The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

If He’s Lost Lawrence O’Donnell …

Posted on | December 28, 2013 | 44 Comments

. . . Edward Snowden’s status as progressive hero is over:

MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell skewered Edward Snowden’s Christmas address on Thursday, saying the National Security Agency leaker’s claims are “wildly overblown.”
“Every time he speaks, every time, he will say things that are absurdly, wildly overblown,” O’Donnell said. “He says that the government is, quote, ‘watching everything we do.’ That is of course impossible.”
“No one is watching everything we do. That capacity doesn’t exist,” he continued, adding, “I find it odd that every time he speaks he says provably untrue things like this.”


Edward Snowden never fooled me: From the get-go, I recognized this allegedly heroic “whistleblower” as another deluded anti-America traitor like Bradley — eh, Chelsea — Manning or perhaps even an outright paranoid kook like Barrett Brown. (Both Snowden and Brown are high-school dropouts, coincidentally or not.)

Manning, Brown, Snowden and, for that matter, Michael Hastings, all exhibited the symptomatic effects of a psychological complex we might call Post-Republican Anti-War Syndrome.

The tensions and frustrations of the Bush era — beginning with the disputed election of 2000, continued by the 9/11 attacks and on through the “War on Terror” and the invasion of Iraq — simply overwhelmed the fragile minds of some vulnerable people, and the election of Obama was insufficient to cure their madness. (Alabama moonbat blogger Roger Shuler is a textbook case.)

The anti-war movement of the Bush era summoned forth an army of kooks. It gave them a sense of purpose and focus for their alienated rage. When Bush (and “Bush’s war,” as the Left habitually called Iraq) went away, the malcontents and nutjobs were incapable of adjusting to the post-Bush reality because, in point of fact, they had never been very well-adjusted to begin with.

Hey, whatever happened to Cindy Sheehan?

Inevitably, national security required President Obama to continue (and even in certain cases to expand) many of the programs and policies for which his left-wing allies had furiously denounceed Bush, so that there developed a distinct new fringe which we might best describe as pseudo-libertarian or crypto-anarchist. Glenn Greenwald, for example, has never to my knowledge offered any criticism of the economic interventionism of the domestic Welfare State, but he rants endlessly about the alleged authoritarianism of America’s national security establishment. This has lately put Greenwald at odds with some liberals:

In a confrontational interview with MSNBC anchor Kristen Welker, progressive journalist Glenn Greenwald said that he’s a defender of Edward Snowden’s actions in the same sense that MSNBC is a defender of President Obama.
Greenwald said that he believes “every journalist has an agenda. We’re on MSNBC now, where close to 24 hours a day the agenda of President Obama and the Democratic Party are promoted, defended, glorified, the agenda of the Republican Party is undermined. That doesn’t mean the people who appear on MSNBC aren’t journalists. They are.”
“I do defend [Edward Snowden],” Greenwald said, “just like people on MSNBC defend President Obama and Democratic Party leaders 24 hours a day.”

It is certainly true that MSNBC is purely partisan, but what conservatives need to understand is that speaking this truth doesn’t make Glenn Greenwald any less crazy than when he was using sockpuppet accounts to defend himself online back in 2006.

My conservative friends may share with libertarians an honest suspicion of an intrusive all-powerful federal government, and thus welcome the Snowden leaks as proof that Big Government cannot be trusted. But America still has dangerous enemies who wish to do us harm, and if the NSA says its data-collection programs were part of an effort to protect us from such enemies, we must distinguish between (a) legitimate concern about unconstitutional abuses, and (b) an exaggerated paranoia that justifies the plainly criminal actions of Manning and Snowden.

Yes, it’s fun to skewer Democrats for their hypocrisy by forcing them to defend Obama’s surveillance state, but conservatives would be just as guilty of hypocrisy if we justified breaches of national security merely to score points against Obama. Insofar as our discussion of this is concerned with persuading moderates to side with conservatives — and in our hyper-partisan age, few people who pay attention to public affairs are either moderate or persuadable — the lesson of this teachable moment is the ultimate futility of “anti-war” radicalism. If even a Nobel Peace Prize-winning progressive like Barack Obama finds himself obliged to employ U.S. military force overseas, to send armed drones to kill terrorists and to maintain a vast high-tech surveillance system for keeping an eye on our enemies, isn’t it obvious that America’s foreign policy problems can’t be blamed on GOP neocon warhawks?

Conservatives don’t have to embrace kooks like Glenn Greenwald or traitors like Edward Snowden to make that point, and if this is one of the rare occasions when Lawrence O’Donnell is right — no, the NSA is not “‘watching everything we do” — it just serves to contrast with O’Donnell’s otherwise impeccable record of being wrong.



44 Responses to “If He’s Lost Lawrence O’Donnell …”

  1. Joe Dokes
    December 28th, 2013 @ 3:22 pm

    “Every time he speaks, every time, he will say things that are absurdly, wildly overblown,” O’Donnell said. “He says that the government is, quote, ‘watching everything we do.’ That is of course impossible…No one is watching everything we do. That capacity doesn’t exist…I find it odd that every time he speaks he says provably untrue things like this.”

    Imagine every detail of the The Snowden Affair* unfolded exactly as it has, except that it’s 2006, or the revelations came under an alternate-universe Romney administration. Would O’Donnell’s commentary be identical or different, do you think?

    *The Man From UNCLE, Season 2, Episode 9.

  2. jakee308
    December 28th, 2013 @ 3:54 pm

    The problem is not whether they can monitor us 24/7 (yet) but whether after the fact they can dredge up information that normally they would not have and use that to coerce, indict and otherwise exert influence on people due to socio-economic factors. This lends itself to political harassment (the irs?) and blackmail (John Roberts sudden change of mind?)

    It’s not whether they can monitor us all (yet) it’s whether they should and whether we have a right to say stop.

    For that, we do owe Snowden et al for making this public and allowing the discussion to occur.

  3. as guest
    December 28th, 2013 @ 4:42 pm

    Obama suckups need to establish an angle that makes it so the national security revelations are not as embarrassing for their leader.

    That’s also why O’Donnell’s arguments against Snowden are so weak.

  4. K-Bob
    December 28th, 2013 @ 5:25 pm

    I’ve always assumed that Greenwald’s involvement was the biggest reason to doubt the veracity of Snowdon’s claims.

    I’m wondering if Snowdon got his materials from Alex Jones.

  5. Zohydro
    December 28th, 2013 @ 6:07 pm

    Snowden’s recent revelations have reinvigorated efforts to have Jonathan Pollard released. This would be a good thing!

  6. Anon Y. Mous
    December 28th, 2013 @ 6:38 pm

    My conservative friends may share with libertarians an honest suspicion of an intrusive all-powerful federal government, and thus welcome the Snowden leaks as proof that Big Government cannot be trusted. But
    America still has dangerous enemies who wish to do us harm, and if the NSA says its data-collection programs were part of an effort to protect us from such enemies, we must distinguish between (a) legitimate concern
    about unconstitutional abuses, and (b) an exaggerated paranoia that justifies the plainly criminal actions of Manning and Snowden.

    You have some circular logic going on there. If the government is lying to the public about the extent of their data-collection programs, and the only way it is ever revealed to the public is through the actions of Snowden types, then how are we to do the distinguishing without welcoming the leaks?

  7. Socialism: Organized Evil
    December 28th, 2013 @ 6:48 pm

    The bigger problem is that Hussein Obama is a seriously delusional individual who fancies himself a marxist revolutionary capable of slowing the “rise of the oceans”.

    Snowden’s great service is that he helped destroy Hussein Obama’s credibility. And the timing was perfect, albeit happenstance.

  8. Steve Skubinna
    December 28th, 2013 @ 6:52 pm

    Oh, I dunno, what’s the term…

    Congressional oversight?

    We have obviously rogue agencies (BATF, FBI, IRS, NSA) not only violating federal law but lying to Congress about it. There ought to be lots of high level federal goons getting frogmarched into cells right now.

    Unfortunately Congress does not have to power to arrest and imprison lawbreakers. So given the thoroughly corrupt administration we have, there’s not a damn thing we can do.

    Well, there was but we screwed that pooch in 2012. Apparently the US electorate is hell bent on living in a banana republic.

  9. reliapundit
    December 28th, 2013 @ 6:53 pm

    Happy New Year Mr. McCain.

    Here’s my New Year’s message for Mr. Snowden – it’s more like a few simple questions:

    1 – Why did you steal at least 1,700,000 files if only a few hundred or few thousand would have shown NSA overreach?

    2 – Why did you go to Greenwald and The Guardian – each well-known for their leftist and anti-American and anti-defense establishment attitudes? (Ellsberg went to the NYTIMES.)

    3 – Why didn’t you release them to CNN and the NYTIMES or Jonathan Turley and even the Congressional committees which have oversight over the NSA – and then request official whistle-blower status?

    4 – If you are really a libertarian, then why did you run away from the USA and go to China and Russia with the hope of eventually going to Cuba, (as none of these three are nations which have respect for liberty)?

    5 – Is it mere coincidence that these three countries are major enemies of the USA and each has major spying operations against the USA and each benefits immensely from getting secret information about the USA’s intel’ gathering apparatus?

    6 – Why did the CIA flag you as a a suspected security risk in 2009? Were you already spying in 2009 for Russia, China and/or Cuba? Since this is before you worked at the NSA and before you could have been aware of the extent of NSA collection methods, were you flagged as risk because you were inappropriately probing for CIA intel’ in order to give it Russia and China and/or Cuba?

    7 – Why did you begin spying for Russia, China and/or Cuba – was it for money or are you a committed socialist bent of hurting the USA??

    Answers from Mr. Snowden – or any of his supporters here or in Russia, China and Cuba would be appreciated.

  10. Steve Skubinna
    December 28th, 2013 @ 6:53 pm

    For me the biggest rebuttal to Snowden’s ludicrous posturing is his choice of sanctuary, First the PRC and not Russia. Sure, freedom’s obviously a big thing for him.

  11. Steve Skubinna
    December 28th, 2013 @ 7:00 pm

    … and NOW Russia.

    Gosh darn it – ‘scuse my French.

  12. Anon Y. Mous
    December 28th, 2013 @ 7:00 pm

    Well, Congress could hold the administration’s officials in contempt, like they did with Holder, but that didn’t really do the trick. The next step would be impeachment, but I can’t imagine the Democrat Senate being willing to take its constitutional duties seriously, even if the Republican leadership in the House somehow overcame its fear of offending anyone.

  13. nadadhimmi
    December 28th, 2013 @ 7:21 pm

    A Banana Republic where everything is promised to be free. And the incredibly stupid rubes actually BELIEVE it.

  14. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    December 28th, 2013 @ 8:47 pm

    Your “question” answers itself.

  15. Quartermaster
    December 28th, 2013 @ 8:48 pm

    Presently, there are many aspects of our lives not amenable to 24/7 surveillance. That really doesn’t much matter in the end. Enough is available, and cataloged that they an sift it and find all they need to know about you to reduce your life to futility. Our ability to find and record data (forget the bogus metadata thing) about you that would make the Gestapo and Stalin’s NKVD envious.

    I don’t blame Snowden for going to China then Russia as those are about the only places he could find refuge from the US regime. That is not about personal liberty, but staying alive and out of the crowbar hotel. Whistle blowers are not well treated and teh supposed legal protections don’t protect much, as so many have found to their lasting regret.

    FedGov is utterly lawless and, in the end, that’s what this entire thing is about. It takes a criminal act, in too many cases, to expose the criminality of FedGov. I don’t care for Snowden, but I have a hard time taking anyone seriously when they don’t decry FedGov’s criminality in equally strong terms, or energy as they condemn Snowden.

  16. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    December 28th, 2013 @ 8:48 pm

    Or Michael Savage.

  17. Richard McEnroe
    December 28th, 2013 @ 9:30 pm

    You can’t imagine how relieved I am to learn how wildly overblown all these stories are. I guess that nice white drone I saw flying over my old Studio City Neighborhood wasn’t really there…

  18. Richard McEnroe
    December 28th, 2013 @ 9:37 pm

    “Congressional oversight?”

    Good one.

  19. Richard McEnroe
    December 28th, 2013 @ 9:42 pm

    If you wanted to expose the wrongdoings of this Adminstration, would you go to the NYT? Seriously?

  20. Pablo
    December 28th, 2013 @ 10:30 pm

    Oh good. John McCain will get together with Dianne Feinstein and save our liberty!

    Greenwald is a tool, but my thinking is in line with Jim Sensenbrenner’s on this. It’s illegal, immoral, unconstitutional and I’m glad we know it’s going on.

  21. LibertarianOneOne
    December 28th, 2013 @ 11:21 pm

    Oh, dear God, you imbecile! The NSA is trampling on your fourth amendment rights! What do you not understand? I don’t give a good shit if they are fighting “terrorists” or not. My personal life and internet activity is none of their business! How can supposedly constitutional conservatives be duped into supporting illegal and constitution busting activity based on some mindless, media smears of Snowden? Did the media not smear Ellsberg over the Pentagon Papers? Do they not smear the whistleblower everytime the government gets caught with their hand in the till? Snowden is a hero and you should acknowledge it.

  22. K-Bob
    December 28th, 2013 @ 11:26 pm

    A special, Ronulan Snowflake.

    Collect them all!

  23. K-Bob
    December 28th, 2013 @ 11:32 pm

    Well, that’s part of the problem. Those of us who’ve been involved in technology for decades have been warning about this for a long time. All Snowdon did was attach some labels to it so the “fingerprints” could be verified by hackers.

    It was going on under every President since the Cold War.

    A lot of retired Air Force guys can tell you stories that would make Snowdon’s noise seem tame.

  24. LibertarianOneOne
    December 28th, 2013 @ 11:51 pm

    You’re an accomplice to your own tyranny. And you’re telling me that the word of Lawrence O’Donnell is what clinches it for you? LOSER.

  25. Alessandra
    December 29th, 2013 @ 12:32 am

    Terrorists, terrorists, aaahh! Everything is justified because of those terrorists lurking around every corner, under every bush, behind every tree…

  26. Alessandra
    December 29th, 2013 @ 12:34 am

    IIRC, he did give the NYT one, a few stories and they sat on it for a year or something like that.

  27. Alessandra
    December 29th, 2013 @ 12:35 am

    “Congressional oversight”

  28. K-Bob
    December 29th, 2013 @ 2:23 am

    You’re the one bringing up O’Donnel. Adding his name to the kook festival that involves Snowdon and Greenwald just makes the snowflake festival even more special.

  29. Adjoran
    December 29th, 2013 @ 3:26 am

    Snowden is neither a hero nor a whistle-blower. Whistle-blowers get protection, if that’s what he was intending to do he could have walked into Rand Paul’s Senate office and asked for his help.

    If Snowden were honestly trying to alert the public to “illegal” spying on US citizens, why release so much information that is completely unrelated to that, and that involves foreign operations?

    His intent, like Greenwald’s, is to damage the United States in any way he can.

    The idea that he would flee from “police state tactics” to China and Russian, where dissidents and suspected traitors dissapear all the time, is simply laughable.

    He is just as much a traitor as Manning. They should both hang together.

  30. K-Bob
    December 29th, 2013 @ 4:22 am

    Something else that is worth remembering is that all of this incredibly invasive spying on the citizenry has done very little to protect us from anything.

    Doug Ross: NSA Data Collection Program Called “Orwellian” by Federal Judge Stopped a Total of… Zero Terror Attacks

  31. Joe Dokes
    December 29th, 2013 @ 7:33 am

    I know. My point is, I don’t see how citing a leftist as support for disbelieving Snowden helps. Stopped clocks aside, if Snowden is wrong, I’d be very leery of citing leftists, even if I happen to agree with them. They are invariably selective in their application of truth, meaning you can never tell whether they actually believe what they say they believe.

  32. No RNC
    December 29th, 2013 @ 10:05 am

    Stacy could have checked w/ the other big time whistle blowers from the NSA….they certainly support Snowden’s actions….time to throw off that old NeoCon cloak & open the eyes to our Fascist State of affairs…it’s origins were bi-partisan!

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  34. tlk244182
    December 29th, 2013 @ 11:36 am

    In my mind the concept of treason against the US gets fuzzier every day.

  35. Socialism: Organized Evil
    December 29th, 2013 @ 11:51 am

    I’m not sure I would call him a hero, but he has provided an invaluable service in terms of helping destroy the credibility of delusional marxist and ineligible usurper Hussein Obama.

    The very real and very serious threat is that information collected through NSA surveillance would be used to extort cowardly lawmakers and judges like John Boehner and John Roberts.

    There’s no reason for an ineligible usurper with a delusional 3rd-world mind, like Hussein Obama, not to engage in that type of behaviour.

  36. Quartermaster
    December 29th, 2013 @ 4:14 pm

    Don’t know if you’ve heard or not, but CIA has taken to surgically implanting sensors in Gray Squirrels. The label “Sekret Squirrel” takes on a whole new meaning these days.

  37. Quartermaster
    December 29th, 2013 @ 4:18 pm

    Yeah, it would curl the hair, toes, and just about everything else if the unsuspecting ever found the full truth. I wouldn’t expect Boobus Americanus to do much, however, as long as the beer flows and the games are televised.

  38. Quartermaster
    December 29th, 2013 @ 4:19 pm

    Known liars are useless for defending anything.

  39. richard mcenroe
    December 29th, 2013 @ 7:25 pm

    Oh, great, between them and the Zionist migrating birds there’ll be no getting away from these clowns.

  40. Quartermaster
    December 29th, 2013 @ 8:53 pm

    They’re out to getcha. Just sayin’….

  41. Quartermaster
    December 29th, 2013 @ 10:02 pm

    Frankly, FedGov commits most of it.

  42. Serr8d
    December 30th, 2013 @ 9:47 am

    I disagree, RS.

    No matter what Eric Snowden says post-release, how awkwardly he frames his remarks, or his HS dropout status, or that it took a Gleens Greenwald(s) to get his material ‘out there’, what he *did* for all of us matters. Hugely.

    Snowden’s focused unwanted attention on the size, scope and secretive nature of our (HA!, our?) Federal Government. He’s opened a lot of eyes and minds. People who hadn’t a clue are now seeing our lives in situ Orwellian, on Steroids. Everyone who isn’t a mind-numbed TV addict is now aware of just how giant-sized Big Brother has become.

    You can’t pump a gallon of gas without being videoed. Your cell phone is your personal minder; every where you go, you are tracked. Of course, “Why worry? I have nothing to hide!”.

    Perhaps those not paying attention need a new TV reality show? “Days of Our Lives – In the Fishbowl”.

    Eric Snowden is the Paul Revere of our time, AFAIC.

  43. chrismalllory
    December 31st, 2013 @ 10:12 am

    You support hanging Jonnie Boy Pollard as well?

    Snowden and Manning exposed the crimes of the US government. Support for the NSA is treason against America.

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