup — is that his publisher hyped his book with claims that it would  contain ”new revelations exposing the extraordinary cooperation of private industry.”  As my context made clear, this does not look good set against how vague Greenwald’s reporting often is on corporate complicity, particularly in the PRISM stories, where the question of direct access remains open and controversy surrounded the withholding of most of the slide deck.  If Greenwald is going to ridicule people  for assuming his publisher is telling the truth, perhaps he should ask his publisher to stop lying.

This is a good time to point out that the objections in my Fuck the Guardian posts and the heat going with them didn’t arise in a vacuum. Greenwald and his colleagues are not at all forthcoming when questions are raised about withholding documents, smashing computers on government orders, muling files and suppressing stories. If this stonewalling makes people even more inquisitive, Greenwald and co only have themselves to blame. Again, really, really not sorry.

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.

A book is also a vehicle for making money, which is a thing that is paid for information, especially information that only a few people have. Glenn seems to think I have a basis for regarding him as a saint, you know, the way Bob Woodward is a saint, and also that I should give a shit when he once again invokes delays resulting from his iron grip on the leaks as some sort of alibi.

Few people have done as much to support WikiLeaks or Chelsea Manninhg [sic] 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.

All true and all very much appreciated. But it doesn’t erase the fact that just as Manning went to trial, Greenwald and his Guardian colleagues introduced Snowden to the world as ‘Not Manning!‘ and have been working variations on it ever since with constant, unnecessary harping about dumping. Greenwald’s status as a Manning and Wikileaks supporter actually gives this shit added weight and thereby makes it more toxic. Greenwald previously admitted to me that the original Guardian story was problematic but his only concession seems to be not naming Manning specifically when he still too frequently delineates proper whistleblower protocol. Also, for the record, my objection isn’t simply to needless smears against Manning, it’s also to establishing whistleblowing Dos and Don’ts and thereby setting up other whistleblowers for demonization.

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.

And sometimes we pathologize people who criticize us, so that stupid people don’t realize how evasive, dishonest and self-serving we’re being. Greenwald is scraping the bottom of the barrel here, invoking a fallacy that is entirely incompatible with both my defense of Manning (against Greenwald) and my previous admiration for Greenwald himself.  I’m fairly sure Glenn knows I’m too smart for this bullshit, but then, this is all for the fans, not me.

It’s quite unfortunate, but not surprising, that Greenwald seems entirely oblivious to the privilege that put him in a place where he could be useful to Snowden, and which affords him more protection from economic hardships and state violence than most dissidents normally have. For all his difficulties right now, surely most of his more principled colleagues find his situation enviable. He does fulfilling work from a comfortable home in Rio and is more likely to end up wealthy and celebrated than in jail, so watching him conflate his courage/sacrifice with that of Snowden for the sake of beating down critics is an increasingly unedifying study in self-unawareness.

Update 2

Just dug up this tweet. Greenwald, encouraging me in May to do more long form, presciently.

Update 1

I had thought that Greenwald’s comments were so stupid and childish that they’d be self-undermining but, of course, that’s not how things work when big people talk down to little people.  So Greenwald’s substance-free spew is finding much favor with the crowd  for whom arbitrary cliches about Brooklyn are withering. Here’s  jowly Marxist bond-trader, veteran gatekeeper and wealthy dolt Doug Henwood, who lives not far from me, but with the patented imbecility of New York’s establishment ‘left’, finds the idea of a radical in Park Slope a perennially hilarious gotcha, for reasons that remain elusive. Suck up the applause Glenn, and forget that you’re hemorrhaging credibility with far better people.


Greenwald Tries to Settle A Score; Fails

A Reader Comments on Greenwald and ‘The Debate’

Oligarchs Approve the NSA Debate. I Guess We’re #Winning

Cliffs Notes for a Pile-On

Dr. Rosen and The Snowden Effect

My reply to Glenn Greenwald’s Comments on Take Your Drip and Stick It

Fuck The Guardian: Take Your Drip and Stick It

Fuck The Guardian Part 2

Fuck The Guardian Part 1

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77 Responses to My Reply To Glenn Greenwald’s Comments on my Last Post

  1. Pingback: Fuck The Guardian: Take Your Drip and Stick It | The Rancid Honeytrap

  2. tricia says:

    Thanks for the follow up article.

