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June 30, 2013 8:06 AM   Subscribe

Journalism is under pressure.
Glenn Greenwald speaking on NSA stories, Snowden and journalism. (Contains further links of interest.)
Chris Hayes discussion of how establishment journalists love leaks that serve the interests of political officials, but hate leaks that disclose what those officials want to keep suppressed.
Salon: Obama's war on Journalism.
TruthOut: National Security Journalism on Trial.
posted by adamvasco (79 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
Awesome. Thank you.
posted by nevercalm at 8:17 AM on June 30, 2013


Are we to infer Chris Hayes isn't an establishment journalist?
posted by phrontist at 8:30 AM on June 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


One of them is Meet the Press host David Gregory, who, after saying journalist Glenn Greenwald “aided and abetted” NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, demanded to know of the reporter: “Why shouldn’t you be charged with a crime?”

I am still somewhat shocked by this. Not so much that it was said, but that Gregory was left unchallenged by the rest of the media for essentially saying that journalists are terrorists or traitors. A pretty damning statement about just how low the press has fallen in its former role as a check on power.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:34 AM on June 30, 2013 [36 favorites]


A lot of discussion on this subject here as well.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:38 AM on June 30, 2013


Terrorists try changes after Snowden leaks, official says
By Barbara Starr
"We can confirm we are seeing indications that several terrorist groups are in fact attempting to change their communications behaviors based specifically on what they are reading about our surveillance programs in the media," a U.S. intelligence official told CNN.
I've been particularly impressed by Hayes' reporting of the asymetricallity of how this leak and Snowden's have been handled. Here we have an administration official telling terrorists something that would actually be useful to them, that the NSA is watching them change their behaviors and is keeping up, rather than what they knew all along. However the 'damage' it causes is largely ignored as it conforms to both the administration's self serving narrative and the Republican opposition's vain shallow 'pride.' It becomes quite clear that Snowden's real crime is not helping anyone but embarrassing the United States and its current administration, which is, you know, not a crime.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:39 AM on June 30, 2013 [34 favorites]


Gregory was left unchallenged by the rest of the media

Huh? I read plenty of criticism of Gregory for that. Example: Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall, who has hardly demonstrated a particular fondness for Snowden, made it clear that he hated what Gregory did. (And TPM is online, but it's popular and closely watched enough to be considered a mainstream political news outlet by now.)
posted by raysmj at 8:40 AM on June 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Another longtime punditry/political commentary fixture who's been critical of Gregory: Frank Rich.
posted by raysmj at 8:42 AM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Matt Taibbi has had a bash at this as well in a blog post titled: Hey, MSM: All Journalism is Advocacy Journalism
posted by Trochanter at 8:52 AM on June 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


The Barbara Starr article quoted above impresses me. It impresses me as a pack of lies...

Not that I think the "reporter" is lying. What I do think is that the "facts" presented in the article are probably lies, or at least deeply misleading - and that the "reporter" (read: stenographer) doesn't question a single syllable.

All of this comes from one single anonymous "U.S. intelligence official". Why exactly would this official ask not to be named - unless they're lying? They're emitting pro-government facts - it's not like they're going to lose their job for saying, "This leak has empowered the terrorists."

Why exactly are we supposed to take this un-sourced, un-challenged, un-corroborated story as anything other than a rumor?

And are we really supposed to believe that competent terrorists had no idea that this was happening until Snowden told them? That Al-Qaeda has been happily using Gmail and Skype up until now?

Oh, and Blasdelb's other comment on this, that here we have a "U.S. intelligence official" revealing something that might actually be useful to the terrorists, is spot on. I have to say that I detest being treated like I'm an idiot more than anything else...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:03 AM on June 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


Blasdelb, the thing that most fascinates me about that quote is that it appears to be constructed entirely of weasel words.

Reporting in the United States has gone to hell in a gasoline suit.
posted by Kikkoman at 9:03 AM on June 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


it's popular and closely watched enough to be considered a mainstream political news outlet by now

This "mainstream" word means whatever it would be convenient for it to mean, I guess

Srsly, TPM gets 2.5 million visitors a month. MSM news websites get ten times that. TV news and newspapers get about ten times that per day.

If you really think they're anything close to mainstream then you're trapped in one of those Internet echo chamber bubble thingies.
posted by ook at 9:04 AM on June 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


The crackdown on journalists and whistleblowers, the spying, the drone strikes, the endless war- all of this represents the end of a civil society.

Americans: There's no better day for expressing your outrage over this than the Fourth of July.
posted by anemone of the state at 9:07 AM on June 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm talking influence and who reads it. Not many people ever read the New Republic or The National Review or whatever either, but I always at least considered them "establishment," if anything was. But, yeah, "mainsteam" is a slippery, kind of dumb word. In any case, some of the Snowden leaks were published by the Washington Post, which certainly is "mainstream" and "establishment" by any definition of those words. Or are we just talking about the commentary people here? I'd be fine with setting most of them on fire.
posted by raysmj at 9:09 AM on June 30, 2013


In 2006 The Bush administration looked at the criminal prosecution of reporters under the espionage laws.
So this is nothing particularily new except for that Hope and Change rhetoric.
In the 2013 Reporters withour Borders World Press freedom Index
America ranks 32. (Behind Ghana and Cape Verde).
posted by adamvasco at 9:13 AM on June 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Gregory was left unchallenged by the rest of the media for essentially saying that journalists are terrorists or traitors.

