Glenn Greenwald and liberals


There were two exchanges on TV recently that were interesting to watch. In both, Glenn Greenwald took on alleged liberals who could not hide their disdain for Edward Snowden while at the same time being obliged to concede that the documents he released revealed hitherto secret government activities that we had a right to know about.

The first clip was between Greenwald and Bill Maher on January 17 (via Xeni Jardin).

The second occurred on January 2 and was between Greenwald and Ruth Marcus, a columnist for the Washington Post. According to her Wikipedia page Marcus “identifies as a liberal with the Democratic party”. Watch her wriggle and squirm.

In order to maintain their credentials as Obama supporters in good standing, Maher and Marcus had to flail away to find something to criticize about Snowden. Greenwald has heard these things many times before and has little difficulty swatting them down. But it shows how on many issues, the labels ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ are not good predictors of where one stands on issues.

Comments

  1. Rob Grigjanis says

    Tribal affiliations too often trump reality, and blind loyalty always end up doing far more harm than good. That’s why I’ve long thought it’s important to call bullshit from one’s own ‘side’ as early, and loudly, as possible. Greenwald is doing a great job. You can tell by the level of vitriol aimed at him from some quarters.

  2. doublereed says

    I was very confused by Maher. He said things were crazy, and I didn’t understand why.

    Like going back in time and scrutinize everything you do? They have all your data! Why wouldn’t they be able to do that? I found this to be extremely confusing, because this is pretty widely publicized. If they collect all your online presence data, then obviously that’s what they’re going to do. Hell, isn’t that the whole point??? That’s not crazy, that’s obvious.

    But after Greenwald swatted him away, I felt like he was just saving face.

    And Marcus just pissed me off with her deliberate naivete. I could buy Maher’s naivete, but Marcus was just BS.

  3. doublereed says

    And I really wish people would point out that the NSA is a threat to national security. Creating backdoors in crypto? Undermining random number generators? This makes it much easier for foreigners to attack us. They’ve gone so far on surveillance that they are undermining our security.

    And the mass secrecy does this too. As well as the lying government officials. They ask whether Snowden’s actions threatened national security, but what about Alexander or Clapper’s actions? Why do they never consider whether their perjury threatened national security?

  4. says

    And I really wish people would point out that the NSA is a threat to national security

    It’s worse than the backdoors (which are bad) – we now know that they have created botnets with 100,000+ systems in them. Well, the problem is that in order to do that you can’t do per-system key management, which means you wind up managing clusters of systems on a common key. So, if someone finds one of the backdoors (which they inevitably will) and reverse-engineers it, they’ve got access to a huge botnet built and managed with the US taxpayers’ dollar. Want a scary but entirely plausible scenario? It goes like this: suppose there is an NSA backdoor in Dell servers (as there appears to be) – someone, it could be a cybercriminal or even a foreign power – invests the time and effort into figuring out how the backdoor works. Then, they have internal access to data centres all over the US; access behind the firewalls and edge encryption. Talk about walking up to the castle and having the keys handed to you!!! From the sound of it, the NSA’s backdoors are remote-able, so all you’d have to do to hack google, federal agencies, companies, databases, hosting services, government contractors, corporate executives, etc, would be to get to the parking lot with compatible gear and have a field day. Never mind the potential for destruction, think of the kind of money you could make reselling credit card databases, or trading stock based on corporate earnings! Your Tax Dollars At Work!

    If I put my tinfoil hat on for a second I’d almost wonder if this was done knowing that the clean-up costs and downstream effects were going to be massive, and the army of contractors doing the clean-up are going to make assloads of money.

  5. wtfwhateverd00d says

    1. According to the wiki, Maher

    “Maher eschews political labels, referring to himself as “practical”.[45] In the past, he has described himself as a libertarian and has also referred to himself “as a progressive, as a sane person”.[46][47] He has also referred to himself as a “9/11 liberal”, noting that his formerly liberal view of Muslims changed as a result of the attacks on September 11, 2001, and he differentiates himself from liberals in his opinion that all religions are not the same.[48]”

    2. There is nothing illiberal about disagreeing with Greenwald or Snowden. You can currently find on twitter and Kos and at various sites a substantial disagreement with Greenwald leaving the Guardian to accept money or a position at this time from Paypal founders when it seems likely that Paypal has worked with the NSA. There are claims this is a subtle backdoor version of selling the Snowden secrets or allowing them to be stifled and is corrupt.

