Streetwise Professor

July 19, 2013

Beckists Heart Checkists

Filed under: Military,Politics — The Professor @ 6:20 pm

Snowden has revealed a fissure on the libertarian/classical liberal side of the political spectrum.  The binary, hardcore, anarcho-libertarians lionize him for revealing a vast security state that tramples the liberties of every American.  Others, like Richard Epstein, argue that defense and security are legitimate state functions, and are therefore far more accepting-though not completely so-of a surveillance apparatus focused on foreign threats that operates under some oversight from the legislative and judicial branches.  I’d count myself in the Epstein camp, and find the anarcho-libertarian objections to be overwrought at best, hysterical at worst, and largely oblivious to 4th Amendment jurisprudence.

Some of the Snowden fan club on the right is motivated by genuine principle, though in some respects that’s part of the problem: in slavish devotion to a theory, they don’t grapple with the hard trade-offs between liberty and national security.  But some of that fan club is driven by animus to Obama: they view this as just another cudgel to bludgeon Obama with.  I am no Obama fan, to be sure, but this is more of a matter of the country than the president.  Obama will be president for about 3.5 more years.  He inherited a security policy from his predecessors, and despite campaign rhetoric against it, has largely adopted that policy: the essence of that policy will survive him.  Damaging the NSA and other security efforts out of a desire to inflict damage on Obama is short sighted and destructive, and contrary to the interests of the country.

It also makes for strange bedfellows.  Most notably, between the likes of Glenn Beck and hard core anti-American lefties like Greenwald, Poitras, Appelbaum, and Assange.  It is impossible to exaggerate the anti-American animus of this lot.  They are quite open about it.  They are waging asymmetric warfare against the United States, with the aim of destroying it.  They say so explicitly.

And the hard core anti-American lefties like Greenwald, Poitras, Appelbaum, and Assange (and Snowden) are objectively (in Orwell’s terms) allies of Russia’s neo-Checkists, Putin and the FSB, who share their goal.  Note that never is heard a discouraging word from the mouths of Greenwald et al about human rights in Russia, in stark contrast to their shrieks about the dark night of fascism descending on the US.  Snowden lauds Russia as a human rights champion. Have any of this lot said anything about Magnitsky or Navalny?  As if.  The silence deafens.

And lo and behold.  Where does Snowden turn up?  In the land of SORM, which will turn out to be his Hotel California: he can try to check out, but he’ll never leave.  And every minute he’ll be up close and personal with the FSB.

Perhaps the Greenwald/Assange gang are explicitly cooperating with the FSB in some way.  Most likely not, but are just operating under the enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend principle.  But it really doesn’t matter.  They are working hand-in-glove towards the same objective, and both are using Snowden.  They share the same interests, and their tag team efforts are complementary, even if they don’t cooperate explicitly.

By endorsing the Snowden-Greenwald-Poitras-Assange narrative, Glenn Beck and others on the right are therefore advancing a Checkist establishment that is bent on damaging the US.  All out of anti-Obama rage.

Beckists helping Checkists.  What a world we live in.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. By not bringing the domestic spying program to the people, the “inside the beltway” crew created these contraversies. Had the people given even their tacit approval, those claiming outrage would have been thwarted. Hell, the American people are buying into Obamacare. Its not as if Americans won’t say “ok” to even the craziest of schemes.

    Snowden isn’t a national security problem as much as a political problem. There are few demonstrations in the street against the domestic spying program. Politicians have egg on their face because they quietly allowed the Constitution to be infringed upon.

    Few Americans give a crap about Snowden. From this point on, his shenanegans are about political posturing.

    Comment by Charles — July 19, 2013 @ 7:13 pm

  2. Note that never is heard a discouraging word from the mouths of Greenwald et al about human rights in Russia, in stark contrast to their shrieks about the dark night of fascism descending on the US.

    So when are you going to make a post about human rights in Azerbaijan? Myanmar? Yemen? The Central African Republic? Oh wait, you’re not going to trawl through a list of the world’s countries doing that??? That’s quite outragerous! Hypocrite! Until you do that nothing you say about the dark night of fascism descending on Russia has any validity.

    – SWP “logic.”

    Comment by S/O — July 19, 2013 @ 9:55 pm

  3. He inherited a security policy from his predecessors, and despite campaign rhetoric against it, has largely adopted that policy: the essence of that policy will survive him.

    Either that or Congress will eventually decide to cut down the $80 bn per year surveillance state to its appropriate size.

    Comment by aaa — July 19, 2013 @ 11:33 pm

  4. So when are you going to make a post about human rights in Azerbaija

    When Snowden turns up in Baku and starts praising them?

    I’m not sure you should really be trying to pick holes in the logic of others.

