The Pejorative Use of ‘Dumping’

I have a blog post swimming around in my head, the working title of which is Leak Keeper Theory and Practice As Told to Twitter and Reddit, in which I compile all the rationales put forward for monopolies on state secrets. The never-ending case for the happy, coincidental intersection of individual self-interest and surveillance state reform is a constant source of edutainment that I am very keen to share with others.

Still, it has come to my attention that many people have really short attention spans for anything that’s not in 140 character chunks and not from a beloved media celebrity, so some things are best done in installments if they are done at all. With that in mind, I am going to put the full undertaking aside and examine here only one plank in Leak Keeper Theory, that is the Boss Leak Keeper’s broken record on ‘dumping’ which he played at longer length this week during a Reddit Ask Me Anything (That’s In My Interest).

Here, from the Cryptome site, is something to set the mood:

[At present rates, it will take] 26 Years to Release Snowden Docs by The Guardian

Now before we examine Leak Keeper Theory, let’s revisit how this dumping vs. The Meticulous Vetting of State Secrets by The Guardian thing first got injected into the discussion. It happened here, when the Guardian introduced Snowden to its readers:

…[Snowden] admires both [Pentagon Papers whistleblower, Daniel] Ellsberg and Manning, but argues that there is one important distinction between himself and the army private.

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

When you examine this, you can’t assume that Snowden’s quote is a deliberate repudiation of Manning, since she is only mentioned in the preceding paragraph. Therefore, you can’t, with complete certainty, credit Snowden with the implicit distortion of what Manning actually did, nor the smeary insinuation that Manning set out to harm people. But you can certainly blame Guardian writers Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill and Laura Poitras for all of that, because they inarguably framed the quote explicitly as a repudiation. Not content to leave it there, Greenwald evokes this distortion each time he plays the broken record on dumping, either to prove what a responsible whistleblowing team he, Snowden and Laura Poitras are or to justify the agonizingly slow release of not really amazing information over which he holds a monopoly.

Let’s put aside that Greenwald and Co did this only six days after Manning’s trial had commenced, and instead consider that Snowden’s quote is almost certainly bullshit on its face. Snowden’s trove consists of, at minimum, 15-20,000 documents.  That’s quite a lot of documents for one person to ‘carefully evaluate’, and I strongly doubt that that’s what he did. That’s beside the point, though, since it’s certainly clear from The Guardian’s meticulous vetting — which omits more story-related NSA/GCHQ documents than it publishes, and which Greenwald claims Snowden fully endorses —  that no, not all the documents are ready for public disclosure after all.

What people don’t seem to realize is that Wikileaks didn’t dump Cablegate. They vetted, redacted and also provided US officials with opportunities to review.  Cablegate wasn’t dumped until a Guardian writer disclosed a password. So what Snowden gave Greenwald is a trove that, from the standpoint of ‘responsible’ leaking, differs meaningfully from Manning’s only in its higher security classification with a vetting process that differs from Wikileaks’ Cablegate distribution only in how few documents it releases and how parsimoniously it shares with other journalists. This Twitter exchange concisely describes how Greenwald uses ‘dumping’ in the context of Snowden:

Unfortunately a lot of people have taken Greenwald’s bait and continue to argue for dumping, which would be fine, I suppose, if it weren’t also helping Greenwald to shut down a more wide-ranging and interesting discussion of possible alternatives and compromises. In future, I would prefer that discussions of this kind be recast as less about particular methods, than about differing whistleblowing objectives that guide the choice of methods, mindful that there is a world of possibilities between a strategy that at current rates will reveal all the Snowden docs in 26 years and one that would make them available to every internet user on earth in a day.

All the actual and hypothetical disclosure methods seem to follow (ostensibly) from one or all of the following objectives:

1. Informing US citizens for the sake of a ‘debate’ to influence policy
2. Informing citizens in other countries for the sake of influencing their policies with respect to the US
3. Creating tools and strategies for circumventing the NSA
4. Making it difficult for the NSA to operate effectively via successive, unmanageable global scandals
5. Letting the world know what the NSA is doing as a good in its own right

I think most people taking an interest in the Snowden leaks favor a strategy that serves more than one and possibly all of these ends to varying degrees. Therefore the continuing, largely uncritical enthusiasm for a strategy that, by the Leak Keepers own account, overwhelmingly aims for number 1 and not even effectively, aims for number 2 with even less effectiveness and dispenses with items 3-5 almost completely remains an enduring mystery, though I think it has something to do with a crippling effect Greenwald’s iron grip on the narrative is having on people’s imaginations and their willingness to think out loud.

In the interest of encouraging Glenn and others to quit having this argument on such narrow terms, mostly with phantom transparency radicals they conjure in their heads, I am going to take each of his anti-dumping planks in turn, agreeing where I think he is correct and arguing where I think he is wrong. I am doing this not because I want the balance to come out in favor of dumping but because, one, Greenwald uses his leverage to frame all talk of methods this way and two, as an example of extreme transparency, anything that is useful about a full, unredacted release, is likely applicable to some extent to any method that is more open, aggressive and democratic than what the Guardian is now using. I also want to move the discussion to points in between while showing how relentlessly Greenwald dumbs down the conversation to avoid that.

Greenwald’s Reddit remarks in italics. My non-italicized replies in-line.

1) It’s irresponsible to dump documents without first understanding them and the consequences of publication.

This is purely speculative, somewhat at odds with how widely distributed top secret documents are within the huge security apparatus, and shows Glenn once again attesting by implication to the unique intelligence and good sense he and his colleagues bring to understanding the Snowden documents. Nonetheless, since almost no one is proposing this at this point, and I don’t wish to answer speculation with more speculation,  I’ll concede.

2) It’s 100% contrary to the agreement we made with our source [Edward Snowden] when he came to us and talked about how he wanted us to report on them (if he wanted them all dumped, he wouldn’t have needed us: he could have done it himself).

I agree that it’s good for journalists to keep their agreements with sources. The Snowden quote with which Greenwald and his colleagues disparaged Manning just as she went to trial certainly suggests Greenwald is not lying about Snowden’s general intentions. The inference he wants us to make about Snowden having chosen journalists to act as intermediaries also seems reasonable.

However, during the brief, shining moment when it seemed Snowden would not restrict his leaking to American and UK news providers, he did at least advocate a more aggressive strategy toward foreign news distribution than Greenwald’s and Laura Poitras’ current strategy of slowly co-authoring stories for other markets rather than sharing documents with journalists outright. In an interview with The South China Morning Post, Snowden said:

If I have time to go through this information, I would like to make it available to journalists in each country to make their own assessment, independent of my bias, as to whether or not the knowledge of US network operations against their people should be published.

This comment seems strikingly at odds with both Greenwald’s method for distributing the leaks to foreign countries, and also Greenwald’s paternalistic insistence that responsibility for risk assessment belongs to the US/UK team of knowing knowers. Greenwald claimed that if he and Poitras share documents with other journalists they increase their legal risk by becoming sources, but has yet to explain how sharing files with, say, The Times of India or El Pais, differs from the relationships the Guardian has struck with The New York Times and Pro Publica.

3) It would be impossible for the public to process a huge, indiscriminate dump, and media outlets would not care enough to read through them and report them because they’d have no vested interest in doing so (that’s what WikiLeaks learned long ago, which is why they began partnering with media outlets on an exclusive basis for its releases).

Even though, as I keep insisting, few people are advocating dumping of this kind anymore, I am going to take this on because it readily adapts to arguing against any strategy that aims for wider propagation and because it is annoyingly stupid in direct proportion to how much Greenwald and his fans keep insisting on it.

I am going to start with Greenwald’s point about media outlets and vested interest, because if you dispense with that, you needn’t counter the other nonsense about confused, inattentive rubes yearning for, but not finding, a sufficiently motivated Greenwald to guide them through the morass of unfiltered information.

