Sunday, June 16, 2013

When The Legend Becomes Fact...


 ...print the legend.

Another story begun with Blockbuster!Revelations!  (from CNET Friday):

"NSA Admits Listening To U.S. Phone Calls Without Warrants"
Has quickly become somewhat less blockbusterish and revelatory than originally advertised (from CNET Saturday):
NSA spying flap extends to contents of U.S. phone calls
... Updated 6/16 at 11:15 a.m. PT The original headline when the story was published on Saturday was "NSA admits listening to U.S. phone calls without warrants," which was changed to "NSA spying flap extends to contents of U.S. phone calls," to better match the story. The first paragraph was changed to add attribution to Rep. Nadler. Also added was an additional statement that the congressman's aide sent this morning, an excerpt from a Washington Post story on NSA phone call content surveillance that appeared Saturday, and remarks that Rep. Rogers made on CNN this morning.]
Also this from Buzzfeed:
Update Rep. Nadler in a statement to BuzzFeed says: “I am pleased that the administration has reiterated that, as I have always believed, the NSA cannot listen to the content of Americans’ phone calls without a specific warrant.”
Also this from "Vanity Fair":
PRISM Isn’t Data Mining and Other Falsehoods in the N.S.A. “Scandal” 
Also this via LGF:

But even though Rep. Nadler has now made it exceptionally clear that the NSA is not allowed to listen to phone calls without a warrant, the subtitle for CNET’s article still makes the false claim:
National Security Agency discloses in secret Capitol Hill briefing that thousands of analysts can listen to domestic phone calls. That authorization appears to extend to e-mail and text messages too.
Some points:
  • In the original video, Rep. Nadler never says this information was disclosed to him by the NSA. He refers only to a “briefing.”
  • The claim that “thousands of analysts can listen to domestic phone calls” was completely made up out of thin air. Nobody said this, ever.
  • The first sentence of Declan McCullagh’s article still makes a claim that is now completely debunked: “The National Security Agency has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls, a participant said.”
This is almost unbelievably sloppy, irresponsible reporting. As Josh Marshall tweeted:
And, to complete the cycle, with the groundwater now thoroughly polluted with thousands of earnest FaceBook "likes" and Twitter retweets, finally, this:

Congressman denies report claiming NSA can listen to calls without warrants

Summary: CORRECTED: The senator who allegedly said the U.S. National Security Agency can listen to phone calls of both U.S. residents and foreign nationals without a court order debunks the original report... 
Update at 2:50 p.m. ET on June 16We're pulling the plug on this story, following Rep. Nadler's comments that debunk CNET's story...
To misquote "Deep Throat", please just follow the damn data.

Please, please, please stop trying to slant-drill every aspect of this story into some preconceived acrimonious political narrative.

Example:

Here is what Mr. Greenwald took away from the comments of Bob  Schieffer this morning:
Got that?

Are we very, very clear on that?

Bob Schieffer is against transparency.

Bob Schieffer is against leaks.

Except this is what Bob Schieffer -- who I don't know and don't usually watch and don't really care about either way -- actually said.
"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 are in 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." ... 
Schieffer noted that his criticism of Snowden did not mean that he approved of the programs that he helped reveal to the public, saying "I don’t know yet if the government has over-reached 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." 
He continued, "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."
Yes, Mr. Schieffer has some unkind things to say about Mr. Snowden, but mostly he faults him for not staying here and fighting.  What Mr. Schieffer does not do at any point is come out against either transparency or leaks. 

I have no idea what is wrong with Mr. Greenwald -- why he keeps finding new and exciting ways to abandon the main line of his own important and consequential story in order to go waaaay the hell out of his way to behave like a whiny shit -- but since he is clearly incapable of keeping his bile in check on his own, his friends or editors really need to quietly intercede.


To continue...

