NOT THE REAL DEAL? June 18, 2013Posted by wmmbb in Terrorism Issues.
Naomi Wolf has proposed a conspiracy that Ed Snowden is the agent for the top-down fear engendering internet Surveillance System, following the script of George Orwell, not a whistleblower.
She has some suspicions, but perhaps she, as others who do not know him. This is similar to the judgment of Geoffrey Stone, who declared that Snowden’s case was not a issue of convicting but one of sentencing. Meanwhile the protagonist is saying repeatedly the Secret State will come after him and kill him. And then the matter will be settled. So perhaps he has created a dilemma for the Cabal, the masters of the digital world.
Nonetheless on her facebook page, Naomi Wolf set out her case. She is basing her concerns on her experience with high level political messaging. She makes the following points:
a) He is super-organized, for a whistleblower, in terms of what candidates, the White House, the State Dept. et al call ‘message discipline.’ He insisted on publishing a power point in the newspapers that ran his initial revelations. I gather that he arranged for a talented filmmaker to shoot the Greenwald interview. These two steps — which are evidence of great media training, really ‘PR 101″ — are virtually never done (to my great distress) by other whistleblowers, or by progressive activists involved in breaking news, or by real courageous people who are under stress and getting the word out. They are always done, though, by high-level political surrogates.
b) In the Greenwald video interview, I was concerned about the way Snowden conveys his message. He is not struggling for words, or thinking hard, as even bright, articulate whistleblowers under stress will do. Rather he appears to be transmitting whole paragraphs smoothly, without stumbling. To me this reads as someone who has learned his talking points — again the way that political campaigns train surrogates to transmit talking points.
c) He keeps saying things like, “If you are a journalist and they think you are the transmission point of this info, they will certainly kill you.” Or: “I fully expect to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act.” He also keeps stressing what he will lose: his $200,000 salary, his girlfriend, his house in Hawaii. These are the kinds of messages that the police state would LIKE journalists to take away; a real whistleblower also does not put out potential legal penalties as options, and almost always by this point has a lawyer by his/her side who would PROHIBIT him/her from saying, ‘come get me under the Espionage Act.” Finally in my experience, real whistleblowers are completely focused on their act of public service and trying to manage the jeopardy to themselves and their loved ones; they don’t tend ever to call attention to their own self-sacrifice. That is why they are heroes, among other reasons. But a police state would like us all to think about everything we would lose by standing up against it.
d) It is actually in the Police State’s interest to let everyone know that everything you write or say everywhere is being surveilled, and that awful things happen to people who challenge this. Which is why I am not surprised that now he is on UK no-fly lists – I assume the end of this story is that we will all have a lesson in terrible things that happen to whistleblowers. That could be because he is a real guy who gets in trouble; but it would be as useful to the police state if he is a fake guy who gets in ‘trouble.’
e) In stories that intelligence services are advancing (I would call the prostitutes-with-the-secret-service such a story), there are great sexy or sex-related mediagenic visuals that keep being dropped in, to keep media focus on the issue. That very pretty pole-dancing Facebooking girlfriend who appeared for, well, no reason in the media coverage…and who keeps leaking commentary, so her picture can be recycled in the press…really, she happens to pole-dance? Dan Ellsberg’s wife was and is very beautiful and doubtless a good dancer but somehow she took a statelier role as his news story unfolded…
f) Snowden is in Hong Kong, which has close ties to the UK, which has done the US’s bidding with other famous leakers such as Assange. So really there are MANY other countries that he would be less likely to be handed over from…
g) Media reports said he had vanished at one point to ‘an undisclosed location’ or ‘a safe house.’ Come on. There is no such thing. Unless you are with the one organization that can still get off the surveillance grid, because that org created it.
h) I was at dinner last night to celebrate the brave and heroic Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Several of Assange’s also brave and talented legal team were there, and I remembered them from when I had met with Assange. These attorneys are present at every moment when Assange meets the press — when I met with him off the record last Fall in the Ecuadoran embassy, his counsel was present the whole time, listening and stepping in when necessary.
It is fair enough to question the credibility of any source. If he wished, and thought it worthwhile, as he may do if these allegations get traction, Glenn Greenwald would be able to rebut these points.
- It seems to me, that some do not not want to acknowledge, Edward Snowden is very smart person, and he has been thinking about this for some time.
- Hong Kong turns out the perfect place to go, neatly timed for the meeting between the leaders of the USA and PRC. There is a point in his interview where he does tangle up his lines, but he is able to correct himself, which suggested to me he had rehearsed them.
- Glenn Greenwald, who a New York constitutional litigator (I assume that means he is a barrister) interviewed him for five hours. He chose the people to whom he would disclose his information carefully.
- The hierarchical state depends on fear and secrecy. The drumbeat of terrorism and 9/11 works very effectively to engender fear. Secrecy is more important than fear. They can disrupt widespread protest, as might have happened with the OWS movement. Even Congress, not to mention public opinion, recognizes that they were operating without any accountability with a corporate nexus.
