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Glenn Greenwald’s Sick Brew of NSA Leaks and Anti-Israel Hysteria

Blogger’s bizarre ideology sees America and Israel in active cahoots to destroy the freedoms of the entire world

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(Photoillustration Tablet Magazine; original photo Wikimedia Commons)
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In the summer of 2010, long before he made headlines worldwide for reporting Edward Snowden’s leaks about the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance program, Glenn Greenwald appeared on TV to deliver a strange condemnation of Israel, relying on its own holey logic. In doing so, he offered an instructive glimpse into a mindset that he shares with many others, on the left and the right alike, that, despite its prevailing tone of outrage, is oddly apolitical, as it offers no real solutions to real world problems and defines itself by what it hates.

The occasion was the Israeli navy’s routing of a Turkish ship attempting to break through the blockade on the Gaza Strip, and Greenwald wasted no time in voicing his outrage. Speaking over a tinny Internet connection, he started off strong, barely allowing the host, Eliot Spitzer, to interject while using bold adjectives like “brutal” and “inhumane.” But then Spitzer turned it around; he asked Greenwald whether or not he considered Hamas a terrorist organization.

“Hamas,” replied the blogger, “is the democratically elected leadership of the people in Gaza.” Then, by way of historical context, he continued: “Have they engaged in terrorism? Yes. Have the Israelis who founded the Israeli state engaged in terrorism? Yes, they have. Turkey says that what Israel just did is an act of terrorism itself. But Hamas is the democratically elected government of the Gaza Strip.”

What did Greenwald mean by his statement? A straight reading is likely to confound. Asked if Hamas was a terrorist group, he replied it was democratically elected; but then so was the government of Israel, whose actions he was so fiercely denouncing. Are we, then, to surmise that terrorism is permissible so long as it is practiced by democratically elected governments? Or is terrorism universally forbidden, especially when attempted by democratically elected governments? Greenwald never bothered to clarify. Instead, he relied on a historical comparison, implying that Hamas is no different than the Israeli paramilitary groups that operated in favor of Israeli independence.

Here, too, it is worth pausing to consider the sophistry of this comparison. Even the Lehi, the most hardcore of all Jewish resistance movements, wanted nothing more than an end to the British mandate in Palestine, while Hamas is nowhere near as rational. In article eight of its covenant, it states its mission crisply: “Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model, the Qur’an its Constitution, Jihad its path and death for the case of Allah its most sublime belief.”

But Greenwald is much more than an inattentive student of history. As he ended his discussion, he once again brought up the argument about Hamas’ democratic legitimacy and once again returned to the same poorly defined terms and elusive syllogisms. No matter how closely you read his comments, they offer but one logical interpretation: Any use of force is forbidden and criminal when applied by Israel but understandable and even commendable when undertaken by its enemies. The same point of view popped up later in the interview, as Spitzer attempted in vain to coax Greenwald to comment on whether he believed Israel had the right to defend itself. Greenwald evaded the question because, for him, it hardly matters. The good guys are good and the bad are bad, and so it doesn’t really matter what they believe, say, or do.

A subtler variation of Greenwald’s cartoonish approach is on display in the work of James Bamford. Heralded as our finest investigative journalist covering the NSA—he is the author of three books about the agency—Bamford has spent the last five years repeating his favorite cautionary tale, the one about how America’s spymasters are secretly powered by Israeli cunning. Last year, for example, Bamford wrote a story in Wired titled “Shady Companies With Ties to Israel Wiretap the U.S. for the NSA,” revealing the role two Israeli technology firms play in making the agency’s surveillance infrastructure possible.

“In a rare and candid admission to Forbes,” Bamford wrote, “Retired Brig. Gen. Hanan Gefen, a former commander of the highly secret Unit 8200, Israel’s NSA, noted his former organization’s influence on Comverse, which owns Verint, as well as other Israeli companies that dominate the U.S. eavesdropping and surveillance market.”

It sounds like pretty damning stuff, unless one realizes two key facts. The first is that Bamford’s “rare and candid admission”—a term crucial to creating an aura of mystery and intrigue around what would have otherwise been just another one of the myriad commercial transactions that occur daily in a globalized economy—was anything but: The Israeli army’s contribution to that country’s technology scene in general, and Unit 8200’s involvement in particular, is widely discussed, including by members of the unit itself, and it formed much of the thesis of Start-Up Nation, the 2009 best-seller by Dan Senor and Saul Singer.

But even those forest-dwellers who may be honestly surprised to learn that Western armies develop and use advanced technologies—such as, to name but one prominent example, the Internet, which owes its existence to the U.S. Department of Defense—would surely not be surprised to learn that nations also sell each other stuff. Last month, for example, a report noted that the U.S. Army will pay $77 million to replace old M4 rifles with shiny, new M4A1s. The latter are produced by FN Herstal, a subsidiary of the Herstal Group, a corporation that is entirely owned by the Walloon Region of Belgium, which is to say, by a foreign government. But don’t expect Bamford et al., to evoke the same ominous hum about the infiltration of the Walloons; foreign military contracts, apparently, are only a terrifying evil that threatens to undermine American democracy when the foreign companies are Israeli.

It would be crass, and largely inaccurate, to chalk up Bamford’s and Greenwald’s obsessive focus on Israel’s supposed role in evil global conspiracies to simple anti-Semitism. Instead, the ideology that drives their tendency to see the NSA and Israel as two heads of the same Satanic beast is more complex and ideologically-driven—an attack on the doctrines of exceptionalism that fueled the rise of both America and Israel. Beginning in the 1960s, this idea that America and Israel were virtuous nations apart began to drive a certain segment of the global left nuts, and so they set off on a search for new heroes. “The native,” Jean-Paul Sartre wrote in the introduction to Frantz Fanon’s explosive The Wretched of the Earth, “has only one choice, between servitude or sovereignty. … Violence, like Achilles’ lance, can heal the wounds that it has inflicted.” Men of the left saw no problem with lending their reputations to terrorist organizations with nationalist aspirations that shared nothing of their humanistic and universalist ideologies, as long as these groups also hated America and Israel. In order for history to progress as it should, the New Chosen People had to displace the old, even if it meant a bizarre redrawing of political coalitions. We see remnants of this ideology still, in the philosopher Judith Butler’s argument that Hamas and Hezbollah are somehow part of the global left, or in the recent movements against “homonationalism,” dedicated to condemning gay Israelis for being proud of their nation’s generally progressive policies regarding gay rights.

Edward Snowden’s recent revelations were a godsend to these segments of the left, because they carried with them a whiff of incipient American totalitarianism—the NSA is spying on us!—while also suggesting that America and Israel were doing sneaky and underhanded things to undermine freedom around the world. That the NSA’s alleged spying extends no further than the reams of data each of us voluntarily provides to major corporations every hour of every day for the explicit purpose of use in advertising—The Onion, as is sadly often the case, was the only news source to actually understand this point—mattered little. Nor did it matter that the government acted with the explicit approval of a bipartisan committee of men and women elected by the people.

From their critique of Israel to their thundering condemnations of American policies, Greenwald and Bamford and others who share their view offer almost nothing by way of concrete policy suggestions, reasoned political stances, or anything else resembling a solution that might be applied to alleviate the suffering of real people. Instead, they trade in spooky-seeming revelations and aspersions. This is even more starkly true of the leakers themselves, Snowden and Bradley Manning, who decided that they had privileged insights that allow them to determine America’s national security—based on the fact that they could log onto government computers. When confronted with information they found troubling, they sought the first partner willing to make it public. They didn’t stop—like Daniel Ellsberg, whose name they often evoke and whose own support for Manning and Snowden is lamentable—to consider the implications of their actions; that is largely because Snowden and Manning share neither Ellsberg’s extensive education nor his actual combat experience and have no real grasp of how systems work or why they’re necessary. What they have is a slogan—information wants to be free!—and the hubris to put it above all else. And so, rather than following Ellsberg’s example and exhausting every conceivable avenue before taking the drastic step or breaking the law and leaking classified documents, they went for the nuclear option right off the bat.

To what end? That, too, is maddeningly unclear. Like Greenwald and Bamford, Manning and Snowden seem to support no concrete ideology applicable to guiding the course of human events. Listening to Snowden’s insipid interviews in particular, with their revelations that the United States spied on foreign nations, one wonders just how he believes governments ought to work.  If the United States is not at liberty to clandestinely acquire information pertaining to competing nations—a practice whose ascent closely correlates with the notion of government itself—what might its foreign policy look like? And how might it defend itself against very real threats? Snowden hardly cares. That he would seek refuge in a nation like China—where one still isn’t free to search the Web or voice political opinions online, let alone vote for anyone who isn’t approved by the Communist Party—is a particularly poignant reminder of how sophomoric and senseless this new form of belief has become.