    I think Glenn does need to clarify a few points. 1). What is the legal criteria he is using that say he can not give information to other journalists unless he or laura partners with them. Have to say it does sound if such a law exists, where does it exist, who and what countries does it apply to. I am sorry Glenn, but your claim for why the information is slow to get out there is due to legal reason needs your to tell what these legal reasons are.

    If the legal reasons you claim do not exists or are rather vague then it does seem that keeping control of the information, and not sharing it with other journalists, so more information can get out there, faster and in more places, suggests that you are acting as gatekeeper.

    The book, while you argue provides another venue for ideas seems a little bogus. Given how much time you are already spending, and given how much there is that needs to get out there, diverting time and energy into a book at this juncture does not make much sense.

    I like what you do Glenn and nobody can fault you for the risks you have taken, but I have to say there is some merit in what the writer of this blog and others are saying. Maybe there are legitimate legal reasons you can not share the information with multiple journalists, and this speed up the process, and increasing the countries where is is reported, but i suspect if such a statue or case law exists, it is vague and open to interpretation. If that is the case then it would seem that it is your ego, need to keep control, need to be the one getting credit and airtime for every story, and guardian’s need yo drive as much revenue as possible, that are more a factor here then you would like to admit, or have pointed out.

  3. Vulgar Liberal says:

    Hey dude,

    I liked your last post quite a bit, but the comment section died down there and I just read it today, so I’m posting here. I think there’s a lot that you have in the back of your mind that doesn’t really get through to someone who isn’t part of the left-of-Chomskysphere. I’m saying that because when I first stumbled upon your blog, I was legitimately totally confused about what the fuck you were arguing (totally different post, Jacobin/Freddie, if you’re curious).

    So, let me try and articulate your position, and you can tell me that’s basically it or froth at me or whatever.

    Greenwald and co. view this as about changing public opinion and, therefore, policy. You’re scorning that, from what I can tell, because you think that the reason this has any ability to influence public opinion is because elite sectors are allowing it? Is that it, or is it something more subtle?

    Anyway, since you’re not interested in changing these things, what do you want from these leaks? I view changing public opinion as the end goal, which, obviously it isn’t for you. I legitimately don’t know what you want. Or, do you think that releasing them in an organized fashion lets the elite sectors shape the way in which public opinion is changed?

    Also, since the NSA is surveilling so many countries, you think a mass distribution (no longer dumping) would be prudent, so that countries around the world will simultaneously learn about the extent to which the NSA is spying on them? This sounds like a good idea, and I wish Greenwald had addressed it.

    • Tarzie says:

      I am not scorning the changing of public opinion, I am just not agreeing that that is the only or even the primary goal. Even if it is, I don’t think a narrow focus on the US, UK, German and Brazilian news cycles is the best approach.

      I am really tired of spoonfeeding people points that are made abundantly clear by my posts. Surely the questions I posed at the end of my last post gives you some indication of where I lean: more leaks, more journalists, more international involvement, more technical involvement.

      All of my posts on this taken together should certainly make it clear that my main objection is that this is far too weighty a matter to entrust to a handful of ambitious, media establishment liberals. I object to this way of doing things from both a tactical and philosophical standpoint.

      • tricia says:

        Have to say the more i look at how Glenn is handling this the more I agree with you. Even now on twitter he is arguing same old tired points when asked to disclose more and quicker that everyone is saying he should put people in harms way.

        It really is starting to sound lame and by distributing docs among a wider audience of journalists in multiple counties, without him having to be involved does not put people in harms way.

