Monday, July 7, 2014

While John Cook Vacations...

Once again, things are getting weird at the "Intercept" where, from its launch in February, the hype is not matched by the content and the comments generally provide more actual news -- even if only aggregates from other outlets -- than the rare published items.

John Cook, who claims to be "editor-in-chief", whatever that means, has been on vacation according to reports and cannot be bothered. He's had nothing to say for months about his editorial obligations, assuming there are any.

One doesn't know.

Greenwald made an apparently ill-advised announcement that the long-awaited story he was (he said) "working on" would be published at midnight one day. It wasn't. Instead, there was a breathless announcement that the story would be held until a new government objection was investigated.

OK. So the WaPo publishes an extensive story that doesn't name names but does reveal the kinds of "inadvertent" collections of information the NSA deals with all the time, pretty much stealing Greenwald's thunder in any case. If he ever does publish his grand finale fireworks show -- looking less and less likely by the day -- will anyone care?

Greenwald continues to defend himself and hurl insults and invective via Twitter -- so at least we know he's alive. And according to reports, he's still on book tour and doing teevee appearances, so there is that.

As for the other staff at the "Intercept," with the exception of Ryan Gallagher, they have been mighty quiet since they nestled under the Omidyar wing. They have been remarkably quiet given their prolific output prior to becoming "Intercept" staff. It's almost as if shutting them up was part of the deal. The only one who hasn't been shut up is Marcy Wheeler, who just keeps cranking stories out like sausages, though she's been mighty quiet about why she left the cozy confines of OmidyarLand back in May.

Turns out Omidyar's people have been busy bees at the White House, however.

No surprise there, I suppose, given the Omidyar penchant for global power plays.

It's been my pet theory that someone at the WH called Pierre, just as the missing Jeremy Scahill teasingly suggested might happen, and asked politely that Greenwald's story -- naming names -- be held for the time being. Pierre, being the power player he is, said "Sure, why not?" and had one of his lieutenants convey the message that there might be a "problem" with one or more of the names so... would Glenn kindly look into it? 'Kthnxbai.

Greenwald's defense has largely been one of "protecting the innocent." So he can't name names without revealing the names of innocents, and that would be wrong. Unless they want their names to be named. And then it would be right. So in order to name the names all 10,000 or 100,000 names he has have to be contacted one by one, and that's ever-so-hard, and it takes a long time, and many of them may be indisposed or otherwise unable or unwilling to respond, so what are you going to do? It's such a terrific responsibility, after all. So maybe the best thing is not to name the names, just remark on the categories of those swept up in NSA collections, but we're already pretty certain of what those categories are, so is there even a story here? One that could qualify as fireworks? Maybe so, maybe not. Well, the WaPo thought there was a story, and they managed to get one out, but Greenwald's story is so much better....

It is Summer Shark and Missing White Woman season once again, and the Missing Greenwald Story fits right in with the season. The Absent Story is a Summer Story its own self, with dozens of mentions over the last week or so. Google it. And then there's Cryptome's cryptic non-announcement that the whole Snowden trove will be revealed by the end of the month. Or not.

It's Summertime...


  1. This whole situation is fucking weird. They have some top line journos over there and they sit around doing what exactly? Weird, weird, weird.


    1. Yah, it's bizarre. There have been lots of excuses, but the silence itself is telling.

      One day some intrepid journalist may do an exposé, but for now, it's a mystery.

  2. It's the middle of the night here and I couldn't sleep. So I wandered over to the Intercept, thinking to scan some of the comments (because the "news" part of the site is so bereft of any, y'know, information on anything) and lo and behold, Greenwald's "fireworks" article is up. It turns out the NSA has been spying on Muslim-Americans. Shocker, right? He gives the names of 5 people and has spent three months interviewing them (along with a few of the profilers at the FBI - some of whom are decidedly whack-jobs). Some of these poor targeted guys are "high-profile"; they must be, since one of them has a photo of himself standing beside George W. Bush.

    Well. Anyone who is surprised that the assholes in Washington are targeting Muslim-Americans has not been "in country" since 9/11. (Oh, wait, that would be Greenwald, right?) Hell, the average dumbass, patriotic, beer-swilling, warrior-worshipping American targets Muslim-Americans every day. I've seen it firsthand. Our "warriors" are paid to target Muslims. The NYC police target them.

    It's not that I lack sympathy for these individuals. Not in the least. As a matter of fact, I am ashamed of my "fellow Americans"; we now surely rank dead last on the list of intelligent life in the universe.

    It's just that Greenwald has previously said, several times, that this will be the last article he has about the Snowden documents. So his Grand Finale is the one for-sure thing that everyone has already known for over a decade and that relatively few Americans care about: that Muslims have been specific targets of the fucked-up security state that the US has become.

    Guess I'll have to hope Cryptome has something interesting and that they will, indeed, actually publish all the documents they claim they have. Greenwald sure has paid short shrift in his responsibility to the public.

    1. So, if I'm reading the "fireworks" piece right -- thanks for alerting me, I wouldn't have bothered going over there otherwise -- these five prominent and very well-connected Muslims were the only people Greenwald, et al (it looks like Hussain actually wrote the article) could identify and interview. Out of the thousands on The List... these were the only ones.

      And The List consists only of email addresses specifically targeted, and their surveillance may have been under a warrant, approved by the FISA court or otherwise legally sanctioned.

      Got it.

      WaPo says that hundreds of thousands were actually swept up by the surveillance apparat, but that doesn't seem to bother (nor interest) Greenwald and Hussain.

      It's obvious to me -- though apparently not to Greenwald and Hussain -- why these guys were targeted: they were/are close to Power, and at the time, their closeness was considered a potential threat to that Power (read: Cheney), and thus anything was fair game to ensure that the potential threat was neutralized. To paranoid freaks like Cheney and that FBI person, even a potential to threaten the Power of the High and the Mighty must be surveilled, investigated and quarantined -- and if need be, eliminated. Even unto the second generation.

      It's not that they're Muslims. Everybody knows that Muslims are targets of intrusive surveillance in this country and abroad. This is not news. So are a lot of other categories of Americans and foreigners. What is news in the eyes of Greenwald and Hussain is that these important and well-connected Muslims were specifically identified and targeted, rather than your random, ordinary street Muslim.

      This strikes me as clearly part of the "exemption game" Greenwald and Snowden have been playing from the outset. These men, so far as one can tell, should not have been targeted (without abundant good reason and probable cause, etc.) because of who they are and whom they know. Their social and political status should have protected them. They should have been exempt.

      I'm betting that most of those who read this article might sympathise with these targets, and yet consider their surveillance to be justified under the circumstances and wonder what all the hoo-hah is about. That seems to be the way Americans are conditioned these days. Or rather, have been conditioned since the days of the Red Scare.

      As for Cryptome, I dunno. It would be nice to think they've got something -- but they say they don't have the docs themselves, they'll just facilitate their publication. Perhaps they are in communications with someone who does have them, someone who is as pissed off with Greenwald's gatekeeping as you and so many, many others are.

      Time will tell...

  3. And a little PS: this "blockbuster story" by Greenwald reveals that the BUSH administration spied on Muslim-Americans. The surveillance of these particular 5 people ended in 2008, after the NSA and FBI determined that there was no reason to monitor or investigate them after all. And the whackadoodle FBI guys quoted, like the one who thinks John Brennan is a secret convert to Islam, don't work there any more.

    It's a strange article. But, hey, most of the commenters think it is "worth the wait" and "fabulous reporting", so maybe it's just me.

    1. That seems to be changing. There don't seem to be nearly as many worshipers and devotees commenting now, and they're pretty straightforward in their dismissal of the article --in light of all the hype at any rate.

      That may change again as the West Coast wakes up...