Greenwald’s Latest NSA Bombshell is an Incomplete Mess, Lacking Any Evidence of Wrongdoing

Glenn Greenwald’s “grand finale fireworks display” finally appeared online early Wednesday and, indeed, there were fireworks but not the “spectacular multicolored hues” he predicted. The fireworks instead came in the form of a bombshell that exploded in a mushroom cloud of shoddy reporting and the usual hyperbolic, misleading accusations that have been the centerpiece of his brand of journalism for more than a year.

Reporting for The Intercept, Greenwald and co-author Murtaza Hussain published an article titled, “Meet the Muslim-American Leaders the FBI and NSA Have Been Spying On,” based on top secret National Security Agency (NSA) documents leaked by Edward Snowden. The documents in this case appear to show that between 2002 and 2008 the FBI and NSA collected the email communications of five Americans, four of whom self-identify as Muslim:

• Faisal Gill, a longtime Republican Party operative and one-time candidate for public office who held a top-secret security clearance and served in the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush;

• Asim Ghafoor, a prominent attorney who has represented clients in terrorism-related cases;

• Hooshang Amirahmadi, an Iranian-American professor of international relations at Rutgers University;

• Agha Saeed, a former political science professor at California State University who champions Muslim civil liberties and Palestinian rights;

• Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the country.

The article claims, and Greenwald subsequently reinforced on cable news yesterday, that the above Americans are model citizens and, according to him, have no ties to terrorism, therefore they couldn’t possibly be connected with malfeasance of any kind, especially Islamic jihad. And because there doesn’t appear to be an obvious reason for monitoring their communications, Greenwald contends that the surveillance is both unjustified and unconstitutional.

That’s Greenwald’s case. But as with many of his previous NSA articles, Greenwald’s case is horrendously weak.

Before we get into specifics, it’s important to recap the role of a journalist, especially one who’s dealing with highly sensitive, highly complicated national security matters. A journalist’s primary task is to investigate a story then to precisely explain the who, what, when, where, why and how of the story. Just the facts. Every time one of those questions goes missing, the story disintegrates a little more.

To merely report that five Americans out of 315,000,000 were monitored by the FBI or CIA might smell like news, but it’s hardly a bombshell, chiefly because the reporters failed to explain the answer to “why?” And if Greenwald and Hussain had evidence of the why, and it showed foul play on behalf of the FBI or NSA, then it’s news, and the outrage may commence. But if five Americans are pulled over by traffic cops multiple times between 2002 and 2008, it could indicate racial profiling, or it could indicate speeding or drunk driving or running red lights or whatever. The reporters job is to fill in that blank or else his story is incomplete, and a responsible editor might ask the reporter to hold the article until the “why?” puzzle piece materializes.

Put another way: imagine if Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein had reported that several American men were arrested at the Watergate hotel, and… nothing else. No “why.” Why were they arrested? What are the charges? What were they doing? Better yet, imagine if Fox News Channel reported this story without any additional evidence.

Greenwald’s response to the lack of “why?” is always: I don’t know but allow me to speculate. By the way, in the article, Greenwald employed the excuse “the government won’t tell us because it’s secretive,” which is almost as weak as leaving it out. If Greenwald was able to get this far, and the cache of Snowden documents is as vast and damning as he suggests, perhaps he should’ve taken more time to dig around and find out before publishing a one-dimensional story. (We’ll come back to this.)

Let’s go ahead and jump into this disaster.

1) The headline is false.

greenwald_muslim_headline

It didn’t take Greenwald very long to brazenly mislead his readers. The headline states that the FBI and NSA “have been spying on” five Americans. But if you manage to plow through the 8,600 word article (which a very, very small percentage of online readers actually do), you’ll discover zero evidence that the spying is ongoing. The phrase “have been spying on” is written in the present perfect continuous tense, meaning that it began at some point in the past and is still happening now. The same goes for the giant graphic above the headline which reads, “UNDER SURVEILLANCE” — present tense as in now — just below photos of each man.

However, the surveillance, or “collection” dates in the document stop at May, 2008.

Additionally, collection activities against two of the five men are very clearly marked as “terminated” back in 2008. In other words, according to these documents, the FBI apparently stopped collecting the emails of Faisal Gill and Nihad Awad in May and February of 2008, respectively. The other three collection statuses are marked as “sustained,” but we simply don’t know when or if the collection activities were terminated. It could’ve been July, 2008, it could be never. Greenwald doesn’t show any evidence of this. Therefore it would be inaccurate to suggest that the “spying” has continued through present day.

2) FISA warrants.

Prior to the passage of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, the Bush administration had been illegally circumventing the FISA Court and the warrant process in order to conduct surveillance on U.S. Persons. So while it’s possible that the emails of one or more of the five targets were collected without a warrant, the very fact that their names appeared on a spreadsheet called a “FISA recap” indicates that there were, indeed, FISA Court-approved warrants.

As we’ve noted, three of the five targets continued to be monitored beyond the Spring of 2008, and if the collection activity against them continued beyond the July 9, 2008 passage of the FISA Amendments Act (six years ago today), specifically Section 702, then NSA would’ve been mandated by law to present a report showing probable cause against these targets to the FISA Court, which would then determine whether continued surveillance was permissible.

Simply put: there appear to have been warrants in the first place (it’s a “FISA recap” document), but if there was any warrantless spying, the FISA Amendments Act would’ve ended the warrantless spying six years years ago.

But again, this is a massive hole in Greenwald’s story. We don’t know for sure if there were warrants or not. In order for the surveillance of these five Americans to have been illegal and unconstitutional, evidence needs to have been presented by Greenwald showing the absence of a warrant. He didn’t bother to do it. The only evidence of a lack of warrants was presented in the article like so:

Last week, anonymous officials told another news outlet that the government did not have a FISA warrant against at least one of the individuals named here during the timeframe covered by the spreadsheet.

An anonymous source said something to a competitor of The Intercept. There’s a reliable source.

As anyone who’s familiar with law enforcement or, hell, police procedural TV shows will tell you: investigators attain warrants from judges and, if they can show that a suspect might be up to something, they’re granted a warrant to conduct surveillance and/or searches on that person — yes, even Americans. (Until the past year, this seemed to have been a generally-known, generally-accepted practice. But along came Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald, and it’s suddenly outrageous to conduct warrant-approved surveillance on Americans suspected of criminal activity.)

3) Why did the FBI spy on these men?

Greenwald doesn’t have any information as to why these five targets were monitored by the FBI. Check out this jaw-dropping paragraph from the article:

Given that the government’s justifications for subjecting Gill and the other U.S. citizens to surveillance remain classified, it is impossible to know why their emails were monitored, or the extent of the surveillance. It is also unclear under what legal authority it was conducted, whether the men were formally targeted under FISA warrants, and what, if anything, authorities found that permitted them to continue spying on the men for prolonged periods of time. But the five individuals share one thing in common: Like many if not most of the people listed in the NSA spreadsheet, they are of Muslim heritage.

So much for context. So much for “why?” We only have five Americans whose email communications were monitored by law enforcement… for some unknown reason. Greenwald asked the Justice Department why these men were being surveilled and, duh, they wouldn’t tell him. Of course. And so, that’s it? He didn’t seek out additional sources? He didn’t dig through other Snowden documents to find other references to these men? Clearly, he didn’t do the work necessary to fill in this blank.

Greenwald only knows that the five targets seem like decent guys and, according to the guys, they’re not connected to any terrorist activity. Sorry, but “Scout’s Honor!” isn’t exculpatory. In lieu of a proper explanation, Greenwald speculated that they were targeted strictly because they’re of Muslim heritage.

4) Outrage is in the gaps.

You might be familiar with the creationist trope: “God is in the gaps.” Some creationists insist that whatever science can’t fully explain must, therefore, be the work of God.

When it comes to Greenwald’s reporting, outrage is in the gaps. In this story for example, Greenwald was incapable of taking the time to investigate why exactly these five Americans were subjected to surveillance. But that might not be a bad thing for him because it allows him and his followers to fill in the blanks with their own biases and agenda, which fuels outrage, retweets and clicks. This stuff takes place in secret, so it must be evil. They don’t know if there were warrants in this case, so it must be illegal and unconstitutional. They don’t know why the surveillance took place, and since the men are all of Muslim heritage, it must be racist.

The racism charge, while potentially true, isn’t supported by any evidence. Except one thing, and it might not even be an actual thing.

5) “Mohammed Raghead.”

