Though one could write a book about the Snowden meta-narrative, pretty sure the anarchists carrying water for a microfinance billionaire right now are the last Snowden Effect I care to contemplate. A lot of people, perhaps most, will be glad to hear that I can’t look at this Leak Keeper shit anymore. I’m walking away from this car wreck.
I was going to write up a really exhaustive summary of why I have been at odds with this whole spectacle from the beginning. But most of what I would say can be gleaned from everything I’ve posted already, a really critical reading of this remarkably shitty article about surveillance of Muslim radicals, and a glance at Greenwald’s Twitter timeline, where, along with the usual scolding of those who do not find attendance to the leaks as personally rewarding as he does, he’s equating “You’re hoarding leaks to make deals” with “You got paid” to evade criticism of his reckless and vulgar monetizing. Glad to see that Mark Ames has taken this up two months after I first did, even if he might be pilfering me without credit.
If I were going to do a post-mortem, it would be an elaboration on this: only 550 heavily redacted pages have been made available to the public from a trove exceeding 50,000 documents; most of us still have no clue about the scale of the surveillance problem or what we can do about it; resistance is confined mostly to professional civil liberties advocates; there is little indication that anything will change soon if ever; there seems to have been little disruption to overall system functioning though certainly some people in the NSA are nervous; everyone has had a lengthy lesson in proper, system-friendly, whistleblowing; the more avid followers of this story and its meta-narrative seem dumber and weirder than they were before; and the Leak Keepers are richer and more influential.
These outcomes are not surprising considering that right from the start, the Snowden Affair repudiated defiance as much as it embodied it, with a whistleblower who exaggerates his own state-friendly meticulousness while repeatedly denouncing a mischaracterized Chelsea Manning; and a select group of journalists who capitulate entirely before state authority, pitching their tales of state crimes in anticipation of state remedies, while routinely seeking the counsel of state officials on what to publish.
Boss Leak Keeper Greenwald — for all his limelighted chestbeating — far exceeds his colleagues in his deference to power, by reiterating Snowden’s Manning/dumping slurs in particularly emphatic terms; touting the virtues of responsible, elite-tempered whistleblowing; ardently defending withheld documents, redactions and consultation with state officials; celebrating endorsements from the likes of Dianne Feinstein, Richard Cohen and James Clapper; and punching hard to his left (‘chicken pseudo-radicals’ ) when someone can’t discern the lines between the touted savvy, subservience and personal enrichment. This defiance/compliance alchemy has its corollary in the reading public, for whom outrage morphs into bored resignation under the slow drip of increasingly unsurprising, problem-minimizing news stories and their meager allotment of redacted, state-reviewed documents.
Of course, this kind of obedient, reformist handwringing is nothing new, but rarely has it been so widely and convincingly characterized as heroic, disruptive journalism, a difference owing as much to media’s performed renewal via Greenwald’s clownish self-mythologizing as it does to the state’s sabre rattling. We’re now in phase two of the spectacle, with the topic of mass surveillance now entirely subordinate to embattled journalism and its impending rescue by self-enriching heroes. Greenwald and several associates have auctioned themselves off to corporate power, and publicly debase themselves on its behalf, while instructing us that this is disruptive too.
I don’t care to rehash anything beyond that. Instead, I’ll simply move on and attempt to predict where things will be a year from now:
1. We will all still be under surveillance and we still won’t quite comprehend to what extent. Indeed, the system of surveillance and discipline will likely be stronger, along with protections against more leaking. There will still be official debate, public handwringing and maybe even some policy changes, mostly directed at the NSA, to the exclusion of most of the 15 other agencies in the Intelligence Community, private sector involvement, and surveillance by states and municipalities.
2. In light of increasing Fourth Amendment concerns among elites, the Intelligence Community will continue to dedicate more resources to open source intelligence gathering and analysis as a successor to more superficially intrusive programs. The civil liberties establishment will mostly ignore this.
3. The PRISM partners will continue to reduce the appearance of complicity via product enhancements that afford limited privacy protection to their customers. Specialty products and services affording greater protection will be increasingly popular for people of means. Other tech companies, such as Palantir and Lexis Nexis, will continue to service unaltered demand by the private sector, the national security apparatus, states and municipalities for data mining and analysis.
4. Militant dissidents, Muslims, African Americans and other people of low status will, as ever, be surveilled and disciplined by more overt and violent means than intrusions on internet and phone privacy, in addition to intrusions on internet and phone privacy. The local surveillance and subjugation of low status individuals will continue to be regarded as a largely separate matter from the NSA surveillance problem and attended to far less by journalists and policy makers.
5. Ignorant, infantilized Manichaeans with no coherent politics or analysis beyond muddled liberalism in various costumes will continue to dominate what passes for a left in the American middle class, fetishizing information, resistance theatre and celebrity saviors/martyrs, in lieu of any influence or control over the people who actually run things. The possibility that this sector will ever contribute meaningfully to positive change will continue to diminish as it loses any memory of, or interest in, analysis, tactics or enduring outcomes.
6. Having packaged the leaks in a tale of resurgent journalism and his own heroism, while painstakingly restricting their impact to limits set by elites, Glenn Greenwald will be a vastly richer, more influential arbiter of dissidence. He will continue to write without posing any serious challenge to the system that created a global surveillance apparatus. By way of his quarter billion dollar news venture, he will lead the mainstream appropriation of superficially harder lefts. As ever, he will be fractionally more critical of power than the vast majority of his colleagues at the same level and will therefore be lavished with praise, as his utility as a template of permissible dissent increases. The publication of his book will likely have confirmed that, yes, he delayed interesting and important disclosures for commercial reasons. He will travel between the US and Brazil without government interference.
7. Snowden will be living in a more pleasant country than Russia.
8. I will have quit with the internecine conflict. I will be fighting the government with parody accounts, Twitter blowjobs for left celebrities, and yapping about shit I haven’t read. We will #Win!!!
Sing us out, Babs.
P.S. I have no regrets about any of these posts; I am pleased with them. When I reread the post that kicked off the Twitter storm, I am struck by how subsequent events, beginning with Greenwald’s overwrought, evasive reaction, completely vindicated everything I’d written. I am particularly proud of defending Manning from his and Snowden’s self-serving smears right at the start, which was the trigger for watching them more critically.
I am on very easy terms with the divisions these posts created between myself and people who seemingly share so few of my basic principles, and who regard any examination of The Snowden Spectacle at odds with their Marvel Comics worldview as conspiracist, vainly purist, a pretext for working off a grudge, or government-sponsored. As with Greenwald’s top-down, power-appeasing custodianship of the leaks, I see nothing recognizably ‘left’ or anti-authoritarian in people who use any unethical means available to shield a rich, white, male authority figure from scrutiny or criticism. The bizarre beatdown fever these posts inspired confirmed what I’d suspected all along, that many of the post-Obama, Occupy-scented radicals are just ignorant, disaffected liberals — to the extent that their politics have any coherence at all — and under the incitement of one more savior charlatan, they’re doing what liberals reflexively do, energetically policing the boundaries of dissent and marching everyone down the familiar culs de sac.
As predictable as this routine is, I was not prepared for how stupid and infantile most of these people are, nor how caught up they’d get in Greenwald’s cheesy theatrics and the vicarious enjoyment of his rising fortune, which for today’s cube farm radical are apparently a much bigger draw than the vanishingly small promise of reform. If the goal was to overwhelm me with contempt, for both them and for mutual friends who overlooked their grotesque, mobbed-up, self-superior stupidity, well then, mission accomplished. But in the end, I found it liberating. To the extent that I was ever even aware of these people, I had written most of them off long before I fell out with their hero. As to the the rest, there isn’t a bridge I burned over this that I wouldn’t burn sooner given a second chance, starting with the vampiric Greenwald, who never heard a shot across the bow he couldn’t answer with a cannon, at least if it came from his left.
It’s revealing that despite all the hostility these posts aroused, so few people challenged them on their merits, but instead took Dad’s lead, resorting to mischaracterizations and smears when not disputing my right to have any opinion at all. Though a shocking number seem to think they are arguing when they do this, and deftly too, it’s certainly not the way to make me reconsider anything. I guess the point is to scare others out of saying I got anything right, or to make them skip reading me altogether, which are some really charming objectives for anti-authoritarians and transparency advocates. I would have appreciated more opportunities to test these ideas against serious objections, and still would. For people who differ, and know what an argument is, I’m always happy to discuss, preferably here.
UPDATE 2 (link to this update)
Greenwald has replied to Mark Ames at length on the accusation that he has basically sold the leaks to Omidyar. He has finessed his reply since the fateful day when I raised the issue of hoarding leaks and personal gain, but it’s pretty much the same old stuff. Well over half of it is fallacious, so naturally Greenwald’s acolytes are laying on the praise. They love his non-responsive smackdowns.
Greenwald’s schtick in these situations, which invariably reduces to “I’m faultless and you’re an idiot/operative/hack/hypocrite for daring to suggest otherwise” is literally sickening to me at this point, especially considering the extent to which he is presumed to be elevating our debate. Since my claims and Ames’ claims are different — Ames is somewhat caught up in The Scary Libertarian — I’m only going to deal with the points Greenwald makes that intersect with stuff I’ve said on this blog. I also want to stress that Greenwald’s leak hoarding/monetizing is only one of many objections I have to his custodianship of the leaks.
