In his zeal to embody everything execrable in contemporary leftish discourse, Glenn Greenwald has newly metamorphosed into The Rich White Guy Playing A Self-Serving Race Card.
Greenwald and his roving crew of asskissers and disciplinarians are very concerned about the way the surveillance apparatus disproportionately focuses on U. S. Muslims. But what really concerns them, more than anything it seems, is whether your concern is equal to theirs, as scientifically measured by your regard for Greenwald and Maz Hussain’s recent article in The Intercept.
The thinking appears to be as follows:
1. Being unsurprised by the article is the same as being unconcerned with its topic.
2. If you are unsurprised — that is, unconcerned — it can only mean one thing:
a story has to be about white people in order to be really exciting and important [to you].
It’s absolutely unthinkable that your reluctance to applaud truly owes to the article imparting almost nothing that any well-read person doesn’t already know, apart from the names and backgrounds of five high-status targets of surveillance. Or that by placing its five subjects largely outside the context of what we already know about surveillance of Muslims, and by omitting any mention of other surveilled categories at all, the effect is actually minimizing. Or that its delayed publication follows even more-extreme-than-usual hype from Greenwald about fireworks and such, and thereby invites disappointment.
Since your objections are rooted in racism, Greenwald and his crew feel no obligation at all to meet them head on. There is no onus to demonstrate exactly why you should join them in extolling one more needlessly prolix article about shit we mostly know, which, in keeping with Leak Keeper custom, emphasizes victims of high social status, and which is unique for the genre mainly in how much space it devotes to government officials touting the rigor of their warrant process. Instead, they’ll just find a hundred and one reasons to call you racist, callous and selfish. As we know, there is no such thing as a reasonable, substantive objection to anything Greenwald does. So Greenwald and his acolytes need never be reasonable and substantive in reply.
But wait! We know that Snowden provided all the documents a year ago. If Greenwald really really cares about abuses against Muslims, why has it taken this long to write about it in such detail and to release the documents on which the article is based? Why aren’t the terribly concerned advocates of Muslim people calling Greenwald to account for this, instead of cherry-picking Muslim avatars of their awe-inpiring concern, pursuant to smearing their insufficiently impressed comrades? Surely, the Greenwald RT, coveted though it is, can’t compete with keeping journalists genuinely responsible and public-spirited.
I mean, without further information, what can the Impressively Concerned Friends of Muslims and Glenn Greenwald conclude from this, but that Greenwald and his colleagues have been irresponsible in waiting on this:
For years, the government has succeeded in having such challenges dismissed on the ground that the various plaintiffs lack standing to sue because they could not prove that they were personally targeted.
Thanks to Snowden’s disclosures, those seeking to obtain such a ruling now have specific cases of surveillance against American citizens to examine.
What are we to make of this suprisingly candid passage:
Richard Clarke, a former counterterrorism official in the Clinton and Bush administrations, served on the recent White House intelligence review panel convened to address concerns raised by the Snowden revelations. If he had seen the NSA spreadsheet, Clarke says, he would have asked more questions about the process, and reviewed individual FISA warrants.
“Knowing that, I would specifically ask the Justice Department: How many American citizens are there active FISAs on now?” he says. “And without naming names, tell me what categories they fall into—how many are counterterrorism, counterintelligence, espionage cases? We’d want to go through [some applications], and frankly, we didn’t. It’s not something that five part-time guys can do—rummage through thousands of FISA warrants.”
Am I missing something, or is it exceedingly clear that, at the very least, the spreadsheet should have been released as soon as it was obtained? Shouldn’t this provoke long overdue scrutiny of Greenwald’s proclaimed inversion of the journalistic pyramid, in which the most important details are disclosed last?
Perhaps all the people on the spreadsheet were made aware of its contents a year ago. Perhaps there is an equally satisfactory answer for not furnishing Richard Clarke with the spreadsheet before the review panel convened. If so, Greenwald and Hussain should have addressed these important details in the article. With these questions still open, the lack of curiosity among people like this, this and this — so keen to discipline Greenwald’s detractors — seems very much at odds with their superior politics.
I think it’s largely self-evident to any well-informed person that the Intercept article imparted nothing new. Greenwald and co even seem to concede this, by insisting not on the article’s novelty, but rather that the lack of same should be no impediment to applause or handwringing. Still, for those painstaking point missers among us, the case against surprise is as follows:
1. While the article is supported by an NSA document, the story is mostly about the FBI, the agency tracking the five men. Surveillance of Muslims by the FBI has been widely covered, such as in this Nation article from October of last year. The Greenwald/Hussain article even links to, and quotes, this 2011 Wired article on the topic. That the NSA and the FBI share data is widely known. The FBI also collects signals intelligence of its own via its Data Intercept Technology Unit.
2. In 2011, AP began publishing a lengthy series on collusion between the CIA and the NYPD in surveilling Muslim groups, a project that began in 2001 and ended only last year, and involved warrantless spying on, and infiltration of, mosques, political groups, student groups, and unaffiliated Muslim social life over the entire Northeast. While there is little or no mention of the NSA in this series, the surveillance is actually more dramatic and disturbing than that covered by The Intercept, by virtue of its scale, its independence from any judicial oversight, and the de facto federalizing of a municipal police force.
3. Since we know that American Muslims have been targets of assassination, we can infer that they are first targets of NSA surveillance, since we know that the NSA provides the signals intelligence to the CIA that makes these murders possible. Unsurprisingly, drone targets Anwar al-Aulaqi and Samir Kahn, both U.S. citizens, are on the spreadsheet that is the basis for The Intercept article.