Seems like Snowden and his colleagues have been upstaging Chelsea Manning since the very first day he arrived on the scene.
In June, 2013, Manning’s court martial had only just begun when boom, the first Snowden stories were published the same week, followed by Ed’s debut in the Guardian, complete with a video interview from his Hong Kong hideout.
When a military court handed Manning a 35-year sentence on August 21 of the same year, Glenn Greenwald and David Miranda were in their third day of wailing and chest-beating over Miranda’s 11-hour “psychological torture” at the hands of British officials on the previous Sunday. That same week, the Guardian disclosed that, on government orders, it had destroyed computers containing Snowden documents, a story it had sat on for months.
The following February, the Oxford Union gave Manning the Sam Adams Award for Integrity and Intelligence. Since Manning was sequestered in Leavenworth, Snowden acted in her place, via a video in which he scrupulously avoided any details of what she had leaked, or what impact she had had. Instead he made Manning a pretext for discussing “over-classification” of government documents and another iteration of his familiar lecture on the necessity to democracy of informed consent and a free press. At the end, he offered Manning the Oxford Union’s, and his, “moral sanction.”
Exactly two months after the Oxford Union award, an Army general upheld Manning’s 35-year sentence, the longest ever given by a U.S. court for leaking secrets to the media. The same day, The Washington Post and The Guardian won a Pulitzer Prize for their Snowden stories.
As I have laboriously documented, throughout all of this scene-stealing, Snowden and his colleagues relentlessly recapitulated mainstream media smears against Manning while insisting on Snowden’s vastly superior methods with sometimes laughable hyperbole. A central feature of this mythology is the notion that he read and analyzed every document in his trove before he handed it over to his most beloved journalists. Almost none of this fit the ever-changing facts at all — Snowden and co were as mendacious about Snowden as they were about Manning — and no one cared, not even Snowden’s ostensible detractors.
So now Manning has come on Twitter, to more media fanfare than her trial ever got, and oops, there’s Snowden again — of course — this time stealing the show with a blockbuster interview on HBO’s, Last Week with John Oliver. Poor Chelsea.
But, alas, there was some justice, if only a little. John Oliver asked a question that, as far as I know, no one had ever put to Snowden in a public setting before:
Oliver: How many of those documents have you actually read?
Snowden: I’ve evaluated all the documents that are in the archive.
Oliver: You’ve read every single one?
Snowden: I do understand what I turned over.
Oliver: There’s a difference between understanding what’s in the documents and reading what’s in the documents.
Snowden: I understand the concern…
Oliver: (heatedly) When you’re handing over thousands of NSA documents the last thing you want to do is read them.
Oliver’s questioning, like the rest of the segment, was horribly reactionary, and a million miles from faulting Snowden for his dishonest aspersions against Manning.
However, it was Snowden and Greenwald that set the bar for proper whistleblowing at un-Manningly “reading everything”, so it was extremely satisfying to see him at last put on the spot about this and failing miserably to talk his way out of it. The Guardian encapsulated his evasions this way:
Edward Snowden tells John Oliver he did not read all leaked NSA material
Of course, this will likely elicit a cacophony of Snowden cult mutant dipshits complaining that that’s not what Snowden did, but it is, Blanche, it is.
Not to worry, though. A 100-pound statue of Snowden appeared miraculously in Brooklyn today, a sign that God is still on his side. It was the second such miracle to grace our grateful metropolis. Beat that, Manning!