The Tarzie Snowden Reader

Though early notices suggest it may come and go very quickly, Oliver Stone’s Snowden will nonetheless generate renewed interest in its title character. As one of an extremely small number of writers that criticize Snowden from the left, I feel a civic duty to boost my archive to people who, as a result of the movie, want to get the lefty lowdown on Snowden and his secrets for the first time. I hope that long-time readers might find some value in this also, if only to counter the emetic of hagiographic idiocy and juvenile cheerleading the film is likely to spawn.

The working title of one of my great unwritten blog posts is Everything is a Psy Op, the topic of which would be the efficiency nowadays with which the media system turns everything to the advantage of the class that owns it. Of course, there is a long, rich history of conspiracy between the Security State and media in platforms large and small, and no doubt such collaboration continues to this day. However, day-to-day evidence suggests that media consolidation and other changes have practically automated the constant production of ruling class and state propaganda, such that daily interference by what used to be stupidly called infiltrators,  and publicity stunts by plants, seem largely unnecessary under most conditions.

One of the things I find most striking about television footage from the 60s and 70s — in addition to people being more eloquent, more grown-up and less ready for their close-up than nowadays  — is that there were clearly pores through which dangerous ideas and personalities could slip in.  Those days are long gone.  The proof is in things like the lead-up to Obamacare, in which televised advocacy of Medicare for All was practically non-existent, and in Presidential elections, where any anti-imperialist or vaguely anti-capitalist candidate is ostracized and then disappeared.  Indeed, the idea that capitalism is something provisional that society could ultimately reject doesn’t come up except in small left-branded journals that recommend tactical alliances with liberal Democrats, posit Scandinavian-style social democracy as the next logical step and routinely ridicule radicals that reject incrementalism of this kind.

There can be no intelligent, leftist consideration of Snowden, or any other figure of similar stature for that matter, without recognizing that we know him entirely through instruments specially designed to prevent and suppress any dissent that’s likely to disquiet members of the ruling class and their state security apparatus even a little. Therefore, we must consider why, of the many weird things about Snowden, the very weirdest is the warm welcome the mainstream media and elites from industry and government — including members of the intelligence community — have given him.

Of course, there is no consensus among The Spectacle’s feature players that Snowden’s theft of NSA state secrets was a great thing, but those whose regard for Snowden is more hostile than mixed are most certainly in the minority.  Among the few genuinely entertaining aspects of The Snowden Show at its peak was the struggle of his hand-picked media proxies — particularly clownish Glenn Greenwald — to look like enemies of the state as they flew from place to place, entirely without incident, to collect Polks, Pulitzers and Oscars for the dangerously disruptive attack on the security state they’d facillitated.  At one point, Greenwald and his army of dolts circulated a letter of inquiry by Florida Congressperson Alan Grayson to Eric Holder as if it were a Grand Jury indictment.

Because of Snowden’s and his crew’s immunity from anything like the ostracism and character assassination that invariably greets anyone that’s genuinely disruptive, his own participation in the ostracism of Chelsea Manning just as she went to trial, and his reciting of clearly rehearsed talking points in a radio announcer’s voice, tongues wagged early on to the effect that Snowden was running what’s known in intelligence as a limited hangout. According to former special assistant to the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Victor Marchetti, a limited hangout is

…a favorite and frequently used gimmick of the clandestine professionals. When their veil of secrecy is shredded and they can no longer rely on a phony cover story to misinform the public, they resort to admitting—sometimes even volunteering—some of the truth while still managing to withhold the key and damaging facts in the case. The public, however, is usually so intrigued by the new information that it never thinks to pursue the matter further.”

This certainly resonates when considering Snowden, who, in relation to an unimaginably vast apparatus of surveillance and control that has tentacles in the oceans, the heavens, and everywhere in between, encourages us to focus entirely on signals intelligence, and within that narrow constraint, on only one of the federal agencies that collect signals intelligence, and within that, only on bulk data collection from computers and phones, and within that, on mostly minor details of practices that were already known. You will not often find Snowden talking about any other agencies, and indeed he has explicitly ruled out whistleblowing directed at the CIA for which he was once an agent, claiming, ridiculously, that blowing whistles on the CIA endangers individuals in a way that blowing whistles on the NSA does not.  Snowden ignores the importance of federalized state and local police to mass surveillance as well the role of private contractors that account for over 50% of the intelligence budget, even though it was as a contractor that Snowden learned the NSA’s secrets.

There are a number of things besides just Snowden’s pernicious minimizing that make a respectable case for fake, but I haven’t attempted to make that case because, one, we’ll never know for sure, and two, whether orchestrated by a cabal somewhere in deepest State, or shaped by a media system for which everything is the raw material of propaganda, he is what he is and his impact is no more nor less pernicious.  Whatever the reason, Snowden has led a tightly circumscribed, elite-supported, mind-numbingly trivial conversation about surveillance, that, above all else, chillingly reminds people they’re always being watched; accepts as self-evident the need for a massive surveillance apparatus and the good intentions that guide it; recommends not collective action but rather atomized resistance through individual use of privacy software produced by private companies and defense contractors;  establishes restrictive norms for whistleblowing by, among other things, promoting dishonest criticism of Chelsea Manning; and finally climaxed with declaring victory when elements from CISPA — legislation reviled by privacy advocates — were pasted onto The Patriot Act and passed as The Freedom Act.