This is categorically untrue. A google search will very quickly disabuse you of this notion.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 9:24 AM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of them is Meet the Press host David Gregory, who, after saying journalist Glenn Greenwald “aided and abetted” NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, demanded to know of the reporter: “Why shouldn’t you be charged with a crime?”

The crime of exposing you and your network as feckless, cowering toadies, you mean? Or did you have some other crime in mind?
posted by jamjam at 9:31 AM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]




AND the mere fact that such designs are attracting attention online could pave the way for development of a mass market, said Joanne McNeil, a writer who covers Internet culture.

On her blog “Internet of Dreams,” Ms. McNeil says that videos and mock-ups of not-yet-developed products, whether clothing or futuristic smartphones, are often popular online and may reflect the desires of a populace that larger corporations haven’t tapped.
Hooray! I can't wait for legitimate privacy concerns to be refigured as personal consumption preferences and made into the object of commercial exploitation!

(I'm vaguely reminded of this commentary protest music: "Einer wei Adorno hatte das sofort durchschaut".)
posted by kenko at 9:49 AM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Americans: There's no better day for expressing your outrage over this than the Fourth of July.

Outrage over what? I read my constitution:

"Congress shall make laws respecting the establishment of religion, and respect the free exercise thereof; abridging the freedom of speech, and of the press, and the right of the people peaceably to assemble, but not to [fill out online forms] for a redress of grievances."
...
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon direction of any persons with a security clearance, unsupported by Oath or affirmation, and not particularly describing the place to be searched, or the persons or things to be seized."

In other words, get the grill ready, buy the beers, and let's pretend everything is fine. Same as every 4th of July. I'm going to livestream the forced feedings at Guantanamo, Bradley Manning's solitary confinement, the latest and greatest drone strikes, and of course, MMA pay-per-view.

Freedom ain't free, you know.
posted by tripping daisy at 9:58 AM on June 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh please, if there is one topic that US journalists love, it's how their profession is under siege. This is just the sort of navel-gazing hand-wringing that someone can dash off without discussing anything of real merit.
posted by Renoroc at 10:25 AM on June 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


Gregory was left unchallenged by the rest of the media for essentially saying that journalists are terrorists or traitors.

This is categorically untrue. A google search will very quickly disabuse you of this notion.


This is so very unhelpful.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:32 AM on June 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


if there is one topic that US journalists love, it's how their profession is under siege

And it's always the fault of those "establishment" journalists, over there.
posted by kiltedtaco at 10:32 AM on June 30, 2013


Jeremy Scahill (National Security Correspondent for The Nation magazine): Is journalism being criminalised? – video interview.
Rhenoroc, thank you so much for your insight on this matter; the depth and careful nuance of your argument reminds me I have a Cup final to watch. The riot outside the stadium will be a different spectacle.
posted by adamvasco at 10:36 AM on June 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


High-level official who speaks on the condition of anonymity:

1. Running dog propagandist.
2. Moral coward.
3. Some asshole, full of shit, who just happened to walk out the door while the reporters were there.

...whose statement ought to be characterized by the reporter, rather than courted and groomed. But then the teabaggers have a point about lamestream reporting. I hate when they do that. ... the teabaggers, I mean.
posted by mule98J at 10:41 AM on June 30, 2013


The article in NSFWCorp that outlines how the ACLU worked with the justice department to allow the prosecution of government leakers but give journalists a free pass is pretty good. It's behind a paywall though.

Personally I think they should all be subject to the same laws. After all, aren't we all 'published journalists' to some degree once we post a comment. I'm of the old-school loose lips sink ships mantra.

What scares me is that one million people a year are held or on probation for drug war related infractions, yet the internet-privileged folk are spilling so much ink over a much smaller program which affects an even smaller proportion of individuals. So small in fact that no one has even come up with a reasonable case to bring to court to fight it (until maybe just now).
posted by nutate at 10:46 AM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


WHO WAS IT THAT SAID: IF YOU WANT A FREE PRESS, BUY ONE
posted by Postroad at 11:12 AM on June 30, 2013


But then the teabaggers have a point about lamestream reporting. I hate when they do that. ... the teabaggers, I mean.

The country has become so damned partisan that even where both sides agree with each other they can't agree with each other. Divide and conquer has never had it so good. The rest of us, not so much.
posted by three blind mice at 11:12 AM on June 30, 2013 [3 favorites]




> Oh please, if there is one topic that US journalists love, it's how their profession is under siege.

No facts? No reasoning? No citations?

In 2012, there were more journalists in jail than any other year. There were also more journalists killed.

We had the entire Associated Press bugged by the US government - even though they actually cooperated with the government in delaying printing their story. Surveilling an entire world-class news operation like the AP is as far as I know completely unprecedented.

We have the collapse of print journalism - and of course as TFAs show we have both politicians and other journalists calling for the arrest and jailing of reporters - respected reporters working for established, respected newspapers (not that that should make a difference, really).

So don't just express your vacuous contempt and scorn - explain to us logically using facts and reasoning why you don't believe that journalism in 2013 is in trouble.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:15 PM on June 30, 2013 [27 favorites]






One conspicuous thing not leaked is one of these rumored terrorist attacks that was foiled by the billions dollars spent on NSA snooping. It would be interesting to see an argument that is even plausible that concludes with a bonafide success and no consequent leaking of more than 90% of the details of it.
posted by bukvich at 12:37 PM on June 30, 2013


The article in NSFWCorp that outlines how the ACLU worked with the justice department to allow the prosecution of government leakers but give journalists a free pass is pretty good. It's behind a paywall though.


It's a shame you can't read Mark Ames and the former-eXile crew talking about Greenwald without following them on twitter or, *gasp* subscribing to their stupid magazine. For all of Ames's problems, he has a pretty unique perspective on journalism and state-suppression thereof, having published a newspaper in Russia and been kicked out for it.

The jist being that Snowden and Greenwald set up the framing as being about a heroic whistleblower rather than taking politics seriously. And neither of them really have the courage of conviction to actually face the consequences of baiting the US government (any more than Assange was willing) unlike so many people who faced-down Putin in Russia (and were squashed for it.) So, as a result, you have the libertarian Snowden looking for protection from various foreign governments who are all opponents of libertarian politics, while the story has become, predictably, about the personalities of Greenwald and Snowden.

It's easy to get into an anti-Obama bloodlust re: journalism and the espionage act, but it illustrates a really important fact that should have been recognized when we were all hating Bush: the last decade of disastrous policies have been largely driven by consensus amongst the political elite in Washington. Bush and Obama are no more "bad apples" then the CIA agents at guantanamo and the black sites... the continuity in policy illustrates that plainly, from TARP to Afghanistan to threatening journalists.
posted by ennui.bz at 12:53 PM on June 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


One conspicuous thing not leaked is one of these rumored terrorist attacks that was foiled

Also there is a clear pattern that the government always turns the focus to results when its questionable methods are being questioned. Whether "stop and frisk" or "voter ID" or "yes we scan", supporters always point to anecdotal reports of how many murders were prevented or voter fraud that was stopped, or how many terrorist plots were foiled. Look here at this shiny object and pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
posted by three blind mice at 1:02 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


ennui.bz: "The jist being that Snowden and Greenwald set up the framing as being about a heroic whistleblower rather than taking politics seriously. And neither of them really have the courage of conviction to actually take the consequences and baiting the US government (any more than Assange was willing) unlike so any people squashed by Putin in Russia."

There have been 3 other NSA whistleblowers, whose stories Snowden confirmed, who have been brushed under the carpet, or simply ignored. And they went through the "appropriate channels."
Courage of Convictions? What the hell does that mean? Should Snowden have followed them to jail with no effect?

That's silly. You have to take control of the narrative with the facts, of the programs (which was successful), then fight off the SECONDARY character assassination narratives about Snowden's heroism or cowardism, and Greenwald's "Journalism". Which was they have as well, because as soon as Snowden's under arrest it stops being about the illegality of the programs and it becomes about the media side-show of the arrest and trial.

Yes, of course these are decisions made by the political elite, of which journalist DC and NYC are a main component.

* The WaPo did have a Top Secret America series but it was largely ignored
posted by stratastar at 1:05 PM on June 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


That's silly. You have to take control of the narrative with the facts, of the programs (which was successful), then fight off the SECONDARY character assassination narratives about Snowden's heroism or cowardism, and Greenwald's "Journalism". Which was they have as well, because as soon as Snowden's under arrest it stops being about the illegality of the programs and it becomes about the media side-show of the arrest and trial.

Yes, of course these are decisions made by the political elite, of which journalist DC and NYC are a main component.


Let me quote Ames:
The problem is that from the very start, someone — presumably the journalists managing Snowden’s story — decided that they had to preemptively convince the public that Snowden is a “hero” and that the journalists, Greenwald in particular, are themselves “heroes” deserving the crowd-sourced decentralized spontaneous hagiography arranged in the Guardian.

On June 10, in the Guardian article that disclosed Edward Snowden’s identity, the newspaper reported as journalism fact, "Snowden will go down in history as one of America's most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning."
Really, Nostradamus?

That wasn’t meant to be an editorial or opinion piece, that was meant to be taken as stated fact, backed by the Guardian’s editorial credibility, stamped with three bylines— Glenn Greenwald, Ewan MacAskill, and Laura Poitrus. Maybe he will be; but that is bad journalism, and atrocious editing; and it set an impossibly high bar for Snowden, all but ensuring the inevitable downfall.

... snip ...