The only connection to racism Greenwald was able to dig up was a single line from a so-called FISA “training document” from 2005. In the “Identity” line, an obvious idiot typed in the name “Mohammed Raghead.”

intercept_raghead

It goes without saying that whoever’s responsible should’ve been fired, not just for the obvious racial insensitivity, but for embarrassing the government. However, this document is completely unrelated to the surveillance activities conducted on the five subjects of the article. Additionally, it’s unclear who exactly was responsible for the document. The New York Times‘ Charlie Savage questioned Greenwald on Twitter about this, wondering if it was a trainee or a trainer. Unclear. But, again, here we are on Twitter asking for clarifications that should’ve been covered in the article.

6) Myths busted.

It was astonishing to read this article only to find several buried lines that appeared to entirely destroy one of the most persistent myths orbiting the Greenwald subculture.

MYTH: FISA is a rubber stamp court that approves everything.

GREENWALD: “According to [top FBI lawyer Marion “Spike” Bowman], whose office handled all requests for domestic FISA surveillance throughout the intelligence community, requests for warrants involve multiple stages of approval. Starting at an FBI field office, a request moves up through FBI supervisory agents at headquarters and attorneys at the bureau’s National Security Branch, then on to the Justice Department’s Office of Intelligence—with the various gatekeepers frequently rejecting applications or sending them back for further review. It is only once all the hurdles have been cleared, Bowman says, that the Justice Department prepares a formal application “package” for a judge with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.”

GREENWALD: “Law enforcement officials familiar with the FISA process told The Intercept that the FISC’s high approval rate is the result of a thorough vetting process that weeds out weak applications before they reach the court. The system, they added, seeks to balance what they consider to be the essential role of surveillance in protecting national security with the civil liberties of potential targets.”

7) Conclusion?

This can’t be emphasized enough: while there could always be nefarious deeds and bad actors working inside the intelligence community, in the absence of evidence there is only speculation, and speculation isn’t news. This article uses 9,000 words to tell us that the email correspondence of five seemingly decent Americans was being collected by the government between 2002 and 2008 (the headline says it continues today). We literally know nothing else about this case. The full story wasn’t presented, as usual. In the past it’s been PowerPoint slides without context or the accompanying vocal narration. This time it’s five names and no evidence whatsoever of profiling, illegal targeting or unconstitutional, warrantless government spying.

The incomplete nature of these NSA articles has been quite convenient for Greenwald and his publications, because it allows him to cleverly spackel over the holes with his own agenda-driven, adversarial, born-of-the-blogosphere assumptions about the U.S. government. Combine this with an internet-driven short-attention-span audience and it’s a perfect storm for outrage. Today’s news was no exception, and indeed it was a textbook example of it.

Oh, and by the way, it turns out this isn’t Greenwald’s finale after all.

Dammit.

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  • vp

    I don’t think Snowald cares if his latest so-called journalistic piece is a mess or not anymore. As long as he can help al-Quada, ISIS or any of the other terrorist groups out there hurt or kill Americans is what matters. At this point both he and Snowden should be put in the top enemy’s list of the United States.
    Excellent article again by the way Bob.

  • KarenSez

    What an appalling essay. When Cesca writes that “Greenwald asked the Justice Department why these
    men were being surveilled and, duh, they wouldn’t tell him,” it’s the
    snide use of “duh” that gives away Cesca’s irrational animus toward
    Greenwald. Every journalist — presumably including Cesca — knows full
    well that an on-the-record statement MUST be sought from an agency under
    discussion, such as the Justice Department, even if the reporter knows
    that no substantive comment will be forthcoming. Cesca’s “duh” is
    beneath him — and, worse, it insults his readers.

    • Lady Willpower

      I didn’t feel insulted.
      I feel much more insulted being talked down to by the likes of GG.

      • Kerry Reid

        Clearly, that is because you are an Islamophobe. I believe that was the line Greenwald used on readers taking him to task for his sloppy reporting when he deigned to come down from Mount Olympus and respond in comments at Balloon Juice a while back. John Cole didn’t bother to defend his commenters on that, though he’s shown himself quite thin-skinned about any suggestion that Greenwald’s motives might not be pure and aboveboard.

    • vp

      You are honestly wrong. There are actually quite a few journalists and a lot more civil libertarians and wing nuts on the far left and right that believe it is illegal for the NSA to keep secrects from the public.

      • KarenSez

        Your comment is honestly irrelevant.

        • vp

          It might be irrelevant to you but it’s the same as the majority of the American in poll after poll. I know it hurts when you opinion doesn’t stand up to the facts but those kind should be the least hardest to get over because facts always trump opinions

          • KarenSez

            Huh? Illiterate too: Polls ARE opinions.

          • vp

            Studies aren’t opinions when the participant is asked factual questions. Based on the last seven studies conducted by independent non-partison organizations Fox viewers tanked in at dead last on each study which participants of about 8 to 12 news and network audiences were asked questions with yes or no factual answers. These questions dealt with facts about current events and foreign and domestic policy. Fox News viewer came in dead last on every single question on every single study. So let me take a stab at this. You are a Fox News viewer. Based on your last two response you gave it away.

          • vp

            Oh and fyi I have every University and organization that conducted the studies and one of the groups that conducted the test was a study group mainly used by republicans. And the questions, answers and by whom are shown. I got you pegged pretty easy to be honest.

          • KarenSez

            Good grief. There’s a reason they’re called opinion polls. You’re confusing them with your GED exam, dope.

          • vp

            No sheet for brains. These are facts http://publicmind.fdu.edu/2011/knowless/ Such as “Was Sadaam Hussein involved in 9-11? Answer: No he was not. That is not an opinion, that is a fact. Yes there are opinion polls. These I am stating to you is not an opinion. It is either true or false. As is another, http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/174826/survey-nprs-listeners-best-informed-fox-news-viewers-worst-informed/ And everything question is documented. Until you know the difference between and opinion and a fact don’t pester me anymore.

          • KarenSez

            Get a grip, A-hole. Those are not polls. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/poll

          • vp

            That’s exactly what I’m saying. And you had to make sure I was correct by checking the dictionary? wow It was an education.

          • vp

            That’s exactly what I am saying. They are facts. And you had to make sure I was correct by checking a dictionary? lol. It was certainly an education. Good bye.

          • KarenSez

            Get a grip, A-hole. Those are not polls. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/poll

          • vp

            lol “polls are opinions”
            Not when the groups conducting the studies are asking the person to pick a multiple choice answer from the questions asked, which is what the study groups did.

  • reggid

    Anyone want to bet that the “anonymous source” was one of the GG-Snowden folks themselves, and that the “other news source” was one of their own other outfits? As in, maybe something along the lines of Assange “anonymously” contacts one of GG’s other websites, and voila! — an “anonymous source told another news source.” LOL — in addition to being an unverifiable, laughably unreliable explanation of a “source,” I think GG’s claim is like quadruple hearsay: The Intercept is reporting what Greenwald says an unnamed news source told him an anonymous person told them. Um, yeah, sure Glenn . . . that’s some might fine reportin’ yer doin’ there . . . No, really . . . we believe you . . .

  • Lady Willpower

    I’m having a very hard time seeing how this “scandal” translates to Obama is worse than Bush!

    Maybe one of you guys can dudesplain it to me?

    • feloniousgrammar

      Don’t go there, Lady Willpower! There be dragging.

      • Lady Willpower

        I don’t really expect a response. They need to get their talking points from the Leader first.

        • feloniousgrammar

          The images that came to mind— I mean where do those talking points come from, you know. Mercy.

  • KarenSez
    • repugnicant

      Unfair because.. Greenwald doesn’t provide proof of his accusations?

      Huh?

  • Joe Stein

    Is this the Greenwald bashing page?…am I in the right place?

    • Kerry Reid

      If by “bashing,” you mean “requiring that Greenwald needs to make like a parking lot and back his shit up like a real journalist,” then yes.

    • repugnicant

      Actually, this is an ‘intervention’ site, trying to prevent Greenwald from harming himself and EVERYONE else.

      The opiate den is over at The Intercept.

  • Matthew J

    “Last week, anonymous officials told another news outlet that the government did not have a FISA warrant against at least one of the individuals named here during the timeframe covered by the spreadsheet.”

    Oh, for …

    What the …?

    How can you …?

    So he didn’t talk to …

    Oh, by the Gods, now I’ve got a headache.

    • feloniousgrammar

      “Anonymous officials” can blow me.

      • Matthew J

        That would be a much better use for their collective oral cavity.

