Saturday, June 8, 2013

Who Watches The Guys Watching The Watchmen?

Smartypants has a hell of point here on Glenn Greenwald and the NSA leaks:  the person deciding whether or not there is any harm is declassifying these programs to the public is...Glenn Greenwald.

I appreciate very much that Glenn is owning responsibility. I think that is important. But once again, the question comes back to trust. What he's suggesting is that we should trust him to calibrate the potential for harm from this information being leaked. He evaluates that and then decides on the balance between public value and harm.
And no, Greenwald believes there's no harm in everything he's leaked so far.  Zero.  But he's made that decision himself.
I think that's why this story has grabbed me so strongly. The level of harm this particular leak might/might not have caused is not self-evident to me. But of all people on the planet I want to see making decisions about something like that, Glenn Greenwald is near the bottom of my list. I fear this is dangerous territory we've entered when ideologues like Greenwald and Rosen are the arbiters of our national security. 
So my question for Greenwald is this:  when is the government allowed to have secrets, and why are you the one making that judgment, rather than the President?


dxmachina said...

Why? 'Cause he's better than you. Hell, he's better than me. He's Glen Greenwald, dammit.

Maxwell Smarter said...

Obama's government is unconstitutionally collecting 3 trillion records a month on us, and you think the villain here is Glenn Greenwald?

You deserve everything taken from you. Your freedom, your liberty, your family, your country, and your life.

Maxwell Smarter said...

Oh, and Greenwald's original story was 100% right.

Executives at some of the participating companies, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, acknowledged the system’s existence and said it was used to share information about foreign customers with the NSA and other parts of the nation’s intelligence community.

These executives said PRISM was created after much negotiation with federal authorities, who had pressed for easier access to data they were entitled to under previous orders granted by the secret FISA court.

One top-secret document obtained by The Post described it as “Collection directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.”

I expect your apology to happen on the 31st of Never.

RepubAnon said...

Because the person making the decision as to whether the government should keep something secret should be someone other than the person in a position to abuse the power they obtain by maintaining that secrecy?

beulahmo said...

I would argue that Greenwald assumes huge risk in substituting his own judgment for that of the people Americans elected to exercise judgment on national security issues. While I appreciate citizen concerns about state secrecy, I don't feel any more confident that Greenwald is in a position to knowledgeably evaluate potential harm, nor to I have reason to believe I should have confidence in his judgment. He may be giving himself way more credit than he's due.

Sorry About That, Chief said...

Unless you agree with Glenn Beckwald you deserve to DIE, HERETIC!

Maxwell Smarter said...

Oh Zandar, your Balloon Juice pal Mistermix threw you under the bus this morning.

And, yes, Glenn Greenwald has an anti-surveillance agenda, so when he makes an educated guess, he’s going to assume the worst. That might bite him in the ass at some point, but reading today’s Guardian story and looking at the supporting documents, I don’t see a big overreach. The “Boundless Information” slides show that the NSA has collected 3 billion items of information on Americans in April, and that the US is coded “yellow”, which means the amount of information collected here is comparable to China. Arguing over Glenn’s spin is one thing, but unless these documents are some kind of fabrication, the NSA has some explaining to so, since they’ve categorically denied gathering “any kind of data at all” on Americans.

ButI’m sure those of you who were calling me a bad Democrat for the crime of mentioning Glenn’s reporting have a reason why today’s Guardian story is completely wrong, too. Because the most important thing here isn’t what the NSA is collecting on Americans, but the fact that Glenn Fucking Greenwald is the guy reporting it.

Once again, what's your explanation for why the NSA lied to Congress under oath? Why are you defending Obama for what you never would have tolerated under Bush?

Maxwell Smarter said...

Oh look who wants to take the PATRIOT Act to the Supreme Court, too?

Why your good friend Rand Paul.

That's got to be a terrible disappointment to you, finding out Rand Paul cares more about getting rid of the PATRIOT Act than anyone you've ever voted for, Zandar.

NB said...

The leaker went to Greenwald. If it wasn't Greenwald it would've been another journalist. Greenwald didn't make the decision to leak, only to write about it. Don't shoot the messenger.

Greenwald is right in saying there is no harm to people; only to institutions, and to the criminals who engaged in the illegal behaviour of widespread warrantless wiretapping and lying to Congress about it.

I can't believe you tag a post in which you slam Glenn Greenwald with your "Village Stupidity" category. Or was this self-referential?

beulahmo said...

(1) Glenn Greenwald is not a stenographer. He exercised some judgment in deciding to go with this story.

(2) You believe Greenwald was right in saying there is no harm to people, only to institutions; but you're really just taking his word for it, aren't you? Not everybody is prepared to do that.

(3) This recent story doesn't involve warrantless wiretapping (let alone "widespread warrantless wiretapping" -- ??); it involves gathering data for data-mining. That indeed is a subject worthy of discussion, but it's not currently illegal. The laws created to make it legal may be unconstitutional, but that has not yet been legally established. This is not hair-splitting -- I'm making distinctions that are important to some of us.

(4) You're confused. I neither slammed Glenn Greenwald nor do I have anything to do with how this blog post was tagged. I'm a commenter here, not the blogger. Stupid.

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