Tag Archive: Glenn Greenwald

Jul 23 2015

The Ghost of Judith Miller: NYT Still Shilling For Government

In 2004 a editorial, the editors of The New york Times profoundly apologized for its complicity in the run up to the Iraq war and for not having been more aggressive in its examination of the claims made by government officials. Much of the blame for the erroneous reporting was placed on one writer, Judith Miller, who resigned from the paper. But still today, despite the promises to be more questioning of anonymous sources, the spirit Judith Miller persists in the Times reporting on national security and international affairs. As Glenn Greenwald observes in  his article at The Intercept, the writers are still blithely taking to word of anonymous sources as the truth.

Let’s look at an illustrative example from yesterday to see how this toxic process works. The New York Times published an article about ISIS by Eric Schmitt and Ben Hubbard based entirely and exclusively on unproven claims from officials of the U.S. government and its allies, to whom they (needless to say) granted anonymity. The entire article reads exactly like an official press release: Paragraph after paragraph does nothing other than summarize the claims of anonymous officials, without an iota of questioning, skepticism, scrutiny or doubt.

Among the assertions mindlessly repeated by the Paper of Record from its beloved anonymous officials is this one:

The Islamic State has also studied revelations from Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, about how the United States gathers information on militants. A main result is that the group’s top leaders now use couriers or encrypted channels that Western analysts cannot crack to communicate, intelligence and military officials said.

Leave to the side the banal journalistic malpractice of uncritically parroting the self-serving claims of anonymous officials, supposedly what the paper is so horrified at Judy Miller for having done. Also leave to the side the fact that the U.S. government has been anonymously making these Helping-The-Enemy claims not just about Snowden but about all whistleblowers for decades, back to Daniel Ellsberg, if not earlier. Let’s instead focus on this: the claim itself, on the merits, is monumentally stupid on multiple levels: self-evidently so.

To begin with, The Terrorists™ had been using couriers and encryption for many, many years before anyone knew the name “Edward Snowden.” Last August, after NPR uncritically laundered claims that Snowden revelations had helped The Terrorists™, we reported on a 45-page document that the U.K. government calls “the Jihadist Handbook,” written by and distributed among extremist groups, which describes in sophisticated detail the encryption technologies, SIM card-switching tactics and other methods they use to circumvent U.S. surveillance. Even these 2002/2003 methods were so sophisticated that they actually mirror GCHQ’s own operational security methods for protecting its communications.

This “Jihadist Handbook” was written in 2002 or 2003: more than a full decade before any Snowden revelations. Indisputably, terrorists have known for a very long time that the U.S. government and its allies are trying to intercept their communications, and have long used encryption and other means to prevent that.

The New York Times‘ claim that ISIS learned to use couriers as a result of the Snowden revelations is almost a form of self-mockery. Few facts from Terrorism lore are more well-known than Osama bin Laden’s use of couriers to avoid U.S. surveillance. A 2011 article from the Washington Post – more than two years before the first Snowden story – was headlined: “Al-Qaeda couriers provided the trail that led to bin Laden.” It described how “Bin Laden strictly avoided phone or e-mail communications for fear that they would be intercepted.” [..]

If one were engaged in journalism, one would include some of these facts in order to scrutinize, question and express skepticism about the claims of anonymous officials that ISIS now uses encryption and couriers because of Snowden reporting. But if one is engaged in mindless, subservient pro-government stenography, one simply grants anonymity to officials and then uncritically parrots their facially dubious claims with no doubt or questioning of any kind. Does anyone have any doubts about what these New York Times reporters are doing in this article?

There’s one more point worth noting about the New York Times‘ conduct here. As has been documented many times, Edward Snowden never publicly disclosed a single document: Instead, he gave the documents to journalists and left it up to them to decide which documents should be public and which ones should not be. As I’ve noted, he has sometimes disagreed with the choices journalists made, usually on the ground that documents media outlets decided to publish should have, in his view, not been published. [..]

Look at what the New York Times, yet again, has done. Isn’t it amazing? All anyone in government has to do is whisper something in its journalists’ ears, demand anonymity for it, and instruct them to print it. Then they obey. Then other journalists treat it as Truth. Then it becomes fact, all over the world. This is the same process that enabled the New York Times, more than any other media outlet, to sell the Iraq War to the American public, and they’re using exactly the same methods to this day. But it’s not just their shoddy journalism that drives this but the mentality of other “journalists” who instantly equate anonymous official claims as fact.

