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?

Leaking Like A Sieve

Steve M. is asking the right questions about the timing of this week's NSA "revelations".  Who benefits from this, and why now?  The benefit part is easy:  Republicans who are going after the President, not the policy they passed and renewed.

Result: Obama's approval ratings go down; Democrats (and only Democrats) are associated in the public mind with highly intrusive "big government"; Republicans make significant gains in the 2014 midterms; this scandal and others hurt the Democrats' 2016 presidential candidate the way Monicagate hurt Al Gore in 2000 ... and yet the surveillance state remains in place, and is possibly even expanded in secret by President Christie or Rubio or Jeb (all of whom would be likely to stock their administrations with veterans of the Bush White House).

The right is working hard to make us forget that these policies were the work of two presidents from two different parties, endorsed in a bipartisan way in Congresses that have had several shifts in party control, and mostly OK'd by the courts. For the right, the real and faux scandals of the past few months are table-setters for this week's revelations.

And that's really the crux of this.  This was a program that was in operation supposedly since 2007, created under Bush and Patriot Act.   But we're only finding out about this now, just after A) Republican sources lied about Benghazi emails to get that story back in the news, B) a Republican appointee planted a bombshell question about the IRS "targeting" the Tea Party in 2010 , and C) A FOX News contributor was being investigated by the DoJ for a leak in 2009.

Now we have D) where an ongoing and renewed six-year classified program is being leaked to Glenn Greenwald, a guy who virulently dislikes the President, the NSA, and the federal government.  Greenwald completely blew the story out of proportion and he's all but promising more soon. All of these leaks and scandals came down in the space of just five weeks

Has anyone bothered to ask why?

I'm thinking no.  You should be.  Republicans are trying to pretend they have nothing to do with any of these issues, and in the words of El Rushbo, America is under a "coup" by the illegitimate usurper President.  We're seeing an "atmosphere of endless scandal" being built right before our eyes and at every turn the President, not the policy, is under attack.  They are all policies the Republicans supported and used, but now it's all Obama's fault.

All this seems awfully convenient for the GOP, doesn't it?  There's a reason for that.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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