Tuesday, March 25, 2014

GLENN GREENWALD HATES DEMOCRATS AND OBAMA SUPPORTERS MORE THAN HE HATES NSA SPYING

You've seen this, I assume:
The Obama administration is preparing to unveil a legislative proposal for a far-reaching overhaul of the National Security Agency’s once-secret bulk phone records program in a way that -- if approved by Congress -- would end the aspect that has most alarmed privacy advocates since its existence was leaked last year, according to senior administration officials.

Under the proposal, they said, the N.S.A. would end its systematic collection of data about Americans' calling habits. The bulk records would stay in the hands of phone companies, which would not be required to retain the data for any longer than they normally would. And the N.S.A. could obtain specific records only with permission from a judge, using a new kind of court order....
John Cole and Esquire's Michael Maiello state the obvious: this wouldn't be happening if it weren't for Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald. I don't have to like them, Greenwald in particular, to be grateful to them for bringing the NSA's surveillance excesses to light.

But, of course, Greenwald will not allow himself to be pleased at this development. Faced with the opportunity to write about a president who's had a welcome change of heart on surveillance, Greenwald decides that he's going to stick with his villains of choice -- Democrats and liberal supporters of the president:
I vividly recall the first time I realized just how mindlessly and uncritically supportive of President Obama many Democrats were willing to be. In April 2009, two federal courts, in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU, ruled that the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) required the Pentagon to disclose dozens of graphic photos it possessed showing abuse of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Obama administration announced that, rather than contest or appeal those rulings, they would comply with the court orders and release all the photos....

But then -- just two weeks later -- Obama completely reversed himself, announcing that he would do everything possible to block the court order and prevent it from taking effect....

Now, obviously, the people who had been defending Obama's original pro-transparency position (which included the ACLU, human rights groups, and civil liberties writers including me) changed course and criticized him. That's what rational people, by definition, do....

But that's not what large numbers of Democrats did. Many of them first sided with Obama when his administration originally announced he’d release the photos. But then, with equal vigor, they also sided with Obama when -- a mere two weeks later -- he took the exact opposition position....
Wait -- this is Greenwald's response to the president's reversal on NSA bulk phone record collection? Yes, Greenwald's getting to that. First he had to excoriate pro-Obama liberals for hypocrisy, while giving himself a big round of applause.

Many paragraphs later, he gets to the current news. Even while acknowledging that this is a very real and (in his opinion) positive change in policy, Greenwald has to take a shot -- several shots, in fact -- at the guy who's proposing the policy change:
This proposal differs in significant respects from the incredibly vague and cosmetic "reforms" Obama suggested in his highly touted NSA speech in January.... under Obama's latest proposal, the telecoms "would not be required to retain the data for any longer than they normally would" (the law currently requires 18 month retention) and "the NSA could obtain specific records only with permission from a judge, using a new kind of court order."

As always with Obama, it remains to be seen whether his words will be followed by any real corresponding actions. That he claims to support a bill does not mean he will actually try to have Congress enact it. The details, still unknown, matter a great deal. And even if this did end the domestic bulk collection spying program, it would leave undisturbed the vast bulk of the NSA's collect-it-all system of suspicionless spying.
And while he's establishing that Obama, despite the good things in this proposal, still sucks, he has to take a shot at his backers:
We're now about to have a similar lab experiment, this time in the context of the NSA....

[It] puts hard-core Obama loyalists and pro-NSA Democrats -- the ones that populate MSNBC -- in an extremely difficult position. They have spent the last 10 months defending the NSA (i.e., defending Obama) by insisting that the NSA metadata program is both reasonable and necessary to Keep Us Safe™. But now Obama claims he wants to end that very same program. So what will they do?

If they had even an iota of integrity or intellectual honesty, they would instantly and aggressively condemn Obama. After all, he's now claiming to want to end a program that they have been arguing for months is vital in Keeping Us Safe™. Wouldn't every rational person, by definition, criticize a political leader who wants to abolish a program that they believe is necessary to stop terrorism and preserve national security?

But that's not what will happen. After spending months praising the NSA for responsibly overseeing this critical program, they will now hail Obama for trying to end it.
So the real news in all this, to Greenwald, is not the welcome policy change. The real news is that Democrats and liberals are still evil.

And do I have to point out the irony in this? Greenwald says that no matter what Obama does, his liberal backers will still support him, even if they're backing him for doing the opposite of what they backed him for in the past. Meanwhile, Greenwald has attacked Obama and his backers for not wanting the NSA curbed, and now he's attacking them for wanting the NSA curbed. He hates Obama and pro-Obama liberals no matter what they do. while accusing Obama supporters of loving Obama no matter what he does.

But still: what journalist deserves the most credit for the change in policy? Glenn Greenwald -- alas.

17 comments:

Victor said...

I thank him and Snowden for what they've brought out.

And for his earlier work on torture, rendition, etc., under W & Cheney.

But, he's become completely unreadable.

IMO - his blatant Libertarianism keeps tripping him up, as he tries to stick his blatant hatred of government - ANY government - into every piece he writes.

Carol Ann said...

Greenwald would make a good Cromwell

Geese Howard said...

