Friday, August 30, 2013

The Communion of Liberal Saints

Charles Pierce raises a point:
I'm sorry for all the people who don't invite Glenn Greenwald to dinner, but this is actual whistleblowing.
The CIA's dominant position will likely stun outside experts. It represents a remarkable recovery for an agency that seemed poised to lose power and prestige after acknowledging intelligence failures leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

The surge in resources for the agency funded secret prisons, a controversial interrogation program, the deployment of lethal drones and a huge expansion of its counterterrorism center. The agency was transformed from a spy service struggling to emerge from the Cold War into a paramilitary force.
I'm sorry for those people too, whoever they are. 

Not for nothing, but I don't know any of those people: my next dinner party will almost certainly involve me making sure pizza and juice are equitably allocated among the three or five or 17 kids who may be onsite when the supper bell rings. I will also probably be in charge of settling border disputes, carving up watermelons and overseeing post-meal bicycle and/or water-balloon fight safety (depending on whether or not it's 107 degrees outside.)

But Mr. Pierce is quite right. Yep. That there is genuine, Pure Quill whistle-blowing. Glad to have it and would like to see more of it. 

 Mr. Pierce also waxes eloquent on the civic virtues of such whistle-blowing:
There are a number of things we learn -- or have confirmed, which is just as important -- here. First, that the CIA remains a formidable adversary in the political knife-fight between the intelligence agencies. Second, that it now conducts itself in a way that is as distant from its original mandate as discovering one morning that NASA has opened a fruit stand, and in a way manifestly more dangerous and fraught with unintended consequences as anything the agency has done since it was deposing Mossadegh aand Arbenz back in the day. ...

All of those things are worthy of public discussion and loud public debate, which is what journalism is supposed to do in this country. ...
Also true.  Indisputably.

However, while is not illegal -- nor should it ever be illegal -- for a free press to be free to choose to print or not to print more-or-less whatever it gets its hands on, it is equally true that using the Snowden Trove to give me the Clancyesque details of the raid that killed bin Laden is not whistle-blowing. 

These are two different things, in somewhat the same way that, say, journalism is journalism but making shit up is not journalism. 

And I cannot begin to describe how strange and sad it is to me that one's good standing in the communion of Liberal saints has suddenly come to depend on one's willingness to pretend that some of these things are happening and others are not.


Anonymous said...

" lose power and prestige after acknowledging intelligence failures leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq."

See, that is where Charlie loses it. Right exactly there.

Conflating the pre- 911 " intelligence failures" (there were none, they did their jobs, they told the new administration of the threats, they were ignored) to the Bush-league flacksters who told Colin Powell "it was a slam dunk".
Different leadership, different organizations.
Just as constantly comparing those same Bushers, to the current crop, who have self policed themselves, rooted out the abuses of their predecessors, and tried to walk back the excesses of the intel. "Brownies" running the show after 9/11....
Exposing the budgets, sources and methods in our intel community right now, is not protecting anybodies rights to speech. It is endangering us a time we actually need a functioning foreign intel apparatus. Just as we did right before those planes hit those buildings....

Anonymous said...

the point you quote "to loos power ...." is from a block quote of a WAPO article Pierce links to.

He follows that block quote with the following;

"(I would quibble with calling what happened in the run-up to Iraq as intelligence "failures." What we had was intelligence fraud with which the CIA was unable -- or unwilling -- to cope. Nothing failed. The fantasts in the White House got the war they wanted.)"

Anonymous said...

There are a few interesting developments here...

Kathleen said...

Anonymous 12:38 - I totally agree. The CIA analysts did do their jobs and were ignored. I have read (and believe there is truth to this insight) that the CIA is divided into factions - the analysts and the ops. The analysts "analyze", while the ops faction and its offshoots, gets involved in some very questionable activities. In my opinion, Pierce is naive to think that the CIA has ever lost any clout, though I'm sure it engages in power struggles with other intel/security organizations. I sometimes think it is these power struggles that determine US policy. I concluded that years ago based on available books and articles and didn't need stolen documents to tell me how powerful these agencies are. Also, I definitely do not need to know operatives' names or specific budget information or any details of operations. I know "bad stuff" has been done in my name and I don't like it. Pierce wrings his hands over this, rightfully so, but he mistakenly thinks the Snowbros have enabled needed conversation with their perfidy. Which leads me to Anonymous 2:25 - thanks for the link. Very explosive information. Though I'm not surprised, somehow reading specific details is very jarring. I also appreciate the timeline Faust has been working on. The mainstream media should be covering Foust's timeline.

