The first is from Bob Cesca. He does a great job of summarizing the questions that remain to be answered on this story (please go read the whole article - these are critical questions). He makes an important point about how Greenwald says that his goal was to spur a public debate about surveillance, but then he refuses to answer the questions and blocks people like Cesca on Twitter. In the post, Cesca theorizes that its because Greenwald has an agenda and is approaching this as an activist instead of a journalist. For a guy who talks constantly about "transparency," Greenwald isn't handling his moment in the sun very well.
As Chez Pazienza so brilliantly wrote on Monday, “Being a good journalist is a little like being a scientist: You should constantly be testing your theory and findings for signs of confirmation bias or an agenda that’s getting the better of your commitment to the truth.” In the absence of this kind of professional integrity — integrity, by the way, which led the Washington Post to revise its initial story — the only conclusion to draw here is that Greenwald doesn’t want anyone to see the agenda behind the curtain. In that regard, he’s no better than Fox News Channel, passing off cleverly hand-picked stories and coded words...as hard news. Consequently, he’s drawing other activists and voices on the left into a story that’s full of potential traps. If Snowden turns out to be a hacker nihilist who’s feeding Greenwald bad information, or if Greenwald’s reporting continues to be strewn with holes, it could seriously damage not only the effort to roll back post-9/11 overreach and opacity, but also the broader liberal movement — not to mention the credibility of future whistleblowers/leakers. You deserve to know whether your outrage is founded upon the full knowledge of the facts or if it’s been deliberately manipulated by Greenwald’s personal whimsy and cleverness.The second is an important post by Josh Marshall that focuses on his reaction to Edward Snowden. Like Cesca, he talks about the importance of understanding Snowden's agenda.
To repeat: I’m interested in ending the war on terrorism and all of the awfulness that’s accompanied it. But I’m not interested in a counterproductive slash-and-burn approach, and I’m not interested in trading credibility for the advancement of an agenda. So I’m trying to get to the bottom of some of these rather shaky gaps in the story.
If you see the state as essentially malevolent or a bad actor then really anything you can do to put a stick in its spokes is a good thing...Marshall's point about the agenda being one that sees the state as essentially malevolent is the important distinction here. Its why many of us are concerned about this libertarian philosophy creeping in to the thinking of too many liberals. Grover Norquist's goal of shrinking government down to the size where it can be drowned in the bathtub gets a boost from those who want to simply blow the whole thing up.
From that perspective, there’s no really no balancing to be done. All disclosure is good. Either from the perspective of transparency in principle or upending something you believe must be radically changed.
On the other hand, if you basically identify with the country and the state, then indiscriminate leaks like this [he's referring to Bradley Manning here] are purely destructive. They’re attacks on something you fundamentally believe in, identify with, think is working on your behalf.
Now, in practice, there are a million shades of grey. You can support your government but see its various shortcomings and even evil things it does. And as I said at the outset, this is where leaks play a critical, though ambiguous role, as a safety valve. But it comes down to this essential thing: is the aim and/or effect of the leak to correct an abuse or simply to blow the whole thing up?...
The Snowden case is less clear to me. At least to date, the revelations seem more surgical. And the public definitely has an interest in knowing just how we’re using surveillance technology and how we’re balancing risks versus privacy...
But it’s more than that. Snowden is doing more than triggering a debate. I think it’s clear he’s trying to upend, damage - choose your verb - the US intelligence apparatus and policieis he opposes...He’s taking it upon himself to make certain things no longer possible, or much harder to do. To me that’s a betrayal. I think it’s easy to exaggerate how much damage these disclosures cause. But I don’t buy that there are no consequences. And it goes to the point I was making in an earlier post. Who gets to decide? The totality of the officeholders who’ve been elected democratically - for better or worse - to make these decisions? Or Edward Snowden, some young guy I’ve never heard of before who espouses a political philosophy I don’t agree with and is now seeking refuge abroad for breaking the law?
I don’t have a lot of problem answering that question.
I know there are a lot of people who just want to have a discussion about the proper role of government in these areas and - as President Obama said - that is a conversation we should be having. But it has to be based on facts. And I have no desire to join a movement that wants to sensationalize and obscure in order to upend or destroy.