Glenn Greenwald on the NSA, GCHQ, and Spying Posted on October 4, 2013 by Yves Smith Yves here. This BBC NewsInsight interview is a remarkable little piece. Greenwald confronts a clearly hostile set of questions from the BBC interviewer. He is not amused and comes pretty close to giving her a dressing down. Go Glenn! Post navigation ← How the Eurozone Might End David Dayen: Mortgage Settlement Monitor Lets Servicers Steal From Customers for Two Years Before Stepping In With Toothless Metrics → Subscribe to Post Comments 64 comments Beppo October 4, 2013 at 3:04 am It’s one thing to know that most mainstream journalists are happy to squawk for empire, and another to see it happening. horrible horrible Banger October 4, 2013 at 1:16 pm GGs incredible grace under pressure is incredible to behold and he clearly bests her–though she tried very hard by asking a series of ludicrous “questions” to rattle him. Ando Arike October 4, 2013 at 11:46 pm Most amazing to me is how she threatens him with death or imprisonment! Who is this f-king c-nt and who is she working for? Like David Gregory in the U.S., these so-called journalists are acting as CIA gatekeepers… Jack Brown October 5, 2013 at 12:25 pm The most ludicrous exchange comes at about 7:45, when she reads him the bowdlerized translation of an interview in Portuguese, making it sound like he was making wild threats to the British after David Miranda’s “terrorism” arrest. “I will make the UK regret this,” etc. He very calmly corrects the translation, pointing out that what he actually said was that ‘he thought the British would come to regret making themselves look bad by being so thuggish. Nothing to do with revenge journalism.’ And then of course she comes back immediately with this vacuous non-question: ‘well aren’t you worried that it will be seen as, well you said it yourself, revenge journalism?’ I was impressed that Greenwald was able to more or less keep his cool after that one. watou October 4, 2013 at 3:33 am The same loathsome repping for the powerful used by another BBC presenter towards Julian Assange: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20563871 All the BBC proves in their interviews is that turds always float to the top, and that when it comes to a choice between journalism and pimping for power, they will always choose the latter. charles sereno October 4, 2013 at 1:08 pm There’s no question that the BBC interviewer is a turd, but in order to float, wouldn’t she at least have to show some fiber? Mister Bunny October 4, 2013 at 3:44 am There are times when Glenn seems excessively prickly, but this encounter with a brass-plated hack isn’t one of them. He shows remarkable restraint (& I love his aside about not being able to visit the UK not being all that much a hardship). The obvious advantages of being trained as a lawyer and working as a litigator are really apparent here. rusti October 4, 2013 at 4:02 am Agreed, I think the satellite delay really worked in his favor here because lots of his interviews are with hosts who shout him down when they don’t get the answers they want to hear. Even though this dimwit tries to interrupt him with the delay a few times he was mostly able to finish his points. Brindle October 4, 2013 at 8:28 am The journalist/interviewer is Kirsty Wark: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirsty_Wark Foppe October 4, 2013 at 8:39 am See this video for a lovely parody from a few years ago, when she was just a newsreader, rather than the intrepid reporter fielding hard-hitting questions she’s become today… (Video is mostly funny because of the Ken Livingstone, former mayor of London, performance, but I couldn’t help myself and had to post it regardless. Sorry.) Tenney Naumer October 4, 2013 at 11:37 am “Intrepid reporter”??? Prove a negative, tow the party line, you mean? Foppe October 5, 2013 at 5:09 am I was indeed being sarcastic, yes. bdy1 October 4, 2013 at 2:22 pm His legal skills are first caliber, written and spoken. His arguments are rigorously watertight, morally grounded and (for legalese) remarkably concise takes – on issues that both sides of the public narrative paint as hopelessly complex and ambiguous. There really is no moral or pragmatic response to his schtick, unless one is arguing for the utility of gross inequality and obscene personal power. Ergo the “egotistical blowhard” label, which is complete bullshit, even though his fans often apologize for his “self aggrandizement.” Shame on us. Dude could write his own check as a litigator in any firm in the world. Instead, he’s literally turning his back tens of millions (or more) as a dickhead attorney to advocate for