Saturday, June 8, 2013

Glenn Greenwald is deciding what's in our national security interests

I just read this from Glenn Greenwald at Buzzfeed and it seemed pertinent.
“We’re applying the standard judgment test that journalists apply every day: first, is it newsworthy and relevant, ie, is there public interest in knowing this?” Greenwald told BuzzFeed. “If so: is there genuine harm that comes from publication? And if there is harm, does the public value outweigh/justify the harm?”

He said he didn’t think there was “even a conceivable argument that anything we’ve published thus far causes any harm.”
I appreciate very much that Glenn is owning responsibility. I think that is important. But once again, the question comes back to trust. What he's suggesting is that we should trust him to calibrate the potential for harm from this information being leaked. He evaluates that and then decides on the balance between public value and harm.

I think that's why this story has grabbed me so strongly. The level of harm this particular leak might/might not have caused is not self-evident to me. But of all people on the planet I want to see making decisions about something like that, Glenn Greenwald is near the bottom of my list. I fear this is dangerous territory we've entered when ideologues like Greenwald and Rosen are the arbiters of our national security. 

If you wonder why the Obama administration is so aggressively pursuing leakers - perhaps there's your answer. 

7 comments:

  1. GG did indeed calculate whether his revelations could do harm. He concluded that they could (fingers crossed) do harm to President Obama. He could care less if the stuff he publishes does harm to the US national security. Hell, he doesn't live here!

    On the other hand, though Al Queda probably thought about whether or not it is a good idea to pass information over the phone or through the internet, they still did it and, from what we've been told, got caught as a result. Now they will have to adapt and, in all probability WILL adapt, making the nation less safe. Of course GG will deny that but I, for one, having seen the pattern of bigotry and hatred he's displayed toward President Obama, am certain that he will rejoice should a terrorist attack succeed so that he can excoriate the President for not having prevented it.

    In the end, I'm sure that President Obama will deal effectively with this distraction. For one thing, he will potentially be able to get some of the more onerous stuff taken out of the Patriot Act. For another, whoever leaked highly classified documents to GG will almost certainly be caught and spend a lot of time in jail. Further, let's not forget that Julian Assange is in prison for life as a result of his decision making. [Actually his situation is probably worse than prison where he would at least have some space in which to exercise. Self imprisonment is an interesting concept which I hope GG also explores.]

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  2. What has me very puzzled is that GG knew how dangerous the PATRIOT Act was when it was passed but decided to "support" his president. This says a lot to me. It says that GG was more than willing to give GWB a free pass on many things, but since PBO took office, he's using journalistic "standards." Good to know when a person decides to establish a double standard for different presidents, one of whom began the whole process of the NSA surveilling our phone records. For those on the right who are outraged, they wouldn't have to be outraged today if they had been paying attention to what the PA allows the government to do. They were too busy protecting GWB's left flank from all criticism to pay attention to the biggest invasion of privacy since our government was established in 1789. And, those on the left who are outraged, they should have been paying better attention to the PA, too. It's not the fault of those of us who knew how dangerous the PA is and were sounding alarms all over the blogosphere. I have no sympathy for the RW Johnny and Judy Come Latelies because, as I've always said, it's not a good idea to get on every political bandwagon that rolls by. They got on the Fox-RWPolitician-RWRadioEntertainers-RW Pundits-and-GWB Bandwagon, and while they were cheering him (and them) on, a significant portion of their freedoms were being taken. This leads me to remember another rule I have for my life--never make important decisions based on fear.

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  3. Your themes are similar to a post A. Jay Adler has up today (at sad red earth) about Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, and the irony of two men who, in their self-proclaimed principled stand against having an authoritarian government in control of secret information, assume the power for themselves. Adler was struck by Bradley Manning's defense as presented by his attorney, that Manning cites his emotional reaction to witnessing the brutality of war as his justification for releasing classified information.

    Adler:

    "Rather than clear knowledge of specific wrongdoing, we have one young man with an emotional response to what he witnesses in war. On this basis he substitutes his judgment for that of the American people, their system of government, and their elected leaders. His defense says he 'started selecting information.' He passed '700,000 pages of classified material' to Julian Assange. One wonders if court documents include the written, considered protocol by which each of the documents were 'selected' by Manning and Assange and judged suitable for declassification and public exposure. One does not wonder too long."

    On Julian Assange, Adler notes the experience of documentary film maker, Alex Gibbney, who, for his documentary about Wikileaks, attempted to interview Assange. Upon meeting Assange in person, Gibbney learned that Assange required a fee of $1 million for the interview. When Gibbney declined, Assange countered that he'd settle for Gibbney's disclosure of what other interviewees had disclosed.