There is absolutely nothing here to warrant even grudging respect from leftists, let alone admiration, so lucky for Snowden, the workaround for the embargo on genuine dissidence, even in marginal media, is to insist on the inherent subversiveness of information all by itself. The unambiguously laudable leftishness of disclosing state secrets is to be taken as obvious, regardless of the discloser’s politics or whatever the most conspicuous effects of their disclosures are.  If you’re skeptical, sharp tacks saying usefully idiotic things, like that Snowden’s politics don’t matter because he’s not running for office, are available to sort you out.

Indeed, there has been little in recent memory that professional lefties and privacy advocates have committed themselves to with more zeal than shielding Snowden and his associates in media and the privacy industry from scrutiny, and their efforts have paid off. Nonetheless, incorrigibles like me, afflicted with a misanthropy that hears shut up from some dipshit as more please, soldiered on, as the record below shows.

The posts listed here are organized by theme and within those themes I’ve organized them in the order in which I think they’re most effective, rather than chronologically.  My understanding of Snowden and what was going on evolved over time, and following that evolution is entirely unnecessary and likely to be dull. I am confident that these posts can be profitably read in any order, as both a close examination of The Snowden Whistleblowing event and, more generally, as a guide to the swamp of pseudo-dissidence in which it dwells.


In Conclusion
Snowden will change nothing for the better, I wrote, correctly, in 2013 after several months of writing about him.

Whitewashing The Problem

Snowden’s minimization of the security apparatus took several forms. One was to narrowly focus on a subset of NSA practices, to the exclusion of everything else. Another was to depict the corporate sector as victim rather than collaborator. Finally, Snowden attained peak whitewash when he proclaimed victory at the renewal of the Patriot Act with some CISPA thrown in.

With or Without Section 215, Mass Surveillance of Cell Phones is Pervasive
Multiple agencies gathering cell phone data render Snowden’s crowing over the Freedom Act ridiculous.

While You Gloat About Snowden, The FBI is Watching You
At the same time Snowden cheered the Freedom Act’s privatizing of phone data collection, stories broke about the FBI’s fleet of spy planes, which, among other things, simulate cell phone towers to snarf up phone data.

Mass Surveillance and No NSA. It Happens!
Lexis Nexis proudly adds to its data vacuuming and analysis product line for law enforcement, demonstrating how narrow the Snowden Show’s focus on the NSA truly is.

Fuck These Google Guys
Snowden’s disclosure that the NSA hacked Google, makes employees of that company really sweary, proving that Google will be a great ally in the fight for privacy, even though it secretly gave the NSA access to its networks in 2010.

Is The Freedom Act a Stealth CISPA?
The Freedom Act that Snowden and his proxies were touting as reform seems quite the opposite.

Bashing Manning While She’s Down

Consistent with celebrity dissent generally, The Snowden Show dons defiance drag and extols obedience.  Nothing illustrates this more than the campaign Snowden and his proxies waged against Cablegate leaker Chelsea Manning, who they repeatedly misrepresented beginning on Day 1.

Good Whistleblower/Bad Whistleblower
A comprehensive look at how Snowden and his representatives repeatedly set up Manning as Snowden’s wayward, reckless antithesis.

Confronting Edward Snowden’s Remarks on Manning
A dissident star is born, and celebrates his coming out by repudiating Manning, just as the trial that would consign her to a cage for decades gets underway.

Another Snowden News Story. Another Lesson in Proper Whistleblowing.
An article in the Washington Post about upcoming leaks becomes another occasion for Snowden to distance himself from Manning a full three months after he’d come on the scene and after she’d been sentenced to 35 years.

Snowden Lays an Egg, a Statue Grows in Brooklyn and Manning Wins a Round
In an interview with John Oliver, Snowden admits he did not read every document in his trove, contradicting the claims he and his advocates made repeatedly to differentiate him from Chelsea Manning.

Glenn Greenwald, Snowden’s Leak Boss

Above I mentioned Snowden’s great immunity from serious scrutiny on the left. No single individual deserves more credit for that than Greenwald, who clearly understood that his star would rise in proportion to repressing agitation from transparency radicals and the left.

Take Your Drip and Stick It
However much an emerging cult wants to believe otherwise, Snowden has the stage because elites want him there. Greenwald’s opportunism, muddled reformist politics and troll army make him the perfect stage manager.

My Reply to Glenn Greenwald’s Comments on Take Your Drip and Stick It
Pursuant to igniting a Twitter beatdown, Greenwald spews juvenile invective on my blog and I reply.

A Heat Vampire in  Search of a Movie Deal
News of bidding for movie rights to Greenwald’s Snowden book demonstrate how nicely ambition and service to power go together.

The Friends of Glenn
How authoritarian trolls in high places and low will attack when you criticize Greenwald or Snowden too much.