Snowden, Manning, Greenwald, Bamford, et al., do not seek to stir up a public conversation about programs and policies, as is the duty of journalists and whistleblowers alike. Their goal is very different. As Josh Marshall noted in a poignant essay last week:

Snowden is doing more than triggering a debate. I think it’s clear he’s trying to upend, damage—choose your verb—the U.S. intelligence apparatus and policies he opposes. The fact that what he’s doing is against the law speaks for itself. I don’t think anyone doubts that narrow point. But he’s not just opening the thing up for debate. He’s taking it upon himself to make certain things no longer possible, or much harder to do. To me that’s a betrayal.

The betrayal, however, is directed against something much larger than the U.S. government’s policies. It is directed against the concept of government itself. Elsewhere in his essay, Marshall commented that the strangest thing, perhaps, about Greenwald’s recent revelations and the mayhem that followed is how sharply they redrew the lines of political allegiances. It makes little sense to speak of liberals and conservatives when the kooks of both camps—two ever-growing factions—are both giddily prone to conspiracy theories and only too happy to fault the government with the worst intentions.

The new politics of the information age are now being shaped by two emerging camps. One believes in its inherent right to know everything but does not believe in personal responsibility; distrusts states, America in particular, but fashions the freedoms they grant into a banner; and speaks of human rights while caring very little about the lives of actual humans, as Julian Assange did when he recklessly leaked unredacted documents that put the lives of thousands of men and women who collaborated with the U.S. government in jeopardy and then shrugged the whole thing off by saying that anyone who cooperated with the Americans deserved to die. The other camp believes in the common good, and understands that the common good is best preserved not by individuals making personal and erratic decisions but by nation states, which are sometimes corrupt and often in need of shaking up but still, fundamentally, our worst form of government save for all the others. One camp burns with messianic zeal; the other is guided by the flickering light of democracy that requires the active commitment of responsible adults to keep it alight. This is as stark an ideological choice as any of the ones delineated by the great wars of the 20th century; now, as then, there ought to be little doubt which side deserves our allegiance.

***

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Why are you personalizing the issue?

Glenn Greenwald is not relevant. Nor is Edward Snowden.

Take it out of the personal.
It has nothing to do with Obama or Feinstein or Clapper or Alexander..
Grant them that they may be decent people.

But who comes next?

(And how good were they, btw, about allowing a fox into the hen-house? I mean Snowden.)

The issue is not a matter of personalities.
It’s about structure. Too much potential power and it’s misuse.

Ignore your dislike for Greenwald.

Greenwald is a professional loudmouth. If there were nothing to kvetch about he would not even have a career. Like Peter Beinart, Medea Benjamin and so many others they have cleverly turned their hate for Israel into a profit stream There are even points Greenwald makes that I agree with, such as US involvement in Afghanistan, but his lack of reasonable thought on Israel brings his other crusades into doubt.

Afrayedknot says:

I loathe Greenwald like few others -as his defense of Hamas and more recently Hezbollah and Assad shows, he’s no defender of civil liberties, and he clearly despises both Israel and the US. That said, this is beyond Greenwald.

I am disappointed albeit unsurprised at your worship of state power. As an avowed progressive, it’s clearly part and parcel of your ideology. But given the recent disclosures of the government going after journalists and the IRS targeting political adversaries of the president (including pro-Israel groups, by the way) it’s hard to understand why you believe that the government is a beneficent power. Surely you must see the potential for abuse if the government is collecting data on everyone (or at least large swathes of its citizenry)! Sure, we voluntarily (and sometimes not-so-voluntarily) given companies similar data – but companies don’t have a monopoly on violence and can’t use the law to destroy people they deem dangerous or problems. Given recent revelations, it’s not hard to image some mid-level bureaucrat, who is accountable to no-one, to abuse the vast (well nigh infinite) resources at his disposal to destroy a political or personal enemy. It’s also not hard to imagine, that with so many laws criminalizing so many things, that an innocent person could get tangled up in a bureaucratic nightmare.

I will say this about Snowden – I believe he went too far when he started disclosing the US govt’s espionage activities to the world. That he would deny the US the right to conduct these activities while staying as a guest of a country that does the same thing (and then some) reeks of hypocrisy and betrayal.

Ellen GK says:

Chatter by Greenwald et al, and his detractors, will follow a predictable path. Predictable for those orchestrating current Israeli policy. This comes as no surprise to them.

Here’s to the Palestinians and the Arab/Muslim world in general waking up to the reality of Israel’s continued existence, which will force them to confront reality and recognize that the fomenting of right-wing policy and support (the settlers, their Christian enablers, etc.) is all part of a design to present to the Palestinians that “you think only your side has the intransigent nuts? Think again.”

