I would like to expand upon a few points which I made in a comment on another site. The topic is the continuing Glenn Greenwald controversy.
His most prominent attacker right now is Sibel Edmonds, briefly an FBI translator and, later, a self-proclaimed whistleblower. In a recent blog post, she implies, without evidence
, that still-unreleased Snowden documents point a damning finger at Pierre Omidyar, the PayPal billionaire who has hired Greenwald to be part of a well-funded new media venture.
Edmonds' unverified claim (how would she
know?) should be seen in the light of her own history. For months -- years -- she kept promising to give us startling revelations about the covert world, revelations that would change everything
. It was hinted that she knew the full, ghastly truth about 9/11.
And what, in the end, did she deliver?
I gave Sibel Edmonds a lot of positive coverage on my own humble blog — for a while. And then I decided that there was something decidedly odd about that woman. My former gf was a professional translator, and she knew people who worked for government agencies. (The translation business is a small world, and those who toil within it tend to socialize with each other.) Based on this background, I began to wonder whether Edmonds would have been given access to all of the material she claims she saw during the very short period she worked for the FBI.
In 2009, a few paranoids began to cast a suspicious eye toward Sibel Edmonds herself. According to one rumor, the group she founded functioned as a lint-trap for whistleblowers. According to another rumor, she had writer Luke Ryland (blogworld's leading Sibel-ologist) in an eldritch hypnotic thrall. Although I never believed these rumors, they deserve mention in order to make a larger point: In these mistrustful times, dark talk of hidden agendas will inevitably congeal around anyone who does what Edmonds did...
...or around anyone who does what Greenwald does.
I think that when Sibel Edmonds first became a public figure, her motives were good. But frankly, I grew tired of her constant hints that world-changing revelations were a-comin' any day now
. As a cult of expectation formed around her, she began to remind me of Joanna Southcott or Melanie Calvet.
In the end, I decided that Sibel simply likes attention. So I decided never to write about her again, unless circumstances forced the issue, as they do now.
If anyone is guilty of squeezing out information in drips and drabs, it's Sibel Edmonds. If anyone is guilty of an unbecoming tendency toward self-aggrandizement, it's Sibel Edmonds. And if anyone is guilty of relentlessly pushing hard-core libertarianism (a charge unfairly leveled at Greenwald), God know
s it's Sibel Edmonds: See here
and...oh, hell, just see here
Her motive for dissing Greenwald is obvious: Edmonds runs a whistleblower organization and Snowden bypassed it. She’s jealous.
Her argument — everyone's
argument — against the way Greenwald is handling the Snowden material lacks one key factor: An outraged message from Ed Snowden.
My stance will change completely the moment Snowden says: “That bastard Greenwald — how DARE he?” Until that point, I presume everything is going according to a plan to which Snowden has agreed, or at least to which he has no overwhelming objection.
Snowden is in Russia, not another solar system. He can write. No-one has affixed concrete mittens to his hands. If he has something to say, he'll say it. He can read any website he pleases and publish anywhere he chooses.
You should also keep in mind one other factor: Greenwald is not
the only writer handling the Snowden cache.
Greenwald appears to believe that a number of his suddenly-multitudinous critics are working for the national security state -- and frankly, I share that suspicion. Creating squabbles between perceived enemies is one of the things that spooks do
. On some sites, you can see obvious signs of astroturfed hatred
in the comments section. Those who defend Greenwald are dismissed as fanboys and acolytes; name-calling has taken the place of evidence.
Whenever the astroturf pushes the reader in one direction, I feel an urge to charge the opposite way.
We've seen this sort of thing before: Jim Garrison and Gary Webb come to mind. (I'm also thinking of the number they did on Richard Sprague via the easily-duped Henry Gonzalez. A few of my readers may recall that story.)
I am not a blinkered defender of Omidyar. At best, he remains an unknown quantity. Whatever PayPal's past record on Wikileaks, it is true that Omidyar has registered what appears to be genuine shock
at the Snowden revelations. And yes, I am extremely impressed by what we read here
Perhaps his public reaction to the Snowden documents was a feint -- but to what purpose? Call me naive, but I can accept the notion that a man who has already made billions might now think of matters beyond profit.
Maybe I'm wrong even to consider that possibility. Maybe the rich are genetically incapable of adopting a decent stance on any topic at any time. Maybe Omidyar is indeed the malefic 11-dimensional chess player many take him to be. Maybe those anti-NSA statements were simply part of an elaborate Xanatos gambit
Maybe, when this whole thing shakes out, we will learn that Greenwald was beguiled by the dream that many journalists have dreamed -- that someone will fund a new media outlet for muckrakers and real
news-gathering. I can understand this dream, and I cannot blame Greenwald for wanting to make it real. We all know that the American mainstream media has failed, and that the "alternative" press infrastructure has been largely commandeered by kooks who revere Breitbart and Alex Jones.
Should we blast Greenwald because he has not placed all of the Snowden documents before the public? Like it or not, a professional newsperson working for a major periodical cannot simply dump tons of unvetted national security data onto the internet. Even I
, puckish rascal that I am, wouldn't do that.
Greenwald and Poitras -- and Gellman at the WP -- have already given us more good reporting on NSA than I ever expected to see. These revelations have changed the world
You can't say similar words about anything we've heard from Sibel Edmonds.
Ultimately, Ed Snowden makes the call. As long as he remains cool with Greenwald, so do I.
By the way: Some people who once complained that Greenwald had irresponsibly unveiled the secrets of the NSA are now complaining that Greenwald has dawdled in revealing the rest of the documents. This shifting standard is very amusing. Brazen hypocrisy, free of self-reflection, is a sign of the shill.