| Edward Snowden: Shooting the messenger?

Edward Snowden: Shooting the messenger? ~ Listening Post, Al Jazeera.

Mainstream media in the US seems to be more interested in the character of the leaker than in the content of the leak.

Before Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the NSA’s extensive surveillance programmes on American citizens, he travelled to Hong Kong to escape the reach of the United States’ justice system.

Perhaps he was mindful of the fate of Bradley Manning, who faces life in prison for releasing thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks. But while Snowden may have outrun the long arm of the law, he could not avoid trial by media.

Snowden has been described as a “weasel”, a “narcissist” and a “punk” – not by US politicians or officials but by the journalists and newscasters leading the debate over his actions. And the discussion in the mainstream media seems more focused on Snowden’s pole-dancing girlfriend and high school record than on one of the most comprehensive telephone and online surveillance programmes in human history.

It raises the question: Why focus on the character of the leaker and not the content of the leak? Is the media once again, shooting the messenger?

This week’s News Divide takes US journalism to task over its treatment of Edward Snowden and those who dare to leak government secrets to the press. We interviewed former whistleblower Thomas Drake, who revealed classified information on NSA surveillance in 2010; Jesselyn Radack, from the Government Accountability Project; and reporters Hamilton Nolan of Gawker; and Dana Priest from the Washington Post.

On our Newsbytes this week: A daily newspaper in Turkey has joined Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in his war of words against foreign media outlets; the continuing standoff at the Ecuadorean embassy in London over the legal status of Julian Assange; and the Greek government’s plan to shut down the country’s state-owned broadcaster that has been thwarted by a court ruling.

For our feature we return to a problem faced by journalists every day: the dos and don’ts of terminology; the kind of language to use or avoid when dealing with controversial topics. This year, the world’s largest news agency, the Associated Press, has made significant changes to its stylebook – changes that influence the way the media talks about troublesome topics. The Listening Post’s Marcela Pizarro takes a look at terminology in the news and the power behind words.

Lastly, if our report on Edward Snowden has left you feeling a little exposed, don’t worry – watch our web video of the week and let “Snuggly” soothe you back to security. It is Mark Fiore’s cuddly take on NSA surveillance. Privacy? Who needs it? In the end, is it not better to be snuggly and secure?

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10 thoughts on “| Edward Snowden: Shooting the messenger?

  1. How the truth is exposed is important. What information that Snowden has is important, as well as how he is sharing this information. Yes I am one of those people who believe that Snowden is a narcissist, because he didn’t follow correct government channels. Whistle-blowing isn’t, “I don’t like this so I am going to go to the nearest media outlet and share what I don’t like.” We can’t have people with security clearances doing that. Whistle-blowing means you go above your boss’s head to his boss, or his boss’s boss and that you are safe from repercussions or from being fired or loosing pay for it. There are questions that aren’t being asked, the first being, Why does the NSA care about this information? In this day in age truth isn’t black and white and one part of some information doesn’t give the entire story. Snowden didn’t go through these proper channels because he wanted everyone to know his name. He didn’t care about the greater good, because if he did he would have pulled a “Deep Throat,” and would be safely at home.

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    • I still don’t see what information Snowden leaked that wasn’t already a matter of public knowledge. The NSA and the FBI have been spying on Americans as long as anyone can remember. The evidence is widespread and overwhelming. Why then have the media offered contradictory coverage on the one hand describing Snowden as a national security risk and then on the other hand expressing concern over government spying? The media have been lying and covering up government crimes since the inception of the national security state over 6 decades ago. They have no credibility to report truthfully on the Snowden story.

      All this smells of a psychological manipulation–either an attempt to scare Americans and silence government critics or an attempt to stress the need for tightened security in a war against terrorism. Or, perhaps it’s intended to distract attention from recent Western losses in the war against Syria. Think about it. Snowden comes out and says the United States is a police state. Should we be shocked or threatened by the obvious? Or should we join the chorus calling for Snowden to be extradited to face charges of espionage?

      Have Americans any capacity left to know this is just another manipulation to confuse, disrupt, and destabilize public opinion?

      The points are to make Greenwald an “expert dissident journalist” when he’s not one, to make Snowden a “hero” when he’s not one, and to make Americans cower in fear at the extent of the surveillance over their lives when they’re entitled to freedom.