The fact that Israel was the only reasonable actor in the conflict for decades did not make a peace deal any easier. Now that Israel is encouraging its own set of stubborn, ideological nuts, there’s parity in the relationship and, hopefully, a peace deal is more likely.

vildechaye says:

The article was excellent and encapsulated my own views almost perfectly. The comment above is meaningless drivel.

vildechaye says:

As he said, it’s the worst system except for all the others. And, like Greenwald, you offer no alternative to the detested “state power.” Until those opposed to the power of democratic states are able to offer a sensible alternative, your critique is about as useful as a ship on a desert.

PhillipNagle says:

There is no doubt that Hamas is a terrorist organization. There is no doubt that its charter calls for the destruction of Israel. Unfortunately, there is no doubt that Hamas won that last parlementary election of the Palestine Authority (not just Gaza), a fact that Obama and many other western leaders ignore as they try to pressure Israel into making peace with the Abbas government. Further, Abbas has delayed PA presidential elections, with Obama’s blessings, for fear he would lose that too. Before any negotiations can occur with the PA they must hold elections, including for president, to find who really speaks for the arab side.

Maria White says:

Is it “meaningless drivel” to be concerned with the disaster that would surely follow if this power fell into the hands of another Nixon? You forget that (unlike Obama) he actually compiled enemies lists, and was not afraid to unleash the full power of the federal government against them. To put it another way, absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely, and this technology comes frighteningly close to putting absolute power in the hands of the next wolf in sheep’s clothing the people make the mistake of sending to the Oval Office.

doctordogood says:

who reads these guys anyway? what’s the point of giving them so much exposure?

Maria White says:

But are these technologies and the system which has been developed to shield them from accountability consistent with our system, i. e.,the Constitution and our democratic traditions? Secret courts which issue secret rulings after hearing only one side of the case — which denied exactly one of over a thousand requests to use this data? Or a Congress which routinely votes to approve these programs, but when they are disclosed pleads ignorance? Not surprising, since only a tiny minority of each house is allowed to learn the operational details of the programs, and the very few which are informed are prevented by our monstrously overgrown secrecy laws
from sharing what they know with other members. It is ludicrous to claim that these programs are overseen by anyone other than the people who hold this virtually unlimited power.

Harry Abrams says:

Sanctimonious shnooks like Greenwald are a dime a dozen. Something about terror and dictatorial regimes gives him and others like him a fulminating, Jew hating hard-on.

vildechaye says:

While I was hardly a fan of Richard NIxon, there was no “disaster” under his presidency (unless you define “disaster” with such elasticity as to make the term — dare I say it — meaningless. And let’s not forget what actually happened: after he “unleashed” the “full power” of the fed — more hyperbole, by the way, he was exposed and ultimately forced to resign. Not exactly a Hitlerian putsch scenario.

Mike says:

Greenwald’s anti-Israel views and Snowden’s choice of Greenwald as a vehicle for document release are two different issues. I have no idea if Snowden has views about Israel but I would be surprised if they were very central in his choice of Greenwald and the Guardian. He needed someone who would be fiercely resistant to pressures not to publish, and Greenwald is a useful instrument of that goal. I can appreciate Greenwald’s fierce opposition to some aspects of US policy and disagree with him on other issues. I would reject, absent any evidence, an effort to smear Snowden on Israel via Greenwald on Israel. I would also reject the argument that there is some kind of perverse philosophical linkage between anti-semitism and opposition to excesses of the national security state.

ajmacdonaldjr says:

The New York Times – August 22, 2012 – The National Security Agency’s Domestic Spying Program – The Program – http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/23/opinion/the-national-security-agencys-domestic-spying-program.html?_r=0

See: NSA domestic spying = old news – http://wp.me/pPnn7-2m6

The heavy hand of totalitarianism, which we’re now experiencing, didn’t originate with B. Obama, nor with G.W. Bush, but with R. Reagan and G.H.W. Bush…

“In November, 2001, Fox News aired this four part series, which shows that Israeli intelligence has total control over the information networks in the USA. Also, they said 60 Israeli spies, with explosives training, were arrested in connection with the 9/11 attack.”

VIDEO – Fox News: Israel spies on the USA part 1 – http://youtu.be/JWpWc_suPWo
See: 9/11, Iran-Contra, and Treason – http://wp.me/pPnn7-1rg

VIDEO – Alternative Views: A SIGNATURE—AND FASCISM! (1989) – It’s morning again in Gulags NDAA America: Building a path for Bush-Obama era USA – http://youtu.be/r59IXxOTxVQ

VIDEO – Alternative Views – UNDER THE BUSH WITH THE CIA – CIA Operation CYCLONE, NWO, Afghanistan, Bush Senior, CIA Drug trafficking (1989) – http://youtu.be/O5Lnnn9smmg

jzsnake says:

Hamas won election over 7 years ago! Give me a break.