I’m told that Snowden is a hero for exposing the leaks, and that his fleeing from the all-important political crisis that he sparked was none of my business — allowing myself to feel bothered by it was thought-heresy. We’re told we have to have pure faith in Snowden’s historical heroism, but when his behavior is un-heroic, we’re shouted down because “it’s not about Snowden”; we’re told Snowden is driven by the force of his deeply held convictions to fight police state surveillance and power over the citizenry, but we’re told that the fact he took refuge in some of the world’s worst police states is “not the issue” and “for another time” and “irrelevant.” We’re told to censor ourselves of thoughts and concerns impossible to purge. The manipulative rationalizations and thought-policing quickly degenerate from the Obamabot playbook of hypocrisy to something like Scientology thought-policing, self-censorship, and abuse.

The politics, half-baked from the start, are imploding in a steaming shitheap.

Now they’re smearing Greenwald’s sordid, unseemly history as a petty porn profiteer. With anyone else, it’d be funny. But Greenwald has spent years promoting and enforcing an image of himself as an infallible crusader and arbiter of big words like “heroism,” “patriotism,” “ethical,” “transparency,” “liberty” and the like. He’s not much fun; not fun to read, not fun to listen to. Not unless you like fire-and-brimstone Secular Sunday Sermons that make you feel awful and increasingly panicked about the police state Armageddon that’s we’re always on the precipice of. Greenwald is good on some issues, particularly exposing Israel’s crimes; and when it comes to his own restricted, libertarian understanding of what constitutes “civil liberties” — part of it good, when calling out government-sanctioned torture and surveillance; part of it atrocious, such as Greenwald’s support for Citizens United and corporations-as-people, and his failure to include labor rights as one of those civil liberties he professes to protect.

The point in the end is that it's not about "hope and change" and personalities but taking the politics seriously. Greenwald has somewhat odious (to me and Ames) politics but even he isn't taking his politics seriously.
posted by ennui.bz at 1:26 PM on June 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Off the main subject, but here's James Fallows, elite journalist, from 15 years back talking about how he views the role of journalism in society.
The first anecdote shocked me as he literally got all of the big questions about journalism wrong.
posted by stratastar at 1:27 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


What scares me is that one million people a year are held or on probation for drug war related infractions, yet the internet-privileged folk are spilling so much ink over a much smaller program which affects an even smaller proportion of individuals.

Given that 85% of legal wiretaps in 2001 were related to the Drug War, I think it's reasonable to assume this program will affect more individuals in the future.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:37 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


This sounds like sour grapes to me, as Greenwald doesn't pass some ideological purity test from Ames... but... whatever.

Here's the a rough timeline : Snowden decides to release information, approaches Barton Gellman who won't assure him of what he will or won't release, or what the editorial process will be at the Times. Snowden decides to go to Greenwald.

Once Greenwald goes public, Snowden has a ticking clock, he flies for HK immediately. "Analysts" start speculating that this has to be someone HIGH UP at the NSA because only they would have access to these documents for which the PROCESSES of access are incredibly stringent, and they would be able to pin-point who accessed the files at what time and immediately be able to nab the guy. As it turns out a contractor with a sudo pw had clear access to almost everything, seriously.

Snowden decides to run, so the ways that the narrative can run are essentially set, unless you think Greenwald advised Snowden to run?

Cue the Sunday Talk Shows, Greenwald in the ONE televised interview offering a different viewpoint, (to Feinstein, and the other people on the intelligence committee who approved this shit) either be neutral on Snowden's actions, or try to present the whistleblowing narrative in a positive light. This isn't about creating martyrs, its about creating alternative narratives when the decks are already stacked for power.
posted by stratastar at 1:47 PM on June 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Cue the Sunday Talk Shows, Greenwald in the ONE televised interview offering a different viewpoint, (to Feinstein, and the other people on the intelligence committee who approved this shit) either be neutral on Snowden's actions, or try to present the whistleblowing narrative in a positive light. This isn't about creating martyrs, its about creating alternative narratives when the decks are already stacked for power.

But the whole thing already smells like the Wikileaks/Assange debacle. The only alternative narrative is a clear political agenda: why was Assange doing whatever he did? Information wants to be free? It's not clear what difference leaking information actually made, some US soldier shot up some Iraqis? We all saw that happen and made fun of the anti-war protestors. What made waves was the story of one man (Assange/Snowden) baiting a bear (the US government) and then the bear got angry and the man ran away. What's the story going to be if Snowden goes for asylum in Putin's Russia?

The internet is an echo chamber for all of sorts of weakly thought out libertarian ideas and there really hasn't been any response to Obama standing up and saying "we are acting within the laws passed by congress to keep you safe." So, the story is really just about the man running away from the bear.
posted by ennui.bz at 2:02 PM on June 30, 2013


(and I guess we can now meditate sagely on journalism, after the Bush decade made a joke of the whole business (as if the whole Whitewater/Monica Lewinsky "story" hadn't already illustrated how ridiculous the news industry had become))
posted by ennui.bz at 2:05 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is far more than the present story.
It includes Thomas Drake William Binney, and Room 641A
A history of NSA wiretapping, Prism, Edward Snowden, William Binnney
11 minutes about the American Surveillance State at home and abroad and also some rather nasty
right wing connections not to mention undermining the American constitution.
Oh look here's reality.
posted by adamvasco at 3:01 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


and Room 641A

NSA Leak Vindicates AT&T Whistleblower
posted by homunculus at 3:04 PM on June 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


as if the whole Whitewater/Monica Lewinsky "story" hadn't already illustrated how ridiculous the news industry had become

Yes. Anytime the news industry questions a President who has a political party affiliation of Democrat shows how ridiculous they are.

"Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations" - Eric Blair.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:57 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


there really hasn't been any response to Obama standing up and saying "we are acting within the laws passed by congress to keep you safe."

That would be because President Obama has not said "we are acting within the laws passed by congress to keep you safe." That seems to be a purely made up quotation.

Feel free to provide the location and time when President Obama has said "we are acting within the laws passed by congress to keep you safe." however.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:00 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Assange has white papers on what his organization is about: one of them talked about this: by pushing governments to be afraid of leaks, governments will respond by increasing security, making it more difficult to share information within and across government silos making the process of secret work more difficult...

who knows...
posted by stratastar at 6:44 PM on June 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


This unconditional praise of Greenwald and unconditional criticism of Democrats "who approved this shit" -- even as they were left significantly in the dark, while doing their level best to pass legislation providing protections against kinds of abuse they could only guess at -- isn't a fair way to judge these matters.

Really, it encourages a kind of demagoguery on the part of Greenwald.

"a person . . . who gains power and popularity by arousing the emotions, passions, and prejudices of the people."

This critique of Greenwald as a kind of Ralph Nader -- overly litigious and not concerned about balance... focused on building a case and indictment, as opposed to giving a fair view of reality -- is spot-on. At heart, he's no journalist.

Greenwald's own prior judgment of supporting Bush with Afghanistan and Iraq was not perfect, obviously... and yet he expects -- nay, insists -- upon such a standard from public officials, who also made bad, uninformed decisions with little to go on. I find his insistence that Obama is somehow worse than Dubya and that Democrats are the problem, even as they attempt to somehow undo the Gordian knot of secret policies that GWB weaved in the midst of a hopelessly divided Congress... unbalanced? Kind of douche-y? All heat with no actual light?! Really unproductive and self-defeating.
posted by markkraft at 6:47 PM on June 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


At heart, he's no journalist.

Ah, no true scotsman it is then.

This unconditional praise of Greenwald and unconditional criticism of Democrats "who approved this shit"

Straw man.

isn't a fair way to judge these matters.

Of course it isn't...setting up a strawman is never a fair way to judge matters.

Really, it encourages a kind of demagoguery on the part of Greenwald.

Oh god no, how will freedom and democracy ever survive this horrible onslaught of demagoguery...no to mention secret prisons, secret trials, secret assassinations, torture, and blanket surveillance of, well it seems, everyone. Oh and there's also that pesky little prison population we have consisting overwhelmingly of a minority population. You know. The slave labor.

and yet he expects -- nay, insists -- upon such a standard from public officials,

Citation needed

I find his insistence that Obama is somehow worse than Dubya and that Democrats are the problem, even as they attempt to somehow undo the Gordian knot of secret policies that GWB weaved in the midst of a hopelessly divided Congress... unbalanced?

Your attempts to paint Greenwald as some kind of partisan hack have failed.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:30 AM on July 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Assange has white papers on what his organization is about: one of them talked about this: by pushing governments to be afraid of leaks, governments will respond by increasing security, making it more difficult to share information within and across government silos making the process of secret work more difficult...

Oh you mean like this one entitled: State and Terrorist Conspiracies
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:33 AM on July 1, 2013


"Your attempts to paint Greenwald as some kind of partisan hack have failed."

My goal was never to suggest he was a partisan hack. Rather, he's more of a Nader-like figure, where whoever is currently running things is always "the worst"... because, most assuredly, there is always something to complain about from the perspective of someone who views modern day military and intelligence policy as basically unconstitutional.

The question never even gets asked, it seems, whether, why, and how it is, in fact, considered constitutional based on existing case law.

Greenwald is allowed to argue his case, but to the degree that he ignores a whole lot of things that should be blindingly obvious for a lawyer, in order to strengthen his argument, while throwing in a whole lot of speculation and FUD -- while addressing his populist target market, apparently -- he's a demagogue.

"consisting overwhelmingly of a minority population. You know. The slave labor."

Is it your intent to come off sounding like a radical leftist Alex Jones?!
posted by markkraft at 9:46 AM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


My goal was never to suggest he was a partisan hack. Rather, he's more of a Nader-like figure, where whoever is currently running things is always "the worst"... because, most assuredly, there is always something to complain about from the perspective of someone who views modern day military and intelligence policy as basically unconstitutional.

