Tuesday, June 18, 2013

How Was I To Know -- UPDATE

He was with the Russians too.

File under: "Time to play B-sides".

I have no idea how many different bendy logical off-ramps Edward Snowden had to take to get from "The NSA's surveillance of the American people is vast and sinister and must be exposed" to "Hey, here's a bunch of stuff that we peeped from the Russian government", but take them he did.
... According to a new story in the Guardian, Snowden is now leaking documents showing that in 2009 the United States intercepted communications from then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who was attending the G20 Summit in London.

The leak from Snowden comes only one day before President Obama is to meet with Russian President Putin at the G8 summit.

The Guardian is reporting in a second story, also leaked by Snowden, that during the same summit, British intelligence was surreptitiously monitoring foreign politicians as well.

But Snowden didn’t stop there. He also leaked documents showing that British intelligence planned to spy on delegates to the Commonwealth summit.
I'm curious to know at what point during his many years with the CIA and NSA did Mr. Snowden
  1. Finally ferret out the fact that our government spies on other governments, even during peacetime and, 
  2. Decide that he should unilaterally change that policy by leaking those particular documents
Also let's not forget that since Mr. Greenwald has made it abundantly clear that this is not some, elephantine document dump but a scrupulously careful release of selected documents culled from Mr. Snowden's copious stash:
“We’re not engaged in a mindless, indiscriminate document dump, and our source didn’t want us to be,” said Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian writer, in an email to BuzzFeed Saturday. “We’re engaged in the standard journalistic assessment of whether the public value to publication outweighs any harms.”
one can only conclude that, in Mr. Greenwald's best editorial judgment, it was 
  1. Of vital importance that the public should know the details about how we spy on the Russian government (who, by the way, spy right back at us, because Welcome to Grownup Land!) and 
  2. Of vital importance to time this disclosure so that it landed like a sack of burning dog poo on the White House porch on the eve of negotiations between Russia and the United States.  From "The Guardian":
...While it has been widely known the two countries spy on each other, it is rare for either to be caught in the act; the latest disclosures will also be deeply embarrassing for the White House as Obama prepares to meet Vladimir Putin, who succeeded Medvedev as president, in the margins of the G8 summit this week.
The two countries have long complained about the extent of each other's espionage activities, and tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats are common. A year after Obama met Medvedev, the US claimed it had broken a highly sophisticated spy ring that carried out "deep cover" assignments in the US.
Ten alleged Russian spies living in America were arrested...
As a journalist, Mr. Greenwald is, of course, free to publish pretty much whatever he wants, however he wants.  

This is as it should be.  

But insofar as Mr. Greenwald has made it abundantly clear that he is in control of every detail of this story, he also is entirely responsible for the public revelation of this particular leak at this particular moment and the reading public should feel free to judge his motives accordingly.  

This is also as it should be.

Because you know who else spied on the Russians?


And now, a marginally related clip from "The West Wing":

UPDATE: A couple of commenters have pointed out quite correctly that the story I cited above was bylined by "Ewen MacAskill, Nick Davies, Nick Hopkins, Julian Borger and James Ball" all of whom work for "The Guardian" and not by Mr. Greenwald, who also works for "The Guardian".

The careful reader who is unimpaired by Greenwald Goggles will note that I did not in any way use the story to show the hand of Mr. Greenwald at work but only to establish the timeline of events -- that the leak was dropped just in time to embarrass the Obama Administration -- and the fact that this leak had nothing to do with putative cause Mr. Snowden and Mr. Greenwald are perusing: the demonstrating the pernicious effect of government surveillance on "the public".

But it is quite true that I did not cite a byline by Mr. Greenwald drawing a clear, straight line between him an Mr. Snowden's leaked document's in question and that it is impossible to establish a clear chain of custody for those documents based on the cryptic way the "The Guardian"...
The document, leaked by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and seen by the Guardian, shows the agency believed it might have discovered "a change in the way Russian leadership signals have been normally transmitted".
There have often been rumours of this kind of espionage at international conferences, but it is highly unusual for hard evidence to confirm it and spell out the detail. The evidence is contained in documents – classified as top secret – which were uncovered by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and seen by the Guardian.
I made what seemed like a reasonable assumption based on Mr. Greenwald's repeated assurances that every document in Mr. Snowden's possession had been scrupulously vetted by him and that the fraction of them were being leaked based on Mr. Greenwald's editorial judgment. 

I made that assumption because, to date, with the exception of one contact at the Washington Post, Mr. Snowden has worked almost exclusively through Mr. Greenwald.   You may have read or heard about their relationship in some of planet Earth's more prominent radio, teevee and print publications.  You made have seen in action as Mr. Greenwald and not Messers Ewen MacAskill or Nick Davies or Nick Hopkins or Julian Borger or James Ball or anyone else mediated a live chat between Mr. Snowden and the general public.