Yechiel Gordon says:

For more of Greenwald’s work and more on the revelations of Snowden and Bradley Manning with regard to state terror and other crimes, see Democracy Now website, Probably the best daily source on how the United States actually functions.

brynababy says:

You don’t seem to find the pushing for inside info by the AP journalist as, at the very least, inapproriate, let alone dangerous, necessitating the governments investigation. Journalist are somehow seen as all knowing and all wise, whose judgements are never to be questioned?! You also seem to assume the President’s involvement in the IRS kerfuffle. Are you not aware that the Republican instigator of the IRS actions was not motivated by Politics at all and has made himself known. I am a liberal, on the left, but I am appalled by the rush to condemn as evil ANYTHING the government does to attempt to protect this country.

brynababy says:

You are sick!

Maria White says:

Nowhere did I say that a disaster occurred under Nixon. I said that a disaster would occur if the virtually unlimited power placed in the President’s hands by these (and most probably other not yet revealed) programs should fall into the hands of another amoral, power-mad, vindictive politician like Nixon.

Royq says:

Liel, your piece captures some of the adolescent dudgeon of Snowden, who is like a teenager furtively rummaging through his parents’ closet and, discovering contraceptives, is appalled to learn that they aren’t celibate.

Nola Baar says:

Great work Liel, you should get a medal from the masters of lies and wars, on Wall Street and the White House.
Much was made, and rightfully so, of the East German state opening all mail and turning a major segment of the population into snitches. Why it OKfor the NSA to have access to every e-mail and phone call? Oh, yes, I forgot, we who murder civilians all over the world with drones and oppose every international treaty against cluster bombs and every law to protect the environment are the “good guys.”

Let’s retire once and for all the silly notion of the “self-hating jew” and leave silly psychological speculation to others. Os should i guess what goes on in your head?

Jose says:

I, at least, do not condemn anything the government does; I do however,
condemn those actions on behalf of the government which infringe on our
rights granted to us as American citizens.

I kind of like a
quote by Benjamin Franklin that says, “Those who would give up essential
Liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither Liberty
nor Safety.”

Royq says:

By the way, great VERTIGO graphic. Glenn only wishes he were Jimmy Stewart, who was a World War II flying ace as well a Hollywood icon.

Hershl says:

Yes, Democracy Now, the mouthpiece of the self-hating Jewess, Amy Goodman. This creature never misses an opportunity to knock Israel and praise its enemies.

The good news is that very few people ever listen to her.

And we intend to keep it that way.

She will get her just deserts at the proper time along with other traitors to the Jewish people.

Aaron Goldberg says:

There is no doubt that Hizbolah and Hamas aren’t part of the ‘Global Left’, they are both right-wing conservative religious governments voted by their people, but so too is the Netenyahu Administration, so what is the issue here?

Edward Silverman says:

If the Nazis were still in power, Greenwald would be the first one to join the storm troopers. He is NUTS !

Thx for your thoughtful comment.

And Liel, I wish you’d explain the connection between your dislike for Greenwald, which I actually share to some degree, and your dismissal of possible dangers of NSA?

Can’t you find Greenwald a impossible — over the top on criticism of Israel at least — and yet also find that there might be concerns with NSA? Is it impossible to hold both ideas in your mind at the same time? Is it “If Greenwald says it, I don’t agree”?

Just curious.

If Greenwald were even remotely interested in “a profit stream” I think he would be back on Wall Street.

Why is everyone who has a non -uber- Zionist view of Middle East characterized as either “a self-hating Jew, an anti-Semite or someone whose motives are suspect ?

Is Israel the only perfect and virtuous country in history? Wow!!

Hershi, my friend,

Let’s retire once and for all the silly notion of the “self-hating jew” and leave purile psychological speculation to others. Or should I guess what goes on in your head? Really?

Thank you Yechiel, Democracy Now is a great resource.

Edward, I think you might be sounding a little off the track and emotional yourself.

Alan Landau says:

I liked the article, except for the glaring error that Snowden has sought refuge in China “where one still isn’t free to search the Web or voice political opinions online, let alone vote for anyone who isn’t approved by the Communist Party”, since he’s here in Hong Kong, which is only a special administrative region. We have our own legislative and legal system, thank you.