I Read the New York Magazine Omidyar Article So You Don’t Have To
In a puff piece on the billionaire who bought the Snowden leaks, Greenwald extols the merits of his new boss, and announces a plan to give other journalists access to the leaks, something he said he couldn’t do a little over a year before.

 Oligarchs and media hacks agree: Best Whistleblower Ever

Of course Snowden and his crew had some showy detractors and Greenwald and co did their best to make this tiny minority look like a dangerous army.  But titans of industry like Mark Zuckerberg and Upper East Side bluebloods declared their love early and many of their peers would soon follow. In media, no whistleblower has ever received the kind of love Snowden has, with both he and his proxies given lengthy, respectful prime time interviews — such as this with Brian Williams — and hagiographic write-ups across the political spectrum. His hand-picked chroniclers received the most prestigious prizes in journalism and film and ultimately the patronage of a multi-billionaire.

Dr. Rosen and The Snowden Effect
In regarding the chain of events following a whistleblowing as inevitable, NYU media professor Jay Rosen completely misapprehends how the media works.

Oligarchs Approve The NSA Debate. I Guess We’re #Winning
An astonishing number of elites pledge support to Snowden.

First Look’s Omidyar Introduces The Intercept 
The tech wing of the intelligence community rewards Greenwald and Laura Poitras for their convincing portrayal of dissident journalists, giving them their own multimillion dollar online media venture with which to play investigatey journalers. Like Snowden, it blows dissident smoke and promotes military-industrial orthodoxy.

Ryan Devereaux is No Gary Webb
In a look back at Gary Webb and Dark Alliance, The Intercept provides a helpful reminder of how real whistleblowers get treated. In the process it uncritically recapitulates CIA smears against Webb from twenty years ago, leaving no doubt as to what side Snowden’s apostles are on.

The Politics Of a Career Spook

Politically speaking, Snowden is everything you’d expect in a security state careerist.

Edward Snowden’s Bizarre Conception of Human Rights
Mass surveillance only sucks if the people haven’t had a chance to ratify it, says Ed.

Philip Agee and Edward Snowden: A comparision.
60s CIA whistleblower Agee, unlike Ed, said his real beef was with capitalism.


Edward Snowden’s Incredible Mutating Document Trove
Why does the reported size of the document leak keep changing?

Snowden and The Place Where No One Would Look
Within days of the Snowden movie premiere, we learn the never-before-told tale of poor refugees in the Hong Kong slums harboring Snowden, making the ex-soldier and career spook a refugee just like them.

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43 Responses to The Tarzie Snowden Reader

  1. wendyedavis says:

    A fine overview, amigo, and I’m glad that you’re so civic minded. Any number of pithy quotable quotes in the OP, but for now, my clock spring is seriously run down, so…hopefully later. But concerning the possible impetus behind your National Post link, and No yo Se’s Handelsblatt quasi-operettas in your earlier post, and whether or not the authors are part of at least a half-court press plea for O to grant Snowden a pre-pardon, or whatever it’s really called:

    ‘Edward Snowden makes ‘moral’ case for presidential pardon; Exclusive: Whistleblower says citizens have benefited from his disclosure in 2013 of US and UK government surveillance’
    Support the Guardian’s fearless, independent journalism by making a contribution or becoming a member: sound a bit too familiar, ha ha?


    I left that one with parentheses hoping to not trip your moderation alarm, although one can change hyperlink numbers before ‘moderation’ in wordpress> discussions> settings >hyperlinks if one cares to.

    ‘ACLU and Amnesty International are asking Obama to pardon Edward Snowden’

    Read more
    •’Edward Snowden says it’s a ‘dark day’ in Russia after Vladimir Putin introduces draconian new surveillance laws’ (an adorable psyop for the rubes)

    I have a couple other links, but I need to read more closely to see if one is actually useful as pushback, and the other is Assange on freaking hagiographer for the Imperium luke harding, although I try to understand his solidarity w/ snowden after what he and greenwald have smeared him with, myownself.

  2. wendyedavis says:

    Well, my parentheses didn’t fool WordPress, ha.

  3. robert says:
    (the jpeg below is a link to a bigger pic in the article above)

    not on Snowden per se, but on the absolute, total homogeneity of journalistic opinion on US foreign policy. and the same journos very intentional, weaponized, deployment of or denigration of “conspiracy theories” to suit some State Dept agenda. Oh wait. there is a connection w/Snowden: i guess he’s on the State Dept’s memo distribution list cuz he seems to have got the note to pile on Russia, didn’t he?

    • Coffee Drinker says:

      Kevin, I’m afraid the dates don’t support your argument:

      July 17, 2013: Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the district court’s permanent injunction
      February 2014: Launch date for Intercept
      April 28, 2014: Supreme Court declines to hear, leaving the Second Circuit decision intact.

      By April 2014, Hedges Vs Obama was old news and the Supreme Court refusing to hear it was a footnote. SCOTUS declines most appeals. In the early days, Intercept didn’t have the staff to cover the whole gambit of national security issues. To say it was a significant omission is making a mountain out of a molehill.

  4. Ryan C. says:

    Just have to add that. Everyone forgets about it.

    • Tarzie says:

      Is this in reference to the efficiency of propaganda-making? It’s apt, but just making sure that’s what you mean.

      I’m sure there are numerous changes and developments that have led us to this, but yeah, the scrapping of the Fairness Doctrine seems like a big deal, depending on how rigorously it was enforced in the first place. Must have made some difference, else the Reagan admin wouldn’t have bothered.

      In addition to structural changes, I think there’s even been a cultural shift in the ruling class that makes them more united in being shitty. Don’t know what to attribute that to, just my gut sense that in the 60s there were more rifts between elites and more of them were leaving doors open for pinkos to get in.

      • Ryan C. says:

        You said this:
        “One of the things I find most striking about television footage from the 60s and 70s — in addition to people being more eloquent, more grown-up and less ready for their close-up than nowadays — is that there were clearly pores through which dangerous ideas and personalities could slip in. Those days are long gone.”

        I thought it would answer your open question.

        In any case, I would also like to point out your ideological turing failings.

        Members of the intelligence apparatus, are mostly human beings, with the exception of some people on the bottom and most of the people at the top (no real reason for me to believe this, just guessing based on the psychological impact of the Holocaust).

        The Democratic Alliance funds Black Lives Matter, but nothing for cyberpunks.

        Snowden created a debate. No one intelligent was allowed to show up. No funding was provided for organizing protests.

        Normal people do have qualms over violating natural rights, and so the people at the top can argue that police brutality is a worse concern then mass surveillance.

        There is no real need for polygraphs anymore than well, Scientology’s e-meters.

        Just theories I formed.

      • Tarzie says:

        There is no single reason why the brainwash machine operates with so much more efficiency now than in the 60s, so there was no open question. The Fairness Doctrine definitely bears on the matter, though, and I appreciate your bringing it up.

        I surely have ideological failings, but unclear on how you demonstrated them just now. Happy to argue or concede when I know what point you’re making.

  5. robert says:

    assuming we get that far, future historians will look here & see their work done for them. or at least they damn well should. meticulously documented, lucidly, concisely argued. sorry i haven’t read ’em all.

    • Tarzie says:

      Thanks, Robert. That’s excessively kind.

      In organizing by theme, I find I wish I’d written more about some things and less about others. I didn’t really know what I was describing until after I was mostly finished. I don’t fault people for just grazing. It’s a slog in large doses.

  6. wendyedavis says:

    A few things in your overview are especially trenchant observations:

    “However, day-to-day evidence suggests that media consolidation and other changes have practically automated the constant production of ruling class and state propaganda, such that daily interference by what used to be stupidly called infiltrators, and publicity stunts by plants, seem largely unnecessary under most conditions.

    Your observation that…(transposing) ‘The days are long gone when there were clearly pores through which dangerous ideas and personalities could slip in.’ and “Indeed, the idea that capitalism is something provisional that society could ultimately reject doesn’t come up except in small left-branded journals that recommend tactical alliances with liberal Democrats…’

    Your whitewashing section was brilliant, as is your entire oeuvre, although my fave is still your multipart Gary Webb series; simply staggering journalism.

    Re: “Don’t be like Chelsea Manning and Wikileaks, that is, indiscriminate, reckless and dangerous to both national security and human life.” and I’m looking forward to reading your coverage of the Dot Com, event in NZ. Covering that lost me a hella lot of commenters, lol. But from Wikileaks on twitter this a.m.:

    “Obama should pardon Snowden. But Snowden is free & visible. Manning has been made invisible by 6.5 years of prison. Clemency would be just.”
    “If Obama grants Manning clemency, Assange will agree to US prison in exchange — despite its clear unlawfulness”
    Thank you for the ‘limited hangout’ definition, and while it may take time to fully appreciate, I’d never been clear as to what it meant. And for reprising Ed’s declaration that in effect, the ‘conversation’ he’d wanted to have included..’Americans should be able to decide if they want to be spied on’. Didn’t he ask his Constitutional lawyer friend about that?

    Are you familiar w/ Tim Horrocks? Those were the other two things I’d considered bringing, although I hadn’t known him before (or as least as I can recall), and I haven’t begun to finish one of the long essays w/ so many other things to do.

    I’m glad you brought ‘Ryan Devereaux is no Gary Webb’ so I could show you this in case you hadn’t seen it while you were…enjoying life w/o blogging or Tweeting (smile).

    Albeit a bit timidly, I wrote it up for my home website (with a few of MoA’s contributions), but only one commenter offered remarks. Just in the past couple weeks there have been a few essays at CP and elsewhere noting that the ‘blame Assad’ theme is splintering what could be a more comprehensive ‘antiwar movement’.

    Have you considered posting urls of your last two posts on the ‘Intercept Leaks Policy’ thread? It’s likely that some of those folks will have signed up for email notifications and would love to be here again.

    • Tarzie says:

      Thanks for the kind words. It’s nice that people are so vocal in their appreciation and return the favor by greatly enriching the conversation in these comments.