This is a very confusing argument. So you don't like Greenwald because he's a debbie downer? Either way he doesn't fit the traditional definition of a demagogue as demagogues have typically advocated violence to address their particular political concerns. You don't have any pull quotes of Greenwald advocating violence, do you? Furthermore, most historical examples of demagogues have been people in positions of power who have then used that power to violently alter society. So it seems that either you don't know what a demagogue is, or has been historically, or you do know what it is but are ignoring the real meaning of the word because for some reason you feel the need to disparage the character of Glen Greenwald.

he ignores a whole lot of things that should be blindingly obvious for a lawyer, in order to strengthen his argument

Such as?

Is it your intent to come off sounding like a radical leftist Alex Jones?!

No, I was under the impression that most people were aware of our privatized system of slave labor that we have in this country. Since you equate this fact with conspiracy theory types like Alex Jones I will assume you are somehow unaware of this reality. I suggest you research the prison system in this country. It's pretty disturbing.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:21 AM on July 1, 2013


radical leftist Alex Jones?!

Wait, he's a radical leftist? I was under the impression he was more akin to a tea partier/militia type.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:25 AM on July 1, 2013


radical leftist equivalent to Alex Jones, he clearly meant.

AElfwine, I happen to agree with your position -- and I really wish you would please stop talking about it forever, because every time you use incendiary phrases like "slave labor" you guarantee that more people are going to choose to disagree with you just on general principle, because you sound like a nutjob. Your bombast is not helping your arguments. At all.
posted by ook at 10:36 AM on July 1, 2013


because you sound like a nutjob.

Sigh, yeah I'm a regular schizophrenic. The fact that I "sound like a nutjob" when reciting facts of American life is confusing to me. Either way derail is a derail. Focus on the issues and not the person.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:55 AM on July 1, 2013


You don't need to convince me with citations; like I said I already agree with you. But if you want to convince other people, maybe find a way to present your ideas that doesn't sound quite so nutjobby.
posted by ook at 11:18 AM on July 1, 2013


Okay, I have something here I'm genuinely confused about, and have been for a few days now. I keep hearing references (or more like accusations) that Greenwald is a libertarian.

Can someone help me out with this? Where is this coming from?

I mean, I can see how people could accuse him as being a civil libertarian (continually being focused on various human rights issues or potential violations of the constitution), but I don't recall ever see him being a 'free market' dude, or arguing that government regulation was inappropriate, or any other aspects of libertarianism that are related to economic issues.

Does anyone have anything to back this up with?

While people may accuse him of practicing advocacy journalism (that Tabbi piece seemed relevant to that discussion), I don't see how anyone could accuse him of not breaking new stories and reporting new facts.

Seriously, where does this libertarian accusation come from?
posted by el io at 3:08 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


"that Tabbi piece"

i.e. "All journalism is advocacy journalism"... which is a false argument.

Just because all journalism reflects information presented to the journalist by someone with a point-of-view, that doesn't mean that the journalist isn't supposed to be accountable for figuring out the objective, verifiable facts of the matter and presenting them in a non-skewed way.

Tabibi is a skilled investigator, capable of finding out some interesting facts that others oftentimes do not... but he also tends to work for sources with a very particular mindset, and he reflects that mindset in his reporting.

Balance doesn't mean taking the argument from your unnamed Democratic source, countering it from your unnamed Republican source, and writing it all up with weak wiggle words, like some kind of bland puree'ed soup. But it does take actual time and effort to make sure you get the story right, and that you get it balanced, too. In that respect, Tabibi is pretty poor, as compared to, say, Sy Hersh, while Greenwald is just plain bad at that part of what used to be expected from journalists.

The problem, really, is that being a professional journalist doesn't pay as well as being an opinion-maker anymore. Opinion-makers attract their own readers, who oftentimes get entirely too angry and simplistic about their arguments... which should be entirely clear, considering where those arguments came from.

If you read a piece of journalism that is scathing, powerful, and anger-inducing... odds-on that it was written by someone who intentionally didn't give you all the story. Anger and condemnation should be a red flag for you to dig further, if you want a balanced view of reality. And, unfortunately, that's almost as true for the "progressive left" as it is for the right lately. The best liars are those that rely upon the most truth, while not telling you all the truth.

I find that especially unfortunate, because people like the POTUS behave in ways that many who voted for him simply do not understand... but more often than not, that's not because the POTUS is a tyrant, but more that the people who voted for him are being inadequately, improperly informed by those who they place their trust in.

What should your government do when they are trying to tell you as much of the truth as they can, within limits of security, legal advice, and political acceptability... and you simply do not believe them, because you have been misinformed by someone who makes money based on getting your attention?
posted by markkraft at 4:03 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


>you guarantee that more people are going to choose to disagree with you just on general principle,

What general principle would that be? The one where we have to frame all argumentation and phrasing in such a way so as to not, oh god no the horror, offend American's sensibilities. Sorry, I disagree. If people can't stomach me referring to privatized prison systems as what they are-slavery-then maybe they should just ignore my comment. Or, you know, try to argue that private capital is not making massive profits off the backs of mostly non-violent offenders, whose only real crime was being black. But since you already agree with my position maybe you could suggest some alternative terms that I might use going forward, so as to not sound “quite so nutjobby.”

