Our Courtier Press

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

misdirectionWhile the NSA is, perhaps unconstitutionally, intercepting your electronic data, our media is focusing on whether Snowden should be charged with treason. One of reasons Snowden was charged with espionage is so the media would follow that meme. While James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, is getting away with lying to the Senate, our media is playing Where’s Waldo with Snowden. Instead of a debate on the constitutionality of the NSA programs out media is focusing on insignificant details regarding the private lives of Snowden and Greenwald.

One of the most outrageous performances of our lapdog press came on Meet The Press when host David Gregory asked Glenn Greenwald:

Final question for you…. To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn’t you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?

Snowden had passcodes, tank clearances, and thumb drives. To think that Greenwald could have possibly assisted Snowden in removing the classified data is pure fantasy. Nobody’s lapdog, Greenwald responded:

I think it’s pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies. The assumption in your question, David, is completely without evidence, the idea that I’ve aided and abetted him in any way. The scandal that arose in Washington before our stories began was about the fact that the Obama administration is trying to criminalize investigative journalism by going through the e-mails and phone records of AP reporters, accusing a Fox News journalist of the theory that you just embraced, being a co-conspirator in felonies, for working with sources.

In Bartnicki v. Vopper (2001), a 6-3 U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a radio station was not liable since it did nothing illegal in obtaining an illegally taped conversation. In United States v. Stevens (2010), an 8-1 U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Stevens’ selling of dog fight videos should not be added to the list of First Amendment restrictions. Although Senator Dianne Feinstein, in a feat of empty threat misdirection, wants Greenwald prosecuted, the law is not on her side.

As Noam Chomsky reminds us: distract the people by allowing very lively debate on a limited spectrum of issues. So the courtier press will focus on the illegality of Snowden’s actions and not discuss the legality of the NSA’s actions.

The courtier press is also focusing on how the Snowden affair will effect US-Russian and US-China relations. Playing the leads in this drama are Democratic U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and Secretary of State John Kerry. Schumer’s line was: “Putin always seems almost eager to stick a finger in the eye of the United States – whether it is Syria, Iran and now of course with Snowden,” Kerry’s line was “It would be obviously disappointing if he was willfully allowed to board an airplane.”

We the people need to know the full extent of our surveillance state to make an informed decision of acceptance or rejection. Is some unverifiable and vague spin about successful preventions enough for us to make a reasoned decision to forfeit our civil liberties? Does the FISA court constitute genuine judicial oversight? Should government agencies be required to obtain a warrant, based on probable cause, before searching a citizen’s phone and internet usage? Does the courtier press serve itself or the people?

H/T: David Sirota, Juan Cole, Erik Wemple, Charles P. Pierce, Alfredo Lopez, John Cassidy, Paul Campos, Orin Kerr.

93 thoughts on “Our Courtier Press”

  1. Nal,

    If you happen to stumble across any articles that discuss the Snowden distraction like you, would you mind posting them?

    I’d really appreciate it.


  2. I went back to that website about the IBM guy who left his computer in some restroom and it had all the spy stuff on it. They found another email that said that the concern about MusBro was unjustified because it was the abbreciation for some business run by two Mexicans in Europe with the last name Muscato. So, the NSA guys were in a rush to judgment on what they thought was Muslim Brothers when it was Muscato Brothers shoe stores. But, if this is true then the U.S. Government, through its Booze Brothers company affiliate is spying on the likes of you and me and the Muscatos by reading our emails in toto. And this ain’t Kansas Toto.

  3. That something Gregory guy on NBC had some folks on and the rant was loosely aimed at trashing Snowden for disclosing the system to the world. No concern that the system is Stassi. Then they implied that since he had to go to Hong Kong and now Russia for sanctuary that he must be disclosing more stuff t them. Gregory did not use the Traitor word life that Jeffry Lenard guy on CNN. But again the media here this a.m. was courtsey to the Big Brother government of ours. No one on tv this morning questioned the fact that the Complaint against Snowden is about fifty words long and the Affidavit attached thereto for some Judge to see but not us, is Secret. This Complaint on its face does not articulate a case of Treason. The statutes relied on do not comport with the Constitutional definition of Treason. Hiding the facts from the American people and calling this guy a Traitor is closer to Treason than anything they say that he did.

