Ten years ago Edward Snowden was helped to escape by Wikileaks and to publish his revelations by The Intercept, Guardian, New York Times and others.
In 2023 Jack Texeira is tracked down by UK secret service front Bellingcat in conjunction with the New York Times and in parallel with the Washington Post, not to help him escape or help him publish or tell people his motives, but to help the state arrest him.
Those outlets have accessed a cache of at least 300 additional secret documents in doing so—and have kept them secret, with the exception of a couple of snippets that forward the official state narrative.
That contrast with ten years ago tells a very real and glaring truth. The idea that the legacy media in any way serves the truth or the public interest is now completely buried. The legacy media serves the state, and the state serves the billionaires.
Wikileaks is now so hamstrung by attacks on its finances, personnel and logistics as to be almost inoperable. Propaganda outfit Bellingcat was conceived as a way to counter it, by producing material with the frisson of secret access but actually as an outlet for the security services. An astonishing amount of “liberal opinion” falls for it.
Similarly the Intercept, like the Guardian, was subject to an internal takeover that delivered it entirely into the hands of the neo-conservatives.
Neither the alleged journalists of New York Times, Washington Post, nor Bellingcat did the most basic things a real journalist would do.
They did not contact Texeira, speak to him, ask him to explain his motivation, and look through the other secret material to which he had access, to get Texeira’s view on its meaning and implications, and to publish what in it was in the public interest.
Instead they simply shopped him to the FBI and closed down the remaining documents.
I am not at all surprised by Bellingcat, which is plainly a spook organisation. I hope this enables more people to see through them. But the behaviour of the New York Times and Washington Post is truly shocking. They now see their mission as to serve the security state, not public knowledge.
In the ten years between Snowden and Texeira, the world has changed hugely for the worse. Not only has a huge amount of freedom disappeared, freedom’s former Guardians have been subverted. It has been ten years of disaster.
A cache of twitter images of some of the leaked documents is here. I am not aware of any broader cache—feel free to insert links to any in the comments.
The initial reaction to the leaked documents was to rubbish them with the memes routinely applied to all information embarrassing to the state nowadays—they were either “Russian hacks” or “faked or amended disinformation”.
These attacks were particularly important as the message that came over clearly from these Texeira leaks was precisely the same as that which came over from Daniel Ellsberg’s original Pentagon Papers leak 50 years ago—that the public is being lied to about how the war is going.
(It is worth reflecting that in today’s world the NYT and Washington Post would have condemned Ellsberg and emphasised those bits of the Pentagon Papers which reflect badly on the VietCong).
Ukraine was particularly concerned about U.S. official figures showing Ukrainian casualties much higher, and Russian casualties much lower, than the Ukrainian official figures the U.S. ostensibly endorsed.
I have to say I always find both Ukrainian and Russian casualty figures laughably false. The idea that either side is telling the truth appears to me one that no half-sensible person could entertain. I had presumed that was the general view.
Revelations about the fragility of Ukrainian air defences and supply lines similarly seemed to me a statement of the blindingly obvious.
It is also unhelpful for the U.S. to have revealed that it is actively spying on President Zelensky, as well as allies like South Korea and Israel. But again, this is embarrassing in the sense it is embarrassing if somebody publishes pictures of you on the toilet; it is not that nobody thought you used the toilet.
There is not a diplomat alive who did not know the U.S. does this stuff.
Eventually the media and security services, with Bellingcat in the vanguard, decided the best way forward was to admit the papers are genuine, but only tell us about very selected ones, and then with a positive spin.
So we have stories about how brilliant the U.S. secret services are at penetrating Russian power structures and communications, and how the real danger from the leaks is revealing to the Russians the extent of American success.
That line has been splashed all over legacy and social media these last few days. As the public is being denied the original documents this conclusion is extrapolated from, it is difficult to assess. The journalists of course have not assessed it; they have just copied and pasted the line.
Other helpful snippets for the security services are published, such as an assessment that the UN Secretary General is pro-Russian, or standard stuff on North Korean nuclear ambitions. In the last week it is noticeable that, since original documents stopped surfacing into public view, nothing has been published that does not serve U.S. propaganda narratives.
There remains the mystery that the sources of these documents seem particularly diverse—in particular some being apparently internal CIA—for an intelligence officer in the Air National Guard to access, but it is not impossible.
Jack Texeira is at the centre of this puzzle but remains the missing piece. We have heard nothing from him. A rather unconvincing interview with a suspiciously fluent, pixeled out acquaintance grassing him up to the Washington Post stated that he was a right wing patriot.
Texeira has been portrayed both as some kind of rampant Trump supporter incensed at the state, and as an inadequate jock revealing documents just to boast to fellow gaming nerds. We should remain suspicious of attempts to characterise him: I am acutely aware of media portrayals of Julian Assange which are entirely untrue.
It is a shame the Washington Post, New York Times, Guardian and Bellingcat each had no interest whatsoever in the journalistic pursuit of the truth behind this extraordinary episode. We live entirely in security states: there is no doubt about it.