Below I have paraphrased things he says in his reply that pertain to things I have said. If you don’t trust my paraphrasing, feel free to wade through Greenwald’s customarily dull prolixity and boilerplate invective yourself. My replies are in line:
1. Greenwald/Poitras can’t distribute leaks to other journalists because then they become sources which puts them in jeopardy of losing the legal fortifications they enjoy as journalists.
As I said when he said this on my blog two months ago, that sounds fine, but it doesn’t square with the sharing of leaks with The New York Times and ProPublica. Why is handing off all the GCHQ docs to the New York Times different from handing off all the docs pertaining to Spain to El Pais? Why was sharing documents with other writers at The Guardian with whom he did not share a by-line ok? If he would just address this, I might be forced to concede on this point. He has been asked this question repeatedly here and on Twitter and, as far as I know, has never really answered it.
2. Bob Woodward got rich on state secrets to which he had exclusive access.
With his newfound nostalgia for the traditions of old media, Greenwald ignores how things have changed since most of the people he names made their bones, both technically — it’s of course easier to distribute documents now — and socially. In the wake of Cablegate, an ardent defense of journalists making large sums on whistleblowers in exile or jail seems increasingly parasitic, as do the ringing endorsements Greenwald’s appeal to tradition is finding among other journalists. Insisting that privileged white guys explain why they haven’t distributed state secrets that, by rights, belong to everyone they affect, should be the norm, not the exception, especially if someone has just dropped them in their lap.
Even factoring in new norms, it’s hard to make comparisons, since each case of national secret disclosing is different. It any event, we’re talking about Greenwald and potential hoarding of Snowden’s leaks matters because:
a) his leaks pertain to secrets that, prior to the overwhelmingly normalizing, even soporific effect of Greenwald’s drip drip drippery, felt really urgent, like news that should be spread far and wide as soon as possible, not least because there are actual steps people can take against the NSA’s intrusions
b) the Snowden trove is really big. We know that it exceeds 50,000 documents. That’s a lot of documents for a small number of journalists to go through and write about. So far, the public has seen just ~550 heavily redacted pages since June. Do I really have to keep pointing out why this is a problem?
There is also the matter of what whistleblowing should do. With his starry-eyed Constitutionalist reformism — which inexplicably makes him the patron saint of every political tendency except neocon and obot — Greenwald thinks it’s all about this wonderful debate we’re having, y’know, the one that put DNI Clapper on a review committee. But whistleblowing can also be used to disrupt system functioning. There is no question that wider, faster distribution of the documents around the world would greatly aggravate the NSA’s problems, with the added feature of informing a larger number of people in a shorter amount of time. Greenwald’s overwhelming focus on U. S. public policy certainly makes it easier for him to establish the credibility he needs to work his way to the top of the food chain — and, lo, he’s practically there — but it’s not obvious what it’s doing for anyone else. (I examine the different objectives of whistleblowing in this reply to Greenwald’s broken record on dumping)
I get that the more disruption someone causes to the state, the higher the risk. Which is why my larger point has always been that small cabals of ambitious, risk-averse journalists are not the people to whom leaks should be entrusted. I know Greenwald and his devoted morons insist that every little critique is provoked in some way by his awe-inspiring virtue. Others however, should consider that, by implication, my posts are an inquiry into what works and what doesn’t, and into how the system absorbs and neutralizes a threat and even turns it to its own advantage. The system seems to be managing this whistleblowing event pretty well. Greenwald’s hyperventilating about his risks and his courage would be a whole lot easier to swallow were he not constantly insisting that the way he and his colleagues go about things is the best way in all respects, even though so far the most conspicuous ‘positive’ outcome of their methods has been Greenwald’s vast personal enrichment.
3. It’s stupid to say we have a monopoly on the documents because blah, blah, blah….
He starts by saying that every news outfit with an exclusive has a monopoly and it gets steadily worse from there. I’m not going to bother with this nonsense. It’s demeaning.
It is simply a fact that after you account for all the documents that Poitras/Greenwald have in common with other Leak Keepers, there is no question they have a cache of documents that no one else has. That’s a monopoly. Even putting aside that these documents have indisputable monetary value as information that only Greenwald/Poitras can leverage toward deals, possession of all the documents has conferred additional prestige, influence and, by extension, marketability on Greenwald that he would have struggled harder for had Snowden favored someone else with the same gift, or had Greenwald/Poitras shared the wealth. This difference is probably also why no one wonders aloud why by Greenwald’s account he lives a life of danger –in virtual exile!– while Alan Rusbridger travels uneventfully between New York and London, and DC-based Barton Gellman publishes roughly identical stories without incident.
As to Omidyar, the extent to which these documents are effectively his is unknowable, as is the extent to which the Greenwald/Poitras monopoly on these documents made them attractive to Omidyar as business partners. Certainly, the immutable virtue that Greenwald insists immunizes him completely from the ‘cognitive capture‘ to which every successful journalist is vulnerable, is at odds with the lies he has been telling on Omidyar’s behalf with respect to the PayPal Wikileaks blockade and the stonewalling he does on questions about Omidyar’s business practices. Considering Omidyar’s ties to the corporate sector most deeply implicated in the surveillance apparatus, and considering that he pledged 250 million before even knowing exactly what he’s building, misgivings and doubts are very far from ‘stupid’, no matter whose they are, and it’s really disgusting and also suspect to insist so adamantly otherwise.
4. I am not a profiteer because Laura Poitras and I have thus far lived lives of anti-surveillance virtue; it’s anti-intellectual to see books and movies based on exclusive information as potential moneymakers; Noam Chomsky writes books; Pando has Silicon Valley backing too; investigative journalism is expensive so, of course, I welcome the opportunity to partner with a billionaire to promote my message of freedom.
Y’know, increasingly, the worst thing for me about Greenwald is that, for rhetorical purposes, he plays dumb and this stupidity tends to be contagious. Stuff like this is not worth arguing with. Greenwald, Poitras and Scahill had the means, certainly, to get their own venture off the ground, without hopping into bed with a billionaire as sole investor, and they were working to do just that when he contacted them. They elected not to and now Greenwald and all his fans are carrying water for the liberating virtues of toxic inequality and its unaccountability. This would be bad enough even if we weren’t supposed to accept on faith that personal enrichment had nothing to do with it.
UPDATE 3 (link to this update)
How many sharks can Greenwald jump? In his tireless and increasingly successful quest to turn lefts into the half-liberal/half-reactionary dipshit he is, Greenwald now refutes left media criticism basics. Forget your Chomsky, kids. Media ownership means nothing if you have perfect people doing the journalism. As ever, if you think the people doing the journalism aren’t perfect, well then, the problem is you:
We keep returning to this theme of corruption as a staffing problem. But it was not ever thus. Here’s Glenn just a couple years ago, interviewing Chris Hayes:
In the book, Hayes described how American elite culture is so insulated that it “produce[s] cognitive capture,” meaning that even those who enter it with hostility to its orthodoxies end up shaped by — succumbing to — its warped belief system and corrupt practices. Given that Hayes pronounces this “cognitive capture” to be “an inevitable outcome of sustained immersion” in that world, I asked him what steps he is personally taking to inoculate himself against being infected now that he’s a highly rewarded TV personality and employee of one of the world’s largest media corporations.
What a difference a billionaire makes. Kinda settles the question, doesn’t it? I mean, if it hadn’t been settled already.
Confronting Edward Snowden’s Remarks on Manning
Oligarchs Approve the NSA Debate, I Guess We’re Winning
Dr. Rosen and The Snowden Effect
Another Snowden News Story, Another Lesson in Proper Whistleblowing
A Heat Vampire in Search of a Movie Deal
More than inclined to agree on the first 6 points.
I only take exception with number 7 because, first, I can’t imagine a more pleasant country than Russia: plenty of surveillance state to keep an eye on you, crony capitalism secured through democracy voting (as per God), lots of nude beaches and a self-leashing, power serving media like you can only buy with the finest billionaires in the West. Not to mention the homophobia. In fact, I think all us Mericans, from the conservative right all the way to the extreme conservative socialist left might just up and emigrate to this Russia you speak of. She seems to be holding true to the founding fathers’ principles better than we can with our undisciplined and reckless rebel press, rabble rousing everyone to incite vomiting as a personal rejection of our one and only 3 letter institution (they’re so hard to come by nowadays).
The second reason I take exception is that I don’t think there is a country on earth that Snowden can access, that won’t deport him a week after it permits a landing.
You have a hilarious point about Russia.
Interesting. I think he is going to become an increasingly uncontroversial figure, so I envision him flying to another country without incident.
Well if I’m wrong I won’t have a heart attack or anything. I just don’t think controversy or non-controversy is of any interest to the state. They just go by their rule: punish any challenger mercilessly.
What will be uncontroversial will be his freedom or his imprisonment, as the press’s main job is to mind their business, even when they showboat. Some crocodile tears are the best Snowden can hope for if he gets caught. There is however the chance that a jury would not convict him.
We would do better to see the current “allies” in the press, those natsec reporters outside of the leak keepers, as just beat reporters covering a beat, without any particular passion either way. Functionaries who fill headlines, ready for tomorrow’s headlines. The greatest sin about this, from the standpoint of self awareness, has verily been the fetishizing of information for its own sake, as you mention, because it increases the prestige of a press which, for all the excitement of occasionally filling TWO to as many as THREE pages of the NewYorkTimes with a superficially summarized NSA tale, every few weeks, carries on the passive regurgitation of received wisdom and blowjobs to the status quo.
