Glenn Greenwald

The left must challenge Greenwald

This is a cross-post by Paul Canning

A libertarian assault on the notion of government lies behind the reporting of the NSA ‘revelations’. The left needs to step up, expose the con and defend government as a force for good.

The line (it’s either Mark Twain or Winston Churchill) is never more true than now: “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

Promoted ad nauseam by The Guardian and reproduced without question, the link-bait ‘revelations’ about the American National Security Agency (NSA) are convincing more and more people that we live in a conspiracy, Jason Bourne world rather than the mundane reality.

Real life spying, according to MI6 agents I’ve read, is more bland, actually boring, but we think differently because, as the brilliant film maker Adam Curtis puts it:

Journalists and spies concocted a strange dark world of treachery and deceit which bore very little relationship to what was really going on.

The “aura of secret knowledge”, Curtis writes, is a con, a way of maintaining power. Which puts the journalist at the centre of the current imbroglio, Glenn Greenwald, in a whole different light, as does the fact that he seems to operate unmolested by fellow journalistic stars (more of that later).

N’est ce faux pas

What has been ‘revealed’ by The Guardian has either been debunked or is actually no ‘revelation’ at all or has already been reported. Or makes no sense. It ‘could be’ but there’s no evidence it has been. That’s Greenwald’s entire schtick: Chicken Little, the sky is falling.

Take his first ‘exclusive’ from the Edward Snowden files, about how the NSA can literally – literally – search the massive databases of the big US Internet companies.

Various tech industry publications ran lengthy technical demolition jobs of this claim. They said that the evidence pointed to the obvious – tech companies shift legally requested data to a ‘drop box’ (a computer server, following a legal request) and thence to the NSA through ‘direct access’ (one phase on one file Greenwald had from Snowden).

Duncan Campbell, the legendary British investigative journalist who revealed the Echelon program, called foul on that Greenwald baseless over-claim in The Register. Another person who is normally a Greenwald fan, historian and journalist Rick Perlstein, called him out. The Washington Post, the other port Snowden initially called into, did a correction.

The Guardian even walked that one back, though buried in a tech article and not as a prominent correction nor anywhere near Greenwald’s content. Greenwald’s original agreement with the Guardian was to be – uniquely – unedited and also, uniquely, to controls his BTL (comments). But after that first n’est ce faux pas the Guardian did, natch, assign James Ball, the Guardian journo who became a cult of Assange refusnik, to watch Greenwald more closely, not that this move has yet to mean anything

Greenwald himself appeared temporarily rattled as the techies called him out but … the hits (clicks) just keep on coming …

Do read the rest of Paul’s piece here