Greenwald Stands By His NSA Reporting in Spite of Growing Questions

FILED TO: Politics

greenwald_spotlight(UPDATE below.)

I’m going to put it all out there and let the chips fall where they may: I’m increasingly convinced that Glenn Greenwald’s reporting on the NSA story is tainted by his well-known agenda, leading him to make broad claims for the purposes of inciting outrage. Yes, this is only a theory. But there continues to be a growing number of questions key to the NSA surveillance story that remain unanswered by Greenwald.

Greenwald has flat out refused to offer any sort of revisions or clarifications on his reporting, even though many of the questions have come from other publications and other NSA sources. And that strongly indicates to me that he’s sticking with his reporting and refuses to shed any more light — transparency, if you will — onto some of the rough edges that continue to be uncovered by various other outlets, including CNET, TechCrunch, TPM, The New York Times, ZDNet, the Los Angeles Times and so forth.

Why are these clarifications so important? Greenwald’s reporting is being presented as hard news, not in the format of his usual journo-activist Glennzilla screeds. There ought to be a very clear wall of distinction between these two areas, and those distinctions ought to be made clear to readers. Fox News Channel, for example, has notoriously blurred that line, even filling its newscasts with agenda-driven stories that sound like hard news, with the accompanying “fair and balanced” slogan, but that are in reality carefully selected based on how they’ll play to the decidedly unbalanced conservative Fox News viewership.

Likewise, Greenwald may have been deliberately vague in some areas and deliberately misleading in other areas as a means of feeding his agenda, which includes but isn’t exclusive to upending the left-right paradigm, safeguarding civil liberties and his stated goal of generating public debate about domestic surveillance and the reach of our national security apparatus. And if he’s exaggerating aspects of this story to suit his agenda, he ought to come clean about it. At this point, some of the information that we’ve learned and which he hasn’t clarified is collectively pushing some skeptics to draw that conclusion, including me.

In order to demonstrate the story’s veracity, there are nagging questions that ought to be answered.

1. Why hasn’t Greenwald clarified his “direct access to servers” language from last week’s PRISM report?

Multiple other news outlets have provided information debunking the notion that the NSA had unfettered back door access to servers belonging to the various tech giants named in the PRISM slides. The New York Times described a process whereby the various tech companies, after receiving a FISA court approved request from the NSA and vetting it through their legal departments, gather the information and post it in a virtual “mailbox” for the NSA to retrieve: “It is not sent automatically or in bulk, and the government does not have full access to company servers. Instead, they said, it is a more secure and efficient way to hand over the data.”

You know what this is? It sounds like an FTP server to me, not unlike Dropbox. This is how many of us transfer digital files that are too large for email. The NSA apparently doesn’t enjoy a free pass to directly grab up server data at will — instead, it merely downloads it from an FTP server (or similar) after it’s been placed there by the tech company that set it up for them. Again, this undercuts one of the most outrage-inducing aspects of Greenwald’s story, not to mention the initial Washington Post reporting as well. The NSA doesn’t have “direct access” to anything other than an innocuous file transfer “mailbox.” But “direct access” sounds sexier and therefore feeds the outrage agenda.

2. Why hasn’t Greenwald posted more technical details?

This is perhaps one of the most frequently discussed head-scratchers circulating around these stories. Greenwald has been communicating with an ostensibly tech savvy source who could easily summarize some of the above details about mailboxes and data transfers. Maybe not all of the incomprehensible computer jargon, but at least an overview of the IT side of the process. It seems to me that a story this dependent upon complex technology would include a sidebar with more specifics about the operation’s functionality, enabling IT experts to vet Snowden’s claims, further legitimizing his role and status. Technical vetting might also answer other questions: Could Snowden wiretap anyone including the president? Could Snowden really access any CIA station (only slightly less far-fetched-sounding than saying he’s bionic, too)? This disclosure of key technical specifications never happened. In fact, Greenwald hasn’t said whether Snowden’s information was subjected to any technical vetting at all, independent or otherwise.

Additionally, Snowden chose to speak with two separate news outlets. So why didn’t he also contact one of the many tech news sites like BoingBoing, Slashdot or Wired? Why did he choose someone, Greenwald, who’s admitted to being an IT neophyte? If a whistleblower from Big Pharma came to me with information about a drug that was chemically castrating people, I would take the whistleblower’s information to an expert for at least cursory technical vetting to make sure the source wasn’t a crank. Journalism 101. But it didn’t happen here. Why?

3. Why did Greenwald exaggerate the scope of his Verizon story?

Yesterday on Twitter, Greenwald wrote that nobody thought the USA PATRIOT Act enabled “bulk collection of all Americans’ records.” Another Twitter user replied, “You mean “some of” not “all”. Unless you have something else to share?” Greenwald’s response? “The program we exposed is the collection of all American’s phone records.” Unless I missed a revelation in Greenwald’s reporting, and I don’t think I have, this is an untrue statement. The program he described last week, prior to his PRISM reporting, had to do with the NSA’s collection of Verizon phone records for a span of three months. Unless “all Americans” take Verizon as their phone provivder, Greenwald was wrong. But this is how his agenda seeps into his reporting. It begins with Verizon customers then morphs into everyone, and outrage ensues with hyperbole growing rapidly into groupthink reality. Yes, other reports indicate that the NSA likely collected mobile data from other carriers, but again, this is hardly indicates “all Americans.”

More questions.

Were any of Snowden’s documents absconded from his pre-Booz Allen jobs? Since he contacted Laura Poitras and Greenwald before beginning employment at Booz Allen in Hawaii, did he enter his job at Booz Allen with the goal of acquiring the PRISM documents (and apparently others), and was Greenwald aware that he was entering the job with that intention? Did he earn $122,000, as stated by Booz Allen, or $200,000 as he told Greenwald?

What level of government secrecy is permissible? Where should the government draw the line for permissible counter-terrorism efforts? Is Greenwald at all concerned that the leaking of this information will lead to less systemic transparency, not more? Does the NSA have access to information that reveals more personal details than are contained within a tax return, as Kurt Eichenwald noted in Vanity Fair? How the hell did a low level IT guy with only a GED have access to a world of top secret information and national security operations, and, if he truly did have access and didn’t somehow hack into information he wasn’t otherwise permitted to access, doesn’t this reveal another huge problem with the integrity of private personal data — that it’s in the hands of random low level workers employed at corporate subcontracting outfits?

I’ve tried to ask Greenwald similar questions via social media, but he’s blocked me on Twitter. Strange for someone whose goal is to have a public debate about all this.

As Chez Pazienza so brilliantly wrote on Monday, “Being a good journalist is a little like being a scientist: You should constantly be testing your theory and findings for signs of confirmation bias or an agenda that’s getting the better of your commitment to the truth.” In the absence of this kind of professional integrity — integrity, by the way, which led the Washington Post to revise its initial story — the only conclusion to draw here is that Greenwald doesn’t want anyone to see the agenda behind the curtain. In that regard, he’s no better than Fox News Channel, passing off cleverly hand-picked stories and coded words (“some are saying,” “homicide bombers,” etc) as hard news. Consequently, he’s drawing other activists and voices on the left into a story that’s full of potential traps. If Snowden turns out to be a hacker nihilist who’s feeding Greenwald bad information, or if Greenwald’s reporting continues to be strewn with holes, it could seriously damage not only the effort to roll back post-9/11 overreach and opacity, but also the broader liberal movement — not to mention the credibility of future whistleblowers/leakers. You deserve to know whether your outrage is founded upon the full knowledge of the facts or if it’s been deliberately manipulated by Greenwald’s personal whimsy and cleverness.

To repeat: I’m interested in ending the war on terrorism and all of the awfulness that’s accompanied it. But I’m not interested in a counterproductive slash-and-burn approach, and I’m not interested in trading credibility for the advancement of an agenda. So I’m trying to get to the bottom of some of these rather shaky gaps in the story. And you know what? If it turns out the NSA is really collecting the phone records of “all Americans,” while accessing proprietary servers and gathering data at will, and doing it with the help of low level IT analysts who can wiretap the president, then I’ll absolutely retract my skepticism.

UPDATE: A new article posted at the Guardian by Charles Arthur and Dominic Rushe walked back the “direct access” claim made in Greenwald’s original article and confirmed the FTP/Dropbox theory.

The Guardian understands that the NSA approached those companies and asked them to enable a “dropbox” system whereby legally requested data could be copied from their own server out to an NSA-owned system. That has allowed the companies to deny that there is “direct or indirect” NSA access, to deny that there is a “back door” to their systems, and that they only comply with “legal” requests – while not explaining the scope of that access.

Anyone who uses an FTP server knows that this is a far cry from “direct access” to the entire contents of a server. But now, to paraphrase a popular quotation, the hyperbolic misleading interpretation used by Greenwald has been around the world a few times now that the reality of the technology finally got its pants on. The question remains, however, whether Greenwald was deliberately vague, or whether he didn’t bother to attain more clarification on this point from his IT expert source.


