The early denunciations of Snowden now seem both over the top and beside the point. If he is a traitor, then which side did he betray and to whom does he now owe allegiance? Benedict Arnold, America’s most famous traitor, sold out to the British during the Revolutionary War and wound up a general in King George III’s army. Snowden seems to have sold out to no one. In fact, a knowledgeable source says that Snowden has not even sold his life story and has rebuffed offers of cash for interviews. Maybe his most un-American act is passing up a chance at easy money. Someone ought to look into this.
Source: Washington Post
This past January, Laura Poitras received a curious e-mail from an anonymous stranger requesting her public encryption key. For almost two years, Poitras had been working on a documentary about surveillance, and she occasionally received queries from strangers. She replied to this one and sent her public key — allowing him or her to send an encrypted e-mail that only Poitras could open, with her private key — but she didn’t think much would come of it.
The stranger responded with instructions for creating an even more secure system to protect their exchanges. Promising sensitive information, the stranger told Poitras to select long pass phrases that could withstand a brute-force attack by networked computers. “Assume that your adversary is capable of a trillion guesses per second,” the stranger wrote.
Before long, Poitras received an encrypted message that outlined a number of secret surveillance programs run by the government. She had heard of one of them but not the others. After describing each program, the stranger wrote some version of the phrase, “This I can prove.”
Seconds after she decrypted and read the e-mail, Poitras disconnected from the Internet and removed the message from her computer. “I thought, O.K., if this is true, my life just changed,” she told me last month. “It was staggering, what he claimed to know and be able to provide. I just knew that I had to change everything.
Source: The New York Times
Some of what is driving this hostility from some media figures is personal bitterness. Some of it is resentment over my having been able to break these big stories not despite, but because of, my deliberate breaching of the conventions that rule their world. But most of it is what I have long criticized them for most: they are far more servants to political power than adversarial watchdogs over it, and what provokes their rage most is not corruption on the part of those in power (they don’t care about that) but rather those who expose that corruption, especially when the ones bringing transparency are outside of, even hostile to, their incestuous media circles. They’re just courtiers doing what courtiers have always done: defending the royal court and attacking anyone who challenges or dissents from it. That’s how they maintain their status and access within it. That’s what courtiers to power, by definition, do.
Source: Washington Post
That’s about the speed of it, right? I mean, does anybody seriously think we should tolerate routine leaks of classified information? If it’s not important to keep it secret—release it in the normal way. That’s transparency. If it is important to keep secret, don’t release it. I don’t see room for This is a Secret But You Get Access Because Good Old Boys.
(Yes, I know that whistleblowing is a different thing. We can talk about that later when there’s a case that actually involves a whistleblower.)
Stop the leaks. Open the faucet. That’s transparency. That way anybody can have access to the information everybody should have access to. “Stop cracking down on leaks” is not about free information. It’s about dinosaurs squabbling over exclusive grazing.
If the occasional leak was leading to a golden age of jouralism, I’m sure I’d feel differently. Maybe I’d feel that a select few news outlets were doing such a great job of disseminenting information in a socially responsible manner that nothing should be done that risks upsetting the balance. Maybe I’m missing a golden age of journalism behind the celebrity trial and the news report on what’s trending on Twitter.
Let me tell you a story. The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking soundbites to support it. “Wouldn’t you say,” she asked, ‘that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?” No, I said, I wouldn’t say that. “But what about ‘The Basketball Diaries’?” she asked. “Doesn’t that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machinegun?”
The obscure 1995 Leonardo DiCaprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office and it’s unlikely the Columbine killers saw it.
The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. “Events like this,” I said, “if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. Kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn’t have messed with me. I’ll go out in a blaze of glory.”
In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, “The NBC Nightly News” and other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of “explaining” them.
The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy.
A Roger Ebert quote that sticks out in my mind
From his review of Gus Van Sant’s Elephant
What about the Marine band confirming Beyoncé lip-synched being reported by The Times and Washingtonian?
1. they don’t know what they’re talking about, as confirmed by a more recent Marine Corps Band spokesperson (check back in my blog a few posts ago).
2. your use of the word “reported” is suspect, at best.
3. I say they were covering for the fact that the band was the part of the presentation that you didn’t hear live. No, really (I mean about them being pre-recorded, not a “cover up” which is just me being snarky).
There’s no story here. NONE. Beyoncé recorded a vocal to have on hand as a backup in case of weather, technical glitches, personal health, and other unforeseeable events. This is standard operating procedure, and anyone with experience in live audio on the level of a Presidential Inauguration will confirm this.
She sang her ass off. Period. Those who are attempting to slander her performance as though she were the second coming of Milli Vanilli are supremely idiotic.