      I can’t imagine Assange proposing that swap if he felt there was any chance in hell it would be taken up. Still it’s a great piece of rhetoric and I’m glad he and others are injecting Manning into this pardon discussion. I never know what to make of Wikileaks. Sometimes I think the whole leaking syndicate is phony baloney, but even if that’s the case, there may be useful tensions and conflicts.

      I don’t know Tim Horrocks but I know Tim Shorrock, who I think you might mean, simply because he’s apt in this context. I think he’s a good reporter when he wants to be. He reads me sometimes and has even linked to this blog, though I watched him capitulate like a weeny when he got trolled for promoting Tarzie who everyone knows is insane once. It was bullied out of him by Little Thom, who is almost certainly a paid troll.

      I’m not surprised TI is on the Syria bandwagon. It’s consistent with TIs reason for existing. My Gary Webb opener spelled it out.

      Thanks for the tip on email notifications. It never occurs to me to do stuff like that. I probably should have boned up on how to increase traffic with stuff like that but never have. I’m a luddite where that stuff is concerned.

      • wendyedavis says:

        Ach, yes: ‘Shorrocks’. i’d realized my goof once I’d pushed Submit and walked away. Too bad on his folding. This one seems to be excellent, although I don’t have much of an analytical mind to see what’s missing especially, or between the lines. The Nation piece he now has on his Twitter thing: ‘‘5 Corporations Now Dominate Our Privatized Intelligence Industry; This unaccountable oligarchy of spies controls the information that guides our military and civilian leaders’ …even the beginning seemed pretty hilariously ironic given…all of the NSA freakout™!

        Dunno about Assange’s gambit, but as you said, it puts Chelsea’s abysmal incarceration and decades’ long right out front. An Assange psyop, as it were, smile. As I’d said earlier, it baffles me that he shows so much solidarity with Snowden, after everything. But it may be simply that he needs all the help HE can get (Courage Foundation, or whatever), too. After being called out at that odd Dot Com forum in NZ, he did manage some sort of small retribution the next day, but I forget what it was. But you may have noted it in your coverage of it.

        Among other things, his publications of the big corporate grabs they call ‘trade treaties’ have been quite useful, and he has a new batch today on TISA, how nice.

        RE: TI as a tool of the Imperium, I just saw someone commenting on a post about the new crapaliscious Census Report high-fiving ‘the biggest growth in household income since 2007! The man said that TI had spread te joy, but soon afterward…pulled it. Sure tickled me, but what? Did even that commentariat call bullshit on it?

        Yeah, I don’t know nuffin’ bout promoting my site, but then it’s a small boutique site and never will amount to much given my increasingly failing memory…and pissing people off. But you might want to check your link; the one I got in email didn’t go where you seemed to have wanted it to go, nor originate from the ‘Leak’ diary…I think.

      • wendyedavis says:

        Oh, bother. I even forgot the Tweet. A reprise from Feb.

  7. robert says:

    the management of leaks as exercises in disinformation:
    found at j st. clair’s post today at cpunch, where he notes that *everyone* commenting on saint colin powell’s emails elides his acknowledgement that israel has 200 nukes to focus on powell’s frank admission that eliot abrams* is a doltish asshole. (*or whoever among the bush redux crowd. killa clownz look & sound alike. cloned in the ivies, no doubt.)

    • Tarzie says:

      great example. everything morphs into a psy op.

      • robert says:

        like throwing guns at the mexican “drug cartels” to see who grabs them & shoots? (oh gawd. who the fuck came up w/that? yes, scare quotes around drug cartel.) who’s it not a psy-op for? the victims. for all the rest of us, it morphs. tries to.

  8. Spy Culture says:

    He’s a fucking spook and you know it. We’ll never know for sure, but we know for sure. I’d happily wear a t-shirt saying Snowden is hardcore right wing CIA agent who has successfully trolled the left wing and neutralised the privacy/anti-surveillance movements through manufactured celebrity worship making people think he’ll do it all for us. And I don’t wear t-shirts with slogans on.

    • Tarzie says:

      Ha ha. I haven’t denied any possibility. I just don’t think his origin story matters that much and it will always be unknown. There is quite a lot of evidence that he’s not what he says he is, certainly. His impact is such that he might as well be working for the IC.

      But I get frustrated with the conspiracist emphasis on Who is and Who Isn’t an Op because it minimizes the extent to which every one who features prominently in the Spectacle must advance ruling class aims or perish. They’re effectively ops whether they know it or not. Like Bernie Sanders probably thought he was genuinely challenging clinton. But what he was really doing was simply sheepdogging malcontents to remain in the party for Hillary’s coronation. It doesn’t matter what he thought he was doing. The machinery was there to shape it into exactly what powerful interests found necessary.

      In terms of effect I would take your assessment a step further and say that Snowden and Greenwald have reconstituted Left politics by giving privacy/anti-surveillance an exalted place. In other words, they and their odious army of of the worlds most ridiculous rubes have subordinated the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist politics of the left to a neoliberal politics that is explicitly both imperialist and capitalist. Then, having done that, they’ve neutralized the privacy politics they accomplished this with. Win win for capital! There isn’t anyone that disgusts me more in this shitshow than radicals who’ve signed on for it. So fucking childishly uncritical and stupid.

