Edward-Snowden

It’s sad to see that every mainstream media outlet in the United States has rolled over and reported the White House talking points almost verbatim. What does it say about our media that a British media outlet is the only one telling us the truth, that we should be outraged.

Repeat after me: Edward Snowden is not the story. The story is what he has revealed about the hidden wiring of our networked world. This insight seems to have escaped most of the world’s mainstream media, for reasons that escape me but would not have surprised Evelyn Waugh, whose contempt for journalists was one of his few endearing characteristics. The obvious explanations are: incorrigible ignorance; the imperative to personalise stories; or gullibility in swallowing US government spin, which brands Snowden as a spy rather than a whistleblower.

In a way, it doesn’t matter why the media lost the scent. What matters is that they did. So as a public service, let us summarise what Snowden has achieved thus far.

Without him, we would not know how the National Security Agency (NSA) had been able to access the emails, Facebook accounts and videos of citizens across the world; or how it had secretly acquired the phone records of millions of Americans; or how, through a secret court, it has been able to bend nine US internet companies to its demands for access to their users’ data.

The important question is what are we going to do now that we have this information? Our “representatives” in Washington have already proven that they are bought and paid for by the military industrial complex. So, what are we going to do?

Posted by James Poling

A socialist, tinkerer, thinker, question asker and all around curiosity seeker. If you'd like to reach me you can use the contact link above or email me at jamespoling [at] gmail [dot] com.

23 Comments

  1. […] after I published the previous post decrying American media outlets for rolling over on the NSA spying scandal, the Chicago Tribune […]

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  2. […] The Guardian is the only media outlet being truthful with the American people (slothed.com) […]

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  3. Until things get so bad that people have no other choice but to take a stand, they’ll do what they usually do : scream and shout for a couple days, post a lot of noise of Facebook, then shut up, bend over and keep taking it like a champ.

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    1. The problem is that he still is a traitor. There is trust in the information field and broke it. That is his crime, not the information he let out.

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  4. The Guardian is one step above a ranting tabloid. When Bush Jr was president, he could’ve run into a burning building to rescue babies from the fire and the Guardian would’ve claimed he was hungry for baby back ribs. (I mean, Dubya might’ve been a cannibal – I suspect him of conducting Satanic rites in oil fields – but the Guardian would twist the story in the worst way to drive up ratings. It’s a liberal, British version Fox news.)

    The Snowden nonsense is a case in point of the Guardian’s bent reporting: the NSA’s mandate was spelled out in public in the Patriot Act; their surveillance was renewed quarterly by a judge with the warrants in the public domain; and the NSA surveillance had come to light several times in the media prior to Snowden’s announcement.

    How does the Guardian interpret all that public blindness and blindness? “Snowden’s a whistleblower revealing something new and incredible! But he’s being treated as a spy! ZOMG!”

    No. If you want balanced, non-US reporting, go to BBC news, which at least mentions the other times the NSA’s surveillance has popped up in the news instead of joining the mindless Snowden fanbois like the Guardian.

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    1. Please provide just one link… Just One link to support your wild-eyed assault on The Guardian during the disastrous “Dubya’s” terms. It’s not a “liberal, British version Fox news” as you imagine.

      And fanboys is spelled “fanboys”. Good luck getting people to admit they are Snowden Fanboys… you made up the term. As for people who value their liberty… apparently it’s not right-wingers like yourself.

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      1. Sure, I’ll quote the Guardian on its bias:
        http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/blog/2011/mar/09/media-self-censorship-problem-turkey

        “I have always sensed liberal, middle class ill-ease in going after stories about immigration, legal or otherwise, about welfare fraud or the less attractive tribal habits of the working class, which is more easily ignored altogether. Toffs, including royal ones, Christians, especially popes, governments of Israel, and *US Republicans* are more straightforward targets.”

        During the “disastrous Bush years” (good term, I agree with it), if there were two interpretations of Bush actions then the Guardian would take the negative one even when it was unwarranted. (Not that it was often unwarranted.) It was the polar opposite of Fox, which meant getting balanced reporting solely out of the Guardian was not possible. You had to, like me, comb through multiple news organizations to get both perspectives on Bush’s activities.

        As for spelling, “fanboi” is correct within the context of deragotory internet namecalling: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=fanboi

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        1. As a Brit living in America I wholeheartedly disagree. The Guardian is a final bastion of journalistic integrity in a rotten pool. Sure, they were hard on Bush, but they were hard on Blair, Brown etc and don’t pull their punches with Obama either, when the need arises.

          There are very few news outlets I trust and none of them is an established American organisation. After the Guardian I’m most likely to go to Al Jazeera and that’sfor American news! (the Guardian has an excellent US-centric website and free content) To say that American journalism is poor is an understatement. Nowhere is profit more important than in corporate America and the news outlets have failed to differentiate themselves from that group.

