Glenn Greenwald struggles to remain relevant as he tries to figure out what to do, now that he’s been “separated” from his gig at the UK Guardian, where he enjoyed some cover (as a journalist?) for his conniption fits about “spying” and Edward Snowden. Now, he has no cover, so he’s taken to releasing his frustrations over Twitter, and simply making snide comments about others’ “stories.”
The latest Snowden revelations are that the NSA has been conducting the same activities in Europe as they in the United States, which is a different way of saying, they’re doing their job. Apparently, Snowden and Greewald believe that we should only employ psychic means for discovering and stopping potential terrorists, because they not only object to the NSA compiling data on Americans, they also object to the their compiling data on foreign soil.
The problem with the latest Snowden revelations is that, like the others before them, there’s nothing particularly revelatory there. They “reveal” that the US “spies” on Mexico. Well, no kidding. Ever hear of the Bush program “Fast and Furious”? What was that, except a spying program? And that’s really spying. Anonymous data about your number calling other numbers isn’t really “spying,” is it?
They also revealed that there is “massive spying” going on in France and Germany. In France, Snowden was able to confirm that the NSA had been collecting data on about 3 million phone calls a day. In a country with 66 million people and a strong economy, that really isn’t a lot. but it sounds like a lot, and that’s all that matters to Snowden and his followers. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel worried publicly that perhaps she was being “spied” upon. When I heard the news on the radio yesterday, it actually made me chuckle, because you know Germany never spies on anyone. Right?
The sad fact is, the NSA is using the same PRISM computer setup to do in Europe and Mexico what it has been doing here. It is compiling a database of metadata from phone calls and sifting through it to figure out who might be trying to harm others. It’s not secret, and it’s not “spying.” They’re collecting underlying data about whether two numbers called each other. Unless someone has been calling one of the numbers they have for suspected terrorists, NSA analysts won’t even see your number. It’s the same in other countries; that’s all the information they have. They’re not listening in on conversations, and they’re not collecting the audio contents of phone calls or the text contents of emails or other private correspondence.
Greenwald, however, wants to keep the paranoia going while he sets up his “new venture,” where his fans will be able to delight in his conspiracy shenanigans without having to wade through actual news, like they had to at the Guardian. So, he’s taken to Twitter in a big way. Why, just last night he Tweeted about the NSA story in a big way. As is his tendency, he stretched reality quite a bit. He started with this:
The object of his derision is a quote from interview with the head of the NSA, Gen. Keith Alexander, published on a Politico blog, in which he said the following:
“I think it’s wrong that that newspaper reporters have all these documents, the 50,000—whatever they have and are selling them and giving them out as if these—you know it just doesn’t make sense,” Alexander said in an interview with the Defense Department’s “Armed With Science” blog.
“We ought to come up with a way of stopping it. I don’t know how to do that. That’s more of the courts and the policymakers but, from my perspective, it’s wrong to allow this to go on,” the NSA director declared.
Note that Greenwald adopts something of a right wing definition of “First Amendment” in making his comments. We’ve all been confronted with this definition, where Greenwald is allowed to express whatever opinion he wants, but when Alexander, who has no power to change the law, expresses his opinion, he is somehow violating Greenwald’s right to free speech and press.
Alexander was talking about Snowden’s and Greenwald’s obvious cash windfall from publishing secret NSA documents without context or any evidence of wrongdoing. The thing is, Alexander is partly right and partly wrong. We can’t be going after reporters for chasing stories, even if the stories are half-assed and silly. But the NSA should have safeguards in place to protect the documents. See, Glenn? Alexander can have an opinion and I can disagree with it. No harm, no foul and no one’s free speech was violated.
Then, as a sign that Greenwald thinks of nothing but this non-story, he woke up bright and early and Tweeted the following:
First off, people who follow Greenwald and Snowden and believe everything they say should really consider the concept of “bulk spying on millions of … citizens” for a minute, which has been their story all along. The total number of NSA employees is about 24,000. Most of them work an 8-10 hour day, and then go home to their families every evening and weekend. Consider the hundreds of billions of phone calls that are made every day worldwide, and imagine how much time it would take to listen to those “in bulk.” Put simply, what Greenwald and Snowden are trying to get you to believe is that every single employee of the NSA is focused on listening to every phone call and reading every email that every one of us writes, when such a thing is impossible.
And again; does anyone really think the leaders of these countries do absolutely no actual spying on anyone?
As for “persecution, what “persecution” is Snowden suffering, anyway? He stole government property, and they are interested in arresting him and prosecuting him, and perhaps finding out which documents he has. He’s a fugitive. There is no evidence that anyone is “persecuting” him. Those who practice actual “civil disobedience” understand that they’re breaking the law, and that they will have to sactifice some for the greater good. Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison. Even Chelsea Manning will spend about eight years behind bars. It’s part of the process of uncovering wrongdoing, if that’s what you’re doing.
I suppose Greenwald thinks Snowden should get a ticker tape parade, but for what? Neither of them has disclosed anything truly troubling to anyone who isn’t naturally paranoid. Snowden chose to run off to China and Russia; no one forced him there.
By the way, who truly believes Snowden’s assertion that he bought none of his documents to Russia, really?
Greenwald’s attempts to remain relevant get funnier every day.