  • Churchlady320

    As one who got caught up in the NSA hacking of emails, I know the difference between pre-2008 and post, especially now. In 2003, a totally private email exchange one morning among my board members was hacked. It involved discussing whether we should intervene in a report that the FBI was demanding sermons from imams before they were given. (Sidebar- no FBI agents spoke any of the possible languages, and the sermons were to be written in English even though they were not delivered in English, so…) I got a call from someone that afternoon who knew EXACTLY what had been discussed. Said person’s ID proved false. I have no question that the NSA or someone had hacked our email account based on what NSA then used – trigger words: Mulsim, imam, FBI. After 2008 that sort of thing ended, warrants had to be obtained, and the FBI stopped calling me as they had done from 2003-2005 because I was the person who had REFUSED to disclose the contact information for the members of my Board.

    GG upheld those Bush-era surveillance methods and targets. His opposition to NSA today rests on nothing but dislike of this president, this administration. He’s not interested in my civil rights. He’s interested in his assaults on Obama.

    • repugnicant

      That certainly seems like a logical conclusion. Based on Greenwald’s own ‘reporting’, the NSA has been seriously reigned in. Where exactly was Greenwald when Bush was abusing the system?

      • Kerry Reid

        Same place Cheney was during Vietnam, I guess — “other priorities,” doncha know?

    • Graby Sauce

      To be fair, Greenwald was very much against Bush-era surveillance. I used to read him often at Salon. He was one of the foremost commentators discussing warrantless wiretapping. I had to stop reading him after he took up the “Obama = Bush” nonsense in light of the fact that warrantless wiretapping was specifically disallowed after 2008. I couldn’t understand why he was still upset– warrantless wiretapping is bad; warrantless wiretapping is now prohibited; Glenn Greenwald is still upset because . . . .????

  • elgallorojo

    p.s. Everybody, please continue to demonize the messengers as you have been were instructed by Bob. Any other course of action with hurt America.

    • repugnicant

      FOX is also a ‘messenger’. I’ll take a wild guess here and ASSUME that you believe FOX isn’t privy to this double standard.

    • raina

      and you are demonizing a messenger- Bob.

    • Regina Wanassa

      el:

      Snowden and Greenwald aren’t messengers. Messengers are passive conduits with no knowledge of the message and no interest or stake in the message. Not even legitimate whistleblowers are messengers. Critique and criticism isn’t attacking the messenger.

  • elgallorojo

    The Cult of Bobdino and all Surveillance State Liberals are not amused. Although there is no proof that this Spy on a Muslim program was discontinued under the Obama Administration, and there is some proof that is was not discontinued, it must all be regarded as starting and ending under George W. Bush. (Except for the CIA and the New York and New Jersey police departments, of course.) And you know, secretly recording everyone’s communications and storing them for later playback IS NOT WIRETAPPING and is therefore the God-given right of every Democratic president to employ with a clear conscience. Anyhoozle, as privileged white dudebro Bob says, these Muslims might be guilty as hell, you never can tell with 100% certainty, so even if that discontinued program is still running, it’s perfectly legal and warranted SO SHUT UP about it already.

    • feloniousgrammar

      Ahem, “…secretly recording everyone’s communications and storing them for later playback IS NOT WIRETAPPING…”

      Do you hear yourself? Is this what you’re talking about

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGVjoLlgHbM

      ?

    • FlipYrWhig

      Of course he didn’t even prove it was a “Spy on a Muslim program.” He proved that of a database of thousands of names, he could find 5 Muslims. That’s some mighty fine police work there, Lou.

    • villemar

      Bro, the Dystopian Hellscape Totalitarian Police State run by OHitlermba and his drooling lemminglike cultists are totally reading your angry, tl;dr Infowars screeds and Grumpy Cat pics on Facebook. You are right to lash out with spittle and bile at Bob’s Goebbelesqe articles. I’m so with you bro. When will the Sheeple wake the fuck up? Ron Paul 2014!!!

  • repugnicant

    It appears Greenwald, now desperate for attention after the country has grown tired of his antics, is dumping operative names stationed in Germany. To the village idiot, operatives in Germany can only mean that the U.S. is spying on Germany, unable to comprehend a myriad of complex possibilities, such as why one ‘suspect’ was contacting Russian operatives.

    This is certainly a tragedy for the U.S., being held over a barrel by simpletons who threaten to dump everything they have if apprehended. And then there’s the possibility, pointed out by the Banter, that if it was so easy for a low life hack like Snowden to lift so much classified material, the chances that these files will be, or already have been, compromised off the cpu’s of those completely ignorant to reality, has increased dramatically. Or, these files placed in the hands of the uber wealthy, like Omidyar. The Ukraine uprising? Bitcoin competitor Mt.Gox destroyed?

    If I were Obama, I’d apprehend them all and deal with the document dump, since 99.9% of it seems to be Bush era antics. Its a better risk to pull agents, end ongoing operations and start over, than to have their lives kept in the hands of a belligerent publicity hound who could get them all killed (and their families) for a quick buck. And to all those ingrates who prefer to put an entire nation at serious risk to protect their porn habits, go suck a rotten egg.

    • Marcus

      The big danger is that if the NSA’s security is this bad (as it obviously is), then all the back doors they installed into the global communications security infrastructure are open to Og knows who.

      • feloniousgrammar

        Three words— Booz Allen Hamilton. When a private contractor is at fault, we should call it out, and companies that fail to provide what they’re being paid to provide need to be slapped down hard. Having enormous government contracts is a privilege, not a right.

        • raina

          didn’t I read that they got their gov’t. contract renewed? Head desk.

      • reggid

        The bigger danger is that an anti-government nut-job contractor with criminal intent will take a job for the express purpose of gaining access to and stealing all kinds of privileged, classified documents, will steal a co-worker’s password to accomplish his crime, and will then dump all those documents containing all sorts of privileged information willy-nilly with an ever-widening group of anti-government hacks with no legal obligations to ensure their security and privacy. Why, it’s almost like that should be treated as a serious crime or something, no?

        • feloniousgrammar

          I think high ranking contractors systematically selling information over a large time span, while burying the money trail is a much bigger threat. They would probably know better than most the value of information, and rather than employing data dumps, they’d be carefully selecting information to he highest bidder in the global economy, which would be much easier to hide.

      • repugnicant

        I think the danger is within the agency and the oversight of contractors, who may be ideological fools willing to put millions at risk because of an axe to grind.

      • Regina Wanassa

        Government back doors aren’t the problem. Hacktivists, disaffected Techies, and the emerging all-entitled Hacker Class are the concern.

        • Marcus

          The government’s backdoors weaken the entire system, creating the vulnerabilities cyber-criminals now routinely exploit. Snowden was just the one we heard about because he went public — an unknown number could exploit the same swiss cheese agency security, discreetly steal the keys to all the backdoors, and go to work siphoning off the system created by the poorly compensated hard work of the “hacker class”.

  • phreethink

    Too bad this type of analysis is not included in the major media. Good work.

  • Shandy

    And as always, sweet JanSport, Glenn.

    • reggid

      Glenn is hip to the appropriate dude-bro couture, dontcha know. I bet he’s carrying his Beats headphones in there.

  • Marcus

    “imagine if Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein had reported that several American men were arrested at the Watergate hotel, and… nothing else”

    How about we imagine something that actually parallels the actual story — imagine if Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein had reported that several American men were arrested at the Watergate hotel, and… the government had kept it secret and refused to explain why.

    (As I noted on earlier threads, this subject is a bit tiresome, as the rise of universal encryption is rapidly making the issue moot. To paraphrase Churchill, the government will do the right thing (limit itself to legitimate narrowly-focused investigation) once the wrong thing (mass fishing expeditions) becomes impossible.)

    • beardsley james

      five people does fit my definition of “mass.”

    • FlipYrWhig

      Imagine if they had reported that several American men were arrested at the Watergate Hotel, and the most important thing was that two were Cuban. WHY ARE DC COPS HARASSING CUBANS? ETHNIC INTIMIDATION!

      • don

        In that case the Cubans were breaking the law … but this isn’t a illegal immigration thread ;).

        • feloniousgrammar

          OH! I was wondering where the Guardian of threads was.

  • Bud Machado

    Spied on for Being Muslim? NSA Targets Named in Snowden Leaks Respond to U.S. Gov’t Surveillance: http://www.democracynow.org/2014/7/10/spied_on_for_being_muslim_nsa

    • 624LC .

      This just in: greenwald fluffer bud machado continues to cut and paste.

  • don

    This isn’t tough Bob. The two critical paragraphs quoted below are the context of the article. Five US citizens were surveilled by their government for 5 years for an “unknowable” reason. They were not notified when the surveillance was over. Have no redress nor explanation from their government. They have no idea whether the data and information has been deleted. Oh, and throw in that at least one had a Top Secret Clearance. If you are going to surveil someone with a TS that last part is even more important.

