Well, okay; we wish you all the best and all…
But whoa, Nellie: Heroes, clay feet, ‘n billionaires: O, my!
I can’t even count how many of Edward Snowden’s revelations I wrote up while Kevin Gosztola was still covering Chelsea Manning’s trial. They were great fun, and a number of folks tried hard to teach us what all the slides and terms meant, how the internet backbone worked, and…tra la la. All of those revelations were Before Intercept, or: BI, as well. One of the main questions I’ve had all along is what would ‘transformational journalism’ look like when it was funded not by any old billionaire, but Pierre Omidyar in particular. We can discuss that as you’d like, including his ‘philanthropic’ ventures, his PayPal’s blockade of WikiLeaks, the PayPal 14, etc. his frequent visits to the White House, and what any of that has meant to the First Look news venture.
To start with, ten months after the leak about the venture, there is only one site that uses a funky WordPress software platform much like this one. Given the quarter of a billion dollars Pierre had put up, and that part of the venture was to be a for-profit high tech arm, it’s sad and baffling to see it in its original state.
For ten months neither Jeremy Scahill nor Matt Taibbi have published a word there, although when I asked GG about it on a current thread, saying that their absence seemed akin to farmers with friends in high places being paid by the federal government to not grow certain crops, and that they both seemed quite busy Tweeting sports scores, he answered:
11 Jul 2014 at 3:35 pm
“Matt is in the process of building his magazine. It takes longer than one might think. It certainly took longer than I thought it was. But he’s making good progress.
Jeremy is busy on several stories and I expect you’ll hear from him before too long.
Daily blogging is much different than either trying to build a new, innovative media outlet from scratch or from doing hard-core investigative journalism. The latter two tasks take lots of time, effort and energy to do them right.”
Heh; boy, howdy did Arianna get HuffPo World up jiggedy-quick once she announced its coming creation from Davos, dahlink, but then, she must have hired some good tech help, told them her vision, and bingo, baby! I believe it was merely four months ago that Pierre met with all the journalists, editors, et.al. in CA for a meeting about ‘vision’….
When GG declined to name nation X of the five whose cell calls were under scrutiny and being recorded due to government’s claim of danger to lives, WikilLeaks named ‘Afghanistan’ within several days, to no apparent consequence.
Now this from a hero of the realm who claims (and probably rightly so) that he has Eric Holder on speed dial, and Holder takes his calls. Fierce investigative journalism, indeed. A man who, along with hero of the realm, Edward Snowden, early on began establishing the contrast between ‘good whistleblowers’ and ‘bad whistleblowers’, i.e.: WikiLeaks, whom they claimed erroneously, dumped all of Chelsea Manning’s surreptitiously acquired classified docs without checking with the federal government. No proof has ever been given that harm came to anyone due to their publication, as with Snowden’s.
Yes, we waited for new revelations from GG, as the drip-drip turned non-existent for months, and the world was beginning to yawn, and in the US only bullshit ‘fix’ legislation was afoot, and only the NSA spying and snooping was addressed, in any event. No word on legislative or judicial remedies against the spies at DHS, the FBI, DEA, private corporate entities, police departments, or the total Panopticon we’re not only surveilled by, but more citizens were discovered by FOIAed documents to have been deemed ‘terrorists’ by this nation’s fascist government officials.
Sure, we tried to understand (and many championed) GG taking time to write a book, go on a lengthy book and teevee tour to tout it, then tout his movie deal/s, one of which was with the makers of ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ whom he had earlier lavishly excoriated as…something or other.
Some of grew irritated by the time some of interviews were published, wondering seriously what the hell was up, anyway. Take some excerpts from his interview with GQ, ‘The Man Who Knew too Much’, ha:
“I like to think of it as a fireworks show: You want to save your best for last. There’s a story that from the beginning I thought would be our biggest, and I’m saving that. The last one is the one where the sky is all covered in spectacular multicolored hues. This will be the finale, a big missing piece. Snowden knows about it and is excited about it.”
Fearless journalism, saving the most telling and egregious sins against our privacy for last.
Given the references he’d made to colors in the sky, etc., some speculated that he’d publish all the separate names who were under NSA spying around the 4th of July. He tweeted that it was coming early one morning, then by evening, said it would be delayed while they checked out some additional claims by the government. When at last it came, it concerned the naming of five distinguished Muslin Leaders of the 202 Muslims the documents showed were under NSA scrutiny. And those of his commentariat who wondered if this were the big finale, or if it would get the same traction as he’d claimed, were made to feel like bigots. Well, eye of the beholder and all of that. But then he finally did Tweet to the media that this wasn’t the Biggie:
Was the Biggie withheld temporarily due to governmental compliance, or was this the Fireworks? We’ll never know, I reckon.