        Moreover his answer to me on issues of national security and he and guardian agreeing on what docs should be published suggest either snowden did not have many docs that are NS issues, or docs that he had that were NS issues are obviously NS issues. If they were borderline NS issues then I would imagine Glenn would be having more fights with the guardian.

      • Snertly says:

        To spoonfeed people, they have to want what you’re serving, otherwise it’s called a forced feeding. But in short, you don’t like the way things are and your opinions are not dissuaded by a lack of workable alternatives. As a dispensary of truth, the most accurate thing about this blog is its name.

      • Tarzie says:

        You’ve spent quite a lot of time here. Maybe it’s time to go.

  4. Vulgar Liberal says:

    Do you really need to be such an egregious asshole all the time? You imply things. Sort of. Then you say people are putting words in your mouth. Then I make an honest effort to sort out basic stuff and you belittle me. What is your problem dude.

    “more leaks, more journalists, more international involvement, more technical involvement.”

    Yeah, there is not a single person ever who could disagree with any of those points though. So I asked for more specifics. I don’t know what

    “I am just not agreeing that that is the only or even the primary goal”

    means. I literally don’t see any other goal, so I want you to tell me one that you have in mind.

    • Tarzie says:

      Yeah, I have no choice but to be an asshole after the hundredth time someone wants me to quote my post to him/her.

      In answer to your latest question, think about what I am implying, no, saying outright, when I talk about involving engineers who want to fight the NSA via software instead of on debates on the evening news.

      Now that is very explicit, is it not? And can’t all kinds of shit be inferred from it about how debates aren’t the only game in town?

      • Vulgar Liberal says:

        Ugh, the vast majority of your comments are whining about Greenwald’s fans irrationally taking his side or being a dismissive dick, which is what pissed you off about Greenwald after the PRISM releases, but whatever, obsession with hypocrisy, ect

        I don’t really know what it means to fight with software. So, I’m guessing what you have in mind is this

        So basically, you release details of how the NSA operates. All other states copy them, but now the methods are in the public domain, so we also have some workarounds. Is that the idea? Or are you just looking for more stories, like the backdoor encryption and PRISM that allow individuals to avoid detection?

      • Tarzie says:

        I love how you expect me to engage after a litany of my faults. I don’t make things clear. I whine too much. Read my posts. Also other things.

      • Vulgar Liberal says:

        Yeah, I engage with you, you act like a cunt and then you get on your cross when I’m mean back. You should write another fifty comments telling people you’re done with arguing. Instead of engaging with someone who is legitimately interested in your opinion, you can spend more time fellating yourself for not being a Greenwald drone or whatever you think everyone else is. Preach to the Rancid choir, dickhead.

      • Tarzie says:

        No I’m not on a cross. I am remarking on how impractical your strategy is for getting me to engage with you.

        This is my house. I do what I want, including feeling sorry for myself and going back on my word about arguing. Also declining to read my posts back to high-maintenance readers who skim.

        Dealing with a lot of smeary trolls because I don’t see the sun shining from a left celebrity’s behind is taking its toll, which should be obvious. When someone’s in a bad mood, giving them a wide berth is better than hectoring them.

    • Tarzie says:

      “more leaks, more journalists, more international involvement, more technical involvement.”

      Yeah, there is not a single person ever who could disagree with any of those points though. So I asked for more specifics. I don’t know what

      Actually, wrong. A number of people do disagree with that, if not in theory then in method. This thing started to blow up when engineers read the encryption story and started asking for more technical details that they’re not likely to get because ‘national security.’

    • Laurence Lange says:

      Concern troll is highly concerned?

      I wonder where VulgarLiberal lives works and plays, if he thinks The Queen’s English and Emily Post’s ramblings on social propriety are the Roberts Rules of Order of political discussion.