Yeah and that’s going to get worse.
So long as Greenwald keeps a copy of his for-profit leaks outside of his person, he could travel to the US today and give speeches promoting his book against the NSA, without a breath of controversy.
That single requirement and its risk that one of his friends might peek at the leaks, is the only thing that keeps him from doing so, aside from the profitability of puting on the rodeo show of America’s Most Wanted Journalist, deftly hiding in his Tropical Mansion paradise.
Yeah, I actually think not traveling helps with his self-mythologizing. I think he’ll lose some of his allure if the state doesn’t rough him up a little on his first trip back.
In fact given that Poitras would still have a copy, there’s no reason to believe the NSA would embarrass itself by even trying to rob Greenwald of his.
So I take it back,
it’s %100 rodeo journo show.
I agree with your point about ‘diminishing returns’. For a fleeting moment I thought these leaks might have had some impact if released around election time. Then I quickly disabused myself of that notion. I can’t foresee anything changing the voting habits of the 60% that insists on electing these two criminal organizations.
Thank you so much for your work on this. I had general bad feeling about Greenwald as the Snowden thing began (and right before at the Guardian too) and your posts helped clarify all of those feelings. After all your posts, this stuff is basic abc123 common sense now. Of course, we shouldn’t have daddy journalists deciding what we should know and when, of course we should know more than we know now with the drip drip, of course this sole focus on NSA is just a red herring, of course leaks shouldn’t be monetized etc, etc. You’ve exposed the careerist left at a new low. Though the GG/Snowden spectacle has shown it can always go lower. Maybe something new can stake a claim outside of this Greenwald clique, which shouldn’t be given the importance they so want it to have. It’s good to have all the cards out in the open. People who are thinking critically and looking from the outside can see who’s who and what’s what. The Snowden thing has outed so many people who would’ve bashed any other form of genuine dissent if it happened to have been something other than the NSA. Any threat to their tiny claim to fame would’ve incited the furor. The hysterics have only shown that you struck a nerve, the right nerve. And with some great lines along the way. Again, thanks and fuck Glenn Greenwald and his brownnosers.
I like your summary of common sense lessons. Makes a nice supplement to the post.
Don’t ever feel that you didn’t effect humanity for the better, dear, you’ve touched the lives of many who are voiceless, in a most wonderful way.
I love you Honey.
From one human being to another.
Thanks again for these posts. However ‘common-sense’ this stuff appears to others, I found the discussion to be eye-opening on many occasions. My own interest was always in the “heat vampirism” aspect, and I read the posts as a continuation of your November 2012 comments on Chris Hayes et al. Whatever his “dickishness”, the posts seemed to me to be less about Glenn Greenwald, than about the power of the economic and ideological (? a grown-up word I might be using wrong) structures that moved the whole event down familiar pathways. I mean, if the only major outcome of all those Guardian headlines is a new, remarkably ordinary media company…. wtf?
“The possibility that this sector will ever contribute meaningfully to positive change will continue to diminish as it loses any memory of, or interest in, analysis, tactics or enduring outcomes.”
Yeah. That sucks.
Though I can’t say I’ve thought it through, I’m struck by the North American (or maybe Anglo-American) quest for heroes – for that one woman or man who will save us all. Again, individual personalities don’t matter. It doesn’t matter if its Bernie Sanders or Noam Chomsky or Naomi Klein or Matt Taibbi or Chelsey Manning or, well, Tarzie. We – the big cultural ‘we’ (exceptions gratefully acknowledged) – can’t seem to let go of the idea that some soundtracked political or media figure will appear to rescue us from the lawmakers we elect and corporations we employ. We’re still waiting for Superman or Wendy – like lost kids for just won’t grow up.
P.s., troubling commenting (wordpress thinking I’m someone else, firefox blocking pop-ups), so if this shows up 3 or 4 times, just delete any extras. thks. 🙂
I’m happy to hear that. I think it does look like common sense but for a lot of people it looks like crazy talk, I think because they don’t recognize how well-equipped the system is to absorb disturbance and ‘move it down familiar pathways’. I was struck that so many found the simple proposition that gatecrashers don’t get repeated invitations to cable news akin to conspiracism. There’s an almost Marvel Comics quality to the way these people see these things, and I sometimes think Greenwald sees himself this way too. That’s why it becomes so hard to talk about alleged allies as if they’re part of the problem. You become The Joker.
Yeah, I agree this is a problem, and really struck to see the grip it has on ostensible anti-authoritarians. You’re right, this really isn’t about Greenwald, because the investment of a single individual with so much faith and control is problematic no matter who it is. But the system does automatically select for particular individuals via punishment and reward. Examining the way they behave discloses why they’ve been selected, and the weaknesses of a kind of romantic politics that is put so readily to system use. Certain individuals are going to be more effective than others and I honestly think Greenwald is a dream come true for making that movement ‘down familiar pathways’ look like something else, despite his own explicitness on intending to do just that. Beloved icons induce people to suspend disbelief, even about what they say themselves if it’s unwelcome. Just generally I think Greenwald has a supernatural ability to make people of widely varying politics and background say “He’s one of us”, partly because he compares so well to so many others and partly because his own politics, apart from his Constitutionalism, are something of a black box.
You’ve helped make it more common sense. Clarity is awesome.
I love your vein of we are all in this together, and how dare any of us rely on one person to save us. Sometimes all it takes is a simple, I Don’t Fucking Think Palantir/PayPal/FaceFiend, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera has humanity’s best interests at heart (AT ALL)… so why would one follow their monetizing of humans and destruction of privacy?
(And I would love EFF ([The] Electronic Frontier Foundation) and the ACLU ([The] American Civil Liberites Union) to respond to that sentiment, and finally explain themselves as to why they wholoeheartedly embrace such ugliness as Face Fiend, when it is not even necessary for them to have a voice….. )
parodying, for you yourself, is quite spooky imo. good job on number 8 but let’s say it’s november 31 and november is october.
I am going to have to think about this.
Tarzie, “I first did” -> Ames’ column; s/b yours.
I want to add my thanks. I too have found your perspective very informative.
I was fairly non-plussed about the subject but browsing Greenwald’s penultimate Guardian article I was struck by a passing line. I wrote a friendly comment saying this troubled me and asking where I could find an explanation of how he decides who gets what. I was surprised to get a lengthy, angressive response from Greenwald: I was an idiot for demanding a dump (I didn’t), I was a moron for using the word “gatekeeper” (I did), didn’t I know he was in danger (I didn’t), he prmoised Snowden, blah, blah. He was clearly answering a question way beyond mine and he was clearly an arse so I did some searching and found this place. Great stuff mate.
Yeah, your experience is pretty typical. He hears every inquiry as ‘Dump the docs!’ It’s bizarre. And then the usual litany on danger and what Snowden wants + ‘You’re a moron’. It’s suggestive of someone who is constantly covering for something about which he is highly conflicted. It’s such an odd personal style to go with whistleblowing. I can’t imagine any other journalist working the same turf getting away with it. Sometimes I think I have been too hard on him and then I remind myself of what a dick he is and I worry less.
So I actually looked up the thread you’re referring to, for whatever masochistic reasons (here in case anyone’s curious: http://discussion.theguardian.com/comment-permalink/27401351), and if anything you’ve underplayed how disproportionate his response was (especially when you open with “I applaud Glenn Greenwald”).
The obnoxious dickishness isn’t a problem in and of itself, but it’s been pretty clear since at least June that this guy isn’t in dialogue with us, if he ever was. The Snowden and subsequent NewCo saga open up a wide range of questions about information and journalism, inequality and philanthropy, the positioning of the populace in these debates and what leverage we have, but Glenn isn’t participating in the discussion. He maintains the illusion of participation through maximalist response to every single critique, but at this point he really doesn’t want to hear from anyone who isn’t buying what he’s selling. He’s got a position to secure, and while I genuinely don’t begrudge him that, I certainly won’t praise him for it.
The hard part about all of this for me is watching people who should know better convince themselves that there’s still a debate going on here, that any part of what’s happening here is somehow ambiguous, and something good might be right around the corner if we just have a little bit more faith. I’m glad you’re moving on Tarzie. This field is barren.
Well said. I wish we heard your voice around here more often.
This has been the hardest part for me too, though I think I might put it less generously. I don’t fault Glenn for getting appropriated, I guess, but there is a dynamic here between what you call his maximalist response and this Daddy Complex among his fans, that’s appropriating everyone else, too. I think Clapper could invest in NewCo at this point and people would still be all ‘I’m reserving judgment’ and shitting on naysayers. This insistence that everyone shut up and applaud no matter what happens goes way beyond ‘not being in dialogue.’ It’s much worse, because it forces people to rationalize their compliance. It makes it almost impossible for people to believe their own eyes. It wears on their principles. A reactionary ideology is being peddled here along with a way too rosy assessment of what it’s yielding on the anti-NSA front.