Edward Silverman says:

Anyone that twists the facts and makes false labels and talks and thinks like a dime store Nazi is completely NUTS !

Edward Silverman says:

You got it right jpw. Israel is almost the most perfect and virtuous
contry in 6000 years plus in history. Anyone who thinks Hamas
is legitimate has mental problems.
Anyone that twists the facts and makes false labels and talks and thinks like a dime store Nazi is completely NUTS !

Binyamin the Prophet says:

Snowden = Hamas = some blogger guy = anti-semitism.

Liel, this is surely the your whackiest “the whole world is a giant conspiracy to kill the Jews” article yet.

Natan79 says:

He is not nuts, he is an anti-Semite like Glenn Greenwald et al.

Natan79 says:

Go back to your Hezbollah cave.

Natan79 says:

Absolutely. I have never met or read a self-hating Jew. I met plenty of Jews who love themselves very much and hate OTHER Jews. Do you know the Jew who has ambition but is not smart enough to get into medical school or science graduate school or or become a pianist or an accountant? Yes, that one. Not smart enough to be a dentist but wilng to murder you, your family and any other Jew.

He or she gets a degree in garbage and then as a career move joins Hezbollah, Hamas or any other other organization whose primary purpose is to murder Jews. Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler, Tony Judt, Glenn Greenwald.

It would be fun to have Glenn Greenwald’s e-mails and download on a public website all his offers to suck to Hassan Nasrallah’s balls publicly.

Natan79 says:

May you soon join Anwar al-Awlaki!

Natan79 says:

Indeed, there’s no such thing as self-hating Jew. These people love themselves very much and hate passionately OTHER Jews. I personally hope each of them joins Anwar al-Awlaki and his 72 mustached virgins.

Natan79 says:

Nixon won democratically in 1972. He should still be president. Yeah.

Natan79 says:

We can’t all be the piece of shit Israel-hating bastard you are. It must be a disappointment to you. Maybe you’ll croak with disappointment – cheer up, 72 dudes with mustaches and assorted hard-ons await you.

Natan79 says:

Your last sentence actually makes sense. Greenwald has long been aligned with anyone who murders Jews. That truly excites this runt.

Jay Fisher says:

Wow! Talk about attacking the messenger and missing the message…

Look – I do not know enough about Greenwald’s positions on Israel, so I will defer to the article’s author. Thus, the substance of what Greenwald was reporting about needs to be assessed independently, and the author misses the importance of Greenwald’s reporting based on his biases. The old adage comes to mind: “even a broken clock is right twice a day.”

The author claims that Snowden’s revelations show that America is spying “on foreign nations.” Huh? Not what I heard and read. The NSA is vacuuming up American citizens’ information. The outrage (rightly) comes from people who have nothing to do with terrorism being brought into the government’s dragnet without due process or recourse against the feds. Furthermore, the NSA IS listening to Americans’ phone calls. Just Google the 2008 revelations of David Faulk, who listened to American soldiers’ phone calls from Iraq at the NSA facility at Ft. Gordon, revealing that analysts would tune into “juicy” or “sexy” phone calls when advised by other NSA workers. Thus, Greenwald’s and Snowden’s revelations are all the more important if people value privacy, rule of law and oversight in democracies.

I do not know why the author would want to see the potentially dangerous program revealed by Snowden and Greenwald still kept in the shadows. Assuming he has an ideological bias in wanting to do so, please remember this – everything moves in a circle. The current “powers that be” which run the NSA spying apparatus will not be in power forever. One day, it will be “their guy” who runs things. And what “your guy” says is OK today will be in-place for “their guy” when it’s “their turn.” You willing to take a chance with that arrangement? I know I trust NEITHER party with the NSA’s power, and am glad that someone is exposing this dangerous stuff for the all the world to see.

ajmacdonaldjr says:

Muslims have indeed been made the new scapegoat. Fear and hate make for better propaganda than do brotherhood and love.

TomJV says:

I would assume that you have listened mainly to US media and that, that probably explains why you have missed that the NSA also has been spying upon other countries as well: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/10/european-reaction-us-surveillance-revelations

ajweberman says:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/146687427/Glenn-Greenwald-NSA-leaker-and-Nazi-Matt-Hale

Glenn Greenwald was the in-house attorney for the Church of the Creator – a neo Nazi gang led by Matt Hale – now serving life.

