Is Glenn Greenwald Cashing In?
Two months ago I wrote about Adversarial Journalism in the Age of the Oligarchs. At the time I was merely uncomfortable with Glenn Greenwald’s new quarter-billion dollar relationship with eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar. Greenwald was such a nicely cultivated commodity for a person with my political leanings that I was hesitant to see the utility of the whole Snowden affair for those in power.
There are some pretty serious concerns being raised about that relationship by Sibel Edmonds. It appears the billionaire benefactor may be implicated by the documents he now has a direct financial stake in controlling. This is really bad:
The 50,000-pages of documents obtained by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden contain extensive documentation of PayPal Corporation’s partnership and cooperation with the National Security Agency (NSA), according to three NSA veterans. To date, no information has been released as to the extent of the working relationship and cooperation between the two entities- NSA and PayPal Corporation. What’s more, the billionaire owner of PayPal Corporation has entered into a $250 Million business partnership with two journalists-Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, a journalist duo who possess the entire cache of evidence provided by Edward Snowden. Despite earlier pledges by the journalists in question, only one percent (1%) of Snowden’s documents has been released.
Among other accusations, Greenwald is being accused of monetizing secrets. There are book deals and Hollywood movies, we are told. Sibel Edmonds muddies her own assertions with disparaging personal attacks in her post titled Checkbook Journalism & Leaking to the Highest Bidders:
Imagine a major government whistleblower who leaks his evidence and obtained documents to the highest bidders in the mainstream media and mega corporations. Does that sound awful, disgraceful and despicable? Okay. Now, imagine a pseudo journalist who obtains over 50,000 documents from a government whistleblower, and then takes some of this information and puts it out for bid, reserves a certain portion for a lucrative book deal, and saves the rest for a mega corporation that has a record of screwing whistleblowers. How does that sound? This is what I mean by the title of this commentary: Checkbook Journalism & Leaking to the Highest Bidders.
It’s ugly, and there’s no telling who is truly playing what angle. My gut feeling is Edmonds is more or less accurate, and Greenwald is, to some degree, compromised. Edward Snowden, who knows. Double agent, triple agent, limited hangout, blah blah blah.
A few years ago I thought an incident in Pakistan where an American by the name of Raymond Davis shot and killed two motorcyclists was a big deal. I was naive. An American President lying about the status of some intelligence asset caught up in a messy situation abroad is barely noteworthy, just fodder for some obsessed blogger to self-reference.
The reason I was naive is because lying is no big deal. When it eventually dribbles out, no one will care. Take, for example, the 7 year imprisonment of Robert Levinson by Iran:
Revelations that the CIA made a $2.5-million cash settlement to CIA agent Robert Levinson’s family in order to forestall an embarrassing lawsuit marks the return of public claims about the CIA’s status as a rogue elephant.
When Robert Levinson was first kidnapped in Iran seven years ago, the CIA asserted that he had no ties to the agency, that he was merely a private citizen on a business trip. A leaked internal CIA paper trail showed otherwise. In 2010, the Associated Press learned that Levinson was, in fact, on a CIA mission when captured, but the AP withheld publication as efforts were made to secure his release.
Now, with news of the CIA’s $2.5-million settlement with Levinson’s family, the CIA publicly admits Robert Levinson was a CIA agent, but the agency claims he was in Iran as a rogue agent, sent by rogue analysts who had no authority to deploy him on a field operation. But these claims are difficult to evaluate.
The article that excerpt is taken from goes on to challenge the notion of agents going rogue. The historical context is interesting:
The roots of claims that the CIA is fundamentally a rogue agency can be traced back to the mid-1970s congressional investigations of CIA illegal activities–following the disclosure of the “Family Jewells Report.” Perhaps the most significant difference between the Senate’s Church Committee findings, and those of the
House’s Pike Committee, was the Church Committee’s interpretation of illegal CIA activities as being those of a rogue agency, while the Pike Committee found that the CIA was not a rogue agency pursing an unchecked covert agenda on its own, it was instead a covert arm of the Executive Branch.
At the time, I didn’t understand why America’s executive would put his credibility on the line for some op in Pakistan going bad. Maybe it was an acknowledgment of accountability.
At the end of the day, who really has time for all this? Who cares if the CIA has become a paramilitary arm of the Executive? Who cares if Glenn Greenwald is, at best, an opportunist cashing in on Snowden’s proof we live in a creepy 1984 police state?