the public good. Banger October 4, 2013 at 8:20 pm Great post, and I agree all the way. One thing people miss about people like GG is their caliber as human beings–people like him could have ruled the world in their field yet chose to go in another direction that cares for us. The “self-aggrandizement” label applied to all people who live for values beyond their own narrow self-interest are obviously “showing off” I’ve heard this all my life. Wise After the Event October 4, 2013 at 10:36 pm “Enlightened spirits have always met violent opposition from mediocre minds.” Albert Einstein pretzelattack October 4, 2013 at 4:05 am lol, this is great! skippy October 4, 2013 at 4:26 am Methinks a Devo metaphor is apt… we dig the holes… for the poles~ skippy… where ever it takes ya… baby Banger October 4, 2013 at 9:54 am Devo metaphors and actualities are always in order at this time and for a long time to come. skippy October 4, 2013 at 6:22 pm DEVO – secret agent man http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utyDw4rvli8 Bonus question… who is in the dress getting the paddle… name on a building IDK? Skippy… one hand booklet stated it all lol, that and Kent State, anywho… They tell us that We lost our tails Evolving up From little snails I say it’s all Just wind in sails Are we not men? We are DEVO! We’re pinheads now We are not whole We’re pinheads all Jocko homo Are we not men? D-E-V-O Monkey men all In business suit Teachers and critics All dance the poot Are we not men? We are DEVO! Are we not men? D-E-V-O god made man but he used the monkey to do it apes in the plan we’re all here to prove it i can walk like an ape talk like an ape do what a monkey do god made man but a monkey supplied the glue We must repeat O.k. let’s go! PS. Sorry all… to much Sun. nn October 4, 2013 at 4:54 am Isn’t giving hostile question the job of interviewer? At least that way she gave him the chance to refute all this questions. Foppe October 4, 2013 at 8:27 am if they’re interesting questions, perhaps. These questions, OTOH, had all been asked & answered already, so she was just wasting everyone’s time, and showing off her skills as a hack. Brindle October 4, 2013 at 8:32 am The questions come from the point of view that “the State knows best”—your basic authoritarian mindset. Yves Smith Post authorOctober 4, 2013 at 9:23 am She’s obviously trying to discredit him. That’s not tough questioning, that’s overt hostility, which backfires here but might have flummoxed someone less seasoned. And if you want to get someone to make damaging statements, it’s often more effective to be evenhanded and get the interviewee talking and then slip in some innocuous sounding questions that get them on thin ice. Remember, it only takes one seriously bad remark, like Nixon’s “When the President does it, it’s not illegal” to really tarnish someone. That takes a bit longer (as in it works better in print interviews or taped TV which aren’t time constrained than live programming, but she had enough time here to go that route) NotTimothyGeithner October 4, 2013 at 11:46 am Being inquisitive and being hostile are too different things. I know American news is confusing, but its largely an entertainment industry. Jon Stewart is the most trusted man in news because his questions are inquisitive not based on childish fawning or hostility. bystander October 4, 2013 at 5:07 am The same Greenwald interview plus the studio chat that followed. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-moGtQFvsVU diptherio October 4, 2013 at 1:17 pm In the chat, Wark redeems herself somewhat by turning Greenwald’s points on her NSA-apologist guest. I think she just likes to start s#*t. Foppe October 5, 2013 at 5:08 am Sure, by why was this political creature invited as an ‘expert’ at all? And why only at the end? And.. Bart Fargo October 5, 2013 at 5:52 am I agree that the group interview is somewhat redeeming of her journalistic backbone. If we expect tough questioning of government officials, we should expect it for Glenn too (even if the questions are silly and hackneyed to anyone who has actually been paying attention). Trouble is, I have yet to see anything but powder puffs tossed at government officials by interviewers on either side of the Atlantic. timotheus October 4, 2013 at 6:34 am What a tendentious twerp the interviewer shows herself to be. I notice she tried a half-dozen times to smear Greenwald as enabling the new Kim Philby (whose name she throws in). Even the Rubik’s cube story was meant to cast the revelations as a spy (or spy v/s spy) film as she repeatedly said. This is not tough questioning, it is shilling for the security