    The step in fetch it media this morning was a disgrace. Obama: Show Me Your Papers On Snowden. No, we are not asking about your heritage. Show us the Affidavit that is Secret.

  4. Unfortunately for a long time the media has been on the side of power. This is only one example. The Iraq war and its aftermath is another. When I read or hear something from the media if it sounds illogical I don’t us lend disbelief I assume its a lie. I take every thing the media says with a bag of salt. There are some real journalists out there but, unlike Christmas, they are really under attack. Our leaders, “lovers of the CONSTITUION all” don’t care. It serves their purposes to keep the citizens in the dark and to blacken the reputation of anyone who dares to say wait a minute—–
    Whistleblowers like Sowden and others are painted as the problem when it its what they have disclosed IS THE PROBLEM. But if the media reported that it would lose access. As a result the jump on the smear the whistle blower train. Some are more brutal than others but they all make it clear that stepping on the one who discloses the truth is the way to go.

  5. None Dare Call It Treason. The following is a recitation, not an exact quote of a blog. The “copy” button and “paste” button wont replicate it. But it was found on a computer left in a restroom in Europe by some IBM guy. It is a litany if gibberish but depicts some spying on some Brits.

    …Conga is lesbian but is having S with Smirnoff who is just in from Chechnia with Blubba. names sic. Dataphone from hometown to London and call that phone to Brussels connection possible to MusBros in Brussels and American Embassy contacts for visa. Email contents coded in Russian to effect that visa granted for Conga.

    So, if this is not some internet phony replication of a NSA communication it appears that they are following phone calls not listening yet to the calls and reading all the emails verbatim. MusBros might be Muslim Brotherhood.

    Coming to a theatre near you. I hope you do not know anyone from the Embassy because your emails will be scrutinized from here on out. I hope you don’t know no MuslimBro.

  6. The Aaron Burr case and the provisions of the Constitution in trial and prosecution for treason raise some interesting questions. None Dare Call It Treason! That was a Goldwater era RepubliCon line. But it has some resonance here. Congress cannot pass a statute on “treason” which does not comport with the Constitutional requirements. It is obvious from the Constitution that the three statutes cited for the prosecution against Snowden do not cut the Constitutional mustard and obvious that they cannot try him in some secret court in Cuba. Article III, section 3, of the Constitution provides that “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.” Snowden needs to make the case that his trial in Virginia stays in a federal district court with a jury of his peers and not some FISA fart court. Now, the government wont tell the people of the United States what is in their Affidavit which is under Navy Seal that was filed with their Complaint. An Affidavit has to be made under oath by at least one person. So some person must have said enough along with another person under oath to comport with the Treason requirements. So did he levy War against the United States, or adhering to our enemies and who are they? Did he give our enemies aid and comfort and who are our enemies?

    They got a problem. The three statutes which I quoted in the prior comments don’t comport with the Treason requirements of Art. III, section 3. If he pooped in the wrong side of the outhouse, women’s instead of men’s, that is not Treason just because it offends Obama or Biden or Jeffrey Toobin. There is nothing in the Constitution about clowning around (Toobin’s accusation) and nothing has been told to us that shows he committed treason for blowing the whistle on a spy operation against me and you.

    In a separate comment I will include the spy memorandum found on a computer left in a restroom by some IBM guy that demonstrates the various spy tactics that NSA, CIA, and KBG employ and share.

  7. I think that HumpinDog is onto something. A campaign by protestors with whistles Occupying The Justice Department steps with signs saying
    Obama: Show Us Your Papers! is in order. Unless Snowden gave the Russians the names and addresses of spies then this Metadata apCray gets the shaft. I think that slogon goes: Metadata, Metadata, We Got The Shaft!

    BarkinDog is all over that Jeffry Toobin creep but I think that Fox is the worst. None of these media geeks is saying Show Us The Papers. Show us the Affidavit. Show us what Snowden did as a Traitor. No. The media in America ukSays.

  8. Obama: Show us your papers on Snowden. Lets see the Affidavit in Support of the Complaint. We know that you are roaming around the Horn of Africa right now but Show Us Your Papers Obama!

