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Why Hating Spies Is All the Rage

Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden sit on top of a large cultural legacy of distrusting America's shadowy warriors.

by
James Jay Carafano

Bio

March 11, 2014 - 12:30 pm
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Glenn Greenwald is at it again. His latest releases of classified documents provided by Edward Snowden reveal various spy tradecraft, a litany of “dirty tricks,” that agencies might use to get at an intelligence target.  These latest revelations only show how far the un-caped crusaders have drifted from their messianic mission of uncovering “wrongdoing” by those who are supposed to be protecting us from wrongdoing.

In part, Greenwald panders to our dark desire to peer into the ugly side of intelligence work. The staring into the seamy side of spy-craft was a cultural fixture of the Cold War, enshrined in iconic films like The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. Released in 1965 when the Cold War was at its coldest, the movie told the story of a British secret agent sent to Communist East Germany to discredit a powerful enemy intelligence officer. With the assistance of an unwitting idealistic, pro-communist girlfriend he engineers a disinformation campaign against the East German operative.

The film was based on a 1963 book by the novelist John le Carre. The author’s real name was David John Moore Cornwell, who worked in British spy agencies in the 1950s and 1960s. There was more than a little real-life tradecraft laced throughout his books. 

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Top Rated Comments   
Maybe if the spies were actually effective, they wouldn't be hated on. 9/11, Crimea, Boston Marathon Bombing were all completely missed by our spies.

Spy on our enemies, not our friends or better yet, our citizens.

This is really the problem with the country - we spend all this money on the military and intelligence agencies, yet we seem to have very little results from it.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
"The world would have been far better off if U.S. intelligence had been on top of that one [Crimea Crisis] and provided the White House better assessments that might have helped the administration get ahead of the crisis."

And the NSA is going to accomplish that by spying on US citizens??
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
What makes me sympathetic to Snowden is to a large degree about what happened to Sen. Ted Stevens and my own congressman, Curt Weldon. Both men were frivolously targeted by federal prosecutors in the midst of election campaigns. In Weldon's case, the revelation of the investigation occurred three weeks before election day when search warrants were executed on the homes of his daughter and a political ally.

Stevens was convicted but the conviction was overturned after bald misconduct by the prosecutors was revealed.

Weldon, well, the entire investigation was, in the criminal sense, a joke: http://blog.billlawrenceonline.com/2009/08/02/so-when-is-curt-weldon-going-to-jail-2.aspx

But it did get him out of office.

It should be noted that the year before Weldon wrote a controversial book harshly critical of the agencies charged with keeping us from terror attacks.

There have been other matters -- the IRS treatment of conservative groups comes most quickly to mind, but you can include rather sadistic federal prosecutions that resulted in the destruction of lives when simple slaps on the wrist would have been more than enough.

So, yes, I'm kind of starting to have a strong distrust of my government.

And in further fairness to Snowden he has yet to be implicated in any deaths caused by the release of his information. Further he says he has not passed any of it on to adversarial governments (Russia, China etc.) and that he can definitively establish this point.




46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (26)
All Comments   (26)
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NSA should be abolished and its functions integrated id DIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency.
III
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Maybe because the spies were spying on law abiding Americans instead of America's enemies.................................................
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Maybe if the spies were actually effective, they wouldn't be hated on. 9/11, Crimea, Boston Marathon Bombing were all completely missed by our spies.

Spy on our enemies, not our friends or better yet, our citizens.

This is really the problem with the country - we spend all this money on the military and intelligence agencies, yet we seem to have very little results from it.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
"The world would have been far better off if U.S. intelligence had been on top of that one [Crimea Crisis] and provided the White House better assessments that might have helped the administration get ahead of the crisis."

And the NSA is going to accomplish that by spying on US citizens??
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Having read spy books for the past 4.5 decades, nothing surprises or offends me. I get it & think more people would do well to read spy book pulp fiction so they won't get upset by any new 'controversy'. There are no controversies in the spy book realm - just 'Oh, I was wondering when that would pop up in the public realm.'
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
What is with you guys at PJM when it comes to Snowden? The NSA Director himself essentially confirmed the scale and scope of domestic surveillence of US citizens described by Snowden in testimony before congressional committees.

Mr. Carafano, employing misdirections such as 'whipping up a popular following that is out for blood', 'cheerleading for the likes of WikiLeaks' and 'intelligence fear-mongering' insults serious readers of PJM.

I have not read a single PJM post to date asserting Snowden's revelations are factually untrue.