“it’s been pretty clear since at least June that this guy isn’t in dialogue with us, if he ever was”
This is one of the most odious things to me about Greenwald’s piece depending himself from Ames (and Tarzie implicitly, Greenwald playing coy by speaking of “the rancid accusation”) is the claim that he’s much more receptive to arguments he’s published too little than too much, and that he’s therefore responded to the former much more often than the latter, when that’s a straight-up lie, and plainly so. The vast majority of his efforts have been to defend himself from the Establishment and secure his place as a media elite by placating the gatekeepers of that community; just comparing the deference he’s given to Establishment authorities compared to the abhorrent bile he’s spewed toward commenters asking even basic questions like poor pimanx above makes Greenwald’s argument to the opposite read like a cruel joke.
It’s the standard bald-faced lie I’m used to with mainstream figures, but I must admit prior to Snowden I hadn’t expected the same from Greenwald; though I was critical of many of his positions I read him as being genuine to a degree that was either a misperception or that is no longer true.
Me neither and neither does anyone else on the left, so he gets away with quite a lot. I never realized how dishonest and self-serving he is until I got on the wrong side of him. I saw glimpses here and there, but it was always in relation to people I don’t like, like Josh Foust and Sam Harris, so I overlooked it.
I understand the increasingly pressing need to i.d. “conspiracism” and distance reasoned analysis from it, but it seems just as increasingly there’s a need to i.d. comfort-driven self-blindness to the bizarre intrigues that are metastasizing all round.
It makes for a knife-edge of intuition and common sense one side, and requires a background in sane sensible near mechanical intellectual rigor and logic. But the other side – weird shit is there, The extent of it is or can be pretty horrifying for the non-thrill seeker.
Personally I can’t conceive of the NSA as anything other than a bunch of hired info-thugs and snitches. They have to be working for someone with an intent and vision, however monstrous. Have to.
Impossible to identify from here, and vitally important to do so at the same time.
Grinding frustration, then the danger of susceptibility to almost anything that coalesces the weirdness. Conspiracies.
Well yeah, but otherwise what it is it?
Some kind of self-creating distributed snoop-robot that just built its way into a nucleic hive base in Utah, with a neural system that’s intricately global?
There’s a vision behind this shit.
It will help greatly I think if those of us outside and under it who are still conscious work toward limning it while it’s still susceptible to language and afraid of the light.
Things that conspiratoid me about the replacement of the Manning/Assange central image with the Snowden/Greenwald are:
Manning reveals emotionally traumatic carnage and USgov sadistic deployments
Snowden reveals the government is staring at everybody
–equating them neutralizes the horror, shoving it safely into the past.
Manning’s sexual identity is gender-switched while we watch, a trans hero.
Greenwald’s a pugilistic butch-gay with a cute b.f.
–equating them neutralizes the truly paradigm-crashing fact of Manning’s sexuality and segues the sexual healing fact of Manning into a pair of dudes that could be modelling for a wedding cake in Anytown USA. Safe for liberals.
Manning’s hand-off to Assange gets Assange trapped in a London cage, while Manning goes to the big house for decades – until we spring him.
Snowden’s to Greenwald gets Snowden a romantic term in exile and a gig for th’nonce, and G’wald- as you’ve burned into our little brains permanently – gets Massive Bank. And the irony could be stressed more: that Assange’s running budget(not personal income) took a huge hit from the withdrawal of nutritional service by the same corporg tit that Greenwald’s now nursing at.
–equating them obscures and nearly erases the core suffering of the first two, while pulling the truly deserved mantle of honor for heroic action off M/A – no room for two sets of protagonists -and draping it across the shoulders of S/G who haven’t really done anything yet but reveal how much creepy staring the gov.(or what’s back there behind that curtain)’s been doing. To everyone.
Which everyone pretty much already knew – nannycams,GPSmoms, CCTV omni-security, reality TV, cop chase videos etc and so on. We are already familiar with being surveilled upon, even the dorkiest of mainstream news consumers. But they, and many of the rest of us, were not so familiar with the inhumane atrocities of USmil actions in Iraq.
It’s as if unleashing the feral thugs in the Collateral Murder video is now the moral equivalent of listening to the board meetings of PetroBras.
If I was designing something to neutralize Manning and Assange’s valiant efforts, it would look a lot like what’s there.
Sorry for the weak formatting and mumble ramble, I’m kind of just venting along, elegiac.
Harmony, chorus. Assent.
Thanks for your clear articulations, man. And haptic, yes. Thank you.
Presuming this reply goes to Michael Griffin’s comment of Dec. 1, 7:39 PM. This is a good write-up of ideas in my estimation. I enjoyed it, and feel it could and ought be developed further and published wherever.
Perhaps it’s just the way things are and always will be, but I think it unfortunate that, in your words, there is no room for two sets of protagonists. Sadly enough, intentionally or inadvertently, Greenwald is enabling and reinforcing this (what I’d like to believe is an) untruth.
I am less taken with the theory being put across here — to the extent that I understand it — than the way it’s being put across.
I feel like it would be bathetic to discuss the theory itself.
It is strange how there is this kind of deliberate mirroring of Manning/Assange and Snowden/Greenwald. I do think there is a purge going on here — purge of a certain kind of dissidence — but until further evidence this just seemed like something that evolved from the sensibilities of the people involved, pandering to the elites they wanted access to.
One reason why I am hesitant to see something more nefarious going on is I don’t feel like Manning/Wikileaks were so threatening that some kind of elaborate antitoxin beyond confining them to cages was required.
Thanks for the left-handed style compliment. Bathos is currently my forte I guess. I can live with it, for now.
One reason why I am hesitant to see something more nefarious going on is I don’t feel like Manning/Wikileaks were so threatening that some kind of elaborate antitoxin
Okay, not so threatening as to kick the immune system response to the degree of a Snowden/Greenwald hoax – but to who, or what, is it not threatening? And why the passive voice there?
Where does the chain of culpability go? I’m a little confused at “more nefarious” – more nefarious than the Iraq invasion? With the body-count of the last 10 years? And lie after layer of lie to get in and stay and then nothing. Zero.
We went in, we left, and the whole thing’s on fire and eating itself and so what. And dead silence around that failure – unless it isn’t failure.
I’d like to believe things are accessible, readable at the surface level they’re coming in on but it doesn’t fit very well. The incompetence of Petraeus and all the other boobs and stooges from Bremer on that get the guilty weight of it doesn’t seem complex enough to account for what’s happened to Iraq, and to the US as a consequence.
There’s something really superficial about surveillance concerns, as serious as they are, in a contemporary context where an entire country was essentially taken down, publicly and thoroughly, with hundreds of thousands of casualties.
There’s no possible moral equivalence between Manning/Assange and Snowden/Greenwald. Not yet anyway. Manning’s reveal is far more accusatory, morally. They’re being equated everywhere, with Manning as finished chapter and Snowden ongoing, as if it’s the same story. I’d like to believe they are, but I can’t.
Not only has Snowden’s spill not threatened anyone with real power – it increases the amount of fear in the surveilled upon – “Yeah we’re watching you. What’ya gonna do about it?”
Manning put blood on the table, Snowden a pair of headphones.
Killing people is traditionally a far more immoral act than staring at them when they don’t want you to.
I’m actually kind of embarrassed and sorry for the bathos, but I’m not academically trained, and I do get a little nervous writing about this.
Anyway you said you didn’t want to write about it anymore, and I started off just wanting to thank you for what you had written, got carried away venting.
So to repeat, thanks, great writing, exemplary really.
You misunderstood me. I meant that my commenting on your theory would be bathetic because the appeal of your comment went beyond the theory it was pushing. It was imaginative and well-written. I meant it as a compliment and regret not having been more clear.
I don’t doubt the Deep State’s capacity for nefariousness. I simply expressed doubt that nefariousness was required to erase Manning any more.
Well, I think the disparity in concern is more among elites than the public. The attack on Iraq provoked more mass resistance initially than the Snowden leaks, which have barely produced any mass resistance at all. Also, I don’t think a program that aims to discipline people by keeping them under watch is entirely separate from things like attacking Iraq, because the end result is fear and apathy in the face of any other crime the elites want to commit, including the ones they commit every day.
Even though I am putting this topic to bed, I have no problem with people continuing to comment. Prefer they do than not, regardless of whether or not I partake.
Because I completely appreciated the arguments made in your Update 2, and frankly, wanted to share it somewhere as a rebuttal to Greenwald’s response to Mark Ames, I have been reading back and forth now for some time between the two, trying to figure out where the crack in your arguments might be, lest someone call me stupid for not seeing it sooner, and certainly before citing it as a particularly strong rebuttal.
Unfortunately, the weak point of many of your arguments appears to be at Snowden, and his desires and intentions for the documents and their publication. It is upon Snowden’s back that most of Greenwald’s arguments (in re flow and distribution and reportage) seem to finally rest. Beyond directly asking Greenwald if he has approached or would be willing to approach Snowden about a change in the agreed upon paradigm, I don’t know if that reliance is rightly challengeable.
Meanwhile, nevertheless, of course, I could not agree more with the gist of your arguments, all of them.
As to the Omidyar thing, at this point it appears to be a terribly unfortunate, however intended or not, development, having all of these names (and so many excited more to come!) under the one roof and in the one (count it, one) wallet, and no one is ever as selfless as the rest of us wish, but truly, I suppose all one can do is wait and see.