I’m, first off, overjoyed that Greenwald is conceding that ‘vested interest’ plays a role in what he’s doing, since my suggestion of same a while back sent him into truly bizarre spasms of frothing and fallacy, as if, I dunno, I’d caught him at something. Yes, naturally, journalists who don’t expect some reward from a story are unlikely to do anything much with it. But you can’t assume that journalists would find no reward in navigating and interpreting the Snowden documents, any more than you can assume that journalists are finding no rewards now in feeding off the scraps the Leak Keepers are tossing from their book-and-movie-deal laden table. I mean, let’s look at what Greenwald is essentially saying:  that journalists don’t journal until they have a lucrative monopoly on every aspect of a story. This is just silly.

Furthermore, in the highly unlikely event that commercial journalists did fail to immediately recognize the potential reward in being the first to make sense of, say, the PRISM slide deck, various nonprofit organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the ACLU, and ProPublica (and their equivalents in other countries) certainly would and that, in turn, would induce journalists to dig deeper on the explosive revelations these organizations disclosed, just as journalists do now each time the Guardian publishes a Snowden story.

As to the idea that multiple teams working on multiple NSA stories would soon overwhelm the public:  I have elsewhere shown that the difficulty of producing these stories places limits on how quickly they can be produced. To that I would add that the high level of technical expertise some of them require limits the pool of available journalists even more. So while I won’t concede that a less monopolistic environment would lead to no stories, I also won’t concede that a less monopolistic environment would lead to too many stories, assuming there even is such a thing. I will, however, observe out loud that those two claims are mutually exclusive.

As to the lessons of Wikileaks: it is impossible to draw lessons about attention spans, news cycles, influencing debates etc from an organization that was the object of every imaginable kind of attack from a government and US media establishment that hated it on general principle, that was undermined by its biggest news partners, and whose big whistleblowing event was the first of its kind, explicitly anti-imperialist and, unlike the Snowden Leaks, enjoyed no support from the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and rich guys on the Upper East Side.

4) The debate that we should be having would get overwhelmed by accusations that we were being irresponsible and helping the Terrorists; in other words, it would be strategically dumb to do.

Greenwald’s supreme confidence in his assessment of what ‘we’ should be doing and in his mastery of strategy never ceases to amuse, especially when you consider how indignant he gets when you call him paternalistic. This confidence leads him to recite pure speculation as fact and to call things dumb as if doing so is incisive. People are already calling Greenwald a traitor and a terrorist enabler now, while oligarchs on the Upper East Side applaud Snowden’s name. So I can’t imagine who, exactly, these people are that can shut down ‘The Debate We Should Be Having’  who aren’t already attempting that now, entirely without success.

5) There are already lots of risks for people reporting on these documents; there would be seriously heightened risks for anyone involved if they were just indiscriminately dumped

Since the leaker has been driven into exile in Russia, its hard to imagine how a less meticulous distribution method would have made his situation worse, especially considering the zeal with which the Obama administration is attempting to discourage whistleblowing. Furthermore it seems that distributing leaks also distributes risk and mitigates it for single individuals in the process. David Miranda was likely a target for the GCHQ because, by virtue of the rare power Greenwald exerts over leaking and the narrative, intimidating his spouse promised a large repression bang for the buck. It also had the useful side effect of making Greenwald’s and The Guardian’s bland, subservient mediation of the leaks look more disruptive than it is. That Greenwald  bemoans his ‘virtual exile’ in Brazil while WaPo’s Barton Gellman, with a great deal less chestbeating and drama, publishes stories almost identical to the Guardian’s and gives no indication of being in any danger at all is one of the few enduringly amusing things about this whole spectacle. Greenwald keeps insisting that distributing the leaks to other news organizations around the world increases risk, but has not persuasively shown how.

UPDATE 3

Somehow I’d missed that the New York Times share of Snowden documents is ‘more than 50,000.’ Which means that Greenwald’s much smaller estimate provided to the Brazilian senate (among others) and which I’d used for this post was incorrect and probably a lie. So there are some lessons to extract from this:

1. Cryptome’s 26-year estimate should be more than doubled.
2. All that shit Snowden said about meticulously choosing documents when the Guardian introduced him to the world as the un-Manning now goes from probably a lie to definitely a lie — since Snowden couldn’t have possibly reviewed a trove this big —  which makes the comparisons to Manning particularly gratuitous and slimy. Think about this: Greenwald and co fabricated a story about Snowden’s careful selection of documents solely for the sake of making an unflattering comparison to Manning. Why on earth would they do this, just as she was going to trial?
3. The Guardian monopoly on these documents is even more unconscionable. They are concealing government secrets in the guise of disclosing them. We will not learn a fraction of what is in these documents if they stay within the small circle of people with access to them.

What do these assholes have to do before other assholes hold them to account?

I have elaborated on this in another post.

UPDATE 2

NOTE: For people still too fucking stupid to get it, I did not draw attention to Oracle’s comment (see Update 1, below) to advocate a full, unredacted release of Snowden docs. I drew attention to it because:

1. It nicely demonstrates how more eyeballs on leaks means faster comprehension of important things. A relatively small trove like Snowden’s, widely distributed to, say, thirty different newspapers around the world could be gone through quickly.
2. The release of the HBGary trove achieved many useful ends — such as HBGary dissolving in an excruciatingly painful acid bath of bad publicity  — without one fucking ‘debate’ or change in policy or savvy knowing knower talking non-stop shit about drips and attention spans and news cycles.
3. Greenwald has some nerve stigmatizing dumping and dumpers with Old Media cliches every chance he gets, considering. 

Got that, Glenn? Got it, fanserfs?

Nah, didn’t think so.

UPDATE 1

A commenter, Oracle, whose language suggests involvement in the 2011 hack of computer security firm, HBGary, has left an excellent reminder that Greenwald himself was the beneficiary of the kind of radical transparency he now struggles so hard to distinguish himself from. The HBGary hack, which released a huge trove including 50,000 emails, exposed a report prepared apparently for Bank of America, about a strategy to destroy Wikileaks, a plot that included among its targets Greenwald himself. Oracle writes:

When we obtained the HBGary Federal information, many of us faced and still face serious legal peril. The amount of information as far as number of documents, makes the Snowden material look puny in comparison, Fortunately for Mr. Greenwald, we did not adhere to his methodology. Fortunately, I say, because by allowing thousands of individuals to review that material, it became evident that Greenwald and others were being targeted by the DOJ, BOA, HB Gary, Palantir, Hunton and Williams et al.

Greenwald benefited from the timely release of information that the aforementioned were developing an operational plan to discredit him using a “dirty tricks” attack. Considering the capabilities the NSA possesses, the timely release of this information to Greenwald may likely have prevented child pornography being “found” on his computer, at some airport, ending his career.

Here’s Greenwald’s post on the same incident, from his better days. Greenwald still insists that radical transparency is appropriate sometimes. Guess exposing a plot to bring him down is one of those times. Whatever his current ‘strategy’, you’d think he’d at least go easy with the whistleblower Dos and Don’ts.

Related

Edward Snowden’s Incredibly Mutating Document Trove

Cliffs Notes for a Pile-On

Fuck the Guardian: Take Your Drip and Stick It

Confronting Edward Snowden’s Remarks on Manning

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78 Responses to The Pejorative Use of ‘Dumping’

  1. Romancing the Loan says:

    At this point I’m assuming Greenwald has a deal with the NSA – report only the stuff we tell you is ok and don’t give the primary source documents to anyone we don’t approve of, and you’ll have a long and happy career/life. It would explain why he freaked out when you mentioned vested interest, and why the WaPo, NYT, and other places that are already in bed with the MIT are “safe” in the way that giving relevant source docs to a local newspaper might not be. I know this isn’t what you’re saying here but I do think it’s the obvious inference from it. I’d also like to see Snowden pop his head up and show us he’s still alive. How long has it been since we’ve actually seen him?

