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Greenwald writes: "Who elected Daniel Ellsberg and The New York Times to take it upon themselves to reveal thousands of pages of the top secret Pentagon Papers to the American public?"

Glenn Greenwald. (photo: AP)
Glenn Greenwald. (photo: AP)

Who Elected Them?

By Glenn Greenwald, UT Documents

19 January 14


ho elected Daniel Ellsberg and The New York Times to take it upon themselves to reveal thousands of pages of the top secret Pentagon Papers to the American public?

Who elected Dana Priest and her still-unknown source(s) to take it upon themselves to reveal in The Washington Post the existence of the CIA's top secret network of black sites?

Who elected Sgt. Joseph Darby and the New Yorker's Seymour Hersh to take it upon themselves to tell Americans about the classified operations at Abu Ghraib?

Who elected Mark "Deep Throat" Felt to illegally disclose, and Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to publish, secret information from an FBI investigation in the pages of The Washington Post?

Who elected Thomas Tamm, Jim Risen and Eric Lichtblau to spill Bush's top secret NSA warrantless eavesdropping program in the pages of The New York Times?

Why did all these people - whom we didn't elect - think they had the right to decide which classified information should be disclosed? your social media marketing partner


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+24 # John S. Browne 2014-01-19 18:14
RSN: This is not all there is to this article, right? So, if it isn't, where is the rest of it? If there's more, please correct this error and provide it all here. Thank you.
+23 # beeyl 2014-01-19 19:19
My guess is that this is the whole article. And my second guess is that it is a response to Bill Maher's (stupid) question to Greenwald Friday evening at the beginning of his show. Unfortunately, if Maher can read, he doesn't have a great track record of being able to learn information and admit that he was mistaken... so this won't likely benefit the HBO host one iota.
+27 # John S. Browne 2014-01-19 19:45
Thank you. Needless to say, I didn't see that episode of Maher's program. I've been saying for several years that Bill Maher smoked too much gonja until his brains fell out (and I'm pro- marijuana legalization). He used to be pretty right-on; but when he started defending U.S. government insanity, I stopped watching the show. Actually, that was quite a few years ago now. Anyway, unless they saw that episode of Maher's program, I don't think most people are going to "get" this article. I get it, and get the answer(s) to Greenwald's quest- ions. I think Glenn should have spelled the answer(s) out for Maher, because I think that's the only way "now-braindead- Maher" is going to realize the answer(s) to those questions.
+2 # Coleen Rowley 2014-01-19 23:51
Obama said virtually the same thing as Maher. "I'm not going to dwell on Mr. Snowden's actions or motivations," President Barack Obama said Friday while announcing an overhaul of the NSA spying program. "I will say that our nation's defense depends in part on the fidelity of those entrusted with our nation's secrets. If any individual who objects to government policy can take it in their own hands to publicly disclose classified information, then we will never be able to keep our people safe, or conduct foreign policy."
+29 # oprichniki 2014-01-20 09:06
Something is obviously wrong at Harvard Law School.
+1 # John S. Browne 2014-01-26 17:00
Yah, it's "Barry" convenient to say the least that people won't tell the truth about Snowden's actual, very real and laudable motivations, isn't it "Coleen"? Why won't they? Obviously because they would exonerate Snowden who they want to execute without TRUE due process of law, so they've got to dwell on the opposite, their unfounded and hyperbolic condemnations of him, along with their illegal calls for his murder (conspiracy to commit murder that the government and "Barry 'Odrono'" are guilty of). Perhaps another good nickname for "Odrono" is, "Odraino", because he flushes peoples' lives down the drain without so much as a second thought. All of his "mea culpas" and crocodile tears for how he supposedly "does agonize" over it, are nothing but disingenuous, lying cover for the true mass-conspiracy -to-commit-murd er, and actual mass-murder, that it without any truly legal doubts is. "Barry 'Odraino'" should have impeachment action(s) taken against him immediately for "High Crimes", treason and murder, etc., he should be successfully impeached for all of same, and then he should then be indicted for all of the foregoing, be convicted and be imprisoned for it. But I'm not holding my breath that any of same will be carried out as the Constitution and other laws REQUIRE. We now live in a so-called "above the law" U.S., where these sociopathic and psychopathic mass-murders "skate" and get to go on helping to perpetrate more treason, and to destroy this country. Surprising? NOT!
0 # John S. Browne 2014-01-26 17:15
See this prominent liberal, Dave Lindorff's, reasons why "Odrona/Odraino -CON" should be impeached:

[Of course, since then (2010), he's gone, as far as I know, completely quiet on the topic even though there are now even more legitimate reasons for impeaching "Odraino/Odrona ", the mass-murderer.]