I don’t think so. My position since September has been that Poitras and Greenwald should share the documents directly with foreign journalists rather than sharing their byline (and commanding a fee) which is much slower.This actually conforms with Snowden’s original intentions, as expressed in this non-Guardian article, before he was driven into exile:
Greenwald represents Snowden’s position as it suits him, but he has said consistently enough that Snowden’s only stipulations were that the documents not be dumped and that they be reviewed by journalists. Clearly Snowden had no objections to the handoff of documents to the New York Times and ProPublica, so there is no obvious reason why he would object to handoffs to foreign news outlets or even other US outlets. GG keeps insisting that he can’t do that because of the source/journalist issue he mentions, but has yet to explain why that risk didn’t apply in the NYT and ProPublica distributions.
There is also zero evidence that Snowden directed GG to save disclosures for his book.
That Snowden so far seems pleased with everything just as it is doesn’t contradict anything I’ve said. He might be equally pleased by something else. It seems he has given GG a free hand and is simply pleased that a ‘debate’ is taking place.
So I don’t really know what you base your statement on, unless there was a claim by GG that I missed.
I see, then, and stand entirely corrected it would appear. Certainly, given the Snowden quote, it would seem disingenuous to argue that Snowden would not welcome it happening in such a way. This means the final fall back then is to the legal risks, and you know, although I entirely agree that wider and more immediate distribution would have been preferable – and have felt that way since the summer – as the holder and presumable controller of the documents, I’m not sure how (beyond rhetorically) someone who is not in the identical position can argue for such a risk taking.
I think were Greenwald to elect to answer the question about NYT and ProPublica, he would likely say that such limited distribution and “working with the journalists,” with or without a byline, at least allows the lawyers something to work with, for really, who can say what this government, and this administration in particular, is capable of doing? Hell, the few documents themselves, which have already been released, not to mention the unprecedented prosecutions/persections of leakers and whistleblowers over the past half dozen years provide more than adequate evidence of the administration’s propensity to err on the side of caution, as it were. So truly, although I do not like it, beyond urging it, I’m not in a position to take it to task.
Alternatively, since I did notice that in this quote from his response to Ames:
Greenwald set off “as individuals” with dash marks, which made me wonder, if Omidyar’s whole NewCo gang, as a media organization, could not make a wider and more immediate distribution. Leaving aside Omidyar’s or Greenwald’s motivation for such a move (heh), I imagine that perhaps this is just naive thinking.
Understand, this is not an apology for Greenwald at all, but rather a statement on the state of affairs in which we find ourselves.
[Man, really hoping I haven’t jacked any of the html, here – apologies if I have.]
I find the ‘as individuals’ qualifier weaselly. Surely any of the news organizations with whom the Leak Keepers were affiliated could have provided cover. I find that qualifier more damning, not less. It’s his usual bullshit legalism.
He’s already said that the story is likely to be a dead letter by the time NewCo launches, so that’s probably irrelevant, though I don’t think they’d do it. As you may guess, I am not in the crowd that feels Glenn’s remarkable good fortune since June is just the happy intersection of state interference and a desire to tell the story in the best way possible. I think he would be more forthcoming and less abusive toward people asking questions if it were. This is what I find so remarkable about his fans. That they don’t find the legalese, the vituperations and the conflicting explanations at all suspect.
In any event, deciding whether GG is the operator I think he is or if he really has been constrained by state forces to whom he owes a certain debt of reluctant gratitude, is largely beside the point. The point is that it is not at all prudent to entrust leaks to small cabals of ambitious, connected, risk-averse journalists. It’s really that simple. Which is why it would be really great if Glenn would just write stories, count the money and leave off with the Best Whistleblowing Ever bullshit.
Thank you for creating this blog and the space to discuss GG and co.
As to why GG has not given the docs to more media outlets well he hides behind the “source” claim. however when questioned why the Guardian could give documents to NYT he said as publishers they had greater protection. What he never answered and avoids answering is why he didn’t he give his documents to the Guardian, so they could hand them over to other news publications. I agree until he answers that the claims that he is hoarding the documents are totally justified. He has never answered although he has been asked many times if he and laura have the same and only full set, and he said it was 20k then how did the Guardian hand over 50k to NYT.
Thanks for all you have done here. It seems according to GG latest tweet that in ten days he might no longer have a monopoly on the documents. That is how i read it, but hard yo say for sure.
Could you link or quote specifically your 10-day point?
It sounds interesting but I don’t have the iron guts to make it through close readings of all GG’s latest stuff in one go.
GG tweeted @mlake9 Exactly. Wait until the next 10 days to see how extra-stupid this claim is.
10:57am – 2 Dec 13
To this tweet from @mlake9
@ggreenwald Stop monopolizing the NSA files bro.
Who knows? Guess we will see
I can’t imagine what could happen that would render the monopoly claim extra-stupid. Even if they distribute more widely, it doesn’t change the past, and people who’ve complained can conceivably take credit. His comment implicitly suggests that until whatever happens happens, the monopoly claim is at least short of extra-stupid now. He’s probably blowing more smoke, though.
Everything that suggests the sun doesn’t shine from his ass is ‘extra-stupid.’ He’s like a spoiled child. It borders on self-parody at this point. Or megalomania. The worst thing, though, are the little suck-ups that hover around this shit.
Tarzie, you’re a giant in the spoiled child realm … you tower way over Greenwald – with your constant screams of paternalism when people don’t do … or write … what you want them to. You can be absolutist, overemotional idiot to the point that you label people that don’t entirely agree with everything you write about Greenwald as being suck-ups and thinking that sun rises from Greenwald’s ass, etc. impeding productive debate about these matters in the process. It’s very childish and pathetic and this whole episode has revealed a ton about you.
I think your perceptions of paternalism are tainted by you being a little insecure, baby at times.
I always wonder what people hope to accomplish by giving an elaborate performance of everything I loathe. If you want to put me in my place, make a sound argument against anything I have said. You did not even attempt that.
I am fine with productive debate, but you and your ilk aren’t doing that. You smear, mischaracterize and say ‘shut up’ a hundred different ways. Then lecture me on my manners. You’re the ones that are spoiled. It doesn’t get more egotistical than to insist that everyone worship the same hero.
If you want a productive debate, start debating. Otherwise, fuck off. Your opinion doesn’t mean shit.
To say that some is “spoiled” is to say that they should be happy with what they’ve got and stop complaining — to say, in fact, that they’ve gotten more than they deserve already. Do you think we’ve gotten more from Snowden’s leaks than we deserve, Z?
I mean, your comments are bullshit claims whose evidence to the contrary is all around you–Tarzie has plenty of discussions with people who don’t agree with everything he writes; the appellation of “childish” is, so far as I can tell, literally meaningless outside of “bad”; and whenever anyone says “this reveals more about you than about the issue at hand”, it is, always, a sign that the person saying that has no actual interest in the issue at hand (which may be the appropriate response, but you shouldn’t lie about what it is–that would be, in the newly celebrated vernacular, smarmy), so you aren’t, plainly, worth engagement in the least. But I find the use of “spoiled” worthy of note and the rest entertaining.
These fucking assholes.
I would like to address your predictions. They are interesting and all-too probable.
I have seen my share of hypocrisy also on this issue, remember, I’ve been a whistle-blower for 3 long, incredibly difficult years and have born more corporate abuse for it, than any other. They tried to assassinate me online, with every single weapon and lawless entitlement the very worst of monied, enabled SV hate media could come up with. So much effort is still going into keeping my voice out of the debate, the shadow-banning on Twitter, etc. etc. I resisted it all and will.
When the Snowden revelations came out, I was naive enough to believe exposure of their tech accomplices was here. Instead, most all of them are busy letting themselves off the hook and not too much is being written about this, in fact I have to grit my teeth as Topix and Google and Yahoo play the “victim” Lmfao!!!
I have said, over and over again, to just blame the NSA and not to understand that they had and have Tech accomplices, will not solve the problem.
I would like to see more effort put out to solve the problem. More than anything else, this is what I wish and hope for.
Too much infighting and beating up the various players, will not do this. From my perspective, I did not endure what I did, for the result to be a big brawl, and not real solutions to the outrageous violations of our privacy. The danger in this to every person’s safety, I have warned of, over and over again.
I would like to hear more about your ideas about this: “not least because there are actual steps people can take against the NSA’s intrusions”
I simply meant beefing up your own security; avoiding certain providers.
Have you witten about what happened to you. Do you have a blog. Not sure what your situation is but if you can write about what happened you should.
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12/04/13 Germane Nooze
(From davidly, thank you much, BLCKDGRD)
First of all thank you for the edifying blog, I started reading with your first “Fuck the Guardian” post and have since been recommending it to more and more people.
I am currently watching Scahill on Democracy Now and he is talking about the new media venture which, in Scahill’s words, will have an “inherently adversarial posture towards the State and those in power”. I am extremely disappointed that Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez are not grilling him at all with questions about the apparent contradiction in fighting state power with the 123rd (is that number correct?) richest man in the world. All that has been said on that issue was Scahill saying something like “if you had told me a year ago I would be doing this I would have laughed because it would be antithetical to everything I thought would happen, but he’s made clear that he wants to make this a journalist-led organization”. Ah well okay then! All doubts erased!
So apparently Omidyar’s goal with this organization is to “confront the government’s attempt to quash the first and fourth amendments of the Constitution”. Omidyar was “so deeply offended” by the extent of the surveillance that he decided to start a new media organization to fight State power. These goals are in line with Scahill’s, Greenwald’s, and Poitras’, so they decided to get together. That’s all that was said on that before they moved on to something else.
I have nothing to add here really just wanted to share as it is part of the running conversation here. Again though I would have expected more from Democracy Now as far as asking them difficult questions but Scahill and Greenwald seem to be the scared liberal cows who must never be questioned lest you be rained down by pithy comebacks attacking your intelligence.
I wish the following message would’ve included an address – for those who still believe in taking a pen to paper – soze the pixels cannot be erased or tracked so very easily; there is something to be said for tangible physical evidence which is not as easily misplaced or destroyed :
Chelsea Mannings Birthday In a Fucking Hell Hole she Never, EVER, deserved
could you add that possesive apostrophe to Chelsea’s surname honey, and sorry. Also, I’ve had no luck “doing a search” for a prison address, such a sooprize, I even stooped to trying the hideous googleplex “search”:
(Oh, oopsie doopsers! …., here’s the “Bradley” result, I ended up with:
One’s “search results” may vary though, dependent upon their economic $tanding and HUBRI$, or lack of even a $table footing in life……and what it is they are actually searching for ……. in life …….)
Not sure if you were still after that, or making a less obvious, to me, point about intentional obfuscation etc.
https://twitter.com/pierre/status/2666071620 says it all
What happened to your article about Michael Hasting?
“Admit it, Michael Hastings’ Death is Weird and Scary,” June 19.
I made it private for a while. It was an impulsive post and though it was one of my most heavily trafficked posts, it didn’t really fit with the rest of the site. In the midst of my series on Snowden, I wanted to keep the focus on media.
I may make it public again, soon, though, now that I have put Snowden and co to bed.
You’re like those (few) liberals who called bullshit on Obama’s stimulus in 2009. After being proved right, they don’t appear any more successful today. Though they do have their pride.
What a strange comment: Acknowledgement that I’m probably right, but that I won’t net any material benefit. Like that matters, somehow.
I’m gonna assume you’re a vote for Glenn, and thereby further confirmation of his unique attraction to people who place no value on principles. Yuck. You guys sicken me, the way he does.
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“If you want to put me in my place, make a sound argument against anything I have said. You did not even attempt that.”
Already did that. But, you went off on one of your chilish rants about worshipping Greenwald – something about sun emenating from Greenwald’s ass (really, can’t you come up with some new material) – and basically did what you almost always do when someone does not completely agree with you about Greenwald: call them hero-worshipping syncophants.
“It doesn’t get more egotistical than to insist that everyone worship the same hero.”
Excuse me, where the fuck do you come up with this shit? Did I write that? Or did that just come from your absolutist nonsense that, depending on your mood, everyone that disagrees with any matter pertaining to Greenwald is worshipping him? You prove exactly when I contend is your response.
“Your opinion doesn’t mean shit.”
Neither does yours.
But anyway, what exactly did the wikileaks dump really accomplish that Greenwald’s method hasn’t? And in response if you are going to solely credit wikileaks with the Arab spring instead of the very real fact that people were starving from lack of food over there … not information about their corrupt governments … then I think you ought to do some research about revolutions.
You guys and your dumping obsession. Clearly you haven’t read me. I endorsed dumping in my first post and walked it back shortly after. But Greenwald makes everything about dumping — which as we know is the only alternative to the hoarding that fetched the big bucks — so naturally you do too. But far be it from me to call that sycophantic. In the same post I also covered why comparisons to Cablegate are not apt, so I am not obliged to spoon feed that to you here. Consider reading stuff before commenting on it. I realize that’s wildly unpopular with your ilk, but I’m old enough to remember when people didn’t live on GG’s Twitter fumes.
Perhaps you would like to dispute something I said in this post.
Not seeing where you made an argument. Perhaps you should learn what they look like. You vomit one more time and I will not publish it. See comment guidelines. No free speech absolutism here. That’s for Saint Greenwald, defender of corporate speech and crush videos.
No, I didn’t read your whole post … didn’t waste my time after trying to debate you before:
But anyway, why don’t you just admit it: your feeling were hurt because you felt that Greenwald was rude to you and didn’t treat you with the way that you should be treated. And that was what really set off your “principled” ass off on a vendetta against him. That doesn’t mean that you haven’t made some decent points about the manner that this information has been disseminated … some that I agree with …. but just that you are indeed a little baby that has a pronounced tendency to run around screaming “paternalism” and/or “sycophancy” when people don’t agree with you and/or hurt your precious feelings.
Yeah, bub, I knew that. It was obvious. But dropping by to comment on shit you haven’t read is totally fine.
You and your trolling pals are all about your own tender feelings for GG, so you can’t imagine that someone who dislikes him could do so for entirely principled reasons. You even concede that I have made decent points, but instead you focus on what a spoiled baby I am, for daring to question Dad’s judgement about what state secrets the kiddies in his care should see. (~2%, as it turns out) And then you object when I call that paternalistic.
I have explained why Greenwald particularly concerns me here. Since by your own account you won’t read me because I hurt your feelings once, I’ll summarize: The leaks are very important. His custodianship is reactionary, self-serving and deferential to the state. My concerns, and my tone, are entirely consistent with my posts about other people.
But I will concede that I think the approach Greenwald takes toward critics, or rather, critics to his left, which up until recently was mostly just me, is completely incompatible with intelligent, non-authoritarian, political practice, and when he vomited fallacies and smears all over my blog, all anti-authoritarians should have recognized him for the toxic, reactionary opportunist that he is, not just me. I would likely have written less, had others written more. If there was a change in tone, it wasn’t because of hurt feelings, but because Greenwald had foreclosed on dialogue with lefties who wouldn’t applaud. There was no incentive to keep the gloves on.
Now, once again, if you’re going to stick around, argue merits or fuck along home.
There’s the immediate problem right there. Infantile mentality crying out for paternal guidance and protection. A dystopic roomful of millions of them, in which the adolescent voice passes for mature intellect and formulaic cant’s the discursive norm.
So easy to step in and be the coked-out attitudinal patriarch. Which Gwald sure sounded like back a ways i.v’d on Demnow. Maybe it’s his natural hyper-manner, but…
These little creatures were born and raised in Disney World. Now the landscape and maintenance crews have failed them. That chaotic life outside the perimeter fencing’s getting through, and they’re nervous. Because it keeps coming.
Meanwhile – Popovic
Y’know that never occurred to me. I think you may be onto something. Are you talking about the most recent DN interview?
My time sense is measured more daily than even weekly now. Seems like it was a couple months back. Early days on the story. What I remember isn’t so much content, just the combative pugilistic stance, and the familiar to me over-amped ego drive of a bright mind on the powder emotional flat-line. And dogs barking in the background. Repeatedly.
I do hope you follow up on these pieces with some analysis of the Omidyar website after it’s up and running. I expect we’ll see all the regular Greenwald bootlickers there cheering him on.
Yeah, maybe. Current plan is to mostly ignore the InfoDads and the kiddies. There’s too thin a line between jeering at their nonsense and getting swept up in it. I find Greenwald so repulsive and so entirely unnecessary I’ve blocked him on Twitter.
Speaking of Twitter, how can someone follow?
If you mean follow me, go to https://www.twitter.com/rancidtarzie/, click follow button and not have any signs of being a troll or an asshole.
Oh, stunningly priceless (future ‘human mammal’ generations, if there are any …, will look back, if all the damning pixels are not thoroughly wiped, and wonder why and how – just like folks looked back and wondered why and how about slavery and concentration camps/lethally gassing one’s own species), soon to be PHILANTHROPIC! NEWS MAGNATE! …. “PO” (no, not that ‘po’), Pierre Omidyar, wants to ban anonymity:
So much for certain anonymous government (STATE) sources one always reads of in the daily nooze? I highly doubt, would bet my life certain anonymous STATE sources will remain and flourish, while true whistleblowers are forever silenced.
He also says he block people on Twitter for not using their real name. This seems to be a thing with him.
yep, quite the obsession with him, horrifyingly pathetic and monstrous, given his monetary power.
Perhaps we can unanonymize the LLC, etcetera, entities he has operating for him, that would be a howl, imagine how enraged he would be if his whole, power obsessed, life was layed bare.
“heh,” ……and if Pierre’s doings were to be exposed in their entirety, then all would get to witness Pierre being “emotional,” … declared as an:
I’m quite sure I’m understating there.
Just read through the entire trove. Thanks for writing it all. I’ve read you on and off for a while, Tarzie, and while I’m (probably) just another annoying statist to you (heh), I always enjoy the commentary here because it’s both informative, and makes me think. Then again, reading anarchists or the far-left is really the only commentary worth reading nowadays.
I don’t plan on commenting in the future — though I’ll still keep reading — but I felt I needed to say that we dime-a-dozen socialist-liberals still benefit from your writing and to extend my appreciation.
Thanks a lot. Not all statists annoy me. That’s part of the caricature that the beatdown trolls are circulating, I guess. I do think a lot of statists are statists because they like the state’s muscle, so I sometimes assume that it correlates with authoritarianism. I know that’s not always the case though, and in the midst of this dustup over the Snowden spectacle, I am really questioning how reliable any of these political categories are, at least with respect to how people apply them to themselves.
I am happy to hear that you get particular benefit from anarchist writers. I do think that an analysis that looks skeptically at ALL authority, rather than uniquely focusing on the state or on corporate authority, would be useful to anyone, and I think it’s a shame that so many people are too sectarian to appreciate what anti-authoritarians bring to the table.
