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From Tom Paine to Glenn Greenwald, we need partisan journalism

I would sooner engage you in a week-long debate over which taxonomical subdivision the duck-billed platypus belongs to then spend a moment arguing whether Glenn Greenwald is a journalist or not, or whether an activist can be a journalist, or whether a journalist can be an activist, or how suspicious we should be of partisans in the newsroom.

It’s not that those arguments aren’t worthy of time — just not mine. I’d rather judge a work of journalism directly than run the author’s mental drippings through a gas chromatograph to detect whether his molecules hang left or right or cling to the center. In other words, I care less about where a journalist is coming from than to where his journalism takes me.

Greenwald’s collaborations with source Edward Snowden, which resulted in Page One scoops in the Guardian about the National Security Agency, caused such a rip in the time-space-journalism continuum that the question soon went from whether Greenwald’s lefty style of journalism could be trusted to whether he belonged in a jail cell. Last month, New York Times business journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin called for the arrest of Greenwald (he later apologized) and Meet the Press host David Gregory asked with a straight face if he shouldn’t “be charged with a crime.” NBC’s Chuck Todd and the Washington Post‘s Walter Pincus and Paul Farhi also asked if Greenwald hadn’t shape-shifted himself to some non-journalistic precinct with his work.

Interesting. The trailer for the movie "The Fifth Estate" is now available. The movie will be in theaters on October 11.  It's about Julian Assange, one of several movies that were begun, one of which is on hold, one hit piece documentary that flopped, and this one, with some really big name stars, produced by Dreamworks and Participant Media, and based mostly on a book by a former partner now enemy.  But I don't think it turned out quite like his detractors intended.  It's hard to know without seeing the whole movie whether this is another CIA/US govt piece of propaganda. At first glance, it doesn't seem so.  The movie that was put on hold almost certainly was. For that one, the screenwriter was Mark Boal of Zero Dark Thirty and the producer Megan Ellis/Annapurna Films, based on a crappy NY Times article by Bill Keller.  If it was intended to be anti-Assange propaganda, perhaps released ahead of grand jury indictments, it appears that something has changed since then.  But again, until the whole film can be viewed, it's hard to know.  I do have to say that it's hard to imagine Benjamin Cumberbatch and Laura Linney doing a CIA propaganda film, but then again, look at the big names who were in Argo.
THE FIFTH ESTATE Official Trailer
From Wikipedia:
The Fifth Estate (film)

The Fifth Estate is an upcoming film about the news-leaking website WikiLeaks starring Benedict Cumberbatch as its editor-in-chief and founder Julian Assange with Daniel Brühl as the former spokesperson of the website Daniel Domscheit-Berg.[3] It is directed by Bill Condon with a screenplay by Josh Singer based in part on Domscheit-Berg's book Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange and the World's Most Dangerous Website, as well as WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy by British journalists David Leigh and Luke Harding. The film is co-produced by DreamWorks and Participant Media and will be released on October 11, 2013,[4] by DreamWorks through Disney's Touchstone distribution label and Mister Smith Entertainment worldwide.


On January 24, 2013, Julian Assange claimed, during a presentation of the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence at Oxford University, that he had read the screenplay of the film, describing it as a[13] "serious propaganda attack on WikiLeaks and the integrity of its staff, and as a 'lie built upon a lie'".[14][15][16] Birgitta Jonsdottir told the WikiLeaks official Twitter account that "the Iran scene has been written out, plus the name has been changed. Come with constructive ideas how to improve it".[17] Jonsdottir also tweeted that Assange does not possess the latest version of the script.[18] Though Assange declined a meeting with Cumberbatch in preparation for the role, it was reported that the two had a form of communication via email.[19] The actor stated that, “Assange made the most extraordinary contributions to human history by treating the Internet as a democracy.”

NSA LEAKS: Top 5 Lying Liars

Edward Snowden's leaks haven't just put our intelligence agencies on notice exposing their mass spying operations, they've also put liars on notice. As a result of the leaks -- several individuals, agencies, and governments have been caught in a web of lies. And in the age of WikiLeaks and emboldened whistleblowers, it's getting harder and harder to get away with lying.

Manning trial: did the whistleblower know he was helping the enemy?

“Kardashianize,” and 9 other new phrases you should start using
Given the array of crazy political happenings right now, we need new definitions to mark this era. Here are 10

Over in Europe, this was most recently illustrated by Germany’s move to honor the chaos of this moment by enshrining the word “shitstorm” in the annals of etymology.

