I think this sums up exactly why I am not impressed with Glenn Greenwald.
Here’s what The World’s Greatest Investigative Journalist has to say about documents his source-and/or-client Edward Snowden may or may not reveal: “Snowden has enough information to cause harm to the U.S. government in a single minute than any other person has ever had…The U.S. government should be on its knees every day begging that nothing happen to Snowden, because if something does happen to him, all the information will be revealed and it could be its worst nightmare.”
I can sort of understand Greenwald saying something along the lines of “the US should live in fear of being embarrassed by Snowden’s potential revelations”. Certainly a few things Snowden has done have already embarrassed the government – and in some cases, it is now becoming clearer, that might be a good thing. Though the PRISM and phone metadata “scandals” subsided quickly because most people, frankly, don’t consider the revelations that important, numerous other revelations made the Executive Branch look very much like a bunch of ridiculous Keystone Kops who spy on friendly governments, harass foreign presidents and try to keep American soldiers from being sullied by reading major British newspaper websites. If Greenwald were promising more such embarrassments are likely to be on the way, that would be worth taking seriously.
The thing is, when Greenwald speaks, he confirms that this sort of thing – which might actually be useful and could correct abuses in government – is not his objective. He isn’t about correcting abuses in government. He is about “correcting” that there is a government.
Reread what he says here: “Snowden has enough information to cause harm to the U.S. government…”
How does that make you feel?
If you feel like Greenwald is issuing a threat, it’s because you identify somehow with the idea that the American people are, at least to some extent, self-governing. Causing harm to the U.S. government would mean causing harm to Americans, because Americans _are_ their government. In a self-governing country, the government and the people are the same.
If, on the other hand, you feel nothing, it’s likely because you have this idea that there is government (an evil entity that oppresses) and then there is the people (a saintly aggregate of the oppressed), and the latter do nothing to create the former. By this mode of thinking, a threat to cause harm to the government is as “American as cherry pie”, as H. Rap Brown used to say.
Of course, when H. Rap Brown used to say it, people thought he was threatening Americans. Odd that no one seems to think this about Glenn Greenwald.
If Snowden aims to impress people with his pro-privacy crusade, he should consider calling off his attack dog Glenn Greenwald. Otherwise, people might get the idea that this is about causing harm to Americans, rather than correcting some kind of institutional abuses.
Granted, someone choosing between Russia and Venezuela as places to seek asylum may really _be_ interested in causing harm to Americans. I don’t know – we’ll have to see what Snowden actually chooses next. But when Snowden allows one of his primary spokespersons to speak in the language of the mobster – “you gotta nice country, it’d be a shame if something happened to it” – well, he has to know that this means he’s got to go into some damage control as far as whether people take his message seriously.