state. I can just imagine her interviews with the spymasters in Britain where she turns into a lapdog. aletheia33 October 4, 2013 at 8:01 am the spymasters in britain may be one of her employers. just sayin’. Banger October 4, 2013 at 10:10 am Most prominent journalists in U.S./Britain are connected to or influenced strongly (or else!) by the intel community. John Jones October 5, 2013 at 2:30 am Or else what though? Job loss or something else? McKillop October 4, 2013 at 1:19 pm Not only have we seen ‘our Kirsty’ usecommon weasel-like techniques to pin Greenwald but we’ve also witnessed the national security analyst display her own “. . . abysmal ignorance.” Greenwald states that the old dear knows nothing about encryption but she insists that, oh those Russians have their expertise about lap=tops and she can’t be fooled. She was an expert, you know. Never have I witnessed pompous twits , unable to prove their premises through honest questioning, use innuendo AND then pretend that their comments were not really what they meant and besides, weren’t really answered or refuted. Both the BBC and the (Canadian) CBC were for years praised as astute and honest news-gathering and reporting agencies. In my opinion they are as whorish as the famed mainstream media of the U.S.A. – just slightly less sensational, more soft-spoken and polite. Never were they more to be trusted than any other propaganda agency. I’ve admired Greenwald for years and find criticism that he’s prickly or long-winded _or whatever_ ludicrous compared to his arguments. Snowden and Manning are heroes and without Greenwald’s like would be forever silenced. We’ed be forever intimidated. reslez October 4, 2013 at 7:23 pm It’s part of an orchestrated campaign to make high profile whistleblowers seem unlikeable, to diminish their heroic standing in the public eye. Assange is characterized with most of the same adjectives as Greenwald — you may as well claim someone is arrogant, difficult to work with, or self-aggrandizing when you have absolutely nothing substantive to say about them. When exactly do you hear any other sort of public figure characterized in this way? It’s part of a playbook. These kinds of remarks are transparent and vapid and should be dismissed like any other textbook character assassination technique. Banger October 4, 2013 at 8:23 pm I’m in your Amen corner on that. The argument I’ve heard is that people who don’t play the game are, obviously, out to show off in front of the crowd–people who are in the game, and I’ve known people in that crowd, are blinded by jealousy and hate at the possibility that some people can live honorable lives. diptherio October 4, 2013 at 1:34 pm Watch the chat session after the interview on the link above. The interviewer seems to do a complete 180 and takes up Glenn’s talking points as her own, turning them on the NSA apologist. Perhaps she was just setting up the second half of the segment by pitching Glenn softballs, or maybe she just likes to be provocative…or, probably, something else that I haven’t thought of…hard to tell. craazyman October 4, 2013 at 2:18 pm whoa dude you’re right! Holy Smokes she was stirring both pots with a wicked spoon. At first I thought she was a nauseating bimbo but then she sort of morphed into a “ferocious femme of righteous inquiry”. Still, some of her questions to Mr. Greenwald were so reductively brainless they were beyond moronic. This isn’t professional wrestling, because that has the advantage of the presumption of entertainment. This is real, so when pro-wrestling moves are used you’re like “Oh man this is just low. This is just so low it’s a form of soul erosion.” I love how those Brits are all so polite with each other. somehow, I think if it goes more in that direction and people just calm down, all this can blow over and Mr. Greenwald and Mr. Snowden can go on the lecture circuit. That’s what I hope happens eventually. McKillop October 4, 2013 at 3:09 pm Courtesy is like beauty: skin deep. Please don’t be gulled by the Baroness Neville Jones’ plummy tones. Synopticist October 4, 2013 at 5:51 pm She’s a nasty, hard right spook. Synopticist October 4, 2013 at 7:00 am The day British and American spooks could rightfully complain about the effect of Snowden’s revelations about terrorism ended the day they started arming terrorists in Syria. Don’t run weapons to jihadis while squealing about the “national interest”. Jon October 4, 2013 at 7:50 am Sneaky reference to what he keeps in his bedroom. I pity whomsoever shares her bedroom. Theo October 4, 2013 at 8:28 am Sadly, this woman was not up on her brief (in this case, surveillance issues), as a critic