I stole the above Dave Granlund cartoon from JJ’s Friday night post, because it perfectly expresses my viewpoint on who and what Edward Snowden is. I’ll have the latest Snowden news for you in a minute, but first a personal update and some breaking Boston bombing news.
I’m in Indiana visiting my mom for a couple of weeks. The weather is gorgeous here, and I’m really enjoying it. It’s great to be out of the drizzly cold weather the Boston area has been having. I’m looking forward to doing quite a bit of yard work, helping my mom buy a new bed, celebrating her 89th birthday with her, and just generally enjoying her company.
As usual, I drove my car out here, and I made great time. The speed limits have been increased to 70 mph in Ohio and Indiana, and everyone in Massachusetts and New York routinely drives at least 10-15 miles over the 65 mph limit. So I probably averaged around 70-75 mph on the trip.
My mechanic told me that I need to start using premium gas in my car. I hated to do it, but to my surprise I got much better mileage with the expensive gas. I used 2-1/2 tanks of gas to go more than 900 miles. Usually it takes 3 full tanks and a little more to make the trip!
As I mentioned above, some Boston bombing news broke last night. From The Boston Globe: Man charged with obstructing bombing probe.
A cab driver from Quincy who was close to the two suspected Boston Marathon bombers was arrested Friday on charges of lying to investigators and destroying evidence, allegedly obstructing the ongoing investigation of the 2013 attack that shocked the city and the nation.
Khairullozhon Matanov, a 23-year-old Kyrgyzstan national, allegedly contacted Tamerlan Tsarnaev 42 minutes after the April 15, 2013, bombings, and he bought him and his younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, dinner at a restaurant that night. Matanov visited Tamerlan, whom he knew from playing soccer and from places of worship, at the suspected bomber’s Cambridge home two days later.
Over several days after the bombings, he also called the brothers repeatedly.
Authorities alleged in a sweeping indictment unsealed Friday that Matanov realized the FBI would want to interview him about his relationship with the suspected bombers, but that he deleted files from his computer and tried to get rid of his cellphones. They also allege that he lied to investigators about his encounters with the brothers in the days after the bombings.
Matanov discussed his friendship with the Tsarnaev brothers with others in the days following the bombing, but he claims that they didn’t confess their involvement to him. Apparently, the FBI knew about all this a year ago; it’s not clear why they waited until now to charge Matanov. I’ll be keeping my eye on this story.
Now the latest on the Snowden Operation.
Edward Snowden has been dominating the news for the past few days because of the interview he gave to NBC’s Brian Williams and the recent release of Glenn Greenwald’s book on his collaboration with Snowden in releasing classified NSA files. I have to admit up front that I haven’t yet been able to force myself to watch the interview. Frankly, I doubt if Williams asked any of the questions that I think Snowden should be asked; but I promise I’ll watch the thing today to find out for sure. Meanwhile, I’ve gathered some reactions from people who have watched it.
Frankly, I admit up front that I think Edward Snowden is a defector as well as an arrogant, grandiose, narcissistic jerk. But I think you all knew that already. With that said, here are the latest Snowden (and Greenwald) stories from my very biased point of view.
Last week there were a couple of high-profile negative reviews of Glenn Greenwald’s book No Place to Hide, one by George Packer and the other by Michael Kinsley. As you know, Greenwald doesn’t take criticism well, and he and his fans were not happy with either review. Packer’s review was the most scathing and carefully argued, but Kinsley is taking most of the heat from the Greenwald fan base, probably because the review was quite snarky. For example:
Greenwald was the go-between for Edward Snowden and some of the
newspapers that reported on Snowden’s collection of classified documents
exposing huge eavesdropping by the National Security Agency, among
other scandals. His story is full of journalistic derring-do, mostly set in
exotic Hong Kong. It’s a great yarn, which might be more entertaining if
Greenwald himself didn’t come across as so unpleasant. Maybe he’s
charming and generous in real life. But in “No Place to Hide,” Greenwald
seems like a self-righteous sourpuss, convinced that every issue is
“straightforward,” and if you don’t agree with him, you’re part of
something he calls “the authorities,” who control everything for their own
nefarious but never explained purposes….
Throughout “No Place to Hide,” Greenwald quotes any person or
publication taking his side in any argument. If an article or editorial in
The Washington Post or The New York Times (which he says “takes
direction from the U.S. government about what it should and shouldn’t
publish”) endorses his view on some issue, he is sure to cite it as evidence that he is right. If Margaret Sullivan, the public editor (ombudsman, or
reader representative) of The Times, agrees with him on some controversy,
he is in heaven. He cites at length the results of a poll showing that more
people are coming around to his notion that the government’s response to
terrorism after 9/11 is more dangerous than the threat it is designed to
Greenwald doesn’t seem to realize that every piece of evidence he
musters demonstrating that people agree with him undermines his own
argument that “the authorities” brook no dissent. No one is stopping
people from criticizing the government or supporting Greenwald in any
way. Nobody is preventing the nation’s leading newspaper from publishing
a regular column in its own pages dissenting from company or government
orthodoxy. If a majority of citizens now agree with Greenwald that dissent
is being crushed in this country, and will say so openly to a stranger who
rings their doorbell or their phone and says she’s a pollster, how can
anyone say that dissent is being crushed? What kind of poor excuse for an
authoritarian society are we building in which a Glenn Greenwald, proud
enemy of conformity and government oppression, can freely promote this
book in all media and sell thousands of copies at airport bookstores
surrounded by Homeland Security officers?
And so on . . . After Kinsley’s piece was published the Snowden cult, of which NYT public editor Margaret Sullivan is a charter member, reacted as usual with an over-the-top firestorm of rage. I’ll let Sullivan speak for the cult. She questioned the choice of Kinsley as reviewer and accused the long-time book-reviewer of arguing the only the government should decide whether classified government materials should be published. She apparently also felt that Kinsley showed insufficient deference to her idol Glenn Greenwald. I’d like to quote from Sullivan’s piece, but for some reason I can’t copy and paste from it. But here’s a reaction to the kerfluffle from Jonathan Chait: Times vs. Sullivan vs. Kinsley vs. Greenwald. Chait agrees with me that the Packer review is “more devastating.” Chait thoroughly skewers Margaret Sullivan, and she can’t attack him because he didn’t do it at the NYT.
It’s certainly true that Kinsley is more effective [than Packer] at poking a hole in Greenwald’s argument than in making the case for his own (obviously problematic) alternative. That would seem to be fair enough given that he’s writing a review of Greenwald’s book. Not to Sullivan, who sprung into action, using her public editor’s column to scold Kinsley. His review “expressed a belief that many journalists find appalling,” she wrote, aghast. Also, “there’s a lot about this piece that is unworthy of the Book Review’s high standards, the sneering tone about Mr. Greenwald, for example.” No sneering in the book review!
Paul writes back to Sullivan — in a rebuttal posted at the bottom of Sullivan’s item — to say, more or less, “let me explain to you what what a book review is”:
It seems there is a lot of confusion on the Internet, especially among those who do not work in the media but even — disturbingly — within the media, about the differences between an editorial and a book review, between what “The New York Times” says and what a reviewer for The New York Times Book Review says. …
For a reviewer to address how a writer comes across, particularly in a memoir or first-hand account, is entirely fair game for a book review, and by no means an ad hominem attack.
The notion that it’s wrong for the book review to print abhorrent reviews, let alone to poke fun at no less a hero than Glenn Greenwald, is an artifact of the culture of smugness that Kinsley is writing about here. If there’s one thing objective journalists are allowed — indeed, expected — to hold extremely strong opinions about, other than the importance of reducing the budget deficit, it’s the importance of journalists themselves. How dare a newspaper publish a review expressing skepticism about special rights for journalists?
Just for balance, here is a fairly non-judgmental summary of the overall “controversy” at the Neiman Report.
Since I haven’t yet watched the Snowden interview with Brian Williams, I’ll give you what I think is the best response I’ve seen so far from Kurt Eichenbaum at Newsweek: 16 Questions Edward Snowden Wasn’t Asked. This article is must-read–if only I could quote the whole thing! Here’s a small sample:
1. Most of the information that has been revealed from the documents you obtained dealt with the abilities, rather than the actions, of the NSA. Did you see or do you have any evidence that the agency was, in fact, spying on Americans who were not linked to terrorist organizations through what is known as the “three-hop” standard? (Under this rule, one of 22 NSA officials must give approval to an analyst who believes a “reasonable, articulable suspicion” exists that a number is directly linked to terrorists. Then the analyst is allowed to determine through searches of metadata which phone numbers were called by the first number. The NSA can then determine the numbers called by the second phone, and the numbers called by the third. The intent is to see if numbers called in the United States by phones directly connected to terrorists will reveal terrorist operatives inside the country.)
5. Did you see or do you have evidence of the NSA reading content of emails sent by Americans or listening to phone calls of Americans without meeting the standards required by the national security courts known as FISA courts?
10. Do you believe that surveillance in foreign nations is intrinsically wrong?
11. You say that you do not believe your actions damaged United States security and that the government has failed to reveal instances where it did. Two questions: What kind of analysis did you conduct to be sure that the information you were taking did not compromise security? And, secondly, given that journalists do not have security clearances, why did you think they were the best placed to Click here and determine what would compromise national security and what didn’t?
Please go read the rest. It sounds like Brian Williams pretty much avoided asking Snowden any hard questions at all.
A few more quick headlines:
NBC News (Irony alert!): Russia Web Journalism Award Named For Edward Snowden.
More horrendous gang rapes in India–from Reuters India: Home minister seeks report on grisly rape, hanging of teens in Uttar Pradesh.
Hilarious must-read from Politico: NSA releases Snowden memo.
Those are my offerings for today. What are you reading and blogging about? Please share your links on any topic in the comment thread.http