August 13, 2013

Since Edward Snowden leaked the NSA program to Glenn Greenwald and The Washington Post I hear a lot of guffawing about what makes someone a journalist. In other words, if we like you and your story, then you're a very cool journalist, but if you go against our predetermined views then you're just an egomaniac who thinks he/she is smarter than everyone else. I've often read and heard pundits and journalists complain that Greenwald isn't a real journalist because he has very strong opinions on civil liberties, including the FISA courts and the surveillance state. So in their minds, any journalist who has such strong views shouldn't be called one if they voice their opinion.

Glenn Greenwald has a great piece up about the role that the unscrupulous General Hayden has taken in the eyes of the media. The article also catches CBS's Bob Schieffer doing exactly what Greenwald has been criticized for.

Schieffer: I like people who are willing to stand up to the government. As a reporter, it's my job to do that from time to time. Some of the people I admire most took on the government -- men and women who led the civil rights movement: Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. They are true heroes. I'm not ready to put Edward Snowden in that category.

For one thing, I don't remember Martin Luther King Jr. or Rosa Parks running off and hiding in China. The people who led the civil rights movement were willing to break the law AND suffer the consequences.

That's a little different than putting the nation's security at risk and running away. I know 11 people who died or lost a member of their family on 9/11. My younger daughter lived in Manhattan then; it was six hours before we knew she was safe. I'm not interested in going through that again.I don't know yet if the government has overreached since 9/11 to reinforce our defenses, and we need to find out.

What I DO know, though, is that these procedures were put in place and are being overseen by officials WE elected, and we should hold THEM accountable.I think what we have in Edward Snowden is just a narcissistic young man who has decided he is smarter than the rest of us.

I don't know what he is beyond that, but he is no hero. If he has a valid point -- and I'm not even sure he does -- he would greatly help his cause by voluntarily coming home to face the consequences.

The idea that since Snowden left the USA suddenly makes what he did less patriotic is ridiculous. Go read Mother Jones report called Obama's War on Whistleblowers and see if you would have stuck around and faced the consequences when they have already been well established.

The Obama administration has been cruelly and unusually punishing in its use of the 1917 Espionage Act to stomp on governmental leakers, truth-tellers, and whistleblowers whose disclosures do not support the president's political ambitions. As Thomas Drake, himself avictim of Obama's crusade against whistleblowers, told me, "This makes a mockery of the entire classification system, where political gain is now incentive for leaking and whistleblowing is incentive for prosecution." The Obama administration has charged more people (six) under the Espionage Act for the alleged mishandling of classified information than all past presidencies combined.

What MLK faced was much harsher than anything our laws could have thrown at him at that time because racism was a brutal and deadly game and he eventually paid the ultimate price by getting assassinated for his stance on racism. Is Edward Snowden supposed to come back and be murdered just like MLK? Then Schieffer shamelessly used the victims of 9/11 to fearmonger his case against Snowden. This is an old tactic that has been abused to the hilt ever since George Bush decided to attack Iraq.

Glenn answers his own question about objective journalism:

How come you're allowed to have that opinion and be an "objective journalist"? How come none of the people so very upset that those who are reporting on the NSA stories have opinions are objecting to any of that, or calling the TV host an "activist"?

The answer is clear: "objectivity" in Washington journalism does not mean being free of opinions; it means the opposite: dutifully echoing the official opinions and subjective mindset of those in political power. In the eyes of official Washington and its media mavens, spouting opinions is not a sin. The sin is spouting opinions that deviate from the ones expressed by and which serve the interests of those in power.

Digby follows up on Glenn's piece:

Indeed, they don't even voice them in their own words --- "narcissistic", "no hero", "come home and face the consequences" has been the mantra of the power elite in Washington ever since the Snowden revelations. The machinery of the political establishment and the government is being put to the task of making Americans "comfortable" with living under secret surveillance and marginalizing those who object. (That was certainly the upshot of the president's comments last Friday.) And the political press is largely not questioning this notion --- they are abetting it.

Much of the political press corps and nearly all of the professional commentariat has proven itself to be highly opinionated and "activist" --- on behalf of the government.

And there you have it. Lately, if it's not a sex thing, then the press corp. lines up in total support of the government's position on our civil liberties and they are doing a much better job of selling it than the administration.

Oh, and by the way, Gen. Hayden has been making millions of dollars off the surveillance state and our fears in the private sector like so many others before him (Michael Chertoff), but is never questioned about his conflict of interest on this whole deal. Now that's the type of affair I would rather look into.

But worse than the omission of Hayden's NSA history is his current - and almost always unmentioned - financial stake in the very policies he is being invited to defend. Hayden is a partner in the Chertoff Group, a private entity that makes more and more money by increasing the fear levels of the US public and engineering massive government security contracts for their clients. Founded by former Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff, it's filled with former national security state officials who exploit their connections in and knowledge of Washington to secure hugely profitable government contracts for their clients.

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