    • Vulgar Liberal says:

      Yeah, you say that a lot, but it’s totally unfounded. The answer to my last question is not in your posts. Most of the answers to questions I ask aren’t. I’ve read your posts. I’ve, because you always believe everyone is physically incapable of reading them, even re-summarized them for you. I opened up my comment on your blog complimenting you to assuage your delicate ego, since people on twitter think Glenn Greenwald is a cool guy and that you’re totally lame for dissing him, which is really stressful. But, even a wide berth isn’t enough, unless the comment section is a circlejerk of the already converted and your fanboys like Laurence here begging for your approval, you’re pissy.

      • Tarzie says:

        You have a point. I apologize. Though considering how much you’ve been frothing since I first popped off at you, you might not be the best person to give me advice about being pissy.

        The bad mood isn’t about ego. The arguments, trolling etc are very dishonest and stupid and this is the most depressing thing about it. I don’t mind particularly that Greenwald is mad at me. I mind that his reply was childish and stupid and that his supporters are being childish and stupid also. This conflict is about status and knowing one’s place, not ideas. When people say the US has no left, I am starting to get what they mean and increasingly I think engagement is a waste of time. I don’t think this NSA thing in its present form will amount to anything other than a lot of resistance theater and fetishistic contemplation of our electronic jail.

        I don’t concede that my point of view is that hard to figure out. You were saying I hadn’t said things when clearly I had, but I should have been more diplomatic with you about it.

      • Tarzie says:

        I tend to get pissy when people are being dumb. Most of Greenwald’s defenders just talk nonstop nonsense about Manning and wikileaks and drip drips and how great Greenwald is. It’s three weeks now and I’m over it. They clearly know nothing and when confronted with contrary facts, they trivialize them. It’s very boring. I don’t think that most people who engage here argumentatively are terribly interesting. Most people have no idea that saying something over and over again is not an argument and that it is also unbearably tedious.

  5. Laurence Lange says:

    Did Henwood actually think citing Brooklyn undercuts your observations? I wonder how that works in his mind. Or whether his mind even works.

    Best thing so far is how Mr Greenwald can’t even be level-headed in dealing with your critical remarks, and is constantly sliding into snark and haughty looks of condescension, glaring down the bridge of his proboscis.

    • Tarzie says:

      I have no idea how the Brooklyn thing works, especially when the person doing it is a person who lives in Brooklyn, like Henwood. Also, can’t begin to fathom what Greenwald, who lives in gated splendor outside Rio, is driving at.

  6. parink says:

    Anyone have any thoughts on what has been published?

  7. Laurence Lange says:

    Ugh, the vast majority of your comments are whining about Greenwald’s fans irrationally taking his side or being a dismissive dick,….

    Please allow me to introduce you to a concept that isn’t much known outside litigation circles. It’s the idea of witness credibility. Witnesses range from mere fact witnesses who saw which vehicle ran the red light in a car accident lawsuit, to experts that are in the box to pontificate toward the jurors about matters beyond the average layman’s scope of knowledge and experience.

    When an expert presents him/herself as authoritative and credible, but conveys the subjects of expertise in an inconsistent fashion — sometimes calm and professorial, other times thin-skinned and defensive — you can bet your bottom dollar that the jurors will see the inconsistency as a reason to diminish the weight given that expert’s pronouncements.

    Perhaps even more importantly, jurors also are constantly weighing the courtroom demeanor of the various counsel arguing their cases. Lawyers who come off as cocky don’t fare well. Lawyers who come off as superior don’t fare well. Lawyers who are schizoid fare even poorer than the prior two types.

    Where Mr Greenwald is concerned, we have a person who holds himself out as retaining great wisdom and experience and authority on quite a few subjects, and who highlights his past as a litigator. If he is unable to maintain his composure when his theory of the case is questioned, he isn’t really demonstrating top-flight litigation skills. If he slides into back-biting and snarky condescension, he’s not showing composure.

    The question of whether his loyal fans are willing to ignore these flaws, while still believing he’s got great expertise and authority — well, that is an entirely legitimate avenue of inquiry and criticism because, as I just explained, it goes to the credibility of Mr Greenwald’s story and his claim to broad and deep expertise and wisdom.

