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Pierce writes: "A spy is working for someone. A spy has to be spying for someone. Unless you're counting the American public, Snowden's revelations didn't indicate that he was spying for anyone."

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. (photo: Guardian UK)
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. (photo: Guardian UK)

The Snowden Effect, Cont'd

By Charles Pierce, Esquire

09 August 13


K, so last night, I was sitting down with a cool one, and watching the NBC Nightly News, and Lester Holt was chatting over the events of the day, specifically the president's decision not to meet with Vladimir Putin. And, when the name of Edward Snowden came up, this is how Holt described him:

"...alleged American spy, Edward Snowden."



Alleged American spy?

Where did that come from?

The basic argument is whether or not Snowden is a leaker or a whistleblower, or some combination of the two. That's the way it's been framed ever since Snowden first produced his revelations.

Alleged American spy?

That's an order of magnitude beyond anything that has been said about Snowden even by the administration. A spy is working for someone. A spy has to be spying for someone. Unless you're counting the American public, Snowden's revelations didn't indicate that he was spying for anyone. If that's the shorthand through which the American mega-media is going to describe him, then the story has changed, and it has gone to a very dark place indeed. NBC should be rather nervous about what it did last night.

Charlie has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently "Idiot America." He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children. your social media marketing partner


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+102 # RMDC 2013-08-08 12:17
I hear the mass media call him a spy and a lot worse -- criminal, felon, traitor. The mass media is working overtime trying to create in the American public mind a negative image of Snowden. The mass media also is working overtime to create the impression that most people support the regime's spying on them and everyone all the time.

Don't be brainwashed by the mass media. Obama and his regime at the NSA, CIA, DHS, FBI, and the rest are the spies. Snowden only revealed to us what they are doing. He's the good guy here.
+54 # nancyw 2013-08-08 14:48
Yep... the only spy here is our own American government.
+14 # Phlippinout 2013-08-08 18:12
Don't worry, some of us actually get it!
+55 # Darthvadersmom 2013-08-08 13:15
This characterizatio n and pandering to power is why I only skim the corporate networks (seems an appropriate verb choice). And why I love RSN, Al-Jazeera, and all of those real journalists who are reporting reality.
+5 # Doubter 2013-08-08 21:34
Or at least SOME of it.
+6 # Dr. Amy L. Beam 2013-08-09 01:52
I haven't owned a tv in 9 years. I don't even bother "skimming".
+6 # SeniorCitizen31 2013-08-09 06:00
Likewise. And I would add to your list Democracy Now. Occasionally I tune in to RT. It's a sad commentary on our times that I find as much journalistic integrity on this Russian channel as I do on NBC, CBS, ABC or CNN.
+3 # wrknight 2013-08-09 18:14
Why do you even bother to skim the corporate networks? Anyone can tell what they are going to say without looking.
+2 # RobertMStahl 2013-08-08 14:00
Considering the court system being a protection racket owning SWAT and the commonwealth to boot, like what happened to Michael Hastings, that particular 'hit' of super high heat dissolution, or Manning's life sentence, for what else is 90 years, or the last video by Barrett Brown that is the crack of light needed in this complete void of darkness, all prudence, all juror's prudence and/or judgement, it seems burying is the line of business most profitable, maybe even the only one left. Watch Barrett Brown's last video and get the picture, and tell me, please, that you are a prudent juror.
+33 # MainStreetMentor 2013-08-08 14:36
Whistle-blower? Yes. Spy? Ain't no way! He received pay from no one for the information he "leaked". The American People had better pay a LOT more attention to the information garnered than the attempts to arraign and stifle him. He and Bradley Manning have provided the proof about topics which heretofore had only been suspicions. Stop "shooting the messenger" and listen to, and heed, the messages.
+34 # born1929 2013-08-08 14:52
Edward Snowden is a true hero and in time most thinking Americans will come to recognize him and other whistle blowers as such and realize collectively that we will owe them a considerable debt of gratitude for their courage and patriotism in our behalf rather that our corrupt government ... Snowden aught not come back to this country to face a vindictive deceitful administration and congress ... and yes SCOTUS as well ... rather he should opt for citizenship elsewhere ... perhaps marry a local woman and settle down to raise a family in a safer environment and contemplate how he can further serve the interests of the people of this country...and his adopted one ... and in a larger sense the world
Stan Levin dissenter / activist
+10 # mjc 2013-08-08 15:08
It is definitely the turn of phrase that our run up to a police state is counting on and the media, not to mention a few very macho AMERICAN men, especially some of our Senators, like to keep plugging away at, hoping there won't be someone like Pierce won't be pointing out the language problem here.
-45 # vgirl1 2013-08-08 16:07
So tired of so many trying to make this guy out to be some kind of a hero. He committed an illegal act and then ran. Those are the facts. I hope he is happy living in one of the most totalitarian countries in the world. When forced to face reality, maybe he'll figure out this country is not the baddie he wanted to make it out to be. If he believed in what he was doing he should have stood his ground. This is one area of activity where such a principle makes sense.
+15 # CandH 2013-08-08 18:21
"Why Didn’t Snowden Go through “Proper Channels” to Blow the Whistle? [...] In other words, Congress has stripped whistleblower protections for those working in intelligence or defense.

But whistleblowers in other areas have received the same treatment. For example, after high-level CIA officer John Kiriakou blew the whistle on illegal CIA torture, the government prosecuted him for espionage."
+1 # mjc 2013-08-12 12:24
Which is exactly why he should never accept any deal from our government to be tried with a lawyer assigned and "no torture." Totalitarian states don't worry about going back on their word in the name of patriotism, capitalism, or the American way.
+9 # jcdav 2013-08-09 05:56
George Washington was a traitor - ask the Redcoats. Russia is totalitarian- Snowden gave us a look at the police state the US is becoming. If Snowden has more information to show us he is more effective "at large"- communications are difficult from jail or the grave.
+9 # oakes721 2013-08-08 16:19
The more Obamas' Media protests against the protesters, ridiculously trying reverse the charges, the more the Emperor reveals his new clothes ~ the only transparency in government that he's delivered.

Every defense against the proofs of whistle blowers that the administration releases (or defiantly LEAKS to the media) is a further admission of guilt that stabs a flag of tyranny into the Constitution of these United States.
+7 # futhark 2013-08-08 17:10
Just wondering...whe n I was a brain cancer patient at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco for 16 weeks 3 years ago and the nurses were amusing themselves by reading patients' medical records and personal emails to each other aloud during slack time late at night as if they were Saturday Night Live scripts, complete with loud snickers, chuckles, and guffaws, was that spying? This stopped after the head of nursing came to see me and asked if there was anything that I thought was not being done properly and I complained. A couple of times previously when I complained to two of the nurses, they lied and said they didn't hear anything. What would you expect?

If you are taken to the hospital unconscious with a brain cancer induced seizure, as I was, be sure to bring a notepad and pencil with which to record all the noisome and flagrant violations of your privacy that are apt to happen and have a lawyer lined up to assist you in filing a complaint.
-1 # vgirl1 2013-08-08 17:25
Wow, moderation sure is slow.
+5 # SeniorCitizen31 2013-08-09 06:07

From reading your comments, I'm surprised you are familiar with the term.
+4 # CandH 2013-08-08 18:10
The same labels happened to Philip Agee, CIA Whistleblower. In his book, "On the Run" (1987) he outlines the Watergate "spy" label smear at the NYT:

"…we read the articles and the (Watergate Baker) report. Practically in a daze, I saw the Agency's Machiavellian plots all come together. The Times article was front page, with two-column headlines at the top "CIA Agent Said to Give Secrets to Russian in 1972." The patsy they picked to surface the story was a reporter named John M. Crewdson, whose opening line set the perfect stage: "A tale of a drunken and despondent CIA agent who apparently sat down with a Soviet KGB operative somewhere in Latin America and told him what he knew has emerged as a result of a Senate Watergate committee inquiry into the activities of the Central Intelligence Agency."

Citing unnamed "sources," Crewdson wrote: "The CIA man, believed to have been stationed somewhere in Latin America, was described as "despondent," "disgruntled" with the Agency and "in his cups" at the time of his contact with the Russians a little more than two years ago." The CIA man, who later retired, "clearly provided information of value to the Russians" because the CIA's Deputy Director told the Watergate Committee that the affair "threatened to compromise Western Hemisphere operations." […] (cont.)
+2 # CandH 2013-08-08 18:11
"One of the lesser Agency secrets compromised in the conversation, however, was the fact that a Washington public relations concern, Robert B. Mullen and Co., had for years been providing 'cover' for CIA agents stationed abroad."

