After a good tarnishing by the non-disclosure of Country X, Greenwald’s billionaire-backed, Pulitzer prize-winning, hagiography-inspiring, “fearless, adversarial” brand is taking another hit.
In May, Greenwald promised his biggest story yet, while at the same time coming clean about being an entertainer as opposed to a journalist:
I like to think of it as a fireworks show: You want to save your best for last. There’s a story that from the beginning I thought would be our biggest, and I’m saving that. The last one is the one where the sky is all covered in spectacular multicolored hues. This will be the finale…
Elsewhere he suggested that this story would impart the names of people targeted by the NSA for surveillance.
Yesterday, with his customary flair for drama, he promised to publish this story at midnight, and also announced that he and his co-author Maz Hussain would be available today to discuss the story via a Reddit AMA.
But alas, less than three hours before the gray sky of our elite-mediated dissent was to be set ablaze, he tweeted this:
After 3 months working on our story, USG [the United States government] today suddenly began making new last-minute claims which we intend to investigate before publishing
The obvious question is, why not go forward with the story and publish a follow-up? A more transparent sort of transparency advocate might have used the scheduled AMA to answer that question and others, but, unsurprisingly, that was canceled too.
Enter Cryptome — lately reinventing itself as Greenwald’s (pseudo)-nemesis and no slouch itself in the drama department — to tweet that all Snowden documents would be released on July 27. Cryptome clarified that it would not be publishing the documents, but would aid and abet their publication. They disclosed their reason:
July is when war begins unless headed off by Snowden full release of crippling intel. After war begins not a chance of release.
A year ago I might have found this all terribly interesting, but I can’t help feeling this is just more silly theatre, or brinksmanship between competing elites whose interests have little in common with my own. Has there ever been a major whistleblowing event with this kind of mainstream traction that wasn’t about elites sparring with other elites? This is not to say that one elite faction’s and my interests can’t coincide, but don’t expect me to get too worked up about it. The war business is worrying, certainly, but the basis for that remains to be seen. Whatever the case, it seems hard to believe that a full document dump could impede anything the imperialist establishment is bent on doing.
As for Greenwald, it’s fashionable to see each of his many concessions to power as something horribly and and disappointingly new, at least for those who don’t laughably argue for the secret savvy that only knowing knowers and Greenwald comprehend. But the fact is, the US and British government have been in the loop from day one, a fact that Greenwald and Snowden have made no secret of. Snowden counts them among ‘the stakeholders’, even insisting that he is still working for the intelligence establishment.
Extract Greenwald’s chest-beating from the whole affair and what you have is a mediocre journalist effectively writing the same story over and over again while tirelessly lecturing on the proper harm-minimizing, elite-blessed and highly profitable way to blow whistles. He and his fellow Leak Keepers have, at most, rather harmlessly inconvenienced one of seventeen Federal agencies in a gigantic surveillance apparatus, while helpfully stealing the spotlight from other crimes. Set against his clownish self-mythologizing and self-aggrandizement, this latest capitulation in advance of his “finale” should make him a laughingstock. That it hasn’t attests to how desperate people are for a spectacle of dissent and the illusory freedom it implies.