Considering the Category 5 shitstorm now brewing over civil liberties here in the United States, it’s probably worth following our European allies and nominating some new words, [...]

1. “Snowden Effect”: New York University’s Jay Rosen accurately defines this term as “Direct and indirect gains in public knowledge from the cascade of events and further reporting that followed Edward Snowden’s leaks of classified information about the surveillance state in the U.S.”
2. “Kardashianize”: The process whereby news organizations convert stories about systemic problems into maudlin personal melodramas that focus on the tiny insignificant details of an individual’s private life. [...]

3. “Least untruthful”: A new legal doctrine that allows an executive branch official to issue a deliberate, calculated lie to Congress yet avoid prosecution for perjury, as long as the official is protecting the executive branch’s political interests. Usage example: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper avoided prosecution for perjury because he insisted that the blatant lie he told to Congress was merely the “least untruthful” statement he could have made.

If Kelly is nominated, it should spark sustained, nationwide protests.  Of course the Brennan and Comey nominations should have too, especially the Brennan nomination.

On Friday, Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat who’s been in the Senate for 15 years and in Congress for 32, recommended the appointment of Ray Kelly, the longest-serving police commissioner in New York City history, to take over the US Department of Homeland Security after the just-resigned Janet Napolitano leaves. Pretty much immediately a chorus went up praising the idea of NYC’s top cop taking the reins of the country’s most dystopian-sounding agency. “Kelly should have been Obama’s pick the first time around—a confidence-inspiring law-enforcement leader with federal experience,” wrote John Avlon in the Daily Beast, a sentiment that’s been more or less echoed by a host of prominent officials. “He’s so professional and so dogged,” Juan Zarate, who was a top national security advisor in the George W. Bush administration, told me. “In some ways he’s the perfect choice.”

In other ways, he sounds like a nightmare.

Why would we want the country’s top security post to be filled by the guy who organized a sprawling, illegal program to spy on New York City’s Muslim community and who has overseen the emergence of a stop-and-frisk regime whose blatant racial bias is a national embarrassment and potential propaganda tool for our enemies? Whether it’s directing the Transportation Security Agency and our airports, managing immigration and border enforcement, or just generally having his way with a multi-billion dollar budget, the opportunities for abuse in a Kelly-run DHS are terrifying to contemplate.

Okay, now we're getting into some more serious analysis of the Snowden documents.  Marcy Wheeler dissected this IG document the day it was released, but hardly anyone else did because they were focused on Kardashianizing Snowden and Greenwald, or like Melissa Harris-Perry, were ranting like the Red Queen.
The NSA IG Draft Report: An Analysis, a Question, and a Possible Answer

One of the most illuminating documents Edward Snowden has disclosed is this draft 2009 report by the NSA inspector general, which the Guardian released late last month.

The report, beyond the brief flurry of initial news coverage it generated, has received surprisingly little discussion. Much of the coverage it has gotten, moreover, has focused on what seems—the more I read it—like marginalia, details that are not at the core of the document’s importance.  [...]

Much of the material in this document is not entirely new. But the IG report delivers it with a detail and precision that is new—and it’s therefore interesting that the document has received as little discussion as it has. In this post, I want to lay out some—though by no means all—of what makes this document significant, lay out the question that it begs, and offer one possible answer to that question.

Jeremy Scahill on the Colbert Report

Author Jeremy Scahill discusses the secret war in Afghanistan, drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen and the Obama administration's "Terror Tuesday" meetings.  (05:24)

[Removed video because some commenters said it was autoplay]

This requires an extra "F".  WTFF ??!!1!!
The Return of Larry Summers?

According to accounts in the business press, there is a campaign among Washington insiders to get Larry Summers appointed as Ben Bernanke’s replacement as Federal Reserve Board chair. This could end up being the scariest horror movie of the summer.

It is bizarre that Summers would be seriously considered as the next Fed chair if for no other reason that there is an obvious replacement for Bernanke already sitting at the Fed. Janet Yellen, the vice-chair, has in the past served as the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, a member of the Board of Governors in the 1990s and head of President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers. She also has an impressive academic background, having been a professor at both Berkeley and Harvard.


Even Summers’ successes are failures. The business press often touts his role in the bailout of Mexico following the peso crisis in 1994. Those of us with access to IMF data know that Mexico has had the lowest per capita GDP growth of any major country in Latin America over the last two decades.  

