November 20, 2015

As we've already discussed here, the media has been doing their best to beat the drums of war again following the terrorist attacks in Paris this week. The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald spent the hour with Democracy Now's Amy Goodman discussing just that and the comments made by former CIA director James Woolsey, who was calling for whistle blower Edward Snowden to be hanged this week.

Glenn Greenwald on "Submissive" Media's Drumbeat for War and "Despicable" Anti-Muslim Scapegoating:

AMY GOODMAN: Our guest for the hour is the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, as we turn to comments made by former CIA Director James Woolsey on Sunday. Speaking to NPR, Woolsey said Edward Snowden "has blood on his hands" following the Paris attacks.

JAMES WOOLSEY: I am no fan of the changes that were made after Snowden’s leaks of classified information. I don’t think they have improved our ability to collect and use intelligence, and I think they’ve seriously reduced our abilities. I think Snowden has blood on his hands from these killings in France.

AMY GOODMAN: Your response to the former director of central intelligence, Glenn Greenwald, James Woolsey?

GLENN GREENWALD: First of all, it’s absolutely remarkable that James Woolsey, of all people, is the person who has been plucked to be the authoritative figure on the Paris attacks by leading media outlets such as CNN and MSNBC news, when he is by far one of the most extremist and radical neoconservatives ever to be puked up by the intelligence world. He not only was one of the leading advocates of attacking Iraq, he was one of the leading proponents of all of the lies that led to that invasion, and has been calling for war and other sorts of really extremist policies, and disseminating lies to the American people for decades. And so, to hold him out as some sort of authority figure, some kind of like respected elder intelligence statesman, on these attacks is just exactly the sort of thing we’ve been talking about, which is the state of the American media. Not one person has challenged anything that he said.

I should also note that what this really is about is this really shameless effort on the part of the CIA and other government officials to exploit the emotions that have been generated by watching the carnage in Paris for all sorts of long-standing policies. If you go back to 2013, the very same James Woolsey went on Fox News, and he said—this was two years before the Paris attacks—"Not only do I think Edward Snowden is a traitor, I think he should be hung by the neck until he’s dead." That’s the mentality of the kinds of people who the media is holding out as our leading experts.

And again, as far as who has blood on their hands, there’s zero evidence that the attackers used encryption or anything else that was revealed as a result of Edward Snowden, but there’s lots of evidence that the CIA utterly failed in their mission and that the U.S. government has done all sorts of things unwittingly to strengthen ISIS.

And so, I think if you want to talk about who has blood on their hands, personally, I would look first to ISIS, the people who actually shot those people in the Paris streets. It’s really weird. Usually after a terrorist attack, nobody is allowed to suggest that anybody has blame other than the terrorists themselves. But for some reason, in this case, leading establishment figures and journalists feel free to go around detracting—distracting attention from ISIS and saying, "No, it’s not ISIS that has blood on their hands, it’s Edward Snowden."

For some reason, that’s now allowed. So, if that’s what we’re doing, if that’s the game we’re playing, I would look to the U.S. government first, because they failed to find the plot despite huge amounts of money and unlimited power to do so, and because they’ve done all sorts of things to strengthen the group that apparently bears responsibility for this attack.

Go read the rest but I'll share one more portion with his take on the media and what we've seen from them over the last week or so:

AMY GOODMAN: Glenn Greenwald, what about if the media did not see war as an option? So, for example, you have these horrific attacks in Paris. The immediate response is the pummeling of Raqqa. Yes, they say it’s the headquarters of the Islamic State. It’s got hundreds of thousands of civilians. France pummels it, the U.S. pummels it, Russia pummels it. Where are the questions in the media about the civilian death toll? And then the people, of course, fleeing that hellhole will be stopped from resettling anywhere, as we see from the United States to Europe. So, that question of broadening the discussion to peaceful options. Clearly, war has not worked for well over 14 years now. Taliban controls more of Afghanistan than it did before the U.S. invaded.

GLENN GREENWALD: I mean, Afghanistan is the perfect example, Amy, which is, you know, if you go back and listen to what American political leaders, in both parties, and journalists and pretty much the entire country—I mean, 90 percent of the American population supported the war in Afghanistan. I mean, there were a good number of people who didn’t, but overwhelmingly people did.

What everybody was saying at that time was—they were speaking out of rage and anger and hatred and disgust for the Taliban for their involvement, or perceived involvement, or responsibility for the 9/11 attacks. And the idea was, we’re going to go to Afghanistan, and we’re going to obliterate the Taliban. We’re going to basically just bomb them out of existence. And the Bush administration has a completely free hand, cheered on by the media and the overwhelming majority of the American population to do exactly that. And they tried. And yet, as you just said, 13 years later, the Taliban is stronger than ever, because you cannot do that. All you end up doing is turning the people of Afghanistan against you, and therefore driving them into the arms of the Taliban. We just won’t learn that lesson.

And the reason we won’t learn that lesson is twofold. Number one is, a lot of what is being stoked are really potent instincts in human nature—our tribalistic instinct, our desire for vengeance, our desire to otherize people and then destroy them. And so, when you see carnage in Paris—I’m sure it’s true for you, I know it’s true for me—all of us have that impulse to say, "The people who did this are monsters, and we want to destroy them." But we, as human beings, have not only impulse, we also have reason. And the purpose of our reason is to control our instincts and impulses. We don’t just act by instinct and impulse. If we did, we’d be the lowest-level animals. But the media is trying to stoke that id part of our brain, and so is the government, to just focus on vengeance and focus on the desire to obliterate, even when it’s not in our interest to do so.

And then the second reason is, you know, the American media benefits immensely from war. A huge number of people watch CNN and MSNBC when there are wars. They get to go to war zones and dress up as soldiers, you know, with camouflage flaks, and they embed with the American media. It’s exciting for them. They win awards as part of their career. They feel nationalistic. They feel like they have purpose. Telling people that they’re part of a civilization war and fighting for freedom and democracy, that makes people feel really good, especially journalists. And so, journalists are hungry for war.

You could basically see them drooling in that press conference they did with Obama a few days ago where they tried to badger him into sending ground troops into Syria. So, all of these emotions and all of these instincts and all of these really ignominious impulses are combining into this really toxic brew, that we’ve seen many times in the U.S. over the last several—you know, since 9/11, but I don’t think we have seen it quite as potently since 2002 or 2003. And it’s amazing to watch everything just repeat itself.

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