Crewdson went on to describe how the 'Baker Report,' made public a day earlier, mentioned a CIA memorandum written by Martin Lukasky on 10 July 1972. Lukasky, the CIA man in charge of the Mullen cover, had written of mysterious "W.H. flap," W.H. meaning Western Hemisphere Division of the CIA's Clandestine Services. At that time, according to the report, Mullen was providing cover for CIA officers in Amsterdam and Singapore. Referring to the "W.H. flap," Lukasky wrote that if the Mullen cover were terminated, Watergate could not be used as an excuse. The "W.H. flap," obviously, was the CIA's man conversation with the KGB.

Yet, Crewdson wrote, the 'Baker Report' said a later Lukasky memo showed that the Agency had convinced the Mullen company to terminate the Singapore cover "through an agreed upon scenario which included a falsified Watergate publicity crisis." (cont)
+2 # CandH 2013-08-08 18:12
"The second memo said the Agency told the Mullen company that shortly after Watergate someone in Singapore had approached a CIA officer under Mullen cover with a copy of the "International Herald Tribune" in hand. It had the article showing E. Howard Hunt's employment with the CIA and the Mullen Company and his connection with the break-in. The person said that was proof that the officer in Singapore was in the CIA. Mullen was then told the office would have to be closed. But later, Crewdson's 'source' said, "it was established the the entire incident in Singapore never took place."

Of course. It didn't happen in Singapore but in Paris. That was my meeting with Sal (*a friend who turned out to be CIA spying against him,) when I went running over to record the stuff about Hunt, Mullen and the Agency. And they'd converted Sal into a KGB man. What a convoluted irony. I'd helped set up the Mullen cover in Mexico, then blew it to a CIA guy." (Philip Agee, "On the Run," p. 85-86)
+3 # ishmael 2013-08-08 18:30
The US media is interested in manufacturing controversey and selling itself. Self-promotion is its goal.
+10 # tomo 2013-08-08 18:30
Pierce is absolutely right. To invoke the Espionage Act is transparently a tantrum and an act of misdirection. It was bad under Cheney. But there was the hope that this too would run its course and that at the end of eight dreadful years, America would return to something recognizably similar to the country one was born into. Instead we got Obama, and it's clear he wants to out-Cheney Cheney. There is no prospect of decency.
+5 # Walter J Smith 2013-08-09 05:56
Okay, so Nazi Broadcasting Conglomerate is towing the nazi line.

How is this different from, say, NPR? Or CBS? of FOX, CNN, WaPo, NYT, ABC, WSJ, - or, pick your nazi broadcasting/pu blishing organ?

Yes, Obama is proving to be the Nazi in Chief on behalf of Wall Street's worst criminals. And this is not new or news.
+3 # Bruce Gruber 2013-08-09 07:57
It would be very instructive if the 'Commander" In Chief could actually, honestly and transparently offer his personal (Nazi, Muslim, anti-capitalist or community organizer by your implication) observations on the frustrations of 'leadership' and blameworthiness . The tendency to equate outcomes with individuals ignores history, the corruption of money and the culture of greed which underlie our society and define mankind's tragically primitive nature as a species.

Capitalist (ownership of the means of production) democracy (citizen participation in decision-making ) is a prime oxymoron in practice. Uneducated righteous superiority - whether religious, political, or economic - may suggest our capacity to communicate, but not our ability to think or reason.

Government - as a consensual contractual means for establishing priorities and addressing them collectively - can only be as effective if the most inclusive awareness of cause and effect are considered.

In today's climate of voter suppression, accusations of 'pandering' to voters when needs and priorities are addressed, and propagandizing against worker/labor organization, it is easy to see how the Capitalists are winning the battle for the 'ordinary' citizens minds through the media they own, the Congress they have bought and the President whom they control - even if he might seem smarter that the last couple of Republican cardboard characters they foisted on a divided populace.

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