Just after the publication of that revelation, GG did an interview with Wired magazine’s Kim Zetter, excerpts of which follow:
“Zetter: You have characterised this story as the finale in your coverage, the pinnacle of your reporting on this topic. Does this and the other stories now constitute the whole iceberg? (With the understanding that of course you don’t possess everything about the government’s surveillance in your cache of documents.) But is this the peak now?
GG: When I talked about my finale I just sort of meant…basically I’ve been doing this for a year now so it’s just kind of time for me to do other things. I’m sure there are stories in there that I passed by because I didn’t recognise the significance of it and neither did the other journalists working on it that people who have a different set of understandings about things would. I already have a few stories written that are going to come after this one, so this isn’t my last one. But I do think there are some really big stories left to tell that would probably be very related to what Ron Wyden was saying… . But we have a snippet of what the NSA did. We don’t have anything close to everything that the NSA did. And it’s possible — in fact I think it’s highly probable — that there are things Ron Wyden knows about and was referring to that, for whatever reason, just aren’t in the documents that we have, or we haven’t found them.”
Wot? He’s tired of this stuff? After snippets? And did he just pass the torch to Ron Weyden?
Can it get worse? Yes, it can, at least by my lights, and measured by the smoke that came out of my ears; being coy while claiming not to be:
Zetter: There has been a lot of speculation about the possible existence of a second leaker, ever since Jake Appelbaum, a developer for The Tor Project, and Der Spiegel published the so-called ANT catalogue of NSA surveillance tools and didn’t attribute the document to Snowden. Then last week Jake published a second story in Germany about surveillance of people who use privacy tools, based on what appears to be leaked source code from an NSA datamining tool. That story also wasn’t sourced to Snowden. You’ve said you think there’s a second leaker.
GG: It’s hard for me because I actually know what’s in the archive and I don’t want to just come out and say: this is in the archive, this isn’t in the archive. But the thing I thought was most notable about that Der Spiegel article Jake did is that they don’t say a single thing about what the source was for those documents, and every single other time Der Spiegel has reported on Snowden documents they say specifically: this came from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. And they were just completely coy and silent on the sourcing for those catalogues. I think that should have been a red flag for a lot of people, in addition to the fact that it wasn’t any of the normal journalists who did that reporting. Everyone knows who got the documents, like me and Laura [Poitras] and Bart [Gellman at the Washington Post].
And then later:
Zetter: So you still hold strong to this idea that there probably is a second source.
GG: It’s hard for me because I know for certain but I don’t want to be coy and be like well there may be and there may not be but I can’t say for certain because I don’t want to talk about what’s in the archive or not in the archive for the rest of my life… . It’s hard to me to say for certain because there are so many documents.”
The guessing games began: ‘who else has Snowden’s NSA files?’ And how many have yet to be explored by folks who might see more significance than GG and the others? Well, Cryptome will, to ‘avert a July war’! (But not really), arrghingly enough.
Yes, we know that the good Edward Snowden said that all he’d ever wanted was ‘a conversation’, and that once one began, he’d declared his mission accomplished. But a couple things of interest popped up recently from him, one attributed to him, correctly or not, by GG via NPR: ‘We’ve Erred on the Side of Caution’:
“So clearly, I believe — and actually Edward Snowden was vehement about the fact — that not all of this information should be published, that some of this is kept secret legitimately, that the NSA has the right and the duty even to spy on al-Qaida and other groups that are genuinely threatening to the United States.”
More distinction between them and WikiLeaks? Or just reflexive statist jingosim?
But via Geronimo, this Tweet, you decide:
Funny thing was, apparently the Guardian scrubbed the two paragraphs after publication, and made no mention of it. Yeah, I’m done with it all. I’ve been advised by some that it makes me somewhat akin to pooh, but that’s okay; I just think: Winnie-the-Pooh.
From Alexa O’Brien’s ‘Emails & new warrants raise questions about investigators’ conduct in Manning & WikiLeaks criminal probe,’ July 12, 2014, this video among the many recently discovered to have been on Chelsea Manning’s youtube channel. “…an emotive animation created by Joaquin Baldwin about a voodoo doll who “must find the courage to save his friends from being pinned to death. In the video the voodoo doll sacrifices itself to save the life of its fellows.” Beyond heart piercing, given…everything. Thank you, Chelsea; you did us all a great service.