Four-Star General Screams At Reporter Working On Snowden Documents

from the a-few-good-men dept

Pretty much everyone who's seen the movie "A Few Good Men," (and probably many of you who haven't even seen the movie) are familiar with the famous "you can't handle the truth!" scene in which Colonel Jessup, played by Jack Nicholson explodes at Tom Cruise's character, suggesting that military men, like himself, who are on the front lines are the only ones who can truly understand what happens there in "protecting" the country, and that it's somehow despicable that anyone who hasn't done that might question the methods used -- even if they might be completely against the law.

We already wrote about Barton Gellman's fantastic interview with Ed Snowden, but there's another tidbit I wanted to call attention to in there, in which Gellman tells the story of a four-star general having a similar explosion towards an unnamed reporter "in contact with Snowden" -- which seems likely to be Gellman himself (it's unclear why this isn't indicated, though perhaps it's an excessive attempt to stick to the journalistic convention of keeping the reporter out of the story):
At the Aspen Security Forum in July, a four-star military officer known for his even keel seethed through one meeting alongside a reporter he knew to be in contact with Snowden. Before walking away, he turned and pointed a finger.

“We didn’t have another 9/11,” he said angrily, because intelligence enabled warfighters to find the enemy first. “Until you’ve got to pull the trigger, until you’ve had to bury your people, you don’t have a clue.”
This is all sorts of ridiculous on so many different levels. First of all, arguing that we haven't had another 9/11 because of the NSA's activities -- despite a near total lack of support for this claim -- is just nonsensical without any clear causal explanation. But, the bigger issue is this insane belief among some that an "any means necessary" approach to defending the country means its okay to violate the law and the constitution, and, furthermore, the suggestion that a little sunlight might put people at risk.

If such programs are really necessary and do save lives, then those who support them should be willing and able to have them discussed in public. But, of course, we know the truth: that the Section 215 program at the center of all of this hasn't done much at all other than violate the privacy of nearly everyone.

It seems quite troubling that this attitude, as seen in Hollywood movies, might actually exist within our military. They're supposed to be protecting not just the American population, but the Constitution and principles we hold dear, like freedom of the press.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    out_of_the_blue, Dec 24th, 2013 @ 11:48am

    Oooh, "another tidbit"! Just like a box of chocolates.

    I've been hitting the egg nog. That was a week ago, though. You seem to be trying to gin up anything here, but it ain't working, college boy.

    Anyway, on topic: military types always think that being able to murder people gives them extra authority. But that's simply savagery that one would think us past in the 21st century: any dog can kill. Never let military types claim they're more moral: exact opposite of truth. (By the way, that's the main crypto-fascist flaw with Robert Heinlein, especially in "Starship Troopers".)

    You've found the site of Internet Quipper Mike "Streisand Effect" Masnick! -- As you'll frequently be reminded!

    07:48:16[i-305-7]

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 24th, 2013 @ 11:54am

    "It seems quite troubling that this attitude, as seen in Hollywood movies, might actually exist within our military.">
    Of course it exists. I've personally observed it first hand.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 24th, 2013 @ 12:09pm

    a whole lot of people need to retire before this is going to get better.

     

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  4.  
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    jameshogg (profile), Dec 24th, 2013 @ 12:12pm

    9/11 would have been prevented had people like George Tenet opened their fucking mouths about the hijackers.

     

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  5.  
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    BBT, Dec 24th, 2013 @ 12:14pm

    Warfighters?

    >warfighters

    Geez, does the word "soldier" not exist anymore or something?

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 24th, 2013 @ 12:40pm

    He's right!

    We should just give the military 100% control over the country and let them do their job.

    Why bother having any rights or freedoms, these don't do anyone any good, the government is here to protect us, we should let them do their job... who are we to say otherwise?

     

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  7.  
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    Liz (profile), Dec 24th, 2013 @ 12:44pm

    Re: He's right!

    Service guarantees Citizenship! Have you done your part?

     

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  8.  
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    ottermaton (profile), Dec 24th, 2013 @ 12:47pm

    Re:

    Ditto

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 24th, 2013 @ 1:01pm

    Re: Re: He's right!

    That is one of my favorite films, it shows how dysfunctional things can get.

     

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  10.  
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    scotts13 (profile), Dec 24th, 2013 @ 1:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: He's right!

    Which is kind of funny, as the novel it's taken (badly) from was a patriot with an extreme belief in personal responsibility and freedom. The movie is essentially a parody of the novel, with the complete opposite message in a similar setting.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 24th, 2013 @ 1:18pm

    The TSA must be doing one heck of a job confiscating cigarette lighters cause they haven't had one plane burn up in flight since they started searching people. Never mind that a generation flew with cigarette lighters in their pockets without one plane burning up from that cause.

    So how far of a stretch do we have to make before screaming at reporters becomes if you are working on revealing classified info you are a terrorist and liable to be held under the NDDA?

     

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  12.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Dec 24th, 2013 @ 1:37pm

    ...but there has been a Madrid bombing, a London Underground bombing, and a Boston Marathon bombing. The spooks keep claiming all this mass spying helps them to prevent The Next One, only it never does.

    As Bruce Schneier has pointed out, there are just two reasons why there hasn’t—and never will be—another attack quite like 11/9/2001. And neither of them has to do with the TSA, NSA or any other security agencies.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 24th, 2013 @ 1:43pm

    Freedom of the Press???

    Semantics....