I made that assumption because given the fact that Mr. Greenwald has so carefully husbanded every detail of this entire story, if Mr. Snowden has started leaking a bunch of other documents than the ones which he has shared with Mr. Greenwald to a bunch of other reporters -- other Guardian reporters who apparently do not share Mr. Greenwald's desire to avoid a "mindless, indiscriminate document dump" -- I thought we would have all heard about it by now.  Because that would certainly also be a very big and hairy deal indeed.

But I may be entirely wrong about that assumption.  It is entirely possible that Mr. Greenwald is no longer in control what Mr. Snowden is leaking or to whom, and if so I owe Mr. Greenwald an apology and I owe some of Mr. Greenwald's colleagues at "The Guardian" my contempt.


Hal Rager said...

No Zevon allusion is gratuitous or unnecessary.

gratuitous said...

Since my mindreader's license lapsed a couple of years ago, I'm in no position to state with any authority what someone's motivations are, so thanks for telling us precisely why Edward Snowden is doing what he's doing. Unless you're just guessing, in which case you might consider possibly moderating the tone of some of your statements. Or not.

It's also unclear to me whether Glenn Greenwald knew for certain everything Edward Snowden had in mind to do (or even whether Snowden knew where this might lead when this whole episode began).

But a couple of facts are indisputable: One, which you mention, is that Greenwald is free to publish anything he wants, and that it is as it should be. The second fact is that Snowden is a former employee of a private company. I'm not sure he owes any allegiance to that employer or its clients once he's no longer drawing a paycheck.

Perhaps (just perhaps) it would behoove the United States to be a little more careful about who has access to its secrets, if keeping those secrets is important to the United States? Snowden's revelations and the timing of those disclosures are damaging to the U.S., and embarrassing at an important meeting. I'm ordinarily averse to blaming the victim, but in this case, we're talking about the most powerful country on the face of the planet. How in the world did it put itself in a position to be so badly victimized by a couple of nobodies?

Lumpy Lang said...

Way to go Droneglass!

Fight Manning, Assange, Snowden and all those other oppressors, narcisists!

Who do they think they are - forcing KNOWLEDGE on the citizenry... against the rulers' will!

Punch down HARDER on those Dirty Hippies!

Swede said...

Mr. Greenwald is not in the byline for that article.

Pinkamena Panic said...

LL's job is to bring his latest shitbucket in and keep hucking handfuls until something sticks.

Don't worry, you witless Greensucker - sooner or later one of your ignorant pseudo-left memes will catch on!

Anonymous said...

There are those who can wield sarcasm and snark like a finely crafted sword cutting through hypocrisy like a hot knife through butter......and then there is lumpy....

mahakal said...

Swede is correct. The byline for this article says it is by Ewen MacAskill, Nick Davies, Nick Hopkins, Julian Borger and James Ball.

No Glenn Greenwald in sight.

Please get a grip, DG.

Lumpy Lang said...

But first there is the politics.

The current fusion of the once-'progressive' liberals with the rapidly expanding police-state leviathan is the more relevant and urgent issue.

Free Bradley Manning!

Anonymous said...

Time everlasting
Time to play b-sides
Time ain't on my side
Time I'll never know

Burn out the day
Burn out the night
I'm not the one to tell you what's wrong or what's right
I've seen suns that were freezing and lives that were through

Well I'm burning, I'm burning, I'm burning for you
I'm burning, I'm burning, I'm burning for you


Karen Crosby said...

The video clip was a stroke of genius!

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

The current fusion of the once-'progressive' liberals with the rapidly expanding police-state leviathan is the more relevant and urgent issue.

So, you think that, imaginary and straw-filled as it is, is MORE distressing than the appalling all-encompassing surveillance state that you are always screeching about?

Get a grip, Lumber Lung.

n1ck said...

Driftglass obviously hates freedom, democracy, and hippies.

Also, Droneglass.

n1ck said...

Driftglass obviously hates freedom, democracy, and hippies.

Also, Droneglass.

mahakal said...

Once again, I hate arguing with updates, but it seems like every other article lately is about GG even when it isn't about GG, but you have lots of justifications for making it all about GG regardless. I don't even particularly care for GG, but your fixation and unfair assignment of false positions (such as that he once really truly advocated rubber stamped surveillance of all Americans not limited to suspected Al Qaeda) and responsibility to him for things that were not his positions or responsibility begs for some sanity to be restored.

Anonymous said...