It was kind of you to make yourself known in such a complimentary way. Keep reading and feel free to comment further.
I’ve never saw the value in beating down someone to my left — if you want to say that anarchism is necessarily to my “left”. I mean, isn’t the entire critique from liberals who insist on utilizing solely the electoral system for change of why people “vote against their own interest” based on dividing would-be-allies from those at top?
Besides, that’s to overlook some of the few times in this country when there were actual chances for radical change — liberals, communists, socialists and anarchists held hands and beat down the pigs who shot them on the work site.
I don’t want to fall into the usual “well what’s your view of how society should operate in anarchist utopia” trope either, which also infests a lot of liberal circles. I suppose I do have a crotchety disdain for your average libertarian (in the contemporary sense of the word prior to Mises stealing it) because there is a lot of fascist overlap in those circles, but you and other anti-authoritarians I read don’t fall anywhere near that spectrum so it’s whatever.
In the end, yeah, these labels are getting pedantic and useless; kind of like the word “terrorism.”
As to the whole GG dust-up, I was a brief fan of Greenwald at his time at Salon. However, I found him terrible later on for a few reasons, even though we share a lot of similar views. Least of all are his walls of text that repeat the same things over and over; hire an editor, you’re at an establishment paper, are you not? Damn.
I hear you on the fascist overlap with libertarians. Libertarians are sometimes disorienting, because they seem so sound and principled on some things, but so reactionary on others. I feel they’re useful as tactical allies on some things, but there definitely is a scary side to some, which is unfortunate because a lot of them are not like that, even though I may differ with them a lot on work, markets etc. I am with you on making provisional common cause when necessary, with anyone. I don’t know why this is such a hard sell. I think sectarianism is very self-destructive for marginalized groups and tendencies.
Yeah. He’s no stylist, that’s for sure. Even when I loved him, I skimmed. Curious where the other points of departure are. I know that his corporate free speech thing rankles a lot of people.
Other areas of departure have to be his selection-bias. He treats journalism as a would-be litigator. Thumping up and exaggerating half-truths in the hopes you’re too much of a supporter to notice. His views of what journalism should be are also, hmmm, troubling? I think the fact that he’s lining up with a SOLE funding source vindicates that early skepticism. His unrelenting narcissism and inability to take criticism without calling you an Obot or hack come to mind. The fact that his devotees remind me of the worst Ron Paul, Richard Dawkins, Julian Assange, and Barack Obama supporters molded into one definitely doesn’t help things.
His views on corporate spending are more of a symptom than a cause. I think he has too much faith in “the law.” I support the state, I think it’s the most effective means to redistribute wealth (whether to the poor or to the rich), and I think it can be changed to suit the needs of (most) people. What I don’t believe, or rather, what I am not invested in is this idea that what is “legal” fucking matters. In the most technical sense, GG could be right that Citizens United was decided correctly; he could even be right that it won’t have a tangible impact (I tend to disagree on the latter, and remain uncaring on the former). If the UN had given their greenlight for the Iraq War, would that have made it ok? It would have suddenly been “legal” as opposed to the illegal war crime that it was, but it still would have killed and/or displaced hundreds of thousands of people, and spent trillions more on the MIC. In his own arguments against the NSA, everything they’re doing very well could be legal and constitutional. Who gives a fuck if it is? It’s wrong, and it must stop. Being so hung up on “legality” is pretty irritating.
One final note before bed: if I were to be pigeonholed, I’d say my views are mostly aligned with that of Ian Welsh.
Thanks for engaging. I agree with a lot of what you’ve said. Hope to see you around here again.
Today, Intenet Giants Demand sweeping changes to US laws. Really, it’s as though the Guardian wants to prove Tarzie and (too few) others correct. Or, worse, doesn’t seem to understand what the problem is.
At the risk of repeating myself, this sacred belief in what these Internet Giants tell them is … infantile. It’s just embarrassing, it really is. Google, Apple, Cisco, Microsoft? All full of shit. If you read the article, it’s almost like a press release. Basically, it’s a blatant example of the state-corporate nexus talking shit, again, but speaking through the mouth of the Internet Giants, on the clear assumption that ‘Government sources’ aren’t quites so cuddly and media friendly.
And – what’s an ‘Internet Giant’ anyway? The language of headlines, when scrutinised, can often appear absurd. I’ve no idea what an ‘Internet Giant’ really is, though I’m sure some specialized website might provide a clue. Can’t they just say, I dunno, Big Tech Corporations? That’s what they are.
What the headline should read, a la The Onion:
“Today, Big Tech Corporations demand minor skin-deep reforms in order to protect their bottom line and cover their asses, all the while admitting no responsibility for betraying their customers whilst bravely palming the blame off on the friends in the security nexus.”
Not very catchy. And it doesn’t have the word ‘Intenet’ or ‘Giant’ in it. I suppose you could have ‘cover their Giant asses’, as a compromise. See, I’m all about being bi-partisan.
They’ll be claming Nelson Mandela approved of their spying next. He told Obama personally, I’ve no doubt …
Yeah. Clear that the elites have just agreed the NSA will fall on the sword, and not very hard. We can trust Greenwald and Co to utter not a word of skepticism.
Very interesting – also the discussion, thank you. Makes me think about compromise. If I ever was in the position to be tempted (not holding my breath – being insignificant has some benefits) – don’t know what I’d do. I’m pretty certain it would feel quite interesting if the fulfilment of my dreams was dangling in front of me.
Media seems to be getting the special attention of the powerful right now – the news says Putin has reorganised the newsagency Ria Novosti, and put his allies in the lead of the new outfit. Wondering what this is about, as media has been pretty toothless anyways. It is as if they felt threatened, but by what/whom is difficult to see. Is it an attempt to prevent any leaks ever happening again? By blocking access to publicity? So it is not about the journalism, it is the access to publicity.
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throughout this anti-adventure of reformism, we’ve never explored why, say, the Miami herald doesn’t have editorials savaging the lack of info or culture jamming patriotic to try and squeeze some leaks out so they might report on illegal immigration issues to their market.
We’ve seen in England something unique, the right wing papers editorializing about how illegal and unpatriotic the Guardian was to be blowing secrets to the ears of the public. Then I recall that we saw a smaller form of that, attacks restricted more to Snowden and GG rather than on any big paper, early in June/July in America.
These were surely ordered from above or permitted in full complicity, by the publishers of those columnists. Altogther though, the critical campaign, McCarthyite or not, has been extremely limited, coming from media not directly profiting. Outsiders to this game.
The only way to explain the complicity, cowardice and silence of THOSE is through their political alliances with the state trumping any immediate sales that access to docs for reporting would facilitate. This is possible and works if you want to see the system as totally integrated.
In that, even rival papers, struggling for revenue, are managed by owners so keen on the security surveillance state for all it offers them, DESPITE the existential threat the state poses to the free movement of their little fiefdoms, that they’re content to let competing media that do have access, keep their access and their profits on this story.
I could point out that there is no common ownership between the insiders and outsiders to the snowden archive, outsiders like
With the caveat that enough key players in those organizations might have connections to internet/telecom companies and military that it’s in their interest again to stick to the quashing of %99 of Snowden’s info. That’s speculative.
What do you don’t seem to understand is that these far too small fissures developing in the consensus on Greenwald’s basic divinity are confined almost exclusively to a handful of anti-authoritarians, transparency radicals and cryptographers and that they would have been entirely unthinkable prior to the culture shift created by Wikileaks and hacking. The idea that Greenwald is doing anything wrong by making all of the decisions about this cache of national secrets, and leveraging them into cash and power, is a thought that has literally never occurred to most people. He’s doing what they would do, except with more imaginative avariciousness.
Greenwald’s hoarding has naturally not been attacked by other mainstream publishers because, putting aside ties they may have to the security establishment and it’s corporate partners, they trade in the same game. They believe in exclusive rights to scoops. So while they may lament that Snowden went to Greenwald instead of them, they no doubt appreciate the way Greenwald busily reshapes shitty, subservient journalism as afflicting the comfortable; tirelessly advertises the critical importance of large, well-funded news orgs to the whistleblowing enterprise; and unapologetically rationalizes his self-advancement on the backs of dissidents like Manning and Snowden. Since mainstream outlets all do exclusives of their own, demanding that Greenwald share more would only paint them as envious ingrates, while mainstreaming a discussion on who owns leaks that is right now safely confined to the margins, and offers nothing to publishing dinosaurs that are ever at pains to remain relevant.
Short version: professional courtesy.
There is also the fact that a lot of right-wingers are helpfully calling Greenwald a traitor just for the parsimonious leaking he’s already done. Any paper saying ‘Leak more’ is asking for trouble.
The possible conflict of interest with Omidyar provides something of an opening and some political cover, but that’s recent, and also a pretty big can of worms that large compromised organizations probably don’t want to touch either.
This doesn’t square with the high intensity defensiveness by Greenwald. If it was such a foregone conclusion, there would be more polite calm and dismissal about critics. Who cares anyway, right?
Unless that too is just a side show to hype up the profits even more. Which makes suck ups looking to get a job at NewCo, not complicit in suppression of info and indoctrination but of in vulgar advertising tactics. Something that might soothe their puny, gerbil intellects and consciences at the end of the day.