    They have always felt that they are free to "Press" any issue, "Press" any rule or regulation past the breaking point to accomplish their ends, free to "Press" innocent civilians for their personal and private details so they can later be penalized for their "terrorist sympathizing ways" for loaning uncle Bob that $10.00 before uncle Bob dared to speak his mind in a public place making him a terrorist along with all his relatives (which is a sure sign of terrorist activity coming in 2015... just wait).

    "Press" the water into subjects nasal passages until they cough up what they want to hear, "Press" the lignt/dark silent/loud torture to the extreme for those who dare to expose the leaders for what they are, "Press" innocent civilians into lawbreakers and hooligans for daring to film the activities of those in power acting in a public place.

    They really do believe in FREEDOM OF THE PRESS... it's just not the Press "we the people" think of when we hear the word, but if you know anything about the TLA (Thug Like Agencies...) you know they love to play them some word games... Scrabble anyone???

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 24th, 2013 @ 1:50pm

    "Until you've got to pull the trigger, until you've had to bury your people, you don't have a clue."
    And what did those people die for, exactly? For the surveillance state? For the "homeland" that's so oppressively "secure" these days that you can't get on a plane without being strip-searched? For a nation run by men who absolutely cannot get over a single terrorist attack that happened over a decade ago?
    I don't think so. I think they died to keep this country free. And I think that taking away that freedom in their name is like desecrating their graves.

     

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  15.  
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    Me, Dec 24th, 2013 @ 1:53pm

    Bad argument from another government tool....

    “We didn’t have another 9/11,” he said angrily...
    _________________________________________________

    No, but we had 9/11. The NSA was just as much in charge of intelligence gathering then as now. Where were they then to "protect" us? Nowhere. Why should we think they'll be better the next time at spotting the threat?

    And let's not forget that the NSA *also* has the mandate to protect our nation's security and communications infrastructure. Instead, they've been weakening it. Where were they during the TJ Maxx, Adobe, Target et al security breakdowns? These are things they could actually do something about instead of vague, mythical "threats" that do nothing but sustain an outlandish budget.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 24th, 2013 @ 2:01pm

    sounds to me like a typical case of knowing full well that what has been going on has done no good at all, but to try to give credence to it, this 'General' has just shouted the loudest about the most bullshit. it's a typical response to when something is wrong. shouting first and loudest gives them the feeling that everything was fine, even when they know it wasn't! the next best thing is to continuously shout down whoever else is involved in the conversation. if you're unsure how to do that, give Perry in the UK a call. she's so good at it, she totally screwed up an on screen debate, from what i read, and got herself on the receiving end of a slander suit or similar. couldn't happen to a better person!

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 24th, 2013 @ 2:04pm

    Re: Re:

    Ditto

     

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  18.  
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    McCrea (profile), Dec 24th, 2013 @ 2:32pm

    Re: Re:

    Tritto

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 24th, 2013 @ 3:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: He's right!

    The book Starship Troopers (1959) from Robert A. Heinlein is monument to ideas that didn't pan out in practice the Vietnam War forced the US government to end conscription in the US, why? maybe because of the many cases of conscripts murdering superior officers in that conflict may have been a factor.

    It was romantic, but it lacked any understanding of what liberty really means and what responsability should look like or how it should be achieved and teached.

    Then comes Paul Verhoeven opening the movie with the very first scene a recreation shot by shot of Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will, showing the absurdity of such views.
    The book is fascist, xenophobic and propagandistic the movie is a satire of that.

     

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  20.  
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    Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, Dec 24th, 2013 @ 4:03pm

    Who said that? Who the fuck said that? Who's the slimy little Communist shit twinkle-toed cocksucker down here who just signed his own death warrant? Nobody, huh?! The fairy fucking godmother said it! Out-fucking-standing! I will P.T. you all until you fucking die! I'll P.T. you until your assholes are sucking buttermilk. [grabs Reporter by the scruff of his neck] Was it you, you scroungy little fuck, huh?!

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 24th, 2013 @ 7:59pm

    I call my penis The Truth...because you can't handle The Truth!

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 24th, 2013 @ 8:24pm

    Someone should really explain to these idiots what regression to the mean is.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 24th, 2013 @ 9:45pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Quitto

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 25th, 2013 @ 9:17am

    What's a "warhead"?

    -> a dickhead in uniform

     

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  25.  
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    Fitzwilly (profile), Dec 25th, 2013 @ 3:13pm

    Re:

    Would the fact that the Obama administration's elimination of Osama Bin laden helped matters considerably?

     

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  26.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Dec 28th, 2013 @ 1:58am

    Re:

    If by 'retire' you mean 'be tried and thrown in jail for betraying their oaths and the american public', then I am all for that, and I'm sure a whole lot of other people would be too.

     

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  27.  
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    skyr1d3r, Dec 28th, 2013 @ 4:00am

    but we did have another 9/11

    and that was 9/11. if we would have gone after Osama Bin Laden after 2/26/1993, 9/11 never would have happened.

    We taught OBL counter surveillance, otherwise why was he holed up like he was in Pakistan? He knew our methods, right up to the KH-series spy satellites. After 9/11 everybody pointed at OBL and said, "He did it."

    How would they even had an inkling of who it was without even basic intelligence on OBL?

    The NSA programs are for spying on Americans under the guise of protecting us from terrorists, domestic terrorists. They don't want to prevent the next 9/11.

    They want to prevent the next Boston Tea Party.

     

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