    “The five Americans whose email accounts were monitored by the NSA and FBI have all led highly public, outwardly exemplary lives. All five vehemently deny any involvement in terrorism or espionage, and none advocates violent jihad or is known to have been implicated in any crime, despite years of intense scrutiny by the government and the press. Some have even climbed the ranks of the U.S. national security and foreign policy establishments.”

    and

    “Given that the government’s justifications for subjecting Gill and the other U.S. citizens to surveillance remain classified, it is impossible to know why their emails were monitored, or the extent of the surveillance. It is also unclear under what legal authority it was conducted, whether the men were formally targeted under FISA warrants, and what, if anything, authorities found that permitted them to continue spying on the men for prolonged periods of time. But the five individuals share one thing in common: Like many if not most of the people listed in the NSA spreadsheet, they are of Muslim heritage.”

    • FlipYrWhig

      Come on, man, exercise some critical judgment. Were they targets, or were they swept up in a “two hops” scheme that started with other targets? Because if it’s the latter, then they weren’t profiled, which is Greenwald’s interpretation — which is itself based on _his_ extracting 5 Muslim names from a database of thousands. Going by the article, he doesn’t know if they were targets or not. He doesn’t know if this was authorized by warrants or not. He doesn’t know when it started or when it stopped. But Muslim + list = embarrassing scandal, so, damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead. If he found 5 people who were gay (and in a dataset of thousands, there are certainly at least 5 gay people on the list), would that mean the NSA was “surveilling” gay people?

      • don

        But the facts to each of these INDIVIDUALS is the same! Ironically, you have pointed out one of the critical problems with infrencing algorithms.

        • beardsley james

          well, facts are what we don’t have a lot of here. but considering who these people are, do you think it possible they may have been in contact, knowingly or not, with people of interest to the government? do you actually think they could get a FISA warrant because they’re muslims and nothing else?

          • don

            I hope not. But, I am also sure that the narrative offered up compelling surveillance could be a great deal weaker than if they were joe blow from Iowa.

          • beardsley james

            well, and again we’re both just guessing here, joe blow from Iowa probably wouldn’t have contacts with high level Iranians or Hamas members, as these guys may have.

          • don

            Well, that’s a pretty serious rabbit hole to go down. I see the common sense factor in your argument but are you prepared to trust some Americans more than others based on ?.

          • beardsley james

            At some point you have to trust the government. we can’t really have DYI intelligence gathering where everyone gets to weigh in on individual cases, and we elect people we think will be most scrupulous in adhering to the laws. Spying is unpleasant, but since the beginning of time governments have had to do it to protect their interests. I do think we need to keep tabs on what the Iranians and Hamas are doing. Assuming the worst motives for the government is just that – assuming. I was actually reassured by what Greenwald wrote about the FISA warrant process – the way he describes it makes it seem very robust, and not likely grant warrants lightly.

          • Kerry Reid

            There was an interesting discussion over at Kevin Drum’s blog for Mother Jones about just what the Post and Greenwald plan to do with this data after they’re done with it. Hang onto it? How would it be secured? And wouldn’t hanging onto masses of personal data be EXACTLY the thing that they’re harping about (not without some reason, in my view) when the government does it? Yes, Greenwald and Gellman don’t have access to the POTENTIAL tools of repression that the government has. But that doesn’t make it any less relevant to ask just if, how, and when the information Snowden stole will be destroyed for the sake of privacy. (Or will it be sold off to the highest bidder?)

            Obviously, the fact that Snowden was able to coax passwords out of co-workers to access this information and make himself the arbiter of who should see it is deeply troubling. I’d say one solution is to get rid of independent contractors in the spy biz.

          • feloniousgrammar

            Bingo! Not only would that create more stable government jobs, but it could involve training a large number of Americans so that they can become skilled workers and can step up toward the middle class without having to take on a massive debt to get an unnecessary and irrelevant degree.

          • don

            Actually, the answer may lie in the idea of copyrighting conversations and emails. If those listening in had to pay royalties perhaps that would put a strong motivator not to abuse the privilege. And, if I get a check from the NSA I know I have been surveilled ;).

          • FlipYrWhig

            Well, it doesn’t have to be that they have contacts themselves: by “two hops” rules, they could have contacts who had contacts with people on watch lists. Which rapidly becomes a lot of people! Think about your friends’ friends or your coworkers’ former coworkers or your family’s friends. I don’t know these people. They’re probably a bunch of assholes! But they’re two hops from me.

          • FlipYrWhig

            Ah, but Greenwald doesn’t say how many names on his list of thousands are Joe Blow from Iowa. I would guess that there are many more Joe Blows than there are Muslim American civil rights activists. And of course that was the initial story: you, Joe Blow from Iowa, are probably in a government database somewhere being monitored by your own government. He’s not even using the dataset he has to tell the story he started out telling!

        • FlipYrWhig

          That’s not ironic, that’s deliberate. You can rightly say that these NSA surveillance schemes are creating a dragnet that’s pulling in too many people. I agree with that. But the story Greenwald wrote was about ethnic and religious profiling. He doesn’t have any proof for that. He can’t prove that they were targeted (because “targeted” has a specific meaning, which he finesses by saying “monitored,” to imply targeting without using the technical term), let alone the reason why. And yet that’s what he makes the linchpin of his article. That’s pretty brazen.

      • feloniousgrammar

        It seems that an intelligent person would have a sense of the enormity of the massive tangle of electronic signals in this world, in the Twenty-First Century; but NO— they keep talking and reacting at great length about how innumerate they are and about how they look at seven oceans worth of data and see only themselves or their proxies.

        Even when they’re talking about minorities, they’re talking about themselves and their campaign to rule the world through sabotage and blackmail because they think they’re the creme de la creme of cutting edge political thought and strategy.

        They are not special snowflakes, they aren’t particularly bright, they’re just ratfucking cranks.

        • don

          “It seems that an intelligent person would have a sense of the enormity of the massive tangle of electronic signals in this world, in the Twenty-First Century”

          So, what is your point? Because, amazingly enough that massive tangle seems to know where it is going most of the time. So, the it all washes out in the complexity argument, really doesn’t work.

          And, since you brought up “ratfucking cranks”. That would be the people who like to listen into the rest of us living our lives like Nixon. Good company?

    • beardsley james

      Why not extend your righteous outrage to the untold number of people, like myself, who had their phones tapped without warrants and were visited by the FBI immediately after 9/11 because of their Muslim spouses? I am very sure the number of people affected exceeded five.

      • don

        Indeed. Let’s do. If it makes you feel any better after 911 they pulled me at the airport a number of times. Never before. Never since. I am a Midwesterner with no ethnic or religious affiliation. Why? My guess was I was male, dark skinned, blue eyes, with a beard.

  • reggid

    This is hilarious — THAT’s his “bombshell”? That under Bush, the NSA looked at certain members of the Muslim community? Is this article a joke? It has to be a joke, right? LOL — what a complete dud.

    By the way, this occurred from 2002-2008. This is the same period during which Greenwald acknowledged his unquestioning loyalty and deference to Bush on his security measures in the war on terror. What a hypocritical jackass.

    • Badgerite

      It has been known for some time that warrantless surveillance went on in the Bush administration. That was what precipitated the near mutiny ( mass resignations ) at the DOJ and FBI just before the 2004 election. The 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act brought the NSA programs under the oversight of the FISA Courts and Congress. This is no ‘bombshell’. This is well known recent history. All of which brought about the legislation of 2008 which Senator Obama voted for and which was signed into law by Bush.

      • reggid

        Exactly — this is just more Bush-era, pre-2008 FISA Amendment garbage that Greenwald is trying to lay at Obama’s feet. If it wasn’t obvious already, it’s now readily apparent that Greenwald doesn’t and never did have any evidence of any illegalities or abuses under the Obama administration, and that his agenda is, was, and always has been to try to undermine Obama and the Dems by falsely trying to blame them for Bush’s systematic abuses — abuses which, as noted, Greenwald wholeheartedly supported until it became personally profitable for him to claim to oppose them.

        • feloniousgrammar

          Greenwald is one of those stupid white menz who just doesn’t understand what’s wrong with white men making disastrous errors, then expecting the black man to clean it up (which or POTUS is doing quite well, thank you); which to me seems to be the essence of the risible “philosophy” of Objectivism. The answer to Objectivism is “Get a job.”

          • Aaron Litz

            Objectivism is my archenemy.

          • feloniousgrammar

            Not Doc Octopus, Venom, the Sand Man, the Green Goblin, or the lizardy guy?

          • Aaron Litz

            Only in teh funny books! In real life it’s actually Objectivism!
            (plus it’s sort of an in-joke; Ditko, who drew this Spidey pic, is a HUGE Objectivist. Unfortunately.)

