Glenn Greenwald on Bill Maher, who calls Edward Snowden "totally batsh*t"



The video won’t load, for me. * I went to the youtube video and was able view it. Bill Maher is an insufferable asshole.


I think there is a fundamental disconnect between people who don’t understand the technology of the internet and the people who do. Folks involved with technology see this as being a direct attack on their economic well being, the security ( a very small part of it ) of our nation, etc. It’s easy for folks who aren’t involved in that industry to dismiss concerns as alarmist, over inflated, and the product of a skewed perspective.

In many ways it is the product of a skewed perspective. And, the actions the NSA has been caught up in are difficult to believe are possible much less being accomplished. Most people don’t understand the capabilities the NSA is developing because it’s all just science fiction to them.

There are plenty of people out there who just don’t know how bad it is that people ask you for your social security number, or photocopy your ID. They don’t understand that when they swipe their credit card at target, they’ve just given target a facsimile of their wallet. It’s just not something many people have exposure to. Educating them is difficult, and the NSA relies on the fact that they and the president are a more ‘credible’ source, and a voice of ‘reason’ to try to wash away concerns over what is a program that should be investigated.

What I think people do not understand is that someone ( cough michael hayden ) created a program that has damaged national military and economic security deeply. We need to triage this. Figure out how this happened, what safe guards we can put in place to stop this from ever happening again. But, instead we have a united effort by our elected officials to downplay the issue in the extreme and present the whistleblowers as extremists. And I can see how someone might buy that line. It’s definitely bullshit. Everyone in tech knows how destructive this program was. But it’s hard to explain how that might affect joe insurance claims adjuster or susie dentist and especially jimbo wendy’s employee of the month.

I think what really hurts people about this exchange is that Bill Maher usually tries to delve into these issues and expose those concerns. But instead he’s attacking messengers. He may have all the legitimate and best reasons in the world. But, I think what it comes down to is that he’s a cynical old bastard who has given up the idealistic hopes and dreams that someone like snowden represents.

It’s sad, more than anything else.


Of course Bill Maher knows more about the NSA than someone who worked inside of the NSA. Someone put a needle in his ego balloon.


Bill Maher has become a somewhat more progressive version of Bill O’Reilly, a blowhard who sets up phony strawmen then bullies people to agree with him or cuts them off if they don’t.


What openfly said.

Maher doesn’t understand, he’s using “going back in time” to make Snowden sound “bats hit”. But what Snowden is saying is, the NSA can look at your online history and connect some dots to reach some assumptive conclusion. Whether or not that conclusion is valid depends on how they analyze what they have, and how knowledgable they are about what they’re looking at.

Do we trust the NSA, or more likely the managers at the NSA, to reach a valid conclusion? Well, if they’re a bunch of old white guys who don’t know an iPad from a MaxiPad, then we probably don’t want to.

And if you have guys like Chris Christie in charge, guys who might take the data scooped up by NSA programs and use it politically against their “enemies”, then we’re really fucked.


Bill Maher doesn’t want to educate himself. He gets off on the superiority complex and dismissing Snowden as some other batshit crazy conspiracy lunatic. Maher enjoys being part of the machinery as much as Bill O’Reilly does, as someone said above. Fuck him and his ego and ignorance.


Maher hammered on the quote from Snowden that said something like “…they can go back in time and know every friend you’ve ever discussed something with…” If you appended “on the Internet” to Snowden’s quote, I don’t think that is “fing nuts”. Lost respect for Maher on this one.


Maher and O’Rielly (and most other journalists) have the same approach to interviews. Whatever the topic or person, make the interview about themselves and what they think. Facts, context, and motivations don’t’ matter as long as they can get the snide joke or soundbite out of it.

Both react to answers or statements instead of thinking about them and responding accordingly. If an interview doesn’t go in the direction of one of his prepared jokes (Maher), force it there.


$maher_speak =~ s/something completely nuts/something Bill Maher does not fully understand/gm;

Fucking metaphor, how does it work?


Bill Moyers? Say it isn’t so!


That’s not completely surprising.


Bill Maher is right that it’s “fucking nuts” that “they know every friend you’ve ever discussed something” - of course, what Maher doesn’t get, and he must be in denial, or dense or something, because the documents published clearly show that the reason it’s nuts is because it’s actually true.

What part of “full take” or “all call records” does he not understand?