A conspiracy theory can always be constructed, if alternative explanations are not actively considered. David Lindoff at Counter Punch concludes:
Unless and until someone comes up with a single hard fact seriously suggesting that Snowden is a fake, this kind of fantasizing should halt. Wolf should apologize for her self-aggrandizing tripe and make a generous donation from her book sales to the Snowden defense fund — unless of course she has evidence that the Progressive Change Campaign Committee is an NSA or CIA front group.
The Guardian has run an online interview with Edward Snowden. He remains pretty much on message. He makes a number of statements in answers to questions. It is clear to me that he is the author of them. To quote a few.
In response to why he chose HK:
1) First, the US Government, just as they did with other whistleblowers, immediately and predictably destroyed any possibility of a fair trial at home, openly declaring me guilty of treason and that the disclosure of secret, criminal, and even unconstitutional acts is an unforgivable crime. That’s not justice, and it would be foolish to volunteer yourself to it if you can do more good outside of prison than in it.
Second, let’s be clear: I did not reveal any US operations against legitimate military targets. I pointed out where the NSA has hacked civilian infrastructure such as universities, hospitals, and private businesses because it is dangerous. These nakedly, aggressively criminal acts are wrong no matter the target. Not only that, when NSA makes a technical mistake during an exploitation operation, critical systems crash. Congress hasn’t declared war on the countries – the majority of them are our allies – but without asking for public permission, NSA is running network operations against them that affect millions of innocent people. And for what? So we can have secret access to a computer in a country we’re not even fighting? So we can potentially reveal a potential terrorist with the potential to kill fewer Americans than our own Police? No, the public needs to know the kinds of things a government does in its name, or the “consent of the governed” is meaningless.
2) All I can say right now is the US Government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me. Truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped.
Why release the documents now?
Obama’s campaign promises and election gave me faith that he would lead us toward fixing the problems he outlined in his quest for votes. Many Americans felt similarly. Unfortunately, shortly after assuming power, he closed the door on investigating systemic violations of law, deepened and expanded several abusive programs, and refused to spend the political capital to end the kind of human rights violations like we see in Guantanamo, where men still sit without charge.
On being called a traitor, shows he is capable of humour.
US officials say this every time there’s a public discussion that could limit their authority. US officials also provide misleading or directly false assertions about the value of these programs, as they did just recently with the Zazi case, which court documents clearly show was not unveiled by PRISM.
Journalists should ask a specific question: since these programs began operation shortly after September 11th, how many terrorist attacks were prevented SOLELY by information derived from this suspicionless surveillance that could not be gained via any other source? Then ask how many individual communications were ingested to acheive that, and ask yourself if it was worth it. Bathtub falls and police officers kill more Americans than terrorism, yet we’ve been asked to sacrifice our most sacred rights for fear of falling victim to it.
Further, it’s important to bear in mind I’m being called a traitor by men like former Vice President Dick Cheney. This is a man who gave us the warrantless wiretapping scheme as a kind of atrocity warm-up on the way to deceitfully engineering a conflict that has killed over 4,400 and maimed nearly 32,000 Americans, as well as leaving over 100,000 Iraqis dead. Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American, and the more panicked talk we hear from people like him, Feinstein, and King, the better off we all are. If they had taught a class on how to be the kind of citizen Dick Cheney worries about, I would have finished high school.
On the treatment of other whistle blowers, makes a revealing comment about the importance of conscience, which at least in a Common Law tradition provides a legal defence:
Binney, Drake, Kiriakou, and Manning are all examples of how overly-harsh responses to public-interest whistle-blowing only escalate the scale, scope, and skill involved in future disclosures. Citizens with a conscience are not going to ignore wrong-doing simply because they’ll be destroyed for it: the conscience forbids it. Instead, these draconian responses simply build better whistleblowers. If the Obama administration responds with an even harsher hand against me, they can be assured that they’ll soon find themselves facing an equally harsh public response.
This disclosure provides Obama an opportunity to appeal for a return to sanity, constitutional policy, and the rule of law rather than men. He still has plenty of time to go down in history as the President who looked into the abyss and stepped back, rather than leaping forward into it. I would advise he personally call for a special committee to review these interception programs, repudiate the dangerous “State Secrets” privilege, and, upon preparing to leave office, begin a tradition for all Presidents forthwith to demonstrate their respect for the law by appointing a special investigator to review the policies of their years in office for any wrongdoing. There can be no faith in government if our highest offices are excused from scrutiny – they should be setting the example of transparency.
And in the final response, I think he gets things back to front:
Thanks to everyone for their support, and remember that just because you are not the target of a surveillance program does not make it okay. The US Person / foreigner distinction is not a reasonable substitute for individualized suspicion, and is only applied to improve support for the program. This is the precise reason that NSA provides Congress with a special immunity to its surveillance.
Perhaps and Congress and specifically the Gang of Eight provide the NSA with special immunity for surveillance.
What Ammo Do Snowden and Greenwald Detractors Really Have? As usual Cenk Uygur is expressive:
- Is Naomi Wolf working for the NSA? (counterpunch.org)