  • formerlywhatithink

    I stopped paying attention to this Greenwald story when he started whining that he was being censored on Reddit and that his “news” was being treated as what it is, opinion. At this point, I view anything coming from Greenwald and his “journalism” site (read vanity project) as just a desperate attempt to have his web site traffic crack at least the top 30,000 in rank worldwide.

  • CitizenSoldier_RC

    From my (albeit brief) review of the (albeit incomplete) FISA recap spreadsheet, it also appears that the FBI was the “responsible” agency for the surveillance of these individuals. To my knowledge, the mere fact of the FBI surveilling U.S. persons is not controversial — that’s actually the FBI’s job. So would the theoretical problem be that the FBI making use of NSA assets in surveilling these individuals (i.e., is it now a “problem” for the FBI to utilize other agency resources in the course of its investigations)?

    • FlipYrWhig

      One theoretical problem is over-broad data collection. Another theoretical problem is harassment and intimidation. The first can lead to the second. Seems to me that Greenwald jumped to the second (you can tell by the way he foregrounds “Muslim”) without establishing that the second was a product of the first. And let’s remember that this story was originally the first: data collection was SO over-broad it included basically everybody. It’s morphed a few times since then.

    • feloniousgrammar

      The FBI ought to be keeping a close eye on militant hate groups in the U.S.

      Christ on a half-shell, the extremists with Bundy ranch are fighting for their ‘right’ to pilfer government lands— The People’s Lands. Bet on most issues they’re all about the Tragedy of the Commons and private ownership.

      Who’s going to reason with these people? They’re targeting law enforcement officers. They want Ruby Ridge, they might just get Ruby Ridge with a hell of a lot more in the armament department.

      http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/news/splc-report-bundy-ranch-standoff-was-highly-coordinated-reflecting-threat-of-large

  • NW10

    This is why I continue to pay attention to Mr. Cesca and Milt Shook over at pleasecutthecrap.com for pointing out how much full of shit Glenn Greenwald is. Greenwald is NOT a journalist nor should be he labeled as such. He hasn’t been reporting ANY of these leaked documents with context, nor has he had any experts in the field review these documents and tell him what they mean. Instead, Greenwald coins an opinion on what he believes the documents mean and runs with it, and gets lauded by the Progressive Unicorn Brigade for doing so, which is such horseshit!

    • beardsley james

      You might also like Lawfare Blog, where these issues are analyzed by lawyers with expertise in these matters. Here is their response to Greenwald’s latest:

      http://www.lawfareblog.com/2014/07/on-glenn-greenwalds-latest/

      • Regina Wanassa

        Thank you for the link, James.

      • feloniousgrammar

        I love it already:

        Greenwald has gotten his hands on a spreadsheet listing the email addresses of people supposedly subject to FISA surveillance, and he has identified five Muslim Americans whose addresses are on it. He has interviewed the subjects and found that they don’t acknowledge being legitimate FISA targets. He has noted that nothing about their public activities would give rise to an adequate FISA application, and he has noted as well that no charges were filed against any of them. After quoting an appallingly-bigoted former FBI official (who believes, among other things, that CIA director John Brennan is a secret Muslim) and an internal government email that uses a gross ethnic slur (“Mohammed Raghead”), he concludes that we’re dealing with COINTELPRO.

  • FlipYrWhig

    I was arguing about the gamesmanship with verb tenses all day yesterday on Balloon Juice. Of course, as Kerry points out elsewhere in this thread, John declares from the get-go on every one of these threads that objections will not be taken into consideration…

    Bob hits most of the major points. But if I’m not mistaken, there’s another thing going on here too:

    But the five individuals share one thing in common: Like many if not
    most of the people listed in the NSA spreadsheet, they are of Muslim
    heritage.

    Does this mean that it was Greenwald who chose to highlight these particular 5 people, out of a cast of thousands of candidates? On what basis? Are they typical cases, atypical cases? Are they in a cluster in the documents, or are they discussed as a group elsewhere in the trove? That “many if not most” phrase is curious too, because it suggests the list of names is roughly 50-50 “Muslim heritage” to non-Muslim-heritage, which strikes me as a bad piece of evidence of ethnic profiling — which is his implication.

    I’m sure that every year there are people who get tax refunds who are committing heinous crimes like molesting children. If you write a story about tax refunds and title it “Tax refunds for child molesters,” you’re not wrong exactly, but that’s hardly the reason for the refund, is it? It’s rather inflammatory to characterize the situation that narrowly.

    So AFAICT Greenwald is begging for one kind of outrage when another is possible. What you’re supposed to do in these cases as a reporter is that you, like, prove it, with evidence. And I’d bet he thinks he’s done that, too. I don’t think he accepts that there’s a difference between his pile of facts and his theory of how to interpret the pile of facts. He’s demonstrated over and over again that he gets these categories mixed up, either inadvertently or intentionally. And for the life of me I don’t comprehend how intelligent, sane people get played by these same devices over and over and over again.

    • FlipYrWhig

      Also, “share one thing in common” is a terrible phrase. It should be either “share one thing” or “have one thing in common.”

      • beardsley james

        GG is not an elegant wordsmith (unlike our Bob!).

      • feloniousgrammar

        Yes, it had occurred to me that they are all human, alive, bipeds, adults, etc. , and upon questioning may have had some other meaningful affinities; but Greenwald declared them to be nothing but a handful of Muslims while suggesting that other liberals who weren’t as outraged as he is are Muslim hating chauvinists.

        He’s just too uncouth to be making blanket condemnations of others as if it would elevate him.

    • beardsley james

      Yet people swallowed this angle whole (along with misstating when it happened). This was in Plum Line blog daily wrap up yesterday, ” Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain have the latest revelation on NSA spying, this time about some specific individual they’re keeping under surveillance for no apparent reason other than them being suspiciously Muslim.”

      • FlipYrWhig

        That’s definitely the way the story is carefully designed to steer you. But Greenwald didn’t put in any of the linkages. Taking the story in its own terms, what happened here is that HE selected 5 influential and upstanding Muslim people FROM A LIST OF THOUSANDS. And then he said it was curious because nothing else linked them than their background. No, buddy, no, YOU linked these people ON THAT BASIS, then acted like someone else had done it and that it was shameful.

      • feloniousgrammar

        Wouldn’t it be hilarious if they had turned out to be Coptic Christians or Jewish? I mean, how ‘suspiciously Muslim’ were they, really?

    • Badgerite

      I would say intentionally.

    • Marcus

      Admittedly, the evidence doesn’t actually provide ironclad proof that they were spied on because they were Muslims. Perhaps they were spied on because they visited the Tor website, or read the Linux Journal.

      • FlipYrWhig

        Or perhaps they were associates of people being spied on, or associates of the associates of people being spied on, because those are also ways for names and addresses and logins to end up in a database. You don’t have to be under suspicion yourself. In fact, that was the WHOLE POINT of the original wave of NSA stories.

  • brif

    i see bob is maintaining his dishonesty on this issue. this part was my favorite; “evidence needs to have been presented by Greenwald showing the absence of a warrant.”
    laughably pathetic bob. please explain how to present evidence that something doesn’t exist. even if it did, no application or order for foreign intelligence surveillance has ever been publicly disclosed.

    • FlipYrWhig

      The story concedes that the “monitoring” of these people may have been done with a warrant–or not. We also know from various sources that NSA targeting leads to the collection of communications on people beyond the original target: the target’s associates, and the target’s associates’ associates. Thus when someone has their communications monitored it could be because he or she is a target, or an associate, or an associate’s associate, and it could be done with a warrant from FISA or from someone else, or not. You kind of need an answer to that before speculating about why.

      My wife used to work for a company that did a lot of business overseas, and she’s had email exchanges with people whom she later learned were important people in their home countries’ politics. If those figures were ever under NSA surveillance, my wife’s name is probably on a list somewhere. Maybe my name is on one of those lists! That doesn’t mean that the NSA was investigating my wife, or me, and even though I have been posting on various blogs for a dozen years, if I concocted a theory that the NSA was trying to intimidate me for my opinions about politics, sports, books, and TV shows by putting me on their scary blacklist, you would be right to laugh and point, because that would be stupid and self-aggrandizing.

    • repugnicant

      I believe you’re supposed to give a logical explanation as to why Greenwald believes that you and his other followers aren’t smart enough to granted the privilege of knowing the ‘why’s’ – not attack the people who actually want to know ‘why’.

      When financial backer Huffington Post can’t even keep Greenwald’s accusations on the front page for even a day, due to a lack of activity, maybe its time to face reality.

  • Bud Machado

    Bob Cesca (an Obama apologist) is a FAKE LIBERAL!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRtROGdtf9U

    • beardsley james

      how is he apologizing for obama for something that happened under bush?

      • villemar

        Allow me to translate: Obama Bad! Loud Noises! Hot Water Burn Baby! Ron Paul 2014!

      • 624LC .

        Allow me a further bud macado translation: “Oh god!! Oh god!!! Glenn!!!! Yesssss…. Whew…. Obama bad”

        • beardsley james

          these people are like Pavlov’s dogs. They read NSA, and immediately start screaming about Obama, no matter the actual contents of the story.

          • Regina Wanassa

            Maybe another way to express it: “These people are trained like Pavlov’s dogs.” Without doubt, what we’ve seen develop over the past year is classical conditioning at its finest.

    • Kerry Reid

      It’s adorable that Mommy and Daddy let you play with the computer on your supervised visits.

  • Lex

    cesca going full blown neocon like usual

    • 624LC .

      Lex: a noun, verb and “neocon”…as usual

    • beardsley james

      I think he was going full blown where are the facts, something neocons don’t care about any more than you seem to.

  • Bud Machado

    Investigation Proves NSA Spies on Americans beyond Metadata Collection: http://www.therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=12091

  • http://www.osborneink.com/ OsborneInk

    Five. Five Americans. Glenn Greenwald can tell us the names of FIVE Americans who were subject to NSA surveillance, but not why.

    A year ago I was promised AT LEAST three hundred million Americans were being spied on ALL THE TIME, for the purposes of CONTROOOOOOOLLLL…and that the proof was coming.

    It occurs to me now that if you tell this whole story backwards, it becomes very different.

    Start with five Americans subject to unexplained surveillance during the Bush years, possibly because of Islamophobia in the neocon movement that was already being run out of the bureaucracy by 2008.

    That matches what we know about “Total Information Awareness” doctrine being retired after 2006 as the NSA stopped trying to collect 100% of US email metadata. (The current figure is about 30%.)

    Then a new president hires a bunch of privacy compliance personnel, and the FISA court tells the NSA to fix its rules about metadata. All of this takes place before Edward Snowden opined that whistleblowers “should be shot in the nuts.”

    Now we have a completely different story, don’t we?

    • feloniousgrammar

      Remember, shortly after the 9/11 attacks when neocons who had escaped from the attic pondered— out loud to corporate news “journalists”— the idea of using U.S. taxpayer funded DARPA as an international gambling casino in which very wealthy white Western menz could speculate on when and where the next terrorist attack was going to be? They called that “intelligence” or something equally ludicrous. It was somewhat terrifying when they let their masks slip, sometimes.

  • Richard_thunderbay

    When was the last time Greenwald published anything that wasn’t at least indirectly Snowden related?

    Despite the writing staff that they’ve accumulated, the Intercept, which is in theory supposed to be a general news site, has very little show for it’s existence beyond this soap opera. They might as rename the place Snowden’s drips and drabs.

    I see careers circling the toilet bowl (more than just Greenwald’s) as this story peters out.

    • feloniousgrammar

      Finally.

  • Regina Wanassa

    Nice critique, Bob. Thank you.

    But… protracted fireworks??? How many shades of yellow can his yellow journalism reach?

    This is sheer profiteering off of stolen public goods, and it’s politically motivated sabotage, not journalism. It’s time to start demanding some action from Congress.

    • feloniousgrammar

      “Action” ? From Congress? GOTV and vote. It’s silly season until the elections are over, and if the Democrats don’t take Congress by a good margin, things are going to get way too serious.

      • Regina Wanassa

        felonious:

        Action, at the very least, in leading the national discourse in a meaningful direction instead of legitimizing nonsensical ravings from the lunatic fringe.

        GOTV is a short term tactic not a long term strategy, and it’s a tactic that should be a feature in every election regardless of the political atmosphere. GOTV is the smallest piece of long term change and a feature of electoral politics only. It isn’t a resolution of any kind. GOTV hasn’t proven effective in Koch-saturated political environments, and it doesn’t address voter reluctance or voter apathy. Write before you vote. Inform the currently established body of representatives of your opinions. I won’t vote for any portion of the privacy-privatization agenda. Period. I won’t vote for any candidate who supports Snowden-inspired legislation, and I won’t vote for any political “coalition” that can’t see Snowden and Greenwald for what they truly are. That candidate and that political body are unfit to govern.

        Communicate with elected Democrats now in office. Admonish them for morphing themselves into reactionary wing-nuts. I, for one, can’t stomach the transformation in Congress post-Snowden. In absence of sound judgment, we’ve got regressive “Progressives” spouting as much historically revisionist nonsense as Rand Paul; we’ve got the “Progressive” National Defense platform incorporating the Libertarian privacy-privatization agenda; we’ve got the Pseudo-Progressives’ grand plan – coalition governance, i.e. ally with “civil” libertarians who find it admirable to ally with the NRA; we’ve got “bipartisan” Anti-Government pacts to jam through ill-considered and reactionary Anti-NSA legislation grounded not on sober deliberation or rational observation but on absorption of noxious propaganda. Not my idea of sensible coalescence or reasonable response. At this juncture, my vote is a vote of no confidence.

        Democrats have shown that they will radicalize toxic Extremism as readily as GOP obstructionists. Ron Wyden is a perfect example. Snowden himself indicated that it was Wyden’s political theatrics that “inspired” him, radicalizing him further in his Anti-Government activism. Who knows how many more Snowdens or worse Wyden and his ilk have radicalized. Democratic adhesion to the Snowden-Greenwald agenda is both disgraceful and regressive. When elected Democrats recognize that they’re legitimizing a toxic agenda; when elected Democrats seriously address germane issues consequent to Snowden’s leaks with a modicum of thoughtfulness, then I will put more thought into the midterms. Until then, I’ll write to Congress and the President with my concerns.

        Sincere apologies for the screed. I’m just frustrated with GOTV-talk; Democratic legitimization of an illegitimate debate; and Democratic support for what I consider one arm of an Anti-Progressive agenda. I don’t want to discourage anyone from participating in the midterms. I don’t express these matters to dampen enthusiasm. So, apologies to you and apologies to everyone on this thread if my comments have elicited that reaction.

        • feloniousgrammar

          I do those things, thank you, but the primary reason that the GOP has had the hold they’ve had since Reagan is that too many liberals don’t vote.

          • Regina Wanassa

            Hello felonious:

            Apologies again. I wasn’t suggesting you weren’t communicating with our representatives in Congress.

            While it is conventional wisdom to assume that Liberals who don’t vote caused GOP ascendance, I don’t quite concur. I do believe voting for the good of the whole is among the most important responsibilities associated with citizenship. But the primary reason for the GOP having the hold they do? No.That is directly attributable to individuals elected and the manner in which they do or do not unite in House and Senate chambers. The Conservative composition of the Supreme Court didn’t result from Presidential appointment alone. All those justices were confirmed by the Senate. Gun control remains elusive not because of GOP control, but of Democratic complicity. On another note: Obama Derangement Syndrome didn’t descend to its present depths in a vacuum of Republican hysteria. Obama Derangement Syndrome is abetted (and exacerbated) by an equally regressive faction inhabiting the Left. The last round of “coalition governance” gave us the DLC and its train of wrong-headed political coalitions. It’s looking similar to the “new” effort. It was the wrong move then, and it’s the wrong strategy now.

            We’ll probably have to agree to disagree on the whys of our current political condition. I don’t fear bad GOP governance as much as I fear bad Democratic governance. There’s nothing GOP representatives can do that can’t be undone or prevented – countering the GOP is a matter of political will and organization. That calls for solid “first principles” governing, to use James Madison’s term.

            Let’s be realistic here. The specifics of GOP obstructionism and their state by state juggernaut wasn’t hidden from view. Nor should their resolve to chart the direction of the country have come as any surprise. For the sake of argument, let’s assume the long game of the GOP and their puppeteers wasn’t obvious earlier (though it was). After the Tea Party Policy Summit in early 2011 the long game and the details of their short-term “battles” should have been painfully obvious. They hid nothing at that conference, and what wasn’t spelled out was easily gleaned with sufficient scrutiny. That Summit was a candid reveal of what came to pass with respect to debt ceiling crisis, extortion politics, relentless obstructionism, and weaponizing the judicial system. Yet elected Democrats and the media reacted as if GOP insanity couldn’t be anticipated.

            I don’t expect elected Democrats to move mountains; I don’t expect them to be perfect; and I don’t expect them to attend to my every policy preference. But, I do expect them to govern rationally; I do expect them to lead by properly framing the parameters of our national discourse; and I do expect them to abide by the reason rather than the passion of the people.

