Sunday, June 23, 2013

"This Wheel Shall Explode" - Of Snowden, Hastings & So Much More ...

This wheel’s on fire
Rolling down the road
Best notify my next of kin
This wheel shall explode!

Wheel on Fire, Bob Dylan (1967)

By Richard Power

In Turkey, it was a row over the proposed bulldozing of a few trees in a small park that lead to massive protests; in Brazil, it was a ten cent hike in bus fares. What will cause our urban youth to rise up once again, in meaningful resistance to the gutting of their future? And will any of these outbreaks lead to sustained movements capable of delivering real evolutionary change? The energy mass of Occupy is long since dissipated. The Arab Spring has succumbed to despair and misdirection. And we are all still here, groping in the dark ...

Two recent stories, the Edward Snowden affair and the death of Michael Hastings, offer much to ponder concerning what the government has the right to know about you, and what you have the right to know about your government, and perhaps most important of all, what a free and independent news media's has the right to know about both.

Consider the painfully relevant views of two genuine national security professionals who also happen to be authentic patriots, former covert CIA agent Valerie Plame and former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson.

Let's be absolutely clear about the news that the NSA collects massive amounts of information on US citizens – from emails, to telephone calls, to videos, under the Prism program and other Fisa court orders: this story has nothing to do with Edward Snowden. As interesting as his flight to Hong Kong might be, the pole-dancing girlfriend, and interviews from undisclosed locations, his fate is just a sideshow to the essential issues of national security versus constitutional guarantees of privacy, which his disclosures have surfaced in sharp relief ... Prism and other NSA data-mining programs might indeed be very effective in hunting and capturing actual terrorists, but we don't have enough information as a society to make that decision. Despite laudable efforts led by Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall to bring this to the public's attention that were continually thwarted by the administration because everything about this program was deemed "too secret", Congress could not even exercise its oversight responsibilities. The intelligence community and their friends on the Hill do not have a right to interpret our rights absent such a discussion. Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson, The NSA's metastasised intelligence-industrial complex is ripe for abuse, Guardian, 6-23-13

Remember when NBC's David Gregory was MC Rove's dancing, singing gangsta sidekick at the White House Correspondents' Dinner? Well, of course, nowadays this fool is the host of NBC's Meat the Press. And on Sunday, June 23, 2013, he tried to get heavy with Glenn Greenwald, Guardian columnist and one of the blogosphere's leading voices, but Greenwald slapped him down.

“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?” Gregory asked the columnist in a Sunday interview. “I think it’s pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themself a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies,” Greenwald shot back. “The assumption in your question, David, is completely without evidence, David — the idea that I’ve aided and abetted him in any way. If you want to embrace that theory it means that every investigative journalist in the United States who works with their sources, who receives classified information is a criminal,” he continued. “And it’s precisely those theories and precisely that climate that has become so menacing in the United States.” David Edwards, Greenwald shames David Gregory for asking if he should be prosecuted for helping Snowden, Raw Story, 6-23-13

Unlike MC Rove's dancing fool sidekick, the indomitable Juan Cole, another leading voice of the blogosphere, does ask the right question:

The same theory under which Edward Snowden is guilty of espionage could easily be applied to former vice president Dick Cheney.Cheney led an effort in 2003 to discredit former acting ambassador in Iraq, Joseph Wilson IV, who had written an op ed for the New York Times detailing his own mission to discover if Iraq was getting uranium from Niger. (The answer? No.) Cheney appears to have been very upset with Wilson, and tohave wished to punish him by having staffers contact journalists and inform them that Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, was secretly a CIA operative. While Cheney wasn’t the one whose phone call revealed this information, he set in train the events whereby it became well known. (Because Cheney’s staff had Plame’s information sitting around in plain sight, Armitage discovered it and then was responsible for the leak, but he only scooped Libby and Rove, who had been trying to get someone in the press to run with the Plame story.What Cheney did in ordering his aides Scooter Libby and Karl Rove to release the information about Plame’s identity was no different from Snowden’s decision to contact the press. And yet, Cheney mysteriously has not been charged with Espionage. Hmmm…. Juan Cole, So When Will Dick Cheney Be Charged With Espionage?, Informed Comment, 6-22-13

As for Snowden's chances, remember, asylum in Ecuador or Iceland (both are democracies) is only as secure as the next election, or in the case of Ecuador, only as secure as the next coup.

And then there is the tragic case of Michael Hastings, the intrepid reporter who brought down Stanley McChrystal, the Runaway General, and in the process shed a harsh light on the madness that is the occupation of Afghanistan ...

I won't add, "R.I.P." because I know he won't.

Re: this bitter twist of fate, I refer you to the following three items -

This one concerning the hours before Hastings death in a "car accident."

Journalist Michael Hastings sent an e-mail to his friends and colleagues just hours before he died last week in which he said his “close friends and associates” were being interviewed by the FBI and that Hastings needed to “go off the radar for a bit.” KTLA-TV in Los Angeles reported Saturday that Hastings said in the email he was “onto a big story.” Hastings sent the email around 1 p.m. Monday June 17, 15 hours before he died in an early Tuesday morning car crash in Hollywood. Common Dreams, 6-23-13

This one, in which Oliver Stone provides some needed context.

In a statement provided to Democracy Now!, the film director Oliver Stone said: "Michael Hastings went far in the span he had. One of our finest young investigative journalists, high stakes reporting in a sense cost him his life. We desperately need more and more young men and women such as Michael, willing to protest the intolerable war crimes and arrogance of our supremacy-seeking society." Rolling Stone issued this statement: "Hastings’ hallmark as a reporter was his refusal to cozy up to power. He leaves behind a remarkable legacy of reporting." Democracy Now, 6-19-13

And this one, in which Hastings' widow rebukes NYTwit editor Jill Abramson for an insipid obituary.

Dear Jill, I was shocked and saddened to read a blatant mischaracterization of my late husband Michael Hastings’s Rolling Stone story “The Runaway General” in his obituary. The obituary states: “An inquiry into Mr. Hastings’s article by the Defense Department inspector general the next year found ‘insufficient’ evidence of wrongdoing by the general, his military aides and civilian advisers. The inspector general’s report also questioned the accuracy of some aspects of the article, which was repeatedly defended by Mr. Hastings and Rolling Stone’s editors.” If a reporter at the Times actually would read and properly analyze the Pentagon report, they would find exactly the opposite. The report clearly states: “In some instances, we found no witness who acknowledged making or hearing the comments as reported. In other instances, we confirmed that the general substance of an incident at issue occurred, but not in the exact context described in the article.” As Rolling Stone stated in response to the Pentagon report, “The report by the Pentagon’s inspector general offers no credible source — or indeed, any named source — contradicting the facts as reported in our story, ‘The Runaway General.’ Much of the report, in fact, confirms our reporting, noting only that the Pentagon was unable to find witnesses ‘who acknowledged making or hearing the comments as reported.’ This is not surprising, given that the civilian and military advisers questioned by the Pentagon knew that their careers were on the line if they admitted to making such comments.” Unfortunately, the mischaracterization in the obituary reflects a longstanding -– and ongoing –- misrepresentation of the facts in and surrounding this story by the Times. Your archived story of the Pentagon report, for example, still carries the headline: “Pentagon Inquiry Into Article Clears McChrystal and Aides,” even though the report did no such thing. Insufficient evidence to prosecute is not the same as “clearing” someone of a misdeed. It is as if a district attorney had found no witnesses to prosecute a suspected murderer – the only other witnesses being his accomplices -– and the Times ran a story headlined, “DA Clears Alleged Killer.” I personally transcribed and have all the tape recordings of Michael’s interviews during his time with McChrystal and his staff. I can personally verify that some of the most damning comments were made by McChrystal himself, and many others made by his aides in his presence were greeted with his enthusiastic approval. Michael refused to give further evidence to the Pentagon investigators, even though he could have directly attributed a host of insubordinate comments to others on the general’s staff, in part because he believed that it was not the role of a journalist to open his notebooks to the military, and in part because he felt that what was needed when it came to the war in Afghanistan was not a change in personnel, but in policy. I trust you’ll make these corrections online and before you print tomorrow’s paper. Michael Hastings' Wife Obliterates New York Times For Dismissive Obituary,

Abramson and her fellow NYTwits did not retract or revise.

As I said, we are alone in the dark.

Create what beauty you can, cherish the time, celebrate life, spread the truth, embrace love.

Democracy Now! Video Excerpt: Michael Hastings Dies at 33; Fearless Journalist Challenged Power & Exposed Myths of Afghan War

Do you know why 350 is the most important number in your life and the lives of everyone you love? Go to for the answer.

Richard Power is the author of eight books, including Humanifesto: A Guide to Primal Reality in an Era of Global Peril, Between Shadow and Night: The Singularity in Anticipation of Itself and True North on the Pathless Path: Towards a 21st Century Yoga. Power writes and speaks on spirituality, sustainability, human rights, and security. He blogs at Words of Power and Primal Words of Power, and is a member of the Truthout Board of Advisors. He also teaches yoga.