...to get to True Narrative North, please ask for clarification when something is not 100% clear. Ask stupid questions.  Ask the simple-simple questions about how the machinery all works down to how the bytes get into the wire as if you're a 82-year-old retiree taking your first class on spreadsheets down at the Learning Annex and, damn it, you paid for this class!  For example,  you know what I don't understand?  The last part of this statement by Mr. Snowden (emphasis added):

 “I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal e-mail.”
I'm not doubting his word, I just have no idea...
  1. What having "a personal email" means [Knowing your target's email address?  Having password access to your target's email address? Other?] 
  2. What does having a personal email has to do with the "authorities to wiretap anyone", unless in this context "wiretap" only means "snooping someone's email" or, 
  3. Is Mr. Snowden implying that he can was able to use the information gleaned from someone's personal email network packet information to do something even more devious and VOIP-ish that somehow got him access to phone conversations?
I could spin plausible, science-fiction theories all day long, but I have no idea what the answer is and were I interviewing Mr. Snowden, I would be asking him to amplify this little nugget considerably because I find it both confusing and potentially fascinating.

To continue...

Please make sure that you don't conflate metadata dragnets (bad but very likely legal under current US law) with phone-call content dragnets (very, very bad and very clearly illegal.)

Please make sure not to confuse the technical capacity to do a thing (The traffic cop who just waved to me and my stepdaughters as we were out riding our bikes also has a shotgun in his trunk) with the actual doing of that thing (The traffic cop who just waved to me and my stepdaughters as we were out riding our bikes pulls a shotgun out of his trunk and starts blazing away at us.)  H-bombs are terribly dangerous and can level cities but to date none have ever actually done so (Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed by A-bombs.)

And finally, insofar as possible, please try to ascertain what the organizational policy actually is versus what some cowboy within the organization is capable of doing if he or she decides to go suddenly renegade.  Or to quote cranky, fictional Libertarian Jubal Harshaw (from "Stranger in a Strange Land" PDF):

Harshaw: You would have me play God? But we're veering off the subject. Douglas didn't try to have you assassinated.

Ben Caxton:  Says who?


Harshaw:  Says the infallible Jubal Harshaw, speaking ex cathedra from his belly button. See here, son, if a deputy sheriff beats a prisoner to death, it's sweepstakes odds that the county commissioners didn't order it, didn't know it, and wouldn't have permitted it had they known. At worst they shut their eyes to it-afterwards-rather than upset their own applecarts. But assassination has never been an accepted policy in this country.
I would very much like to get to the bottom of what the NSA has been up to in my name and I do not think it is too much to ask the reporters who are working on that story to abide by these broad guidelines. 

27 comments:

Coldtype said...

It really is a puzzle Drifty. Why the hell didn't this guy just hang around here in the US when he made these valuable revelations? It's not as though he had anything to fear from an Obama administration that has persecuted more whistleblowers than all of the previous administrations combined in the history of the republic.
I mean really, the last guy to leak "sensitive" material to the public, Bradley somebody or another, got such a far shake... The nerve of this kid, and at a time when our Barry is feeling so hemmed in, by circumstances that is... tisk, tisk.


Anonymous said...

I read what Schieffer actually said. He's happy to believe there are procedures overseen by officials. He doesn't want transparency. He is deeply insulted by leaks, particularly when the leaker tries to protect himself from reflexive and bitter retaliation. Oh, but he just adores MLK, Jr., and Rosa Parks, of course!

Anonymous said...

Watching this CNET clusterfuck was a much more condensed version than the original GG debacle!
This was like a rocket..with damning headlines at Huffpo that kept appearing and disappearing..and dropping to mid page...and dropping off the page..and then came the refutations and walk backs...finally the plug pull..crash!! boom!!
All within a 24 hour span.
Yeah digital media! You are now the Enquirer at my supermarket...only at home and with headlines contradict themselves every hour!
..and then there is this..
http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/42144_Edward_Snowdens_a_Hero_All_Right_-_to_China_and_Russia

for you guys up there..yeah he's hero alright.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

He's happy to believe there are procedures overseen by officials. He doesn't want transparency. He is deeply insulted by leaks, particularly when the leaker tries to protect himself from reflexive and bitter retaliation

It's wonderful how you can read Bob Schieffer's mind. Have you ever thought to use that power for good, or are you limited to the Village, like Maureen Dowd?

gcwall said...