There has been more talk of “the new Larry Summers” than the new Dick Nixon. Maybe such an animal exists, but those of us who remember the old Larry Summers would like to keep anyone with that name far away from the levers of power for a very long time.

Tomgram: Engelhardt, Can Edward Snowden Be Deterred?
How to Be a Rogue Superpower
A Manual for the Twenty-First Century
By Tom Engelhardt

In other words, from the time Edward Snowden’s first leaked documents came out, it was obvious that he was in control of how much of the NSA’s secret world would be seen.  It would be hard then not to conclude that capturing him, imprisoning him, trying him, and throwing away the key is likely to increase, not decrease, the flow of those documents.  Knowing that, the Obama administration and the representatives of our secret world went after him anyway -- after one man on a global scale and in a way that may not have a precedent.  No thought of future embarrassment stopped them, nor, it seems, did they hesitate because of possible resentments engendered by their heavy-handed pressure on numerous foreign governments.

The result has been a global spectacle, as well as a worldwide debate about the spying practices of the U.S. (and its allies).  In these weeks, Washington has proven determined, vengeful, implacable.  It has strong-armed, threatened, and elbowed powers large and small.  It has essentially pledged that the leaker, former Booz Allen employee Edward Snowden, will never be safe on this planet in his lifetime. And yet, to mention the obvious, the greatest power on Earth has, as yet, failed to get its man and is losing the public opinion battle globally.
Nothing about the “international manhunt” for Snowden indicates that the Obama administration would be unwilling to send in the CIA or special operations types to “render” him from Venezuela, Bolivia, or Nicaragua, no matter the cost to hemispheric relations.  Snowden himself brought up this possibility in his first interview with Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald.  “I could,” he said bluntly, “be rendered by the CIA.” This assumes that he can even make it to a land of exile from somewhere in the bowels of the international terminal of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport without being intercepted by Washington.

It’s true that there remain some modest limits on the actions even of a rogue superpower.  It’s hard to imagine Washington dropping its kidnappers into Russia or China to take Snowden, which is perhaps why it has put such pressure on both countries to turn him in or hustle him along.  With smaller, weaker lands, however, non-nuclear allies or enemies or frenemies, don’t doubt the possibility for a second.

If Edward Snowden is proving one thing, it’s this: in 2013, Planet Earth isn’t big enough to protect the American version of “dissidents.”  Instead, it looks ever more like a giant prison with a single implacable policeman, judge, jury, and jailer.

Bruce Schneier is "an American cryptographer, computer security specialist, and writer."  He just joined EFF's board of directors.
Mission Creep: When Everything Is Terrorism
NSA apologists say spying is only used for menaces like "weapons of mass destruction" and "terror." But those terms have been radically redefined.

One of the assurances I keep hearing about the U.S. government's spying on American citizens is that it's only used in cases of terrorism. Terrorism is, of course, an extraordinary crime, and its horrific nature is supposed to justify permitting all sorts of excesses to prevent it. But there's a problem with this line of reasoning: mission creep. The definitions of "terrorism" and "weapon of mass destruction" are broadening, and these extraordinary powers are being used, and will continue to be used, for crimes other than terrorism.

Back in 2002, the Patriot Act greatly broadened the definition of terrorism to include all sorts of "normal" violent acts as well as non-violent protests. The term "terrorist" is surprisingly broad; since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, it has been applied to people you wouldn't normally consider terrorists.

The most egregious example of this are the three anti-nuclear pacifists, including an 82-year-old nun, who cut through a chain-link fence at the Oak Ridge nuclear-weapons-production facility in 2012. While they were originally arrested on a misdemeanor trespassing charge, the government kept increasing their charges as the facility's security lapses became more embarrassing. Now the protestors have been convicted of violent crimes of terrorism -- and remain in jail.



We need a new Church Committee that is fully empowered to investigate the abuses of the NSA and make public its findings, and that is charged with recommending new laws to ensure the U.S. government does not violate our constitutional rights.

Stop Watching Us.

The revelations about the National Security Agency's surveillance apparatus, if true, represent a stunning abuse of our basic rights. We demand the U.S. Congress reveal the full extent of the NSA's spying programs.

Massive Spying Program Exposed
Demand Answers Now (EFF petition)

Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest

4 jurors distance themselves from Juror B37 saying her views don't reflect their own.

— Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) July 17, 2013 ory/2013/07/15/1223327/-The-Evening-Blues7-15-13">The Evening Blues

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