Former lawyer turned journalist, Glenn Greenwald, has decided to make his final Edward Snowden leak article a grand one. Naming the targeted US victims of illegal NSA surveillance. This will be the biggest revelation from the 2 million classified files he received from the former NSA contractor, according to Greenwald.
“As with fireworks you want to save your best for last,” Greenwald said to GQ magazine. “The last one is the one where the sky is all covered in spectacular multicoloured hues.”
That sounds a lot like the Glenn Greenwald, superior NSA reporting illusion that has been going on for a year now. Interesting. Sensational. But not nearly enough to rock the system.
Out of 2 million documents, Greenwald and his friend, filmmaker Laura Poitras, have hardly given the world a substantial show as they’ve released around 1 percent of the documents sequestered by Edward Snowden. Maybe one might say they’ve only put on a show for the world. A lot of light and noise, in very regulated bursts, but that’s it. Many of us have seen these colorful revelations before–they just weren’t mainstream news articles.
Compared to the firepower Greenwald is sitting on, what he’s done is like squeezing off a few shotgun blasts into the air at the local farmer’s market. Sure, that’s exciting for any hillbilly, and alarming for most city slickers, but Snowden handed them enough dynamite to dislodge Hoover Dam if they chose.
Imagine what could be unleashed. Once this finale of naming the NSA-targeted citizens of the US, there’ll be a lot of sensational hubbub, but then it’ll drift out of the minds of most, the smoke will clear, and we’ll accept the surveillance state because we like our iPhones, we love the Internet, and we can’t part with Google.
In what seems like compliance with the system, Greenwald and company have been given cozy spots at The Intercept for their grueling work. The Intercept is a website funded by eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar (who also helped shut down WikiLeaks’ PayPal accounts for leaking documents obtained by whistleblower Bradley Manning). Omidyar has also been implicated in some of the unreleased NSA documents.
That seems an unlikely spot for true hero journalists who want to risk their lives promoting freedom and justice for the American public and citizens of the world against the tyranny of the NSA. You’d think Greenwald would go into a fiery denunciation of a man like Omidyar. Rather, Greenwald and company (Poitras and also Jeremy Scahill should be mentioned) have found their sweet spot between rubbing the government the wrong way, but not enough to be shut down, have their bank accounts turned off, their book deals squashed, and threatened with solitary confinement.
They’ve been given hero status for the ballooning ranks of dissenting liberals. Don’t worry folks, you can’t trust your government, but thank God Greenwald’s out there. He’s wielding the sword for you. Sit back and relax and enjoy the show, if you choose.
Last year I wondered how Greenwald could sleep at night. I get jittery when I delve too far into the analyses of former CIA analysts, FBI whistleblowers, and military intelligent officers. Yet, Greenwald, who for many represents the tip of the spear against tyranny and the dangerous 21st century surveillance / police state, somehow seems to function just fine. I asked, “Why doesn’t Glenn Greenwald grind his teeth at night like I do?”
I gave multiple reasons, mostly silly, but none of them had to do with having a cushy job, a new huge book deal, and the general public thinking you’re brave for releasing one percent of 2 million documents that could show the NSA’s illegal activities inside and out.
And shouldn’t Edward Snowden be irate? “I risked my life, and I’ve thrown away any shot at a ‘normal’ life by getting you these documents, and you are sitting on 99 percent of them?” he might be thinking.
The whole charade could be a ruse anyway.
What did our political and social handlers learn from the Snowden documents and Greenwald’s subsequent reporting? They learned that Americans, more than any on earth, will continue with their lives as usual. They will not abandon the controlled digital system in which they conduct almost all of their communication and business affairs. They will not abandon their online connection but will, it seems, only seek to draw closer to it as technology advances and the devices and apps become ‘cooler’ and ‘more awesome’.
Most of all, those in opposition to the NSA’s nearly ubiquitous surveillance operations, will complain about it on their favorite social media sites. While there is value in fighting a corrupt establishment with its own channels and weaponry, the resistance is easily managed and controlled and poses almost zero threat to our brave new world, or those tapped to manage it.