Shorter Question Everything
Last night, the Independent — owned by Alexander Lebedev, a Russian oligarch and former politician — published a bombshell of a story. Supposedly cobbled together from documents Edward Snowden stole from the NSA (and providing us with the first concrete number: they say 50,000), the Indy then documents a GCHQ surveillance station being established somewhere in the Middle East.
If the story is true, then it is a shocking turn of events. According to Glenn Greenwald, only four people have had access to the documents Snowden exfiltrated from the NSA: Snowden himself, Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and, to a degree, David Miranda (Greenwald’s partner who was used as a document mule). When you think about it, there are three possibilities for where these documents came from:
- Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden, Laura Poitras, or David Miranda handed them to the Independent.
- The UK leaked its own compartmented espionage program, exposing and thus nullifying its effectiveness, to “discredit” somehow a guy who has already leaked and therefore damaged other programs.
- A new party, unknown to us, also has control of said documents and is spreading them to new outlets. This would also imply that, contrary to their constant public assertions, Team Greenwald-Poitras has lost control of their cache of source material.
Greenwald, naturally, has a theory. He writes that Snowden claims the UK government itself leaked the documents. Greenwald then goes on to concoct some preposterous theory amplifying this idea, as if Whitehall would deliberately undermine its own nascent intelligence operations just to score some minor point against Edward Snowden. Contrary to Greenwald’s claims, exposing a compartmented program located in a sensitive country does not, actually, help them — in fact, by exposing sensitive operations in a sensitive location it does the very harm that necessitated classifying the program to begin with.
• The Guardian and Glenn Greenwald Are Lying to Us. Does Anyone Care?: We can’t have a discussion about The Story™ if the basic facts of the story are not laid out so we can agree on what it is that we are discussing. And never mind that the news organization tasked with informing the public of the basic facts of the story seems to be making it up as they go along, quietly editing articles, changing headlines, and burying corrections of prior misstatements at the bottom of subsequent articles. The Guardian has abdicated its duty as a news organization. No longer are they reporting facts and seeking the truth. They are pushing a narrative — Greenwald’s narrative — and cherry-picking facts to suit that narrative.
• The Convergence of Glenn Greenwald and Rand Paul’s “Southern Avenger”: Glenn Greenwald had been a speaker on something fatuously named The Young American Liberty Tour “with three civil liberties experts,” titled “The War on Terrorism, Civil Liberties, and the Constitution’.” That’s a lot of liberty. The other two experts were that selfsame Bruce Fein, a weird perpetual GOP sleazeball, and Jacob Hornberger, who thinks the US was better off before the Civil War. The real 5-alarm bell-ringer, though, was the moderator, Jack Hunter, the goddamn luchador of the losers, the Southern Avenger.
• Glenn Greenwald’s Not-A-Fan Club: Joshua Foust, though, points out that in his arguments about people’s views and pasts, Greenwald is given to exaggeration: What makes any tiff with Greenwald so exhausting is not just the needlessly personal nature of his attacks, but rather his outright lies. That’s correct: Glenn Greenwald is a serial liar. He is pathological about it. And he pretends like people are too dumb to notice. Because he is not only a pathological liar but also a bully, very few in the public sphere ever want to stand up for him. In fact, more than one journalist has written me a private note of encouragement in standing up to Greenwald, because for them the professional consequences of fighting off his bulling followers and rebutting all of his lazy lies are simple too overwhelming. So he is allowed to continue lying and bullying people without recourse. …There is no other way to describe Glenn Greenwald’s initial reaction [to the detention of his partner, David Miranda]: it was knowingly, deliberately, false. Yet again, he lied. But the damage was already done. Hordes of angry twitter followers flooded the internets to angrily dispute any deviation from his original lies about the incident, shouting down all who dared to point out the very simple truth that he lied. Again.
• A Pathetic Slap from a Lying Bully: To my fellow journalists — every time you laud Greenwald’s journalism, please consider the horrific damage he is doing to free speech and discourse through his reckless and unethical conduct.
• Lebanon: “Car bombs exploded with catastrophic force outside two Sunni mosques in this northern Lebanon city on Friday as many worshipers were leaving prayers, killing dozens of people and wounding hundreds. The bombings were a major escalation of sectarian violence in Lebanon, a country deeply unsettled by the conflict in neighboring Syria, and reinforced fears that the Middle East could be plunging into unbridled Sunni vs. Shiite warfare.”
• Pentagon is making the initial preparations for a cruise missile attack on Syrian government forces. We say “initial preparations” because such an attack won’t happen until the president gives the green light. And it was clear during an interview on CNN Friday that he is not there yet. “If the U.S. goes in and attacks another country, without a U.N. mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented,” the president told CNN, “then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it — ‘do we have the coalition to make it work?’ Those are considerations that we have to take into account.” Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey is expected to present options for a strike at a White House meeting on Saturday.
• The Pentagon is moving naval forces closer to Syria in preparation for a possible decision by President Barack Obama to order military strikes, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel suggested on Friday. Hagel declined to describe any specific movements of U.S. forces. He said Obama asked that the Pentagon to prepare military options for Syria and that some of those options “requires positioning our forces.”
• President Barack Obama will meet with his national security team Saturday to discuss the deteriorating situation in Syria, the White House announced in a statement.
• Police foil far-right extremist couple’s plan to abduct and execute police officers in Las Vegas: Las Vegas Metro Police announced late Thursday that they had arrested roommates David Allen Brutsche and Devon Campbell Newman, a couple who spent hundreds of hours devising a plan to abduct, torture and execute police offers in order to bring attention to their anti-government “Sovereign Citizens” movement. Brutsche, a registered sex offender from California, told an undercover officer in July that “Blood or no blood—it doesn’t matter. I will kill anyone that tries to stop the cause of liberty. I have no qualms about it.”
• Neo-Nazi plans to build an all-white city of racists in North Dakota: Craig Paul Cobb, 61, has been buying up abandoned property in Leith, a town of only 19 people. He has invited other white supremacists to live on his properties and help take over the city. In a post last year on the Vanguard News Network forum, Cobb said anyone who lives on his property would be required to fly a “racialist banner” — such as a Nazi flag — 24-hours a day. They would also be required to try to “import more responsible radical hard core [white nationalists]” and become a legal resident of the state so they could vote in local elections. He plans to rename the city “Cobbsville.”
• Fort Hood: “Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist who admitted to the 2009 shooting rampage at the military base here, was convicted Friday of 13 counts of premeditated murder — and could become the first American soldier to be put to death in half a century.”
• Sgt. Robert Bales, the U.S. soldier who carried out a massacre of Afghan villlagers last year, has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. A military jury of six handed down the sentence on Friday to Bales, who pleaded guilty in June to avoid the death penalty in last March’s attack. Sixteen Afghan civilians were gunned down in their family compounds. Most of the victims were women and children.