    • Tarzie says:

      I think Greenwald’s just a useful idiot, whose interest in control, celebrity and professional gain just happens to coincide with the security establishment’s interest in keeping the ‘debate’ tightly circumscribed. I think if Snowden were dead, we’d know, and I see no practical reason for anyone killing him.

      • Romancing the Loan says:

        Probably, but it depends what of his trove hasn’t been released. At the beginning of this whole affair, I kept expecting more to pop up relevant to Russell Tice’s interview with Boiling Frogs in 2006 where he accused the NSA (without any supporting evidence) of systematic collection of information on political targets (i.e., federal judges) for coercion or blackmail purposes. At the very beginning, Snowden did emphasize how he could tap anyone however highly placed, so I expected some Nixon-y revelations. If something more does exist in his docs that isn’t going to be included in this slow trickle of revelations, then I can see reasons to let him quietly disappear into Russia. But that’s all just speculation because I love a good spy story.

      • Tarzie says:

        I don’t know what to think anymore. But Snowden has an agreement with the Russians not to make a fuss. I think exile is leverage enough.

  2. Jay says:

    Good, thought-provoking points as always. My only quibble would be your reference to the “very small number of news markets”. The releases may not be as plentiful as we’d like, but haven’t they reached all over the world? I think that reference is easily disputed and detracts from all your other good arguments.

    • Tarzie says:

      That Greenwald and Poitras are taking responsibility for global markets instead of just handing off the leaks per Snowden’s original intention is indisputable. So, no this ‘reference’, which was specifically about the initial release of stories, is not ‘easily disputed’, but it’s just like you — whoever you are — to make a claim like that without any evidence. Yes, if you want to split hairs you can say that they have ‘reached’ all over the world because news will propagate through syndication. Stories propagating this way signify nothing. Clearly the impact of stories is strongest in those countries where they are originating — US, Germany and Brazil — and which focus on country-specific issues. The UK is somewhat exceptional in being a point of origin where the public is apparently indifferent. The impact of these stories globally is vastly overhyped generally, mostly by Greenwald and his sycophants.

    • nigh says:

      There has been not one publication in Greece, which is somehow in the eye of the cyclone within this paradigm of war for the redistribution of power.

  3. Trish says:

    Great post. To be honest, I am not sure what to think anymore. It has been nearly six months since we first heard of snowden. While the information has been shocking for some, and confirmation for others, there is no way Glenn can believe the leaks have achieved much of anything.

    I can not believe that Snowden if he were able to speak freely, and in a posiion to do something about it is happy with how Glenn has handled this. Think about it. Glenn’s claim is Snowden wanted to ensure every article was vetted before it was released. Fair enough, but as you quote from Snowden above shows he did not expect that Glenn needed to be inolved in the vetting and releasing of every document. In fact, according to Glenn he is only involved because of legal reasons. So Snowden downloaded 15, 000 plus documents, and because of some very vague legal issue, that even Glenn does not fully buy, we now have a bottleneck, and potential documents not seeing the light for years. There is no way Glenn can honestly believe this is helpful.

    so to sum it up.

    Glenn says he is carrying out Snowden’s wishes by making sure documents are fully vetted.

    Snowden had circumstances not curtailed him would have liked to work with other journalists.

    Glenn says legal reasons means he has to be involved in every story. Glenn conflates this reason with Snowden’s wish the documents be vetted, and then hides behind it as justification.

    When in reality they are two seperate issues. Vetting issue, and distribution issue. If anything Glenn has taken advanatage of Snowden’s circumstances to keep the material to himself and a select circle.

    • Tarzie says:

      As ever, you connected more dots than I did.

      Yeah, I find it hard to believe that anyone finds this at all useful, including Snowden.

      I think Glenn is so inclined to be pleased with himself, that he sets a low bar and feels genuinely satisfied. I think his satisfaction is contagious for a lot of people. Couldn’t believe how crypto people upset with the Tor story still laid the praise on thick for Glenn. If everything else were equal, but the players were Bill Keller and The Times, people would have been screaming ages ago.

      • Laurence Lange says:

        Couldn’t believe how crypto people upset with the Tor story still laid the praise on thick for Glenn.

        Bubke, a website that purports to be the Online Home of Crypto Geeks Everywhere is not the same as the collective opinion of everyone who actually knows something about cryptography in espionage.

        Maybe you should try writing from the perspective of someone who actually knows the subjects he writes on? Yes, that would mean a significant delay while you studied subjects other than QEFTSG, Gossip Girl, Oxygen network programming, Lifetime network programming, and the collected works of Betty Freidan — but in the long run, your little keybangs would have some heft to them. Right now what you have is you writing a main entry, then a few sock puppet characters praising your entry or tepidly pseudo-criticizing it, and then me helping you see how hobbled, fettered and blinkered your perspective remains.

        Or, you could stick with the present plan and keep making this about gossip wars on Twitter, where you pretend to criticize Greenwald but do so from the P.O.V. that always admires Greenwald and thus, essentially, hasn’t the stomach for real effective criticism.

        I guess that’s a solid tactic — given you don’t know diddly squat about espionage, computer security, cryptography, or the spy-game-related federal activities.

      • Tarzie says:

        you pretend to criticize Greenwald but do so from the P.O.V. that always admires Greenwald and thus, essentially, hasn’t the stomach for real effective criticism.

        I think Glenn might argue that that’s not what I’m doing. I think he’s the Propaganda System’s highest achievement in useful idiocy. With admiration like that…

        I guess what you mean is that I don’t give a shit how he got bounced from a law firm.

        Yes, that would mean a significant delay while you studied subjects other than QEFTSG, Gossip Girl, Oxygen network programming, Lifetime network programming, and the collected works of Betty Freidan

        Stop spying on me.

  4. john says:

    i think the Cryptome piece more than sets the mood.

    maybe Snowden will take his ‘cyanide pill’ and release the encryptions to the four winds.

    • thedoctorisindahaus says:

      That would be so cool. I hope he has two encryption keys. One set blows the whole deal. The other blows a lot of judiciously selected files that might be too dangerous to release unmediated by 5 reporters but also might be judiciously selected enough that the government won’t mind. I hope, for the sake of national security only (his safety is an afterthought), that he only ever uses the judicious keys.

  5. Chet Bredwell says:

    Well, it’s nice to see Tarzie as Tarzie, Tarzie as Jay, and Tarzie as Trish so quickly after the main entry. Plus, we get to see Greenwald as Greenwald, and Greenwald as Tarzie. So actually we see Greenwald as Tarzie as Tarzie, Greenwald as Tarzie as Jay, and Greenwald as Tarzie as Trish.

    It’s a bleepin’ trifecta.

    • Tarzie says:

      You left out Tarzie as Chet Bredwell.

      You lost me with the Greenwald as Tarzie bit, though I have often suspected Jay is Greenwald.

      Wheels within wheels…

      • Stewart O'Nan says:

        Excellent. I admire your ability to show a facility for digital manipulation of the male copulatory appendage, done self-referentially in psychology as well as in act. Quite possibly the only piece of pattern in the category warranting potential demerit is the paucity of personality in each brachial stroke manipulating the organ. Genuine artistry in self-love would show more diversity among those who are enhancing the tool.

      • Tarzie says:

        Schwing a ding ding!

    • Trish says:

      Curious do you have the same doubst when it comes to Glenn and his motives, or is he beyond such suspicion?

  6. thedoctorisindahaus says:

    Well, even Greenwald is Jay, it’s still nice to have Greenwald around to speak to, ‘directly’ about all this.
    Anonymity on the internet is fine, as we’re all proof of that.
    Since the we’re on the issue of sockpuppets, what about Greenwald as Snowden? At some point Snowden’s desires should have become off limits, just as a rule of respect. What other recent public figure have we judged so regularly only upon reports of what they said they wanted to say?
    The justifications, so ridiculous, about what Snowden ‘wants’, in addition to being irrelevant as guidance, are also weird coming from the reporter who, out of nothing, takes himself to be Snowden’s ambassador to the world, terrified for the consequences. Apparently there are no consequences to speaking out in your only trap cage of asylum, under an activism embargo. So Snowden would have to be a coward or a loon to not speak out if there were some issue not to his satisfaction.

