“The NSA Debate Is As Much About Journalism As Surveillance”


The NSA Debate Is As Much About Journalism As Surveillance | Common Dreams.

An excerpt from the transcription of the interview of Gleen Greenwald by Kirsty Wark follows. I couldn’t find anything other than the comical YouTube auto transcription, so I used a screen capture app to capture a pile of clips covering the entire interview, which I then organized and printed out. That allowed me to carefully compare the transcript, gibberish in many places, with the actual video interview so that I could mark up my printout. I take my excerpt from that polished YouTube transcript:

Kirsty: But what what you have eh shown is is that where that huge metadata connections… Now, Those connections are often made to track would-be terrorists. As a very result of those being known to people all over the world, terrorists, would-be terrorists, change their tactics. So it is very possible that you actually by your actions make it easier for terrorists to understand how to evade all the checks that are made on them online.

Glenn: That’s completely ludicrous. First of all, the premise of your question is entirely false. We’ve shown much more than just the mere collection of metadata. We’ve shown all sorts of invasions into the content of communications between innocent people having conversations with one another online through the emails, online chat, collection of their browsing history. The idea that terrorists didn’t know, excuse me, that the United States and UK governments were trying to monitor their communications is laughable. Of course, Every terrorist who’s capable of tying their own shoes has long known that the UK and US governments are trying to monitor their communications. The only thing we’ve informed the people of is that the spying system is aimed at them.

Kirsty: But what I want to ask is, How can you be sure that your actions have not made it easier for terrorists to operate? You can’t be sure of that. You can’t uh prove a negative of that, Can you?

Glenn: Well, I don’t know why you’re asking me to prove a negative if you know it can’t be proven.

Kirsty: Well I’m just simply saying that I, I…

Glenn: The way, the way that, the way that, the way that, the way that human beings reason and that journalists make decisions is that you weigh all the competing evidence as rationally as you can. And we know that the evidence that we are disclosing to the world is not about spying on terrorists that they don’t already know about, but spying on innocent human beings and I would like to find a journalist or a human being who says I would rather remain ignorant about what my government is doing in a democracy. That is not how health democracy functions.

Kirsty: But do you think it will be such a shock that spies actually do spy or do you think actually for uh eh uh uh a majority of the population perhaps it actually might be quite reassuring? They might actually feel quite safe.

Glenn: I think it’s a shock that government officials lied in the face of journalists who don’t seem to mind very much. So, for example, On that segment that you just played, you had people defending the GCHQ on the grounds that this is only about terrorism or pedophiles. And yet so much of the reporting that we’ve done proves that’s a lie. We’ve reported that the GCHQ and NSA are spying on Petrobras, the large Brazilian oil company that funds social programs in Brazil. Are there terrorists in Petrobras? Or that they’re spying on the Organization of American States when they’re negotiating economic agreements. Are there pedophiles at the OAS? So I think that the job of journalists is to prevent people in power from lying to the people over whom they’re ruling. And while some of this may be devoted to terrorists, huge amounts of this system are devoted to innocent people in the population whose privacy is being eroded.

My online (on the Common Dreams website) response to the interview of Glenn Greenwald by Kirsty Wark follows:

What a loser the major media tool, Kirsty, is. She's certainly doesn't speak for me when she talks about what the people want to know. She has zero interest in the important issue of the threat to democracy that corporatocracy states and their tools (including major media) pose. She most certainly doesn't speak for me. I'm not a supporter of imperialism. And I'm not a cow that has been trained, via propaganda, to swallow what the compliant media, a tool of imperialists, dishes out.

She finds herself working in a discredited organization. I wouldn't automatically judge her for that. For one thing, We are all cogs in the monstrous machinery of corporatocracy. But she could resist. She could make the best of a bad situation. She might be risking her career doing so, but there's no guarantee that she would have to make that sacrifice if she resisted aiding and abetting the people's enemies. She could choose to try to make a difference. She appears to be happy to play it safe and to aid and abet the terrorists – those who dominate and run the planet-eating, people-enslaving, life-killing corporatocracy – instead.

She was asking Glenn to prove a negative. How does Glenn know that something, from Edward's material, that he reveals isn't aiding a terrorist? How does Kirsty know that something she says or does hasn't inspired a terrorist? I trust Glenn to care about my security more than I trust governments that hate him for his work and have a dripping red record to care about my security. And I trust him to care about my security more than I trust Kirsty, who wants to smear this good man's work, to care about my security. Petrobras, the Brazil based oil company that Edward has revealed the American government has spied on, may have a terrorist in it's ranks, for example. But Obama might pin a medal on a General, who belongs to an organization that isn't seen by him as being a terrorist organization, when in fact there's one in there just waiting to turn a gun on his fellow soldiers. So, Should Obama be pinning medals on Generals in view of that? Or is the question ludicrous?

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