With Glenn Greenwald debating General Keith Alexander live on stage as I write this, it is rather convenient timing for this insipid hit piece to emerge claiming definitively that Edward Snowden, WikiLeaks and anyone who supports them are “in bed with the Russians”.
John Schindler’s tweet is just plain irresponsible and dangerous as well as untrue. The smear is an old one; the tactic timeless; the source/author dubious but several angles are worth addressing that I don’t think have been properly before.
The Primary Lie: That WikiLeaks Censors Itself For Russia
The biggest lie is the easiest to disprove. Heard so many times it’s impossible to count – that WikiLeaks doesn’t print documents on/about Russia or that aren’t in its interests… that they somehow exclude Russia from their databases or only print approved messages.
Using the most basic investigative method available, let’s see whether this is true: by going to WikiLeaks official website and typing “Russia” into the search bar.
In case you can’t see that writing at the bottom – there are 647,208 results for ‘Russia’ in WikiLeaks’ database.
Let’s look a little closer.
So. Just in the first few results alone we have:
- an article exposing Russian investigations into Tor users – from the Edward Snowden files no less
- an article describing a Russian government decision as ‘foolish’
- a report on Russian attempts to regulate the blogsophere/new media
- a report on Russian censorship of a BBC interview
I think it’s safe to say we won’t have to analyse the entire 647k docs to find more that are critical of Kremlin political views and positions.
WikiLeaks’ Solidarity With Russian Activists
None of the detractors explain why, if WikiLeaks is so far “in bed with the Russians”, they work with Russian dissidents who have been targeted for arrest and prosecuted by the State.
Stuck In The Airport For 39 Days
In the pro-NSA anti-Snowden “counterintelligence” fantasy-land of John Schindler, WikiLeaks sent one lone woman to take Snowden ‘from Hawaii to Moscow’ to “defect” only so that he could be… stuck in a Moscow airport with no valid passport for 39 days, desperately applying for asylum, to a whole host of countries?
No, if he was defecting, he’d be welcomed with a parade. Not stuck in civil and physical limbo for over a month. He would have had entire teams of security guys flying him around in military or private jets – instead his entire transit was on civilian airliners.
What makes far more sense is that Edward and Sarah Harrison’s lack of co-operation is what effected their circumstance, leaving them stranded in the airport.
Even after asylum was granted, Sarah stayed on with Edward for several months… this too, indicates that WikiLeaks provided aftercare for him; he was not simply abandoned or left to fend for himself.
A Long Look In The Mirror
Central to the claims that Snowden is colluding with the Russians is the suggestion that intelligence agencies are just so badass that non-cooperation with them is not an option.
This may be true for those without public visibility and a high profile, but as Sarah herself pointed out, Russian authorities were aware that she had access to a platform with millions of followers able to rally in defense of their rights at a moment’s notice.
I can’t help but wonder – who is Julian Assange supposed to hire for bodyguards? Americans? Why is the mere presence of people of Russian origin in one’s life basis for a conspiracy theory?
But any smear will do and smear they have. If the constant boasting of Schindler’s “counterintelligence” / “counterterrorism” background isn’t enough of a clue, a quick look through the author’s past posts exposes his agenda.
“Ever since the Snowden saga broke a few weeks back I’ve defended the Department of Defense (DoD) and the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) against the most scurrilous charges in the media..”
Like clockwork, derisive, salacious and defamatory posts date from June 2013 to the present day, making wild accusations. That Snowden is working with the Chinese – that he is working with the Russians – that WikiLeaks is working for the Russians – with the grave nature of what Snowden actually leaked ignored in an attempt to deflect blame away from the elites in control of the intelligence agencies.
One of the author’s smear pieces claims Snowden did no damage and is irrelevant – the next that he did vast, lasting and unforgivable damage. Snowden’s position and access is minimised to him being “just an IT guy”; the next minute it is complained that he took over a million documents. The story is ever-changing and in aggregate, discredits itself.
Snowden’s True Significance
Edward Snowden did many remarkable things – countless things. That he managed to extricate so much information, get it out to the public, and make his “escape” is in itself incredible.
But his greatest achievements are the least talked about.
Snowden is solution-focused. Rather than merely inform the public, he presents them with an array of tools and resources with which to protect themselves.
It is this engagement that is next level. Not just standing on a stage and giving a speech but taking steps to implement actual change. Not merely educating his audience, but changing their practical behaviours, impacting their decision-making.
