The television program, “60 Minutes,” aired a segment on Sunday in which it assassinated the character of Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, and even went so far as to question their loyalty to America. The two whistleblowers were compared to the Washington Navy Yard shooter, who killed twelve people.
It was part of an examination of what U.S. government officials perceive to be serious flaws in the process by which the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) reviews security clearances granted to government employees, but the framing made it seem like architects of “insider threat” programs from U.S. security agencies and politicians, who support total surveillance of government employees in the workplace and while they’re at home, had produced the segment.
Using language that would scare everyone’s grandparents, the CBS show used “fugitive” to describe Snowden, “convicted spy” to describe Manning (even though she is not), and “mass murderer” to describe the Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis. Anchor Scott Pelley amplified the terror by adding they all had “one thing in common: U.S. government security clearances which they turned into weapons.”
“Some believe that Snowden and Manning were right to expose what they saw as government abuses like the NSA’s domestic surveillance program, but few believe that all of America’s secrets should be at risk to spies, criminals, or the mentally ill,” Pelley added. “That has happened because of short cuts in a system that has placed American security into dangerous hands.” Once more, “60 Minutes” primed grandmothers across the country to tremble in their chairs while thinking of dangerous subversives lurking in the dark corridors of American security agencies.
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