Thursday, May 22, 2014

...Or You Live Long Enough To See Yourself Become The Villain

File under: "Unclean! Unclean!"

Unless you are a completely humorless zealot, there is something inherently funny about someone turning around and getting socked in the face with the same fish with which they themselves had just self-righteously walloped someone else moments before.

Which is why this story made me laugh.

See, a few months ago, the Washington Post ran a piece about an NSA program called "MYSTIC" about which they felt the public had a right to know.

But as has often been the case since the dawn of time, the newspaper made a editorial judgement that the public did not have a right to know everything.  In this case, the paper  withheld the names of the countries which had been or might be targeted by this program based on a sit-down with the Evil Gummint where they were been presented with what they considered to be compelling safety and security reasons:
It’s been a couple of months since the Washington Post published a scoop on the extraordinary overseas eavesdropping capabilities of the U.S. government. Under the bylines of Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani, the paper revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) had amassed a system — known as “MYSTIC” — enabling it to “rewind and review” all of the telephone conversations of a foreign country.
...Details on the program came from documents supplied by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden as well as from sources familiar with the program.
A really juicy scoop, with one desiccating caveat: The Post withheld a detail critical to understanding the scope and capabilities of the program:
At the request of U.S. officials, The Washington Post is withholding details that could be used to identify the country where the system is being employed or other countries where its use was envisioned.
To no one's surprise, this triggered Glenn Greenwald's Automated Indignation Generator, because when it comes making editorial decision like these, anyone who is not Glenn Greenwald is obviously a drooling jackbooted servant of Imperial power:
In a recent interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, Greenwald riffed, “[t]he editors at The Washington Post are very much old-style, old-media, pro-government journalists, the kind who have essentially made journalism in the U.S. neutered and impotent and obsolete.”
Time passes.

Pages fly off the calendar.

People start to ask, OK Glenn, if (the still mysteriously unincarcerated) Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani sucked Evil Gummint hind teat on this story, where's your version of it?

Finally, Mr. Greenwald's MYSTIC story hits America's newsstands, and one major difference between the Post's story and The Intercept's story is, indeed, in the naming of names:
“Documents show that the NSA has been generating intelligence reports from MYSTIC surveillance in the Bahamas, Mexico, Kenya, the Philippines..."
Except...not...quite (emphasis added):
“ the Bahamas, Mexico, Kenya, the Philippines and one other country, which The Intercept is not naming in response to specific, credible concerns that doing so could lead to increased violence. The more expansive full-take recording capability has been deployed in both the Bahamas and the unnamed country.”
Purity Alert!  Purity Alert!

And in 3...2...1...
After which The Intercept fires back:
And then it's Katy bar the door.

I'm sure there's a lesson in here somewhere.

I'm equally sure that those most in need it will be the same people most incapable of learning it.


Coldtype said...

Tisk, tisk... It's so unseemly when the gatekeepers fight in public.

Guest said...


Nah. It's funny as hell to watch the stenographer core duke it out over who's got the biggest purity genitalia.

At least until you realize that these are the people who really are the first and last line of defense against the oligarchy and plutocracy. Then it just makes you want to go throw up and curl up in a ball somewhere to die.

Excuse me while I go wash my mouth out and then I'm going to find a nice warm blanket.

Anonymous said...

Wikileaks is threatening to reveal the final country. Which begs the question, is this a bluff or do they have the documents. And if it's the latter and not the former, how long till some hacker group demands wikileaks do a full drop or they will attack them.

Horace Boothroyd III said...

Gosh golly jeepers! If it isn't the pot calling the kettle willfully stupid... This whole post is too funny, starting that museum quality portrait of Two-Face (suitable for framing).

In further news, the hysterical ninnies of the Daily Kos are howling like coked up banshees over the House NSA reform legislation being not quite so draconian as they had convinced themselves it was going to be as determined by their wisdom and inherent moral rectitude. I would take them more seriously if they had actually gotten off their lazy butts and done something - anything! - to organize effective political pressure instead of squealing about how awful everything is in between bouts of preening over their unique virtues. Our Democratic Republic is very much not dead, although it doesn't give you what you want if you Don't. Even. Try.

Jeremy said...

That photoshop is the balls, Drifty. Great job.

Cliff said...

That's a particularly exquisite photoshop.

And this is a good example of why I stopped reading Greenwald. The constant, crank-it-to-eleven, all-who-disagree-are-vile-traitors skree was giving me migraines.

Anonymous said...

Still can't figure out this "purity" epithet. Who is being too pure, or demanding purity, or obsessing over purity? Greenwald? Really? If so, pure as to what? The epithet smells a heck of a lot like the weary old '80s one, "politically correct," which I also never quite got. Did the people who leveled that one not want to be accused of being politically correct? Who wouldn't want to be pure (in some suitable sense) or politically correct? What's wrong with being correct?

I sense that this post hopes to demonstrate a kind of hypocrisy, but maybe Wikileaks really did fail to distinguish the two reports. That's a much less interesting story with a more nuanced "lesson," but could be.

Anonymous said...

I bet the redacted country on that list is Saudi Arabia.

--Nonny Mouse

dan said...

I suppose its a bit like artists and musicians. Only a few James Taylor many more Axl Rose. Appreciate the music not the musician.
I'm certain that's one of the most lame thoughts ever posted, but its all I got for our media heroes.
Have to go to work now.
Would rather stay home with warm blanket

Anonymous said...

Turns out it was Afghanistan. Damn, I guess I was just hoping it was Saudi Arabia.

--Nonny Mouse

Lumpy Lang said...

Droneglass' ponderings are at least more entertaining than one usually expects from the fraternity of corporate Dems.

Maybe that's because he's one of the vanishingly small number who aren't getting paid for reassuring the public that what they don't know won't hurt them.

Not among the handsomely compensated "insiders", poor Droneglass actually believes it.

There may be no honor among thieves, but I chumps evidently do have certain standards!

Coldtype said...

Afghanistan. Thank you Wikileaks for treating us like functioning adults.