Jay Fisher says:

TomJV – You are correct. Only upon re-reading my comment did I realize that I would give others the impression that I was unaware that the NSA was spying on other countries. I did not mention that; however, I am well-aware of the NSA’s spying capabilities in other countries. The reason I did not specify that in my original comment is that, generally speaking, Americans would see the NSA spying on foreign countries as a proper exercise of its powers. While it would definitely be viewed as a violation of a foreign country’s sovereignty, it would not be per se unconstitutional as is NSA spying domestically on U.S. citizens who have not been implicated in any wrongdoing.

vildechaye says:

It received the thoughtfulness that it deserved.

As for Greenwald/NSA, yes, it is reasonable to have concerns about NSA etc., but since Greenwald’s “concern” is (1) really just another hammer for him to bash America with; (2) exposed for what it is by his protagonist’s flight to that great paragon of privacy, China; and (3) without regard for a solution/resolution of any kind, save to say, “America is at fault, America should stop” etc etc etc, it’s quite unfair, not to mention absurd, to sum up the author of this well thought out article as “if Greenwald says it, I don’t agree.”

vildechaye says:

Very well put.

Beatrix17 says:

Nixon wasn’t power mad, he was paranoid. Kennedy, whom I found charming, was power mad. (He criticized one of his underlings for his inability to go for the jugular). Obama isn’t power mad enough.
I don’t care about power mad people going after the most powerful position in the world; I just care that they are willing to give up the seat after 8 years, and that they stop involving us in unnecessary wars.

I supported Manning and Snowden, but Leil is making good points, too.

hypnosifl says:

“Look – I do not know enough about Greenwald’s positions on Israel, so I will defer to the article’s author.”

Please don’t, the author (Liel Leibovitz) is a hack whose case against Greenwald seems to consist almost entirely of “reading between the lines” to suggest Greenwald takes positions that he never stated explicitly and almost certainly doesn’t hold. For example, while he quotes a statement of Greenwald’s that seems to suggest some degree of equivalence between Hamas and Israel (or at least a reason not to see things in simple black-and-white terms like “Hamas=evil terrorists, Israeli government=virtuous democracy”), and then Leibovitz uses that to spin a fantasy where Greenwald is totally on the side of Hamas (which is kind of the opposite of drawing an “equivalence” between them), writing:

No matter how closely you read his comments, they offer but one logical interpretation: Any use of force is forbidden and criminal when applied by Israel but understandable and even commendable when undertaken by its enemies. The same point of view popped up later in the interview, as Spitzer attempted in vain to coax Greenwald to comment on whether he believed Israel had the right to defend itself. Greenwald evaded the question because, for him, it hardly matters. The good guys are good and the bad are bad, and so it doesn’t really matter what they believe, say, or do.

Nowhere does he explain the actual logic behind his “only logical interpretation”, nor does he provide a single example of a quote suggesting Greenwald thinks Hamas’ uses of force are “understandable and commendable”. I just spent a few seconds googling “Greenwald hamas” and easily found an example (fourth result on google) of Greenwald condemning Hamas’ tactics along with Israel’s, in this column: “It is just as untenable to defend the indiscriminate launching by Hamas of projectiles into Israeli neighborhoods as it is to defend the massive air bombing by Israel of what they have turned into an open-air prison that is designed to collectively punish hundreds of thousands of human beings.” I have no wish to defend everything Greenwald says, but it’s obvious that Leibovitz is basing his case against him on fantasy, innuendo, and leading rhetorical questions (“Are we, then, to surmise that terrorism is permissible so long as it is practiced by democratically elected governments?”) rather than documented evidence and reasoned argument.

hypnosifl says:

Natan79 seems to be a troll who doesn’t take anti-semitism seriously as a grave accusation, and hence uses it as a casual insult to toss out at anyone (mostly fellow Jews, on this forum) who makes any criticism of Israeli policy. He once accused me of being an anti-semite because in the course of a discussion where I was arguing against the Palestinian right of return, I mentioned that I was also opposed to the idea this case where some Palestinians were evicted from their homes so families of Jews who had owned the property before 1948 could reclaim it…based on this, Natan79 concluded “You only are bothered by the Jewish Right of Return. To you, any nation can have that right, but not the Jews. That makes you an anti-Semitic Jew.” In response I specifically pointed out the context that I had been arguing against the Palestinian right of return to Israel, but he didn’t take back the accusation or give any response at all. So yeah, ignore him, he’s just another internet sociopath.

TomJV says:

In that case forget I ever said anything ;.)

Natan79 says:

I think you are a psychopath, and certainly a liar too. And indeed I do not feel bound to reply to every single of your habitually imbecile and always hateful contributions.

hypnosifl says:

Ah, the “I know you are but what am I” strategy. What behavior have I displayed that is psychopathic? Can you give a single example of a lie I have told, or a comment I made that was hateful? Or are these words just more generic insults to you like “anti-semite”, so you don’t need any basis in fact to toss them out?