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  • Cowicide

    Whoops, about 1 week from today is turns out there was DIRECT ACCESS. So maybe it’s time for all you naysayers to apologize to an American hero and whistleblower.

    Actaully, you all should get down on your hands and knees and kiss his a$$

    • Daz K

      That wasn’t the claim though was it, Greenwald and Snowden claimed the NSA had direct access onto the servers of companies such as Facebook.

      This article relates to tapping into mobile phones.

      Your post is a straw man.

  • Politiva_com

    Oh Pullease. Nitpicking is not the word. Can’t see the Forest for the trees? The only people “nagged” by these “questions” are the Progressives so blinded by Obama-love they turn on their own and join Peter King (of all people) in calling for Greenwald’s head. And yes lets not forget that “well known agenda” of Greenwalds to actually stick to journalistic principles, and hold people accountable, as the rest of his ilk turn into Pravda.

  • Ormond Otvos

    Seems like no one remembers that a prism is what is used to split the optical signal in the first place. Great name for a mainline data grabber. I’m with Snowden on this. OF COURSE there will be weasel worded denials, and the envious bloggoids will want to cut down on the enormity of the data theft. Does no one wonder what the Bluffdale, Utah data storage and processing center is being built for?

  • answerfrog

    GG probably has never heard of FTP. Top secret NSA system. LOL

  • Adam Watson

    A couple of recent developments that may be worth noting:

    1) Greenwald has just written a new piece in The Guardian ( reviewing the fallout from the NSA leaks. He responds to a number of allegations made here and elsewhere, and also attacks the attempts at demonizing the messenger (a predictable tactic from the establishment and its media allies).

    2) He notes the warning of a friend that “the tactic used by Democratic partisans would be to cling to and then endlessly harp on any alleged inaccuracy in any one of the stories we publish as a means of distracting attention away from the revelations and discrediting the entire project. That proved quite prescient, as that is exactly what they are attempting to do.” It doesn’t require a large effort to see that is exactly the pattern that is represented in the above article.

    3) The ‘direct access’ criticism has been a red herring. The articles were vetted by multiple Guardian editors, as were those in the Post. Sub headings of original Greenwald/MacAskill article noted companies denial of the program. The ACLU’s tech expert, Chris Soghoian, explains why the tech companies’ denials are far less significant and far more semantic than many are claiming ( Bart Gellman stands by his core claims in the Post (

    “Intelligence community sources said that this description, although inaccurate from a technical perspective, matches the experience of analysts at the NSA. From their workstations anywhere in the world, government employees cleared for PRISM access may “task” the system and receive results from an Internet company without further interaction with the company’s staff.”

    • answerfrog

      Just the usual tripe of name calling and ad hominem. I think his sneering response towards any and all critics just discredits him as a reliable person.

  • chili

    What is most painfully clear here is that an overwhelming majority of American’s do not understand basic Internet technologies.

    • answerfrog

      And reporters even less so

  • xdir

    Here’s a few question for Bob Cesca.
    Do the Tech companies give data for individual users per subpoena or bulk? does the server belong to them or the Govt?
    Does the NSA believe that Verizon is the carrier of choice for terrorists so other carriers need not be monitored?
    When ask an IT administrator how much do you earn, do they give the base salary or do they include overtime? that could easily be 50% or more of salary (bear in mind server support requires plenty of outside hours work that is normally at a higher rate then 9-5). If Snowden had said $120k, Booz would just say he earned $200K last year (including Overtime) and you would be asking why did Snowden lie.

    Finally, what level of Govt secrecy is permissible – NONE when its unconstitutional.

  • Heather Nordquist

    Bravo! The direct access comment really had me spinning. I work for an international entity that handles very sensitive data and we have dropbox systems to share data with others. That in NO WAY allows our customers any access to our secured system. There are well-documented ways to keep access to your servers limited while sharing information that you need to share. Diligence is needed to continually look for vulnerabilities in your network, but the claim that somehow Snowden could just punch something in and look at every detail of my social media and email account is completely ludicrous.

  • reanimate

    I wouldn’t be so quick to jump to conclusions based on the tech companies’ denials. Remember, it’s the NSA itself, not Snowden or Greenwald, that is boasting of “direct access” to company servers. The real question is what “direct access” means.

    There’s little doubt that the “secure mailbox” FTP program exists, and that companies comply with government requests for records. But it’s also possible (and even probable, based on the leaked documents) that the government is “wiretapping” (copying) traffic to and from the servers of these companies in order to draw up these requests.

    Consider the court testimony of Mark Klein – an AT&T technician turned whistleblower – from back in 2006. Klein claimed that the NSA had installed a “splitter” in AT&T’s offices in San Francisco where he worked. This technology created “a complete copy of the internet traffic that AT&T receives” by splitting the fiber optic signal and diverting a second version of the traffic to NSA’s servers.

    This splitting of the signal would seem to perfectly match the codename, PRISM.

    Now if the NSA felt they needed to set up these wiretaps on AT&T’s internet traffic, why wouldn’t they do the same thing for the major tech companies?

    The Washington Post, in the update to their original story, seems to confirm this theory, based on an NSA inspector general’s report:

    “According to a more precise description contained in a classified NSA inspector general’s report, also obtained by The Post, PRISM allows “collection managers [to send] content tasking instructions directly to equipment installed at company-controlled locations,” rather than directly to company servers. The companies cannot see the queries that are sent from the NSA to the systems installed on their premises, according to sources familiar with the PRISM process.”

    “From their workstations anywhere in the world, government employees cleared for PRISM access may “task” the system and receive results from an Internet company without further interaction with the company’s staff.”

    That sounds like something a layman indeed might describe as “direct access.” Technically speaking, it’s direct access to a router that that is wiretapping all company traffic, rather than to the servers themselves. But it still provides the government direct and immediate access to company data, and would be significantly different from the more limited FTP “mailbox” program.

  • cousinavi

    Awesome post, Bob. Excellent work.

  • mohammednoori

    A “critique” of Glenn Greenwald’s bias should also include the author’s own bias, which is that he’s a rabid supporter of the current President.

    • Milton Spears

      What difference does that make, facts are facts or don’t you care about facts?

  • wiredog

    , did he enter his job at Booz Allen with the goal of acquiring the PRISM documents (and apparently others
    I suspect he had been in the job for awhile, and just switched employers when Booz won the contract. t`s pretty common in the government contracting world.

    • Milton Spears

      But you don’t know that for sure.

  • Irishgirl1

    I first came across Glenn Greenwald when I wanted more information on Bruce Ivins and the whole anthrax debacle back in 2008. I thought he was very enlightening and I enjoyed reading his posts at Salon. I went back a few times after that, but nothing he was writing about seemed to catch my attention. I don’t know exactly what it was that caused me to stop reading his work as I had held him in high regard. My point is that when I read the piece in The Guardian – I was prepared to believe it because Glenn had written it.

    Within an hour on the intertoobs, I was calling whooah! I have my own silly little blog and I immediately wrote a post (mostly citing an article from the Daily Beast).

    I had a question mark after the word “hero.” I was skeptical to say the least.

  • Lady Willpower

    Greenwald Stands By His NSA Reporting in Spite of Growing Questions Because He Never Retracts, Amends Or Corrects Anything, EVER

    Is what you meant to say.

  • bardgal

    The biggest part of this is that Greenwald and Poitras were contacted BEFORE Snowdon started working at Booz. That in addition to a high school dropout getting a six-figure salary with top-level security clearance, reeks of intent to damage the US GOV. Kind of treasony.

    AND – *IF* (and I don’t believe this for a second), Snowdon (some random yahoo at at a private company) had the ability to read THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATE’S EMAIL – we have a much bigger security problem.

    Snowdon is NOT a whistleblower. Whistleblowers out illegal criminal activity. Everything he’s “leaked” is all LEGAL. The only laws that have been broken is his leaking: the release of CLASSIFIED US INTELLIGENCE, and of course, that he broke his NDA he signed with Booz.

    • Adam Watson

      “That in addition to a high school dropout getting a six-figure salary with top-level security clearance, reeks of intent to damage the US GOV. Kind of treasony.”

      Ah I see, because high school drop out are inherently worthless and will never do anything worthwhile. Got it. Curious how the leaks damaged the US government, or why that matters when it is in the public interest.

      “Everything he’s “leaked” is all LEGAL.”

      You’d be surprised how often that phrase is used to silence critics. Forcing blacks to make way for whites on buses was also legal.

      “The only laws that have been broken is his leaking: the release of CLASSIFIED US INTELLIGENCE,”

      Just because someone is slapped with ‘classified’ doesn’t mean that it can harm the US.

      • bardgal

        So you’re saying that CHINA and other foreign countries are totally fine with us hacking into their internet? And that would NEVER harm the US? You really speak for all those countries?