    Comment by Tim Newman — July 20, 2013 @ 4:32 am

  5. @S/O-More whataboutism. You really need to enhance your repertoire.

    And how interesting that you compare Russia to the Central African Republic, Azerbaijan, Yemen. I can see that, actually, but surprising to see it coming from someone who also goes by DaRussophile. What will Putin and the Patriarch think of you comparing the Third Rome to the Heart of Darkness?

    As @Tim notes, your logic is . . . illogical. Come on. Greenwald, Assange et al are big backers of Snowden, who is (a) in Russia, and (b) praised Russia’s human rights record. You mention hypocricsy-that’s where the hypocrisy lies. And especially when we’re talking about issues related to electronic surveillance of citizens and international espionage, the issues that are at the heart of Snowdonmania, Russia matters far more than any of the countries you’ve mentioned. It is the Land of SORM, after all. Have Glenn, Jules, Eddie, Laura, et al mentioned SORM?

    Moreover, as I note in the post, Russia, Greenwald, Assange, etc., all share an agenda, and although the latter claim that their agenda is all about transparency and personal freedom and curbing the power of the state, if that were really the case they would be far more critical of Russia than the US. That’s exactly why their silence speaks volumes, and deserves critical attention. It shows that the real agenda is virulently anti-American/anti-West, and that’s why they and Russia are at the very least allies of convenience, working towards the same goal, if not more. The silence on Russia (not to mention virtually every other country that is anti-American, notably Iran, which persecutes gays horribly, but which the very openly gay Greenwald ignores) demonstrates their real agenda. Transparency, openness, attacks on US intelligence, etc., are just tactics in an asymmetric warfare campaign.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 20, 2013 @ 12:14 pm

  6. I’ll explain it in an even simpler way: I was highlighting the absurdity of requiring someone to criticize human rights in another country before they can comment on their own.

    Comment by S/O — July 20, 2013 @ 1:36 pm

  7. @S/O. Simpler-or simplistic? I say the latter. Let me explain it in an even simpler way: bullshit. If you can’t see the nexus between Snowden, Greenwald/Assange et al, and Russia, you are even more willfully blind than I had thought. Which is saying something, because you are the Ray Charles of willful blindness when it comes to Russia.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 20, 2013 @ 3:25 pm

  8. The nexus between Snowden, Greenwald/Assange et al, – and don’t forget Emmanuel Goldstein, standing behind it all.

    Comment by S/O — July 20, 2013 @ 3:41 pm

  9. Thanks for that, Ray.

    There are none so blind, as those who will not see.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 20, 2013 @ 3:48 pm

  10. Greenwald had nothing to say or do with Russia until Snowden turned up there. It is simply not in his sphere of interests. You are as paranoid as the “neo-Chekists” you claim to despise. Not to mention a smarmy, mendacious hypocrite – but we knew that already.

    Comment by S/O — July 20, 2013 @ 4:04 pm

  11. Uhm, but I thought he was so engaged in human rights, privacy, transparency, etc. Ditto Assange.

    So you are willing to give Greenwald a pass based on his “sphere of interests,” but I’m supposed to give a flying fuck about CAR? Whatever.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 20, 2013 @ 4:33 pm

  12. @S/O. Greenwald’s (and Assange’s) “sphere of interest” is rather narrow: undermining, and in their fantasies destroying, the US.

    Don’t believe me? Read them. They are quite up front about it. No paranoia involved on my part. I just take them at their word.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 20, 2013 @ 4:43 pm

  13. Clearly Snowden did not leak damaging or sensitive material that is useful to American enemies. He leaked information that Obama is breaking the law.

    SWP, why are are opposed to that? Snowden is young and may have all kinds of complications as a person, and stupid decisions with Wikileaks. But forget Eddie the idiot, and focus on what information he has released. None of it benefits American enemies or spies. You may not like what he has done, but please give some discourse to his damage ( which is nothing) rather than his adolescent stupidity.

    Comment by scott — July 20, 2013 @ 5:00 pm

  14. No I expressly do not expect you to take an interest in human rights in CAR; was it not clear that it was sarcasm? I do not even expect you to take an interest in human rights in the US or its allies. Believe it or not, I even consider you taking an interest in human rights exclusively in Russia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Iran, and other states that happen to have differences with the US to be entirely legitimate – if a bit cynical.

    What is hypocritical, however, is your paranoid and one-sided campaign of slanders against those who protest or whistle-blow in the US and its allies. This is not only confined to Snowden, Assange, and Greenwald, but also includes defending Bahrain’s bloody crushing of Shi’ite protests (helped by Saudi Arabia) which you cheered on at Twitter, calling the unarmed protesters Iranian agents.

