Streetwise Professor

October 24, 2013

There Are None So Blind As Those Who Will Not See, AKA The Journalist Tribe

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 9:33 pm

If you want a sick laugh, read this: “US Newspapers Biased Towards NSA in Snowden Coverage-Study.”

That’s funny.  I hadn’t noticed.

But it’s from the Columbia Journalism Review, AKA The Prog Tattler, so take it with a grain of salt.

I mean, seriously.  The papers studied include the NYT, the LAT, and the WaPo.  The NYT is actively cooperating to distribute Snowden information, and ran the Risen “interview” with Someone Claiming to Be Snowden, where by “interview” I mean “stenographic transmission” (and where I really mean something that is sufficiently vulgar that I will leave it to your imagination).

And if you want to see how pro-NSA the @washingtonpost  (the outlet of Snowden fanboy and Poitras co-byliner Bart Gellman, so ya, it’s in the tank for the NSA) is, for another gag-worthy read check out this article. Page 2 is basically a regurgitation of Snowden’s self-justifications, embroidered with rah-rahing from Thomas Drake, and no-none, zero, zip, nada-contrary opinion.  It’s like a legal brief for Snowden.

And consider the substance of the disclosure:

U.S. officials are alerting some foreign intelligence services that documents detailing their secret cooperation with the United States have been obtained by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, according to government officials.

. . .

In one case, for instance, the files contain information about a program run from a NATO country against Russia that provides valuable intelligence for the U.S. Air Force and Navy, said one U.S. official, who requested anonymity to discuss an ongoing criminal investigation. Snowden faces theft and espionage charges.

“If the Russians knew about it, it wouldn’t be hard for them to take appropriate measures to put a stop to it,” the official said.

But yeah. Snowden is all about transparency and human rights and protecting US citizens from unwarranted intrusions by the US government, and would never ever EVER do anything that would jeopardize US security. And no way-NO WAY-he’s doing anything to help out the Russians.  He’s totally a free agent. His own man. After all, he tells us so.  (The usual caveat applies: someone on an encrypted communication emanating from, er, Russia, claiming to be Edward Snowden tells us so.)

I say again: Edward Snowden is objectively pro-Russian, pro-FSB/GRU/SVR.

Only those who are being deliberately obtuse fail to see this.  There are none so blind as those who will not see.

The Columbia Journalism Review notwithstanding, that category includes most of the journalistic establishment. The most disappointing representatives being those who are very well aware of how malign Russia is, its security services in particular.  I am thinking specifically of Luke Harding (and to a lesser degree, Edward Lucas).  The author of Mafia State suffered first hand at the hands of the FSB, but he refuses to connect the dots between Snowden and Russian security services. Perhaps its because he works for the Guardian, which is totally invested in the Snowden narrative.  Perhaps he believes the Snowden narrative, and given the choice between the US and Russia, he choose the latter despite his personal experience.  Or perhaps he just doesn’t want to become an outcast from the journo tribe.

When called out on this on Twitter (not by me, btw), he responded in a very craven fashion, claiming he’s too involved in writing a book.

The journalistic tribe is rallying around Snowden.  Worse than that: it is flacking for him.  For the CJR to say the exact opposite is beyond travesty.

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  1. Prof

    At what point does Snowden turn up dead, do you think?

    Once he has exhausted all the other avenues of doing harm open to him, all that remains is for him usefully to do, surely, is to end up dead in a way that it looks like the CIA dunnit.

    As well as retrospectively “confirming” his revelations about the nastiness of the USA, it would prevent him recanting; fuel a rumour industry about what else he might have found to say; and keep the story running.

    So I guess the time to look for a Snowden-found-dead story is shortly after the NYT etc find themselves scratching around a bit for anything new to print.

    Alternatively, at some later date – perhaps when some anti-Putin journalist has been spectacularly poisoned by the Russian government – we may find that is when he is included in the Kremlin’s news management reaction.

    It may not be highly likely, but it sure doesn’t seem impossible; or even all that *un*likely.

    It is, perhaps, a bit like Napoleon whacking the Duc d’Enghien, to “prove” he was a criminal conspirator. There was little doubt that the Duc was indeed trying to overthrow Napoleon – he was a Bourbon, after all. The judicial killing was required to “prove” that this was bad. In the same way, Snowden may be called on to go the extra mile to “prove” that the NSA is bad.

    Comment by Green as Grass — October 25, 2013 @ 7:07 am

  2. Fascinating interview here “One day in the life of Mikhail Khodorkovsky”. I guess most people will get the allusion. I hope the man doesn’t suffer consequences for speaking out. although I’m not optimistic.

    Comment by jon livesey — October 25, 2013 @ 12:35 pm

  3. @green-I agree it may not be likely, but it is not all that unlikely. All the benefits, from Russia’s perspective, that you identify are real. And yes, the timing would be after the current interest has died down.

    Re Duc d’Enghien-his murder is what Talleyrand characterized as “It was worse than a crime: it was a blunder.” Unless Russia fails at pinning the blame on the US, I doubt that it would be a blunder.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — October 25, 2013 @ 2:09 pm

  4. I’m really surprised at how much vitriol the right has been dumping on this Snowden clown. He signed up for Special Forces when the Iraq fiasco began because he had an “obligation as a human being to help free people from oppression” and made campaign donations to Ron Paul. He seems like your typical poorly educated cannon fodder who suddenly discovered that working for the military-surveillance complex isn’t actually as heroic as it seems on Fox News and video games. It’s a great statement on the bloat of the Bush-Obama spy state that this guy was actually privy to anything worth leaking.