        • Adam Watson

          No, but the leaks serve to expose the hypocrisy of Obama for taking China to account for it’s own hacking programs. I’m unsure whether you mean the leaks will harm the current administration (which they probably will), or the populace (which they almost certainly won’t). The two are distinct.

          • bardgal

            Ah – I see. So it’s about President Obama for you, and not the USA. And you’re completely blind to the treason here. So if China hacks our banking system, you don’t that can harm you.

            Got it.

            It’s probably FINE with you that private companies have your info, but think the US has no right to try to fight the cyberwars that are currently very actively going on globally.

          • Adam Watson

            Not once, anywhere, did I say that Chinese hacking does not harm US interests. It obviously does. Just as US hacking harms the interests of China. The point I am making is that the US has recently, and publicly, criticised China for its state sponsored hacking program. This is transparently hypocritical, given that the US has been doing the same thing for years.

            As for cyberwarfare, that’s a much bigger issue. As the US and China are not enemies, it would be mutually beneficial if both established some sort of ground rules or common practises, which would allow them to work together to combat cybercriminal networks and other rogue entities which really do pose a threat to both their interests. That doesn’t mean that privacy rights should be thrown out the window in the process.

          • bardgal

            Who’s privacy? Yours? The 4th Amendment guarantees you “privacy” (even though that word isn’t used – “unreasonable search and seizure” is the actual phrase), in your home, and your person. But when you voluntarily choose to extend yourself outside either of those with the web, phones, call phones, etc – you are voluntarily using the public communications grid, and the 4th no longer legally applies.

            No HUMAN is looking at your info. Private companies run algorithms on your metadata in order to get more money from you. The US GOV cannot without a FISA warrant. If HUMANS were reading your email, listening to your phone calls, and checking your browsing history (all of which you voluntarily participate in), we’d have zero unemployment, and still wouldn’t have enough people to do that with everyone in America.

            Nothing illegal has happened. Bush warrantlessly wiretapped people. That was before they passed laws against that.

          • bardgal

            CELL phones. arg. :)

          • Milton Spears

            @bardgal – Very impressive smackdown of Adam Greenwaldbot.

          • bardgal

            thanks! :)

          • Adam Watson

            What an intelligent comment! You must be so proud.

          • Adam Watson

            So if the government went ahead and searched through your every personal email and text (which it has authority to do, provided to it by an unaccountable secret court), the fourth amendment doesn’t apply? I’m amazed by the intellectual hoops people go through to defend wanten disregard for personal rights. Going through physical private letters in your house is operatively exactly the same as going through virtual private texts and emails on the internet, and you should be protected from government intrusion on both counts. The fourth amendment prevents dragnet surveillance by requiring law enforcement to go to courts and show probable cause.

            The PRISM program is authorised as part of ‘foreign intelligence gathering’ under the 2008 Amendments to FISA. This system fails to require both adequate targeting and adequate oversight, contrary to your rosy picture of the situation. There is minimal court and congressional oversight.

            What you are left defending is broad authorisations and broad secrecy.

          • bardgal

            No, I don’t, because no HUMAN is doing it. *IF there was “probable cause” it’s still not a human, It’s a computer algorithm looking for patterns.

            My “personal rights” haven’t been violated. I voluntarily carry a cell phone, knowing full well that it as a GPS on it, and that cell phones have never been secure. I wouldn’t talk about a script idea on a cell phone because I know there are snoop freaks who troll cell frequencies as a hobby – and can get that equipment legally, and I don’t hear anyone crying about that.

            I voluntarily use the internet. If I really wanted privacy, I could get rid of that technology. But I use it all knowing full well it’s not completely private, and never has been.

            Yes it needs more oversight, but right now it’s LEGAL.

            However, I’m far more horrified that some high school dropout yahoo employed by a private contractor, was given government security clearance, and could sell that info to the highest bidder.

            Private companies search your metadata in order to manipulate you, and get more money from you, and somehow that’s okay with everyone. The USGov makes a copy of that metadata in order to search it to prevent another 9/11 and everyone is angry?

            The US makes a backup copy of the telecom records. They can’t access that info without a FISA warrant, unlike what Bush did – warrantless everyfrakingthing…. and actual wiretapping. That’s not what’s happening now. No one in the US GOV cares that you are addicted to Facebook. However, HBO (a private corporation) cares that you’re downloading Game of Thrones illegally. There’s a difference.

            Private companies can be owned by anyone. A Saudi Prince, An American douche, Mitt Romney, assholes like the Kochs, Richard Murdoch, Carrot Top, Steven Seagal, China, or some rich spoiled yahoo in North Korea, who might not have the best interest of the security of the American people and the US GOV in mind.

            So let’s say a terror cell in….. oh, I don’t know, let’s say Syria….., gets blown up, and when the CIA goes through the rubble, they find a cell phone, and discover a US phone number attached to that phone, that that phone called to, or received a call from, or both. Then the US GOV would ask for a FISA warrant to look at that US phone number’s records. Was it just a wrong number/butt dial, or is that number in their contacts? Did they speak for 10 seconds, or an hour? Was it once, or 30 times?

            Now with that knowledge, are you okay with our NSA/CIA/FBI going after the bad guys, or do you want your privacy more than your technology and security? Europe has less privacy with CCTV cameras everywhere, and intense gun regulations. They have less crime than we do measured in parsecs.

            Of course Verizon knows where you are, because your cell phone has google maps on it, or Find My iPhone, or several other countless apps you’ve voluntarilydownloaded onto your smartphone, that require GPS, and want to “use your location.”

            Congress voted in The Patriot Act without most of them reading it out of FEAR. If we have another attack on the level of 9/11, things will get much worse than this PRISM program, I guarantee it. I’d rather be able to use this technology, and am much more comfortable with the US GOV using their searches with FISA aapproval (I’d love more oversight), than have it all shut down and have something worse happen.

            And I’m WAY more horrified that private corporations have and sell my data, but I’m fully aware of it, and voluntarily participate – otherwise I wouldn’t be online, or have any phone – then I wouldn’t have a phone bill any computer could look at.

            But to act pearl-clutchingly Lindsey Graham + Glenn Greenwald’s love baby SHOCKED like the ZOMFG people are doing over this, makes me laugh. Have they never thought about their own phone bill beyond paying it? Yet they’re the first to complain about who dropped the ball on the Boston Marathon bombers.

            You really want your privacy? Fine. Empty your bank account, cancel your credit cards and cable/satellite TV/internet, and move to the sticks, to a property with a well, and land that’s self-sustaining. All communication devices are voluntary. Plenty of people don’t have phones, cell or otherwise, just like Bin Laden. And make sure you have solar power, and a rain cistern with a hose and pump so you can try to save your house from burning down when it’s struck by lightening. Living in a community has it’s perks, and is also voluntary.

          • Adam Watson

            That you received two recommends for that torrent of uncompromising gish gallop is representative of the sort of mindset of most on this thread. The rather obvious point you continue to keep missing is that, to repeat, the Fourth Amendment prevents dragnet surveillance by requiring law enforcement to go to courts and show probable cause. In 2008, the FISA Amendments Act (FISAAA) changed this. The government now does not need to show probable cause that the target is a foreign agent. It need only have a “reasonable belief” that the target is located outside of the United States. Now although you appear to be unbothered by this, many Americans are rather uncomfortable about their personal records being swept up by a US surveillance system, without sufficient oversight.

            Privacy laws are in place such that people do not need to jump through such hoops to keep their data safe online. This much is obvious. You can disagree, but there are very good reasons to worry about this expansive and expanding Surveillance State that has been built in secret without the public having any say.

          • bardgal

            It sounds as though you have no idea what meta data even is, much less that your data isn’t getting swept without probable cause, nor what those algorithms are even looking for.

            People DO need to jump through hoops to keep their data private which is why encryption, firewalls, and passwords exist.

            Funny that you have no problem that a private corporation can have and sweep your data WITHOUT probable cause for whatever reason they want to, even if that multinational corporation might be owned by some rich Saudi, some yahoo in North Korea, or Richard Murdoch who doesn’t have the best interest of The USA among their concerns. Or how about – oh, anyone who would profit from the US defaulting on it’s credit or going to war because they’re a defense contractor?

            The public had their say, they voted in the people who put those laws into place. That’s how our Republic works. An and most of those people who we won’t be able to vote out of office before 2020 thanks to the redistricting that took place because the Left didn’t bother to vote in 2010 because people like Greenwald and Firebagger Jane (BOTH of whom are on the Koch Payroll, and Greenwald is part of the CATO institute), told them to pout and stay home and “send a message.” Well the only message the Dems in DC got was that the TeaParty won. You think that would make them move farther left? You think they have time to read blogs when they don’t even have time to read the Patriot Act?

            You need to look up Gish Gallop too.

