Tuesday Reads: Shirley Temple, The “Hillary Papers,” And The Endless NSA StoryPosted: February 11, 2014 | |
The top news story on Google this morning was the death of 1930s child star Shirley Temple at age 85. Later in life, she served the U.S. as an ambassador and was active in Republican politics.
Shirley Temple Black, who lifted America’s spirits as a bright-eyed, dimpled child movie star during the Great Depression and later became a U.S. diplomat, died late on Monday evening at the age of 85, her family said in a statement.
Temple Black, who lured millions to the movies in the 1930s, “peacefully passed away” at her Woodside, Calif., home from natural causes at 10:57 p.m. local time (0157 ET), surrounded by her family and caregivers, the statement said on Tuesday….
As actress Shirley Temple, she was precocious, bouncy and adorable with a head of curly hair, tap-dancing through songs like “On The Good Ship Lollipop.” As Ambassador Shirley Temple Black, she was soft-spoken and earnest in postings in Czechoslovakia and Ghana, out to disprove concerns that her previous career made her a diplomatic lightweight.
“I have no trouble being taken seriously as a woman and a diplomat here,” Black said after her appointment as U.S. ambassador to Ghana in 1974. “My only problems have been with Americans who, in the beginning, refused to believe I had grown up since my movies.”
Born in 1928, Temple soon became a major star after getting her first film role at the age of three.
Her singing, dancing and acting won over fans worldwide. She was given a special juvenile Oscar in 1935, when she was just six years old. To this day, she is still the youngest person to receive an Academy Award.
With the nickname “America’s little darling”, she was ranked as Hollywood’s biggest draw for four years running from 1935 to ’38 in an annual poll of US cinema owners.
Her rendition of the song On the Good Ship Lollipop in the film Bright Eyes was among her most famous performances.
Her other films included Curly Top, The Littlest Rebel, Baby Take a Bow and Little Miss Marker.
She was such a hit that US president Franklin Delano Roosevelt dubbed her “Little Miss Miracle” for raising morale during the Great Depression and she was credited with helping save 20th Century Fox from bankruptcy.
Temple starred in a total of 43 feature films – but found it difficult to sustain her career in adulthood and left acting behind in 1950.
Temple’s box-office appeal waned as she grew into adulthood, and she made her last movie in 1949. Her second marriage, to businessman Charles Black, lasted almost 55 years until his death in 2005. They raised two children, plus a daughter from Temple’s brief first marriage.
As Shirley Temple Black, the onetime star became active in Republican Party politics in the 1960s and served in diplomatic posts under four presidents.
“I had an enchanted childhood, a magic childhood, with great memories,” Black told reporters in 1978, when she turned 50. “But I don’t want to live in the past and I don’t live in the past.”
In other news, attacks on Hillary Clinton are ramping up, and so far they are truly bizarre. Republicans are still obsessed with Bill Clinton’s sexual fling with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Why that is supposed to be relevant to Hillary Clinton’s political career, I will never understand. The latest nastiness is about the so-called “Hillary Papers,” which I knew nothing about until this morning. It turns out these papers aren’t Hillary’s, but those of some friend of the Clinton’s named Diane Blair. I’ve never heard of her.
The papers — a collection of Blair’s diary-like accounts of conversations, campaign memos and the like — are a sometimes wrenching trip via the wayback machine, as she recounts the Clintons’ arduous transition from Arkansas to Washington. In the most quotable comment, Hillary Clinton is said to have called Lewinsky a “narcissistic loony toon” whose relationship with Bill Clinton resulted from a moral lapse on his part, albeit one driven by the pressures facing the couple in the capital.
The papers also reflect, time after time, Hillary Clinton’s frustration with politics and her view that, while she adopted her husband’s name to stave off criticism in Arkansas, she was not about to change her personality to suit the Washington establishment, the press or, for that matter, voters.
“I gave up my name, got contact lenses, but I’m not going to try to be somebody that I’m not,” Blair quotes Clinton as saying.
That tension has been a recurring theme of the Clintons’ political lives. In the 1992 presidential contest, campaign aides placed much emphasis on humanizing Hillary, or at least forwarding a public version of the human being her friends, including Blair, testified to. Blair’s papers included a confidential campaign memo that said voters believed Hillary Clinton was smart but just couldn’t fully connect with her. (Among other things, as was reported during the campaign, many voters were unaware that the Clintons had a daughter, the then-teenage Chelsea, and thus didn’t see Hillary as particularly motherly.)
She got little credit for the things people liked about the Clintons, and more of the blame for the things they disliked.
“What voters find slick in Bill Clinton, they find ruthless in Hillary,” the memo said.
I still don’t see how this is relevant to Hillary’s political career. Calling Lewinsky “a narcissistic looney-tune?” Why is that a problem? Oh, and she’s “ruthless,” although there’s no evidence for that is offered. Here’s the article in the right wing Washington Free Beacon that started the latest attacks, The Hillary Papers: Archive of ‘closest friend’ paints portrait of ruthless First Lady. It’s long, and frankly only skimmed it. If this garbage is what Republicans are going to focus on in opposing Hillary, I don’t think it’s going to work. Check out more heavy breathing over the “Hillary papers” at CNN and Politico.
The endless NSA leaks story continues onward. According to the latest tally by Cryptome.org, at the current rate, it will take 42 more years for all of the Snowden documents to be released. So far Greenwald and crew have reported on only about 1.8% of the documents Snowden is believed to have stolen.
Yesterday Glenn Greenwald and the gang debuted their new website, “The Intercept,” backed by a $50 million dollar investment by Ebay and Paypal billionaire Pierre Omidyar. For now the site will be entirely focused on the Snowden leaks as well as leaks from other sources who come forward and offer information on methods U.S. uses to gather intelligence. Judging by the first article posted by Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, and Laura Poitras, which focuses on the NSA’s role in Obama’s drone program, the articles will be aimed at using melodramatic language to inflict maximum damage to the U.S. government’s intelligence agencies, while providing little information that hasn’t been already reported elsewhere.
I assume the substance of the drone article was written by Scahill, who wrote a book, Dirty Wars, that included a great deal of information on the drone program. But you can see Greenwald’s hand in the slanted way in which the story is presented. For example, the first paragraph:
The National Security Agency is using complex analysis of electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence, as the primary method to locate targets for lethal drone strikes – an unreliable tactic that results in the deaths of innocent or unidentified people.
No evidence is offered to show that human intelligence isn’t used or that drone strikes are “unreliable” or that they kill more civilians than bombs or missiles, and no documents from the Snowden cache are included. Interestingly, the authors do not specifically argue against killing suspected terrorists; they only claim that drones are not the best method. They also present the opinions of two sources who worked in the drone program without any evidence to show that their statements are accurate.
A few more reactions…
Lloyd Grove at The Daily Beast: Welcome to Glenn Greenwald, Inc.? Grove wonders if Greenwald is the best “public face” for a serious news site.
Investigative reporter and columnist Glenn Greenwald was barely five minutes into his appearance Sunday on CNN’s Reliable Sources—an interview promoting the long-awaited online launch of First Look Media, eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar’s ambitious digital journalism startup—before he called the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee a liar.
“He’s not only lying—and he is lying—but he knows that he’s lying,” Greenwald said about Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, who suggested last week that journalists who’ve disseminated classified documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden might be guilty of “fencing stolen material.”
“This is what Mike Rogers is notorious for in Washington,” Greenwald went on, “just making things up and smearing political opponents and journalists he doesn’t like.”
The retort was a familiar-sounding one for the 46-year-old Greenwald, a former trial lawyer who tends to treat policy disagreements as blood feuds and is never reluctant to question motives and fling rather personal insults.
Here’s a pointed critique from Ohtarzie, a writer who has long argued that Greenwald and Poitras are hoarding the Snowden documents, dribbling them out slowly in an effort to get maximum attention and income while providing little new information.
If there is anything new here, it’s in the large extent to which the NSA is said to rely on cell phones for identifying and tracking targets for the CIA, which allegedly leads to increases in wrongly identified targets and civilian deaths. This differs somewhat from Gellman’s account, which described a more varied, conceivably more precise approach, using an “arsenal of cyber-espionage tools, secretly seizing control of laptops, siphoning audio files and other messages, and tracking radio transmissions.” Despite the differences, if there is something revelatory in the Intercept’s story from a technical standpoint, I’m missing it. Tracking by cell phone has been discussed before, includingby Snowden. In light of signature strikes, the apparent recklessness of these methods also seems unsurprising.
Gellman’s story was rightly criticized for being effectively a dick-waving exercise for the U.S. Intelligence apparatus, since it detailed simply how a Bad Guy was killed by the Good Guys with all their sexy technology and savvy. In keeping with their adversarial brand, Scahill and Greenwald mix the NatSec dickwaving with some handwringing over civilians, most of which is provided via quotes from former drone operator and ostensible whistleblower, Brandon Bryant. This passage gives a taste of the overall dickwavey/handwringy mix.
The former JSOC drone operator is adamant that the technology has been responsible for taking out terrorists and networks of people facilitating improvised explosive device attacks against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But he also states that innocent people have “absolutely” been killed as a result of the NSA’s increasing reliance on the surveillance tactic.
Near the end of the lengthy piece, Bryant even wrings his hands over the assassination program as a whole, at least as it results in the extrajudicial executions of American citizens like Anwar Al Awlaki. But overwhelmingly, both his emphasis and the emphasis of the piece are simply on the need to kill more precisely, by making greater use of informants and agents on the ground to supplement the NSA’s signal intelligence.
Ryan Goodman asks why Greenwald and Scahill repeatedly describe the use of metadata to target terrorists with drone strikes, but they provide few examples of actual metadata being used in the program. Where’s the “Metadata”?: What Greenwald and Scahill (Don’t) Say about NSA Metadata Collection and Lethal Targeting. Read all about it at the link.
Finally, the second scoop at The Intercept yesterday was a series of what they call “exclusive” photographs of the “surveillance state,” but a number of writers noted that these same photos can be found on the NSA website and by Googling. Here’s Bob Cesca:
Glenn Greenwald’s new website, The Intercept, launched today and….the first news article at the Pierre Omidyar-funded site, titled “New Photos of the NSA and Other Top Intelligence Agencies Revealed for First Time,” was utterly bizarre.
It was literally nothing more than three aerial photographs of the National Security Agency’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland; the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in Chantilly, Virginia; and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) in Springfield, Virginia.
That’s all. It’s treated like a major scoop and appeared as the first big revelation on the site, prior to a separate article by Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill.
I’m out of space, so I’ll add a few more links in the comment thread. I hope you’ll do the same. What stories are you focusing on today?