  8. It would be a hell of a lot of fun to see this shit being stirred up even if you were wrong in some of your arguments. Since I think your arguments are entirely correct (and therefore, they *are* entirely correct — shall we all set false humility aside? indeed, that unseaworthy ship appears to have sailed, and sunk, long ago), all this shit-stirring is goddamned gorgeous.

    Among many other points one might make, I deeply appreciate the spectacle of an alleged anti-authoritarian writer, together with his legions of allegedly anti-authoritarian toe-suckers, demonstrating in startlingly conclusive fashion that most people would never be able to survive without at least one major authority figure to whom they can blissfully, unconsciously, and unreflectively defer. Whatever would humanity do without Dear Leader?

    I, for one, would like to discover the answer to that question one of these fucking days.

    • Tarzie says:

      Thanks, Arthur! So good to see you here. Yeah, the reflexive deference has been the most depressing thing about it.

      • Laurence Lange says:

        But if you have read Mr Greenwald since he began blogging, you will notice that he has always been deferential toward “authorities” and even as recently as 2011 was arguing for the sanctity of the “rule of law.” Those sentiments continue, even if downplayed via appeals to himself as the authority, and (in parallel) to himself as the arbiter of what are the “rules of law.”

        If one has possession of NSA documents that are world-disrupting and one’s angle is that the NSA is incompetent or full of malfeasance, why would one defer to the NSA on the question of which documents should be revealed? That’s pretty inconsistent with the incompetence or malfeasance accusations, and is more in line with bowing and scraping at the feet of the NSA. The bowing and scraping looks more like a person serving as the NSA’s milkmaid, carrying shiny silver pails of milk leached from the cow that is the NSA.

    • > most people would never be able to survive without at least one major
      > authority figure to whom they can blissfully, unconsciously, and
      > unreflectively defer

      That’s a great and totally logical diagnosis of everyone else’s sick mind from afar. But seriously, people who are paying attention and have no factual basis to disbelieve GG’s reporting (or personally verify or corroborate it), weigh it against everything else they think they know, and come to the conclusion that he’s doing a good and societally useful job, at least until some facts prove otherwise, are blissfully and unreflectively deferring to an authority figure? I think you’re wrong, but you’ll be gratified to learn that I reject both you and Tarzie as authority figures while hoping that your reliance on my reporting does not win me two new deferential survivalists. I wish you both more page hits.

      • Laurence Lange says:

        That’s some fine 4th tier snark you’ve uttered there. Congratulations on that. I would like you to familiarize yourself with a book by Erich Fromm called Fear of Freedom. After you’ve read that and digested its meanings, come back and report on what you’ve learned.

    • Laurence Lange says:

      I appreciate that 2d paragraph, Arthur. Reminds me much of my own thoughts on the matter.

  9. 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.

    I think there are good reasons to not concede Greenwald’s point. While I don’t think he intended it–just the opposite, in fact–his rationale left me mulling over the notion that anything could ever “hurt” an agency like NSA. As if, beyond the fact that agencies don’t have feelings, there’s some definable and legitimate mission (or several) that NSA is pursuing that would be impaired by a document dump. So, can anyone identify NSA’s mission(s), and show the link between the latter and the interests of ordinary people?

    It’s laughable to suggest NSA’s concern over the replication of its surveillance system has anything to do with guarding the interests of ordinary citizens. No one at NSA is losing sleep over the fact that other governments and private industry are spying on their own people.

    Moreover, who besides the for-profit (BAH, et al.) and non-profit (NSA/USG) wings of the spook industry would benefit more from the fact that ES’ revelations had led to another or even better Orwellian machine, not under NSA control, that could be turned on Washington’s paymasters or its spooks? There are ungodly amounts of political and financial fortune awaiting whoever leads the US and its corporate partners to victory in the cyberspace surveillance race. ES might cause heads to roll at NSA or BAH, et al., but the agencies and corporations themselves, or repackaged versions thereof, would not only survive, but thrive.