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        2. You sir are 100% correct.

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        3. Andrew, Please leave our country, Move home or to the middle east if that is where you find the most truths being told. I am so over people coming into this country taking advantage of all that is good only to America bash! Every country has it’s issues… as you well know. British journalism isn’t the tops either, and just because you agree with what’s being reported by the guardian doesn’t mean it’s all empirical fact posting. Again, for every American who is doing their civil best to protect our people and country, “get out” if you cannot be a grateful guest.

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    2. As a Brit who has read all the major British papers I can quite categorically state that The Guardian is easily one of the best out there. To call it ‘a liberal, British version Fox news’ is laughable. It is one of the few non-affiliated (politically) newspapers on this island. It stands up to both the left and the right-wingers with equal force and does not kowtow to the governing party’s whims.

      The BBC, however, is a pale reflection of what it once was. The news from that organisation is simply drivel aimed at the masses who are generally to dumbed down to understand what is really going on. They also pay far too much respect to the Royals and the government without a offering balanced viewpoint against both bodies. Far too often they allow our politicians to get away with utterly ridiculous comments which a three year old could see through.

      Regarding Snowden, he has done a great service to us all. He has exposed the lying treachery of the US government which should serve as a warning about all our governments.

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    3. Fluffy Kitties July 29, 2013 at 1:54 am

      “The Guardian, rant rant rant…” Standard reich-wing tactic: derail the topic by attacking the messenger with lies and gross exaggerations.

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  5. “Edward Snowden is not the story. The story is what he has revealed about the hidden wiring of our networked world.”

    Even in the documents leaked by Snowden, it is nothing more than a pen register for phone calls and emails. The US Supreme Court has ruled years ago such in not subject to privacy and no warrant is required to obtain these. Obviously, what he ‘revealed’ is a non story. What is at issue is the divulging by an individual to the public of private information he obtained during his employment. To top it off, a whistle blower reports information relating to a wrongful act and that is the end of it. Here, Showden has stated his intent to continue to release information. This is not a whistle blower.

    The Guardian being truthful? Hardly. They are in fact being the most slanted and biased outlet of any focusing on nothing more than sensationalism, little different than The National Enquirer.

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    1. Jeffrey, Jeffrey, Jeffrey. Calling blanket surveillance a “pen register” does not make the act benign. it is *still* blanket surveillance and it carries all the peril inherit to the act. Whether or not the “Patriot” Act authorizes it and whether or not some rubber-stamp judge approves it, it is still blanket surveillance. Other court rulings have held that blanket surveillance (and even less thorough surveillance) is a violation of the citizenry’s Constitutional rights. Period.

      Far more importantly, regardless of what any negligent (or traitorous) judge has said, it is WELL-recognized that creating such an apparatus can (and will) only end in a bad outcome. History has shown us this lesson many times, and those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it. There is no way to avoid having governmental powers abused – it is in human nature. So, the question becomes how do we keep the power in check so that abuse does not become impossible to reign in? The blanket surveillance tools controlled by the NSA and other parties in the U.S. are too powerful to let such tools exist. They present an actual *existential threat* to the safety and security of the people FROM their government, a government that ought to be of the people, by the people, and for the people. Let us make sure such a government never perishes from the face of this Earth by dismantling this apparatus. The blanket surveillance programs are a better fit for King George of the Colonial Days than our Land of Liberty.

      You can snidely twist words all you want, but something that threatens the very existence of liberty is too much. This country MUST have checks and balances to survive – that is the whole key to the value in our Constitution! Despite our Constitutional provisions, we have lost the checks and balances we depend on. Our President can fight a war for a decade without any genuine Congressional declaration of war – even though the Constitution states that only Congress has the power to make war! Given the unchecked power that now resides in the Executive branch, giving that branch the tools for complete surveillance of the totality of the populace has put liberty in peril. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but it is in peril nonetheless. To protect liberty, we must abolish all blanket surveillance of U.S. citizens by ANY entity!

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  6. Gordon Freeman look-alike, Half-Life 3 confirmed.

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  7. So, if none of this is such a big deal (Snowden’s leaked info), why are the wolves so ready to get their jaws on Snowden? As to the point at hand – yes, news organizations must all follow the for-profit sensibility, since capitalism has become the world religion – and yes, they are all guilty of sensationalism at one time or another – or they do get ignored, unwatched, and eventually the plug gets pulled. I don’t especially appreciate how our news organizations operate – since they are all affiliated with one group of raging ranters or another – but what are you going to do. This is what we’re stuck with. Another point – when one calls another on the carpet, even though they are guilty of some of the same flaws, sometimes – yes, it’s hypocrisy – but at the same time, we do need to hear all of the news.

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    1. Because Snowden was an fool who broke his oaths and security clearance to reveal secret information in addition to common knowledge, that’s why the wolves want him. If Snowden had possessed half a brain, he would’ve anonymously tipped off a bored reporter to the publicly-available laws and warrants behind the NSA’s snooping. Instead, he generated this drama and took with him a boatload of unnecessary secret information.

      If he’d stayed a legal whistleblower on public-realm data, then there’d be no basis for charges. He might’ve even be suing his employer for unfairly firing him under whistleblower laws. But that’s not what Snowden did.

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      1. You think so? This is the same government that sent the rather benign whistleblower John Kiriakou to prison. Go look up “Deuce Martinez”, an agent Kiriakou was accused of exposing. He (Deuce) was NOT exposed as he was not undercover during the operation discussed by Kiriakou. Deuce even handed out a business card with his real name and address on it! Despite this, the government made up a trumped charge just to put Kiriakou in jail. Do not think that any power looks lightly upon having its dirty secrets made public. They can lie, cheat, and imprison you to silence you. You must be smart about it and brave. Snowden may have made his case worse, but not much. Either way, he gave official confirmation to a dark secret that some suspected but none could prove.

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  8. I don’t understand this article. There is nothing in it about Kim Kardashian’s baby or worse still Prince George.

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  9. The Guardian is doing a great job on the NSA and has lots of other great reporting, but it’s not the only one that’s “being truthful with the American people” regarding the NSA revelations (and regarding many other things) — namely, you should not forget Democracy Now!, which does an hourly news program for TV, radio, and the Internet 5 days a week, and has been reporting free from commercial influence for decades (they are listener funded). All shows can be streamed and downloaded in video or MP3 files, for free, and are usually transcribed by the end of the day. In addition, their broadcasts are icensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License — because they want to truth to get out!
    Here’s just their reporting on domestic spying, for example:
    http://www.democracynow.org/topics/domestic_spying

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  10. Liquidblues77 July 29, 2013 at 2:58 am

    “Edward Snowden is not the story. The story is what he has revealed about the hidden wiring of our networked world.”

    First he is part of the story – he purposely got positions with a plan to gain information, he executed it, and stole classified information. That is criminal and that is one of the stories of this action. Certainly most would agree that there are concerns with the handling various classified information and how someone could walk away with any amount of info.

    “Hidden wiring of our networked world?” Snowden a whistleblower?

    I can not believe how ignorant people are to believe that this was not already going on. It is absurd to believe that was A) Hidden/unknowned (already assumed), and B) Walmart, Bestbuy, Facebook, Google, etc. collect information and sell it for profit, that any government (minus selling it) is doing the same for intelligence. Hell I’m willing to bet they are buying info from companies. Only an absolute fool can’t connect those dots.

    The real story/questions that few even attempt to discuss is: Will Snowden stand trial and how hard is the “book” going to be thrown at him for stealing classified information? What is being done to stop the leak of information? And any improper uses (targeting of groups rather than criminals) of the gathered information?

    All I see or read in most the stores are grey haired men worried that someone is going to know what type of porn they are looking at.

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    1. If people are so naive and they all knew it was going on, why do make such a big deal of it. No harm, no foul. In reality, there is HUGE difference between vague suspicions and jokes about surveillance and actual proof. This exposure woke people up to something that was suspected by some, but is now known. The spectre has a face, and it is PRISM. Now we have something to actually worry about, instead of rumor. THAT is the big deal, and I have been waiting over ten years for a moment like this. I am a patriot. I served to protect the Constitution, not the elites and not some self-interested powermongers in the Executive branch. I know that another great patriot, Eisenhower, was dead-on when he warned this country of the military-industrial complex (add prisons to that now). He also meant, by implication, the likes of you who will sell out liberty for the superficial feeling of pride in supporting your “country” when all you are supporting are reckless people trying to always consolidate more power and wealth. (What is the budget of the NSA?) Supporting those who “know better” than us and refuse oversight is tantamount to societally undermining support for the Constitutional checks and balances that can make this country great. The surveillance program is a power grab, and it could end up with disastrous consequences for liberty in this country. Be a real patriot. Study history, study how people in power (and those under them) always feel the need for more security. Study the outcomes. Maybe then you’ll realize this is not a problem of any intent, but of a mechanism in place that without doubt will eventually be abused to the great misfortune of this country.

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  11. I enjoy the Guardian’s coverage, and consider it always worth reading. However, going back to Journalism 101- the story about the NSA tapping into everyone’s information is a “dog bites man” story, while the story of Snowden as whistleblower/spy is a “man bites dog” story- unusual enough to warrant the attention.

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