          • Adam Watson

            I can assure you I have an idea what metadata is. Whilst it is not direct phone tapping in this instance, it can be used to get very personal information. It can tell you where you were calling from, how long and how frequently you were talking to an individual. You could glean someone’s credit card details or social security number this way.

            When I send an email, say to my partner, I should not be expected to employ high end encryption to keep that data safe. But even if I did, the NSA could crack those encryptions. They aren’t amateurs.

            “Funny that you have no problem that a private corporation can have and sweep your data WITHOUT probable cause for whatever reason they want to”

            Are you really so incompetent that you cannot see the difference? Companies do /not/ sweep /personal/ data, it is /illegal/. Good grief, how ignorant can you possibly get at this stage?

            “The public had their say, they voted in the people who put those laws into place.”

            The public had no knowledge of the sweeping extent of the surveillance state. Now that they do, the majority are against it. Or do their opinions not count? If Obama went ahead and secretly dismantled the Constitution, would your defence be that we elected him, and thus his actions are legitimate? Neither, it seems, did any member of Congress not on the intelligence committe have any idea that this broad surveillance was going on (you know, the ones who are elected to provide oversight and accountability. The very thing which you keep lying to us all about, and which doesn’t exist in anything approaching sufficient in a functioning democracy).

            It’s been mentioned before, but it’s a salient point, about how people internalize the needs of the state when someone exposes classified information. It’s extremely dishonest.

          • bardgal

            You obviously have no idea what meta data is, how the algorithms “sweep” it, what they’re looking for, and why – all with probable cause.

            The public had their say. They voted for the people who wrote the Patriot Act, and keep voting them back in, which means we won’t have any oversight or regulation on it for some time to come thanks to Greenwald (CATO Institute) and Firebagger Jane – both who are on the Koch payroll, yet claim to be Progressives.

            Funny that you only have a problem with the US GOV having access to your data, not a private company who might be owned by a Saudi, Rupert Murdoch or anyone who doesn’t have the best interest of he USA at heart, and might actually profit if the US lost it’s credit status again, or went to war with yet another country because they do business with a defense contractor.

            You also need to look up Gish Gallop.

          • Pelle Svanslös

            Nothing illegal has happened.

            Yeah, Bush defenders said the same talking points about Bush’s programs even though they had no idea what was actually happening either (eg: “enhanced interrogation techniques are legal coz the president said so”; “Wiretaps are legal coz the president says so”, etc.), and they usually tossed in something bad that the previous president once did as well.

            Bush warrantlessly wiretapped people.

          • bardgal

            Next time read the entire post before commenting, :)

          • bardgal

            Also – please list the “wrongdoing” of the current POTUS.

          • Pelle Svanslös

            Renewed the Patriot Act, codified indefinite detentions, argued in court for indefinite detentions, argued for the court to restore the indefinite detention provisions of the NDAA after those provisions were struck down, has continued & expanded the National Surveillance State started by Bush, neogiated to stay in Iraq and only withdrew after they refused to give our troops immunity from prosecution, covered up Bush war crimes in violation of Rule 158 of the Geneva conventions, has dramatically ramped up our use of civilian-terroring drones, gave Bush’s Global War on Terror the bipartisan seal of approval…; I could go on but i suspect i already know there’s an excuse: “Those mean House Republicans forced poor widdle Obama to do it!”

          • bardgal

            Question: How do YOU propose we fight foreign entities hacking the US GOV/and private companies, banking, our infrastructure, etc?

          • ultraviolet_uk

            But now you are not talking about protecting US citizens. You are actively supporting the promotion of the interests of China over the interests of the US, for the sole purpose of embarrassing the President of the US.

            That is a pretty disgusting attitude.

          • Adam Watson

            In what way am I “actively supporting the promotion of the interests of China over the interests of the US”? Should we not expose government hypocrisy?

          • ultraviolet_uk

            What are you, 14 years old? Diplomacy is all about hypocrisy. And when exposing it damages the US’s interests, as it undoubtedly did here, then no you bloody well should not expose it.

          • Adam Watson

            Sweetheart, although I do admire your propensity to defend government hypocrisy, don’t expect others to follow suit. The public have a right to know. This isn’t a complex point, but you appear very slow on the uptake.

      • ultraviolet_uk

        You don’t seem to understand the difference between civil disobedience in protest at unjust laws, and a criminal offence which at the very least has embarrassed the entire country and compromised diplomatic relations.

        • Adam Watson

          What an unbelievably stupid comment. I couldn’t care less if the US administration is embarrassed. It’s dragnet surveillance of US citizens data (and those of other countries as well) should be exposed. Should Ellsberg not have released the Pentagon Papers in case Nixon felt embarrassed? Should Assange not have released the infamous Iraq War helicopter video incase Bush felt embarrassed?

          You seem to be defending the right of the government to have these abilities, but without the public knowing about it. In what way is this democratic?

          • ultraviolet_uk

            What an unbelievably childish comment.

            On US citizens, I have repeatedly said that the Patriot Act is a monstrosity that should be overturned. But all Snowden has revealed is that the security services are doing what the Patriot Act says.

            As for exposing interactions between the security services and foreign entities, that is the most massive big red line that should only ever be crossed for the most powerful reasons. And “Nah nah, we’re spying as well so we can hardly complain about China doing so” is the most fucking stupid reason imaginable for doing so.

          • Adam Watson

            “As for exposing interactions between the security services and foreign entities, that is the most massive big red line that should only ever be crossed for the most powerful reasons. ”

            Nothing in the leaks did anything to harm national security. All documents were vetted. So I’m struggling to see your point.

          • Milton Spears

            You’re struggling alright…to make sense.

          • ultraviolet_uk

            You do realise, don’t you, that both WaPo and the Guardian refused to publish all but four slides of the PowerPoint because they were too sensitive?

            You do realise, don’t you, that Snowden has now been having open talks with the Chinese media?

            Just because (in your opinion – I’m undecided on this point) nothing in what was actually published by the Guardian and WaPo did harm to national security, there is every reason to believe that what Snowden is discussing with the Chinese is doing so.

          • Adam Watson

            “You do realise, don’t you, that Snowden has now been having open talks with the Chinese media?”

            Yes, he gave an interview. You’re point?

            “there is every reason to believe that what Snowden is discussing with the Chinese is doing so.”

            So talking to a Chinese newspaper is harming national security? Please, feel free to walk us through that.

          • ultraviolet_uk

            I’m having a hard time believing even a 14 year old could be this naive.

            Snowden broke off discussions with his first journalistic contact because they refused to publish the PowerPoint in full.

            The Guardian and WaPo said they refused to publish more than 4 slides because it would damage national security.

            Snowden is now talking loquaciously to the Chinese media.

            Do you really need someone else to connect the dots for you as to why this almost certainly means that Snowden has given very sensitive classified information to the pro-Beijing media he has been talking to?

          • Adam Watson

            By ‘talking loquaciously’ you mean ‘has given an interview to a Hong Kong daily newspaper’.

            “Do you really need someone else to connect the dots for you as to why this almost certainly means that Snowden has given very sensitive classified information to the pro-Beijing media he has been talking to?”

            There are no dots to connect. There is no evidence that he has given any documents at all to the Chinese.

            Quick question: do you actually expect to be taken seriously when you say things like:”I’m having a hard time believing even a 14 year old could be this naive.”

            I certainly hope not.

          • ultraviolet_uk
          • Milton Spears

            Definition of whistleblower: “Anyone who has and reports insider knowledge of illegal activities occurring in an organization.”
            There has been NO illegality revealed by the government and unless you can prove otherwise you are the “unbelievably stupid” one. You Glennwaldbots or no different than loony Far Right wingnuts.

          • 1mrt1

            Definition of a hero…Snowden

      • Milton Spears

        That’s not what she said and it seems like you may be projecting your own feelings of worthlessness, not Snowden’s.

        • 1mrt1

          Out trolling on a seven hour old post ??? original

  • fermata

    “well-known agenda”? You use that phrase then never define just what
    you think that is; therefore, you lost me in the first paragraph.

    • Milton Spears

      Either you don’t know Greenwald’s work or you’re stupid. You choose.

  • answerfrog

    Getting the feeling that Snowden who was only a sysadmin just stole a bunch of documents and was extrapolating from them. ie he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

  • SocRat123

    Greenwald reported in his story exactly what the slides he received showed: NSA claimed in those slides that they had “direct access” to company servers. Obviously, there is some discrepancy about that, and it’s good that The Guardian has corrected the record (although what’s occurring isn’t still firmly known). But it’s not Greenwald’s job to report anything other than the leaked documents he received describe, accompanied by the company denials. Anyone who read the story could discern that. This piece is clearly personally-motivated, not so concerned about clearing up the public record.

    • Adam Watson

      The article is a truly terrible piece of journalism, ironic given that he is criticising Greenwald’s journalism.

      • Milton Spears

        lol, you don’t quit singing for Glenn, do you? Was it love at first sight or did it take a while?

