Glenn Greenwald quickly took to the air, lambasting a Sunday Times story implicating Edward Snowden in the alleged placing of MI6 operatives in jeopardy. He likened the government’s tactics in leaking the story as being similar to another government scheme regarding the Daniel Ellsberg Pentagon Papers episode of 1971, during which the nefarious Nixon administration castigated Ellsberg.
In the Daniel Ellsberg case, the Nixon White House sought to discredit Ellsberg, tarnishing him with allegations of passing secrets to the Soviet Union. More recent examples of the government slanting information to suit its needs, Greenwald opined, can be found in the run-up to the Iraq War and the government’s propaganda regarding WMD and with Chelsea Manning, WikiLeaks and President Obama.
Greenwald asserts that the article, which appears in a Rupert Murdoch owned, frequently pro-government newspaper, contains dubious claims, contradictions and inaccuracies, and represents shoddy journalism where writers merely transcribe the pap fed them from anonymous government sources without a shred of skepticism for the assertions made behind that veil of anonymity. Unfortunately, such is the staple of journalism, as governments utilize the press to sway public opinion and control the agenda.
The government, Greenwald contends, has an obvious vested interest in portraying Snowden as a terrible person who’s helped “the enemy” — it has been badly stung by his surveillance revelations and the political fallout that has ensued as a result of them. For that reason alone its claims should be treated with caution, and not repeated unchallenged. Evidence should be necessary for allegations of this magnitude, which have such big ramifications.
One such example of an inaccuracy surrounds the detention of Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda. Not only does the Sunday Times story allege that Miranda had a file password on his person, but that he possessed files from visiting Snowden in Moscow which he had in his possession when detained subsequently. Greenwald points out that Miranda had never been to Moscow being detained at Heathrow airport in London.
In another discrepancy, officials claim Snowden to have “blood on his hands,” but later point to “no harm being done.” Apparently the newspaper corrected these inconsistencies in their online text. In still another instance it refers to a specific number of documents stolen (1.77 million), when the NSA itself could not accurately assess the number of files taken, as they were not, as a rule, cataloged.
In attacking the Sunday Times article, Miranda referred to words uttered by American comedian, Stephen Colbert:
“But, listen, let’s review the rules. Here’s how it works. The President makes decisions. He’s the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put ’em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration? You know, fiction!”
Miranda admonishes journalists who merely rehash what the government serves them without questioning the authenticity of their sources, while simultaneously taking governments to task over the issue of lying and whitewashing information. He points out how dangerous the practice has become, with news outlets simply piggy-backing on each other’s stories. It will be interesting to see if either the governments of the UK, US, or the Sunday Times steps up to refute the claims of Greenwald and his cohorts.