Citizenfour [2014)

Four days till the US election.

OK, three.

But we must take a look at things as they seem.

And analyze what they might be.

I have always written about Edward Snowden glowingly.

But this film is an enigma.

If you know the history of film, you realize that certain filmmakers (particularly Robert Flaherty) presented staged events as if they were documentaries.

This is known as docufiction.

And if you have followed my take on the two US Presidential candidates (Johnson and Stein can suck it…though Stein has true credibility), you’ll know that my assessment of Trump and Clinton has been mainly through the lens of film.

What we (I) look for is credibility.

Having watched all three Presidential debates (in addition to extensive supplemental research), it has been a no-brainer to conclude that Hillary Clinton has ZERO credibility while Donald Trump has immense credibility.

The differentiation could not be more mark-ed.

[Docu-fiction]

But what about Edward Snowden?

Let me start off by saying that Mr. Snowden does not come off as a wholly believable whistleblower in this film.

Perhaps Laura Poitras’ inexperience as a filmmaker is to blame.

Perhaps it is indeed because Edward Snowden is no actor.

But Mr. Snowden is completely inscrutable and opaque in this documentary.

HOWEVER…

there is something about his ostensible North Carolina drawl which rings true.

And so there are two major possibilities…

  1. Edward Snowden is an extremely brave individual who succeeded in “defecting to the side of the public” (to paraphrase)
  2. Edward Snowden is a superspy

I had read of Snowden.  In studying what he had leaked, his credibility seemed beyond a shadow of a doubt.  Such a damaging agent could not possibly have been a Trojan horse operation (so I thought).

Indeed, the most believable part of this film is the last 10 minutes or so.

Sadly, my “copy” of the movie switched to a German overdub for this final segment.

Which is to say, I was more focused on images in the finale.

Every once in a while I was able to make out the beginning of a phrase from William Binney or Glenn Greenwald.

At all other times during this last portion, the German superimposed upon the English made the latter an almost palimpsest.

My German is that bad.

Entschuldigung.

But here are my reservations concerning hypothesis #1 (from above).

A).  Glenn Greenwald’s earliest interview after the leak was clearly shot with the skyline of Hong Kong in the background.  It is somewhat inconceivable that the NSA in conjunction with the CIA (and possibly the FBI or DIA) did not immediately follow Greenwald’s every move from that point forward (courtesy of operatives under the Hong Kong station chief of the CIA).

B).  Glenn Greenwald is a little too smooth to be believable (the same going for Snowden).  Greenwald’s sheer fluency in Portuguese (a bizarre choice for a second language) seems particularly suspect.  The credulous me wants to believe that Greenwald is simply brilliant.  The incredulous me sees Greenwald as just as much a CIA operative as Snowden.

Indeed, hypothesis #2 would be that Edward Snowden is in fact a CIA operative.  His complete calm at The Mira hotel in Hong Kong does not harmonize with a computer geek who just lifted the largest cache of the most top-secret files in world history.  Instead, his mannerisms almost all point to someone who has been hardened and trained at Camp Peary rather than someone who grew up so conveniently close to NSA headquarters.

Snowden is admittedly a former employee of the CIA.

But what could the purpose of such a Trojan horse exercise possibly be?

One strong possibility comes to mind.

As we learn in Dr. Strangelove, there’s no purpose in having a “doomsday machine” if the enemy doesn’t know about it.

In fact, we don’t even need cinema to illustrate this.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were demonstrations as much as they were mass-murder war crimes.

Weapons are “tested” often as much for the power of display as for the exercise of weapon efficacy.

But the world has always been a weird place.

And it is indeed possible that Edward Snowden is an idealistic, independent party in this affair.

The esteemed Dr. Steve Pieczenik (of whom I have spoken much recently) has lately called Snowden “no hero”.

I’m not exactly sure what he means by that.

Possibly Pieczenik knows the Snowden affair to positively be an intel operation.

Possibly Dr. Pieczenik (whom I respect deeply) merely sees Snowden as of no great bravery when compared to the men and women (both military and intelligence employees) who risk their lives on battlefields across the world…by direct order through the US chain of command.

But Dr. Pieczenik has also pointed out that some orders must be disobeyed.

That is part of the responsibility of defending the Constitution “against all enemies foreign and domestic”.

So we have a very interesting case here.

And it directly parallels our current election choices.

What SEEMS to be?

What is patriotism?

At what point must standard operating procedures be put aside?

What constitutes peaceful protest?

Who among us has the duty and privilege to spearhead a countercoup?