    • answerfrog

      ” it’s not Greenwald’s job to report anything other than the leaked documents”

      Nonsense. If he’s just leaking docs with no context and no fact checking and explanation, than he is not doing his job. I’ve never seen legit news orgs just dump docs and say “you figure it out” or take them at face value

      • SocRat123

        He didn’t just leak docs. He received docs, vetted them, and then reported on just a few. In those initial revelations, he reported what the documents say, as well as what the tech companies said in response. The only sources for the walk back on the server access part were anonymous “officials” to the Times, and then a few tech company sources for the Wired FTP piece. They may be right, and that may be the case. But the documents, if you go back and read them, state in no uncertain terms: “We have direct access to these company servers.” Perhaps the NSA official who made the powerpoint was sloppily conflating two different things. But that’s not Greenwald’s responsibility to adjudicate. He reported what the documents said, as a report on leaked top-secret documents ought to be.

        • Bruce__R

          So hypothetically, if a low-level NSA official uses sloppy language in a PowerPoint presentation to his colleagues, with no vetting or intent of it being shared outside of one meeting, saying, for instance, that China has space colonies on the moon now, how DO we avoid that misinformation from contaminating the public record, if the journalist is not expected to verify and contextualize it?

          • SocRat123

            Well in the case of your extreme hypothetical, I imagine the paper wouldn’t report it, since it’s so outlandish. You’re also presuming that an internal NSA slide was wrong, and not PR spokesmen for companies that have a vested interest in not revealing the extent of their collaboration with government to their customers. I’m not saying definitively one side is right and the other is wrong, but let’s be honest about which should have more credibility. If Enron’s CEO says that everything’s honky dory and they’re in the black, but internal company memos say that their accounting methods are fraudulent to hide the company’s debt, we should acknowledge both statements. But it doesn’t take ESP to tell which has more credibility.

            As I’m sure you’re aware, only 5 of the 41 slides received were published. It’s unknown why the others weren’t disclosed—whether they were irrelevant or had information potentially damaging to sources & methods. Either way, it’s obvious that care was taken in choosing these disclosures.

          • Bruce__R

            Ok, but “outlandish” is a judgment call. And a lot of people have come forward to say the original article was pretty outlandish. Snowden said he could, from his desk, wiretap anybody, including the president, and watch our thoughts as we type.

            Internal company memos are not PowerPoints. No one’s disputing the Verizon court order Snowden leaked, for instance: it has obvious evidentiary weight. But lots of internal PowerPoint briefs are rushed and sloppy, surely everyone in the world has experience with those. We have no idea if this was somebody’s first draft, who vetted it, who reviewed it, who it was given to, nothing.

            I don’t agree a PowerPoint slide by an unnamed junior NSA employee (not Snowden, the guy who made the PowerPoint) should be assigned more credibility than the total and on-the-record denials of every agency head involved. It’s also increasingly clear by now that Snowden may have had no direct knowledge of this part of the NSA’s operations. He appears to have come across and lifted a PowerPoint off the server he was managing, from another NSA department. So he can’t actually speak to its veracity, either.

            Finally, Gellman and Greenwald have both said the rest of the same presentation is extremely damaging to national security and they vetted on that basis. It is notable that Snowden’s demand to the Post was that they be published in full.

          • SocRat123

            Fair points on the .ppt credibility vs. internal memos, etc. Although where I would disagree is in your assertion that company and agency head denials are more credible than the powerpoint. I think if history of such incidents is any indicator, people in power (with much to lose) lie like sieves.

            You can already see it in the response to the story. Rep. Peter “I love terrorism when it’s Brits and Protestants dying” King has said that Greenwald (only Greenwald, not Gellman) should be prosecuted because he “threatened to disclose covert CIA agents’ identities”—a flat out fabrication. Rep. Rogers has said that PRISM prevented the NYC subway bomber, another likely fabrication (based on UK court filings in the case). DNI Clapper has since admitted that he lied to Ron Wyden—UNDER OATH, a serious crime—even though Wyden gave him the question a day in advance, and chances to alter his testimony after the fact! These people lie for a living.

          • Bruce__R

            You will not see me defending an assumption of veracity in an elected representative.

            Clapper’s admission was that the Verizon info Snowden leaked did appear to impeach his statement to legislators. He wasn’t talking there about FISA 702 data. On that part, his denial has been total.

            This is not a traditional whistle-blower story. A traditional whistle-blower story would be someone saying “I was told by my superiors to compromise the rights of Americans, and here’s how I was supposed to do it.” That would give this a solid, non-deniable basis, with names and dates and specifics about information retrieved and from where, that lifting PowerPoints out of other people’s files will not give you. It is notable here that no one, not a single source named or unnamed, one who can be said to have had any direct knowledge, has come forward yet to say, “yeah, how Snowden described it is pretty much how it works.”

            If this was simply a matter of the Verizon phone court order leak, I’m pretty sure there would be no space between us. But the NSA 702 stuff seems more and more to have been a poorly-checked overreach. That’s all the original article here was saying.

          • SocRat123

            That’s not true about no one coming forward. William Binney, one of NSA’s leading crypto-mathematician and a senior level executive who resigned in protest of NSA’s warrantless wiretapping of Americans following 9-11 has said that not only is Snowden correct, but that the mass surveillance is far more encompassing than his assertions and documents insinuate. Bill Binney literally wrote the computer program currently being used against the American people. He knows what he’s talking about. But you won’t hear many news segments on him because he doesn’t have a sexy pole-dancing girlfriend or some other trivial concern.

          • Bruce__R

            I respect Bill Binney’s resignation out of conscience, but it was 12 years ago. He is certainly entitled to speak to the agency’s agenda in general terms, but he simply doesn’t have the ability to directly confirm any of the details about current NSA data collection practices that are in question here.

    • BumpIt McCarthy

      Notice that though the Guardian is correcting the record, Greenwald is not. And, upon discovering that one of the slides is that inaccurate, a journalist interested in getting his facts right would note the discrepancy, even though it casts some doubt on how accurate the rest of the PowerPoint presentation is.

      • SocRat123

        He did note the discrepancy! Go back and read his original article. It included BOTH the content of the slides and the company denials (which is all the information there was at the time). That was the thrust of his piece: “their explanations don’t jive with this powerpoint.” Now the tech companies are saying that they share through a secure FTP transfer, after they denied ANY involvement (otherwise known as lying). The fact that they’re now running in circles trying to explain this isn’t reflective of sloppy reporting, it’s reflective of the tech companies’ awful crisis management. The Guardian’s latest additions represent an evolving story, which still can’t be confirmed in total. It’s hardly some mea culpa. If the tech companies are now telling the truth, why do the NSA slides say that? No one’s explained that. I’m putting my money on internal NSA documents, rather than public proclamations from government and the corporations implicated.

        It boggles the mind how this turned into a shoot the messenger campaign against Snowden and Greenwald rather than the content of the message. Goes to show just how much people internalize the needs of the state to the point that when someone exposes it, they find the need to personally engage in a crusade against the men who brought this to light.

  • BlueTrooth

    Bob, your asking the right questions for the right reasons. I’ll just put it out there that something “just ain’t right”, it really doesn’t add up. Not that it has to “add up” since we’re talking about a classified operation with minimal transparency at best. Regarding “all Americans”…iI don’t believe it could ever be a factual statement. There really are Americans that do not use or own a cell phone or landline. And I’m not trying to be cute, the number is undoubtedly much higher than we suspect. If I wanted to be cute, I’d force the issue of “toddlers” being Americans. In addition, we aren’t talking about “phone records”. Phone records include name and billing address, as well as plan information. We are talking about metadata. Metadata is useful in analytics and generating assumptions primarily for developing marketing strategies, but not very useful in providing identifications. It’s an important distinction because the service provider actually generates the metadata from their customer phone records. It’s a database that Corporations generate without any prompting from the Government. In business jargon, it’s called a “report” (yes, it was humor). Verizon will store metadata for up to 90 days because it’s an efficient and useful tool for business. Of course, the metadata is susceptible to “hacking”, but it’s of little use to anyone other than a competitor. And it’s this point about hacking that kind of makes me chuckle. It could be argued that the metadata is actually more secure on NSA servers, until someone like Snowden gets hired and starts hacking into data from the “inside”. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the NSA, but I honestly thought the “basics” of these programs had been revealed in the wake of the Bush dust-up and implementation of the FISA requirements and oversight by Congress. I’m waiting for a real “revelation”. Evidence of real-time phone monitoring without probable cause or Corporate spying. Maybe evidence of “getting dirt” on personal or political foes in America. Speaking of spying, Snowden turned over classified docs indicating a “hacking” operation aimed at China’s Government. For some reason, I’m neither surprised nor alarmed that my rights have been violated with this new “revelation”. If I were a “reporter” with the same lack of restraint that Mr. Greenwald has displayed, I’d speculate and possibly exaggerate the facts to point out that Snowden quit the NSA over a “crisis in conscience” (according to a good friend interviewed by Lawrence O’Donnell). After a period of time, during which he MAY have been approached by the Government of China, he decided to pursue a job with a Systems Maintenance provider under contract with the “evil” NSA. After less than 2 months, and accumulating thousands of illegally obtained classified documents, Snowden portrays a “whistleblower” and flees to China to fulfill his contract and turn over the evidence of hacking/spying. And if Congress doesn’t go bananas with the “Punishable by death” talk, his plan just might blow up. Notice that he darn near begged the CIA or someone, anyone to confirm he might be “killed”. Why notice? Because then China could have a plausible reason to offer asylum or negotiate asylum. But hey, I wouldn’t do that because I’m not like Glenn.

  • Daniel Wright

    Still can’t read Bob can you?

  • D_C_Wilson

    Well, congratulations, Bob. I think you’ve officially made yourself the target of every single one of Greenwald’s flying monkeys.

    • answerfrog

      Yeah if truth is on your side, why all the fanboy thought police trying to bully everyone?

  • Katela

    Privatization of our security is the problem.

  • Mr X

    Obama damage control machine in high gear with the usual three letter agency worshippers on the Fake Right like @LibertyLynx and University of Houston professor and anti-civil liberties fanatic Craig Pirrong providing cover. Of course. Good thing Hannity, Rush and Levin know their ratings are toast if they refuse to aggressively discuss Obama’s NSA spying on their listeners. Too late donks, this Administration is burning down and Bill Clinton is probably tossing out some of the lighter fluid.

  • chrisj

    Thank you for giving me some peace of mind. I asked the same questions to myself and tried to follow WSJ, NYT, Rachel Maddow, and other sources on both left and right, and they all seem to be willfully ignorant.

    Shouldn’t Leslie Cauley be referenced by Mr. Greenwald explicitly?

    I really expected more from Rachel Maddow, but she seems too friendly with Mr. Greenwald (IMO).

    If some nut job goes after judge Vinson (signing judge on the document Mr. Greenwald published for all to see), is Mr. Greenwald (and/or Mr. Alan Rusbridger, the editor of the Guardian) culpable?

  • Shoq

    Well done, Bob.

    Have you noticed that nowhere in Snowden’s forum posts are any of those high-falutin words like “turnkey tyranny” and “architecture of oppression.”
    As we know, most dedicated idealists, and ALL Ron Paul Libertarians *always* pepper their internet speech with those use cute catch phrases and cliches. Funny that he doesn’t use many of them in his forum posts which seem to span more than a decade.

    Plenty of grandiose opinions of himself and his sexual prowess, some pathetically incompetent technical questions, and a few homophobic remarks. But just not many of the words and phrases of that deep and “eloquent” thinker as we have come to know him from the media’s flogging of Greenwald’s tightly scripted (and edited) video.

    • Mr X

      Yep, because ‘Paulbots’ are the greatest threat to your liberty. Not the NSA. Not even the NSA giving data to DHS to blackbag patriots which leads to you sitting in a city ten years from now with no power. But hey, the DHS got those bitter clingers good, didn’t they?

  • FJN

    Thanks for staying on him, I hate when people distort the truth just to further their own goals, especially if I agree with them on what some of those goals should be. There’s a legitimate story in here I think, it just might not be the one Greenwald keeps peddling. Facts matter.

  • jajamen

    Who gives a damn, if it’s direct access or FTP? no, the thing is still that NSA spies on you, and you, and you, and … * iterate millions of times*

    • FJN

      There is a pretty substantial difference between requesting information after receiving a court order and receiving it in an FTP and just being able to look at everybody’s records at any time, but I take your point, that they could both be bad in similar ways.

      The one thing I’d say though, if you truly believe these are things our government shouldn’t be able to do you should want the reporting on it to be as accurate as possible so that people will take the argument seriously. Half truths and distortions ruin credibility no matter how right or just the person’s intentions are.

      • Adam Watson

        The majority of reporting has in fact been accurate. The ‘direct access’ claim under PRISM was contained within the documents leaked by Snowden. The major internet firms have resolutely denied any such unfettered access, and their claims seems sincere enough. Much still remains unclear.

        • FJN

          The Guardian itself clarified this today, and it was linked in this article, but yes certain things remain unclear. What is clear is that there doesn’t seem to have been any “direct access” and Greenwald himself still isn’t budging on this point which doesn’t help his case. The Washington post corrected this right after releasing the story, as has the Guardian and countless other media, not Greenwald. The crux of his argument was how the government could access any and all information however they wanted to, it’s arguably the most important fact of the piece, and he got it wrong. He doesn’t mind being inaccurate to suit his purposes, it’s not the first time he’s done it and that’s a problem. Facts matter.

          • Adam Watson

            Greenwald has been on a plane for the last 24 hours on his admission, and tied up on other matters in HK prior to that. Let’s give him a few days and see what happens. The Guardian reported only what the internet companies /claim/ is the case (ie no backdoor access to data). I would argue that the crux of his argument is the expansive and (prior to the leaks) completely unknown nature of the NSA surveillance program, as well as its constitutional implications. The ease with which the NSA can access phone metadata on millions of customers, and the ease with which they can access information from internet companies with minimal court and congressional oversight, are salient points that he repeated throughout his coverage with Ewan MacAskill. I’m not aware of any other occasion when he has been inaccurate to suit his purposes. He’s thorough.

            I would also like to point out that this sort of ‘blame the messenger’ tactic implicit in this article and elsewhere is very dishonest. Take the following example:

            “How the hell did a low level IT guy with only a GED have access to a world of top secret information and national security operations”

            The implication being that people with ‘merely’ GED qualifications are inherently unintelligent and will never do anything worthwhile. It’s profoundly offensive, and a complete non-sequitur to boot. That the author of this piece then complains about the quality of Greenwald’s journalism is an irony lost on him, and apparently many people on this thread.

          • FJN

            “Let’s give him a few days and see what happens.”

            He’s had a few days and so far done nothing about it as I said the Wash Post corrected it the day of. And it’s not just the big tech companies claiming it, it’s also tech experts, go read the ZDNET story linked to in the article, or really any of the tech sites he quoted, they all say the same thing.

            “I would argue that the crux of his argument is the expansive and (prior to the leaks) completely unknown nature of the NSA surveillance program”

            No, we’ve known about the NSA surveillance program for years, reported both in newsweek the NYT and USA today going back to 2005.




            Maybe we didn’t know how expansive some of it was, but that still remains to be seen. All he’s really done it seems is reiterate and confirm things we’ve already known for a long time, the one new thing would have been the direct access, which doesn’t seem to be accurate.

            As to you’re assertion about the author of this piece questioning Greenwald too closely on everything, I agree your example does see a bit egregious, however, I think questioning everything he writes might be a good idea, as he makes things up pretty frequently. I’d direct you here


          • D_C_Wilson

            I remember the NYT reported on this program. I also remember the wingnut howler monkeys screeching that it was treason!!!1!! for the NYT to even report on this, though they did hold off until after the 2004 election to break the story.

            Of course things were different then. We had the cowboys in charge and the Evil Kenyan Marxist Usurper. So that makes things totally different.

          • chrisj

            Just to add to your references:

            Going back much farther to 1945 with Project Shamrock (AFSA and then NSA targeting telegrams entering/leaving USA), it seems none of us should be astonished that NSA continuously expands it’s powers without bound.

          • Adam Watson

            The leaks mentioned in your references merely serve to compliment the current revelations, particularly with respect to how the surveillance state has been expanded under Obama, rather than reigned in. Neither article makes reference to Boundless Informant, or that the US hacks civilian and other targets abroad, and has been doing so for years. Those are important. I’m tempted to say this sort of display of apathy regarding the current disclosures is deliberate, reflecting some knee-jerk willingness to defend Obama.

          • FJN

            Well I’d like to see evidence for that, so far you’ve given none for anything you claim so far. As I said “we didn’t know how expansive some of it was” or maybe you skipped that part. Boundless informant is just the name of part of this program. All those articles prove that we knew what the program was made for, just not exactly how it was done or what it was called. The big bombshell of the article and the one the rest of the media picked up on was the direct access the government had to any and all the information the American people have and the more we learn the more that seems like nonsense. As to your hacking, of cours we have hackers at the NSA we’ve known about that for years too.



            I’m tempted to say that you’re looking for some grand conspiracy to make your boring life more interesting and because of your deep ceded hatred of Hawaiians. (see I can invent baseless motivations for your actions in my head too!) If I have any sort of “knee jerk reaction” it’s to Greenwald. I already told you that he’s not to just be trusted at his word, provided evidence for that and haven’t received a response regarding it.

            Look you can hate the programs all you like and speak out against them, I’m just questioning whether Greenwald is helping out your cause by bending truths and rehashing things we already know.

          • Adam Watson

            Certainly it would be big news if the NSA had direct access to any and all information on US citizens. But the truth or otherwise of that information is not the fault of Greenwald. He reported on what the documents alleged, and on the response of the tech companies to those allegations. I see no problem with that. With regards hacking, your references make no mention of the scale of the hacking operations of the NSA, as revealed by the leaks. It makes no mention of the personal list of targets drawn up by Obama, nor the fact that the NSA also hacks civilian infrastructure and not just military. To say ‘we already knew all this’ means that you are either lying, or omniscient. And to say Boundless Informant is ‘just the name of this part of the program’ is a truly anaemic argument, and a remarkable understatement.

            With regards Greenwald’s journalism, I’ve seen the link you provided before (by those with an equal disposition to personalise). The ‘evidence’ you cite is a rather pertinent example of a truly Herculean effort for almost no yield. The bungling, incompetent attempts at making a mountain out of a molehill is, under a certain light, a true gift. Though not one to be proud of.

          • FJN

            I didn’t realize you were one of his die hard supporters, my mistake. His reporting was fine at the time, he showed the document and that the tech companies disagreed. But now that it’s been out awhile it’s clear that that it isn’t the case from the outside sources cited in most of the tech articles. HE should fix it and hasn’t. As to the hacking, the articles I cited both detailed that the NSA had a hacking department. What did you think they were doing?

            How can you keep saying it’s okay to report misinformation when the guardian itself now says it isn’t true? You must be willing to support the man darn the facts. It’s pointless to argue with someone who’s intellectually dishonest like Greenwald himself, so I’m done with you.

          • Adam Watson

            What misinformation? Greenwald and MacAskill, in their original article, noted both the contents of the documents and the tech companies responses to those contents. Your attempts to personalise this issue is an example of extreme intellectual dishonesty. You keep saying that we knew all this all along (except we did not), so again you are either lying or omniscient.

            Pretend to be done with me all you like, but you haven’t managed to hold together a consistent argument this entire time. That will look worse on you than it will on me.

          • FJN

            I guess I’ll give this one more shot, for the laughs at least, maybe it will sink in this time, I’ll try to go real slow. My argument has been nothing but consistant.

            1st. Greenwald writes an article with the slide saying 1 thing and the tech companies saying another. He then goes on to explain how he thinks the system works. This is the only part you seem to understand.

            2nd. Over the course of the week many tech based websites and publications came out citing sources OTHER than just the tech companies, people who actually institute the program themselves and tech experts (none of whom Greenwald consulted when writing his article like he should have) who all say that the system doesn’t work at all like Greenwald’s article stipulates. Most implied that the way Greenwald claimed it operated wasn’t even realistic from a technical standpoint.

            3rd. The Washington post, and The Guardian itself both admitted that they had it wrong and corrected the errors.

            And right now Greenwald still won’t budge. Yes, he can say that he was just reporting what the document said but he went further. In particular the “direct access” line is misleading and now proven to not mean what he thought it meant and yet he refuses to correct the error because it doesn’t suit his narrative that the gov has full enfettered access to the entire countries information. The most important new revelation that his article had.

          • Adam Watson

            First, Greenwald did not write the article by himself. He reported on the leaks and noted the response to those leaks, which was all that was required. His job is not to adjudicate. We now know that the tech companies lied, first saying they were in no way involved with the NSA, then claiming that they had an FTP secure transfer system. The main trust of his piece, had you actually read it, was to note the discrepancies between what the NSA document said, and what the tech companies said. Second, neither the Post nor the Guardian admitted they were wrong, they reported on an evolving story. Third, Greenwald doesn’t need to ‘budge’, as he was never in the wrong. Had the NSA had unfettered access to any information, that would have been important. That it apparently doesn’t does not denigrate the importance of the other leaks, much as you seem to want it to.

            But please, feel free about discussing Greenwald’s ‘agenda’ whilst making your own rather clear.

          • FJN

            “We now know that the tech companies lied, first saying they were in no way involved with the NSA, then claiming that they had an FTP secure transfer system. ”

            This is the problem, WE DON’T KNOW THIS. Yes they initially denied involvement at the time in a then classified program, but they were 100% correct it seems on how the system worked once they admitted it existed. There is an FTP system, that’s the whole point. All those tech articles say it, and after that happened the Guardian and Wash post both reported on the change to the story. Greenwald hasn’t and won’t because he doesn’t allow for his original story to evolve, never does.

            “The main trust of his piece, had you actually read it, was to note the discrepancies between what the NSA document said, and what the tech companies said.”

            Yes, and it turns out that the discrepancy wasn’t as deep as he thought it was. The document was misleading, and the way he reported on it didn’t help. How can you say in one sentence that it was an evolving story and that that’s why the guardian reported on the error and then the next that he doesn’t have to report on the changes??? Of course he does, if not by changing the original article then certainly in all these interviews he’s been doing all week. Yet he’s stuck by it 100%. So much so that you still think there was direct access. The story has evolved and he refuses to evolve with it.

            My only agenda is holding journalists to objective truths whenever possible, and Greenwald falls short all the time.

          • FJN

            “His job is no to adjudicate”

            He has a funny way of showing it, and you have a funnier way ignoring it.

          • Adam Watson

            “but they were 100% correct it seems on how the system worked once they admitted it existed.”

            That doesn’t quite add up. Firstly, if all the tech companies are doing under PRISM is what they’ve always done, then why would PRISM be necessary? Especially when the document claims the new programs entails a new form of collection? You may also be interested in Chris Soghoian take on the significance of the tech companies denial:

            “The document was misleading, and the way he reported on it didn’t help.”

            In what way? The NSA document claimed exactly what was reported. Nothing more. The claims of the tech companies were noted, both in the sub heading of the original article! In no way did the article claim that the direct access claim was true, only that it was contained in the document.

            “How can you say in one sentence that it was an evolving story and that that’s why the guardian reported on the error and then the next that he doesn’t have to report on the changes???”

            The changes have been reported. In what way is Greenwald in error for not reporting every single instance of the evolving story? Especially as this has already been done by other reporters in the Guardian. Should he just say the same thing twice? Would the Guardian editor do that? Incidentally, he does have a new article on this story, responding to the criticism addressed in the article ATL.

            “Yet he’s stuck by it 100%”

            Stuck by what? /He reported the story accurately/. He hasn’t ‘stuck’ by anything.

            “My only agenda is holding journalists to objective truths whenever possible, and Greenwald falls short all the time.”

            This is a blatant, hopeless untruth.

          • BumpIt McCarthy

            Oh for pity’s sake. Greenwald hasn’t been too jet-lagged not to be a constant presence on Twitter. Just add “AND SOME JOURNALISTS” to this, and you have “Greenwald On Greenwald,, By Greenwald:”:


            btw, I will defend to the, um, point of discomfort, his right to be an obdurate prick of a journalist without fear of incarceration at the hands of putzes like Peter King, at whom a goodly part of his Twitterstream is rightly directed. So there. But it’s not like he hasn’t the time to shore up his own sagging credibility.

          • Adam Watson

            I’ve noticed many here making claims on his supposed obdurateness. These claims are notable only by their lack of justification. I’m curious about this lack of credibility though. The majority of what was leaked has thus far been accurate. The NSA does collect data from Verizon Business customers, it has access (though not apparently unfettered) to the servers of the internet giants through PRISM, Operation Boundless Informant is a frightening tool for cataloguing global surveillance data (including domestically in the US). It is interesting that the NSA collected almost 3 billion pieces of intelligence from US computer networks over a 30-day period ending in March 2013. That is salient. The leaks also revealed a target list drawn up by Obama to be subject to cyberattack by the NSA, and this is not limited to military structures, but includes civilians. This is important because it highlights the transparent hypocrisy of the Obama admin calling Beijing to account over its own hacking endeavours.

            It seems the only real fact to be contested is the direct access claim in PRISM. To say that this nullifies the importance of the other leaks showcases an egregious ability to turn a blind eye to the growing surveillance state.

          • Mr X

            Not to mention it makes NSA look fucking stupid too that they hire narcissistic high school dropouts. And that if Snowden was so bad but could get inside think of how freakin’ easy it would be for the Chinese or Russians to find ten guys like Snowden who instead of going public to actually be a whistleblower would simply sell out their country for money and give Moscow and Beijing full access. if you Obama worshipping fuckers think it’s great he’s got dirt on his enemies, think about the dirt the Russians or Chinese could get on Obama — including the full record of whom he called on 9/12/2012. Are you getting the picture now, you morons? Our gov has created the Doomsday Machine and the Russians and Chinese can break into it any time they damn well please.

  • Adam Watson

    A lot of this article seems to be an attempt to personalise rather than deal in substantives. First and foremost, it should be noted that the leaks /have/ instigated the debate that Snowden wished to instigate, namely; raising the issue of privacy and civilian liberties (a breach of the 1st and 4th amendment) both in the US and abroad (notably in the EU). Secondly, the nature of GCHQ’s relationship to the NSA here in the UK has been revealed, and there are serious questions that ministers need to answer. Thirdly, the foreign intelligence system as it currently stands fails to require both adequate targeting and adequate oversight (and fact made plain by a number of senators complaining they were uninformed as to the true extent of the surveillance program). The system thus allows large amounts of data to be gathered on individuals, even if they are ‘incidental’ to any investigation, and it does this with minimal court and congressional oversight. I would really like for someone to explain how it is possible to justify the perpetuation of this state of affairs, whilst maintaining that the Fourth Amendment is to have any meaning.

    Finally, it should be noted that, in light of the leaks, a majority of Americans of these government surveillance programs ( It is important for a healthy democracy that such concerns are heeded, especially given that there was no electoral ability for voters to make their concerns heard due to government secrecy. Security is not an end in itself, it is a means to an end, namely freedom and civil liberty. Despite the errors in initial reporting of these stories, the facts such as they currently are are still frightening.

    • Mark Erickson

      Great points. You missed a word in the sentence with the link: a majority of Americans, 53% to 35%, *disapprove* of the NSA programs.

      • Adam Watson

        Apologies, I usually proof read before posting. Got a bit careless.

      • gn

        And Pew has polling which states the direct opposite.

        • Adam Watson

          There are a number of polls with apparently conflicting results. It might be an issue of age:

          • D_C_Wilson

            Well, we all know that that only polls that give us the results we want count. Just like the Unskewed Polls guy said.

          • Adam Watson

            Speaking of polls, the Guardian had a recent one that showed that a majority in US want greater oversight on NSA surveillance:

        • Mark Erickson

          Which has problems. And CBS poll today says majority don’t think the leaks will hurt.

    • gn

      So under the same logic, it was perfectly fine for the Bush admin to propagandize the American public into believing material untruths about weapons of mass destruction because, hey, it started a debate!

      Nothing small (d) democratic about this incident whatsoever.

      • Adam Watson

        No, because the WMD claims were false in their entirety (at least in the operatve sense the administration was using it). The main facts gleaned from the leaks (and thus their gravitas) remain, and remain worrying.

        • gn

          The main facts here, and what made this story newsworthy, were false in their entirety: that NSA has unfettered, backdoor access to American communications for which it needs no consent from communications companies or judicial oversight. That’s false. And that people with an obvious agenda promote sensational declarations such as this without bothering to get the facts straight adds zero to any notion of democratic debate. The only potential debate of value emerging is the wisdom of allowing private contracting companies to safeguard massive amounts of classified information. And that was not a debate intended by GG/Snowden.

          • Adam Watson

            The main facts were not ‘false in their entirety’. Firstly, the NSA /is/ collecting metadata from millions of customers of Verizon Business (a mockery of the limitations set out in Section 215 of the Patriot Act, as well as being a violation of the Fourth Amendment). Secondly, the NSA /can/ collect private communications data from the main internet giants, raising concerns about the breadth of information gathering being carried out at the behest of the US government, and whether they are subject to proper judicial oversight. As I mentioned previously, there is also the question of ‘incidental surveillance’ of US citizens, contradicting James Clapper’s remarks when he was asked about the possibility of domestic spying (he claimed he gave the ‘least truthful answer’, or in other words he lied). FISA’s ability to target foreigners is also a major concern, particularly for myself as an EU citizen who wants his privacy rights protected.

            All of the above (not mentioning the hypocrisy of Obama’s position of Chinese funded hacking) were all revealed as part of the leaks, and are still valid. So your statement that the facts inherent in them were ‘false in their entirety’ is demonstrably incorrect.

          • BumpIt McCarthy

            (not mentioning the hypocrisy of Obama’s position of Chinese funded hacking)

            This article was not about Snowden, but about the disturbing stretching, to put it kindly, of the truth in this most important story, by a reporter who does not ever make corrections, and so endangers whatever he reports.

            But since you mentioned “the hypocrisy of Obama’s position,” please explain what exposing what the NSA does regarding hacking China has to do with civil liberties?

            This is where Snowden began to really lose my sympathy: what right has he to make foreign policy on his own? Why, the US is being unfair to China, that beacon of human rights and civil liberties! Is it unfair to argue that this quiet, well-spoken IT consultant has gone a bridge too far?

          • Adam Watson

            >>But since you mentioned “the hypocrisy of Obama’s position,” please explain what exposing what the NSA does regarding hacking China has to do with civil liberties?<<

            First, when did I say make an explicit connection between NSA hacking and civil liberties? As I recall, the latter topic was confined to a different paragraph entirely. Second, now that we might consider the connection, it isn't only China that the NSA has continually hacked. In addition, the civil liberties of students and university staff in HK might feel that their civil liberties were infringed upon when they were hacked by a foreign intelligence organisation.

            Understand that this issue is not domestically confined.

          • Mr X

            Argh! Facts! Logic! Let’s talk about Greenwald some more!

          • Mr X

            “The main facts here, and what made this story newsworthy, were false in their entirety: that NSA has unfettered, backdoor access to American communications for which it needs no consent from communications companies or judicial oversight. That’s false.” You have proven no such thing. You parrot denials as if they are facts. PROVE that NSA is not reading individuals email.

    • D_C_Wilson

      You do know that the Bill of Rights doesn’t apply in the EU, right?

      BTW, where was all this concern for civil liberties when Bush was gathering the same information but without even bothering to get a warrant from the FISA court, because Jack Baur and ticking bombs?

      • Mr X

        No because Dubya while being a horrible president who gave us Obama wasn’t stockpiling bullets for DHS (290 million per year on the low end 400 million on the high end for five years to go = 2 biilion rounds), didn’t sic the IRS on his opponents with 132 IRS director WH visits on record, didn’t have a DOJ harassing reporters merely for doing their jobs and being part of an ‘enemy’ news organization in Fox, etc etc etc. Congrats Obama has now surpassed Bush as the worst in history.

        • Mr X

          Correction Obama has surpassed Dubya, LBJ and Nixon combined as the worst.

        • D_C_Wilson

          Well, you’ve got all the debunked conspiracy theories down pat. I’ll give you that. Too bad for you everything you wrote was total bullshit. Maybe you should turn off Fox for a while and stop being among the least informed Americans.

          • Lady Willpower

            Don’t bother. You’re arguing with a certifiable crazy person.

      • Adam Watson

        Sorry? When did I say that the Bill of Rights applied in the EU? I have to admit, it’s hilarious how many people here who criticise Greenwald for his apparent obdurateness are themselves unbearably obdurate. It makes me wonder whether this thread is for serious discussion or one big joke.

        Are you saying that when Bush was caught disregarding judicial oversight on surveillance, no one complained? Do you really expect to qualify for further serious consideration after such an absurd comment?

        • D_C_Wilson

          raising the issue of privacy and civilian liberties (a breach of the 1st and 4th amendment) both in the US and abroad (notably in the EU).

          Are you saying that when Bush was caught disregarding judicial oversight on surveillance, no one complained?

          No, just you.

          • Adam Watson

            “No, just you.”

            A truly vacuous response, to go alongside a litany of vacuous responses.

          • D_C_Wilson

            Gee, a troll called me names. Wait while I wipe away the tears.

          • Adam Watson

            Is there any particular point to your incompetent personal attacks, or is this taken to be the normal mode of behaviour on this website?

          • D_C_Wilson

            So, the troll who dismisses others as “vacuous” is now whining about personal attacks.


            Sorry if the behavior here isn’t up to the standards of sycophancy toward every word coming out of Greenwald’s twitter feed you’re obviously used to at other sites. I suggest going somewhere else then. You probably will never be happy here. People here don’t kiss your ass just for acting superior to everyone else. Try going here instead:


          • Adam Watson

            I guess this is the point when we avoid dealing in substantives and just hurl abuse at each other? How quaint. You obviously don’t like Greenwald. That’s fine. But we’re not talking about his personality, we’re talking about his integrity on this issue, which I’ve yet to see any reason to doubt. The discrepancies between the NSA documents and the tech companies response was noted in Greenwald’s original article. By all means continue to personalise, but understand that it disqualifies you from further serious consideration. All the best.

          • D_C_Wilson

            You mean there was a point where you weren’t hurling abuse?

            When was that? Last month?

          • Adam Watson

            For obvious reasons, this conversation is over.

          • D_C_Wilson

            Awww. Don’t go away mad.

            Just go fuck yourself.

          • Adam Watson

            “Just go fuck yourself.”

            Brilliant. I didn’t even need to drive home that last nail myself.

          • D_C_Wilson

            I thought this conversation was over?

  • Mark Erickson

    And here is Senator Tester denying national security was harmed by the leaks: You should create a new twitter account to follow Greenwald if you want to stay up to date on this story.

  • