A Contretemps in Greater Vealpenia
On December 9, 2010, Anne Weismann, the chief counsel for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), published a largely incoherent rant in the Huffington Post against Julian Assange and Wikileaks.
It is difficult to even try to repeat or recapitulate the tos and fros of it. It went something like this. The Wikileaks leaks may look like a good thing but they really aren't, that is don't believe your lying eyes. They make FOIA requests for an organization like CREW harder to win. CREW's FOIA route is the virtuous way to go, even though the government isn't particularly responsive to their requests and has many outs, including national security which would have kept most or all of the Wikileaks leaks out of the public sphere, that is if anyone had bothered to go that route. And Julian Assange is a bad man who wants to harm US interests and he's not Daniel Elsberg (although Elsberg is a big supporter and defender of Assange and Wikileaks). And Wikileaks was irresponsible releasing the leaks the way it did in contrast to the responsible professional organizations it partnered with [even though it put up on its website only the cables that those news organizations published keeping their redactions].
Weinstein simply ignores that Washington and the media exist on leaks. Apparently when unnamed White House officials or Congressional aides or officials of virtually every department in government leak, Weinstein has no problem with it, even though many of those leaks involve classified material. That these officials leak often for no other reason than to score political points garners no criticism from Weinstein. Nor does she speak to the government's obsession to classify everything, not to protect legitimate secrets, but to avoid embarrassment and accountability. And that this, not Julian Assange, is why her FOIA requests are subject to prolonged delays and minimal compliance. It's all Wikileaks' fault.
And the attacks on Wikileaks sponsored by the US government? Weinstein has nothing to say about those at all.
The story doesn't end there. Glenn Greenwald sits on CREW's board and on December 12, 2010, he resigned from it over CREW's and Weinstein's stand against Wikileaks. To which, Melanie Sloan, CREW's director, responded that she welcomed his resignation and lambasted him for not keeping his disagreement in-house, that is secret, thus demonstrating how much she and CREW have internalized the Washington mindset they pretend to criticize.
This kind of circular firing squad shows how fragmented the left is and why Obama and the Democrats have no reason either to respect or fear us. We may not vote for them but we are unlikely to mount a credible challenge to them, not with the likes of CREW on our side. Glenn Greenwald got caught trying to straddle too many groups. You really can't work with the veal pen and maintain progressive independence. They won't let you. The veal pen is an integral part of Versailles, and the Village does not allow you to serve two masters, even if one of those is your own conscience. CREW's moniker with its reference to responsibility and ethics is sad and hollow. It is the Krugman effect all over again. They will criticize the Establishment here and there, but never the Establishment itself no matter how corrupt that Establishment is. And because of this, they really don't serve us, but that Establishment they criticize at the margins but support at the core.
This episode struck me as both funny and pathetic. I hope it gets Glenn Greenwald thinking about where he really does and can stand with regard to the veal pen. For me, it just shows that the left's first real fight is going to be with itself, asserting our independence from most of the organizations and groups that claim to speak for us.