once said of Helmut Kohl. Foppe October 4, 2013 at 8:44 am (A longer version of this video, which includes some talk with ‘experts’ that happens after the interview with Glenn ended, can be found here. Only recommended for people who feel like they didn’t cringe enough yet during the interview itself…) curlydan October 4, 2013 at 9:49 am To paraphrase Blue Oyster Cult: “History shows again and again How nature points out the folly of men Glen-zilla!” Jim October 4, 2013 at 9:55 am This is awesome. Go Glenn. Banger October 4, 2013 at 10:08 am One of the things that we have to understand is that there are large numbers of “journalists” who are intelligence agents. The intel communities long ago understood that controlling the flow of information in democracies is job one. There is nothing more important to them–overthrowing governments, dealing drugs or even gathering information are all secondary missions–controlling information to the public is more important than all those things put together. It started with Operation Mockingbird and continues today in an expanded version. I believe most journalists today are not intel agents but are well-aware of what they can and cannot say to arouse the ire of the intel community. Banger October 4, 2013 at 10:09 am I’m speaking here of the interviewer not Greewald. Her questions were handed to her by British intel. fajensen October 4, 2013 at 11:34 am Robots are taking over writing the news and “news-reporting” is becoming a commodity business. Todays journalists mostly dream of a rather more lukrative career as spindoctors either for government or business so they are becoming afraid to say anything that might spoil their chances. Most journalists are for sale for the “Let this story go, Or Else”. The tragedy is that, perhaps, they do not understand that if their repporting were both popular and a serious annoynance to “The Powers That Be”, their allegiance would then be bought at a much higher value. neo-realist October 4, 2013 at 6:25 pm I suspect that many journalists understand that if they did reporting that was of a significant annoyance to the “powers that be”, they would be out of work since much of the media infrastructure is owned by the “powers that be”; so they generally don’t do it. docg October 4, 2013 at 11:40 am This is a great interview. She asks really good, meaningful and very tough questions and he responds intelligently and with restraint. I’ve been waiting for some time to learn more about some of the issues raised here and now I have. Greenwald’s responses are impressive, I must say. But I would not fault the interviewer, who is also a journalist willing to ask tough questions and demand meaningful answers. He treats her questions with respect and answers them fully. Banger October 4, 2013 at 11:54 am I guess we heard two different interviews. Basically the issues she brought up were important but the way the questions were worded and the intense and hostile way she asked them sounded like a prosecutor hounding the witness and had nothing to do with interviewing the GG and everything to do with prosecuting him. If your POV matches hers then you’ll be pleased. Frankly many of her questions were stupid and showed that British Intel runs much of the news whatever news org she is a part of. Most people don’t grasp the reach of the intel services uness they’ve seen them up close or read the literature starting with various exposes and the Church Committee findings which touched the tip of the iceberg. bdy October 4, 2013 at 3:41 pm Her confrontational style is common enough across the pond, from what I’ve seen on the youtubes anyway. If she sounded doltish, it was because she was getting all huffy with whatever hollow script she was handed by the PTB. When she turned on the former intelligence administrator with the same tone, she didn’t actually morph into a tough, intelligent interlocutor. She just seemed like she got a lot smarter because now she was parroting Greenwald. IMO, slightly preferable to our two-on-ones where the biased host and preferred authority gangs up on the sacrificial shill from the “left” or “right” respectively. David October 4, 2013 at 12:25 pm I think it’s good the interviewer took this tack. It represents many people’s point of view and it is good he is able to address these questions that would often go unasked in public. Tlete October 4, 2013 at 12:26 pm Turn on closed captioning. Go to 12:39. Is that anything like what she said? One of the applications of real time closed captioning is to turn speech into searchable text for intelligence purposes. Many slips between the cup and the lip! The NSA does not listen