The Press Lumps Ed Snowden And Chelsea Manning In With Mass Murderers, Actual Spies

from the all-the-same dept

Many in the press still seem to have difficulty recognizing that a whistleblower, even one disliked by the government, isn’t somehow an automatic pariah to society. Instead, they like to lump them in with actual law breakers. Here are two recent examples. First up is the Washingtonian, who seems to think that Ed Snowden and Chelsea Manning should be viewed in the same light as actual spies — people who famously chose to sell secrets to our enemies or to help those enemies against the US. Lumping Manning and Snowden in with Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Benedict Arnold, Aldrich Ames, John Walker Lindh and others suggests a profound misunderstanding of what Snowden and Manning did: releasing evidence of significant wrongdoing by the US government to the press. You would think if anyone could understand it, it should be the press.

Still, I can understand how some confused people still want to argue that there’s at least a continuum between some of those folks and Manning and Snowden — even if I disagree wholeheartedly — simply because of the releasing of classified information. I think it’s very different to give that info to the press, which is then able to go through it and report on the stories (as both Snowden and Manning did) than giving it to a foreign power, but some people don’t seem to get that distinction.

Either way, even if you think the above chart is okay, the following one is simply outrageous. As pointed out by the ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer, Time Magazine has put together a graphic comparing Snowden and Manning to mass murderers Nidal Hasan and Aaron Alexis.

Yes, the argument they’re making is that these are all examples of “missed signals in our government-clearance system.” And we’ve certainly discussed how terrible the process is for getting top secret clearance these days. But, even so, lumping those four together is crazy. There’s nothing about what Manning or Snowden did that should have set off alarm bells during the clearance process. They were people who loved America and then realized that the government was secretly doing things that they believed to be fundamentally anti-American, and they set out to try to fix that by alerting the public. That’s pretty damn different than going someplace and shooting it up.

These are both subtle ways in which the press is trying to smear Snowden and Manning, by lumping them in with crimes of which they are not guilty.

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Comments on “The Press Lumps Ed Snowden And Chelsea Manning In With Mass Murderers, Actual Spies”

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It’s most hypocritical when you see just how well many in the media still speak about Daniel Ellsberg as a hero, for… leaking secret pentagon documents about the Vietnam war.

Also, the evidence against Mrs. Rosenberg being a spy is actually pretty flimsy, she was never even given access to US Nuclear secrets by the government. The government just charged her initially in an attempt to push her husband to confess to the crime to save her, which failed. Then they decided not to drop the charges against her. The evidence against Mr. Rosenberg however is much more damning.


It is useful to consider the very real possibility that “Slipping through the cracks” is nothing more than pointing out deficiencies in background checks in advance of receiving a security clearance.

As for the “whistleblowers” and the release of information to foreign governments, the fact many of these documents are published is a release of information to foreign governments. Much has been made here that some kind of a vetting process is being applied before information is published. Likely so, but then again it must be asked what particular expertise and insight the vetters have enabling them to determine what is OK to publish and what is not?

Mike Masnicksays:


It is useful to consider the very real possibility that “Slipping through the cracks” is nothing more than pointing out deficiencies in background checks in advance of receiving a security clearance.

Yes, that’s clearly what they’re saying as we said in the post. But I’m curious how you consider giving Manning and Snowden clearance an example of problems “slipping through the cracks” or how they can be compared to the two mass murderers?

As for the “whistleblowers” and the release of information to foreign governments, the fact many of these documents are published is a release of information to foreign governments.

No, it’s a release to the public. Yes, foreign governments can also read it, but the focus is on the public. You do understand the difference, right?

Much has been made here that some kind of a vetting process is being applied before information is published. Likely so, but then again it must be asked what particular expertise and insight the vetters have enabling them to determine what is OK to publish and what is not?

Really? Just a warning: you don’t want to go down the path you’re starting now, because you’re going to look even more ridiculous than you usually do. Because you appear to be starting to argue that the press shouldn’t be allowed to report on secret government programs unless they have secret clearance themselves. If you had even the slightest experience with these matters, you’d know what a ridiculous suggestion that is. I know that you’re a government apologist, but really, this takes your apologism to new levels.