One need only paraphrase Bob schieffer's words to understand that Glenn Greenwald was not using hyperbole when describing Schieffer's attitude toward leaking and transparency derived from the following:

Snowden ran off and hid in China (like a lowly coward)

real heroes are willing to break the law and face the consequences, unlike Snowden (Snowden is aware of how the government treated Bradley Manning)

Snowden put national security at risk (rather than stating that Snowden exposed an allegedly illegal wiretapping program conducted by the government)

some of the people I admire most are in government (should read, some of the people I am most skeptical of are in government)

Edward Snowden is an narcissistic young man, (how does Schieffer know this)

he thinks he's smarter than the rest of us (does he, really?)

he is no hero (if this is relevant, it has yet to be determined)

he would help his cause if he came to the US to face the consequences (Schieffer hopes that Snowden is stupid)

NOTE: as if Snowden would be treated fairly in court with government officials referring to his as a traitor

While I agree that Greenwald can be whiny and bitchy at times, this was not one of them.

CMike said...

Let's see, Rosa Parks is best known for standing up to the government back in 19 and 55, Martin Luther King, Jr. has been dead since 1968, and neither of the two was ever known for leaking government secrets which is, sort of, the topic. I take it in the last forty-five years there hasn't been anyone who has stood up to government in a way that Schieffer would find admirable enough for them to get a mention by name except, maybe, for Bob Schieffer, himself.

This is what Schieffer "actually" had the balls to say:

>>>>>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.<<<<<

That's the kind of talk that inspires your basic blogging Obama fan, apparently. Then the overkill, for the Giuliani crowd it's "9/11," for progressives it's "Rosa Parks and Martin" which create the "works every time" magic and Schieffer seamlessly delivers both in short order. That's how you know he's a real pro.

Now true, let me save Driftglass the trouble of giving a lawyerly read to that quote and pulling a rabbit out of his "so there" hat, Schieffer doesn't explicitly say that he, himself, has ever stood up to the government but I do think its fair to infer Schieffer wants you to assume he has shown such courage in the past and that it's only his modesty in the present that forbids him from providing a list to spell it out.

So who is this rebel of a newsman who is willing to risk it all in standing up to power "from time to time" and whose reputation Glenn Greenwald has the temerity to sully by seeming to lump him in with the "proles don't need to know" Establishment crowd?:

>>>>>KURTZ (1/13/03): During the ’90s, Schieffer also struck up a friendship with George W. Bush when his brother Tom—now the U.S. ambassador to Australia—became partners with the future president in the Texas Rangers. Bob and W. went to ball games together, played golf, attended spring training.

“He’s a great guy—that doesn’t mean I agree with him,” says Schieffer, adding that the situation became “a little awkward” when Bush ran for the White House but that he’s never gotten favorable treatment.


[Bob Somerby (10/12/04):] But Bush has gotten favorable treatment from Schieffer, during Campaign 2000 and later. We’ve discussed that obvious fact in the past, and we’ll discuss it again tomorrow. We’ll also go into more detail about how close Bush and Tom Schieffer were when it came to running the Rangers.

Again, we assume that Bob Schieffer will do a good job running Wednesday’s debate. But let’s not continue to kid ourselves about the lineage of our millionaire press corps....
<<<<<

BlindRobin said...

why he keeps finding new and exciting ways to abandon the main line of his own important and consequential story in order to go waaaay the hell out of his way to behave like a whiny shit

Because at his core Mr G.G is a whiny shit. He is an attention seeking missile more than anything else he tries to be no matter his how altruistic his goals.

Anonymous said...

narcissism-
excessive interest in or admiration of oneself and one's physical appearance.
• Psychology extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one's own talents and a craving for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.
• Psychoanalysis self-centredness arising from failure to distinguish the self from external objects, either in very young babies or as a feature of mental disorder.

narcissistic-
adjective
having or showing an excessive interest in or admiration of oneself and one's physical appearance: a narcissistic actress.
• relating to narcissism: narcissistic personality disorder.


I've learned that Snowden doesn't keep in touch with his mother. I've learned that Snowden is not particularly congenial to his neighbours when he moves into a new house. I've also learned from more sources than I can count on my left hand that Snowden is either a narcissist or is narcissistic.

Who gives a shit?

As far as I'm concerned anybody that calls Snowden a narcissist is an ass-hat.

Furthermore, I'm beginning to think that a big part of the problem that Driftglass has with Greenwald, (besides a healthy dose of professional jealousy) is that Drifty thinks that Greenwald himself is a narcissist.

Again, who gives a shit?

We've got some big fish to fry. The real problem we all have right now is finding a big enough pan to fry em in...

Compound F said...

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed by A-bombs.

Wherein A-bombs are merely "possibly, technically legal" metadata collection that destroys entire cities whereas H-bombs involve culling content which is truly devastating.

I dunno, Johnny, I just dunno where you're going. You're not only digging your grave but burying yourself to boot.

Tom Huck said...

C'mon...After years of coming here for the real McCoy now we are getting Greenwald is an annoying, braying banshee. C'mon. You worked IT. You know more than most. You appear to be switching your Brooks obsession to a Greenwald one. What sort of Freudian/Jungian/Lacanian twist around is this? I come here and get this non-story about proper semantics and tone. C'mon. Is not politics a blood sport (just like we have always been spied upon?)? And is not Uncle Bob an old hag who doesn't go 'round to the old pub because he knows that he's now so rarefied and effete that pranks like that will only get a boot in his arse? ANd now he must be taken down with utmost diligence and care and only in the correct and proper manner, lest someone hears whining? Eh? You worked IT dude. What pray tell is the story? We have depended upon you for many many years to bring the noise and keep it real. And now ...to come here and see that we're off on this "whiny shit" business? Eh? C'mon....
More mojo, less Greenwald.
Thanks - A fan

Lumpy Lang said...

"What Mr. Schieffer does not do at any point is come out against either transparency or leaks."

Neither does Droneglass... "at any point... come out against either transparency or leaks."

In fact his hostility to Manning and Snowden, behind the mealy-mouthed hedging on the issue, is quite similar to Schieffer's.

How pathetic is that?

Booze Allen said...

You know why Snowden's a hero, don't you?

Lefty bloggers fancy themselves as Snowdens, sticking it to the man from their computers.

They live through guys like Snowden and Assange, but without the girlfriends.

Anonymous said...

The line at the pro-Snowden blogs now is that China is just itching to get their hands on him but Hong Kong is bravely fighting them off.

Which is ironic considering he just spilled his guts about US spying on China, a service for which China will no doubt pay handsomely, if it hasn't already.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy finely tuned debates, but this is just too much word parsing and obfuscating over what should be clear public policy.

What is he potential for abuse for in camera government?

The facts are on the side of those who say secret government is bad government. The whole idea of democracy is open debate. If that were the case most this lawyerly dancing to avoid straight answers would stop.

To paraphase Berekley, 'They kick up a dust and then complain they can't see.'

Hamfast Ruddyneck said...

I expect Drifty would stand with us, and that [snark]horrible, terrible, no-good, very bad narcissist[/snark] Greenwald--if only the current Preznit had an (R) rather than a (D) after his name.

It's the Chicago in him talking. Ya don't go against Da Party.