    I do understand your frustration with seeing liberals attack Snowden and Greenwald and why you might write “alleged liberals”.

    That seems very similar to my frustration when I see the self-claimed putative liberals at FTB in blogs and comments condemn various civil rights we have, whether it is their mockery of free speech, or their insistence that only government censorship is a problem not censorship by private parties #FREEZEPEACH or their condemnation of our 2nd Amendment rights, or our right to free association, or many of our hard fought civil rights.

  6. wtfwhateverd00d says

    Al Franken is a hero of mine who I disagree with regarding the NSA and Snowden.

    I wouldn’t be so presumptuous as to refer to Al Franken as “alleged liberal” Al Franken.

    Cenk Uygur tells me America is a Liberal Country, and that statement is often echoed by liberals complaining about conservative bias in the media and in the Washington Bubble.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cenk-uygur/america-is-a-liberal-coun_b_137190.html

    If you believe this poll:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/poll-most-think-edward-snowden-should-stand-trial-in-us/

    Most Americans – 61 percent – think Snowden should have to stand trial in the United States for his actions. Far fewer – 23 percent – think he should be granted amnesty. Republicans, Democrats, and independents all agree on this as well.
    Meanwhile, 31 percent approve of Snowden’s actions, while most, 54 percent, disapprove. Majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and independents disapprove.

    Americans are divided as to the impact on the country from making the NSA program public. While 40 percent think the disclosure has been good for the country, 46 percent think it has been bad.

    When asked to come up with a word that describes Edward Snowden, nearly a quarter volunteer either traitor or a similar word that questions his loyalty to his country, while 8 percent say he is “brave” or “courageous” or “a hero”. Just 2 percent volunteered that he is a patriot or patriotic, and another 2 percent say “terrorist”.

    I think it’s pretty clear that most Americans, including very large numbers of people who would label themselves as liberal have difficulties with Snowden’s acts.

    I would hesitate to chuck all of these people out of the liberal tent labeling them as “alleged liberals” because they disagree with me over Snowden.

  7. doublereed says

    If I put my tinfoil hat on for a second I’d almost wonder if this was done knowing that the clean-up costs and downstream effects were going to be massive, and the army of contractors doing the clean-up are going to make assloads of money.

    ooOOoo… I likey that conspiracy theory…

    Buuuut… eh… sounds to me more like government incompetence that contractors will be more than happy to capitalize on and go along with. And that’s the default assumption imo for anything that happens in government.

  8. lanir says

    NSA definitely undermined security. And in an eyebrow raising fashion. If you’ve done any work to secure anything (physical security, computer security, whatever it doesn’t matter) you’ll likely have noticed a trend. As things get more secure against inappropriate access, they’re not as easy to access for legitimate reasons. Because in general being more secure is a trade-off between security measures and convenience.

    The NSA decided on multiple occasions that things needed to be more convenient for them. As supposed security experts this stance is not only gibbering idiocy on a grand scale, it’s also incredibly incompetent. In addition to lowering the security of everyone, if they actually do have more secure internal methods those systems won’t be tested nearly as rigorously as they would be if everyone were using them.

    As an analogy, imagine the FBI mandating that all locks on homes, cars and companies be replaced with systems that could easily be opened with a $10,000 lockpick. That may seem like a lot of money but once you’ve spent it, you can get in anywhere.

    This level of institutional stupidity is not easily fixed.

  9. Dunc says

    As an analogy, imagine the FBI mandating that all locks on homes, cars and companies be replaced with systems that could easily be opened with a $10,000 lockpick.

    You mean like those locks the TSA insist you use on your luggage? I’d bet money that the master keys for those are available for a lot less than $10,000…

  10. AsqJames says

    I think “National Security” is actually quite a slippery term. Before we even consider what threatens our “National Security”, how serious those threats may be and what may or may not be appropriate to combat them, surely we must have some kind of working definition of what the phrase itself means.

