Word is quickly beginning to spread of The Intercept’s eight article release entitled, “The Drone Papers” which are a detailed analysis of an ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance task force) government study conducted of drone warfare statistics in 2013, and was largely the basis for President Obama’s initial public speech about drone warfare around the same time. The data revealed by this anonymous whistleblower, and elaborated on by The Intercept, is admittedly some old news for veterans to alternative information; many of which were well aware of what drone warfare entitled. However, this is somewhat acknowledged in the report, the anonymous whistleblower was quoted stating,
“We’re allowing this to happen. And by ‘we,’ I mean every American citizen who has access to this information now, but continues to do nothing about it.”
Yet despite the detestable light that has been shed on the matter, things continue to remain unchanged. Even further than the intrigue that this information alone provides, the deeper context that the Drone Papers are beginning to fulfill in Mainstream Media creates an ambiguous and undefined atmosphere. When Glenn Greenwald, head journalist for The Intercept, is being funded by Pierre Omidyar of Paypal and eBay—just a hop-skip-and-jump from the NSA—and the media begins calling this anonymous whistleblower the “Next Edward Snowden,” one can’t help but wonder just what exactly is happening here. It should be noted that this article is very much in line with concepts that Glenn Greenwald, Ed Snowden, and The Intercept stand for, and instead of villainizing on any level, seeks to pose a few curious questions that are worth asking.
Before diving into the bureaucratic chess game behind the release, let’s discuss the particulars of the documents. With titles like “The Assassination Complex,” “Manhunting in the Hindu Kush,” and “The Life and Death of Objective Peckham,” this set of articles is no joke, and the information is quite disturbing. Again, the actual information within this release is not new data in regards to drone policy but instead shows, through statistics gathered and analyzed by the ISR, that the Obama Administration has completely disregarded the already arguably ethical drone regulations, and have knowingly been dishonest about it. What this ISR study also shows is that the Obama Administration went even further than manipulating their citizens with false press-conference promises, but that they also actively manipulated the data sets while compiling the data. For instance, it was indisputably shown that nearly 9 out of 10 people killed by drone warfare were civilians, and that the Obama Administration is able to justify this through categorizing and labeling these deaths as EKIA (Enemies Killed In Action); assigned targets are called “objectives” and their deaths are “jackpots.”
The Intercept paints a vivid picture of the US Government’s development of a Drone Assassination with its own private court that is allowed to completely bypass all legal political conventions surrounding assassinations, simply by leaving out this field of trigger words in their paperwork. When the paperwork does not reflect these things, the politicians clearly feel no personal obligation to elaborate, and thus report only the watered down statistics instead of the geopolitical setting at present. The target’s personal information, habits, et cetera are collected on what are called “baseball cards,” and are usually initiated through locking onto a cell-phone signal through a special operating tower that the military calls GILGAMESH. This tower locks onto the signal of the person, and sends this signal to the assigned drone, who proceeds to bomb the hell out of the objective on the baseball card, until the cellphone signal discontinues. This is America’s prototype Drone Assassination Program revealed to the public in all its grit and filth; the citizens of Somalia and Yemen being the primary focuses of these programs currently. As it stands, most of the drones involved with the program, called “birds” by the military (which seems disturbingly Hitchcockian) are stationed at a military base in Djibouti, which was formerly operated by French military.
The other interesting side to this story is, as previously stated, the context that the Media is beginning to cultivate for these still fresh files. Pentagon officials have been the only government representatives to comment on the release, and that was only to say that they couldn’t comment on classified documents. It’s interesting to hear groups like Democracy Now! and activist Luke Rudkowski use descriptive terms like “the next Edward Snowden whistleblower.” While it isn’t arguable that one could make accurate comparisons between any whistleblower and Snowden, this could be a dangerous and misleading comparison to let spread.
First of all, one of the most important aspects to the Snowden story is the fact that he intentionally did not withhold his identity, while the whistleblower for the Drone Papers has not released their name. Let it be said that this is not a critique of a whistleblower’s personal decision to protect themselves, but that this is simply a fundamental difference that greatly changes the context of the information. This person wouldn’t be a “Snowden” either way, but in order to be such, it seems a prerequisite for such a bold comparison would be fundamental similarity. So this guy is just like the “biggest whistleblower of all time” because he’s another whistleblower? It sounds ambiguous and has a questionable amount of logic put into it.
Furthermore, Snowden himself has been happy to accept this comparison, even drawing the comparison further on Twitter, relating this anonymous whistleblower to both himself and Daniel Ellsberg, which starts to convolute these things more and more, since Daniel Ellsberg used his full identity and went to Congress with his whistleblowing. Another crucial point that should be reiterated here is that the information on America’s makeshift Drone Assassination program has been available (albeit on a smaller scale) for years at this point, and again the purpose of these articles is to elaborate on the Obama Administration’s discourse with the public about this program. Again, how is that a very accurate comparison to Daniel Ellsberg or Edward Snowden in this case? Some might be considering this a moot point, and it certainly could be in the long run, but the Mainstream Media has given far too much room for distrust to not play devil’s advocate to the memes that it projects. Hopefully it’s too critical a judgement, but this whole thing seems very reminiscent of another type of “fad” that the Media is pushing. It’s not exactly becoming “cool” to be a whistleblower, but it certainly riles people up and boosts the ratings significantly.
The final aspect in question is The Intercept and the tenacious Glenn Greenwald at its helm. While it’s no question that Greenwald has done an unprecedented amount of good in regards to challenging acrimonious political agendas, citizens should be wary to accept any individual into their inner circle that they have never met, and the same could be said for Snowden. Without the personal context that they have, it’s hard to decipher the full scope that their characters fulfill—and there are a lot of striking details that are already being overlooked. First of all, Pierre Omidyar, billionaire and owner of Paypal and eBay, was the wallet behind The Intercept’s $250 Million start-up. Sibel Edmonds, former CIA-whistleblower, activist, and writer for boilingfrogspost.com, has gone on record along with others noting the documented collusion between Paypal and the NSA,(cooperating fully with the personal financial data of millions to give just one example) something that even Glenn Greenwald has not been able to deny. Greenwald was quoted over Twitter saying,
“I don’t doubt PayPal cooperates with the NSA – that this is in the docs that we’ve been paid to withhold are total lies,”
which is interesting, because this is also a full-fledged admittance by Greenwald that Omidyar’s money is withholding the Snowden Files that the journalist still has in possession. This contradicts the already poorly defined statements that Greenwald has made in the past, paraphrasing that he would not be working with people who censored him, in regards to Omidyar. Greenwald is also receiving a massive sum of personal revenue from this political fuel, with books, deals and more. So what the hell is going here, exactly? To tie this all together, if Snowden has officially gone on record jumping onto The Intercept’s ship, this means that at least from a presumptuous outside standpoint, it appears that he is also jumping into bed with Pierre Omidyar, who has essentially put $250 Million into having a say in what happens to the Files that Snowden risked his life for. Wouldn’t that completely and grossly contradict literally everything that Edward Snowden stands for?
The Drone Papers are an incredibly visceral and much-needed peek behind the curtain of the Media President’s Legacy and is something that all American citizens need to familiarize themselves with so that there can be hope for reform in the future. It’s truly unsettling to think that the larger context of these Drone Papers could quite literally be another subtle culling of the masses—a way to keep the activists busy and in a tizzy while the government continues to observe them at work (which was the exact reason the FBI used hacker informant SABU to set up Occupy Wall Street). Julian Assange has even gone on record in a recent interview with Democracy Now! questioning how exactly Greenwald can even argue that he is not being censored.
If Greenwald and Snowden are all about these ideas like Full Disclosure, Freedom of Press, et cetera, then why are they propagating false equivalencies and basically settling for bribes from billionaires? In this case it’s questionable whether or not The Intercept honestly has any ground to stand on when siding with someone like Omidyar. Unfortunately, this brings no sort of conclusion on either end; so all that is left is one of the biggest grey areas in American politics right now. What exactly is this web being weaved around the Obama Administration’s Drone Assassination Program? With few verifiable answers at hand it is well advised to remain without stance until all the facts are in, yet it is a truly great thing to have hope. Unfortunately hope is beginning to seem a little ominous in regards to this rat’s nest of political back dealings. As always, more investigation seems to be required, so turn off your television and be the change.
Sources: http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2013/12/13/greenwald-omidyar-joint-venture-the-blurring-lines-between-being-a-source-being-a-journalist/, https://theintercept.com/drone-papers/, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVMe9bdrau4, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sarybG8eMtA, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiJ4IsOrkmA, http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/oct/16/drone-documents-whistleblower-edward-snowden-daniel-ellsberg