In a thread a couple of days ago, some of y’all were parsing the ever-lovin’ shit out of Glenn Greenwald’s report on NSA surveillance of Muslim-Americans. I thought it was a stretch to accuse Greenwald of gunning for the Obama administration specifically in that report, which focused on surveillance that occurred during the Shrub’s time.
But no analytical acrobatics or grammatical goggles are required to spot Greenwald’s target in a post he published today. The topic is Obama administration officials’ emails obtained under the FOIA. The emails were related to the British governments’ destruction of hard drives at The Guardian that contained the Snowden docs.
In a news conference back then, when Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest was asked if the administration knew about the hard drive destruction in advance, he said, “I’ve seen the published reports of those accusations, but I don’t have any information for you on that.”
When asked if he thought the US government would take a similar action against a US media company, he said, “It’s very difficult to imagine a scenario in which that would be appropriate.”
Emails just obtained by the AP show that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and then-NSA chief Keith Alexander did know about the hard drive destruction in advance and even exchanged muted electronic high-fives over it.
Here are some excerpts from Greenwald’s piece that are sure to leave swathes of the Balloon Juice commentariat burning with righteous indignation:
It’s hardly surprising that the Obama Administration was fully informed in advance: It’s virtually inconceivable that notoriously subservient London officials would ever take any meaningful action without the advance knowledge and permission of their Washington overseers.
Now we have proof that Obama’s most senior officials were aware in advance of the very events that Obama’s spokesman pretended they knew nothing about. It’s possible, though unlikely in the extreme, that both Clapper and Alexander knew about this and neglected to tell anyone in the White House. Incredibly claiming that Obama was unaware of what his most senior national security officials get caught doing is this administration’s modus operandi…But that should raise the question—yet again—of whether these national security agencies are completely rogue and operating without any controls.
It’s worth noting that neither the destruction of The Guardian hard drives which U.S. officials were celebrating, nor the seizure of my partner’s electronic goods, had the slightest impact on our ability to report on these documents. There were, needless to say, multiple copies of these archives in multiple safe places around the world. They were thus celebrating something that imposed no impediment whatsoever on disclosure of these materials. As usual for the U.S. and U.K. security services, then, their behavior was as inept as it was thuggish.
Greenwald finds it hard to believe Earnest didn’t know the NSA people knew about the hard drive destruction. As a West Wing viewer, I don’t find that difficult to believe at all; President Bartlet frequently kept CJ in the dark about national security issues; whole episodes were crafted around that premise!
Plus, I’m not sure what difference it makes whether the US knew in advance or not. The laws on press freedom are different here. I don’t quite believe the UK security apparatus is our leashed poodle, but then I’m a naive, ignorant, Florida mombie, so what the hell do I know?
Anyway, let the donnybrook commence. Or conduct a reasoned discussion of Greenwald’s reportage. Or discuss any other topic — your choice!