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Change Agents: The Curious Case of the "Responsible" NSA Revelations

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"But look again at those concluding remarks to the EU. "[T]here are many other undisclosed programs that would impact EU citizens' rights..." Many other undisclosed programs that affect tens of millions of people. Maybe they'll find out about them, maybe they won't. And Snowden himself won't make that decision. 'Responsible journalists in coordination with government stakeholders' will decide. We've witnessed this game for nine months; we know how it's played. The 'responsible journalists' and 'government stakeholders' will allow us to see perhaps 2% of all the documents Snowden gathered up. With redactions, and without explanations of the redactions or explanations, even in general terms, of what we will never be told.

"But honestly, it's more than slightly ridiculous to parse these statements further. Snowden's formulation, and the adoption of his methodology by the 'responsible journalists' involved, mean only one thing: these are, ultimately, State-sanctioned leaks. This is State-sanctioned whistleblowing. Whatever dangers much wider, and much more rapid, disclosure might have carried have been entirely obliterated. What remains constitutes no threat of any remotely serious kind to the States implicated. Yes, there will be hearings, some 'reforms,' and life for the States will go almost exactly as before. Your  life, on the other hand ... well, who gives a damn about your  life."

Of course, we are glad to have any little fragment of truth we can get our hands on in these dystopian times. As T.S. Eliot said: "these fragments I have shored against my ruins." And most assuredly, we are in ruins. But I continue to be amazed at the nugatory effect of the Snowden revelations. I continue to be shocked at the way these revelations are being handled -- kept tightly under the control of a handful of responsible  figures who happily submit them to "government stakeholders," while effectively repressing 98 percent of the evidence of criminality and moral turpitude on the part of those same "government stakeholders." So I agree with Silber's conclusion, with which I'll conclude here:

I have one request, in the nature of truth in advertising. I want to see all future stories relying on the Snowden documents accompanied by a stamp in which appear the following words. We are provided similar guarantees in connection with food and drugs, for example, and I see no reason not to adapt the practice to "journalism," given what that term now appears to mean. Each such story should carry this ironclad assurance:

"This story contains those facts, and only those facts, that we and the State have determined it is safe for you to know. We will never tell you anything else, and we will most certainly never tell you anything more."


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Chris Floyd is an American journalist. His work has appeared in print and online in venues all over the world, including The Nation, Counterpunch, Columbia Journalism Review, the Christian Science Monitor, Il Manifesto, the Moscow Times and many (more...)
 

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