Edward Snowden media sherpa Glenn Greenwald doesn't have too many fans around these parts, so Daily Banterers probably sensed a giddy disturbance in The Force Friday night when IAVA founder Paul Rieckhoff got into it with Greenwald, but When Greenwald demanded evidence of lives lost, it was Maher who responded with what was the best point of the segment: when CIA agents are killed it's never made public -- we'll never know.
Rieckhoff began by objecting to Greenwald's suggestion that Americans are the terrorists in the Middle East, while calling out the President for sending troops back into Iraq, but calling them "advisers."
Greenwald said that calling the ISIS forces "terrorists" is a way to instill irrational fear, and that "maybe there's an argument to make that outside forces that go in and start bombing that country, or invading that country, are actually terrorists more so than the people in the country."
"Well, when I was on the ground, I wasn't a terrorist," Rieckhoff said, "and neither were the 2.5 million other Americans who served over there, and in Afghanistan."
Rieckhoff added that another misnomer is the characterization of the 300 troops being sent back to Iraq as "advisers," when "they're getting combat pay, they may get killed in action, and if the President has to write a letter home to their parents, they're in combat."
He also pushed back hard at two of SnowdWald's most infuriating canards. The first is the image of Snowden as a brave figure in the mold of Martin Luther King, Jr. or a runaway slave. Rieckhoff rightly asked Greenwald why, if Snowden's cause is so just, he's hiding out in Russia instead of making his case before his countrymen. "That's bullshit," Greenwald shot back, and grabbed for his Daniel Ellsberg blankie.
Later, Rieckhoff went at Greenwald again, challenging him to prove his assertion that no one has been killed as a result of Snowden's revelations. Things got heated, as Greenwald relied on the nut-punch technique of asking for the names of people whose names he knows cannot be revealed without getting even more people killed. "What American lives?" Greenwald asked, then went to his patented technique of laying the consequences of Snowden's leaks off on the journalists he leaked them to.
"The real criticism comes from people like Wikileaks who say 'You haven't released enough,' I have respect for that criticism," Greenwald said. "The criticism that we released too much, and there's all kinds of dead Americans all around, this is just propaganda."
When Rieckhoff objected, Greenwald demanded, "Where are the dead Americans? Who are they? What are their names?"
Maher then helpfully pointed out that when secret American spies get killed, it's a secret, even if Glenn Greenwald demands it not to be so his buddy can stop getting more of them killed.
Bob Cesca, our own resident Snowden Swiffer™, has this to add:
Greenwald demanded evidence of lives lost. Maher responded with what was the best point of the segment: when CIA agents are killed it's never made public -- we'll never know.
As with all of these Snowden related TV segments, my chief gripe has always been that they're never long enough. This is a deeply complicated issue with an incredibly steep learning curve, therefore it demands time and a thorough debate -- not five minutes divided between four panelists. The complexity of the issue, by the way, is what made me initially skeptical of Greenwald's reporting, considering how difficult it would've been to absorb all of the details in a series of PowerPoint slides about Verizon and Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, and then to put it all in context of NSA operations and the broader intelligence community, in just a matter of a couple of days.