    It’s weird people are so invested in the action movie story, where the next thing has to happen or we’ll never get reform, at the same time as they buy into the lame brained delay publicity. Every pro-gg argument is justified after the fact. An incredibly long running soap opera of totally critical information, delayed interminably, is the key to getting the NSA exposed and then, obviously, destroyed. Like Heisenberg’s uncertainty, knowledge by itself alters the system. Just don’t measure too closely or greenwald will get mad.

    The way people are endlessly patient when they have no choice, I think we’re seeing more self regarding coping strategies here. Well, the bastard gets upset at even the suggestion that there’s anything but what he’s chosen, so I guess I’ll just cheer him on and feel like it’s the best of all possible worlds.

    Losers.

    • Tarzie says:

      So Snowden would have to be a coward or a loon to not speak out if there were some issue not to his satisfaction.

      Yeah, I almost was going to cover how dishonest GG is on speaking for Snowden, but it was getting long, thought I would leave it for another time. I’m tempted to do an edit though.

  7. Trish says:

    You know what is the biggest FU in all this. There are those of us that knew whatbthe NSA, to name just one rogue element was doing. But little we could do and trying to wake up and make people aware was both frustrating and often not worth it.

    Then Snowden comes along, and finally a light might be shone. But, one of our own, or so he constantly reminds us, has squandered a once in a lifetime opportunity, errecting barricades, and pre conditions. Turns out he is a more of a prima donna about what we should know and when then those he is meant to expose. Blow me, who could have forseen such a farce.

    But seems our gatekeeper is thrilled because Brazil has summoned the canadian guy. Is Glenn this naive? Six months into this shit is his bar so low that he thinks this is great. I can not believe Snowden risked his life for this BS and is happy. Despite Glenn’s tweets this story is losing traction, and receding into a memory hole.

  8. Oracle says:

    When we obtained the HB Gary Federal information, many of us faced and still face serious legal peril. The amount of information as far as number of documents, makes the Snowden material look puny in comparison, Fortunately for Mr. Greenwald, we did not adhere to his methodology. Fortunately, I say because by allowing thousands of individuals to review that material, it became evident that Greenwald and others were being targeted by the DOJ, BOA, HB Gary Palantir, Hunton and Williams et al.

    Greenwald benefited for the timely release of information that the aforementioned were developing an operational plan to discredit him using a “dirty tricks” attack. Considering the capabilities the NSA possesses, the timely release of this information to Greenwald may likely have prevented child pornography being “found” on his computer, at some airport, ending his career.

    You’re welcome Glenn. Time to pay it forward. Your personal agenda had better not result in the apprehension of even ONE person who might have used information you possess, but are sitting on. Whatever persecution you might now face, is very likely far less than you would currently be experiencing had the DOJ, BOA, HB Gary Palantir, Hunton and Williams plans for you not been exposed in a timely manner. You have a rather large obligation Glenn.

    • Tarzie says:

      Whether or not you were involved in the hack that exposed those documents, this is a thoroughly valid call-out that also highlights the limits of solving problems with ‘debate’ and policy and the careful review of secrets. Wish I’d thought of it.

      • Trish says:

        I think your updates based on Oracle’s comments are spot on. you should tweet the link to Glenn, just so we can have him give a condescending lecture on why it is different. Why he needs to remain in control and stay involved in every document, Why, if his approach leads to little change, he is not to blame.

        maybe he can also try to explain away Snowden’s quote about wanting to work with other journalists.

        Glenn has shown when given the chance and the power, he is just as much a control freak as those he is trying to expose. Just like them he uses strawman arguments when his authority is questioned. they say the leaks are helping terrorists. he says, when asked to spread the docs among more sources, “do you want me to just give the keys to the bomb, or put an assets life in danger”. What a prick. There is a ton of legway between giving the information to other journalists, and putting somone’s life in danger. The more he exposes them, the more he sounds and acts like them

      • Tarzie says:

        Glenn is well aware of these posts, I’m sure, and has officially elected to ignore me, though I think the amiably disinformative shitbag Jay may be a sock puppet. Glenn has a rich and amusing sock puppet history.

        It’s quite true that he has become everything he allegedly stands against and taken his followers along with him. He is the Obama 08 of whistleblowing. Quite the accomplishment. Just goes to show that principles for most people are very contingent on their place in the food chain.

  9. Trish says:

    Yes, I am sure he is aware, but he is so thin skinned that if it was put on his tweet feed, he would explode. How dare anyone make a comparison between HB Gary dump, which saved him and what he is now doing.

    As for his followers , if Glenn really believed he was trying to wake up and alert people then he should be really worried that they all blindly support and agree with his methods. Gee, what is the difference between them and people that blindly support and agree with what the govt says. One should always ask questions, and when one does, if the response is to brow beat and bully the questioner then chances are something is not right with what is being done.

    BTW as a side, most of the population believe that fingerprints are unique. fingerprints, as a means of identification have been around about 100 years, and for a significant period of that time have been positioned as unique. Today, with access to fast computers, and a significant percentage of the population such a claim would be viewed as being based on scientific fact. 80 – 100 years ago such technology did not exist, and people lived in far flung, and hard to get to places, and yet it was asserted that fingerprints are unique. Nobody questioned it, and thus it became fact, and many went to prison.

  10. Rob Schneider says:

    Unfortuantely, discussion of this type doesn’t reach the ‘little people’ who don’t know or care how programming is written or assembled, what cryptograpy does or what it doesn’t, who’s hacked and who’s not, and why they should be concerned. What they might want is systems to which they don’t to pay attention and from which those exposed by these revelations might not actually be able to profit from on the back end with more of the same compromise. I don’t take the cynical view, just thinking that most are ants, content to leave the pile to bring back something of value to the pile that their imaginations could never perceive. They just might, with hammering that is contiuous and with a purpose that doesn’t consider them idiots in intellectual bigotry, get a clue as to how the reality they live in is not what they perceive. That is Snowden’s whole point isn’t it? Greewald might be doing these individuals less and less a favor as time goes on. They are the mojority, right?

    If anything, he should understand that time is not on his side beyond general relevance, as even the documents themselves will become outdated and the accused could actually say ‘Oh, we’ve changed our policy and quit doing that’, satifsying everyone without technical interest as well as those who can’t understand beyond examples that might be gained elsewhere or with other input in interpretation. As for Greenwald, seems in his method is a hero-creation, himself particularly, which doesn’t seem Snowden’s desire for himself, and fermenting the froth he says that he wishes to avoid by being interpretative rather than being able to make the claim of simple reporting. He’s setting himself up to be innocuous and irrelevant. Expanding the distribution I think would allow much more varied interpretations as well as more examples of how what is reported is not allowing the perceived reality to function as it’s perceived. In that case, I would have preferred a general dump and allow organizations and individuals to contribute their perceptions. So far what has been released hasn’t done that well. As for the government and his claim of attempting to be benign to its ability to contain terrorism, that argument loses validity when one considers that it’s the policy of the government that exposes all to terrorism to begin with. Personally, I might think ending of that policy might be served through these revelations, as they were through Manning’s. (I never had an enemy in the ME before the current policy was implemented, and that’s well before my birth. I’m over 60, too.) He’s avoiding legal issues, which I can’t blame him for, and don’t I don’t discredit his courage, but as I said above, more distribution and hiding within the crowd would have done that for him. Quickly, maybe instantly, he recognized an opportunity to realize more than profit or fame, like milking a cow rather than butchering for meat. And it does seem that really, with Snowden’s deal for assylum, we now have two interpretative levels to contend with as to the relevance of the documents before they’re seen. Like the government’s motives behind this quickly realized more to be gained than simple protection, he should be accountable no less for his acceptance of the irrelevance and short attention spans his method brings. A little less time defending oneself and a little more attention to the point of the revelations would be appreciated, in my view. Thanks for a great post. I’ll recommend it elsewhere.

