The UK Guardian has enjoyed a traffic spike from its sensationalist story about globetrotting intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, spun as part of the anti-military narrative of leftist journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras. The reason for the traffic spike is clear: it’s not due to accurate or honest reporting, but instead to the story getting major play in the left, right, mainstream and fringe media.
The “National Security Agency scandal” story delivered something for everyone. For the right, it was another Obama scandal’; never mind that the NSA program was actually started by President George W. Bush. For the left, it continued their “Blame Bush” campaign. For the MSM, it had international intrigue. For the conspiratorial fringes, it was the ultimate vindication of their paranoid worldview.
As one writer expressed his fears:
The state would leech into the veins and arteries of our new societies, gobbling up every relationship expressed or communicated, every web page read, every message sent and every thought googled, and then store this knowledge, billions of interceptions a day, undreamed of power, in vast top secret warehouses, forever. It would go on to mine and mine again this treasure, the collective private intellectual output of humanity, with ever more sophisticated search and pattern finding algorithms, enriching the treasure and maximizing the power imbalance between interceptors and the world of interceptees.
Who wrote that? WikiLeaks founder and anarchist Julian Assange. When did he write it? October 2012–months before the Snowden story broke. It’s in the introduction to his book Cypherpunks, available for sale everywhere including Amazon.com (who Assange complains censored him by choosing not to host classified data he was publishing.)
The Snowden story has been used to promote the Assange “postmodern surveillance dystopia” fear-mongering, which is exactly why Snowden has been getting support from WikiLeaks as he tries to escape justice. It’s a worldview meant to induce fear and induce countries like the U.S. to drop their defenses.
The notion that Greenwald’s reporting somehow isn’t part and parcel of the typical leftist drivel is absurd. The liberal mainstream media and liberal usual-suspect politicians (the ones who don’t have Intelligence Committee assignments, at least) have loved the attacks on NSA. Here’s a story from MSNBC with hateful Democrat Alan Grayson taking exactly the “ignore Snowden” line that many on the right have fallen for:
What is significant for Grayson is what Edward Snowden brought to light–telephone companies turning over phone records for telephone calls regardless of whether they were international. “Spying has damaged U.S. foreign policy, harming our reputation in a deep and long lasting way,” he said.
Grayson added that Snowden’s revelation “is an I.Q. test for America. Can’t we parse out what’s useful from what’s not useful? Are we that stupid?”
To claim that the attacks on the NSA aren’t part of the MSM’s “narrative plantation” is to ignore the established facts about how the story came out. The Snowden story wasn’t just broken at the Guardian. It came out nearly simultaneously on the Washington Post with a byline from Greenwald associate Laura Poitras–and the Washington Post is surely one of the biggest producers of liberal consensus journalism in the world. The story was picked up immediately by the New York Times and every single other major MSM outlet, because they naturally couldn’t wait to attack the military via the NSA and criticize America’s attempts to defend itself from terrorism. The Snowden story was grown, harvested and shipped directly from the narrative plantation.
It says something for the fear that Obama has struck in so many people that the right would follow an MSM narrative without thoroughly checking the facts or questioning the motives of people like Assange, Greenwald and Poitras.
The Guardian‘s ratings spike comes at a real price; an increased threat to the United States from terrorists. As Director of the NSA Gen. Keith Alexander–who was appointed by Donald Rumsfeld under the Bush Administration–said recently:
These leaks have caused significant and irreversible damage to our nation’s security. Historically, every time a capability is revealed, we lose our ability to track those targets. What is going on in these leaks is unconscionable, in my opinion, and it hurts our nation and our allies and it’s flat wrong.
There are lawful and legitimate mechanisms to raise concerns about these programs. NSA, DOD and DNI all have whistle-blower programs and investigator generals who are in a position to do this. An individual acting nobly would have chosen one of those as a course of action to reveal his concerns.
I worry that there will be more leaks and that they will attempt to further sensationalize this issue. I’d ask you to remember that context matters, that these authorities are carefully debated and considered across three branches of government and that we only employ these capabilities that we believe are both useful and necessary.