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Blog of Mass Destruction

When My Team Does It

By The Reverend Published: June 12, 2013

I started reading Glenn Greenwald in 2005, the year he started his Unclaimed Territory blog. Glenn is a nerdy, smallish fellow who just so happens to be the most surgically-precise writer I've ever read.

You may have seen him on teevee for the first time this week in the wake of the Edward Snowden NSA leaks. Greenwald is the person to whom Snowden leaked classified NSA documents. Greenwald is a constitutional lawyer turned foreign/military/security policy activist writer. I have read his columns regularly for the last 8 years, first at Unclaimed Territory, then at and now with the Guardian.

Make no mistake, the Surveillance State "Deciders" not only want to throw Edward Snowden in federal prison for the rest of his life.....they will also look for any potential way to punish Greenwald. Whether with charges of collaboration, aiding and abetting, prior conspiratorial knowledge ....whatever. Greenwald is a U.S. citizen living in Brazil. I'm sure he is well aware of the risk involved in receiving, and then, exposing, previously unknown details of the massive NSA Surveillance State.

When Greenwald began blogging on the Surveillance State, George W. Bush was president. Day after day Glenn wrote about the Bush administration's numerous and serious violations of the Constitution. The anti-Bushies on the left and in the Democratic Party cherished Greenwald's precise style of writing, his constitutional knowledge and his occasional dry wit. But most of all, Democratic partisans liked that Glenn was targeting Bush and Cheney.

But that was then....and this is now. Now Democrat, Barack Obama, is president, not George W. Bush. From one president to another, Glenn Greenwald did not waver or adjust his writing one little bit....he continued to pound the unconstitutional nature of Bush's unilateral decisions in the "global war on terror", and called on Obama to investigate and end those unconstitutional policies.

But Obama wanted to look "forward".....and decided not to even investigate the basket of crimes carried out in secrecy during the Bush years. Worse, Obama continued the Bush policies...and expanded upon them.

Glenn Greenwald responded accordingly, repeatedly pointing out the obvious dissonance found in Obama promises and Obama actions. A funny thing happened about then. Progressives and some Democrats began turning on Glenn Greenwald. The same writers and spokespeople who praised the work of Greenwald when Bush was president quickly turned to criticizing Greenwald when he kept pointing out that Obama was doing the same things that Bush did.

This group of progressives and Democrats is the mirror image of those on the right during the Bush years who could bear no criticism of THEIR president. Even now, in the midst of new daily revelations from Greenwald via Edward Snowden....writers on the left are villifying Greenwald, the contempt palpable.....I suppose because the leaked material may do political damage to their side's president. Here are a couple of examples....

"Greenwald is a prickly sanctimonious blow-hard frequently more dedicated to self-promotion than the accuracy of his work."

"Every so often you get a glimpse of why conservatives hate us so much, and Greenwald is one such example."

I recognize these sentiments, although this time coming from progressives......because they are no different from what conservatives said of Glenn Greenwald during the Bush years. What's odd here is that Greenwald has not changed....not one little bit. I know that because I read him every freaking day. What's changed is the presidency and the Americans who automatically defend the president against all charges. Now progressives are the ones defending the indefensible Surveillance State policies of THEIR exactly the same way that conservatives defended THEIR president when he ordered indefensible Surveillance State policies.

Therein lies our nation's larger political-information logjam. American voters should not act like fans of two rival NFL teams who defend their team's actions and performance no matter what they do, while simultaneously screeching loudly and unthinkingly when the other team does exactly the same stuff. But we do. However, that's not an informed citizenry, that's knee-jerk tribalism.

Naturally, I can't write a blog about this specific stuff and not mention the role of corporate media. I don't watch cable anymore but my understanding is that most corporate media heads are taking the side of the Surveillance State and opposing Edward Snowden's courageous actions. That's not surprising. While it is true today that corporate media exists to comfort the powerful and afflict the powerless....(yes, that's what I said) is also true that they exist to keep the political partisanship going, to stoke the thoughtless, knee-jerk tribalism I described above.

There are two reasons for this. One, partisan news pays.....just consider Fox....and two, a divided nation of voters is, basically, a powerless nation of voters. A united front of voters could actually change the Surveillance State, as well as many other unpopular policies, classified or not. Because of that threat to the status quo, of which they are a part, corporate media works to keep voters tribalized....divided against each other.

Glenn Greenwald's Unclaimed Territory posts are here, his Salon stuff here and his current Guardian columns are found here.



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