You can read the entirety of Glenn’s article at “The Intercept.”

Jun 16 2015

TBC: Morning Musing 6.16.15

Today I have 3 articles on that Sunday Times Ed Snowden hit piece.

First, Glenn Greenwald’s dissection of just how bad it was:

THE SUNDAY TIMES’ SNOWDEN STORY IS JOURNALISM AT ITS WORST – AND FILLED WITH FALSEHOODS

Unless he cooked an extra-juicy steak, how does Snowden “have blood on his hands” if there is “no evidence of anyone being harmed?” As one observer put it last night in describing the government instructions these Sunday Times journalists appear to have obeyed: “There’s no evidence anyone’s been harmed but we’d like the phrase ‘blood on his hands’ somewhere in the piece.”

The whole article does literally nothing other than quote anonymous British officials. It gives voice to banal but inflammatory accusations that are made about every whistleblower from Daniel Ellsberg to Chelsea Manning. It offers zero evidence or confirmation for any of its claims. The “journalists” who wrote it neither questioned any of the official assertions nor even quoted anyone who denies them. It’s pure stenography of the worst kind: some government officials whispered these inflammatory claims in our ears and told us to print them, but not reveal who they are, and we’re obeying. Breaking!

Jump!

Jun 08 2015

Edward Snowden Should Head the NSA, Not Prosecuted

In an editorial last week, The Los Angeles Times gave NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden credit for the mild NSA reform that was enacted by congress under the USA Freedom Act and signed into law by President Barack Obama. The editors also called for Mr. Snowden’s prosecution.

When he announced Tuesday that he would sign a bill ending the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records and making other reforms in surveillance laws, President Obama praised Congress – and himself. [..]

Unacknowledged by the president was the man who can fairly be called the ultimate author of this legislation: former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who has been charged with violating the Espionage Act and is now living in exile in Russia.

Without Snowden’s unauthorized disclosures two years ago, neither the public nor many members of Congress would have known that the government, acting under a strained interpretation of the Patriot Act, was vacuuming up and storing millions of Americans’ telephone records. That program will end after a six-month transition period under the bill signed by Obama. [..]

A pardon for Snowden now would be premature. But if he were to return to this country to face the charges against him, the fact that he revealed the existence of a program that has now been repudiated by all three branches of government would constitute a strong argument for leniency. Snowden should come home and make that case.

During his campaign for president, Mr. Obama promised he would rein in the NSA and he promptly broke that promise and gave the NSA even more power to spr on American citizens. Only after the Snowden leaks was he dragged kicking and screaming to do what he promised.

Lawyer and Journalist for The Intercept, Glenn Grenwald tells us why the LA times is wrong about prosecuting Mr. Snowden, but also why the media, especially the so-called left wing media, has been so wrong about him.

Two years ago, the first story based on the Snowden archive was published in the Guardian, revealing a program of domestic mass surveillance which, at least in its original form, ended this week. To commemorate that anniversary, Edward Snowden himself reflected in a New York Times Op-Ed on the “power of an informed public” when it comes to the worldwide debate over surveillance and privacy.

But we realized from the start that the debate provoked by these disclosures would be at least as much about journalism as privacy or state secrecy. And that was a debate we not only anticipated but actively sought, one that would examine the role journalism ought to play in a democracy and the proper relationship of journalists to those who wield the greatest political and economic power.

That debate definitely happened, not just in the U.S. but around the world. And it was revealing in all sorts of ways. In fact, of all the revelations over the last two years, one of the most illuminating and stunning – at least for me – has been the reaction of many in the American media to Edward Snowden as a source.

When it comes to taking the lead in advocating for the criminalization of leaking and demanding the lengthy imprisonment of our source, it hasn’t been the U.S. Government performing that role but rather – just as was the case for WikiLeaks disclosures – those who call themselves “journalists.” Just think about what an amazing feat of propaganda that is, one of which most governments could only dream: let’s try to get journalists themselves to take the lead in demonizing whistleblowers and arguing that sources should be imprisoned! As much of an authoritarian pipe dream as that may seem to be, that is exactly what happened during the Snowden debate. [..]

So many journalists were furious about the revelations, and were demanding prosecution for it, that there should have been a club created called Journalists Against Transparency or Journalists for State Secrecy and it would have been highly populated. They weren’t even embarrassed about it. There was no pretense, no notion that those who want to be regarded as “journalists” should at least pretend to favor transparency, disclosures, and sources. They were unabashed about their mentality that so identifies with and is subservient to the National Security State that they view controversies exactly the same way as those officials: someone who reveals information that the state has deemed should be secret belongs in prison – at least when those revelations reflect poorly on top U.S. officials. [..]

The LAT editors began by acknowledging that Snowden, not President Obama, is “the ultimate author” of the so-called surveillance reform enacted into law. They also acknowledge that “the American people have Snowden to thank for these reforms.”

Despite that, they are opposed to a pardon or to clemency. While generously conceding that Snowden has “a strong argument for leniency,” they nonetheless insist that “in a society of laws, someone who engages in civil disobedience in a higher cause should be prepared to accept the consequences.”

I see this argument often and it’s hard to overstate how foul it is. To begin with, if someone really believes that, they should be demanding the imprisonment of every person who ever leaks information deemed “classified,” since it’s an argument that demands the prosecution of anyone who breaks the law, or at least “consequences” for them. That would mean dragging virtually all of Washington, which leaks constantly and daily, into a criminal court – to say nothing of their other crimes such as torture. But of course such high-minded media lectures about the “rule of law” are applied only to those who are averse to Washington’s halls of power, not to those who run them.

Jun 01 2015

The Patriot Act Ain’t Dead Yet

While the Senate failed to pass the USA Freedom Act during Sunday’s emergency session, it did get past a cloture vote to continue debate and consider amendments that could either weaken or strengthen the already inadequate reform of the controversial Section 215 of the Patriot Act. So for the moment, the most egregious parts of the act which violate the Fourth Amendment have expired. So what next? There is no chance to renew the Patriot Act, as the Senate Republican leadership would prefer. Amending the US Freedom Act would necessitate the bill being returned to the House for another vote or hash out the details in a conference committee. None of this looks good for a resolution anytime soon, which is not entirely a bad thing.

McConnell introduced a handful of amendments Sunday evening on behalf of himself and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.). Paul and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has also attempted to bring up amendments of their own, but they were blocked.

Paul’s opposition will push votes on both those amendments and the final bill back to Tuesday at the earliest, and potentially Wednesday.

The House would then either need to vote on the new bill or hash out the details in a conference committee.

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) – an NSA critic – warned senators against adding amendments to the legislation that could potentially weaken the bill in the eyes of its supporters.

“On the House side, there’s not support for a more watered down version of the Freedom Act,” he said. “If they want to get something passed through the House, they need to make it better not worse.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist with The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald gave his reaction to the expiration of the act and the fear mongering that will ensue to Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman’



Transcript can be read here

The internecine GOP politics surrounding this are quite a maze since it involves not just Sen. Paul’s candidacy for president in 2016, but power fights between the House and Senate leaderships. Sen. McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) are not exactly best of friends.

The game is now in the Senate and could mean the permanent end of Section 215. Let’s keep our fingers crossed they screw this up.  

May 27 2015

Changing Minds on Edward Snowden

Former Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs in the Jimmy Carter administration Hodding Carter III has changed his mind about Edward Snowden whose leaks of NSA programs to the public has sparked the debate a the renewal of the Patriot Act. In an article in Salon, he explains  his change of heart and offered an apology to The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald.

Glenn Greenwald, I’m sorry: Why I changed my mind on Edward Snowden

What follows is based on sixty years of experience in public life and journalism. It arises from deepening concern about the people’s limited appreciation of the First Amendment and disgust with media waffling behind timidity’s breastworks. It also arises from urgent unease about government overreach in the name of “homeland security,” an overreach based on post-9/11 fear, political opportunism and an all but explicit assertion that a free people do not need to know and should not demand to know how they are being protected. There is no pretense here of carefully allocated balance, that briefly treasured convention of American journalism. Instead, this is an attempt to explain the evolution of today’s media-government confrontations and to suggest answers to the hard questions that currently face the press when national security clashes with the Bill of Rights.

Unless informed consent is to be treated as a dangerous relic of more tranquil times, these questions should be answered on behalf of the American people as often as they arise. That means applying general principles to specific cases. Knowing the evolution of press freedom can be useful. Having an accurate picture of the chaotic realities of the murky present is crucial. Hard cases are inevitable; hard-and-fast rules are rarely available and too often inapplicable to current conditions. In the end, as always, it is up to each journalist and news organization to be willing to stand alone, to ask, and to answer individually:

“Whose side are you on?”

Mr. Carter and Glenn Greenwald appeared on MSNBC’s “The Last Word” to discuss the surveillance and the firght over the renewal of the Patriot Act.

Whose side are you on?

Aug 05 2014

US Government Manipulating the Press

We all know that the government manipulates the news with its propaganda that became obvious with the exposure of New York Times reporter Judith Miller’s complicity in spreading the lies that led to the illegal invasion of Iraq. Since then the government has been caught requesting the press withhold stories, or like today, leaking a scoop to another media outlet, a new low.

Spy Agency Stole Scoop From Media Outlet And Handed It To The AP

By Ryan Grim, The Huffington Post

The Associated Press dropped a significant scoop on Tuesday afternoon, reporting that in the last several years the U.S. government’s terrorism watch list has doubled.

A few minutes after the AP story consisting of three paragraphs was posted at 12:32 p.m., The Intercept published a much more comprehensive article. [..]

The government, it turned out, had “spoiled the scoop,” an informally forbidden practice in the world of journalism. To spoil a scoop, the subject of a story, when asked for comment, tips off a different, typically friendlier outlet in the hopes of diminishing the attention the first outlet would have received. Tuesday’s AP story was much friendlier to the government’s position, explaining the surge of individuals added to the watch list as an ongoing response to a foiled terror plot.

The practice of spoiling a scoop is frowned upon because it destroys trust between the journalist and the subject. In the future, the journalist is much less willing to share the contents of his or her reporting with that subject, which means the subject is given less time, or no time at all, to respond with concerns about the reporting.

According to Mr. Grim, The Intercept editor, John Cook, called the National Counterterrorism Center, the subject of the story by The Intercept article by Ryan Devereaux and Jeremy Scahill. Mr. Cook informed the official he spoke with that in the future the agency would only be given a 30 minute time frame to respond to questions about articles before they are published.

I don’t know if Associated Press reporter, Eileen Sullivan, was aware of The Intercept article, or if she was given access to the classified documents (pdf) on which the articles are based. I suspect she was spoon fed the information for the government friendly piece she wrote since she has no links to the documents. The link to the classified file was tweeted by Glenn Greenwald this afternoon.

Now the government is telling CNN that they believe there is a new “leaker”. Nice try, “folks,” but this isn’t about who leaked what but exposing just how much the government us intruding into the lives of its citizens and totally disregarding guaranteed constitutional rights and the law.

Don’t forget to read the article, Barack Obama’s Secret Terrorist-Tracking System, by the Numbers by Jeremy and Ryan at The Intercept, it is quite an eye opener.

May 21 2014

Glenn Greenwald “No PlaceTo Hide”

“No place to hide”

Chris Hayes talks with Glenn Greenwald about his new book and new NSA revelations from his book “No Place to Hide.”


Hating on Glenn Greenwald

Chris Hayes gets journalist Glenn Greenwald to open up about his tendency alienate liberals.

May 14 2014

“No Place to Hide” Part 2

This is the second part of Glenn’s interview with Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman to discuss the book his book. The first part are here.

May 13 2014

“No Place to Hide”

Journalist, author and constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald’s new book “No Place To Hide” was released this week and Glenn has been on the interview circuit discussing the book, Edward Snowden and the next set of revelations about the NSA spying. In an interview with GQ magazine, he talks about what a whirlwind this last year has been as the hottest story in the world has unfolded:

Glenn Greenwald is trying to lose fifteen pounds. “Um, it’s been a little crazy these past nine months,” he says. “And I will eat French fries or potato chips if they’re in front of me.” On his porch, perched on a jungle mountaintop in Rio, the morning is fresh. Greenwald, in board shorts and a collared short-sleeve shirt, has done his daily hour’s worth of yoga and attached himself to one of his five laptops as his dozen dogs yap and wag to begin the day’s circus in his monkey-and-macaw paradise.

To put it simply, Greenwald has had one hell of a dizzying run. The Bourne plotline is familiar now: In late 2012, a shady contact calling himself Cincinnatus reached out via e-mail with the urgent desire to reveal some top-secret documents. As a blogger, author, and relentless commentator on all things related to the NSA, Greenwald had been here before. He figured it was a setup, or nut job, and disregarded the message. The source then contacted Greenwald’s friend Laura Poitras, an Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmaker, and sent along a sample of encrypted documents. Poitras got in touch with Greenwald immediately: Not only did this seem like a potential jackpot, she said, but Cincinnatus wouldn’t go ahead until Greenwald had been looped in.

Soon, per the source’s instructions, they were on a plane to Hong Kong. Greenwald and Poitras did exactly as they were told, showing up at the Mira hotel at 10:20 a.m. on June 3, in front of a giant plastic alligator, looking for a man holding a Rubik’s Cube. “I thought he would be a 60-year-old senior NSA guy,” says Greenwald. And then here’s this pale, stringbeany kid with glasses, “looking all of twentysomething.” This, of course, was the 29-year-old NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Once they retired to his hotel room, he turned over an estimated tens of thousands of documents, the vast majority of them classified “Top Secret,” comprising arguably the biggest leak of classified material in U.S. history. After days of intensive work with Greenwald and Poitras, Snowden fled-just minutes ahead of the press-only to reappear in Moscow.

This left Greenwald with the most exhilarating and daunting task of his career: to figure out how to curate and publish the vast Snowden archive in his Brazilian self-exile. Once he began, his work triggered an avalanche of articles that branded him a hero, a traitor, a collaborator. In one fell swoop, he had piqued and scandalized and provoked the world into a deeper debate about not just surveillance and privacy but power and truth. The odyssey eventually led him from The Guardian, where the first articles appeared revealing the NSA’s secret surveillance of Verizon records, to his central position in Pierre Omidyar’s $250 million muckraking gambit known as First Look Media and The Intercept, where Greenwald is figurehead, main attraction, and blogitor-in-chief.

The Guardian has a excerpt from the book describing the first hectic days following the first meeting with Mr.Snowden in Hong Kong:

On Thursday 6 June 2013, our fifth day in Hong Kong, I went to Edward Snowden’s hotel room and he immediately said he had news that was “a bit alarming”. An internet-connected security device at the home he shared with his longtime girlfriend in Hawaii had detected that two people from the NSA – a human-resources person and an NSA “police officer” – had come to their house searching for him.

Snowden was almost certain this meant that the NSA had identified him as the likely source of the leaks, but I was sceptical. “If they thought you did this, they’d send hordes of FBI agents with a search warrant and probably Swat teams, not a single NSA officer and a human-resources person.” I figured this was just an automatic and routine inquiry, triggered when an NSA employee goes absent for a few weeks without explanation. But Snowden suggested that perhaps they were being purposely low-key to avoid drawing media attention or setting off an effort to suppress evidence.

Whatever the news meant, it underscored the need for Laura Poitras – the film-maker who was collaborating with me on the story – and I to quickly prepare our article and video unveiling Snowden as the source of the disclosures. We were determined that the world would first hear about Snowden, his actions and his motives, from Snowden himself, not through a demonisation campaign spread by the US government while he was in hiding or in custody and unable to speak for himself.

Our plan was to publish two more articles on the NSA files in the Guardian and then release a long piece on Snowden himself, accompanied by a videotaped interview, and a printed Q&A with him.

Poitras had spent the previous 48 hours editing the footage from my first interview with Snowden, but she said it was too detailed, lengthy, and fragmented to use. She wanted to film a new interview right away; one that was more concise and focused, and wrote a list of 20 or so specific questions for me to ask him. I added several of my own as Poitras set up her camera and directed us where to sit.

Along with the release of the book, Glenn has also released more documents which Kevin Gosztola summarizes at FDL’s Dissenter.

Glenn joined Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman to discuss the book in the first part of a two day interview.



Transcript can be read here



Transcript can be read here

May 07 2014

The Debate on State Surveillance

Last weekend the journalist and constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald teamed up with Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian to debate state surveillance with former NSA and CIA chief Michael Hayden and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz. Greenwald and Ohanian will argued against the motion “be it resolved state surveillance is a legitimate defense of our freedoms.” The event was organized by Munk Debates and held in Toronto, Canada.

Glenn just devastated Hayden and Dershowitz.

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