FM Hiltonsays:

Toeing the line

One thing you have got to remember when you’re reading this stuff is that the print media is owned by the same people who kiss the ass of the government every single day. They’re the ones who own 90% of the media, with 6 companies ruling over all of it.

That means the propaganda filter is on “low” and usually the government’s opinion is going to rule the message.

Ordinary people are to be indoctrinated into the message that nobody has the right to have a conscience and everyone is a potential traitor if they do.

Of course there is a clear red line between actual traitors, spies, terrorists and the likes of Manning and Snowden. But do not inform the government or the media about this, because it will cause them a nervous breakdown.

Some of the worst traitors like Pollard were in place for decades and never detected until someone investigated them due to basic suspicion. Otherwise, they would have kept on spying until they died.

That says a hell of a lot about the security of our actual real secret stuff, and it’s not good.


News flash to Mike: problem is a FEW BIG corporations.

I’m SURE you all know this, but Mike seem always astonished to find dishonest corporations, so it’s just for him:

Who Owns the Media?

Massive corporations dominate the U.S. media landscape. Through a history of mergers and acquisitions, these companies have concentrated their control over what we see, hear and read. In many cases, these companies are vertically integrated, controlling everything from initial production to final distribution. In the interactive charts below we reveal who owns what.

This one lays out a bunch of numbers:

Stuart Graysays:

Wrong Name

Bradley, Bradley, Bradley!
Gender is not a choice. I do not get to demand that people call me Hillary Clinton. He can live however he wants. I do not judge people on what clothes they choose to wear or who they can and can not have sex with.

But I will not call Bradley by some girls name just because.

And … Prince was never just some symbol either.


Re: Wrong Name

Even if you don’t think gender is a choice why don’t you think names are? Legal name changes are a thing. I don’t like that nickname please don’t call me dick is a thing. If what you’re saying is true and she can live however she wants then what difference does it make to you what name she wants to go by? You don’t have to think of her as being female to let her be.


The fact that the Washingtonian includes Iva Ikuko Toguri D’Aquino tells me that their article is completely worthless.

From Wikipedia:

The U.S. military detained Toguri for a year before releasing her for lack of evidence. Department of Justice officials agreed that her broadcasts were “innocuous”. But when Toguri tried to return to the US, a popular uproar ensued, prompting the Federal Bureau of Investigation to renew its investigation of Toguri’s wartime activities. Her 1949 trial resulted in a conviction on one of eight counts of treason. In 1974, investigative journalists found that key witnesses claimed they were forced to lie during testimony. Toguri was pardoned by U.S. President Gerald Ford in 1977.


Mentioning Pollard would cast Israel in a bad light. The Jewish controlled media in this country will have none of that. They fought hard to rewrite history regarding the USS Liberty, and further back, the downplaying of the introduction of terrorism to the world. Thanks you bloody morons… all that to justify your religion and the stealing of a nation.


Category Error

Philosophers and Logicians call this a category error: “Ascribing one kind (or ‘category’) of thing to another kind”. It’s like petty a dog while saying “Nice kitty.”

Category errors pervade political rhetoric. Pick apart the next article you read on ‘terrorists’ and ‘terrorism’ and consider whether the actions and actors in the story have been appropriately categorized.

Sadly, this verbal sleight of hand passes by most people pretty easily. Whether by inherent bias, intellectual laziness, or inattention, such disingenuous category errors are committed constantly.

However, instances like these (from the articles in Mike’s post) are excellent opportunities to point out the abundant, willful fallacies bandied by [insert person to blame]. I don’t think any one group or person is to blame. It seems that too many people in just the right positions are terribly clueless, unthinking, solipsists disconnected to the affects of their actions.


In the title and in the article you refer to “the press”. Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black. It seems that you lumped all of the press together. Did you do just as much digging to find members of “the press” that were not lumping these traitors together? Wait, you were just trying to tell one side of the story. The one that fits your mold. Nothing new here.

Pickle Mongersays:

History lesson

I find it interesting that they decided to lump on Iva Toguri D’Aquino in as well, given that she did not really have a choice but to participate in the propaganda braodcasts and the she used what little money she was paid to feed POW’s. Plus she was convicted because the government coerced witnesses into purjuring themselves on the stand in order to have them give damaging testimony against her.

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