Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald faced off against CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin over the sentencing of ex-Army private Bradley Manning and his acquittal on the charge of “aiding the enemy.” Greenwald pushed back on Toobin’s assertions that there are ways to expose government secrets without doing what Manning (or for that matter, Edward Snowden) did, charging that Toobin and other people who supposedly love transparency find every excuse they can to attack whistleblowers.
Toobin admitted that the aiding the enemy charge was “excessive,” but found Manning’s actions “appalling” and said he definitely deserves jail time. Greenwald took Toobin’s remarks to call out something he said people don’t like about Washington: “If you’re sufficiently rish and powerful and well-connected in Washington, the laws don’t apply to you.” Greenwald allowed that there should be “limited rights to secrecy,” but then dismissed the idea since it’s “so wildly abused” to begin with. He found it remarkable that anyone who calls themselves a journalist would be calling for the prosecution and imprisonment for someone who helped expose government secrets.
Greenwald brought up Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and people who exposed Bush administration scandals, telling Toobin that if he’s going to make all these assertions about what whistleblowers shouldn’t do, “you’re essentially calling for the end of investigative journalism.”
Toobin immediately shot back, “I appreciate your education to me of what journalism is.” before dismissing the Ellsberg comparison. He claimed that unlike Ellsberg exposing the Pentagon Papers that he wrote, Manning released tons of cables that “he didn’t even read, much less write.”
Greenwald went after Toobin for his seeming support of transparency with a number of serious qualifiers attached to it, and connected Toobin’s criticisms of Manning and Ellsberg to what he’s said previously about Snowden.
“If what Jeff is saying is true, which is ‘My problem with Bradley Manning is he didn’t read the documents, unlike Daniel Ellsberg,’ he should be praising Edward Snowden, yet he isn’t. He’s a harsh critic of Snowden. It seems like people always contrive excuses to attack anybody who brings transparency to the government unless they’re powerful officials in Washington, in which case it’s okay.”
Toobin rolled his eyes and said it’s false to think Manning and Snowden are the only ones decent enough to disclose all this important information.
Watch the video below, via CNN:
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