In fact, to get back on topic, Greenwald seems to often be accused of the very same thing, in this very thread, and all the others. If he would only be less controversial and more journalisty then people would be able to get on board. Same with Snowden. Oh he did everything wrong and if he had only done things this way then maybe we could support him...but you know he didn't so that means we have to revert to the default position which is to disagree with any opinions and/or information which contradicts the government’s official story. That doesn’t seem to make much sense to me.

>But if you want to convince other people,

I am not really interested in convincing anyone of anything. People are free to believe whatever they want.

>because you have been misinformed by someone who makes money based on getting your attention?

You keep making this claim, but have yet to document it. How has Glen Greenwald misinformed the American people? It would seem that without Mr. Greenwald and Mr. Snowden the American people would still be decidedly misinformed about the actions of their government in matters of state surveillance.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:07 PM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


"How has Glen Greenwald misinformed the American people?"

I've cited the excellent article by Jonathan Chait -- an award-winning journalist who is also an FDR New Deal liberal -- from people who know him well that he argues only from one side, and doesn't include counter-arguments. Hell, he even cites Greenwald basically saying as such... but if you need specifics relevant to the NSA, I would read the article written by Bob Cesca, also liberally-minded, that points out all the factual conflicts and intentionally unanswered, unaddressed questions that Greenwald is having with the details of the story that other reporters have unearthed.

If you want to point out a specific article of journalism by Greenwald, I would be glad to go through it with a fine-tooth comb and point out things he failed to mention or ways he skewed the story, in ways that would provide greater balance and clarity... but the fact is, I have cited examples, and I have also read his journalism for quite some time, have noticed similar flaws in the past, where he has been far less than balanced and credible, even if he comes to the table with new information people pass on to him every now and then.

(Those with an axe to grind *love* talking to him, because he's good at getting indignant. He goes to bat for their particular ideas like a paid lawyer. And frankly, that's a big part of the problem.)

And no, I don't think it's bad that the American people know some of what Snowden had to tell them, but I *do* have problems with him violating a ton of laws -- and personal oaths -- to leak what he did. I also think that they would've been far better served to have these facts given to them by a far more balanced, less destructive source.
posted by markkraft at 4:40 PM on July 1, 2013


Here's the link to Chait's article, as it appears you may not have read it the first time around.
posted by markkraft at 4:46 PM on July 1, 2013


Okay, reading the Cesca article now. But I must when I read phrases like "not in the format of his usual journo-activist Glennzilla screeds", it really doesn't scream out to me 'objective unbiased critique'.

"What level of government secrecy is permissible?" So, he blasts Greenwald for being opinionated, but then wants this opinion of Greenwald. Greenwald has already said there are things that he isn't going to print out of national security concerns, so obviously Greenwald isn't against secrecy entirely.

" If Snowden turns out to be a hacker nihilist who’s feeding Greenwald bad information..." Well, I would think that the US government would actually deny some of the things Greenwald is publishing, instead of justifying the effectiveness of these programs.

More from that link: "Were any of Snowden’s documents absconded from his pre-Booz Allen jobs? Since he contacted Laura Poitras and Greenwald before beginning employment at Booz Allen in Hawaii, did he enter his job at Booz Allen with the goal of acquiring the PRISM documents (and apparently others), and was Greenwald aware that he was entering the job with that intention? Did he earn $122,000, as stated by Booz Allen, or $200,000 as he told Greenwald?
"

I don't understand why any of this matters; this doesn't impact the veracity of any of the content of the documents... I guess you could say the pay matters as it could go to the trustworthyness of the source (Snowden), but again, no one in the government has said that any of the documents leaked have been false. Snowden (who perhaps was lying about his pay) did mention he took a pay cut to go to work for Booz allen. But does it matter if he got some of the documents from his pre-Booz Allen jobs?

Even if there are some 'rough edges' around his reporting (maybe so, I haven't been convinced), the large bulk of this his work is pretty solid.

The attacks on him remind me of the vicious attacks levied against Gary Webb. Instead of seriously examining the brutal allegations had serious evidence for the his story, the entire media turned on him and attacked him. Leaving the story he uncovered largely ignored. To this day if you make allegations that the CIA and DEA were responsible for a huge amount of crack cocaine brought into the inner cities of America, you'll be dismissed as a nutter.

But I'll read some of those other links, to see if they make any serious allegations into the fabric of the stories recently published and have any substantive critiques of Greenwalds reporting.
posted by el io at 5:12 PM on July 1, 2013


"So, he blasts Greenwald for being opinionated, but then wants this opinion of Greenwald."

Not so. He knows Greenwald's opinion, because it's really hard not to get that from his writing... what he *wants* is Greenwald to reconcile what he's said with the facts that others have uncovered, which seems to directly contradict Greenwald's op-journalism.