    • thedoctorisindahaus says:

      I doubt glenn worries about time. Only exposure of his own exciting readings. Techies are never going to accept anything the NSA says.
      This is a battle between people who want more disclosure and wider awarenesss, and those who idolize glenn. It’s a restricted circle of nobodies, with the public mildly impressed by front page stories every couple weeks.
      It’s basically hard to sell newspapers. But this helps. I don’t take any radical too seriously these days but it’s nice to hear the memes when people are afraid even to mouth platitudes and rush to strengthen power the way fans rush to strengthen glenn. Not that it matters much I don’t think anything would ‘move glenn’ to change his behavior.

  11. Nell says:

    :: The release of the HBGary trove achieved many useful ends — such as HBGary dissolving in an excruciatingly painful acid bath of bad publicity – without one fucking ‘debate’ or change in policy or … ::

    And so now’s the moment to step up to defend those who are being prosecuted for helping disseminate it, some facing charges that could bring life-gutting amounts of jail time. Please donate if you can to free Barrett Brown dot org for his legal defense. Every bit helps.

    Since Brown and his lawyers have been gagged by the court, it’s vital for those of us who can still speak up to spread the word: Brown’s being targeted to prevent writers from engaging with and working on a big trove of released information — and that threatens all journalists.

  12. thedoctorisindahaus says:

    I can’t help jumping ahead and thinking that glenn now has more followers than the people supporting him do, put together.
    If the ACLU and EFF started cahnted “glenn’s being an asshole,this is unacceptabl”, that might makea difference.
    But their principles are ever timid as they have been.

    as to his big lie in august about 14-20k dos, I always had it in my head that 50k was the number he was talking and this new link is a unique moment of downplaying it, 2 months after the snowden unmasking.

    • Tarzie says:

      i don’t get the drift of your last paragraph. The smaller numbers were reported earlier. The 50k+ figure was first introduced after the Heathrow incident and was essentially confirmed by the New York Times in their encryption story.

      • thedoctorisindahaus says:

        I mean I feel like I remember the 50k number from much much earlier. It just feels that way. I should look it up to see if it’s true. But I still have to figure that out/setup for searching all my saved articles.

      • Tarzie says:

        No. Glenn’s first estimate was like 9000. Then it was 15k to 20k. The British Govt said 50k+ for just the stuff Miranda was carrying. New York Times confirmed Brit Govt basically about their GCHQ trove. If you find something different, I’d be very surprised. That whole Manning thing at the beginning was bullshit no matter how you slice it. Weird that he was sticking to his story about the size even after the Brits had quoted a bigger number, just before the New York Times wrote its article. This is all so weird and bad. Everything just stinks of bullshit. Everything.

      • thedoctorisindahaus says:

        It’s weird and bad only because it’s not as good as it could be. Excellence is clearly not a high priority for many people.
        As to manning, I’m still convinced that Snowden’s leaks help her more than any ostensible distraction they caused.
        I didn’t hear a single mention of the trial during the run up and earliest days, in the major media and they seemed hell bent on not covering it.
        One has nothing to do with the other and the arguably, the snowden leaks haven’t even been distracting. Aside from us obsessives, generally the NSA did not ‘occupy the news’ except the occasional 10-15 minute segment several times, on the occasion of a new story.
        In addition to every other shitty thing about this process, one more is that although glenn’s news cycle baloney is on faulty assumptions, it is at least true that the news does not care about telling this story to ‘the public’ as much as it cares about race-baiting stories like trayvon.
        I know we’re on to the issue of specialists and affected people for snowden’s archive but the issue of chelsea manning can only be relevant to the public at large, since the trial itself wouldn’t bring out any new specialist information.

      • Tarzie says:

        No, it’s weird and bad because its weird and bad. Im not just talking about the slow leaking and the bullshit ‘method.’ There’s the dishonest, smeary Manning/Snowden comparisons at the start. Pure fabrication in retrospect. Then the computer smashing incident that Rusbridger didn’t tell anyone about. Then they sent Miranda to Heathrow after the computers were smashed. Then the Guardian suppressed a Vodaphone story that only came out because Poitras reported it in Germany. Then there is all this Greenwald speaking on behalf of Snowden, without once mentioning that of course Snowden can’t speak for himself due to his exile agreement. Then there’s the way they lie, bully and stonewall their way through criticism. Then there’s the fact that they are holding onto vastly more than they reveal. Book deals. Movie deals. The stench of bullshit is off the charts.

        If the problem boils down to ‘not as good as it could be’ you need to stop idolizing preening dipshit sycophants who work for the Mass. ACLU and start paying attention. I think they’re pursuing quite a lot of excellence. I think they’re firing on all cylinders. Just not in any way that scares the national security establishment or serves their readers anything but a tale of heroic journalism, which seems just fine with the rubes.

        I also can’t agree with you about Manning. Her trial entered public consciousness alongside unflattering comparisons to Snowden. And Greenwald’s been using this dumping cudgel ever since. My remarks aren’t just about the general public. She was wiped off the radar for most of the people that cared about her. Your sense of time is weird. Manning’s trial and the Snowden story broke simultaneously, so of course you heard more about her once her trial started. But the transparency people became transfixed with Snowden. I don’t think Greenwald wrote a single thing about Manning’s trial and, as he reminds us, he was her biggest advocate.

      • thedoctorisindahaus says:

        I don’t idolize certain aclu sycophants. I take my moments when they come and find some nice things on twitter. Tweeting, “hey wake up” to people who are in a twilight zone of sycophancy, whose own criticisms are almost entirely ignored and uninfluential, would be a successful way of getting ignored and getting nowhere, one way or another.

        I don’t think I heard more about manning when the trial started in any medium that could be said to be relevant to public consciousness except the greenwald toobin 5 minute debate on the matter …and he was only there due to being of-snowden-fame. That was the day before the second match up about nsa/snowden.
        Listening to more sympathy from tweeters who were already obsessives, on the plight of manning, was hardly much of a loss due to snowden. My impression was that snowden’s unflattering comparison brought manning to public attention at all, in an environment that seemed as fascist as could be, and has alone created more sympathy for whistleblowing. Alone, but in a really petty way.

        The fact that greenwald has not used his pulpit now, when people will pay more attention to him than ever did or ever will, to talk about other whistleblowers more often or at all, is surely a great discredit to an already shitty leak manager. But I don’t doubt for a second his first idiotic answer would be, “I’m dedicating to doing the most I can with what I have, workingi 23.9 hours a day on the leaks”.
        Also, not that his talking would do anything.

      • Tarzie says:

        You’re right about tweeting ‘hey wake up’ except gatekeepers have always been the main topic of this blog and Greenwald is a new low. Like car-wreck bad, made doubly interesting by the loyalty he commands. This truly is some amazing shit here, where the normalization of surveillance and the suppression of state secrets is remade as transparency and resistance, while the big players sign book and movie deals. The system has never looked so readily adaptive to threats.

    • Tarzie says:

      I know he’s not going to lose cred. I just do this to separate out the stupid people for my own self. It’s been liberating realizing that the American left is completely useless and that most people are credulous dipshits.

      • thedoctorisindahaus says:

        I’m glad you found something positive to take away from this excruciatingly long and boring process. Only about 50 more years to come of guardian and nyt hoarding drips even after glenn dies. But they better hurry or they’ll lose the capitalization opportunities. This stuff is scheduled to be declassified in about 30 years. Time is running out for the gatekeepers!

  13. thedoctorisindahaus says:

    well duckduckgo so far suggesting it was the late august independent.co.uk article about mid-east listening station that first started the 50,000 number. So far you’re correct. I’m all woozy with the history. Has this shit taken 4 months? For realz?

  14. Mark Kackstetter says:

    ‘I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest…’

    I thought that you might explore this portion of the Snowden quote a little more closely.

    Perhaps I’m missing something, but that reads pretty clearly to me as Snowden had already vetted each and every document that he gave to Greenwald and company. If one believes that to be true, then what purpose does Greenwald’s additional layer of vetting serve?

    Are we to believe that Greenwald and company understand what they’re reading better than Snowden did? Or is it that they feel that their judgment of what should be in the public interest is superior to Snowden’s?

    You’ve described Greenwald’s approach as paternalistic and, given my thoughts above, I have to agree. It’s hard to get more paternalistic than implicitly telling the subject matter expert that you’ll decide what’s important, not him.

    • Tarzie says:

      Yeah, that’s been mentioned around here before, but the hole in the story is Snowden’s statement about vetting the documents. It’s clearly not true. There are just too many documents. There are 58000 documents about the GCHQ alone. There is no way he could have gone through all of them. That story was just PR.

      • Mark Kackstetter says:

        Yeah, I figured I wasn’t pointing out anything new, but it still made me wonder. I also, of course, read through your entire post so did see the section discussing the idea that it’s likely impossible that Snowden actually did vet all the documents, but apparently still felt like writing what I did regardless.

        On that note, if the original quote is clearly erroneous, why haven’t we seen a retraction or correction? One of the things that I liked about Greenwald when I first started reading him was his willingness to openly correct erroneous statements in his columns, especially considering his tenacity when pointing out that other people were being inconsistent.

        I suppose I should feel somewhat comforted that Greenwald can be just as inconsistent as any other public figure, but it’s still somewhat disappointing to see.

      • Tarzie says:

        his willingness to openly correct erroneous statements in his columns, especially considering his tenacity when pointing out that other people were being inconsistent.

        Write this again so I can laugh at it again. Greenwald is a shameless liar.

        No you should not be comforted. You should be disgusted by his hypocrisy, which is the other thing he is quick to point out in others.

        Please, kill the Glennbot inside. It will eat your brain. That you feel comforted by his shittiness is a warning sign that the rot has already set in.

  15. Steven Bloom says:

    i suppose its some comfort to see your “left media gatekeeper” model vindicated again. i like the phrase “the managerial left” dunno if it’s yours but it’s a pretty good description of Greenwald’s fans, not just because of their authoritarian elitism, but because they seem to think that the main purpose of left-wing politics is to provide comfortable middle class lifestyles for a small number of intellectuals. it’s nice that greenwald admits he’s mainly in it for the money, but if that’s the case why should he get kudos on the left? when doubts were raised about Greenwald keeping info back to promote his book there was a lot of “you think Glenn should work for free? lol silly purists!” from his fans. what got me about this wasn’t so much the stupid strawmanning, but the implicit assumption that Greenwald was somehow entitled to make a lot of money out of this important political issue. but why the fuck should he? did the people who trawled the HB Gary archives get a salary? how many people doing activism ever get paid for it? people expend their time and energy and put themselves in danger for causes all the time. what makes Greenwald so special? He already has a job, if he wants to write articles about this for the guardian that’s already covered under his existing remit. if he wants to do work on the side on behalf of civil liberties or anti-surveillance he should do it for free like everyone else. if he doesn’t think that work is worth doing unless he gets more money then he can fuck off and let other people do it. .

    • Tarzie says:

      I take no pleasure in being vindicated by this, but yeah, Greenwald is the deepest expression of everything I have been writing about on this blog for the past year or so. This amazing act of remaking the concealment of government secrets as disclosure is a kind of heat vampirism I’d not anticipated and certainly not from Greenwald.

      I don’t think Glenn would admit he’s ‘mostly in it for the the money’ but the comment about ‘vested interest’ at least concedes that that’s part of it. All of that ‘why shouldn’t Glenn make all the monies’ business was just typical of this degraded discussion and the class of people dominating it: first, because my point wasn’t that making money is wrong, but that it might be a motive for hoarding information; second, because of their sickening identification with his ambition above all else. That’s what’s so disgusting about these hideous people dominating this discussion right now: they don’t identity with any of the world’s surveilled people — particularly non-Americans — nearly so much as they identify with Greenwald’s ambition and risk aversion. Their interest, I think, is in vicariously enjoying this cheesy, hammy performance of courageous journalist battling the Leviathan while becoming a celebrity in the process. There is nothing really ‘left’ or dissident about them nor in their anodyne challenge to the NSA. They’re complete fakes. Also dumb and ignorant as rocks most of them, shockingly so, though that doesn’t temper their arrogance.

      I think I am less inclined than you to fault Greenwald for making money at all, but you’re right, he’s already doing well enough and as you say there are more courageous people who fight power with far fewer rewards and far greater risks. Why we should care particularly about his getting rich off of government secrets that belong in the public domain is a great mystery. But then I am not a member of the managerial class left and yes that is my coinage. First became aware of them during Occupy, watching horrible Manhattan professionals and the pre-professional offspring of the same class throwing their weight around and disappearing up their own assholes. Have been observing how they operate on Twitter ever since. I don’t think any good can come from alliance with such people, whose bread and butter in real life is navigating strict hierarchies by kissing up, punching down, rote learning and adhering to rules. They have no consistent politics, really, just gestures, and mob-like, bullying enthusiasm for political fads and moral campaigns, most of which aim in some way to completely erase class from the constellation of mob-approved concerns. I find them repulsive.

      • Steven Bloom says:

        “comforting” was kind of ironic. i assume anyone who has an overly pessimistic political analysis would always rather be proved wrong. it’s just a shame they never are. I’m glad that you’ve been banging on about this for a while though, cos there isn’t enough critical analysis of left media. i can’t remember the exact quote, and i’m not going to search for it because my computer’s hellishly slow, but i like your “even chomsky doesn’t understand how chomsky relates to chomsky” line. even people who aspire to a critical understanding of power structures are always looking for miracles or exceptions. i’ve had to deal with my share of pseudo-lefty twats who when they start getting media attention throw any sort of analysis out the window and decide it must be because they’re so fucking awesome, and then demand that everyone else should shut up and listen to them because their (corporate media-sanctioned) access proves they know their shit.

        I’m not inherently against the idea of Greenwald being able to make money off of this whole thing, but a). that should always be secondary to raising public awareness and fighting power and b) why should he get it all? it there’s an amount of money (either actual cash or potential wealth derived from greater exposure/access etc.) to be made from these revelations shouldn’t it be spread around left journos as much as possible? even if GG had given up the docs after a month he’d have raised his profile enough to be minted. he’s already a bestselling author, with an established fanbase – any book he wrote about the NSA would be a guaranteed to sell a fucktonne anyway, new revelations or no, he doesn’t particularly need this. if he had distributed docs to a large number of struggling radical journalists he could have made them all rich. I just find it utterly disgusting that people move heaven and earth to defend Greenwald’s right to make two huge sacks of cash out of this instead of one while people like Arthur Silber are begging for change to survive.

      • Tarzie says:

        Well said. I agree on everything. Great clarification at the end there on two stacks of cash vs. one and the comparison to Arthur Silber. It’s so weird that among the not-left things being repackaged as left by way of this spectacle, the hoarding of intellectual property is among them. I’d say these people are pigs, except I’m an animal-lover and pigs seem like pretty decent creatures.

  16. Trish says:

    The more this plot unfolds the more murky it gets.

    We know that Glenn has between 15,000 and 100, 000 documents. using the 15k number, and the current pace of publishing it would take 26 years to publish all the documents. On what planet can Glenn justify that!! Someone should tweet and ask him.

    He did tweet about the Guardian given docs to NYT and said as a publisher they had greater protection than he as a individual reporter did. However, and I read the tweets he was not very clear in his answers. By his own admission, the guardian could also give docs to other newspapers around the world. Why is this not happening?

    Two months ago, NYT were given 50, 000 docs. Where are the stories? What is going on. Seems Glenn who needs to be involved in every story, is quick to point out he is not involved in NYT and it is being handled by the guardian.

    Nothing wrong with Glenn making money, but is he spending time working on his book? time that could be spent on getting stories published in the news. There is no way he can justify working on a book that will not be published for at least a year, when that time could be spent on getting more documents published now.

