It looks like a couple of newspapers are interested in Glenn Greenwald’s past. In particular, they want to know about his history as a pornographer. This is the kind of thing that makes me want to say, “You can’t make this stuff up.” But that’s not true. This is exactly the kind of thing that I write: the intrepid journalist breaks a major story and all anyone cares about is the fact that he once was co-owner of a business that distributed adult movies. If I wrote it, I would set it in the future where pornography was illegal to set up the tragicomic ending where a prostitute is lionized for murdering him to get money for a fix.
Anyway, the whole thing is nonsense. I am an admirer of Glenn Greenwald and regardless of anything else, I am grateful to Edward Snowden for the revelations. But when did this story become about them? There is a real story that few in the media seem particularly interested in. Maybe it is just that it’s a lot easier to dig into Greenwald’s decades old business dealings or Snowden’s chatroom musings about the gold standard. Looking into the NSA is hard. Of course, that’s why people should be so grateful to Greenwald and Snowden.
In another Greenwald column, he discussed the Espionage Act. That law goes back to the bad days of World War I. It was what Oliver Wendell Holmes was defending when he said that one couldn’t shout “fire in a crowded theater.” That law was never about espionage and always about silencing critics of United States foreign policy.
I hadn’t given it too much thought, but it is remarkable that until Obama—over 91 years—the Espionage Act had only been used three times total and in the last 4+ years, Obama has used it 7 times. I’ve heard the stat before, of course. But given that I didn’t have much hope for Obama anyway, I didn’t think much about it. But it is important to put this into context. James Goodale recently said, “President Obama will surely pass President Richard Nixon as the worst president ever on issues of national security and press freedom.” Obama might want to think about that. In the long run, his great legacy may not be Obamacare but rather a major move backwards in government transparency and individual privacy.
It seems to me that the forces of darkness are winning. I’m sure that to some extent, this is just an indication of my frame of mind. But it does seem that Obama is winning in those areas where he is wrong and the conservatives are winning in all the other areas. I will not give up the fight, but it weighs heavily on me. And the consolation prizes like same sex marriage aren’t nearly enough.