Do you deny the plain fact that in the exchange from the Steven Hawking thread I linked to above above, I had been arguing against the Palestinian right of return in my discussion with the anti-Israel zealout “Hephie”? The comment of mine that sparked Hephie’s angry response was that while I think pressure on Israel is necessary to end the occupation (a standard view among liberals and other leftists), “I also completely oppose the “right of return” as that would lead to the end of Israel in its current form”. It was pretty obvious I was talking about the Palestinian right of return there (and Hephie certainly took it that way), as that’s the only right of return I know of that, if carried out, could “lead to the end of Israel in its current form”–which is why I “completely oppose” it.

If you honestly misunderstood my meaning, and now that I’ve explained you want to take back the ridiculous accusation that I am “only are bothered by the Jewish Right of Return” and therefore an anti-semite, feel free, but if you don’t take back a vicious accusation of anti-semitism even when the basis for the accusation is shown to be a misunderstanding (or if you understood perfectly well what I meant and intentionally misrepresented me), then that’s definitely “internet sociopath” behavior.

Scottishdon says:

Interesting level of debate on this forum. Encapsulates American standards of broader-world education, political knowledge and simple common sense (with a few notable exceptions). Very sad to see such predictable and banal responses, as the vast majority of editorial pieces on this site are smart, informative and unusually insightful.

BethesdaDog says:

Why should I worry that it should fall into the hands of another Nixon, when it’s already fallen into the hands of Obama? Given the corruption of the IRS, I’d say Obama is far worse.

BethesdaDog says:

I’m concerned about potential abuse of NSA power, but I also have contempt for the despicable Greenwald.

BethesdaDog says:

At least something else gives him a hard-on besides Latin guys.

BethesdaDog says:

And just who is this “Republican instigator”? Did he also “instigate” the attack on Jewish groups like ZStreet?

BethesdaDog says:

It’s anti-Israel and anti-American far left lunatic garbage.

You Mother must be heart broken that her son never learned good manners. Poor woman.

Maria White says:

Apparently you have either not been following this story very closely, or you get all your “news” from Fox and right-wing talk radio.

Despite the hysterical hatchet jobs from the usual gang of Republican character assassins, all the House investigations have yet to produce an iota of evidence that the White House was involved in any way with the IRS’s close examination of BOTH Tea Party and progressive organizations’ applications for tax-exempt status. This examination was entirely proper, because the IRS is required to determine if such organizations spend 51% of their revenues on politics (application denied) or not (application granted). As it turned out, despite all the wing-nut howling, NOT ONE of the Tea Party applications were denied.

There is no impropriety, much less “corruption” or “scandal,” here.

HannaH43 says:

I do believe we should not get involved in unnecessary wars. But the only one I am aware of. the toppling of Qadhafi, which actually made no sense. And the president Obama asked for no permission of Congress for his actions. Which former President Bush did get permission of Congress. For military action

HannaH43 says:

really did love Jimmy Stewart in the movies. But he was not an ace in the second world war. He was a bomber pilot not a fighter pilot

HannaH43 says:

it was created to spy on other countries. For most part Soviet Union and China. They also spies on France, England Israel. Canada everybody else. so childish you think the French do not spy on us and also spied on American companies. Our best ally over history has been Great Britain, there also spying on us. That’s the real world. By spying on other countries one gets military advantage, and economic advantage grow up PS the Guardian is a left-wing loony tune anti-Semitic paper

HannaH43 says:

There is no such condition as ‘islamophobia’. It’s simply a badly constructed slogan for liberals to hurl at those of us with common sense. Besides, why worry about a word that belongs to the perverse lexicon . PS the only continent your scapegoated Muslims are not murdering people is Antarctica

James Bamford has also pushed the claim that the Israelis deliberately attacked the USS Liberty in June 1967, using an entire chapter of ‘Body of Secrets’ to make that claim. A. Jay Cristol’s own work on the Liberty attack shows that Bamford misrepresented his sources (to put it quite mildly) to make that claim:

http://www.thelibertyincident.com/

TomJV says:

I don’t think you really get me. I don’t mind us (the Europeans) spying on others. I mind others spying on us. You’d have to be awfully complacent to simply accept spying of yourself.

PS reality is left-wing and disagreeing with Likud on the opinion pages isn’t anti-Semitism.

RealityAlwaysBites says:

NSA = Perversion for Profit

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