"when I read phrases like "not in the format of his usual journo-activist Glennzilla screeds", it really doesn't scream out to me 'objective unbiased critique'"

Generally, when journalists criticize the work of other journalists, writers, etc. there are stylistic and opinion-oriented elements that are, frankly, different than what is expected out of traditional journalism, where the journalist's opinion is supposed to be considerably more toned down. The reason why he talks of "journo-activist Glennzilla screeds" is, undoubtedly, because he feels that Glenn isn't much of a balanced, non-hyperbolic journalist, true... but he does go on to point out exactly why that is, and it's telling that his take on it coincides quite closely with other respected journalists, even those who are well out on the liberal spectrum of society. Even when I criticize Greenwald, it's from the POV of a very left-leaning person who opposed both wars -- unlike Greenwald -- and who broke major stories before about the US government killing civilians with banned weapons, and planting weapons on dead and wounded insurgents in Iraq before shooting photos of the scene.

I have no patience for government corruption, but I also think that Greenwald's reporting could come back to harm a whole lot of people other than just himself and his credibility, not because of what he reports, but how he reports it and what he doesn't tell people.

"Well, I would think that the US government would actually deny some of the things Greenwald is publishing"

A big part of the reason why the government doesn't comment on some things is that to do so would do additional damage to national security. Confirming, denying, and qualifying such information reveals a whole lot to those skilled in intelligence work, frankly.

"The attacks on him remind me of the vicious attacks levied against Gary Webb."

Vicious attacks on Greenwald?! Not the ones I cited, which offer up some rather important questions and critique. The one journalist who said that what he did might've been criminal has apologized and has received far more serious public scrutiny and criticism than Greenwald has, as yet.

I grew up with Webb writing at my local paper, and remember reading his article when it came out. To his credit, he was far more journalistic than Greenwald, and it doesn't do him much credit to draw the comparison.
posted by markkraft at 6:15 PM on July 1, 2013


as it appears you may not have read it the first time around.

Oh I read it. I just wasn't very impressed.

If you want to point out a specific article of journalism by Greenwald

How has Glen Greenwald misinformed the American people? It would be nice if you would please go through his articles and collate the evidence for us. I mean if he is misleading people about something concrete it should be pretty easy to find, but you want me to gather your evidence for you? I suggest you provide some primary evidence before you make this claim again. Instead of relying on Bob Cesca for my information I would look at things in context. According to Cesca:

what began two weeks ago as a story about the NSA following your every keystroke as you type it has been shaved down to accidental data collection and no targeting of citizens without a warrant.

This doesn't seem to be a very balanced account of what is actually going on, unless of course one implicitly trusts everything the government says.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:25 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]






And are we really supposed to believe that competent terrorists had no idea that this was happening until Snowden told them? That Al-Qaeda has been happily using Gmail and Skype up until now?

The current problem is not competent terrorists - they are either engaged in Syria, Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern states or formenting radicalisation at a smaller level. The US intelligence services' (and therefore other Western nations) primary concern are self-radicalised domestic terrorists. Information gathered from Bin Laden's haul showed that there are different tiers of association within the Islamic terror networks with the core and the stringers separated by several degrees of competency and security. The Tsarnaev brothers would never have gotten close to the core network guys and will have been very much kept at bay, considered useful dupes at best.

AQ's leadership follow every rule of espionage ever laid down on paper and likely extrapolate these known methods to a degree further than that, they'd be stupid not. For each additional degree of association the level of paranoia and professionalism reduces until you have people who post non-anonymous anti-Western rants on Youtube (like the Canadian dipshit you may have recently heard about). This has always been the way to roll up both terror cells and criminal gangs - catch the low-end guys and work your way upwards.

Anyone who wants to have any sort of lengthy career in Islamic fundamentalist terror follows the rules or they probably end up dead. The young, impressionable idiots stabbing soldiers in the streets and detonating pressure cookers are the big threat right now and they were almost certainly unaware of most of this surveillance before Snowden's revelations.
posted by longbaugh at 2:12 AM on July 11, 2013




More hassle of writers at US Airports. The classic military runaround.
She asked if my book was, as the page said, a New York Times bestseller. I assured her it was. After a short while, she told me to stay put and disappeared into a back room with my personal papers — writings, notes, reading materials. When she returned, she told me that she couldn’t conduct the rest of my “examination” in public. She would have to bring me “back.” I asked if there was a problem. No. Could I have my papers back? The answer was again no.
posted by adamvasco at 6:47 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


“The latest one is called Kill Anything That Moves.”

Nick Turse Describes the Real Vietnam War
posted by homunculus at 11:29 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]








Journalist James Risen ordered to testify in CIA leaker trial
Appeals court rules that reporters have no first amendment protection that would safeguard confidentiality of their sources.
posted by adamvasco at 2:08 PM on July 19, 2013




Glenn Greenwald: This week in press freedoms and privacy rights
posted by homunculus at 11:31 AM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Geoffrey Robertson QC;
Edward Snowden's fear of flying is justified
Snowden is a refugee, not a spy. But America has history when it comes to forcing down planes in defiance of international law.
posted by adamvasco at 5:24 PM on July 23, 2013






US Media ignores case of Robert Seldon Lady the CIA station chief and extraordinary renditionist extradited from Panama presumably to the US as nothing has been heard of him since.
posted by adamvasco at 6:46 AM on July 30, 2013


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