            “… it is the reason of the public alone, that ought to control and regulate the government. The passions ought to be controled and regulated by the government.”

            ~ James Madison, Federalist no. 49

            Elected Democrats aren’t addressing the reason of the public, and by not addressing the reason of the public Democrats are contributing to spiraling unreasonableness. Not directing the Snowden debate rationally is one thing, and it’s unacceptable. But for me, drafting and promoting propaganda-inspired legislation crosses the line of fitness. That the Snowden saga is larger than it should be is at issue. I think this is the “nip it in bud” crossroads. Make no mistake, to my mind, poor judgment pertaining to the Anti-Surveillance crusade isn’t single-issue or even a matter of agenda; it’s recognition of a governing pattern with which I do not concur. I’ve often wondered at what point reasonable Republicans could have tempered the escalation of the Tea Party. I haven’t answered that question yet, but I do believe 2014 is the Tea Party moment for Democrats. Assenting to irrational governance I will not do.

            2014 isn’t about what the GOP will do. It’s about what Democrats will do.

            From the wider lens, I’m of the opinion that rights and liberties should never be weaponized. After observing the weaponization of free speech, liberty of the press, the Fourth and Second Amendments, I’ll not weaponize my right of suffrage.

    • FlipYrWhig

      How many shades of yellow can his yellow journalism reach?

      Greenwald has so many shades of yellow he’s like journalistic topaz.

  • Bubble Genius

    Jesus fuck, he’s the Elton John of journalism, but less talented. He’ll be doing a journalism residency in Reno, or maybe Branson.

    • feloniousgrammar

      Like playing to every U.S. ex-pat sump hole around the world?

      • Bubble Genius

        Glenn should form his own version of the USO, called UFOff. Think of the entourage. Glenn and Eddie can do a Hope/Crosby tribute, called “Road to Siberia” and Laura Poitras can be their Dorothy Lamour.

    • Draxiar

      HA! “Glenn’s Song”! Only it’s the same one line lyric repeated over and over and over…

      • beardsley james

        Hold me closer, tiny traitor

        • Bubble Genius

          You guys are figuratively killing me.

          • ruth crocker

            and it seems to me that you wrote your post like a candle in the wind…

        • ruth crocker

          don’t go bugging my phone
          i won’t go bugging your phone

      • ruth crocker

        Glenny! Glenny! Glenny!
        Glenny and his pet

    • beardsley james

      I remember when theft was young
      me and eddie had so much fun
      spinnin’ lies bout spyin’ on phones
      now i’ve got a gazillion dollar mag of my own
      but the biggest thrill i ever got
      was doing a thing called the Schlock ‘n Bile Rock
      with the other folks reporting as taught
      i was socking and mocking with the Schlock ‘n Bile Rock
      etc etc

      Chorus
      Nyah! Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah! Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah! Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah!

      • Kerry Reid

        NEEDS MOAR “DEAR LEADER!!!”

      • Bubble Genius

        Bravo.

  • Tort Master

    I’m a sucker for a perfect analogy:

    “You might be familiar with the creationist trope: ‘God is in the gaps.’ Some creationists insist that whatever science can’t fully explain must, therefore, be the work of God.

    When it comes to Greenwald’s reporting, outrage is in the gaps.”

    Very nice. I blame (credit) Murtaza Hussain for doing the actual writing and reporting in this piece. As you noted, the “Rubber-Stamp” myth was entirely demolished, other points were made that opposed the Snowden Worldview, and the article actually explained that it had no evidence to back up the assertion that only bigotry was behind the surveillance. I think that Greenwald’s writing style (hiring practices) are improved!

  • Kerry Reid

    And yeah, that “have been spying on” headline? Deliberately misleading bullshit from the guy who couldn’t swallow Dubya’s bullshit fast enough (“Thank you sir! May I have another!”) back when he wanted “vengeance” against “Islamists” (“Invade Iraq! Pass the Patriot Act!”) But now, Lil Glennie is desperate to suggest that “Dear Leader” Obama is JUST AS BAD AS BUSH!!!, despite the utter and total lack of evidence – even from his own private Snowden Stash which he’s had over a year to pore through — that illegal surveillance of American citizens has happened under the current administration.

    • Tort Master

      This article, like the whole Snowden affair, shows again why it is important to have a Democrat in the White House. Greenwald can tweet out a vague “there’s still surveillance” going on or something along those lines, but every reasonable person understands that. The question is this: Is the surveillance reasonable and Constitutional? That question isn’t even answered for these five gentlemen. As for Greenwald’s childish antics seeking to tempt Democrats into clicking on his website, as you say, there is a “total lack of evidence.” In fact, the evidence overwhelmingly confirms that electing a Democrat was the best thing for privacy.
      We know that President Bush did not get court orders for his NSA telephone metadata collection program; President Obama got court orders for his. We also know that President Bush had sloppy minimization procedures for his metadata collection program; President Obama had those minimization procedures updated by his Department of Justice. Most significantly, we know that the Bush NSA used actual warrantless wiretaps, and the Obama Administration has not. (Or, at least there’s been no evidence of them.)

      I would suggest any skeptics read the the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board report on the metadata program. They witnessed an actual query run by the NSA, and they heard testimony from all interested parties. The protocols described instantly reminded me of what I hope the CDC is using to handle their e coli and plague specimens. The real story here is that Government, with a Democrat as President, works, even when nobody is watching.

  • Kerry Reid

    “No, no — THIS is the money shot you’ve been looking for!” Glenn “Dirk Diggler” Greenwald

  • cricket

    I feel somewhat bad for Snowden,…Greenwald et al (including wikileak lawyers) are making mega headlines and money, while this poor schlub is hoping Russia will allow him to stay there.

    • Kerry Reid

      I don’t feel sorry for the racist sack of shit at all. Though yes, it’s unfortunate that Mr. Master Spy Snowden will probably end up eking out a miserable existence as Putin’s puppet. That’s what happens when your hubris gets the better of your brain.

    • feloniousgrammar

      Fuck him— he’s more than old enough to be an adult. This could be the best possible lesson for him, it puts what he thinks he wants and what he thought he was in the context of a world with over seven billion people who aren’t looking for a white, male, libertarian moron to save them with his idiotic ‘principles’ and high school level melodrama.

      Perhaps now he has a clue or two about what kind of training and experience goes into being an international spy. From all I’ve learned about him from Bob, he’s not much of a tech wizard, either.

      The lame laziness and haphazard way he’s handled himself since the start of this was embarrassing in its own right, he could have stopped this at any time. I’ve no doubt that the average Russian crackers scamming multi-millions in the U.S. aren’t in need of his “prowess”, so he better be watching his back. Those roving gangs of sociopaths who were raised from birth in medieval Russian orphanages could have a bead on him. If he ever figures out what’s good for him, he’ll go to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and turn himself in.

      He’s not a “man” in any mature and dignified way— he’s a man-child.

    • beardsley james

      i feel sorry for the civil liberties union wasting their time and reputation on this weasel.

      • Kerry Reid

        The very reason I asked ACLU and Amnesty International to take me off their email lists.

        • beardsley james

          Agreed. Is snowden the candle and the nsa the barbed wire in the Amnesty International logo? How on earth can he compare to a tortured dissident?

          • Kerry Reid

            Especially when neither he nor Greenwald have shown the slightest bit of concern with people facing real surveillance, imprisonment, and physical abuse by authorities in the countries where they now hang their shingles. Such as they are.

      • Regina Wanassa

        James:

        The ACLU isn’t wasting their time because Snowden’s agenda is right up their ally. They’re on the wrong side of “civil liberties in the digital age” because they have no moral compass; their narrow frame misconstrues Constitutional liberty altogether.

        • feloniousgrammar

          I had to let them go when I found out that they have nothing to say about reactionary little bodies blatantly denying the civil rights of people who have suffered from emotional/mental crises and have been forced medication that makes them sense, when all they needed was respite, a little time to regroup, and some assistance.

          All they do is lobby for everyone to have “access”. Men can put their wives away now, just as easily as they could in a Hitchcock plot.

  • feloniousgrammar

    Damn it all to hell, Bob! I was hoping that this was the last wad that Greenwald would publicly shoot on the hungry faces of the hopelessly emotarian & “Reason” types before he retired behind a pricey pay wall that would tell him what his writing is really worth.

    There in the weightless world of anti-American Americans, all would be revealed!

    And nothing would be revealed, but they could stew in it privately forever, and ever, and ever…

    Useless fucking bags of gall— always at the restaurant table with the party, always forget to bring their wallets — lazy fucking parasites— someone should have told them this long ago:

    Get out, and don’t you come back till you’ve caught a rabbit!