  9. The third statute cited in the Complaint against Snowden in the Complaint filed in the ED of Virginia District Court is longer winded. As mentioned before the Affidavit in support of the allegation is Secret. So even Jeffrey Toobin of CNN who is their legal expert has not seen their affidavit and has not knowledge as to why Snowden is a Clown and a Traitor. But this is the “willful communication of unauthorized information” portion of the statutes:





    Sec. 798. Disclosure of classified information


    (a) Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates, furnishes,

    transmits, or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person,

    or publishes, or uses in any manner prejudicial to the safety or

    interest of the United States or for the benefit of any foreign

    government to the detriment of the United States any classified

    information –

    (1) concerning the nature, preparation, or use of any code,

    cipher, or cryptographic system of the United States or any

    foreign government; or

    (2) concerning the design, construction, use, maintenance, or

    repair of any device, apparatus, or appliance used or prepared or

    planned for use by the United States or any foreign government

    for cryptographic or communication intelligence purposes; or

    (3) concerning the communication intelligence activities of the

    United States or any foreign government; or

    (4) obtained by the processes of communication intelligence

    from the communications of any foreign government, knowing the

    same to have been obtained by such processes –

    Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten

    years, or both.

    (b) As used in subsection (a) of this section –

    The term “classified information” means information which, at the

    time of a violation of this section, is, for reasons of national

    security, specifically designated by a United States Government

    Agency for limited or restricted dissemination or distribution;

    The terms “code,” “cipher,” and “cryptographic system” include in

    their meanings, in addition to their usual meanings, any method of

    secret writing and any mechanical or electrical device or method

    used for the purpose of disguising or concealing the contents,

    significance, or meanings of communications;

    The term “foreign government” includes in its meaning any person

    or persons acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of any

    faction, party, department, agency, bureau, or military force of or

    within a foreign country, or for or on behalf of any government or

    any person or persons purporting to act as a government within a

    foreign country, whether or not such government is recognized by

    the United States;

    The term “communication intelligence” means all procedures and

    methods used in the interception of communications and the

    obtaining of information from such communications by other than the

    intended recipients;

    The term “unauthorized person” means any person who, or agency

    which, is not authorized to receive information of the categories

    set forth in subsection (a) of this section, by the President, or

    by the head of a department or agency of the United States

    Government which is expressly designated by the President to engage

    in communication intelligence activities for the United States.

    (c) Nothing in this section shall prohibit the furnishing, upon

    lawful demand, of information to any regularly constituted

    committee of the Senate or House of Representatives of the United

    States of America, or joint committee thereof.

    (d)(1) Any person convicted of a violation of this section shall

    forfeit to the United States irrespective of any provision of State

    law –

    (A) any property constituting, or derived from, any proceeds

    the person obtained, directly or indirectly, as the result of

    such violation; and

    (B) any of the person’s property used, or intended to be used,

    in any manner or part, to commit, or to facilitate the commission

    of, such violation.

    (2) The court, in imposing sentence on a defendant for a

    conviction of a violation of this section, shall order that the

    defendant forfeit to the United States all property described in

    paragraph (1).

    (3) Except as provided in paragraph (4), the provisions of

    subsections (b), (c), and (e) through (p) of section 413 of the

    Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 (21

    U.S.C. 853(b), (c), and (e)-(p)), shall apply to –

    (A) property subject to forfeiture under this subsection;

    (B) any seizure or disposition of such property; and

    (C) any administrative or judicial proceeding in relation to

    such property,

    if not inconsistent with this subsection.

    (4) Notwithstanding section 524(c) of title 28, there shall be

    deposited in the Crime Victims Fund established under section 1402

    of the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (42 U.S.C. 10601) all amounts

    from the forfeiture of property under this subsection remaining

    after the payment of expenses for forfeiture and sale authorized by


    (5) As used in this subsection, the term “State” means any State

    of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of

    Puerto Rico, and any territory or possession of the United States.


    (Added Oct. 31, 1951, ch. 655, Sec. 24(a), 65 Stat. 719; amended

    Pub. L. 103-322, title XXXIII, Sec. 330016(1)(L), Sept. 13, 1994,

    108 Stat. 2147; Pub. L. 103-359, title VIII, Sec. 804(a), Oct. 14,

    1994, 108 Stat. 3439; Pub. L. 104-294, title VI, Sec. 602(c), Oct.

    11, 1996, 110 Stat. 3503.)


    Of course here the government has to prove that the information disclosed was to the detriment of the United States or for the benefit of a foreign country. The Affidavit might state some facts that show that items disclosed are detrimental to the United States or for the benefit of a foreign state. This dog says that what we have learned is beneficial to the citizens of the United States to know that we are being spied on.
    A jury might agree. This provision does not include the term Clown or Traitor. So Jeffrey Toobin, the CNN expert on legal matters has his head up the arse of Rupert Murdoch or some such schmuck.

  10. The second statute which is cited in the very short Complaint, for which an Affidavit is hidden from public view, is 18 U.S.C. Section 793(d) which reads in full:





    Sec. 793. Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information


    (d) Whoever, lawfully having possession of, access to, control

    over, or being entrusted with any document, writing, code book,

    signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint,

    plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the

    national defense, or information relating to the national defense

    which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used

    to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any

    foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or

    causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted or attempts to

    communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated,

    delivered or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to

    receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it

    on demand to the officer or employee of the United States entitled

    to receive it; or


    Here this statute requires that the possessor delivers the information and has reason to believe that it is injurious to the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation. The defense to this is that it is not in Snowdens’ mind injurious to the U.S,. and not to the advantage of a foreign nation.

    This statute does not, as Jeffrey Toobin, the CNN legal expert who has never tried a jury trial in his life, refer to Clowns or Traitors. Yet Toobin calls Snowden both. I will deal with the third statutory provision cited in the Complaint in the next comment.

  11. Kay:

    It is rather a matter of semantics, I know the FBI and several other agencies are under the umbrella of the DoJ but I don’t see anything nefarious or illegal about the structure of this with regard to FOI requests. It is rather a matter of data flow more than anything. One bureaucracy is not going to be able to be the best at disemination of information of all its component agencies because everything is not stored in a central location and there are differing rules of release depending on the information retrieved or the agency involved. For example the Department of Education is not going to have all the information stored in the component agencies in one central databank, the DoJ is the same.

    Also concerning the marshal’s service the requirements for admission are as follows for education requirements;

    “Must have a bachelor’s degree,1 year of specialized experience, or a combination of education and experience equivalent to the GL-07 level”

    Also I haven’t seen a US marshal wearing a uniform other than a jacket or sweater with labeling, they are more of the arm of the Federal Court system rather than a direct police service of the DoJ but they are a Federal LE agency organized under DoJ.

    I know you have had a bad experience, but I do not see the US Marshal’s service as being in your case anything other than those who acted upon an arrest warrant that they were bound to serve. I have worked with US Marshals for years and I haven’t seen them detaining anybody for that amount of time unless it was pursuant to finding of probable cause delegated by a court. Especially since case law does not permit the detention of a person for months unless a judge or magistrate so orders it.

    If yours was a different case I would be interested to know how you were detained for several months without having the opportunity to have a hearing before a judge.

  12. The Complaint against Snowden is difficult to come by. The mainstream media does not publish it. Pacer does not publish it because it is sealed. But the Complaint charges him with violating three statutes. The Complaint says that the Attached Affidavit explains it all but the Affidavit is under Navy Seal. The first statute cited just in one paraphrase is 18 U.S.C. Section 641 of Theft. That statute reads as follows:

    Sec. 641. Public money, property or records

    Whoever embezzles, steals, purloins, or knowingly converts to his
    use or the use of another, or without authority, sells, conveys or
    disposes of any record, voucher, money, or thing of value of the
    United States or of any department or agency thereof, or any
    property made or being made under contract for the United States or
    any department or agency thereof; or
    Whoever receives, conceals, or retains the same with intent to
    convert it to his use or gain, knowing it to have been embezzled,
    stolen, purloined or converted –

    Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten
    years, or both; but if the value of such property in the aggregate,
    combining amounts from all the counts for which the defendant is
    convicted in a single case, does not exceed the sum of $1,000, he
    shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one
    year, or both.
    The word “value” means face, par, or market value, or cost price,
    either wholesale or retail, whichever is greater.

    (June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 725; Pub. L. 103-322, title
    XXXIII, Sec. 330016(1)(H), (L), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147;
    Pub. L. 104-294, title VI, Sec. 606(a), Oct. 11, 1996, 110 Stat.
    3511; Pub. L. 108-275, Sec. 4, July 15, 2004, 118 Stat. 833.)


    In another comment I will discuss the other two statutes cited by the government in their Complaint. But here the thing they must be secretly stating in their sealed affidavit is that he acquired some “record”. This statute does not employ the word Traitor or Clown as Jefferie Toobin uses on CNN to describe Snowden. So, for this allegation he took some “record”. Probably Gladdis Knifht and the Pips.

    Write your Congressman or women and ask them to demand that the Affidavit be made public. Inquiring minds want to know. The Ecuadorians might want to know what he is accused of doing.

  13. Sometimes I wonder if the administrations’ allowing Hollywood into the whitehouse and chumming up to them is more of a bread & circuses type of tactic to placate the masses and allow them a distration for when the gov’t gets itself into a controversy.

    To me it seems increasingly it is the case where the public now wants to be entertained rather than informed.

  14. Nal,

    Ever since the “hunt for Snowden” started I’ve been waiting for a piece like this. I was expecting someone like Howard Kurtz of Reliable Sources to bring it up, but you sir are the first I’ve found.

    I can’t tell you how angry I’ve been watching the media waste all its time on the “where’s Snowden” story in lieu of carrying out it’s 4th estate obligation to analyze and explain to the U.S. citizen what the constitutional implications are.

    The fate of Snowden is completely irrelevant per the bigger issue that he was able to bring to public awareness.

    Great job.

  15. “It was not desirable that the proles should have strong political feelings. All that was required of them was a primitive patriotism which could be appealed to whenever it was necessary to make them accept longer working hours or shorter rations. And even when they became discontented, as they sometimes did, their discontent led nowhere, because, being without general ideas, they could only focus it on petty specific grievances. The larger evils invariably escaped their notice.” 1984

    How hauntingly reminiscent of Civil War veteran Ambrose Bierce’s definition of patriotism: i.e., “combustible rubbish ready to the torch of anyone ambitious to illuminate his name.”

    With no shortage of erstwhile name-illuminators ready for the next act in the bi-annual Electoral Circus, stand by for a real bonfire as the “patriotic” combustible rubbish goes up in a cloud of acrid smoke at a polling place (should you manage to locate one) near you.

  16. Once Big Sibling (Brother or Sister) has you under permanent observation, what sort of suspicions do you think it might arouse should you attempt to “hide” out of range of sight and sound, even for a moment?

    “… to do anything that suggested a taste for solitude, even to go for a walk by yourself, was always slightly dangerous.There was a word for it in Newspeak: ownlife, meaning individualism and eccentricity.” 1984

    Just Google “McDermott” and “pledge” to see what happens when a public figure chooses to take a breath rather than utter a preposterous prepositional phrase while under surveillance.

  17. Secret proceedings. Unseal the Indictment. We are entitled to see it.

    By filing a criminal complaint, prosecutors have a legal basis to make the detention request of the authorities in Hong Kong. Prosecutors now have 60 days to file an indictment, probably under seal, and can then move to have Snowden extradited from Hong Kong for trial in the United States.

    They have 60 days huh? Then the Indictment will be under seal. Navy Seal I presume. And they expect Hong Kong to extradict him based on that. They expect Russia to extradict him on some secret apCray.

  18. Mike S.,

    Not that I wish to take sides with Jill or anyone else against you in this instance, but, sure, with a President Mitt Romney things might have turned out as badly, except that the Republicans would have needed to celebrate and defend endless Owellian “war” and corporate crypto-fascism themselves instead of getting a free ride laughing their asses off watching President Obama and the Democrats do it for them — as “Liberals.”

    In other words, as Glenn Greenwald and Chris Hedges (among others) have written extensively, President Obama and the Democrats have validated and legitimized practically the entire neoconservative project, making it “bi-partisan” and thereby moving it beyond the realm of discussion or challenge. The Republicans by themselves could not have done this.

    As Edward Snowden said, having Five-Deferment Dick Cheney call you a traitor leaves no higher award for a patriotic American to achieve. Conversely, having the same motherless cretin praise President Obama for adopting and extending Dirty Dick’s bloodstained policies must rank as the nadir of all slurs.

    1. Michael M.,

      Both parties are corporatist. The Dems will always follow in the same dirction as the Repubs, just slower. I made this point in both elections and have been making it ever since. We are on a downward slope towards feudalism unless a massive movement arises. With the Dems the completion of the feudalistic takeover will take a little longer, giving the opposition to Corporate Feudalism a little longer window to coalesce. Judging by what we have as a movement today I’m pessimistic any viable movement will materialize, but I refuse to give up hope and so a stalling game is in order.

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