    While his fan base are for the most part useful idiots, cracks are appearing and will continue. If Glenn keeps up his need for total control, and the pace of stories continue to decline,more and more people will turn against him. When they do, Glenn will have a hard time defending why the guardian could give docs to NYT and why Glenn did not get them to give it to other papers. people will realize his actions delayed or stopped important information from getting out, and his approach helped minimize its impact.

    • Tarzie says:

      It was clear when the Guardian handed off the GCHQ docs to the NYT that he would not be involved in the writing of the stories. That’s why his excuse about how dangerous it would be to ‘hand out documents like lollipops’ to news providers in other countries never made sense.

      You have a lot of unwarranted faith in his responsiveness to questions. I stopped tweeting at him ages ago because exchanges with him became so unprofitable. He stonewalls. When that doesn’t work. He lies. When that doesn’t work he spews insults. The last few conversations I had with him happened when he inserted himself into conversations I was having with others, in which he’d seen me suggest he and his colleagues weren’t perfect. In case you want to do it yourself, suggesting the sun doesn’t shine from his ass is the absolute best way of getting his attention. But beware the trolling Glennbot army.

      Your optimism about ‘cracks’ and declining credibility also seems misplaced. Glenn’s fan base is growing by leaps and bounds. A lot of people will just lose interest in the story, and a lot of others won’t. I see people online with an almost fetishistic eagerness for each new ho-hum confirmation of repression. They like the drama. The scary totalitarian state. The courageous show of resistance. They like living inside a hackneyed, predictable movie. He’s going to sell a lot of books.

      Short of someone else leaking the docs to others, this is not a problem with a solution. I am writing about it because I think it is an interesting study in how the system uses the raw material of deeply shitty people like Greenwald to adapt to threats, and also because it demonstrates the complete absence of any kind of real left critique in the classes dominating the discussion. In the unlikely event that something genuinely good happens on the political front in the next several years, it will be despite these people, not because of them. They’re a toxic waste dump that poisons real dissent.

      • Trish says:

        Sadly, I think you are right. I am glad that you have written about it even if only gives a voice to the few that can see what is going on.

        What is so disappointing is I never imagined that one of our own, so to speak, would be equally, if not more adapt, at twisting the facts to support his position. The Guardian giving the documents to the NYT dives a truck through Glenn’s argument, but his fawning fan base fails to see it.

        Glenn hides behind the – I am risking my life reporting on this. While, I am well aware that it comes with grave risk, it is also true that if the documents were shared with more newspapers and reporters then the risk would also be shared. In fact, the more people involved the less riskier it is for any one individual.

        I think what your blog has achieved is shed a light on Glenn’s claims and actions. While, Glenn may ignore what has been said here, the truth has a funny way of getting out. It might take time, but it will.

        Thank you for doing this

      • Tarzie says:

        I don’t concede that Glenn is in great danger. Barton Gellman just lives his life in DC writing roughly equivalent stories. It’s all part of the hype. Glenn is a help to the security establishment, not a hindrance. Certain members of the NSA may be slightly uncomfortable at the moment, but I imagine the rest of the establishment finds all his hyperventilating alongside the helpful hoarding of documents quite amusing. Glenn is also quite useful generally as a very admired, bullying and dishonest arbiter of the limits of dissent. What has this whole exercise been but a lesson in 1) the overwhelming surveillance power of the state and 2) the proper way to blow whistles on it (which is to mostly not blow whistles at all).

        Greenwald is a well-connected, disappointed liberal reformist that our corporate-mediated discourse posits as the most extreme left. That makes him a gift to the establishment as a gatekeeper, not a problem. ‘This far and no more’ should be tattooed on his forehead. The PTB would be extremely foolish to mess with a single hair on his head, especially as his star rises and he shows himself more than willing to play ball. If he were disruptive he wouldn’t be on CNN. Establishment hacks wouldn’t be calling him the savior of journalism. If you see him as embattled, I think you’re still not be getting it.

        Genuinely disruptive people — like some of the people involved in the HBGary hack — are actually in jail or dead, while Glenn, who enjoys security protection from the Brazilian government, goes on the BBC to lecture a British television host about how the First Amendment protects him. But, of course, it’s not the first amendment that’s protecting him, as Barrett Brown must surely know. It’s his obedience.

  17. Trish says:

    I don’t think i was very clear. I think whistle blowing comes with grave risks. I think reporting on it also comes with risks. However, like you I think Glenn has hyped those risks to support his own agenda. To mitigate the “risk” it would actually make more sense for Glenn to insist the Guardian share the information with multiple outlets, similar to what they have done with NYT. The more people reporting on it the less any one individual can be targeted.

    the fact that Glenn has not done this suggests the “risk” is not as dangerous as he claims, and that it is more about his own agenda – control, and potential profit.

    Maybe there is another more noble reason why Glenn is hoarding the information. But given that the Guardian can and have shared it with the NYT, I can not fathom what it is.

    • AmishRakeFight says:

      “To mitigate the “risk” it would actually make more sense for Glenn to insist the Guardian share the information with multiple outlets, similar to what they have done with NYT. The more people reporting on it the less any one individual can be targeted.” – Exactly right. But I think it’s clear that Glenn isn’t really interested in mitigating that risk because 1) He’s quite well protected, as has been noted, 2) sharing the information would impede the fame and wealth coming to him, and 3) hyping this risk is a very convenient tool he can use to beat down people who want more disclosure, as he did with Matthew Green.
      I don’t mean to inject myself into your exchange with Tarzie, just wanted to point this out. Cheers.

  18. dtaylor says:

    “What has this whole exercise been but a lesson in the proper way to blow whistles (which is, to practically not blow them at all).”

    {puts on tin-foil hat} It has obviously occured to multiple people here that this whole story is extremely fishy.

    Glenn begins at Salon as a pseudo civil liberties/whistleblower advocate. Manning and Wikileaks blows up and Glenn is johnny-on-the-spot defending and doing his best in publicizing the event. Keep in mind that this was a non-hierarchal release of information that threatened foriegn policy in general and war-making in particular. These are the only issues the elite really gives a shit about.

    Glenn gets a job with the shitty Guardian who happens to be the culprit that ‘accidentally’ released the password to the treasure trove of Manning documents thus starting the ‘mass dumping=bad’.

    Snowden comes along as a model of proper whistle-blowing. This event is concerned with non-specific spying and general information gathering. It has no direct ties to war making or foreign policy.

    Given that Wikilieaks is probably the biggest threat to our war-making foriegn policy, perhaps Snowden and Glenn are just patsies in a grand game to destroy it. {takes off tin-foil hat}

    • Tarzie says:

      I am not among those who discounts all of what falls under the heading ‘conspiracy theories.’ At the same time, I don’t see a good reason to embrace one if everything shitty is right in the open.

      Public lefts like Greenwald can’t help but contain dissidence and when they stop doing that, they’re expunged. Greenwald and Snowden are simply raw material out of which the narrative can be shaped. Various carrots are dangled in front of their noses. Various paddles are poised over their behinds.

      Conspiracists get all caught up origin stories and miss what happens after the trigger event, which is where the action always is, whether the trigger was engineered or not. They also have a tendency to bring discredit on everyone critiquing something from the left. This is why I prefer people to leave the tinfoil hat off without a compelling reason to do otherwise. I don’t find all of your speculating terribly enlightening alongside what’s known.

      I also don’t concede that war-making is the only thing elites care about. I can’t imagine what you base that on.

      • dtaylor says:

        I definately agree with the comment that they are simply ‘raw material’ and GG has shown that he definately likes carrots.

        My only point was to show that perhaps the carrot was the story itself. It could simply be the NSA surrendering information to “useful idiots” to shift any attention from real threats like Wikileaks.