    Say what you will about Greenwald, but he does NOT go about defaming Navalny, or Magnitsky. He makes it quite clear that it is not in his area of direct competence, while Wikileaks before it became famous released materials on corruption in all kinds of countries, including Russia. They do not wish to focus on Russia in particular and that is their right. They certainly do not shill for Russia. Your actions on the other hand more closely resemble that of an attack dog, fervently and self-righteously yapping at abuses in Russia but growling and chomping at your bit at abuses in the US, its allies, and anybody who dares reveal it. That you try to take the moral high ground as well makes the sick spectable all the more revolting.

    Comment by S/O — July 20, 2013 @ 5:14 pm

  15. @scott-you are totally delusional.

    Just what laws is Obama breaking? The programs at issue have been, for better or worse, legislated by Congress and overseen by Congress, and overseen by courts. I say this as no admirer of Obama, as would be obvious to anyone who has read me over the years, but as someone who tries not to let political views blind me to the facts. Please be specific regarding what laws Obama has broken.

    Snowden, an high school dropout IT geek, has appointed himself an authority on the legalities of US intelligence operations. Some of his allegations, notably those related to metadata, are quite clearly wrong. His sweeping allegations have little foundation, and yours pretty much mirror his.

    And if lawbreaking is the issue, why has his focus changed to disclosures related to US espionage on foreigners and foreign governments? Tell me the laws that violates. These revelations have had quite obvious adverse impacts on US interests.

    And spare me. The disclosure of information and more importantly methods of collection is highly damaging to US interests.

    Why don’t you read Michael Hayden’s thorough interview and rebut his specific allegations regarding damage before making such blanket assertions.

    S/O-you are totally delusional. But I repeat myself.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 20, 2013 @ 6:42 pm

  16. @scott. You might also try to rebut Hayden’s statements regarding the legalities of the various programs.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 20, 2013 @ 6:55 pm

  17. Is S/O still being held against his will in the US? Has he yet escaped from Lumumba University West Campus otherwise known as UC Berkely? After what he has been through no one could reasonably expect the poor guy to be the least bit logical.

    Does anyone know if it was a press gang that shanghaied him to the US?

    Comment by pahoben — July 22, 2013 @ 7:20 pm

  18. Craig,

    There is something very strange about the level of excitement and hatred that you, Kim Zigfeld and other people, previously known politically only for your hatred of Russia, show towards Snowden. You just went ballistic on Snowden. You yourself keep on writing one post after another. I don’t think that this is due to th e fact that Snowden is seeking asylum from Putin and you hate Putin. I think that what drives you in the case of Snowden or Assange or Appelbaum is your genuine hatred of these people as a domestic issue, not directly related to Russia.

    In other words, I am sure that the vast majority of Russia-haters are in their beliefs anti-libertarian and support a totalitarian structure when it comes to the US government, or at least a structure where the individual freedoms and privacy of US citizens is subjugated to the corporate and military needs.

    I even googled Charles Krauthammer’s views on Snowden, and sure enough, Mr. CabbageHammer came out in indignation against Obama’s soft glove approach to Snowden capture and demanded that Obama must “scramble jets to find” Snowden:

    I am not saying that libertarians and pacifists all love Russia. Most are neutral on Russia and very negative on Putin. But they certainly don’t get obsessed about Russia and don’t use Russia’s existence as justification for stealing more money from taxpayers (and hastening the government bankruptcy) for the further military build-up.

    You guys are hawks not only when it comes to foreign policy and warmongering. You are also hawks when it comes to civil liberties. Even though the word “imperialists” is trite, it is apporpriate here. You guys don’t advocate a formal empire, where the World is ruled directly by the President in Washington. Every country should have its own government, and as lng as its decisions and actions do not contradict the needs of the Washington elite. When a country does something that goes against the needs of this elite, it should be warned and told to straighten it. Only governments that repeatedly disobey Washington rules, should be destroyed militarily. For example, give asylum to Snowden – get nuked! I am not kidding here. Look what your friend Kim Zigfeld writes:

    Russia and America, on the Brink of War (over Snowden)

    “All these deeds amount to acts of war by Russia against the United States. Now. the USA and Russia stand on the brink of war. With double Russia’s population, ten times its financial resources and host of powerful allies, Russia has no more chance to prevail in this war than did the USSR.”

    I know that Kim is retarded even by russophobe standards,but this, I think, expresses what all of you guys feel on a gut level: hatred for American whistle-blowers, looking for excuses to re-start the Cold War and expand military spending, and the desire to force the taxpayers and the rest of the world to obey the dictates of the Washington elite.