      • robert says:

        “Bernie Sanders probably thought he was genuinely challenging clinton.” maybe the mentality of the salesperson whose highest aspiration is to believe the bullshit that comes out of their own ad hole, and to demonstrate their belief by acts, gestures, dress, etc., to stage their belief convincingly, can help explain how the voice boxes of capital are able to function the way they do. in the end, such a person’s intentions are not determinative of their function b/c they are enmeshed in & subordinate to the operations of capital, as you rightly state (boy, it’s hard for some of us Americans to grasp that). but the loftiest psychic state is to believe in one’s product. there is no “reality,” all the world’s a public-relations stage. the “successful” person is one who convinces others of his belief in his beliefs. such a mentality is completely about the acquisition & exercise of power while being completely clueless to the fact that such an individual has totally subordinated their personality/psyche/self to the system of relations in which power is exercised. the human person is reduced to only an echo, by turns shrill, reasonable, impassioned, monotone, outraged, compassionate, etc., but only a disembodied, impersonal echo of their class & aspirations to power.

        anyway, just a theory, and i don’t think it explains everything about why a person becomes an obama or bush or whoever. but the “ad man” mindset is so strong & pervasive in our society, perhaps itself an expression of a society marinated in psycho-babble like no other, that i suspect it must be a big part of the personal development of these gorgons. here’s an exhibit in my argument:

      • Tarzie says:

        A most superb comment, sir!

        they are enmeshed in & subordinate to the operations of capital, as you rightly state (boy, it’s hard for some of us Americans to grasp that).

        You said it! I think my insistence on this irks my haters more than anything. But the evidence is overwhelming. Like there aren’t any exceptions. On the off chance that something dangerous to capital crashes the gate, it will last exactly five minutes. I wish these sneering nitwits that LOL Psy Ops all the time would muster a counter theory. What is the argument for ‘Glenn Greenwald and Pierre Omidyar are our friends’? If Sy Hersh gets all of his info from unnamed Deep State sources, why isn’t he effectively an operative for those sources? Why does opposing capitalism keep you off tv? It’s fucking common sense. I guess the truth is just too grim for these dumb little children pretending to be adults. So galling that they don’t know what ignorant little morons they are. I blame their doting parents.

        Wow, that Erhard guy. If this country could take human form, it would look sumpin like that.

      • robert says:

        shades of another “great” american, L Ron H, but he & his successors more among the Hollywood crowd. i’d heard about his “est” seminars but had no idea how many people were enamored of W Erhard & how tied in he was/is to the biz/academic worlds. says a lot. (one could say a lot about the value of “intelligence/being smart” based on him.)

        anyway, another case for my point: Obama’s speech in Laos. behind the (fake/not fake) acknowledgement & performance of pity for Laos is the implicit threat to Laos (& the world) to do to Laos (or others) again what the US did during the war in SE Asia unless Laos plays ball re the “pivot to Asia.” and the implicit threat to withhold the $90 million mockery of a pittance of funding for unexploded ordnance clean-up (which funding goes to US companies, natch) again depending on Laos’ submission to the US re China.

        i heard parts of this speech on npr & just felt sick afterwards. none of what i said, i believe, is really stated in the speech (ie, “we will bomb you again if you don’t side w/us”). but the “performance of sorry/apology” occurs w/o doubt w/in the context described.

        no wonder people say psycho-pathy is a job requirement. and, as presented in the media, such a speech is a psy-op on the American public. There’ll be manufactured outrage about obama “apologizing for America” on one side and coos and flattering praise for his concern for the poor Laotians on the other. pit USAeans against USAeans and Laos against China. what a win-win!

      • wendyedavis says:

        great stuff, robert. may i add another? Bander and Grinder’s neuro-linguistic programming. Oh, yes, transform yourself so you can ‘transform others’; being able to read them, hypnotize them…bend them to your more powerful and inner-directed mapped will, and above all: profit from it! ‘bidness!’ ha and ha.

        now not so many high-blown non-profit industraial philanthropic endeavors, no formal academic training really, but still. the wiki on both Erhard and NLP must have been authored by insiders. the NLP one isn’t worth bring.

      • robert says:

        “The empathic caring principles of NLP also assist the practical application of ethical and moral considerations (notably achieving detachment and objectivity), and using loving and compassionate ideas (simply, helping people) in work and life generally.” detachment & compassion? GTFOH! no contradiction b/n projecting one’s will onto the world & empathy for the world, is there?

        my fav nlp principle:
        “3. Have sufficient flexibility of behaviour so that you can vary your behaviour until you get your outcome.” success being defined by someone else, naturally (“6. Behaviour is geared towards adaptation.”) some people need no help w/this one, that’s for sure.


        “9. People have all the resources they need to make the changes they want.” glad that’s settled. now where did i put my Epipen?

        too bad there’s no money to be made in selling bullshit detectors. but hey, they promise NLP is “ecologically-sound,” so NLP’s will to power can’t be all bad, right?

        now dig this: “A Course in Miracles” is a more overtly religious/”spiritual” version of the same self-pumping (“Jeebus wants you to sell that car”) nonsense as W. Erhard’s est. lo & behold:

        “From 1971 to 1978 Thetford, along with David Saunders, headed the CIA mind control Project MKULTRA Subproject 130: Personality Theory.”
        now why would the spook services be behind self-help quackery?

      • wendyedavis says:

        “glad that’s settled. now where did i put my Epipen?’, oh FMH you’re killin me, robert. and how didja twig to wm the thetford? good choices on the NLP bidness, by the by.

        cory morningstar did some pieces (or one veryveryvery long piece as is her [unfortunate] wont) on ‘spiritual capitalism’ (an oxymoron, perhaps, lol?) # one was john perkins of ‘economic hitman fame’ got religion, but some she named like vendana shiva didn’t fit for me. but don’t you mean rather: “jeebus wants you to buy this car i’m tryin’ to sell you”?

      • robert says:

        “i believe in my ability to get the client to believe in my belief.” that was my stuart smalley daily affirmation for YEARS. how did i see thru that shit? well, that “course in miracles” sure didn’t help. i don’t know how i got tuned in to CIA & crap like that. just one more instance of or desperately tries to be. but even before you get to the spook level, who was tent-revivalist Billy Sunday’s biggest funder? Standard effin’ Oil. (ergo Billy Graham.) that stuff works for many people. The CIA & Co, w/their Scientology & what have you, are there for the more “esoterically” minded. who funds uber-Zionist apocalyptic nut evangelist John “makes Sheriff Joe Arpaio look like a saint” Hagee? not that he scoffs at the offering plate collection, but it ain’t the rube in the pew. “this program of Wayne Dyer on PBS brought to you by….and funders like you.”

        to take this back to the original question/comment:
        “The photos from the MI5 files betray the theatrical element to all this, with holes painted on brick walls and the like, all of which was designed with the assistance of the magician Jasper Maskelyne.” i don’t think this subject is OT from Snowden. “In other words, they and their odious army of of the worlds most ridiculous rubes have subordinated the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist politics of the left to a neoliberal politics that is explicitly both imperialist and capitalist.” nice magic show.

  9. Dan Donohue says:

    Hey Tarzie. Any thoughts on the Washington Post’s editorial board called for prosecution of Snowden despite their picking up a Pulitzer while pushing his leaks? Please write more!!!

  10. wendyedavis says:

    Tarzie, you’d asked whether WikiLeaks might be a psyop earlier. You may be able to decode this and know why the Tweeter found it so important (my take was as a hit on WikiLeaks). I won’t even bother trying to count the links that seemed rather in conflict (Cass Sunstein?), but as far as I could see, Domscheit-Berg was never mentioned. Would love to hear what you make of it.

  11. wendyedavis says:

    @ robert up yonder. big smile.

    ‘I remember a time when a cabbage could sell itself by being a cabbage. Nowadays it’s no good being a cabbage – unless you have an agent and pay him a commission. Nothing is free anymore to sell itself or give itself away. These days, Countess, every cabbage has its pimp.’

    ― Jean Giraudoux, The Madwoman of Chaillot

    • robert says:

      thanks. and tarzie, for the kind words. “thanks to science, today’s super cabbages are not like your grandma’s. they are portals to increased virility & stamina. perfect for the boudoir or the battlefield.”

      • wendyedavis says:

        didn’t monsanto tweak the genes of a flat dutch cabbage with bacillus thuringiensis, as with bT corn, that can also be used as a bowling ball? but you may be right,’cannonball cabbages: an idea whose time has come. me, i’m considering pimping them, myownself. of course i’d never recommend eating them, as doing so would transfer the properties to one’s gut, meaning creating one’s own bacteria-munching factory.

  12. wendyedavis says:

    tarzie, it may be that i shouldn’t intrude on your current enjoyment of life, but this is fine. i’d originally seen it in the Red Twittersphere, and the clipped portion piqued my curiosity. this time, not ryan deveraux, but murtaza hussain, going full-throated western propagandist.

    the nice part was that it got something like 475 comments, many of which were calling out hussain, and really TI itself, partially due to this coverage, but in many respects naming what issues, locales, etc., ‘Pierre’ didn’t seem to want their fierce and independent journalists to cover.

    ‘mona’: let’s say her comments evolved over time, but largely by way of a new exposé on the same subject. otoh, the Reds were quite vocal about his earlier positions on syria, assad, attacks on sharmine narwani, etc.

    i’d collected a hella lot of counterfactual journalistic links as to who started and funds the white helmets and other fake ‘syrian civil groups’, many of the usual suspects, of course.

  13. Hieroglyph says:

    Here’s one thing we know about Snowden: he was in the CIA.

    This is worth considering. What we can say, factually, about Snowden is that he is the kind of douchebag who both wanted to, and actually did, join the CIA. So, we have desire, and we have ability. We can assume that the CIA has a rigorous process in place for applicants. The idea that any old ‘drop out’ (meaningless capitalist term) can join the CIA is totally absurd. The idea that someone who has joined the CIA is given a handy cover story – not absurd.

    So, to anyone who isn’t Glen Greenwald, or one of his gullible nat-sec-premise accepting chumps, Snowden is, de facto, someone to be regarded caution. So, we go to whistle-blowing. It is feasible that, as in the Catholic Church, with which the CIA shares many traits, there are some who join who have a crisis. We can ignore the various ‘retired’ CIA types who appear to say negative things about their ‘former’ employers, because their comments are almost always about strategy and tactics, not fundamental premise. As in: ‘The leadership of the CIA were poor, so when we fucked Banana Republic X up it’s royal commie ass, we weren’t careful enough to ensure that the maddest psychotic in the country didn’t take charge. We should have got some other guy, who was less psychotic’. Shame. We can ignore such thinking. I suspect we may be able to, cautiously, have a rule about ex-CIA whistle-blowers: the genuine ones are either ruined, or dead. Snowden is neither.

    It’s relevant that the idle thoughts above are, in some circles, deemed offensive, even conspiracy. And yet, the utterly abused, and abused again, misinformation machine posing as a free media is incapable of stating what is entirely obvious: the CIA is not to be trusted. Has anyone here ever read, in the MSM, a negative word about the CIA? I mean, a genuinely negative one. Not, the “wish we’d imposed a less sadistic\rapey\child abusing\clown fucking and child-abusing\satan worshiping ruler on the fuck-chumps who scarcely merit our disdain” style of negativity? Possibly. It’s rare though.

    Which is all to say, whistle-blowers, when they are genuine, are to be given the respect and admiration. But, not everyone is Chelsea Manning.

  14. Anand says:

    This three-part series ( ( (part 3 not released yet) on Snowden by Ken Silverstein might be useful. Silverstein, who started Counterpunch and was of The Intercept before falling out with them, has started a political rag called Washington Babylon.

    Though some of the material could be thought of as reactionary (I have seen liberals and some on the right make similar points), Silverstein isn’t a liberal and approaches the matter from a different angle. A break from the uncritical acceptance of Snowden in the left, if nothing else.

    • Tarzie says:

      Thanks for linking to this. Apart from his condemnation of the uncritical left, this is garbage. I don’t care what Silverstein calls himself. He writes like a right wing ten year old.

    • Tarzie says:

      Ee gads. Dumb and dumber.

      I can no longer listen to stuff like this unless there’s a good reason to. That summary is enough. Greenwald speaking literally turns my stomach. I find him repulsive in a hundred ways entirely separate from that nasal, revoltingly adolescent uptalking. He’s so fucking gross.

      Comparing the Podesta emails to climate change activists harassed by right wingers is equal parts disgusting and stupid. I’ve never liked or trusted Klein and this gives me no reason to alter that. Interesting how Greenwald is now turning up the volume on his self-serving curation bullshit, as a genuinely disruptive whistleblowing commences. Greenwald likes whistleblowing the way Chomsky likes revolutions: when they fail at everything but promoting booj clerks in the US.

      Cool how Greenwald’s misgivings about dumping are no impediment to publishing stories based on the leaks. Is there anything he once despised that he hasn’t become with a vengeance yet? At least Bill Keller wasn’t a camel-faced uptalker.

  15. diane says:


    Election of yet another Fascist ‘Unlike any of the preceeding Fascists’

    11/16/16 Hidden in plain sight: The NSA’s ‘secret spy base inside a windowless, nuclear-bomb proof AT&T skyscraper in lower Manhattan’

    … documents leaked by Edward Snowden, along with others gathered by The Intercept, suggest that it has a worrying secret identity: An NSA surveillance base named Titanpointe that spies on phone calls, fax messages and internet data.

    One of those Murdoch/Daily Mail, powderd blue backgrounded inserts to the article:


    A number of code names have been linked to the AT&T Long Lines Building:

    AWM: The building has parking spaces marked ‘AWM’ – a code used to denote federal agencies.

    BLARNEY: A program developed in the early 1970s to mass-collect content and metadata from communications. This was done with ‘commercial partners’ – companies such as AT&T.

    LITHIUM: The NSA codename for AT&T, which owns the Long Lines Building in downtown Manhattan, New York City.

    PROJECT X: Not an NSA code name, but the working title for AT&T’s Long Lines Building, which houses a telecomms switch connecting the US with the rest of the world. It is also designed to resist atomic blasts and has its own water, food and electricity supplies.

    SKIDROWE: An NSA program designed to intercept satellite data including emails, chats, Skype calls, passwords, and internet browsing histories.

    TITANPOINTE: A site for the NSA’s mass data collection program, confirmed to be in New York and believed to be located in the Long Lines Building

    [Daily Mail source: Omidyar/Intercept [[Saint™] Snowden™ Files]

    I won’t even pretend that I totally understand the timing of this, but I’ll bet my life it was timed.

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