Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Breitbartian Taint: Snowden, Greenwald, and Secrecy

Woody has been remarkably and commendably circumspect about Edward Snowden and Greenwald's free-lance espionage escapades to this point. Much of interest has been revealed, much more--one suspects--has not.

As you'd know, if they still taught history when you were in school, our government has been doing shit like this since at LEAST the 1870s. Only then it was the Wobblies, or the nigras, or the Irish, then Italian immigrants, or the socialists, or suffragettes, or the Mexicans, or some other acceptably marginalized group (civil rights workers, student activists, more recently), so that the good burghers didn't feel imposed upon. Now those complacent burghers feel like they're being cast with the ni**ers and the rest of the undesirables, and they don't like it; their tits are in the wringer, and they're squealing.

But it's too late for that. That ship done sailed...

For now, many, many people have very, very much different stuff invested in the Greenwald version of the story. It seems to be a huge cudgel to wield against o'er-weening power of the State. But Greenwald's a libertarian bomb-thrower, and I doubt his allegiance to principle of any kind other than self-interest. Though he's a brilliant self-promoter, you have to give that to him...

And, I've felt all along like something about Snowden "clanged." Something was "off," something was "not right."

It turns out there may have been quite a LOT was and is "off," about both of them AND the story. Its author, Milt Shook, is not an unimpeachable source, either, being accused by detractors of indiscriminately fellating the leadership of the DLC, upon occasion.

Still, I have said and felt since Day 1 of this affair that there was always the troubling whiff of the dissembling, Breitbartian provocateur about Snowden and about the whole proceeding, like Jamie O'Keefe and ACORN, the skeevey little shit "proving" a fallacious point just to create shitstorms of trouble for ideological foes. Greenwald's enough of an opportunist to exploit (or even plot) it.

So I do not give perfect credence to EITHER account. I have my own confirmation bias to deal with; but, I believe I stand confirmed in my doubts, if we may believe this report in any of its particulars...

Which is debatable, of course. Indeed, someone inquired why I should believe this account, or give it more credence than reports by Snowden's coworkers as to his "humble brilliance?"

I said, I see no reason to "believe in" the persona Snowden's projected 'at work,' where, he has as much as admitted he was working as a mole.

Yes indeed, the revelations may  spawn a necessary "national dialogue"--though it should have happened generations ago. It was a common-place among the members of the counter-culture for their business to be reported by moles and impostures. We complained. It didn't stop.

I'll gladly, NOW, admit the need for 'dialogue" on the subject, though it is altogether, utterly unlikely to result in significantly curtailing intel-gathering and analysis activities of all 16 federal bureaus and 2000(+) private corporations doing the Gummint's snooping and analysis. (and arguably, dangerous in a world where EVERY nation possesses and deploys all the intelligence-gathering resources they can afford to posses in pursuit of the same goals).

It may be that  am too cynical, but I'm not sure what's gonne result from this "national debate."
We have 'em all the time, and they're generally fruitless:
Guns, Choice, Wars, Safety Net, Banks/Markets, Corporat Personhood?
We are supposed to have had robust, national debates about all of those. Yet pretty much, the status quo ante obtains.

And, as the FISA/Church Act reforms demonstrated in their failure to prevent the expansion of the Intel mission, the exigencies of global real-politik will compelled (within the epistemic structure of the institution)  them to "stretch" and even break the law. As the "State" is the natal ground of the ends-justifying-means rationality, it is a bit hypocritical to blame it for that means of being, no matter how much we abhor it.

Here's a list of the the countries which have espionage/intel agencies. Many are maintained by nations which are adversaries and/or enemies of the US Empire. For a nation and empire--the largest, richest, most powerful, most despised, most dangerous in history-- which stands (still) atop the pyramid of global power, unilateral disarmament on this front would be as foolhardy, as dangerous as unilaterally disarming the military.

And that's NAGAHAPUN, either.


  1. As you point out Woody the Government has been spying on Us for centuries(?) it's only recently when entitled white people have begun to feel they are being treated the way the Government has always treated minorities and women that have they started to complain.

  2. And the fact that a Black guy is in charge freaks 'em out, too.
    I have some additional thoughts on the subject:
    "There is, I believe a real difference between an being an apologist for something and being a realist about it.
    Here is a list of all the countries in the world which have intelligence services, and the NAMES of those services...
    It is a longish list, including just about everyone but the Vatican.
    When all y'all or Greenwald can assure not just me but the Joint Chiefs that all those folks can be trusted to rein in THEIR intel services, then I think we can begin to do the same with ours.
    Yes, I know it's over-sized, and intrusive. But so is the Empire which it supports and, yes, protects--and which also, coincidentally, includes you and me.
    The governing metaphor of our lives is the market-place.
    There is a rule, in the market-place, going back at least to Roman times, cuz it's in Latin: Caveat emptor.
    Let the buyer (that's us) beware, be wary, be worried.
    Th merchants are out to get you, despite what they say when somebody's listening. You are sheep to be shorn. They talk about you/us that way.
    Caveat emptor! Pay attention...