Monday, August 26, 2013

Therefore Socrates is Mortal

From Gawker:
The Guardian Partners Up with the New York Times Because America

Irony, thy name is the First Amendment.

British newspaper The Guardian announced Friday that it is forming a partnership with New York's own New York Times, to publish further stories on the secret NSA surveillance practices leaked by Edward Snowden.

The motivation for the collaboration is simple: in order to publish about how America has been curbing its citizens' civil liberties, the journalists need the protection of American civil liberties.

The Guardian explained that it is handing over its scoops about cooperations between the NSA and the GCHQ, its British counterpart, because of America's strong freedom of speech protection and federal shield laws. Britain does not offer its journalists the same liberties. 
"Journalists in America are protected by the First Amendment which guarantees free speech and in practice prevents the state seeking pre-publication injunctions or prior restraint,"The Guardian's website reads.
Obama's America is worse than a thousand Putin Russias.
Britain is a million times worse than America.
Therefore Socrates is mortal.


Dominic said...

Can a man be both an intrepid investigator of abridgement of civil rights AND a giant exaggerating arsehole who's rhetoric undermines his journalism?

For your readers I recommend two British writers discussing such issues. JackOfKent dot com, a lawyer heavily involved in libel reform and free speech issues and science fiction writer Charles Stross' blog, antipope dot org.

The comment section is often surprisingly as interesting and informative as the articles themselves.

driftglass said...


HitandMiss said...

Has anyone asked GG how he can support Russia when its sooo anti gay?

Then just repeat ad nauseum until the end of time.

I haven't seen anyone ask him, but I would love to hear someone throw that back in his face with the punch line of "Just as bad as bush huh?"

Demian said...

Noticing the different protections accorded "journalists" in two advanced democracies, I ask myself, is GG a "journalist"? Before Snowden (B.S.), I was somewhat aware of GG as a commentator. His online caricature, which looked like a guy sort of leaning on the water cooler, looked like a guy with an attitude, not an investigative journalist. He made comments. I don't remember any of them, nor whether he ever broke a story. But if a "journalist" is someone who just writes stuff, OK, that's a 1st Amendment activity much like the stuff I write in comments, only presumably of more interest to the Public.

What I think I know about the Snowden thing is that Snowden knew Greenwald before Snowden ever went to work for the NSA contractor. About four years ago, Snowden thought that leakers should be severely punished. Something happened to change that between four years ago and now. Snowden is out of reach of the authorities for now, yet Greenwald has kept up a steady stream of provocative commentary. The actual news, the remaining "story," is coming from the Guardian and the NYT, while GG is back to his role of commentator.

Some of Snowden's data had to be moved to actual journalists in Europe, so GG sent his husband on the mission, I imagine because GG thought there might be people along the way who would really like to talk at considerable length with Glenn Greenwald. We also hear that Snowden's father deeply mistrusts Greenwald, but I haven't seen anything that says why.

So if you're a commentator, and you want to hit the big time or shift the paradigm by breaking a big story, to what extent are you allowed to engineer the story and remain protected legally? Data collection by the NSA and the quiet hum of the FISA court might not be what we would wish, but both facts were known; in fact, an astute commentator like GG could have commented about them without having any dealings with future or present employees of NSA contractors. To what extent is a journalist allowed to participate in the story and remain protected?

Given that NSA data collection and FISA rubber stamping were known, was it whistleblowing for Snowden to make them more widely known? What of the data itself that is being published, such as the info about the UK's Middle East listening post, which is hardly spying on US citizens. Is publishing that just leaking, or does it rise to the socially-valuable (we think) level of whistleblowing?

I wonder whether Snowden will eventually begin to wonder, "What's in this for me?" If Snowden stops believing GG's exaggerations about the lifetime in solitary confinement with torture that awaits all leakers, more leaks might come from Snowden, from which we might learn a lot more about how all this happened.

OK, unconstitutional government spying on citizens is bad, and changes are needed. But the Silkwood genre of whistleblower dramas has given way in current events to a new antihero form, in which the distinctions between journalist and opinion writer and whistleblower and leaker are very hard to follow. The way this all happened makes me unwilling to impulsively embrace and lionize either Greenwald or Snowden.

It may be, however, that the good of society requires advancement of the law of journalism and whistleblowing just as much as it needs advancement of the law of search and seizure.

dinthebeast said...

I'm having a hard time seeing the "news" in these leaks. Didn't we hear about this in the courtrooms of Anna Diggs Taylor and Vaughn Walker back in 2006? I mean they did leave out the gory details because of the claims of state secrets at the time, but did anyone really believe the details were not actually gory? Or that the NSA would stop being the NSA because Obama got elected?

-Doug in Oakland

Horace Boothroyd II said...

@dinthebeast You are not seeing what I am not seeing. This leaking of not-news concerning matters that we have known about for a long time has gotten some people absolutely hysterical over... what, exactly?

Exactly nothing has changed, except that we have a bunch of people running around screaming that this is the Worst Thing Ever. In doing so they have sucked a lot of the oxygen out of the progressive discussion sphere, doing real damage to real causes.

The take away lesson may be that these people are easily manipulated, and we should be wary of relying on them when the real crisis comes - and this mutual suspicion may well be the worst damage of all to progressive causes.