"Mr. Greenwald is not in the byline for that article."

Ah ha ha, oh you Glennbots slay me. It really is all about defending your Dear Leader Glenn, isn't it? Not the issues or the consequences of Snowden's actions, but Glenn's honor and standing.

Well Swede and Mahakal, let me sit you on my knees to explain to you what Driftglass is driving at, because you two little tortoises seem too slow to keep up. Driftglass did not think he was quoting Glenn. Driftglass was quoting articles that disprove one of Glenn's earlier assertions: that Snowden's leak(s) are components of a responsible, surgical expose of government misdeeds. The reality of course is that Snowden's leaks are exactly the same kind of naive, disillusioned vigilantism that got Bradley Manning imprisoned, with Snowden's disclosures of US espionage activities to Russia and China as exhibits (a) and (b) in his prosecution.

Snowden doesn't seem to realize where the line is between whistleblower and saboteur. All of you little Greenwald tadpoles don't seem to realize there *is* a line between whistleblower and saboteur. Greenwald himself, who is more of a polemicist than a journalist, doesn't seem interested in those distinctions either; national interest is but a a trifle getting in the way of that ax he has to grind.

Oh yeah and lets not forget the capper -- you sophomoric twits can't think of any reason other than envy or obsession that Driftglass may have for distrusting Glenn, in spite of his efforts to explain his objections to you. Kudos.

Anonymous said...

" but your fixation and unfair assignment of false positions (such as that he once really truly advocated rubber stamped surveillance of all Americans not limited to suspected Al Qaeda) and responsibility to him for things that were not his positions or responsibility begs for some sanity to be restored."

No no, Mahakal, no arguing a straw man for you. What GG did at one point was argue in favor of surveillance of Americans with judicial review, which is what he is now arguing against.

DG mentions this as a direct rebuttal to GG's fondness of castigating liberals as hypocritical flip-floppers.

Do try to keep up.

Tom Huck said...

It is not exactly a big secret how sniffers and splitters work on routers, servers and internet lines. Now how packet switching can automatically re-route data packets across the world. So it isn't exactly is big surprise exactly ~how~ the NSA is spying on the Rooksies or that Snowden is threatening all we good patriotic bourgeois suburbanites by saying what he said. In fact, if the godess commie Rooskies who sent several people to space and probes to other planets are that clueless about how the internet works, then maybe they would qualify for a job at your old employer. We know now that you get obsessed with these media blokes who you could easily and justly eclipse if the universe was more fair and isometric, but please, please...Less Greenwald, More Mojo.

Thank you

-A fan

Anonymous said...

The b side to Werewolves of London was Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner. Played it lots of times on the jukebox. Not sure Lawyers ever came out as a 45 though it did get a little airplay and multiple covers.

By the way: lumpy lang, many of us enjoy reading driftglass for obscure SF references. For example, I only have to look at my bookshelf to get the reference to Driftglass. So, these references to droneglass don't reflect badly on him. They reflect badly on you.

mahakal said...

Shit the Nonny Mouses are all over the place. It was always quite clear FROM THE CONTEXT that Glenn Greenwald was in favor of surveillance of Al Qaeda, and the idea that the FISA court rubber stamping surveillance of all Americans constitutes meaningful judicial review is a joke as well, as Daniel Ellsberg also pointed out. But I predict that nothing I say matters to the Nonny Mouses.

Anonymous said...


You're still missing the point. The reference to 2006-Glenn is not to contradict him or prove him a hypocrite. It is to point out how his opinions have shifted in the last 7 years. The fact that his opinions *have* shifted make it a bit rich for Glenn to quickly conclude that Liberals who's hearts have changed in the last 7 years *must* be mindless Obot partisans.

Now, come on Mahakal, you seem smarter than a bag of hammers, and also not a Glennbot (a coincidence, I'm sure); haven't you noticed how every one of Driftglass' efforts to push back on Glenn are solely responses to Glenn's nauseating habit of re-purposing big issues into screeds on the political left. Drifty has said several times that he doesn't disagree with Glenn on the merits of the domestic surveillance issue, that he thinks this needs to be explored, aired out, etc. But why should Drifty turn the other cheek to Glenn's ad hominem accusations when it is Glenn who is trying to make the affirmative case and win converts to his point of view?

Glenn's attitude makes a person think that Glenn really wants to talk about Liberal hypocrisy more than he wants to talk about domestic spying. Yet, Glenn's many ballwashers are flabbergasted when Driftglass accepts the invitation to debate the extent of Liberal complicity in the current state of things, instead of, you know, the ostensible topic of Glenn's expose.

mahakal said...

My prediction was correct.