    In western democracies, the most basic meaning must be the maintenance of representative self-government within established geographical boundaries – i.e. that the people living within the borders of a defined state are able to determine who governs them, the form such government takes and the functions that government must, may and must not fulfil.

    There are second order considerations (economy, energy, environmental, etc), but all of those are areas of national policy. And national policy is either made by a legitimate domestic governmental process controlled by the people, or is imposed on the people by an external power or an internal ruling elite – (i.e. a dictatorship, absolute monarchy, or plutocracy/oligarchy).

    Neither terrorism nor any foreign power currently has the capacity to affect the national security of western liberal democracies on this fundamental level. Terrorism is a threat to the safety of individuals and to the economic health of many countries, but so are many other things – from global climate disruption to road safety, from pandemic flu to a banking collapse. However, unlike some areas of the world (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Palestinian Territories for example) there is currently no terror threat capable on its own of heavily influencing, much less wholly determining, the borders or governmental policy of any western state.

  11. doublereed says

    Neither terrorism nor any foreign power currently has the capacity to affect the national security of western liberal democracies on this fundamental level.

    Rogue government agencies secretly undermining the law and constitution, however, do pose quite a serious threat.

    This is why I claim that Clapper and Alexander post much more threat to National Security than Snowden ever could.

  12. AsqJames says

    @doublereed,

    Your comment was what prompted me to post. I’ve been getting more and more annoyed at “National Security” being used as a post-9/11 catch-all excuse, but I don’t think it was until the credit-crunch that I actually thought about what “National Security” means. So in that context I was thinking about the threat from the financial elites and their influence on elections and policy, but yes, the security state itself poses a threat to National Security as I’ve defined it.

    As I said, I’d like to see more discussion of these fundamentals: What is National Security? What threatens it and how? How do we reasonably combat those threats?

    In such a discussion a very different definition may be much more popular. Fine. But until we have some kind of generally accepted meaning for the phrase, all the policies pursued “because National Security” are built on shifting sand.

  13. World Peace Now says

    The NSA/CIA/AIPAC complex owns The Congress, The Supremes and The White House. No one will be held accountable until names and addresses of the lawbreakers are published.

  14. Timothy says

    @ wtfwhateverd00d –

    I’m not statistician, but “Most Americans – 61 percent – think Snowden should have to stand trial in the United States for his actions.” has me thinking.

    I struggle with calling 61% “most”. All poll have a margin of error. Let’s assume +/-5%, which puts us anywhere from 56% to 66%.

    The poll could be reflecting close to a 50%/50% split.

  15. Nick Gotts says

    The poll wtfwhateverd00d links to @6 (after his bog-standard bleating and whining about the terrible peril freedom is in from a handful of bloggers @5), and other recent polls, appear to reveal that majorities of the American public disapprove both of Snowden, and of the extent of NSA surveillance. Presumably, those belonging to both majorities either would rather have remained in ignorance, or have had a lot of practice at holding incompatible beliefs simultaneously.

  16. Silentbob says

    @ 5 wtfwhateverd00d

    That seems very similar to my frustration when I see the self-claimed putative liberals at FTB in blogs and comments condemn various civil rights we have, whether it is their mockery of free speech, or their insistence that only government censorship is a problem not censorship by private parties #FREEZEPEACH or their condemnation of our 2nd Amendment rights, or our right to free association, or many of our hard fought civil rights.

    I think what they’re actually mocking is the notion that if I start a blog, I am morally obligated to publish anything anyone in the world wants me to publish, otherwise it’s a violation of free speech or other civil rights – a notion which is eminently mockable. (Especially when anyone with the resources to post a comment to my blog also has the resources to start their own blog.)

  17. Nick Gotts says

    Latest news from Snowden: the NSA and GCHQ have been collecting information from games played on mobiles, including “Angry Birds”. Clearly, this is totally legitimate, and they are worried that the angry birds might launch terror bombings on civilian targets!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *