Monday, August 5, 2013


If you haven't already read Bob Cesca's post this morning titled I'll stop Writing about Glenn Greenwald's NSA Coverage When He Stops Lying, please do so. I ditto everything he said.

Perhaps the only thing I'd say differently is that rather than suggesting Greenwald is lying, I'd call what he's doing propaganda. Cesca pointed to this quote from Greenwald's appearance yesterday on This Week.
“Well I think the concern is that whistleblowers in the United States have become the number one public enemy of the United States government, which is incredibly disturbing. McClatchy has been reporting great things about how the Obama administration equates whistleblowing with treason, with all kinds of programs. [...] Whistleblowers in the United States are put into prison for decades and basically disappeared, as we just saw with Bradley Manning…”
Cesca points out that Bradley Manning hasn't been sentenced yet, but the longest any whistleblower convicted during the Obama administration has been sentenced to date is 30 months. However, its his use of the term "disappeared" that I find so inflammatory.

Anyone with only the smallest amount of knowledge about recent history in South America knows how that word was created during the so-called "dirty wars." The verb "disappear" was turned into a noun to describe the thousands of innocent people in Argentina and other South American countries who were kidnapped, tortured and killed by the ruling military dictators.

For Greenwald to use that iteration of the word to describe how the Obama administration is dealing with criminal leaks is not simply a lie - it is a lie used in the service of propaganda. Some of Greenwald's minions are even embracing the idea of employing this kind of propaganda.

I get two messages from people who endorse that strategy:

First of all...their argument is weak and needs to be buttressed to be heard. The use of hyperbolic propaganda tells us that the purveyors think the recipients are ignorant and need to be manipulated.

Secondly, this kind of propaganda is always meant to instill fear. People react when they're afraid. The trouble is, most often they are attracted to the wrong solutions. Witness Bush/Cheney in the aftermath of 9/11.

I don't take kindly to manipulation and fear-mongering. But that's the kind of propaganda that Greenwald is engaging. And so I agree with Cesca, as long as he's being given a platform for that nonsense, I'll be responding.

In conclusion, President Obama wrote about his response to this kind of thing years ago.
I firmly believe that whenever we exaggerate or demonize, or oversimplify or overstate our case, we lose. Whenever we dumb down the political debate, we lose. A polarized electorate that is turned off of politics, and easily dismisses both parties because of the nasty, dishonest tone of the debate, works perfectly well for those who seek to chip away at the very idea of government because, in the end, a cynical electorate is a selfish electorate...

Our goal should be to stick to our guns on those core values that make this country great, show a spirit of flexibility and sustained attention that can achieve those goals, and try to create the sort of serious, adult, consensus around our problems that can admit Democrats, Republicans and Independents of good will.


  1. Other than keeping his name in the public eye and raising his profile like any garden variety shock jock, I can't for the life of me see what tangible damage GiGi has caused with his inflammatory rhetoric. I've read elsewhere that The Guardian has a history of being the vehicle for 'whistleblowers', so GiGi is a natural fit. It's Wikileaks that is doing the actual harm.

  2. I didn't appreciate being lied to and manipulated during the Bush years. I don't understand why people would think I would approve when it is being done in nominal service for a cause of which I approve.

  3. Please do keep writing. It's astounding how people think capabilities like the Keyscore program = YES THE GOVERNMENT IS BIG BROTHER IN REAL TIME OMG WHAT ABOUT MY PRIVACY. And unfortunately we're seeing stories like that woman who claimed the cops were monitoring their Google searches when it was the husband's old boss that raised a flag.

    We should absolutely be examining if there are abuses with these programs and if the law is keeping up with technology. But I am sick of Greenwald and his cult, especially since it seems they haven't actually provided proof these programs are being abused, just that they exist. And I am thoroughly disappointed in The Guardian, as you might have seen Joshua Foust's piece on looking at Keyscore. The responses he got from The Guardian to his questions were nonsense and leads me to believe they are only in this to sell papers.

  4. What Greenwald has been pushing as "new," is to anyone who has been paying attention, "out of date," "well-known," or "complete bullshit." My response to most of his acolytes who have been saying that he's bringing this information into the discussion is that if they believe that, they haven't been paying attention at all. Not to mention that there's very little discussion of actual issues, just what Glenn wants us to talk about.

  5. someyuppieassholeAugust 6, 2013 at 7:38 PM

    At what point do we start asking if GG is motivated by the same thing that motivates rand paul et al?

    1. I like your thinking, some