Tuesday, September 18, 2012

When a Leak Is Bad (Or Good)

Glenn Greenwald has written a lot (much of which I've linked to in this space) about the current administration's stance on leaks. Like most governments, it sees leaks as bad when they make it look bad and good when the opposite is true. So, for example, the Obama administration can claim it's drone program (which undeniably exists) is so secret that it can't be legally reviewed, because they can't even confirm or deny that such a program exists. But when the drones take out someone important, you can bet your ass there will be a leak about how successful the drones are. And that whomever is doing the leaking won't be, say, indefinitely detained in torturous conditions for months on end, unlike some people.

Well, here's another great example of that. Matt Bissonnett, one of the Navy SEALs who killed Bin Laden, has published an account of what went down. It doesn't really reveal anything that hasn't already become public knowledge for those who are looking for it. But it does not mesh with the official Pentagon story, so that means it's a big ol' problem.

You probably know the Pentagon story: Bin Laden was simultaneously firing on the SEALs (thus justifying their lethal force instead of arrest) while using a woman as a human shield (because Muslims are scary sexist cowards). This makes the SEALs look quite heroic and sure shuts up those hippies who are wondering why we could put Nazis on trial, but instead shot this guy in the head and dumped his body before anyone could question things.

But what actually happened (and again, is really public knowledge if you've been paying attention) is far less heroic. First of all, it must be remembered Bin Laden was an elderly man with failing kidneys who required daily dialysis (not very intimidating). And not only was he not hiding behind a woman (not even a misinterpretation of what happened, just a complete bald-faced lie to make him look bad), he was also unarmed. So what the SEALs actually accomplished was breaking into a house and repeatedly shooting an unarmed, very ill, elderly man. Not quite as heroic, right?

Again, Bissonnett doesn't really reveal anything new; he just confirms the truth. But now instead of the truth coming from some hippie website you can feel free to ignore, it's coming from one of the SEALs themselves, making it much harder to dismiss. And that's his real crime.

Of course, the parallels to the Pat Tillman case are simply to great to ignore. Again, a football player who dies a hero's death in battle sure sounds a lot better than a guy who was repeatedly shot in the back by his incompetent squad mates.

But it's really only a problem if people find out about it. So that's when leaks are bad...


Anonymous said...

Since when is 54 years old elderly?

Oldy McAncient said...

I'm 48. Trust me, young one, it is. When you have to decide whether you'd rather be asleep all day, or have coffee and then worry about your heartburn, which maybe you can avoid if you don't have cheese in the afternoon, but then you will be resentful and wind up having pizza at night to make you feel better, but that is bad for your blood pressure - and your heartburn - you are elderly.

Enjoy your youth Anonymous. Kiss some girls. Contradict the Woz. Eat pizza WITH caffeine-containing sodapop. Take off your monocle and go see a "science fiction" movie at the movie theater. You will be old sooner than you think.