If you see any remaining daylight between the rapidly converging spheres of the Glenn Greenwald Left and the Alex Jones Right, you’ll have to point it out to me because not only have those two factions begun to merge, but they’re locked together in what could be a permanent Venn diagram overlap.
Over the weekend, the U.S. government issued a travel alert and the State Department temporarily closed a lengthy roster of U.S. embassies and consulates in response to intercepted communications between Ayman al-Zawahiri and Yemeni al-Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi that included “clear orders.” Officials have credited NSA’s usage of Section 702 powers contained with the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which is the section of the law that spawned the controversial PRISM database.
And so the State Department pulled the trigger and, out of “an abundance of caution,” closed upwards of 25 diplomatic facilities. By the end of the day Monday, a number of the embassies were reopened while several other closures were extended.
I’ve always been hesitant to pay too much attention to officials who abuse the “terrorist threat” panic button. After a while, it not only sounds disingenuous, but it also serves to desensitize us in classic Chicken Little fashion, thus undermining serious threats. For more than a decade, I’ve been writing about the astronomically long odds of you personally being killed in a terrorist attack (your odds of dying in an airborne terrorist attack are roughly one in 10 million), and I stand by this assessment. However, it’s not a matter of denying the existence of terrorists, but more of what I consider to be a rational view of the threat, rather than remaining permanently on alert when it’s not always necessary.
Nevertheless, this administration hasn’t bombarded us with the same serialized fear-mongering about terrorism — nowhere near the same histrionic Mukasey-cried-on-stage melodrama of the previous gang.
But that’s not what The Guardian‘s Glenn Greenwald wants you to believe.
With predictably bad form, Greenwald not only attributed the actions of the State Department to a nefarious “Wag the Dog” false flag scenario as a convenient real-world means of tamping down the anti-NSA, anti-surveillance debate that’s gurgled to the surface this Summer, but he also exploited the embassy closures and travel alert as a means of scolding Democrats who, during the Bush years, criticized the suspicious timing of Homeland Security orange alerts and the like while currently endorsing the embassy closings.
On Monday, Democracy Now posted a two-part video interview with Greenwald, conducted by Amy Goodman, in which he said the following:
“[H]ere we are in the midst of, you know, one of the most intense debates and sustained debates that we’ve had in a very long time in this country over the dangers of excess surveillance, and suddenly an administration that has spent two years claiming that it has decimated al-Qaeda decides that there is this massive threat that involves the closing of embassies and consulates throughout the world.”
Spooky! In other words, before Edward Snowden emerged and Greenwald’s reporting about NSA reached its current level, we were told that there weren’t any more terrorists, but now that everyone is talking how the heroic deeds of Greenwald and Snowden — BOOM! All of a sudden, there’s a suspiciously massive terrorism alert thrust into the news as a means of undermining Greenwald and Snowden, while burnishing NSA’s signal intelligence operations.
Zipping right on by the tremendously delusional and narcissistic ego required to make an assumption like this, it’s an absurdly speculative claim that represents another significant lurch into Alex Jones’ sphere of influence.
On Saturday, Jones posted a video on YouTube in which he appeared to be hiding under his sheets (seriously) while describing the embassy closings as a “psychological false flag.” In Jones’ mind, the smokescreen was intended to distract us from the latest Benghazi “bombshell.” But one man’s Benghazi Derangement Syndrome is another man’s NSA Derangement Syndrome — the corruption that’s being allegedly squelched is irrelevant to the false flag accusation itself.
Greenwald and Jones have each asserted that the government has engaged in a worldwide shut down of 25 U.S. embassies and consulates in order to artificially forge a shiny object designed to herd us away from embarrassing, damning topics. But I would argue Greenwald’s claim is more off-the-rails that Jones’ video due to the fact that Greenwald looped the consequences of his own reporting into the theory, suggesting that the government was targeting his efforts personally; that the government decided to rub Glenn Greenwald’s nose in shit and they’ve done so by staging a fake terrorism alert shouted from the mountaintops while also initiating the closure of two dozen embassies. Remarkable and pathetic.
And, by the way, any Democrats who believe the alert is genuine, contra-Greenwald, are clearly Obamabot hypocrites.
That brings us to something Greenwald tweeted on Friday:
Not surprisingly, Glenn Beck — Beck, not Greenwald — said the same thing on Monday:
“This must just be scare tactics,” Glenn said. “That’s what it must be. Because that’s what they said about the last president, that anytime he would bring stuff like that, they were just trying to get his poll numbers up. Although I strangely don’t think it’s going to work the same for this one.”
Of course, there’s a gaping chasm of difference between what happened during the Bush years and the approach we’ve witnessed during the Obama years.
The Bush administration used a color-coded terrorism alert system on dozens of occasions to the point when the nation was perpetually locked into yellow alert status: defined as a “significant risk of terror attacks.” Former Secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, wrote in his memoirs that he was forced to raise the alert level for political reasons.
On the other hand, this is the first time the Obama administration has closed embassies and consulates on this scale with stated, express details about a threat. Additionally, the Obama administration completely eliminated the color-coded terror alert system more than two years ago.
For this to be a legitimate equivalence to Bush’s terror alert fear-mongering, the Obama team would’ve had to retain the color-coded system and been actively bumping it up to orange practically every other day (or whenever Greenwald posts a new NSA item on The Guardian).
But, you know, it’s easier to use a false equivalence to scold Democrats who don’t share Greenwald’s worldview.
I don’t mind repeating the observation that the far-right thinks the president is an al-Qaida sleeper cell who’s racist against white people, while the Greenwald neo-libertarian left thinks he’s a blood-thirsty racist against Muslims who is consequently determined to kill or indefinitely detain as many Muslims as he can. But what unites these two factions is the unwavering assumption that the president and the government each possess dark, malevolent intentions for universal authoritarian domination, while sculpting events to conform to these motives no matter how ridiculous they might sound. As long as there are gullible consumers of these theories, Greenwald, Beck and Jones will continue to manufacture more of them instead of sticking with a reasonable, though less pulse-pounding, debate based on empirical reality.
Adding… Cenk Uygur concurred with Greenwald/Beck/Jones on Monday:
Uygur said “Obama’s going the full Bush” using the “dirtiest trick” the former Republican president had up his sleeve: terror alerts.
I’m sure Cenk’s not the only one.