Mr. Kimball, your excellent website is displaying signs of neocon poisoning.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
No one ever says anything much about the motives urging on these self- important "leakers" of these admittedly very, very interesting and even sensational allegations....no one says anything much about the legally established inability of the accused [i.e. the instantly dastardly NSA or CIA] to make sensible defenses of whatever it is they're accused of doing or not doing in the august opinions of the Instant Expert critics.

So much uninformed public huffing and puffing. But everyone certainly has an opinion, or two.

All of this is exacerbated when elected members of Congress start popping up with their two cents of even more of their "outraged" opinions with an eye cocked, or both eyes fixed upon their constituents who must be relied upon for their continuing tenure in Congress.

Is everyone too young now to remember the witch-hunts of the Church-Pike Committees? They together were morale destroyers of those actually bearing the 24/7 responsibilities for our defense.

No one actually stops to think that unless they're actually sitting behind those closed doors hearing discussions of impossibly bad alternatives to those awful questions du jour that they really, really don't know, cannot possible know, WTF's going on.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
We can "know WTF's going on" when people like Snowden get so nauseated by "WTF's going on" that they're willing to flush their $100K+ career and citizenship down the toilet to warn the *victims* WTF's going on.

46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
........."suicidal idiot" seems to be an appropriately adolescent "handle" for such an off-key riff on my "WTF".
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Horse pucky. Snowden took the job with the intention of betraying it. He started download secrets as soon as he achieved access.

There is a long, multi-level process for whistleblowing and Snowden ignored all of it. He's not looking to warn you, he's looking for fame & attention. The next Bradley Manning if you will.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Here's some supplemental perspective:

"
Lawfare
Hard National Security Choices
Five In-Your-Face Thoughts in Defense of the NSA

By Benjamin Wittes
Monday, September 9, 2013 at 2:32 PM "



46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
We hate spies because we're SURROUNDED by them! Look at this article on Ran Paul:

From Accuracy in Media
http://www.aim.org/aim-column/mother-russia-alaska-and-the-ron-paul-revolution/

On February 25, the senator had sounded like his isolationist father, saying to The Washington Post that he “believes the United States should seek ‘respectful’ relations with Russia and avoid antagonizing” Russian President Vladimir Putin. Post reporter Robert Costa quoted Paul as saying, “Some on our side are so stuck in the Cold War era that they want to tweak Russia all the time and I don’t think that is a good idea.”

The phrase “stuck in the Cold War” suggests Russia had changed for the better since the collapse of the Soviet empire. That is clearly not the case. It appears that Rand Paul quickly switched gears once he realized his pro-appeasement position would not go over well with conservatives.

Despite Ron Paul serving as a Reagan delegate, it should be noted that his close friend, Murray N. Rothbard, described as the founder of modern libertarianism, had written a piece entitled, “Ronald Reagan, Warmonger.” The article attacked Reagan for resisting communism in Central America. Rothbard even suggested that Reagan should have been impeached over the issue of seeking the overthrow of the Communist regime in Nicaragua.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
The left-leaning are such suckers for Soviet disinformation.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Bill, I nave to disagree with you on this one.

I think you may be only partially right. The much larger issue here is a warped sense of "morality" morphed from the 60s (which I grew up in and know only too well) to hate all things "controlling" from anybody other than the approve sources (the Left).

In other words, screw the people who are doing their best to attempt to keep us safe and occasionally mis-(or over-) step their mandate.

I, for one, agree wholeheartedly with the assessment of the writer.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
What makes me sympathetic to Snowden is to a large degree about what happened to Sen. Ted Stevens and my own congressman, Curt Weldon. Both men were frivolously targeted by federal prosecutors in the midst of election campaigns. In Weldon's case, the revelation of the investigation occurred three weeks before election day when search warrants were executed on the homes of his daughter and a political ally.

Stevens was convicted but the conviction was overturned after bald misconduct by the prosecutors was revealed.

Weldon, well, the entire investigation was, in the criminal sense, a joke: http://blog.billlawrenceonline.com/2009/08/02/so-when-is-curt-weldon-going-to-jail-2.aspx

But it did get him out of office.

It should be noted that the year before Weldon wrote a controversial book harshly critical of the agencies charged with keeping us from terror attacks.

There have been other matters -- the IRS treatment of conservative groups comes most quickly to mind, but you can include rather sadistic federal prosecutions that resulted in the destruction of lives when simple slaps on the wrist would have been more than enough.

So, yes, I'm kind of starting to have a strong distrust of my government.

And in further fairness to Snowden he has yet to be implicated in any deaths caused by the release of his information. Further he says he has not passed any of it on to adversarial governments (Russia, China etc.) and that he can definitively establish this point.




46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
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