      The hounding of the fake hero Snowden suggests to Americans, “if you stand up for anything, we’ll hunt you to the ends of the Earth.”

      Meanwhile Snowden is staying in fine hotels snorting cocaine off hookers’ nether regions and smoking hookahs with Emirs, most likely. Yes, they’re definitely treating him like a criminal. The biggest military and security forces on earth (American govt and contractor) can’t even catch him! 😉

      “Treason is a word that dictators love to hurl at dissidents, and when both Cheney and Feinstein bring it back into favor, you know that courageous whistle-blowers like Snowden are not the enemy.”

      | Exceptional Hypocrisy: The Good Germans in Government! http://wp.me/p1xXtb-2Oj

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      • “inception of the national security state over 6 decades ago”? The NSA was created after 9/11, because of the lack of cooperation between the FBI and the CIA. Now are you saying the media has been covering things up since the beginning of media? Yes and No. I think that journalists before the 1980s (before the CNN effect took hold) actually took the time to do research and make sure they got there facts straight. Do you honestly believe that the government should be completly open with everything it is going to do? Do you really believe there is no threat from terrorist? Because if you don’t believe that there are any threats against the US government then you wouldn’t see a need for secrecy. I find it funny the same people who don’t want there phones tapped, want the “terrorists” phones to be tapped. Honestly being overseas I read my news, I don’t watch my news anymore, because I hate listening to the talking heads. I enjoy reading them but I hate listening to them.

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        • The fact that Latin America is finally emerging from living in the shadow of the US, by indicating it may offer Snowden political asylum shows how the star of US hegemony is waning – right on it’s own doorstep.

          BELOW, based on a simultaneous translation from Spanish to English broadcast by the BBC, are excerpts from the letter Mr. Snowden sent to President Rafael Correa, as read aloud by Mr. Patiño:

          “I, Edward Snowden, citizen of the United States of America, am writing to request asylum in the Republic of Ecuador because of the risk of being persecuted by the government of the United States and its agents in relation to my decision to make public serious violations on the part of the government of the United States of its Constitution, specifically of its Fourth and Fifth Amendments, and of various treaties of the United Nations that are binding on my country.

          As a result of my political opinions, and my desire to exercise my freedom of speech, through which I’ve shown that the government of the United States is intercepting the majority of communications in the world, the government of the United States has publicly announced a criminal investigation against me. Also, prominent members of Congress and others in the media have accused me of being a traitor and have called for me to be jailed or executed as a result of having communicated this information to the public.

          Some of the charges that have been presented against me by the Justice Department of the United States are connected to the 1917 Espionage Act, one of which includes life in prison among the possible sentences.”

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          • And don’t you see how he is acting is hurting himself. If he wanted to be seen as an altruistic person just trying to help the common man he would go to Switzerland and just hide out there, not making public statements and allow the US to sort out this mess that yes is against the 4th amendment. He doesn’t care about the American people. All he cares about is being famous and that is what will get him thrown in jail for many many years.

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            • Dirty Wars author Jeremy Scahill: Is journalism being criminalised?

              In the wake of whistleblower Edward Snowden’s leak of NSA files, Jeremy Scahill, author of Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield and featured reporter in the new documentary film of the same name, says under the Obama administration journalists are being intruded upon and whistleblowers are being charged with crimes. Scahill is also a national security correspondent for the Nation.

              URL: http://youtu.be/6aIcq_ftu2E

              Source: Guardian,
              Length: 6min 27sec.

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          • You also didn’t answer my question. Do you believe there is a threat of terrorist? Do you believe that there is ever a time when a government should keeps secrets to protect its national security?

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            • Maybe there is, maybe there isn’t – especially if the FBI would stop entrapping gullible half-wits – but, for sure, there’s a far higher risk of dying of infection from swallowing raw Govt. horseshit daily.

              Put simply, by blurring the simple distinction between whistle-blowing and espionage, this US administration has lost all credibility, save as a military-industrial complex for corporatocracy.

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  2. Pingback: Blowing the whistle on Obama’s America – Listening Post – Al Jazeera English « Olduvaiblog: Musings on the coming collapse

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