So Glenn Greenwald is now a regular on our favorite Very Serious News Channel: Fox News. In case you missed his latest "scoop," the NSA spied on five Muslim dudes, which sounds really bad, until you realize the piece offers no evidence that they were racially profiled or whether they were themselves actual targets. Their communication may have been intercepted because they were communicating with someone who was a target. Who knows? Greenwald's deep reporting doesn't tell us. But whatever, it makes for a great headline:
NSA SPIED ON MUSLIM CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER.
Except, this shit happened in 2005... And there is no evidence that the program continued past 2008.
Elections matter. So does context.
But context doesn't matter to Greenwald who failed to provide any context and continues to fail to provide it in his TV appearances. Greenwald appeared on Fox with Shep Smith to talk about his report and in the middle of discussing the program, he says this:
"We all know that the Obama administration is bulk-surveilling all of us..."
Ya catch that? O-B-A-M-A. Greenwald never once mentions Bush's name during his appearance. His entire appearance was about surveillance from 2005 yet the only name he can think of is Obama's. It would be a bit like reporting on Bush's US Attorney scandal and saying "it just goes to show that you can't trust Obama's Justice Department!"
As for the current programs, I'm not here to debate whether Congressionally-authorized, court-approved programs are constitutional or even necessary. The answer to both depends on who you ask. But I really don't care. I am much more worried about actual problems with thousands of actual victims (Voter ID laws, the War on Drugs, mass deportations of child refugees with no legal counsel) than I am about existential problems with no known victims.
But I think this is why Greenwald is pushing what appears (at least at this point) to be mostly a non-story. Yeah, some idiot wrote "raghead" and there certainly should be an investigation into it to see if there was any profiling. But literally every law enforcement agency in the country is guilty of profiling, and the ongoing NSA story has never had anything to do with racial profiling.
Greenwald gives away the game in his interview with Smith when he says he wants to "put a face" on his story.
You see, Greenwald et al been getting lots of shit from us statist authoritarians who believe the NSA has a right to exist because he can't prove that any of the NSA's currently ongoing programs have actually, you know, caused anyone real harm to any non-imaginary people. The Greenwald gang gets into a fiery rage when you bring this up. "SO WHAT? THERE IS POTENTIAL FOR ABUSE!" Yes, there is "potential" for abuse in literally every government agency in the world. But what has eluded Greenwald this whole time is a real "victim." A name and a face he can point to and say "There! There is your victim!"
So Greenwald decided to conflate his NSA story about ongoing programs with an out-of-context story about a program from 9 years ago. And he did it all while shouting Obama's name at the top of his lungs.
We all know that Obama-bashing is a lucrative way to make a living these days, and it's no coincidence that Greenwald's book gets a plug every time he appears on TV. Just wait until the Oliver Stone movie royalties start rolling in! But this example is just one in a long line of exaggerations, conflations, or outright lies from Greenwald and company:
Greenwald did not get arrested when he came to the US.
Edward Snowden could not ever "wiretap the President."
No, PRISM is neither a program nor a secret
The NSA cannot "watch your ideas form as you type."
Yes, the Guardian used obsolete slides to conflate their story.
No, Snowden is not a "whistleblower"
No there is no evidence of systematic abuse at the NSA
Yes, the NSA's overseas spying is much more concerning than domestic spying
No, the government's watchdog did not say surveillance hadn't stopped any attacks
No, we shouldn't just take Greenwald's word on any of this stuff.
Glenn Greenwald doesn't give a shit about the "surveillance state" or freedom of the press. He lives in a police state where journalists are murdered regularly, and he's never reported on any of it. He's regularly defending Snowden's choice (yes, he made the choice) to flee to police states like China and Russia. At the end of the day, Greenwald is an anti-government pundit who only cares about screaming the loudest and getting the last word. Paranoia sells. So does Obama-bashing. Just ask Alex Jones.