    • Tarzie says:

      I completely agree. Whether sincerely or for strategic reasons, he publicly genuflects to all this NatSec bullshit which is one of the reasons I find him problematic and why I find the uncritical deference of radicals so disagreeable.

      I didn’t take this up in my reply because I’d resolved to ignore any arguments he made against dumping, since that wasn’t what I had proposed. There were a lot of things in some of his fallacies that were revealing and interesting — his spiel on anonymity and courage is revealingly oblivious to class privilege, for instance — but thought it best not to dignify them as arguments.

      • Laurence Lange says:

        Perhaps then the question is what class he would place himself within. Or in which class he aspires to membership. It may be pertinent to ask why he left Wachtell Lipton and what his ego suffered as a result of that departure.

    • Laurence Lange says:


      the biggest unsaid reason for Total Surveillance is the way in which it undercuts business intellectual property and attendant secrecy about business methods, technological advancements, and the opportunities for profit which accrue from the proprietary nature of those things. For example, if NSA can spy on DentureCorp’s communications and crack its internal software firewalls etc., it then holds the keys to DentureCorp’s continued profitability. It can become a broker of such information, selling it to DentureCorp’s competitors, or using it to blackmail DentureCorp executives. That’s the real use of blackmail here — not the idea that someone like Petraeus can be blackmailed about an affair everyone knew about, but the idea that a thriving business can be put in a precarious position.

      And obviously, there are social control aspects. If the American people think everything they do on their ubiquitous smartphones and computers no longer is private or semi-private, they lose impetus for criticizing Uncle Sam. Nobody wants to be sent to a gulag like Solzhenitsyn. Better to read about it and laugh occasionally, by revisiting Bulgakov’s The Master and Margherita. But then, I’m pretty sure Bulgakov wasn’t laughing with joyous freedom while he wrote that.

  10. MickStep says:

    “I think it only makes sense to seek out and identify structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination in every aspect of life, and to challenge them; unless a justification for them can be given, they are illegitimate, and should be dismantled, to increase the scope of human freedom.”
    ― Noam Chomsky

    Some people find Greenwald’s new found authority, and his throwing of his new found weight around to silence and belittle his critics on the left far too comfortable for my liking.

  11. One Who Knows says:

    Tarzie, you’re so arrogantly and egotistically full of… yourself. Greenwald knows what he’s doing, and he’s doing it well. You? Just another complaining, ignorant jerkoff.

    • AmishRakeFight says:

      “Greenwald knows what he’s doing, and he’s doing it well.” – Aside from this absurd appeal to Greenwald’s mighty, unquestionable authority, how can you possibly know this? And you come in here and call others arrogant and ignorant?
      Some people actually do their own thinking. If you prefer to let Greenwald spoon feed you and do your thinking for you, well, you’re unfortunately far from alone. But you’re also a dumbass.

  12. nigh says:

    From what i read – thank you all, i could nowhere find more accurate info as well as reflexion than here, thank also the trolls for making it easy to distinguish which comments to skip – and am able to understand as a normal citizen, the “strategy” of Greenwald has as consequence that the international community will maybe not be able fast enough to produce methods (i call it generally methods bc im not capable of mathematics) to counter the takeover of the global communication apparatus. i have several models of interpretation for why this paradoxal position of Greenwald could be understood, but have not decided yet which is more probable. But one is excluded to now: it is not because Snowden wanted it like that – he stated it from the beginning, it was his greatest fear that “nothing will happen”.
    And please, stop asking me to “trust you” from Brazil to Melbourne 🙂

  13. Jay29 says:

    This is just a fantastic, fantastic debate. Both sides make good points and are clearly arguing in good faith…. for that reason I just hate both sides also engaging in some absolutely unnecessary character slamming.

    • Tarzie says:

      It’s the internet.

      I don’t object too strongly to vitriol if its an embellishment. But if it’s the whole argument, that’s something else again. The issue for me is substance, not heat.