    Comment by Vlad — July 22, 2013 @ 10:57 pm

  19. > It also makes for strange bedfellows. Most notably, between the likes of Glenn Beck and hard core anti-American lefties like Greenwald, Poitras, Appelbaum, and Assange. It is impossible to exaggerate the anti-American animus of this lot. They are quite open about it. They are waging asymmetric warfare against the United States, with the aim of destroying it. They say so explicitly.

    Craig, you rhetoric i smazingly identical to the rhetoric of the Russian totalitarians in their own blogs. Whenever they talk about Kasparov or about opposition demonstrators or whenever I or anybody else criticize Putin, criticize corruption, criticize the suppression of personal freedoms in Russia – they always label us “hard core anti-Russian”, “enemies of the Russian people”, “American-sponsored agents who are waging asymmetric warfare against Russia”. “It is impossible to exaggerate the anti-Russian animus of this lot!”.

    But the democratic opposition isn’t against the Russian people and aren’t against Russia as a country. We just want Russian government to behave differently from the way it does now.

    The same applies here. I am not an expert on, say, Appelbaum. Your repeated mentioning of him made me look him up for the first time. But what evidence do you have that Appelbaum hates his fellow Americans, want to destroy America and Americans?

    > They are quite open about it.

    OK. Tell me what exactly did Appelbaum say that you construed as his desire to destroy his fellow Americas? Isn’t it the case that instead of destroying it, he just wants its government to do what he thinks is right? Well, who doesn’t? Don’t you?

    The only difference is that you are more or less satisfied with the way USA is run today, and folks like Appelbaum aren’t. If you didn’t like your government’s actions as much as they do, you would act exactly like they do right now.

    Just as the only difference in Russia is that Putin supporters are satisfied with the way Russia is run today, and liberals like Kasparov aren’t.

    To deny opposition their right to patriotism is stupid. To ascribe to them hatred for their own people is much worse than that.

    Comment by Vlad — July 22, 2013 @ 11:22 pm

  20. I looked up Appelbaum and was amazed at the similarity between the way Putin’s regime harasses opposition leaders like Kasparov, Nemtsov, Limonov, Alekseeva and the way the US government harasses Appelbaum. It feels like both governments follow the same how-to-deal-with-opposition textbook:

    Jacob Appelbaum is an independent computer security researcher and hacker. He was employed by the University of Washington,[1] and is a core member of the Tor project. Appelbaum is known for representing Wikileaks at the 2010 HOPE conference.[5] He has subsequently been repeatedly targeted by US law enforcement agencies, who obtained a court order for his Twitter account data, detained him 12[6] times at the US border after trips abroad, and seized a laptop and several mobile phones.

    Investigation and detainment

    Upon returning to the US from the Netherlands on 29 July 2010, Appelbaum was detained for three hours at Newark Airport by agents, according to anonymous sources. The sources told CNET that Appelbaum’s bag was searched, receipts from his bag were photocopied, and his laptop was inspected, although in what manner was unclear.[21] Appelbaum reportedly refused to answer questions without a lawyer present and was not allowed to make a phone call. His three mobile phones were reportedly taken and not returned.[21] On 31 July he spoke at DEF CON and mentioned his phone being “seized”. After speaking, he was approached by two FBI agents and questioned.[21][22]

    According to CNET in an interview with Appelbaum, he told them that “other people who appeared in the address book of [his] seized cell phones also have encountered trouble at borders or in airports”.[23]

    On December 14, 2010, the US Department of Justice obtained a court order compelling Twitter to provide data associated with the user accounts of Appelbaum, as well as several other individuals associated with Wikileaks, including Julian Assange and Birgitta Jónsdóttir. While the order was originally sealed, Twitter successfully petitioned the court to unseal it, permitting the company to inform its users that their account information had been requested.[24]

    When Appelbaum returned from a vacation in Iceland on January 10, 2011, he was again detained by US Customs agents for 30 minutes at Seattle–Tacoma International Airport. According to Appelbaum, the agents “specifically wanted laptops and cell phones and were visibly unhappy when they discovered nothing of the sort. He did however have a few USB thumb drives with a copy of the Bill of Rights encoded into the block device. They were unable to copy it.”[25]

    Similarly, Appelbaum was detained in Houston, Texas while returning to the US from a trip to Serbia on April 12, 2011. He was again subject to detention on arrival in Seattle on June 14, 2011.[citation needed]

    After being detained at Keflavík International Airport on October 27, 2011 [26] when returning to the United States Appelbaum wrote about the experience on the weblog Boing Boing.[27]

    In April 2012 Appelbaum told a Democracy Now! that his being targeted creates a threat for those he wants to help and therefore makes him “less effective” in his work for the Tor Project.[28]

    Comment by Vlad — July 22, 2013 @ 11:29 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress