We are supposed to know everything that the government does. That is why they are called The Public Sector, and they are supposed to know almost nothing about us. That is why we are private individuals. This has been completely reversed so that we know almost nothing about what the government does, it operates behind this impenetrable bureaucracy, while they know everything about what it is we are doing, with whom we’re speaking and communicating, what we’re reading.
Glenn Greenwald (via vulgartrader)
The government has insulated its conduct from what are supposed to be the legitimate means of accountability and transparency—judicial proceedings, media coverage, FOIA requests—and has really erected this impenetrable wall of secrecy, using what are supposed to be the institutions designed to prevent that. That is what makes whistleblowing all the more imperative. It really is the only remaining avenue that we have to learn about what the government is doing. And that is why the government is so intent on waging this war against whistleblowers, because it’s the only thing left that shines light on what they were doing. And those who want to stigmatize whistleblowing as illegal would have a much better case if there were legitimate institutions that were functioning that allow the kind of transparency that we’re supposed to have. But those have been all shut down, which is what makes whistleblowing all the more imperative and the war on whistleblowing all the more odious.
Glenn Greenwald on Bradley Manning: Prosecutor Overreach Could Turn All Whistleblowing into Treason
I’m going to this talk tonight. If anyone is in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area and would like to meet up, let me know via my Ask box. And get a ticket.
Whether a society is free is determined not by the treatment of its complacent, acquiescent citizens – such people are always unmolested by authority – but rather by the treatment of its dissidents and its marginalized minorities.
[For] full-scale control, it’s just as necessary for a government to shield its own actions from any transparency and scrutiny as it is to know everything which citizens are doing and saying. That’s the one-way mirror which all authoritarian regimes attempt to construct: those in power know everything about the conduct of those who are ruled, while those who are ruled know nothing about the conduct of those in power.
[The] political faction that has long been derided for wimpy weakness (progressives) will spend the remainder of the year flexing self-admiringly in front of a mirror and basking in the war glory draped on them by all the deaths their leader has caused, while the country that is so petrified of its own shadow that it begs the government to monitor and surveil every last one of its communications will seize on these same deaths to feel purposeful, strong and proud. There is a direct correlation between the fear and impotence Zakaria bemoans and the fact that America’s greatest and proudest achievement over the past four years is its “success” in blowing people up from the sky or summarily executing them.
The American character | Glenn Greenwald
A 2011 FOIA request from the ACLU revealed that just in the 18-month period beginning October 1, 2008, more than 6,600 people — roughly half of whom were American citizens — were subjected to electronic device searches at the border by DHS, all without a search warrant. Typifying the target of these invasive searches is Pascal Abidor, a 26-year-old dual French-American citizen and an Islamic Studies Ph.D. student who was traveling from Montreal to New York on an Amtrak train in 2011 when he was stopped at the border, questioned by DHS agents, handcuffed, taken off the train and kept in a holding cell for several hours before being released without charges; those DHS agents seized his laptop and returned it 11 days later when, the ACLU explains, “there was evidence that many of his personal files, including research, photos and chats with his girlfriend, had been searched.” That’s just one case of thousands, all without any oversight, transparency, legal checks, or any demonstration of wrongdoing.
Glenn Greenwald (via letterstomycountry)
[When] influential American “terrorism experts” start talking about the John Podhoretzes of the world as terrorism advocates, and about “Shock and Awe“, the assault on Fallujah and the bombing of Gaza as terrorism, and about Ronald Reagan as a “state sponsor of terrorism” for his funding of El Salvadoran death squads and Nicaraguan contras, and about the parties responsible for the assassination of Iranian civilian scientists as international terrorists, then I’ll start to take the honorific more seriously.
Tongue-cutting at Al Jazeera | Glenn Greenwald
It’s incredibly instructive to compare what we know (thanks to Shaye) actually happened in this Yemen strike to how The New York Times twice “reported” on it. I quoted above from these two NYT articles, but it’s just amazing to read them: over and over, the NYT assures its readers that this strike was carried out by Yemen (with U.S. assistance), that it killed scores of critical Al Qaeda leaders and other “militants,” that the strike likely killed “the leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Nasser al-Wuhayshi, and his deputy, Said Ali al-Shihri, who were believed to be at the meeting with Mr. Awlaki,” etc. How anyone, in light of this record of extreme inaccuracy, can trust the undocumented assertions of the U.S. Government or the American media over who is and is not a Terrorist or “militant” and who is killed by American drone strikes is simply mystifying.
Obama’s personal role in a journalist’s imprisonment | Glenn Greenwald
[O]verwhelmingly, the American media continuously amplifies the views of American and Israeli officials while all but suppressing the views of those on the other side. For every one Iranian official Americans are permitted to hear from (and they are treated with extreme skepticism by American journalists), they hear from countless Israelis (who are treated with the utmost deference). The same thing happens on an even more extreme scale with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (one almost never hears from Palestinians in our media debates), and more extremely still when it comes to demonizing America’s designated enemies (who are virtually never heard from, and are sometimes even officially excluded from media reports). This is the dynamic by which the American establishment media, often without even consciously realizing they’re doing it, severely narrows and distorts our national political debates while pretending to host free-ranging and vibrant discussions.
The incomplete media debate on Iran
[That] is basically the story of the general civil liberties assault and the accompanying demonization of Muslims in America since 9/11. The Government spies on whomever it wants in total secrecy and with no checks or oversight. In those rare instances where it is revealed, those responsible immediately screech Terrorists! to keep fear levels high, while politicians in both parties, with rare exception, line up to support these assaults. The bigoted equation of Muslims with Terrorism is incrementally bolstered each time. And all of this becomes more and more normalized — not an aberration but the norm in American political life.
When continuously bombarded with authoritative voices uncritically warning them of the Grave Threat posed by the New Hitlers, and with powerful images of menacing missiles and unhinged leaders accompanying those warnings, even rational populations will become sufficiently scared into succumbing to the next act of aggression. The only thing unusual here is that, with Iran, the American media actually seems out in front of the U.S. Government in the propaganda effort rather than in their normal position of submissively marching behind.
Is there anything those Persian Monsters aren’t guilty of? The worst part of all this may be the fact that National Security officials don’t even have enough respect for the American public and media to create a new propaganda script; like some budget-strapped studio executives eager to push a worthless sequel to the market, they instead just lazily haul out the last script that was used with only the most cosmetic changes.
Iran is the root of all evil | Glenn Greenwald
Part of the problem…is the pretense that Terrorism has some sort of fixed, definitive meaning. It does not. [The] meaning of the term has constantly morphed depending upon the momentary interests of those nations (usually the U.S. and Israel) most aggressively wielding it. It’s a term of political propaganda, impoverished of any objective meaning, and thus susceptible to limitless manipulation. Even the formal definition incorporated into U.S. law is incredibly vague; one could debate forever without resolution whether targeted killings of scientists fall within its scope, and that’s by design. The less fixed the term is, the more flexibility there is in deciding what acts of violence are and are not included in its scope.
Iran and the Terrorism game | Glenn Greenwald