      • Jay29 says:

        I don’t read his tweets, so I can’t speak to them… I kind of think he should stop engaging on it, because 160 characters doesn’t leave enough room to do much other than sling mud…. and it seems like that’s where a lot of the snarkiest, more personal insulting has taken place.

        I think his responses here were very productive, on the whole – I mean, hell, we can now explore what he means about the “legal hurdles” he faces in more distribution of the slides…. these are questions he should answer and continue to be challenged on.

        But to say Glenn has led the charge in mudslinging on these pages is just wrong…. a few post backs there was some guy who posted endless paragraphs of nothing but personal attacks against him…. sounded like a gilted ex-boyfriend.

      • Tarzie says:

        Yeah. There’s really not much you can do about it.

        I edited my original reply after concluding that I don’t really care who starts it or who’s worse. I get sick of the focus on Glenn’s personality and when I see comments like the one you describe I just skip it.

        I do think Glenn’s character is germane to the extent that it affects how much weight I am willing to give his replies. I don’t find his remarks here very substantive, for reasons I pointed out in my reply. Those legal hurdles you mentioned, for instance, I still think that’s unclear, and because of the way he argues I have no confidence I am getting the whole story.

        Considering what he and his colleagues have tasked themselves with and how much it affects other people, I think their opacity is very lamentable.

    • Laurence Lange says:

      Character is pivotal to credibility. Especially when someone like Mr Greenwald has a reputation that is blown into the stratosphere nearly overnight, with no demonstration of qualification for commentary authorship as a legal expert, a government affairs expert, a foreign affairs expert, a network security expert, an electronic data management expert. Yet, even without such qualifications, he holds himself out as being an expert in each field just listed. He doesn’t even show any legal acumen, and instead relies on readers inferring the acumen from one year at a Jewish NYC law firm (which doesn’t like goyim attorneys nor goyim clients, imagine that) and then a completely fabricated “career” as a supposed constitutional lawyer — when there is no such thing as a “constitutional lawyer” qualification in the United States of America.

      So, given that background of exaggerations and lies, I can see why you’d want us to skip the character question. At least you’re no longer using the Rick Ellensburg handle!

      • Jay29 says:

        I have absolutely no idea who “Rick Ellensburg” is. Accusing people you disagree with of being sock puppets falls in the category of being unhelpful to a helpful debate. As is calling his career “fabricated” – he litigated constitutional issues… it is indeed a real job. Are you the gilted ex-boyfriend I just mentioned?

  14. Laurence Lange says:

    Hardly a jilted lover. I’m curious why you’d suggest that. Seems like projection, as if you long for Mr Greenwald’s sexual company yourself. It also seems a cheap tawdry way to distract from the observations I’m making about Mr Greenwald’s fraudulence.

    “Litigating constitutional issues”? When did he do that? On one case? One time? Again, there is no such thing as “constitutional lawyer” in America. No such thing. No lawyer can make a career on such a tiny field of law. Mr Greenwald is a fraud, he has lied about everything he states regarding his career. Why did he leave Wachtell Lipton after only one year? Why does he pretend he’s a “constitutional lawyer” when there’s no such thing?

    I’ve litigated constitutional issues too. Doesn’t make me a constitutional lawyer. I’ve written opinions for judges on constitutional issues. Even that doesn’t make me a constitutional lawyer. The professor I took Constitutional Law from wouldn’t even call himself a constitutional lawyer. It’s all a huge fraud, this Greenwald game. He is nothing that he claims to be, and the fame he’s reached is built on lies sold to gullible people who are eager to have a gay man as “hero,” just like they were eager to have a Black man as President.

    • Laurence Lange says:

      I’d love to depose Mr Greenwald and make him shuck and jive his way into a self-defeating testimony. He’s lucky nobody with any litigation chops has cross-examined him thus far.

    • Jay says:

      “Again, there is no such thing as “constitutional lawyer” in America. No such thing. No lawyer can make a career on such a tiny field of law.”

