What is “Really Going On”? And What is “Conspiratorial Nonsense”?

Fenster writes:

Glenn Greenwald says that it was not only the Russians that interfered with the presidential election.  The FBI and the CIA were probably in there, too.

CNN’s Michael Smerconish asked Greenwald whether he gave “any credence to the conspiracy theory” that the CIA, along with the Russians, had attempted to manipulate the results of the election, and the journalist replied simply that it “was probably both.”  And he asserted the FBI had also played a part.
“I also think the FBI clearly sided with Donald Trump and did a lot of damaging leaks on purpose to hurt Hillary Clinton,” he added, an apparent reference to the bureau’s handling of the investigation into Clinton’s email.Greenwald went on to sum up the 2016 election as “a proxy war … for unseen forces.” He said he hoped for a “real investigation” into what happened, “where the evidence is publicly disclosed so that we can stop playing these games with anonymous leaks by people with unseen agendas trying to manipulate public opinion.” Doing so, he argued, is the only way to distinguish between “what’s actually true” and what’s “conspiratorial nonsense.”

Greenwald appears credible to me, in part because he comes across as willing to say and do things that will gore oxen when they need to be gored, as opposed to most of the press both left and right that come across as bought and paid for spinmeisters.

The notion of a struggle between powerful forces, whether or not you choose to call it Deep State, was around a lot during the election and then too I found the stories credible.

Of course as Greenwald suggests it is very very difficult for any amateur newsreader, no matter how busy at the task, to distinguish between what’s actually true and conspiratorial nonsense.  The recent Wikileaks disclosures don’t help matters as they suggest the CIA has the ability to leave the fingerprints of others behind where it has been.  That technical ability, combined with a professional inclination to produce disinformation, means that it if fiendishly hard to figure out who is actually doing what.  I have taken to watch the news more to look for what is not said–the “dog that didn’t bark”, as Sherlock Holmes put it–than I watch it in the hope of being told all the news that’s fit to print.

Alex Gibney’s document on Stuxnet, Zero Days, is worth a watch.  People against the CIA want to paint it as a devil and people in support want to paint it as an angel.  The truth is probably more complicated.  The picture that emerges in Zero Days suggests that the US is in a similar place is it was after WW2, when it held the nuclear reins.  We wanted to be the sole power with the bomb since we could then impose a Pax Americana.  But that proved impossible and so we had to engage in a long term, imperfect, messy but essential job: creating some sort of reasonable international rules on nuclear technology to avoid a Wild West.

Zero Days suggests we are in a similar place now with toxic technology.  We’d like to be the Lord of such things.  But we are not.  In fact, the situation is even more difficult than with nuclear technology.  There, the barriers were entry were high: qualified scientific talent, access to uranium, development of centrifuges and all the other mechanical aspects.  By contrast our newly developed weapons are just computer code.  And the process of using them involves letting them loose in the wild so that they can find their way to a target.  Assange indicated that he didn’t get the material he released from the CIA directly but from a source that picked it up in the growing secondary market for these things.  So-called greyhats are out there picking this stuff up and potentially selling them to the highest bidder.

So we are potentially entering a new and dangerous world, with the powers-that-be fundamentally unaccountable and probably convinced that they need to maintain control, which was our default view on nuclear at the start of the cold war.  All the more reason, as Greenwald suggests, to open the beast up for dissection and take a long hard look.

About Fenster

Gainfully employed for thirty years, including as one of those high paid college administrators faculty complain about. Earned Ph.D. late in life and converted to the faculty side. Those damn administrators are ruining everything.
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