Anonymous said...

However, while is not illegal -- nor should it ever be illegal -- for a free press to be free to choose to print or not to print more-or-less whatever it gets its hands on, it is equally true that using the Snowden Trove to give me the Clancyesque details of the raid that killed bin Laden is not whistle-blowing.

Barton Gellman is obviously a traitor and a monster who should have his journalist credentials revoked. Also, the only "Clancyesque detail" that he published was that we used satellites. But that hyperbole dollar keeps paying and paying.

blader said...

GG and Snowden have smelled as if they are way out of their league from the very beginning.

That link (ANON2:25) really affirms it for me.

Good god! 60G of data???!!! What a joke. Those two morons are figuring out what they have in their possession as they bounce on down the road. Like a couple of monkey's poking through a pile of shit looking for undigested nuggets.

What is the plan, GG? One Big Startling RevelationTM after another for decades to come? One Woodwardian expose after another compliments of dedicated publishing house?

Lit3Bolt said...

Whistle-blowing does not involve so called "journalists" threatening gov'ts with revenge with even more leaks, claiming your life is in danger while there's been no hint of that, and sensationally hinting at even more explosive news items over and over again less media attention in the story flag in the slightest, WITHOUT SHOWING or VERIFYING SAID ITEMS from any other news outlet.

Everyone on the Left generally agrees that this is an "important story."

However, I would have hoped that behavior such as hurling insults on Twitter, jealously guarding the "super sekkrit data" for months from other journalists, using your own spouse as a go-between to distribute said data, and outright lying, obfuscations, hyperbole, and regarding any kind of skepticism as the worst sort of cronyish, slavish, authority-worshipping boot-licking is "counter-productive," which makes people more skeptical of your whistle-blowing motives, and generally undermines your very precious "important story."

Because we can all agree that most liberals and progressives would want some change to the militarized secrecy and security state, right? We would hope for actual policy change as an end goal from such courageous whistle-blowing...right?

We would want to let the facts speak for themselves, and disseminate the truth and our sources as much as possible, so that the media can do its job most effectively...right?

And most importantly, while we have an opportunity to show the truth, we would be very careful as to not gratuitously harm Western interests by giving away 60 G of data to the Russians or Chinese or risk the lives of Western agents who are merely the enforcers of policy, not the moves and shakers themselves......


Greenwald's problem is that he's locked himself inside the Hyperbolic Hyperbole Chamber, where his lies and exaggerations are Noble and Good, and everyone else's hyperbole is treated as proof positive that they are a Kapo Liberal, a fearful stooge of the Endlessly Tyrannical Obama regime, either on the government payroll or a true cult-member, or maybe...EVEN BOTH. DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNNN.

After much, much head-scratching, most liberals have come to the conclusion that when someone is burning rhetorical bridges for no reason and seemingly no gain, the entire thing is either 1) an act, or 2) evidence of pure, undiluted assholery.

We don't want Glenn Greenwald at our dinner table for the same reason most people couldn't stand Mike Myers or Steve Jobs. They can still contribute to society, and pay their taxes, and make wonderful things. But they are all raging assholes.

They are utterly insufferable, hateful human beings who are classic narcissists. As such, this harms their interaction with other human beings. And other human beings limit their interactions with these assholes as much as possible.

This is entirely independent of what they can contribute to society. And since they are consistently unrepentant assholes, it is no assault on someone's character to simply state a fact. The fact being, Glenn Greenwald is an giant, whistle-blowing, journalistic asshole who I will never read again and never invite to dinner. Since he will not hire an editor or stop insulting my intelligence or lying stupid lies, I will use other journalists and other news sources as editors for him, because I can trust them to independently verify when GG is telling the truth and when he's..."acting."

Anonymous said...

To Charles Pierce's "I'm sorry for all the people who don't invite Glenn Greenwald to dinner" comes the reply, "I'm sorry for those people too, whoever they are."

Perhaps thinking that Charles was referring to people who *do* have Glenn Greenwald over?