      Dude…. ‘tiny field of law’? What on earth are you talking about? What do you call Ted Olson? What do you call the countless ACLU lawyers who do nothing but sue over the constitutionality of laws? These people don’t have careers?

      • Laurence Lange says:

        This is very fun, “Jay.” You are willing to bend reality to continue your hero-worship of a fraud.

        Ted Olson does more than litigate constitutional issues. Every litigator who has a reputation for constitutional chops — i.e. Floyd Abrams, probably the best-known — only does con law as a little piece of his or her work. That you can’t admit this to yourself is further evidence of how distorted your thinking where your hero is concerned.

        ACLU lawyers are not constitutional experts. Have you ever worked with or for the ACLU, “Jay”? No, I didn’t think so. ACLU lawyers are trustafarians who enjoy working a media circus. Aside from that, your hero Mr Greenwald is not an ACLU employee, and never has been.

        I love how you try to make these tangential themes the crux of what makes Mr Greenwald a hero. So he’s a real hero because you fail at picking apart one aspect of what I’ve said about Greenwald?

        Seriously, you really should go back to Rick Ellensburg. It was 2006. Most people don’t care about 2008! They have ignored your constant posts in favor of Obama in 2008, in 2009, in 2010, in 2011 and in 2012. They instead prefer to point at your occasional tepid half-criticisms of Obama that have arisen since Jan 2013. It’s okay Glenn. Own up to your failures. Own up to your lies. Admit you are just a hyper-narcissist with malignant qualities. Admit the world provides your narcissistic supply, and that’s why you must use so many aliases to defend yourself in so many tangential settings.

        When you get a moment, tell us about how you got fired from Wachtell Lipton. It ought to be a doozy of a tale. You can segue into the glorious history of your “constitutional lawyer”-ing when you worked on one case that had one tiny sliver of constitutional law issues among the entire field of issues at play. See! That proves you’re a “constitutional lawyer,” Glenn!

        You couldn’t litigate your way out of a moot court situation, you fraud.

  15. Laurence Lange says:

    My present to you, “Jay” —

    • Laurence Lange says:

      And some additional interesting tidbits:

      Narcissistic individuals use various strategies to protect the self at the expense of others. They tend to devalue, derogate and blame others, and they respond to threatening feedback with anger and hostility. Identifying and understanding the narcissistic personality, Elsa F. Ronningstam. Oxford University Press Inc., 2005.

      People who are overly narcissistic commonly feel rejected, humiliated and threatened when criticised. To protect themselves from these dangers, they often react with disdain, rage, and/or defiance to any slight criticism, real or imagined. American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (“DSM IV”), Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association, 1994, p. 659.

  16. Jay says:

    lol, so now I’m Glenn? Dude, you got issues.

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  18. Artmann says:

    When the Prism story was first published, my first reaction was only 4 slides? Then when I started hearing Greenwald’s and the Guardian’s defense of withholding these source documents, they fell flat. I find if hard to believe that an introductory powerpoint presentation with block arrows and 2-word summaries, used for training analysts to use its user-friendly interface, could somehow enable the complex and expansive implementation of mass surveillance systems all over the world. And fine, if there are technical details (literal technical details, not broad strokes of “this is how the system works, follow the arrow”), block them out. It’s a joke to publish less than 10% of a source document for an article. Prism is a HUGE story, and they’ve basically just proven that it exists with the slides they’ve released.

    And as to this particular post, agree that Glenn’s reply was defensive and base. Name calling is no argument, and is usually the sign of a lack of argument.

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  40. boring cat says:

    “Here’s jowly Marxist bond-trader, veteran gatekeeper and wealthy dolt Doug Henwood, who lives not far from me, but with the patented imbecility of New York’s establishment ‘left’, finds the idea of a radical in Park Slope a perennially hilarious gotcha, for reasons that remain elusive.”

    Fuck, that was funny.

  41. boring cat says:

    Yeah, you’re welcome.

    [Remainder of comment moved to more relevant thread here]

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