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The Snowden Files: How to turn another hero into a villain

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Original published at RT


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Once upon a time, when the tale of a political scandal found its way into print, the nation's literati would jostle to get their hands on it. The grisly tale would unfold, bodies would be uncovered to gasps of "No!" as the establishment names were named.

Now though, the race is on to get the spoiler into print fast, before that rigorous account can get its boots on, just as false news stories circle the globe at light speed in the days and weeks after a false flag terror attack. The spoiler has the "bonus" of giving a pusillanimous publisher a get-out, when the real McCoy, the blood-sweat-and-tear-stained manuscript, lands on his desk: "Sorry, I'm afraid we can't publish your book this time, that story's already been done."

So it's in this post-modern context that Guardian Foreign Correspondent, Luke Harding's, tediously titled book The Snowden Files has made its way into print. Harding talks of Snowden, stuck in the Russian Federation, as being "In some sense its captive" ...er in what sense exactly? In the sense that if he comes to the West, he'll be locked up forever for exposing corruption? Harding suggests Snowden might not have been granted asylum, but be a "prisoner" stuck in "Stasiland," a reference to the Soviet era East German secret police.

But we are not in the Soviet era and the Stasi, if anywhere, are insinuating themselves right now into the beds of innocent female environmental activists in Britain, tasering Occupy Wall Street and 9/11 Truth activists in the USA, targeting domestic citizens with killer drones and possibly, in the case of Michael Hastings, assassinating real investigative journalists, Harding's "competition."

Cover of the book The Snowden Files by Luke Harding
Cover of the book The Snowden Files by Luke Harding
(image by RT)
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With Chelsea Manning serving 35 years and Julian Assange under house arrest at London's Ecuadorian Embassy, Edward Snowden has shown how whistleblowing must be managed now in the so-called free world.

Turning the former CIA analyst and Booz Allen contractor's devastating leak on its head, The Snowden Files should have a heading not under "political scandal" but under "black propaganda." Transatlantic signals intelligence agencies, the US National Security Agency (NSA) and British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) have been bugging "friendly" leaders' calls, conducting Denial of Service Attacks, ripping the hard drives of offline computers, and planting spy ware on couriered laptops, all illegally.

Lawyers, surgeons, jurors, journalists, judges, editors, elected politicians, priests and military officers... The private affairs and official deliberations of all these professionals are laid at the feet of transatlantic "Agent X," whose loyalties could be to anyone, anywhere. Neither does "X" have to trouble parliament for a reason, or a judge for a warrant.

GCHQ and the NSA are in the grip of "school bully" syndrome: Vying within, and with each other, to break the law more audaciously than the last time. Gaining "naughty schoolboy" kudos every time they get away with it, in the knowledge that oversight is so weak they may never be prosecuted. Perhaps they've been blackmailing the headmaster?

Somewhere down the line they became more worried about the press, parliament and public finding out what they're up to other than doing their job. That's the wretched tale of how GCHQ and the NSA went over to the dark side, and everyone in the Western world became their signals intelligence target.

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Nerve gas in the newsrooms

So how can such an important set of leaks be so twisted and trivialized in The Snowden Files? As plutocrats buy power and legal impunity, they look to exterminate next the only thing that can still harm their reputation: investigative journalism. This profession's health, or otherwise, is one of the most imperative indicators of a thriving culture. As news bites cross the synapses of the nation, the criminal elite's task has to be to fill London's newsrooms with sarin gas.

In their 1988 book "Blacklist," Mark Hollingsworth and Richard Norton-Taylor, exposed MI5's secret BBC personnel office, where journalists and producers had their careers shattered through smears or simple "errors." Former MI5 counter-subversion officer, David Shayler, explained too, in the late 1990s, that "MI5 have a spy in every newsroom." If Luke Harding really wants to find his Stasi, perhaps he should take a stroll, 25 years later, round the corridors of Broadcasting House?

But the expunging of anti-elite memes from our culture comes as much from lawyers as it does from sacking investigative journalists and trying to turn accountants into program makers and media managers. BBC lawyers, for example, refuse to allow national TV documentaries to show the full extent of City of London crime. As former financial editor of the Scottish Sunday Herald, now journalist and blogger, Ian Fraser puts it -- "The lawyers tend to block anything that's too controversial... It's intensely frustrating...The lawyers haven't changed their mindset since the [2008] crash."

BBC building, in the corporation's West London headquarters (AFP Photo / Carl De Souza)
BBC building, in the corporation's West London headquarters
(image by (AFP Photo / Carl De Souza))
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When investigative journalism is stifled in this way, democracy quietly dies. If ridiculous policies such as the costly "Bedroom Tax" and Remploy closures can be rolled out with no proper critical analysis, then authoritarian minds begin to dream up even greater schemes of poor-bashing, disabled-bashing and related sadistic megalomania.

While down at the pub, punters mutter about the lies on the TV news, the politicians and those that buy them start to believe their own propaganda.

From newspapers to television, internet to the radio and magazines and books, media in the West is becoming a commodity no different to sausages or killer drones, bought and sold for profit to the highest bidder, and he who pays the piper calls the tune. As single mega-businesses such as News Corporation, Viacom, Time Warner Disney & Bertelsmann have subsidiaries controlling all kinds of mass communication, there is eventually no wriggle room left for criticism of the power elite these media barons are part of. The same criminal elite, perhaps, that Edward Snowden is blowing the whistle on?

Like the sentiment behind the "Daily Mirror," printing presses and transmitters should reflect the society around them. However, "free market" capitalism sees them snapped up by people desperate to direct society. Journalists who want to keep their jobs in such propagandistic newsrooms soon learn to "think like the boss."

As J. Arthur Gibbs put it in A Cotswold Village, Country Life and Pursuits in Gloucestershire, written long before the age of radio or television: "The press is every day becoming more and more powerful for good or evil; its influence on men's minds has become so marked that it may with truth be said that the press rules public opinion, rather than public opinion rules the press."

In such a culture, media workers chase the dreams of the plutocrats, no matter how unhinged. This week's BBC4 TV hatchet job of a documentary: "Storyville: Mad Dog -- Gaddafi's Secret World," mocked the former Libyan leader and his dream of an economically and politically independent Africa. Like The Snowden Files, it may as well have been written by MI6 itself.

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rt.com is Russian television, which actually does a great job reporting on US news too.

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