I’ve often thought to myself that I would be a horrible NSA employee because I would have a framed picture of Snowden on my desk.

Suffice it to say, I’m sure that is strictly NOT ALLOWED.

But this film makes me doubt the Snowden story.

As a further instructive detail, why does Snowden (in this film) feel so confident in his ability to withstand torture (!) as a means of coercing from him his password(s)?

Again, that does not sound like a standard ability of an “infrastructure analyst”.

Snowden does not admit in this film to ever having been a field operative.

Indeed, it almost feels like Louisiana Story or Tabu:  A Story of the South Seas when Snowden drapes a red article of cloth over his head and torso to ostensibly prevent Greenwald and Poitras from visually seeing his keystrokes.

It is overly dramatic.

These are thoughts.

No doubt, someone knows much more than me about the truth in this strange tale.

And so the film is, in turns, shockingly brilliant and daftly mediocre.

In a strange way, it is just as suspect as James Bamford’s books on the NSA (which I have long suspected were really NSA propaganda pieces).

One of the keys to propaganda and social engineering is gaining the trust of your targets.

In a large-scale psychological operation, the entire world (more or less) is the target.

Back to cinema, we need look no further than Eva Marie Saint “shooting” Cary Grant in North by Northwest.

Yes, Body of Secrets (Bamford) was damaging to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and US military in general (the revelation of Operation Northwoods) while also exposing Israel as a craven “ally” (the USS Liberty “incident”).

But if we are not careful, we are taken in by these juicy bits of “truth” (in all likelihood, very much true) on our way to accepting the whole book as an accurate exposé.

And this is what makes the world of intelligence so tricky.

Like a chess game in which you are blindsided by a brilliant move.

It takes years (perhaps decades) or an innate brilliance (perhaps both) to discern the organic from the synthetic in the shifting sands of this relativistic world of espionage.

I can only guess and gut.

 

-PD

Trump vs. Clinton, September 26 [2016)

The naysayers will call it politainment, but that’s as uncreative and trite as trotting out “reactionary”.

And while there was indeed a tremendous amount of substance in this first US Presidential debate a month ago, it was solely from one side.

Lester Holt largely disgraced himself as another “presstitute” (not my coinage, but fitting).

Holt was the decidedly unmoderate moderator.

“The questions are mine and have not been shared with the commission or the campaigns.”

Yeah right.

“The audience here in the room has agreed to remain silent so that we can focus on what the candidates are saying.”

Fat chance.

You see, Americans don’t stay silent.

They/we might be wrong (the “ugly American” stereotype), but we/they are rarely silent.

Some observers around the world recognize this as the asset it is.

Others denigrate it as “squeaky wheel”/”loudest duck”.

There’s very little silence in this year’s election (except in the corporate mass media concerning Hillary Clinton’s litany of disqualifying activities).

“I am honored to have this role, but this evening belongs to the candidates and, just as important, to the American people.”

…but most of all, to the American “elite” (and their transparently biased media) who had already picked their anointed, sycophantic, warmongering, maniac of a candidate:  Hillary Clinton.

“There’s been a record six straight years of job growth…”

But at what rate, Lester?  Read the Wall Street Journal, fucking moron.

Excuse me.

What I meant to say was, the “record growth” is anemic in historical terms.

So the “record” aspect is merely academic.

It’s been stable as shit.  That is the most accurate characterization.

Then “Secretary” Clinton takes over:

“Today is my granddaughter’s second birthday…”

Oh really?!?  I didn’t know robots could reproduce!!

“First, we have to build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top.”

…like her.

“That means we need new jobs, good jobs, with rising incomes.”

Her biggest export would be American jobs.  She’s got a bad case of cognitive dissonance from too much globalist Kool-Aid.

“I want us to invest in you.”

Whether that’s what she wants or not, it’s not what she’s planning to do.  So it’s immaterial what she “wants”.  Her intent is clear:  destroy her own country economically (if not literally in a nuclear war) by way of some twisted Robin Hood fantasy.  Sorry Hillary, we’re not in Jonestown.  Why don’t you drink your Kool-Aid first?

“…most of the new jobs will come from small business.”

Which will go OUT OF BUSINESS as a result of your idealist, rubbish policies.

“…equal pay for women’s work.”

Oh, you mean like never, ever having a job…like you?

Hey Hillary, your boss (the American people) called.  They want to know what the hell you were doing using a personal email server as the goddamned SECRETARY OF STATE???  And by the way, they want your work emails…because those are property of the company (the United States of America).  Oh…  You were writing emails about yoga on the job?  Ok, no problem.  But as you were being paid to write emails on “yoga”, we’d like to take a look at those emails.  You did, after all, produce “yoga” emails with our tax dollars.  Oh…  You destroyed the emails?  After being subpoenaed??  Hmmm…  That’s a problem.

[That must have been one hell of a “yoga” discussion.]

“We’re going to do it by having the wealthy pay their fair share…”

Oh, excellent.  I guess we can start with freezing the assets of the Clinton Foundation.  Seems that some small group was getting very rich off of that scam.

“Donald, it’s good to be with you.”

First and last time she’d ever say that.

“I hope that I will be able to earn your vote on November 8th.””

You’ve never earned anything in your life.  You’ve been a carpetbagger from Arkansas to New York to Washington, D.C.  “Social climber” does not qualify as a métier.

Ok…that’s enough Clinton.  How about some truth?  Fire torpedo #1!

“That’s called business, by the way.”

Ah, business.  Value.  Creating value.

If you’ve read this far (and I’m sure there are very few who have), I’ve created value for you.  I’ve held your attention.  You could think I’m the dumbest motherfucker on the planet, but that feeling of condescension is worth your time.  Perhaps I’m entertaining.  That’s also value.  And, God forbid, I actually say something that rings true…  For anyone who agrees with me enough to delve so far into this specious blog post, I’ve created value.

“Secretary” Clinton creates NO value…in anything she does.

I don’t even take enjoyment in insulting her.  To insult her is my duty.  I don’t want this person leading my country for the next four years.  Hell no!

“And, Hillary, I’d just ask you this. You’ve been doing this for 30 years. Why are you just thinking about these solutions right now? For 30 years, you’ve been doing it, and now you’re just starting to think of solutions.”

Exactly.  Say what you want about Trump, but he hasn’t been dicking around as a government do-nothing during that time.  He’s created value.  You can denigrate the true worth of that value, but it does have a dollar value.  It’s like a stock price.  It is a market measurement.  You want your money back?  Fine.  Sell your one share of Google stock.  Yes, the broker will charge a fee.  No, holding one share is not recommended.  But it’s a market measurement.  The market value of Trump’s activities is indisputable.  It’s not perfect.  It doesn’t figure in obtuse Althusserian dimensions, but it’s a measurement (damn it!).

Hillary is much more comfortable hiding in the maze of government with her private server and hiding behind the nonprofit structure of the Clinton Foundation.  She creates no value.  She never has to prove what value she has created.  She knows that her social climbing has bought her immunity from accountability.

[BUT MAYBE NOT]

Hillary might have been thinking about bringing jobs back to America for the past 30 years, but she certainly hasn’t acted on those musings.

“Your husband signed NAFTA, which was one of the worst things that ever happened to the manufacturing industry.”

[giant sucking sound…alarums and excursions]

“But you have no plan.”

Of course she doesn’t.  Her plan is being prepared by a bunch of globalists.  All she has to do is stay on two legs and…  [whoops!]

“…you are going to regulate these businesses out of existence.”

And that is no accident.

“I’m going to cut taxes big league, and you’re going to raise taxes big league, end of story.”

Yeah, pretty much.

“She tells you how to fight ISIS on her website. I don’t think General Douglas MacArthur would like that too much.”

Indeed, no matter the outcome of this election, Hillary Clinton is not going to go down in history as a master strategist.

“…you’re telling the enemy everything you want to do.”

Right again.  Pick up some Sun Tzu, Hillary.

“…the taxes are so onerous…”

Point Trump.

“…we have a president that can’t sit them around a table and get them to approve something.”

Yeah, that’s because he’s never had a job either.  “Amateur golfer” does not cut the mustard.

“And with a little leadership, you’d get it in here very quickly, and it could be put to use on the inner cities and lots of other things, and it would be beautiful.”

Value-creation works.  As a model.  As a measure.  What ISN’T sustainable is sucking the thriving countries dry in an effort to bring up the languishing ones.  There is a solution.  There is a deal.  A compromise.  But Hillary doesn’t have that spark of problem-solving genius.  All she knows is the college playbook from pseudo-intellectual, hippie-era Yale.

Ok, I’m even starting to bore myself.

There is not enough digital ink in my pot to finish penning this diatribe.

I think you get the point.

In cinema terms, this was an auteur (Trump) vs. a metteur-en-scène (Hillary).

Shot.  Reverse.  Shot.

 

-PD