So there is something of a stir in the part of left Twitterland that I generally don’t have much to do with, and since happy mobs, like Tolstoy’s happy families, are all alike and not worth writing about, I’m not going to devote much energy to the non-argumentative or social aspects of it here.
I am a little stunned though, that so many people are so worked up over something so many of them clearly haven’t read. It is easy to tell who these people are. If, after someone navigates the weighty calculus of virtues and accomplishments qualifying one to have an opinion on the ownership of secrets affecting everyone on Earth, they then characterize The Argument as ‘Doing what the Guardian is Doing’ vs. ‘Dumping Everything’, it’s almost certain that all they know about my post came from some place other than my post, most likely Glenn Greenwald’s comments about it, where Glenn, too predictably, mischaracterized it.
Now I don’t care what the pile-on chronics think about all this, but for the lovable and sexy independent thinkers, I wish a clear understanding of what this argument is about, at least as it concerns the distribution of leaks. I would also like them to seriously consider the nutritional merits of luminaries that mischaracterize critics and the fanserfs who do beatdowns over shit they obviously haven’t read. Therefore, I’m going to quote the last part of the contentious post where I explicitly walked back dumping from my first post on the topic and posed four reasonable questions, implicit in which are the outline of what I consider desirable:
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?
So for the eleventieth time, to the extent that this multi-post discussion is about leaking methods at all, it’s not about dumping, no matter how much some asshole says it is. It’s also not about some asshole.
Now carry on, brave warriors.