    Comment by paul — October 26, 2013 @ 5:52 am

  5. @paul. That’s one of the most bizarre comments I’ve ever read. First of all, wide swaths of the right have been Snowden cheerleaders-something I pointed out in June, in fact. Beck has been prominent in this regard. But Fox News has also been largely pro-Snowden in his coverage.

    The explanation-which I pointed out in June as well-is that the Snowden affair is perceived to be negative for Obama, so the obsessives on the right support him.

    There are also a lot of paleocons who are sympathetic with Putin/Russia, who they believe are protectors of traditional religious values. They support Snowden because he’s in Russia.

    Only what might be characterized as the national security right, which includes but is not limited to neocons, are strongly critical of Snowden.

    And your analysis of Snowden’s personality is totally off base. He suffers from extreme grandiosity.

    The only thing in your comment makes sense is your criticism of allowing him to access anything sensitive. And it is good that you point out the continuity between Bush and Obama on some security matters, especially those related to terrorism.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — October 26, 2013 @ 11:32 am

  6. Paul: Snowden has made himself a public figure, and so he can expect the same degree of scrutiny as other public figures. But there is more to this. Snowden’s chosen persona is that of an idealist who set out to expose abuses of some sort, but he stole, by Greenwald’s account, “thousands” of NSA document, which amounted to “A complete internal architecture of the NSA.”

    Now, what exactly does that have to do with exposing abuses? The net content of Snowden’s “exposures” is to something we already knew, which is that emails and cell phones can be monitored, something that didn’t surprise anyone paying attention. Yet this rather banal exposure is being used to justify theft of confidential documents on a grand scale. That gets my attention because I feel that someone is insulting my intelligence.

    I am also struck by the organized campaign in support of someone I’d call a spy. If you keep track of the Guardian, for example, the artful way they lay out an additional, but often trivial, tit-bit every day to keep the circus going says to me that Snowden is part of something bigger, something organized, and something that isn’t revealing itself, but which is cleverly exploiting the well-known tendency of a lot of airheads to think themselves and their emails to be a lot more important and interesting than they really are.

    Is what I have written “vitriol”? You may consider it is, but really, I am just struck by the sight of the public being led by the nose and encouraged to get excited over something that doesn’t really affect them. I am troubled that the public can be manipulated like this and I think it’s a bad sign for society when crooks can appoint themselves heroes and a lot of people will cheer them on.

    Comment by jon livesey — October 26, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

  7. @jon-you’re right. Most people won’t get the allusion. I think Khodorkovsky has resigned himself to a life in prison, and knows that remaining silent will do him no good. It’s his only way of fighting back.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — October 26, 2013 @ 1:25 pm

  8. Craig,

    I get many allusions wrt Khodorkovsky. And the first one is that Snowden would be in the same kind of place as Khodorkovsky, if he had been deported back to the US.

    What is outrageous about the Khodorkovsky imprisonment is that almost all people, who became very wealthy during the prikhvatization days of the Yeltsin era, committed tons of major crimes, tax evasion being one of lesser ones. There was no other way to become wealthy. Ask yourself: how can a penniless in 1991 man become a billionaire by 1996, without inventing some revolutionary product? But only Puitn’s rivals – Khodorkovsky, Berezovsky and Gusinsky – were selected for prosecution, while Putin’s friends enjoy their lives.

    The reason why the majority of the US population told the pollsters back in June that they supported Snowden isn’t because we are all Putin’s puppets but because the libertarian philosophy is very strong here and most Americans don’t share the neocon view that the Big Brother in Orwell’s 1984 is an admirable hero.

    Your idea of badmouthing everybody who criticizes the US government because they help Putin, is hardly new. For example, back in the Soviet Union accusations of treason were thrown at everybody who criticized the regime. They “helped the enemy”, the “capitalists”, the West, NATO, the US. And in a way they did provide propaganda fodder for the West, just as, say, Appelbaum and other critics of the US government provide such fodder against the US government. But does it mean that Solzhenitsyn was “a traitor” to his people by publishing his Archipelago in the West? Do we, Americans, want our country to continue on its route towards becoming another USSR? The majority say “No” to the Big Brother. You are in the minority.

    Comment by Vlad1 — October 30, 2013 @ 4:57 pm

  9. @Vlad1. Complete bilge. Snowden would have received the benefits of a legal process that would have been far more open, transparent, and just than anything accorded to Khodorkovsky. Yes, he would have likely ended up in prison, but (a) the prison would have been far more humane than where Khodorkovsky has served, and (b) he would have been sentenced to such a fate after a far fairer legal process with far greater protections, as opposed to the kangaroo process that convicted Khodorkovsky.

    That said, I am ambivalent about Khodorkovsky. I operate under no illusions as to how he made his money. I also understand completely that the crimes for which he was imprisoned were political: he could have enjoyed his wealth with no repercussions had he decided to stay out of politics, and not challenged Putin.

    As to the rest, e.g., the US becoming another USSR: hyperbolic bilge.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — October 30, 2013 @ 7:38 pm

  10. > I say again: Edward Snowden is objectively pro-Russian, pro-FSB/GRU/SVR.

    I’ve learned to hate Russians
    All through my whole life.
    If another war starts,
    It’s them we must fight.
    To hate them and fear them,
    To run and to hide,
    And accept it all bravely
    With God on my side.

    /Bob Dylan – With God on Our Side, 1964/

    Comment by Vlad1 — October 31, 2013 @ 4:07 pm

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