+16 # 2014-01-20 02:42
you are right of course many lefties on RSN may not realize Greenwald is being accused with Snowden for strenuously exposing the fact that our Government staff on orders from above are breaking many of our laws that we must abide. The truth is that oversight can't stop at POTUS or SCOTUS the first repeatedly lie throughout history and break law as if they are above it and what we must abide, the second just twist laws and interpolate laws, as if they were elected by the people also, but they also do as they see politically fit for their sponsors or future security in the SC etc.

Thus Greenwald means to show some Oversight of the electors (be they staff silence bound or Free) must by law of not abetting a crime by hiding it even over-ruling the law of simple contract to employers NSA etc.

Are we expected to say that an Oil Mining company can legally bind an executive to not report his boss for authorization of a dangerous chemical fracking against evidence of risk. likewise atomic, or medical pharma, or GMO binding employees to break law by hiding their crimes? Of course not even SCOTUS would rule so, then compensate the whistleblower if the employer sacked them for the whistling, that would be ruled wrongful dismissal, with punitive damages for the harm done to the employees future re-employment anywhere & for life.
-2 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2014-01-20 13:49
Think you are too hard on Bill Maher. I do believe he has a passionate support for some of Obama's policies. And I do not agree on some of those passions. Yet, if one wants to find truth on real issues, his show is the place to go. He does not let wimpy Republicans throw him overboard on climate change. Quite to the contrary, the ignorant Republicans who fill the air with saliva on this issue get thrown overboard with pure intelligence, by Bill.
+5 # engelbach 2014-01-20 08:02
I think you may be right.

Maher is soft on the Democrats and somewhat so on the NSA.

However, Maher did invite Greenwald to stay with him if he comes back to the States.
+79 # hsfrey 2014-01-20 00:04
I think that's his point - to make you thinks about it, and see for yourself that heroes aren't elected. And the elected are seldom heroes.
+8 # dquandle 2014-01-20 07:17
in fact, never.
+15 # rockieball 2014-01-20 10:52
Do you mean "In fact never." to pertain to them being elected or to being heroes? Let5's face it if Watergate happened today Woodward and Bernstein would he trashed in the Media as traitors for revealing what happened. Those listed above would be hounded either jailed like Bradley Manning or forces to flee the country like Snowdon, or forced to seek asylum at an embassy like Asiange.
+6 # JackB 2014-01-20 10:59
That is not true. Woodward & Bernstein did not reveal national secrets, they revealed criminal activity.
+3 # Skippydelic 2014-01-20 20:50
They still would have been trashed as traitors...
+2 # engelbach 2014-01-20 08:04
+12 # ericlipps 2014-01-20 10:00
Quoting hsfrey:
I think that's his point - to make you thinks about it, and see for yourself that heroes aren't elected. And the elected are seldom heroes.

I agree. The idea is that nobody is "elected" to the government to expose government wrongdoing, though sometimes they may be elected to put an end to it. (And in that case, voters have to cross their fingers and hope those elected live up to that promise, as the present administration, in my opinion, has not.)
+9 # Holy Cow 2014-01-20 10:29
Hey, hsfrey, so true. Daniel Ellsberg is a real McCoy hero, as are out true Uncle SAM's: Snowden, Assange, Manning.

And, here we go again, about to be scammed into the election of yet another non-hero, in this case, non-heroine: Hill the Shill.
+42 # Trojan Horace 2014-01-19 19:29
It's worth restating the obvious like this because plainly some presenters interviewing Greenwald andc others don't understand what the Fourth Estate and what constitutionall y it's supposed to do
+14 # John S. Browne 2014-01-19 20:06
Come again? Like Denzel Washington's lawyer character in the film, Philadelphia, said, "Explain (what you just said) to me like I'm five years old".
+14 # brux 2014-01-19 22:28
They understand, they just do not want it to do what it's supposed to do in certain/many cases. Until we figure out the main rules of what is happening to break the system, there is no hope of fixing it beyond just complaining and whining and hoping things will get better.
+49 # Farafalla 2014-01-19 22:23
Bill Maher has always been a libertarian who started to back away from most of their crazy ideas during the Bush/Cheney years. He found that government did have a role in society. But his take on religion is a rather privileged one that lets him dump on all religions and shows him to be quite shallow. He hates Islam (duh) and has no truck with people whose moral discourse is based on a social justice view of religion. The resulting black hole in his universe sucks in all kinds of unexamined thoughts. Like hating on Greenwald. He does not get it. Doing the right thing when you should takes a great act of moral courage. Greenwald has that type of courage.
+24 # brux 2014-01-19 22:26
It's a great idea to think that just with the nods of a few disinterested people that our leadership would be compelled to follow some direction. When you think about it in lieu of how people operate, I am not sure that has ever been true. If everyone in the family wants to stay home and veg and dear old Dad wants to go to the baseball game ... then guess where we are going?

Our concept of democracy seems naive to me. I wish it were true, but look at how many Americans can be hoodwinked by the Republican "noise machine" ... do we really want that?

I think was we used to have was some kind of reasonable balance, that we really cannot define in terms of democracy, or plutocracy, or republic, or whatever ... it just used to work, and now it doesn't.

It doesn't because a lot of the wrong people got a lot of money and power they worked and corrupted the system to get and then they broke the system more ... however erroneous our concept of the system was.

We used to have rational people that did pretty well, and then somewhere along the line those high up in the government and the economy decided to knife the rest of us in the back for some reason. They didn't like poor folks, gays, black folks, Mexicans, immigrants, the competition that our system caused them to have to deal with ... whatever it was, they just decided to take over the system or twist it a different way, and now combined with technology and foreign money the whole thing is FUBARed.
+26 # ormondotvos 2014-01-19 22:32
I like this article. It's just right for its audience.

Who gave Julian Assange and Edward Snowden the right to publish?

As an evolutionary sociologist, I'd say we did. We haven't, however, designed and built a world government, and I don't mean democrazy. Maybe technocracy's day has come.
+4 # JJS 2014-01-20 18:37
I like that, technocracy, but there is so much disinformation and the tyranny of the majority is a clear danger in "Technopolis"!- )
+3 # economagic 2014-01-20 21:58
Right again, IMNSHO. Technocracy--I don't know, the least among available evils perhaps? If we're going to franchise philosopher kings, as an economist I think maybe we ought to look toward those who take their inspiration less from technology than from the arts--almost any arts.
+47 # ishmael 2014-01-19 23:25
The people mentioned courageously and riskily performed valuable services.
+10 # burglar 2014-01-19 23:39
I saw the Maher show. Maher was wrong when he attacked Glenn, although Glenn had good answers. Maher gave Obama 1 million $ so he is no longer part of my side. He swings ever more right by the day. How much money does one need to give away $1,000,000.00?
+3 # Skippydelic 2014-01-20 20:54
At *least* $1,000,000... ;-)
+24 # cordleycoit 2014-01-19 23:42
We've got to have honest reporting to make honest actions. The whole truth is better than bits and pieces of the story.
+11 # geraldom 2014-01-19 23:52
This sounds very familiar. I heard Glenn Greenwald state this on the "Real Time With Bill Maher" program Friday evening when Bill Maher was giving him the 3rd degree about Edward Snowden.
+3 # reiverpacific 2014-01-20 00:18
+15 # Anonymot 2014-01-20 03:50
We elect the people our 2-party political system gives us to elect. Once upon a time, when America was still struggling to be a real democracy, there was at least a tendancy for the parties to present us with reasonably to very qualified candidates.

Starting with Kennedy, advertising kicked in and the candidates needed to be pretty, smiling, full of promises, whether realizable or not. It helped to be a commoner, play the sax, like baseball. A grasp of foreign affairs became unimportant, how to administer this flopping giant of a country became secondary, the quality of our leaders team turned to "minority" quotas, friends, and political payoffs. Payoffs for friends, supporters and oneself became the rule.

So the people , their interests and well-being declined.

Occassionally, someone with an old-fashioned, out-of-fashion vision of justice tried to grab the bull by the horns and spill the beans about what was going on behind the screen of military politics where the payoffs were the greatest.

That's the above list. They are all declared criminals by those we are given to elect.
+16 # tedrey 2014-01-20 06:04
When people know they have a decent government and economy, then the thing to do is to support these.

When they know they have a bad government and economy, the thing to do is to change these.

Both to know which is the case, and to do something about it, knowledge about the government and its actions is necessary.

Some governments don't want such knowledge to be available.

These are bad governments.

Change them.
+2 # RobertMStahl 2014-01-20 08:46
Excellent! This is where the debate needs to be. And, it NEEDS to be a debate, that is, forever, because the motivations for the criminal side of behavior, particularly asymmetric crimes, will never disappear. It is only through learning, or learning to learn (Bateson), that we will be able to deal with the paradigm of political natures in the human species that are a function of living, but not living in a zoo. Where is Indira Singh? And, can we make sure Arthur Silber and Tarzie are not swept underneath the carpet, the carpet of non-ecological mentality?
+15 # Quickmatch 2014-01-20 09:13
To precisely understand the meaning of the post requires having watched the Greenwald interview on Maher. Still, the post stands alone in its generality and requires no external reference but the reader’s awareness of the realities of government in general.
Hammering the same idea, stated and repeated five times, pounds the questions into the readers mind: Why is there such depth and breadth of secrecy in American government? Why is it necessary? Who decides; the elected? Who is keeper; who watches over the elected when the elected go under cover?
When that first, freshly minted and elected Congress realized that the Constitution as issued did not go far enough to protect the rights of the electors from the excesses of the elected and the people agreed by approving the First Amendment’s establishment of the freedom of the press, Ellsberg, Priest, Darby and Hersh, Felt and Woodward and Bernstein, Tan and Risen and Lichtblau were elected, along with their comrades-in-pub lishing, living or and yet born, to the office they hold of the Fourth Estate.
+15 # oakes721 2014-01-20 10:49
Who-Who-Who? asked the Wise Owl.

Edward Snowden decreed that he was elected to his watchdog position by all those in government who failed their job responsibilitie s to do so. We the people have elected to be a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Therein lies our duty and all the permission that is needed.

This 'incomplete' article has inspired serious discussion among this community, such debate as should be heard in the legislature and halls of justice.
+6 # Skippydelic 2014-01-20 21:17
"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"

-Juvenal, Satire VI, lines 347–8

The line translates to the more familiar "Who watches the watchmen?"

The 'Fourth Estate' has that job. Or they HAD that job...

Sadly, the press has all but given up that responsibility in favor of being stenographers to The Powers That Be.

The 'watchmen' of the press were *never* elected; the power of the press was too important to be left to the vagaries of the elective process. When the press *worked* - Woodward and Bernstein are the canonical examples - it brought SERIOUS abuses of power to light!

Without the press - or whistleblowers like Ellsberg, Snowden, et al - who will BE the 'watchmen'?
+4 # Jim Young 2014-01-21 11:53
After so many whistle blowers who tried to stay within the system (Thomas Drake) and the dearth of "elected" ones, or government employees denied freedom of speech (, I can see why we can't depend on the conventionally "elected" people to be honest agents even if they desperately want to be.

Seems conventionally "elected" officials within the US are severely handicapped (as we, in turn, are).
+4 # sharag 2014-01-22 06:42
It's question to all of us. And, it's our right as U.S. citizens to ask them of our elected and unelected officials when they circumvent the Constitution and undertake illegal activities in our name. In fact, it is our obligation as Americans to let the public, the rest of us, know of wrong doing by our government. It's a good question.

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