    Adler gives Gibbney's own comments about the interview:

    " 'He didn’t see the irony at all,' said Gibney, 59, an unusually prolific filmmaker who often has multiple projects proceeding at the same time. 'To him, he was … being attacked by big and powerful forces and he should have the right to do whatever is necessary to protect himself. The idea that spying on other interview subjects would be ironic for a transparency organization didn’t occur to him at all.' "

    It's fascinating that none of these men seem to be aware of the irony of their actions. I'm not sure what to make of that. Smartypants, I hope your most excellent blend of analysis and intuition leads you to further insights about these guys. :-)

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  4. Smartypants said "If you wonder why the Obama administration is so aggressively pursuing leakers - perhaps there's your answer."

    Obama used to hail whistleblowers as heroes and now he goes after them which don't serve his interests. after all you never see those who leak things the administration want leaked pursued do you? Where's the prosecution for leon Panneta? Obama may have meant them lovely speeches he made prior to 2009, the ones that earned him a peace prize for doing nothing beyond not being George Bush, but he's stamped all over the values he professed to hold but I'm sure you'll find a way to defend him smartypants, you usually do.

    Majii said "It says that GG was more than willing to give GWB a free pass on many things, but since PBO took office, he's using journalistic "standards.""

    Absolutely pathetic. Any proof that greenwald supported Bush? You see I remember him being quite critical of many Bush policies, including the patriot act. If you ahve proof that he supported bush then please provide 8it but I know I'll be waiting a very long time.

    "Good to know when a person decides to establish a double standard for different presidents"

    You mean like the blogger whose posts we're commenting under who would have screamed to high heaven if a republican did this kind of thing but makes excuses for a democrat? I'd venture a guess that you're the exact same. If ou want to see double standards then look at the democrats who rightly campaigned against Bush extending executive power and encroaching on civil liberties and then wrongly shut up as soon as Obama got into office and now defend the kind of policies they used to campaign against.

    If you reply then please try to deal with what I said rather than accuse me of being a republican or supporting terrorism or any of the other strawmen folk resort to when their hypocrisy is exposed.

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    Replies
    1. So you don't want strawmen arguments posed to you but you're comfortable dissing them out at me, huh?

      You comment indicates that you have read zero about what I've said on these issues and feel free to caricature instead.

      Its impossible to have any real dialogue as long as you do that. So I just wanted to let you know that any other comments that use that tactic will be deleted. If you want to respond to an actual position I've taken, we can talk.

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    2. you would be better served John if you knew the diff. between whistleblowers and leaking classified info, which is a CRIME. Then, perhaps I'd be slightly interested in what you have to say

      ebogan63.

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    3. Smartypants -

      "So you don't want strawmen arguments posed to you but you're comfortable dissing them out at me, huh?"

      Care to tell me where I've used a strawman smartypants? I note you don't actually draw any examples but saying it is a lovely way of not dealing with my points I guess.

      "You comment indicates that you have read zero about what I've said on these issues and feel free to caricature instead"

      I've read plenty of your posts smartypants, your blog is interesting for a different take and more personal take on the U.S. You see this is a strawman.

      "Its impossible to have any real dialogue as long as you do that. So I just wanted to let you know that any other comments that use that tactic will be deleted. If you want to respond to an actual position I've taken, we can talk."

      Ok then*... did you oppose the Patriot Act and all the infringements of civil liberties that occured under the Bush administration?** If you did why don't you oppose the same or similar infringements occuring under the Obama administration? How do you feel about Clapper lying to congress, which he did when he told them that the NSA wasn't collecting any type of data on millions of Americans

      **I'm 99% sure that you did but I should have checked.

      Anonymous said -

      "you would be better served John if you knew the diff. between whistleblowers and leaking classified info, which is a CRIME. Then, perhaps I'd be slightly interested in what you have to say"

      Leaking the pentagon papers was classified information and, by your standards, a crime. Should bernstein therefore have been pursued and criminalised? Should deep Throat have been thrown into prison and kept in solitary for extended periods of time, an act than many accept is torture?

      You'd be better served by realising that it's your frame of thinking that gives govts. the world over the opinion that they can do what they wish and if they just stamp the evidence as secret and classified then you and those who think like you will attack the messenger and not the people doing the crime.

      * I have to note that it's interesting that the reply directly below yours is a class A example of a strawman, with a bit of logical fallacy thrown in, but because it's supporting you this guy doesn't get warned.

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