Ok, so we all know that the US political scene is beyond parody by now. But it’s nice to know we’re not alone. It’s oldish news now that David Cameron is advocating some kind of
witch hunt committee investigation into whether the Guardian “broke any laws” in their reporting on and release of Edward Snowden’s trove of stolen PowerPoint presentations.
David Cameron. Or it could be Louis Gohmert, I’ve kinda lost track.
But maybe someone can explain a couple of items to me, ‘cos on their face they look every bit a loony as when congressman Louis “Crazyface” Gohmert (R. Pluto) suggested that if the US defaults on its obligations because congress declines to pass an extension on the debt ceiling, then President Obama would have committed “an impeachable offense”.
He [Cameron] made his proposal in response to a question from former defence secretary Liam Fox, saying the Guardian had been guilty of double standards for exposing the scandal of phone hacking by newspapers and yet had gone on to publish secrets from the NSA taken by Snowden.
I’ve read that now a few times, and it’s gibberish, right? What “double standard”? Now if the Guardian had declined to publish an exposé of the newspaper phone hacking I could see where this loon might have a point, but as it is it makes no sense to me at all.
But wait, there’s more.
Cameron now seems to be suggesting that the Guardian was somehow acknowledging their culpability when they “allowed” computer components to be destroyed at the behest of UK security officials;
Speaking at prime minister’s questions on Wednesday, Cameron said: “The plain fact is that what has happened has damaged national security and in many ways the Guardian themselves admitted that when they agreed, when asked politely by my national security adviser and cabinet secretary to destroy the files they had, they went ahead and destroyed those files.
“So they know that what they’re dealing with is dangerous for national security. I think it’s up to select committees in this house if they want to examine this issue and make further recommendations.”
There is virtually no alignment at all between that representation of what down in the Guardian’s basement, and the account rendered by Alan Rusbridger in his write-up of the event.
I wasn’t there, so I cannot know, but I’m struggling with the idea that some functionary just popping into the Guardian offices with a smile and “asking politely” for some files to be destroyed would immediately cause Guardian staff to start attacking laptops with hammers.
I’ve always been aware that the differences between US and UK law regarding press freedoms are quite profound, especially with regard to prior restraint, but this muscle flexing and labyrinthine reasoning seems totally over the top even after taking that into account.
Does this development, together with the “partnership” developed with the NYT and Greenwald’s departure from the fold mean that the Guardian is going to back away from further disclosures of Snowden material and leave it to others?
The speculation about what kind of disclosures Greenwald may or may not unleash at his shiny new venue, wherever and whenever it goes live, is for another day, I guess. As I understand it now from what I’ve read, there are (at least) copies of everything Snowden pocketed in the Guardian’s NY office, in the NYT offices, perhaps also in the WaPo offices and, presumably, in a thumb drive hidden somewhere in Brazil.
My instinct at this point, absent further revelations which exceed anything we’ve seen so far in both scope and levels of intrusiveness, is that this whole series of exposés will produce maybe a few hearings, perhaps a minor tweak or two in some legal language, some lovely posturing, lots of calming words, and then we’ll be back to business as usual in fairly short order. Not that business hasn’t been proceeding unimpeded all this while anyway of course.