to what is said. It is converted to script and then searched. Don’t cha think? Amusing translation failure but there is a bigger tell: She has an accent but real time captioning also looks at meaning in context from speech to text. Look at the captioned coherence quality of thought (as well as words) in Glenn’s captions compared to hers. Can a computer detect communication quality (dumb)? The objective answer is it does if it cannot present good literal/contextual sentence sense out of what is said. The algorithm looks at more than words to extract meaning. Perhaps it is the accent? I am too kind. Put a dumb meter alongside the closed caption translation. Turn off the noise on FOX and look at captions for even more amusement? Henry October 4, 2013 at 4:34 pm Not only that witch from the BBC, but how about that hideous harpie from the government in the second video. Scary creature. Barbara October 4, 2013 at 4:54 pm The BBC doesn’t do closed captioning. Is there a transcript to be found anywhere? mrtmbrnmn October 4, 2013 at 6:10 pm When you have the facts on your side, argue the facts. When you can’t argue the facts, argue the law. If that doesn’t work, pound the table. Glen Greenwald is obviously a good lawyer. And he had the facts. Ms Chimp could only pound the table. Thump. Thump. Thump. Hooray for the good guyz!! mary October 4, 2013 at 8:05 pm Oh Please! Shame on all of you. Why? “BBC presenter” “BBC journalist” etc etc – Her name is Kristy Wark and that is her typical style. Wark is NO different than Jeremy Paxman in that regard. You people have become so numbed by the pap on USTV that you become incensed by this? Oh please. Go back to your CNBC if this bothers you so much… Maria Bartiromo is any better? What the hell do you expect? Foppe October 5, 2013 at 5:06 am What is your point? That we would’ve been impressed if it had been Paxman lobbing these questions at Greenwald? As I’ve suggested here, the whole setup of the interview is flawed, so that the broadcast has next to no journalistic value, except during a tiny part of the interview in which the Baroness — invited as a security/terrorism expert, of all things — was confronted with a few slightly critical questions. Now, certainly Bartiromo’s actions are shameful, but how does that excuse this weaksauce interview by a channel which, to my knowledge (feel free to correct me, but the Newsnight website shows no related stories whatsoever, even though this scandal is now nearly 4 months old), has asked no senior politician for answers to any hard questions whatsoever? Even if they want to stay within this silly format, there are many things they could have done to make this more intrepid and truth-to-power-y: a. she could’ve asked the Baroness to substantiate her claims about russian capabilities, instead of letting the Baroness yammer on sowing FUD for minutes; she could’ve asked her pointed questions about how real this Terrorist Threat that excuses everything really is; she could’ve pointed out the ridiculousness of the suggestion that the data was being handled responsibly by the US/UK govts and its thousands of contractors with access. b. she could’ve asked Greenwald original questions, in stead of these questions that had been answered 100s of times already. c. she could’ve used the answers provided by Greenwald and the other guy who was on the show to ask questions of her own. (this again goes to the question whether this reporting had journalistic merit) etc. mary October 4, 2013 at 8:19 pm addendum to my own comment: When was the last time Greenwald was interviewed on USTV? Never – except for “Democracy Now” which is viewed by ??? jrs October 4, 2013 at 9:34 pm Didnt’ he get on Bill Maher ocassionally, yes I know, who would subject themselves to having to watch Bill Maher? RBHoughton October 4, 2013 at 9:49 pm Good point Mary. Thanks How is it that Amy Goodman provides fine reliable information but can only slowly build a following? What is it that attracts readers? Brooklin Bridge October 4, 2013 at 10:16 pm i had no idea Sarah Palin could do such a good imitation of a British accent, and her makeup was incredible. The giveaway was that they kept the script exactly at her level. Bart Fargo October 5, 2013 at 5:36 am Wow, in 14 minutes she ran through a hit parade of nearly every asinine, bootlicking criticism of the NSA leaks that has ever been vomited up by police state apologists. If only this could be required viewing for citizens of Five Eyes states across the world – Glenn’s sensible responses are practically a vaccine against the epidemic of spin on our airwaves. Comments are closed. Tip Jar Please Donate or Subscribe!