Friday, January 24, 2014

Look Who's Blasting Snowden, Greenwald, and Assange Weissman writes: "Poor Ed Snowden. Spending the winter in Russia rather than Hawaii is bad enough, but now the former NSA contractor faces new attacks from different directions, raising provocative questions for those of us who support him, his messenger Glenn Greenwald, and his ally Julian Assange." Edward Snowden. (illustration: Jason Seiler/TIME) Look Who's Blasting Snowden, Greenwald, and Assange By Steve Weissman, Reader Supported News 23 January 14 Poor Ed Snowden. Spending the winter in Russia rather than Hawaii is bad enough, but now the former NSA contractor faces new attacks from different directions, raising provocative questions for those of us who support him, his messenger Glenn Greenwald, and his ally Julian Assange. Senator Diane Feinstein and Congressman Mike Rogers – chairmen of their respective intelligence communities – are alleging that Snowden was working for a foreign intelligence service – read the FSB, Russia's secret police – when he took the NSA documents he has now released. Like Senator Joseph McCarthy before them, Feinstein and Rogers offer absolutely no evidence to support their out-of-date red-baiting. The FBI continues to believe that Snowden acted on his own, while Snowden himself flatly denies the accusation, calling it "absurd." Case closed, at least for most of us. But suspend judgment for a moment and try this liberating thought experiment. Last summer, when Snowden first reached Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport, suppose that Vladimir Putin had warmly embraced him, kissed him twice on each cheek, and publicly awarded him the FSB's Medal of Honor. Would our opposition to NSA's domestic spying and global blackmail be any less justified? I do not see why it should be, having faced similar questions working with the CIA whistleblower Philip Agee. No matter who points the finger or why, the NSA, CIA, and FBI all need to be held in check, as does their sometimes partner and adversary, the Russian FSB. In the week's other attack on Snowden, Princeton professor Sean Wilentz plays the same nasty game as Feinstein and Rogers, only in liberal drag. Writing in The New Republic, Wilentz asks, "Would You Feel Differently About Snowden, Greenwald, and Assange If You Knew What They Really Thought?" A long-time Clintonista with an appetite for hyperbole, Wilentz detests the three leakers for what many Americans find so refreshing. "Theirs are not the politics of left against right, or liberals against conservatives, or Democrats against Republicans," he writes, "but of the individual against the state." Worse, Wilentz sounds personally offended that so many of his fellow liberals believe Snowden's revelations, think of him as a hero, and similarly celebrate Greenwald and Assange. Hoping to trash all three and bring down "the age of the leaker," he did opposition research on some of their earlier writing, sort of like looking at your daughter's old Facebook pages. The three "hardly subscribe to identical beliefs, and differ in their levels of sophistication," he admits. But they share "something closer to a political impulse that might be described … as paranoid libertarianism." "Where liberals, let alone right-wingers, have portrayed the leakers as truth-telling comrades intent on protecting the state and the Constitution from authoritarian malefactors, that's hardly their goal," he concludes. "In fact, the leakers despise the modern liberal state, and they want to wound it." Snowden he condemns as a gun-toting NRA enthusiast, gold bug, enemy of Social Security, and supporter of the right-wing libertarian, free-market fundamentalist, and sometimes racist Ron Paul, all of which rings true. But so what? Snowden blew the whistle on NSA surveillance. His evidence stood the test of global scrutiny. And he has never once asked us to support his libertarian politics. Wilentz finds Greenwald harder to tag, portraying him as too combative, too opposed to the national security apparatus, too eager to defend the civil liberties of extremists, and too willing to appeal "both to the isolationist paleo-Right and post-New Left anti-imperialists." Other than Glenn's ignorance about Ron Paul's "darker side," on which Wilentz makes good sense, the surprisingly sloppy historian offers no serious evidence that the world's most productive journalist is anything but the left-liberal he claims to be. Toughest on the anti-authoritarian Assange, Wilentz comes close to calling him a Russian agent, rehashing old stories about Israel Shamir, a one-time Israeli journalist whom many see as a raging anti-Semite and Holocaust denier. Leave Shamir and his complexities for another time. At most, his story may call into question Assange's judgment. It falls far short of making WikiLeaks a Putin ploy, even if – as Wilentz laments – the group helped get Snowden into Russia and the autocratic Putin has used his presence there to score major propaganda points. May he continue to do so until Obama or his successor invites the whistleblower home with a promise not to prosecute and the full honors of a grateful nation. Wilentz also disparages Assange's openness to Noam Chomsky, "the libertarian section of the Republican party," and far-right Australian nativists, a mishmash that suggests ideological promiscuity rather than "paranoid libertarianism." But, again, so what? We don't have to like Assange personally or want to vote him class president, but he and WikiLeaks have made superb contributions to both "network journalism" and our fight against the depredations of America's national security state. What, then, remains of this latest Jeremiad against Snowden, Greenwald, and Assange? An excellent portrait of Sean Wilentz, an aging Cold War liberal who fails to see that the national security apparatus has become the largest single threat to enlarging Social Security and similar reforms, which a libertarian Snowden would probably hate. Nor can Wilentz admit the truth he condemns the three leakers for believing, that "the United States is an imperial power, drunk on its hegemonic ambitions." Instead, he minimizes the invasion of the data-snatchers and blames their most effective critics for having "unleashed a torrent of classified information with the clear intent of showing that the federal government has spun out of control, thereby destroying the public's faith in their government's capacity to spy aggressively on our enemies while protecting the privacy of its citizens." Shoot the messengers, why don't we? It's so much easier than giving up old liberal fantasies and thinking radically new thoughts. ________________________________________ A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he is researching a new book, "Big Money and the Corporate State: How Global Banks, Corporations, and Speculators Rule and How to Nonviolently Break Their Hold." Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. © 2014 Reader Supported News Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

No comments: