Posted on | December 28, 2013 | 44 Comments
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.