The problem with Greenwald is that he makes it blatantly obvious that anybody who isn't a hardcore libertarian is entering a Faustian bargain with him and his ilk. When called on it he resorts to personal attacks and attempts to bully/guilt people into eating his poisoned fruit.

Greenwald wants the government gone. Taking out the NSA and military, the organizations responsible for the creation of the computer and the internet just opens it up for complete corporate control.

That's the real end game. Harvesting what the government created for corporate control and getting them completely out of it. This won't end well for liberal goals.

However... that ship has sailed and given where many on the left have fallen I'd say the fight to stop corporate internet control has already been lost. We gave it to them, and it's going to hurt.

tonycpsu said...

This was one of the more frustrating Greenwald reads in recent memory. The examples at MSNBC he points to are of people who have very little reach in setting progressive opinions. I watch Melissa Harris-Perry's show, but she's in the weekend morning dead space time slot where the only time anyone notices her is when she makes fun of the Romney family having a non-white child. Her ratings are minuscule compared to the reach that a lot of liberal bloggers have, and I didn't see anyone, firebagger, O-bot, or anything in between excusing the surveillance or talking about "keeping us safe."

It's a testament to Glenn's work that there's any movement on this at all, but because Alex freaking Wagner stuck up for the administration, the real story is "Democrats" engaging in "partisan hackery"?

Tom Hilton said...

I'm not thanking Greenwald for a goddamn thing. So on one largely hypothetical issue, the potential for abuse is going to be reduced some? Big fucking deal.

It comes at the cost of a) damage to legitimate security operations (details of which Snowden/Greenwald revealed along with the more questionable practices), and b) distracting from actual consequential civil liberties abuses (e.g., voter suppression, limiting reproductive rights, efforts to enshrine anti-gay bigotry into law).

No thanks. Not worth it.

Sam said...

Glenn Greenwald sticks consistently to his principles. This is what is known at NMMNB as "hypocrisy." Orwell would be amused.

Four Bs said...

Greenwald was a lot more fun to read when Bush was in office.

Steve M. said...

I don't recall Greenwald ever being fun to read. Reading Greenwald was always a chore. I think back to final exams I took in college back in the '70s -- it was obvious that certain people were filling as many blue books as possible, on the apparent assumption that grades were based on sheer quantity of verbiage. That's how Greenwald writes, and has always written.

Steve M. said...

distracting from actual consequential civil liberties abuses (e.g., voter suppression, limiting reproductive rights, efforts to enshrine anti-gay bigotry into law).

Greenwald's a dick, but I have to object to this. It's not his responsibility to hold his fire until every other problem is solved. We should be able to focus on more than one problem at once, and if he's not blasting these issues through his megaphone, somebody else needs to grab another damn megaphone and make some noise. He's not preventing anyone from doing that.

Rick Massimo said...

"Greenwald's a dick, but I have to object to this. It's not his responsibility to hold his fire until every other problem is solved."

True but by saying "As always with Obama, it remains to be seen whether his words will be followed by any real corresponding actions," he's proving the original commenter's point.

Tom Hilton said...

Well, that's Greenwald's standard defense whenever anyone brings up his lack of concern for some other, more consequential issue. And I think there are two problems with this.

The lesser issue is that if you claim to be a "civil libertarian" you should probably actually care about...y'know...civil liberties. I wouldn't object to Greenwald's obsessive focus on the most trivial shit to the exclusion of much more consequential civil liberties issues if he didn't hold himself out as some kind of expert on civil liberties.

But that gets us to the more serious issue: that he has tried to redefine the term "civil liberties" so as to exclude anything that isn't consistent with a libertarian worldview. That's really what I'm talking about above, and that I think really is damaging to more worthy civil liberties efforts.

Pete said...

"Glenn Greenwald sticks consistently to his principles." Indeed. His main principle appears to be that Glenn Greenwald is and always has been correct in every particular and deserves unqualified praise on all occasions.

Yastreblyansky said...

Had Greenwald been on his own nothing would have happened because he is such a dreadful, unreadable writer. Any credit should go to Ackerman and Gellman and others who were able to turn the sludge into a story. Though I still think they got it wrong.

Unknown said...

Greenwald venomously attacked the Clintons and extolled Obama in the 2008 election...Then when Obama turned out not to be as nutty as Greenwald, he turned on Obama. But Greenwald will never find anyone he likes who is smart and practical because that person would be the opposite of Greenwald.

flipyrwhig said...

As the New Yorker punchline goes, Christ, what an asshole.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

He Crashed The Party And Pissed In The Punchbowl And He's Such A Jerky Jerk

Maybe you could tell us how many elections Glenn Greenwald has cost the Democratic party, Steve M.

Be sure to compare and contrast with the likes of Rahm Emanuel, Steve Israel, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (not to mention the cynical neoliberal Presidents who support them).
~

Mike Lumish said...

The Greenwald sycophants were pretty heavily represented in the Nader 2000 spoiler campaign that threw the presidency to Bush, so there's that.

But you didn't really mind having Bush in the White House, did you? Having a truly criminal president every generation or so enables you and your buddies to slime the reformist administrations with very real sins of the criminals, helping you to fluff your ridiculous conviction that the Democrats are 95% percent as bad as the Republicans.

No thanks, pal. We're on to your little game and it won't be so easy to stab us in the back next time.