Snowden does same here and there something banal, but like Greenwald says he is not trained or counseled on this matters.
However what he exposes is incredible relevant. The vast volume of uncontrolled espionage that goes on should scare governments, citizens or corporations alike. I could care less if NSA or Mossad has the capacity to check who are my friends or what I purchased. But if;

  1. If my European company is dealing a big gas contract with Nigeria and those price negotiations are passed to American companies it should concern all companies.

  2. If I become a successful antiwar activist and suddenly and mysteriously out of no where information pops up of an affair I had on the internet with someone, that should give us something to meditate. Think how easy we can go after potential politicians with that power!


As all of this was unfolding last summer I was reading the Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt and I copied down a very relevant passage that I think fits into this discussion:

The Okhrana, the Czarist predecessor of the GPU, is reported to have invented a filing system in which every suspect was noted on a large card in the center of which his name was surrounded by a red circle; his political friends were designated by smaller red circles and his nonpolitical acquaintances by green ones; brown circles indicated persons in contact with friends of the suspect but not known to him personally; cross relationships between the suspect’s friends, political and nonpolitical, and the friends of his friends were indicated by lines between the respective circles. Obviously the limitations of this method are set only by the size of the filing cards, and, theoretically, a gigantic single sheet could show the relations and cross-relationships of the entire population. And this is the utopian goal totalitarian secret police. It has given up the traditional old police dream which the lie detector is still supposed to realize, and no longer tries to find out who is who or who thinks what. (The lie detector is perhaps the most graphic example of the fascination that this dream apparently exerts over the mentality of the policemen; for obviously the complicated measuring equipment can hardly establish anything except the cold-blooded or nervous temperament of its victims. Actually the feeble-minded reasoning underlying the use of this mechanism can only be explained by the irrational wish that some form of mind reading were possible after all.) This old dream was terrible enough and since time immemorial has invariably led to torture and the most abominable cruelties. There was only one thing in its favor. It asked for the impossible. The modern dream of the totalitarian police, with its modern techniques, is incomparably more terrible. Now the police dreams that one look at the gigantic map on the office wall should suffice at any given moment to establish who is related to whom and in what degree of intimacy; and, theoretically, this dream is not unrealizable, although its technical execution is bound to be somewhat difficult. If this map really did exist, not even memory would stand in the way of the totalitarian claim to domination; such a map might make it possible to obliterate people without any traces, as if they had never existed at all.

Hannah Arendt, Origins of Totalitarianism p. 434


Who your associates are can have many ramifications. If you are planning some type of protest, or if you are in any way aligned even with law abiding dissidents, the government can discredit you, set you up, find something to arrest you for, and so on. If a politician like Christie is punishing people who are his own peers, imagine the damage that could be done to the little guy if it is known what his political views are, or if he is aligning himself or communicating with others looking to unseat someone.

Please fix this “the body is too similar” thing. It’s maddening and you can’t correct spelling and whatnot


Specifically, Bill Maher thinks that Snowden is claiming the NSA has a time machine. When in reality, everything he says is perfectly normal and correct. While I watched the video, all I could think was “Why doesn’t Maher get it? What’s he missing?” And then realized…oh yah, he probably never actually uses the Internet, much less understands the underlying technologies that let the NSA construct a clear picture of a target using network traffic, browser history, contact lists, etc.


The part where he is an absolute Democrat apologist. And I say this as someone who is left of center, but who believes in appropriate criticism and truth.


Mr. Maher: Why would you let them be the ones to stick a disease into your arm? I would never get a swine flu vaccine or any vaccine. I don’t trust the government, especially with my health.

Dr. Frist: On the swine flu, I know you really believe that. And let me just …

Mr. Maher: (interrupting) You say that like I’m a crazy person.

Dr. Frist: Well, here you are. I think here you are.


Bill Maher is not a journalist, he’s a comedian. And he is funny. These comments make it sound like he thinks he’s going to get the 4am phone call from the Nobel Prize committee, when I know the only call he gets that late is from his drug dealer.


You guys are forgetting that the job of an interviewer is to represent the audience. He is asking for clarification. He is doing it in the Bill Maher way, yes, trying to instigate an argument that will draw out the facts.

Step back a little here. The NSA has no record of things they don’t have a record of. They don’t have any record of interactions between people that were not on the internet. He is saying Snowden’s language is inexact and inflammatory and maybe indicates a lack of objectivity. I see the same thing here.

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