A Seemingly Unironic CBS Asks 'Is This The New Espionage?'

CBS has no sense of irony.

“Is this the new espionage,” CBS asks, “the spy who believes, for the good of his country, he must reveal its secrets?”

CBS then chooses to give former NSA Director Michael Hayden — who oversaw the NSA when it engaged in an unprecedented illegal surveillance program — airtime to ask,

What kind of sense of moral superiority does it take, to feel like your moral judgment trumps the moral judgment of not one but two Presidents, both houses of Congress, and bipartisan majorities, the American court system, and 35,000 of your coworkers at the NSA?

Congratulations to CBS for at least visually tying Hayden to his gravy train at Chertoff Group, a firm associated with profiting off of “security solutions” (like Rapiscan) that end up being too costly and ineffective.

Hayden then tries to get in the head of Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden.

These two most recent cases — Private Manning and Mr. Snowden — they’re a bit different. They’re probably doing it for ideology and almost this romantic, absolute commitment to transparency.

I’ll come back to Hayden and his very amusing outrage in a second.

But did you notice what else CBS did in this clip?

They aired a leaked CIA/FBI film produced as part of Obama’s Insider Threat program, the program that also pushes government employees to spy on their coworkers.

And while CBS later admits, several minutes into this clip, that Snowden “is not a spy,” it sure seems funny for them for have first asked if leaking spy agency materials is “the new Espionage” in a piece that itself airs leaked spy agency material.

You’d think the obvious conclusion would be that Snowden’s action is the old journalism?

So back to Michael Hayden.

CBS barely discusses the law in this clip. I mean, sure, they talk about the convicted spies Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames and mention the law, Espionage. But they don’t mention FISA — one of several laws that Michael Hayden broke — nor do they mention war crimes that some of Bradley Manning’s disclosures revealed.

Which is sort of odd given that according to these whistleblowers’ own descriptions of their motives, both men talked about the laws they at least perceived their government to be grossly violating. (And the Draft NSA IG Report Snowden leaked provides more details on Hayden’s unpunished crimes than we’ve gotten before.)

By the way, when Hayden claims “the American court system” sides with him? He forgets Vaughn Walker’s ruling that, in fact, the government had illegally wiretapped al-Haramain during that window when Hayden agreed to continue the program even though the Acting Attorney General Jim Comey had deemed it illegal.

CBS decided to invite a criminal, Michael Hayden, on to attack the actions of a man who had provided the public additional evidence of his crimes. The clip ends with Hayden warning about how much more empowered insider threats are.

What is new that in this modern connected era the trusted insider who betrays us is far more empowered to do damage far greater than these kinds of folks were able to do in the past and so we just have to be more vigilant.

Perhaps the question we ought to be asking is not “is this the new espionage” but “who is the greater insider threat risk, Edward Snowden or Michael Hayden?”

Marcy Wheeler blogs here.

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