  • Barbara Striden

    In the Greenwald tweet you posted at the end of your post, the two words “Dear Media” say all that’s necessary to reveal what a preposterously high regard this superficial, attention-hungry papparazzo has of himself.

    • raina

      Seems he knows his supposed finale has turned out to be a dud, so he’s saying no not this one, the next one. Problem is, he’s been saying the next revelation is going to be a shocker, a bombshell, etc for months.

      Fucking grifter.

      • Kerry Reid

        It’s like Lucy and the football, minus the childlike charm.

      • Tort Master

        Exactly, raina! That’s exactly what I was thinking.
        Here’s my big Finale!
        [fizzle]
        Wait, look over here!

        • FlipYrWhig

          Bullwinkle: Hey, Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of mah hat!
          Rocky: Again?
          Bullwinkle: (tears off a shirt sleeve) Nothing up my sleeve. Presto!
          (reaches hand into hat and pulls out the head of a lion)
          Bullwinkle: No doubt about it, I gotta get another hat.

          • Neddy Merrill

            Brilliant! That’s Godwald for sure.

  • DubsCorleone

    I’m so over this whole NSA mess, I’m almost ready to say dump all the documents and lets sort it out from there-but I know how dangerous that will be
    We’re supposed to be up in arms over the Gov, but trust the thin-skinned, petty Greenwald and journalist who have to “clarify” their story 6,7,8,9 times with our info? Not even

    Another thing that amazes me is that his supporters get on various social media sites where they tell their life story from birth to now and complain about privacy as they post their 79th picture of all their business-on a public site-but yet the government is spying on them-okay

    • http://www.osborneink.com/ OsborneInk

      “The government is spying on my tweets!” = height of absurdity.

      • Kerry Reid

        There is a delightful little play called “Speech & Debate” about the nerdy kids in a high school coming together on the speech and debate team. The girl is a “Wicked” fan and has her own public video blog where she alternates between emo rants about her life and rhapsodizing about Idina Menzel (the original Elphaba for the non-theater nerds). When she finds out that one of her classmates has watched it, she gets very upset. “That was my private video diary!” Which reminds me of people being hysterical about their social media sites being monitored (what part of “social” did they not understand) and Glenn using the “Hey, I didn’t know anybody read this thing!” defense of his hateful anti-“illegals” post in 2005.

  • deckbose

    “There are many other stories that will be reported – here & elsewhere – from the archive.” Let’s hope the next batch of “fireworks” are more than mere sparklers and bottle rockets.

    • Richard_thunderbay

      I think that his finale got derailed by the Washington Post.

      • FlipYrWhig

        And that story itself was not particularly stable or close to the rails.

    • Kerry Reid

      Well, obviously the whole idea of news judgment is to lead with stuff that’s six years old or even older, and then work your way up to the stuff that’s happening now. That is, if you’re a journalist in Opposite World.

      Again: if I were someone who is CURRENTLY (or at least current as of the Great Snowden Heist of 2012) under government surveillance and found out Greenwald was playing footsie with the facts and the data and teasing this shit out for the sake of clickbait BS, I’d be pretty damn livid.

    • Regina Wanassa

      I dunno, deckbose. I hope Greenwald doesn’t violate the privacy of any other American citizen by plastering their names and faces all over his sensationalist tabloid. Revealing the identities of individual Americans for his own profit motives is really disgusting. At this point, Greenwald should just return the people’s stolen “archive” to the proper authorities. He and Snowden have sparked a debate. If that was their mission (and ostensibly it was) then mission accomplished. If sparking a debate isn’t what motivates them then they should be forthcoming and announce what it is they want to achieve. Snowden would like the American people to change the laws expressly for his benefit. Perhaps this is the direction Greenwald should take the “debate.”

      • deckbose

        Excellent point.

  • Aatticus Flacko

    I’d love to see or be pointed to an analysis of how Greenwald et al of spread these slanted Snowden stories over the year.

    It’s almost like there is a methodology:

    1. Misleading headline, hysterics, inferred conclusions that don’t match facts
    2. echos from ‘fellow travellers’ of the Greenwald points: Friesdorf, HuffPo, Gosztola, Raddack, etc. in their tweets, related articles almost immediatly

    3. Points that counter the headline buried deep where a lot of people don’t read to

    4. Attacking critics personally
    5. Failure to address criticism.

    Then within a day or two the “whole story” comes out after opponents dig, but no corrections are made.

    To me adversarial journalism means “opinion” piece, as you can’t do proper journalism if you already think your quarry is guilty.

    All this Snowden stuff seems more propaganda than journalism, so who’s it for?

    • stacib23

      For #1, don’t forget Chris Hayes when naming his followers. I always thought this guy was much brighter than he is appearing when it comes to Greenwald and all of his government is spying bullshit.

      • Kerry Reid

        Don’t forget John Cole at Balloon Juice. Though in that case, I ascribe it to Maureen Dowd Syndrome — JC needs a Big Strong Daddy-Man to Believe In and Fool Him! Now that Dubya is Gone, GG Will Do!

        • FlipYrWhig

          Hmm. Glenn Greenwald ain’t exactly Ron Swanson.

          • beardsley james

            Or a Swanson dinner! Not filling!

          • Kerry Reid

            I really just meant that for all that Cole talks about how he was so brain-dead and supported the GOP for years because of “tribalism” and where he was raised (he was depraved on accounta he was deprived, I guess), he STILL falls for the Manichean worldview of people like Greenwald — if you don’t accept THIS interpretation of facts as gospel, then you’re just an asshole. And don’t dare call Glenn out for being an asshole (agreeing with nun-rape comments about Obama, calling Cole’s commenters “Islamophobes”), because that will just prove you’re an asshole! Like all those conservative assholes Cole used to run with/used to be, so he knows, so SHUT UP!

            So — um, he hasn’t really changed his underlying perceptions and is still apparently easily led around by anyone who spins a sufficiently SKEERY story with cherry-picked facts. Greenwald’s NSA fixation is yellow cake to him.

          • vp

            Sooner or later someone is going to find that guy in a pair of cement shoes.

      • vp

        I agree and I have the very same opinion of Racheal Maddow. She’s as intelligent as rhey get. But when it comes to fighting terror with the CIA, drones and the NSA she she hasn’t a clue.

        • George Shute

          Most people don’t. Probably because it’s a very nuanced ordeal that has no clear right or wrong. People don’t like cognitive dissonance. They want clearly defined things that are either good or bad. Unfortunately, in war and security, the notion of good and bad are often in the eyes of the beholder and subject to a wide array of personal interpretation.

    • feloniousgrammar

      I’d wager a Paul or two and many other types of Republicans who couldn’t win a fair election have been involved in this since Snowden worked in Texas— Dell was it?

      Professional ratfuckers, all.

    • raina

      It’s always baffled me why most of the msm hasn’t seen through the bullshit, and hasn’t called him on his disingenuous reporting, glaring holes, misinterpretations, etc. Are they afraid to lose access to GG and his treasures or something?

      • feloniousgrammar

        I think it’s the same reason why they trashed Gore and wouldn’t touch a hair on W.s little head during the 2000 election season. The Fourth Estate needs to be mucked.

        • http://www.osborneink.com/ OsborneInk

          Correct. Glenn Greenwald shrewdly used the media’s worst modern habits to propel his story into the public conversation.

      • Regina Wanassa

        Hyena hordes. McCarthyistic intimidation. Hacktivists.

        But maybe old fashioned self-interest. A bold critique of Greenwald opens the “dysfunctional media” can of worms and the possibility that the current media environment is inhibitive to vibrant discourse and the health of our democratic republic.

      • Richard_thunderbay

        “Controversy/scandal” sells papers, gets TV viewers and generates page clicks. The MSM generally hasn’t called out Issa and his gang of idiots over their Benghazi shit for the same reason.

        • stacib23

          Or the eleventy thousand times the Republican-controlled House has voted to get rid of ACA and the cost of the government shutdown by folks who claim to have the best interests of the country as their driving force. Why isn’t some reporter or talking head calling them out about the whole fiscal conservatism bullshit while they are wasting all these bucks?

          • vp

            You know that irks the hell out of me too. Everyone of them know damn well of what the truth and bs is about the conservatives and they try to play middle ground. And I wouldn’t have a problem with it if there were a middle ground but there isn’t. For what ever reason they are scared of Fox and that’s a shame.

        • vp

          Nailed it

      • vp

        They wanr to keep a story going (ratings)

      • George Shute

        Because blind outrage is like catnip to the low-information public. Throw some out, watch people not bother to vet nor critically think about it, and then you can reap the advertising revenues that the ensuing attention brings. It’s also because most of the major network newscasters don’t actually understand any of this any better than the low-information public they service.