Nope, wrong again. It squares up completely. Greenwald’s custodianship of the leaks has largely been about credibility-seeking with The Establishment. Countenancing a more aggressive leaking strategy would have compromised his newfound spot deeper and more comfortably inside the margins. Do you not see the story here is of Greenwald getting successive rewards from various establishment sectors for compliance? But at the same time, he wants/needs to keep credibility as something different from the Establishment whose approval and cash rewards he seeks. So he had to aggressively and quickly marginalize anyone in more radical quarters making a credible case for releasing more information more quickly. If the idea that he was selling out caught hold, his brand is fucked. Greenwald is now perfectly situated inside the margins with barely any damage done to his credibility among self-adoring, ignorant dipshits who consider themselves far too smart, radical and cool for MSNBC.
Is one to believe that the right wing attacks on Greenwald were a product of accident? Right wing publications sought profitability in protecting their interests (both direct sales and cross-industry alliances) and creating a hostile environment for the already complicit Guardian. Not out of the hatred of their right wing hearts.
Why haven’t we at least seen that in America? Are US papers more proudly capitalist and promote the idea of exclusive leaks as profit generators? That almost makes them honest compared the UK.
What are you talking about? Greenwald’s been attacked by the right-wing in the States. But as I have said before, many elites in the US want this conversation to take place, so opposition is confined to the right wing margins. The US doesn’t have a lot of respected right-wing newspapers and they all like to pay lip service to the First Amendment. All the right-wing frothing is jobbed out to Congress people, cable news hosts, ex-Bushies and the like. It helps Greenwald because it make a strategy that is 98% subservient look disruptive.
All American media is right wing. And there was mainstream right wing (Fox news type) defense of the leaks / promotion of interest in the bad, bad NSA.
The media controls the message. The public doesn’t follow closely. Somehow, the #chickenpseudoradicals present a viral threat that could swallow up enough segments of media that the public would be seeing our critiques, widely enough that Greenwald would be faced with skeptics waving their hands off at him to leave them be with his complicit lies.
Wanting this conversation to take place is too speculative so far. And given the pass that everyone but the NSA is getting, benefits to elites from this ridiculous level of containment are also speculative.
That’s not what I am suggesting. What I am suggesting is that Greenwald needs left credibility, not because of any impact that has on the media, but because that’s a big part of his audience and brand. The challenge for GG on the left is to make not leaking look like leaking. That requires a campaign. Put crudely, Greenwald aims to be the outsider’s insider. It’s working. He could make a deal with Goldman Sachs and the Twitter dipshits would be predicting the impending decimation of Wall Street.
That certain elites wanted this conversation to take place is made obvious by the extent to which they’ve endorsed it. Snowden would have been as far over on the margins as Manning if that weren’t the case. I honestly can’t have one more argument with someone who thinks there is any porousness at all in our media system despite a single shred of evidence. Anything remotely like a ‘National Conversation’ is a conversation that elites are perfectly fine with. Argue with the points made here and here since I don’t feel like going over them again.
I don’t disparage the analysis of successive rewards to Greenwald and believe that has been Greenwald’s interest (ffs his defenders defend him on the exact grounds of his right to maximum profitability, the sacredness of profits).
From “Oligarchs Approve the NSA debate”
I’m accusing you now of insisting that there are gatecrashers at all. This is a very involved model of news media viewership you are presenting.
As if there is heat that could be generated. Some rube has left pals, those pals occasionally mention how great Greenwald is, the rubes absorb that and go click on Greenwald’s product.
That’s his target audience, hooked on the credibility he has with their serious left pals, a minor faction, who also read GG.
But in the reality, things get quashed down when they are either a threat or a non-threat but an embarrassment of lower level management’s incompetent lack of employee suppression.
You are now suggesting, that if he loses those left pals of the rubes, he loses the rubes (or some of them).
You even address the issue of NSA being a patsy for everyone else in that post but you dismiss its relevance to the elites on the model, I assume, that although these agencies work to oppress the whole world and ignore legal lines when it comes to the underclass of US citizens (explicitly stated by you everywhere), the agencies magically just follow the law when it comes to the elites.
As in, the NSA is now too close to the elites. So the elites focus on the NSA. Because the CIA will not oppress elites the way it does everyone else, because of their function (or the law). Except the NSA, for all Jesselyn Raddack’s singing about reforming the laws, has been BREAKING the law, even as permissive as it is. Why would the CIA not break/interpret the law in like kind?
Fact remains that every failure of public reform pointed to in that post+updates, remains a failure for elite freedom/privacy, too. And more so, since the law never applies to them to begin with but the technology certainly does. That whole issue of technology putting a screw on the obscene supremacy of the elite that has so fallen to side ever since this became, for dipshits, wondering if “NewCo will be a decent news publisher” and forgetting Snowden ever existed.
I concede that we shouldn’t assume elites can always get what they want. Here, they are getting an impotent debate which will not help them as much as a more robust debate could. They can’t force the surveillance state to leave them alone the way they can force the carceral state to leave them alone.
They are just doing much worse, trying to get their way in this, perhaps, than they need to.
I regret that I understand far too little of this comment to argue with it. Here is one point that I think might be useful:
There is no monolithic elite viewpoint. Different elites want this conversation to take place for different reasons. What I think is indisputable, though, is that a critical mass of elites wanted this conversation to take place. It would have taken a completely different form if they hadn’t. A form that does not include the likes of Richard Cohen saying how wrong he was about Edward Snowden.
It’s almost as if your modeling concedes that the elites are as big a bunch of rubes at Greenwald’s show as they are makers of that show in their attempt to keep the rubes quiet about everything, while having their OWN “debate” and reformism.
There’s the debate for citizen rube, man in the gutter. Then there’s the debate for Citizen Rube, maker of Hearst Fortunes.
At this point it’s hard to see how either one of those has meaningfully benefitted Capital Case Citizen Rube.
The thing that makes the most sense only makes sense right now from the perspective of the Information Economy elites: their buying back of the snowden docs. Also Greenwald’s joining the %1, with his elite serving methods.
Wondering why the hell the Old Money elites didn’t jump to buy Greenwald’s trove at 3 times the price.
You are much more interested than I am in why this debate took place than the shape it took and who embraced it. I would be interested in that too if I felt I could do anything but guess.
Here’s the form it took: A lengthy campaign against unruly whistleblowing as symbolized by Wikileaks and Manning; the establishment of a reactionary, dishonest, Constitutionalist as the undisputed avatar of the left; the reestablishment of Big Journalism as the check on power; the remaking of toxic wealth as a potentially liberating thing; the establishment of a mogul-funded Ministry of Truth, currently embarked upon buying up every credible left along with the leaks; anarchists, Marxists, libertarians and liberals carrying water for a microfinance billionaire and his reformist liberal lackeys; a policy push toward hardening security against whistleblowing; an opportunity for silicon valley to draw a black line between their data mining and the government’s; the emergence of an industry to provide additional security for people who can pay for it; a NatSec establishment that has suffered barely a scratch.
I could go on but I feel like I’ve made my point.
Ministry of Truth to Orwellianize GG/Newco’s branding is truly excellent.
The point is makes, whether you were driving at it or not, is that the debate that some elites wanted, who felt threatened, resulted in their being more threatened than before. Unless you think a new security/privacy industry is one that can avoid all the other players mentioned.
Also, that the debate sought by the elites who don’t feel threatened, was the one that won out, effectively strengthening the NSA and normalizing it.
This may well be true and is not in the least in conflict with anything I’ve written here. I’ve said from the beginning that 1) the elites are heterodox and include not just frightened elites, but elites who want some of the NSAs action and 2) elites don’t always get what they want. Just because they’re anxious about a problem doesn’t mean they can immunize themselves from it. I’m not sure this debate has strengthened the NSA but it certainly hasn’t damaged the Intelligence Community or surveillance apparatus as a whole.
I’m drawing a parallel between the fact that the debate enjoyed by the public is a debate for rubes and that the elites, as you describe them, are having their own debate. From the interested perspective of threatened elites, having a debate like this makes them rubes. That’s my developing on your points. I’m drawing a conclusion. Not saying you said they are rubes but that your logic about debates being for rubes leads to the natural conclusion that the elites are rubes themselves.
Also, focusing on the threatened elites, not on the surveillance elites who are getting everything they want and more. Although you have pointed to both.
I’m not convinced all the elites are rubes. Dilma Rouseff got to do a lot of grandstanding and now she’s creating a private internet for her country. Silicon Valley is going to move more deeply into data security in a nice little shakedown racket where they solve the problem while they continue to aggravate it. Those old dudes on the upper East Side are going to pay their way out of a lot of this now that they understand it in broad outlines and the stage has been set for consultancies run by ex-NSA analysts.
Meanwhile, while all this has been taking place, the country continues its downward slide, so if nothing else, it’s been a nice little distraction and also a flashy democracy dog and pony show. See look at how open we are! We even debate the mass surveillance we’re all under!!! Elites have everything to gain from spectacles of this kind and almost nothing to lose.
If you can cite where I’ve implied that in any way shape or form I’ll happily contend with it but not before. This blog is full of words. Feel free to quote.
I’ll get on it.
How am I misinterpreting and incorrectly developing upon what you’ve implied there?
Because nothing I said in that post implies that the elites are “a big bunch of rubes.” Instead of needlessly cutting and pasting an entire post, please attempt to show specifically where I have called the elites rubes.
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