        I am not sold on any specific damage that this story has done. As you mention, some in the NSA could be mildly uncomfortable. Nevertheless, nothing structurally has changed. Once people are acclimated to the new temperature of surveilance, perhaps we will get laws that retroactively approve of PRISM and international buy-in as well.

      • dtaylor says:

        “I also don’t concede that war-making is the only thing elites care about. I can’t imagine what you base that on.”

        I should have clarified. I meant political elites specifically. I think this is a vital cog in our economy and foreign policy.

        As to the not “terribly enlightening” part…well, I concede the point.

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  20. Rob Schneider says:

    As a few days have gone by, and other comments, reading this article actually did something for me in that it actually got me interested in the affair. I haven’t paid attention, not that I feel these revelations aren’t publicly enlightening, but the revelations are an assumption I’ve had for years and change neither my strategy or habits. But I’ve come to the same conclusion as dtaylor, or at least lean in that direction. Who would really admit that Snowden isn’t someone we’d like him to be? His is a the really good story here, the ‘white knight’ everyone looks for, the young, intelligent, misled, valient fighter for truth and justice. And a wonderful story he is. Greenwald surely isn’t that. After all, he (Snowden) is providing details that even one such as myself who abandoned the technical side of computing years ago simply because I had something better to do and saw the handwriting on the wall seems to need to validate their suspicions and maybe their personal egos. But is that really the point? Is that Snowden’s point? The reporting and layers is missing that point in assuming that the implications beyond the apparent sins are publicly apparent and leave them to a few editorial sentences somewhere in the information or in the reporter’s personal personna.

    I’d be sincerely interested in a debate in which Snowden as a human takes part for examination of his original choice of vehicle for exposure. His personna, not Greewald’s. How can Greewald be any more secure than the EFF or Wikileaks? As groups, and with what I would suppose as greater base of knowledge and reputations that lack the dispute that the limitations of a few who already have a personal public persona, Snowden’s doesn’t seem a good choice for a layer. It can appear that it’s all so convoluted as to be farcical fuel for the cynical or proof to those rightly suspicious. I know it’s covering Congress’ asses well with their excuse of being ‘out of the loop’ (stupid, really, intentionally or otherwise, and I don’t for the life of me understand how the general public doesn’t see that absurdity). The others, who Greewald might be seen as representative, feel the distance of Snowden the man, don’t materially change their habits, and become no different than those who rail about financial criminality yet can’t seem to take the time to find alternatives that exist to commercial banks. I guess one can expect too much, but that expectation can be expanded with strategy. Personally, I am, and have been for years, not satisfied with strategy of this type. I applaud any effort to push Greewald, since we’re stuck with him, to expand his. He needs to get it out there. Otherwise, suspicions will reign from all sides.

  21. HuBris says:

    much of Greenwald’s & the Guardian’s actions can be explained by the great big financial sinkhole that is the Guardian’s foray into online media.

    The guardian is a very small paper in real life. Sales avg at most about 200,000

    So rusbridger made the jump Online, but Online costs money and can only be paid for by click-baiting, which the G is very good at.

    See this New Yorker profile of A British newspaper wants to take its aggressive investigations global, but money is running out. (I only link it, not becase I believe a word about Rusbridger’s motivations and drive, cos I don’t, but because it discusses the G’s finances. Personallly I think Rusbridger is quite happy to help the security state when it suits him)

    The G’s (Greenwald and the Guardian) are drip feeding this because they are desperate to milk it for every penny it is worth, to establish both their online brands as fearless investigators (never mind The Guardians blatant lying on behalf of the ZATO Terrorists currently attacking Syria)

    • Tarzie says:

      The G’s (Greenwald and the Guardian) are drip feeding this because they are desperate to milk it for every penny it is worth

      I think there is more to it than that but that’s definitely part of it, and I’ve said as much several times, starting here. GG was not pleased.

      • HuBris says:

        I think there is more to it than that but that’s definitely part of it

        Oh me too. I don’t trust Greenwald nor Rusbridger as far as I’d throw either of them. Rusbridger especially appears dodgy to me, given how the Guardian has behaved during both the Lybian and Syrian attacks by the ZATO terrorists.

        GG’s boyfriend Miranda’s arrest looked dodgy in the extreme – I’d call it theatre to be honest. What better way to portray GG as a fearless defender of civil rights and intrepid investigator than to arrange to have his other-half held for a couple of hours in Heathrow?

      • Tarzie says:

        Well I wasn’t suggesting there is a conspiracy, and I am getting kind of annoyed with how quickly people are going there. When I said there’s more to it, I meant the ideologies of the various individuals involved, among other things.

        As to the Miranda shakedown, yeah, there is quite a lot of weird there, but Miranda looked genuinely exhausted and shaken up to me. I think it may have been theatre, but I don’t think Greenwald and Miranda were in on it. I think the security establishment had all kinds of good reasons of their own for doing it, including the conferring of credibility on The Guardian’s subservient custodianship of the leaks.

  22. HuBris says:

    I think it may have been theatre, but I don’t think Greenwald and Miranda were in on it.

    Never said that they were. But Miranda was travelling on the Gaurdian’s dime, something rsbridger stated at the start in a rather cryptic fashion. I found it quite curious that almost everyone that commented on the arrest seemed to go to great lenghts not to examine that issue – it only became apparent about 4 or 5 days later WHY Miranda’s trip was paid for by the Guardian.

    I think the security establishment had all kinds of good reasons of their own for doing it, including the conferring of credibility on The Guardian’s subservient custodianship of the leaks.

    I agree, but that too seems rather conspiratorial 🙂

    as you have stated several times – There’s no gatecrashers at the MSM table

    • Tarzie says:

      I agree, but that too seems rather conspiratorial

      Well that spies conspire is not really in the same league. Where a lot of CTs fall down is in their conception of cabals so vast and capable they defy logic and intuition. They also underestimate what relatively independent individuals and organizations with common values and goals can accomplish right out in the open.

  23. Rob Schneider says:

    But doesn’t one think it’s absurd that of all people Greewald and mate Miranda wouldn’t be aware that something like that episode would happen? I think it is. Chirst, they fucked with a sitting president’s airplane ride over this. Just proves to me they’re both stupid or so incredibly naive (which I can’t accept) and that especially Greenwald is useless.

    Tell me if you mind, but I think that your pieces on this are very good, and I’m thinking of posting short segment from this and the next, then link to all the posts in this set on Indymedia. Appropriate attributions will be made and posted as a news article without included comment.

    • Tarzie says:

      But doesn’t one think it’s absurd that of all people Greewald and mate Miranda wouldn’t be aware that something like that episode would happen?

      I do not fixate on this incident because we’ll never know the truth about it and because other things out in the open — like burying the leaks — are more important.

      Feel free to link to me but please, please, please, do not associate my posts with conspiracism. If you’re going to float conspiracy theories, I will be very angry if there is even the slightest suggestion that I endorse them. I have made my views on this very clear, and I am finding all the conspiracy crack smoking going on here increasingly irritating. Everything really shitty about this is happening out in the open. The system is just doing its thing.

      • Rob Schneider says:

        I hadn’t thought of doing anything but pasting some highlights from the posts and supplying the links, basically to make it available. I will not offer any personal comment or opinion of my own with the links, though I can’t guarantee that conspiracies won’t enter into comments on that site, but can be pretty sure that they will due to its readership. If you object to that, I won’t post it.

        Just for the record, I don’t have any conspirational thoughts upon this, don’t think Snowden is some limited hang-out or doubt that he’s for real. As for Greenwald and his mate’s incident, when I said ‘aware’ I meant that one would have thought that something of the nature of the incident would have crossed their minds in planning the trip, not that it was convoluted script. I accept that we’re all human and that planning something of the nature of these disclosures will necessarily be messy for no other reason than one or a small group will never see nor ever predict all of the variables that will surface. Humans are rarely party to such scope. Forgive me if I gave you that impression.

      • Tarzie says:

        No prob. I’ve gotten touchy about the conspiracism.

        Feel free to link to my posts. Always happy for more traffic.

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