Meanwhile, as usual, I don't know how to make hyperlinks on Blogger's bare-bones comment threads, but here's a good article on the meaning of the Snowden case:

http://blackagendareport.com/content/freedom-rider-snowden-litmus-test

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

It's the Chicago in him talking. Ya don't go against Da Party.

Hah. That's rich, considering how many posts drifty has done ripping apart Da Mares of Da City. You're knee-deep in straw opponents.

Meanwhile, as usual, I don't know how to make hyperlinks on Blogger's bare-bones comment threads,


Come on. it's not that hard, even a friggin zombie can do it.

{a href="http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mc1635XmoA1rj9oceo1_500.png"}Glenn Greenwald getting snuggly{/a}

replace the curly parentheses with the little carets (< >) and you're good to go. If you use Firefox, you can install BBEdit plugin, which automates this.

There. Now you can be condescending, scornful and belittling with html upgrades!

Hamfast Ruddyneck said...

ZRM: I figure he successfully overcame his conditioning with regard to Chicago Dems themselves, but the conditioning comes out in other ways--"return of the repressed" and all that.

Meanwhile, test link:

Margaret Kimberley on Snowden

Thanks, ZRM! :D

Anonymous said...

ZRM: I'm no mind reader, good gosh, no. I'm barely adept with text, but here's a go:

I wrote: "He's happy to believe there are procedures overseen by officials." This is my paraphrase of the transcript, which reads in full, "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." Okay, the part about his being happy was a flourish. Still, the implication is that these mechanisms are salutary and workable. Experience is teaching us otherwise.

I wrote: "He doesn't want transparency." I don't see in the excerpt any evidence that transparency is even an issue for him. He wants "true heroes" who "suffer the consequences." It's all about our mythical heritage, remote, sublimated, of no concrete effect today.

I wrote: "He is deeply insulted by leaks, particularly when the leaker tries to protect himself from reflexive and bitter retaliation." Snowden "ran away," he has no "valid point," he's "narcissistic," "young," full of himself. He knows this after a week-plus of highly mediated coverage and two or three interviews...exactly how?

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

ZRM: I figure he successfully overcame his conditioning with regard to Chicago Dems themselves, but the conditioning comes out in other ways--"return of the repressed" and all that.

That's some intricate cipherin, there Jethro.

Anonymous said...

Well...he probably pecked it out on his IPad out by the cement pond....

mahakal said...

If you'd made your criticism of CNET and stopped there, you'd have a good post here DG. But you had to get back on that GG horse and now you're defending Bob Schieffer? What CMike said about that.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

"defending" is kind of bending over backwards in that comment, mahakal.

Lumpy Lang said...

It was a certain moment in Obama's 2nd term - when it became clear that no shred of illusion remained possible - that the crimes of state would only continue to get exponentially worse - that turned Driftglass into his evil twin, Droneglass.

What I used to like about Driftglass was his eloquent and endlessly creative ways of punching 'up'...

Droneglass, in contrast, mainly punches 'down' - almost every new post these days saturated with pettifogging swipes at the Dirty Hippies (personified by the Greenwaldian devil incarnate) - not for their actual political weaknesses mind you - but in voluntary (and unremunerated!) defence of the ruling class and its ever more sinister descent into criminality.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

I am pretty sure you don't actually understand what "exponentially" means, Lumber Lung.

n1ck said...

Shorter Lumpy:

Droneglass doesn't worship(one p!) Greenwald, hence he supports the use of drones and hates civil liberties.

Why?

Because BOTH SIDES DO IT!

BENGHAZI!!!

Err, damn, wrong talking point...

SNOWDEN!!!

Hamfast Ruddyneck said...

I can think of worse fictional characters to be compared to than the naïve, but good-hearted, Jethro Bodine. Lack of sophistication is not considered a major flaw in my culture. ^_^

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

it wasn't the lack of sophistication I was referring to, but the strenuous cipherin'.