As much as his critics downplay him as “just an I.T. guy” Snowden’s words and actions are reminiscent of every individual role in a development team. He is the tester – testing the safety and suitability of open source products for public use. He is the analyst… mapping and understanding systems and making recommendations. He is the database administrator… the networker… the technical writer… the architect… the development manager… the delivery manager… the CTO.
Yet it is not these roles he is recognised for so much as his less tangible qualities. Truth-telling. Bravery. Valour, in its truest sense – ‘great courage in the face of extreme danger‘.
Snowden has brought back a time when celebrity meant more than vain idolatry. When statues were carved, or buildings were named, not for those of elite birthright, great wealth or superficial beauty but for those of daring, heroic deeds undertaken for a greater good.
False promises of corrupted political systems aside – when our children aspire to be more like Edward Snowden than Justin Bieber; or Jesselyn Radack than Britney Spears; there is hope and there will be change.
The World Grows Weary
While humans bicker and slander, steal, oppress, tax and incite, the Earth grows weary. There is ecological devastation wherever we look. Apocalyptic weather patterns, extinctions of multiple species and constant natural disasters.
Refugees are fleeing war-torn countries in their millions while financial systems inflict poverty upon billions.
Pretty soon there will be no amount of anti-Snowden op-eds sufficient to bedazzle us in the face of our reality: humankind is in big fucking trouble and it will take more than words to get us out of it.
Critical thought, research and dissemination of information are the foundations to change but we are now past the point where action is required. Our support for whistleblowers needs to be more material than effortlessly debunking the libel of the status quo’s talking heads. To that end, this article is going to be about more than just the critics.
WikiLeaks is doing a brilliant job of directly confronting the system by holding a mirror up to it. Now we need to show our solidarity and not just declare it. Let our actions combine in beautiful, complex ways.
Effecting change where the State refuses to do so, creating new systems that bypass it entirely.
For we should not aspire just to slowing the pace of human destruction, but to creating new pathways of preservation, new avenues of possibility…
…to literally birth a new world. The evidence of the unsuitability and unsustainability of the old one is all around us.
No longer do we need to debate it.
We need to create it.
There have been three recent geographically-disparate and diverse political actions that have produced immediate results.
- Fundraising for Chelsea Manning’s Legal Defense Fund (on-going)
Glenn Greenwald and First Look Media co-ordinated a brilliant fundraising effort to raise contributions for the legal defense of whistleblower Chelsea Manning, resulting in over $100,000 being donated within the first 48 hours.
Aspects of Manning’s case are precedent-setting and will have ramifications for future whistle-blowers therefore empowering her to pursue her rights to their full extent now may become even more consequential later.
- Netzpolitik #Landesverrat (Treason) Charges Dropped
Berliners responded to a treason investigation into two journalists from Netzpolitik by taking to the streets, and launching an online solidarity statement signed by local and international journalists, publishers, academics and various luminaries in support.
The investigation was dropped and the investigating prosecutor fired.
- Transsexual Kiwi Prisoner Wins Transfer To Female Prison
A group of activists in New Zealand who began a hunger strike and various online initiatives in protest at a transsexual woman being incarcerated in a men’s prison has achieved a resounding victory.
Prisoner Jade Follett has now been transferred to a womens prison and is to receive an apology from the Department of Corrections. The Twitter account of protest group No Pride In Prisons that organised the actions, is calling for more than an apology.
In their press release celebrating success, the group states:
‘The fact that the policy places trans women almost always in men’s prisons by default shows how much needs to be changed…
That it took a hunger strike to get Corrections’ attention to this urgent issue indicates just how little regard they have for prisoners’ safety…
‘If it emerges that other trans prisoners have been treated in a similar manner, we will not hesitate to take action’
The above is proof that diversity of tactics is more than a catch-phrase; ends can be achieved by a variety of means.
It is also proof that people power is winning battles.
These victories are won when actions are organised and carried out speedily, loudly and on hot-button issues, where the State has insufficient time to prepare countermeasures and is forced to opt for ‘damage control’ tactics that can ultimately count in the favour of protesters and effect change.
With all the problems of the present and uncertainties of the future it is WikiLeaks, independent media and whistleblowers informing us; open-source technological initiatives protecting us; and real people opening their hearts, raising their voices and taking action on the streets, that are the difference between certain human self-destruction and social evolution.
Written by Suzie Dawson
Official Website: Suzi3d.com
Journalists who write truth pay a high price to do so. If you respect and value this work, please consider supporting Suzie’s efforts via credit card or Bitcoin donation at this link. Thank you!
[Update/January 2018] This post is now available at my Steemit blog