| 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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| Activist heavyweights convene against NDAA!

Activist Heavyweights Convene Against NDAA ~  Alexander Reed Kelly, Truthdig.

After a court hearing over the 2012 NDAA in Manhattan on Wednesday, Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges appeared on a panel of activists who are suing the Obama administration over its attempt to claim the right to indefinitely hold U.S. citizens in military detention.

The group convened to discuss the state of the lawsuit. Joining Hedges were these co-plaintiffs: Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg; Revolution Truth Executive Director Tangerine Bolen; journalist and U.S Day of Rage founder Alexa O’Brien; and Demand Progress Executive Director David Segal. They were joined by legal counsel Carl Mayer and Bruce Afran.

For a second panel on the “broader context of the case,” Hedges, Ellsberg and Bolen remained and were joined by filmmaker Michael Moore, NSA whistle-blower Thomas Drake and Jesselyn Radack, an attorney for CIA whistle-blower John Kiriakou and a director of the Government Accountability Project.

Natasha Lennard of Salon.com and Matt Sledge of The Huffington Post moderated the discussion, which was organized by StopNDAA.

Joe Friendly:

 

Said Carl Mayer: “In broad terms, the stakes I think are very high, because what our case comes down to is, are we going to have a civil justice system in the United States, or a military justice system? The civil justice system is something that’s ingrained in the Constitution and was always very important in combating tyranny and building a democratic society. And what the NDAA is trying to impose is a system of military justice that allows the military to police the streets of America, to detain U.S. citizens, to detain residents in the United States, in military prisons. And I say that probably the most frightening aspect of the NDAA is that it allows for detention, quote, ‘until the end of hostilities.’ We’re now, by my count, at day 4,163 of this war, which is an open-ended war against al-Qaida, the Taliban, and now it’s defined as ‘associated forces’ in the NDAA.”

 

 

Said Chris Hedges: “The drone wars … the NDAA … the FISA Amendment Act … what they’re attempting to do is legally justify what they’re already doing. They have argued that under the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force they have the right to assassinate American citizens. I have read that act innumerable times … and none of us find that in the act. That is, to be generous, a radical interpretation of the AUMF. And so what they’re seeking to do is legally justify, in the same way that [Bush assistant attorney general John] Yoo was attempting to legally justify torture, they’re essentially looking for kind of legal cover. … It’s all a part of this very rapid descent into a frightening form of corporate totalitarianism.”

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