Glenn Greenwald's Transparent Hypocrisy and Barack Obama's Record

This sort of hypocritical gall is only amplified when the day is September 11.

Glenn Greenwald. Yes, that one. You know, the one who compared killing bin Laden to killing infants. The one who compared a Jewish American woman to a Nazi propagandist. That Glenn Greenwald. That dude, who recently got a gig with the Guardian, is upset that the President's campaign is defending his national security record, including his administration's prosecution of national security leaks. Clearly, in Greenwald's mind, all leakers are "whistleblowers." Clearly, Greenwald is an unquestioned proponent of transparency.

Except... except this:


Translation: "I am going to demand that the President freely release all security sensitive documents to the press, but if you lay people want to read my tweets - by design an open platform - you need pre-approval." Hilarious.

All hilarity aside, Greenwald is still reeling from the fact that the President was courageous enough to take out bin Laden, and take out functional leaders of Al Queda across the world, including an one who held a duel Yemeni and American citizenship. He somehow perpetuates the notion that the president has some sort of legal obligation to treat America's armed enemies differently depending on the front of their passport. I can't imagine what Greenwald would say had he lived in the days when whole American states full of American citizens tried to secede and another President from Illinois responded by sending in the military.

But really, he's even more upset that President Obama dares add the prosecutions of leaks among his list of accomplishments on his campaign website. Let's see if we can't quickly clear up some of that confusion. Every single hoo-ha out there blowing the gasket on every piece of classified information is not automatically a "whistleblower." Someone may not be a whistleblower if blowing said whistle doesn't actually provide useful information about corruption or illegal practices, and worse yet, when it endangers intelligence in the field. Which, by the way, is almost the entire goal of Greenwald's buddy Julian Assange, who, like Glenn, thinks that legal processes are made for other people.

What really is President Obama's record on transparency, though? Well, for one thing, his twitter account isn't locked. But taunts aside, let's have a look:

And, the Obama Justice Department has exercised considerable discretion on differentiating between whistleblwoing and leaks. For example, leaks revealing important intelligence information about Iran's nuclear program has no conceivable "whistleblowing" purpose unless we are marching into a war with Iran, a war not justified by the intelligence. Which is NOT the case. But information exposing George Bush's warrantless wiretapping program is whistleblowing, as it serves to inform the public of serious abuse of executive power.
Furthermore, the Justice Department has the ability to utilize prosecutorial discretion in cases that involve true whistle-blowing. Leaks exposed the previous administration’s warrantless-wiretapping program, which Bush officials argued was an essential national-security tool but many legal scholars saw as a clear violation of law. To this day, no one has been prosecuted for those disclosures, despite one former official confessing on the cover of Newsweek that he was a source.
But hey, Obama prosecuted six people under the Espionage Act for revealing national security secrets, double the number all previous administrations combined (i.e. Obama 6, all others 3). Because of the Obama administration's toughness in prosecuting leaks (see difference between indiscriminate leaking and whistleblowing above), the press has become a witting accomplice for those who want to make political hay out of this, as the prosecutions mess with the press' ability to sensationalize everything.

There seems to be another consideration completely missing from the views of the self-proclaimed defenders of the Constitution. Whenever someone is prosecuted for a leak under the Obama administration, they are not put into indefinite detention (or, expose their undercover relatives), but are given access to a court of law and an attorney to defend themselves. A court of law - not the administration - gets to decide if the actions of the accused violated the law. That is how the law works. If the administration makes a mistake or brings charges they cannot sustain under the law, the accused gets to maintain his or her assumption of innocence (see the "Drake case"). Now if memory serves correctly, isn't this same Greenwald an advocate of judicial process?

This administration's record - not its rhetoric, its record - more than meets candidate Obama's promise to run the most transparent administration in history. What people like Greenwald - I suspect willingly - get wrong is that every leak is not "whistle-blowing" and every leaker is not an automatic hero. Where there is prosecution, the accused are offered a vigorous defense. This is precisely how an administration committed both to national security and the rule of law conducts itself. It owes no favors to anarchists.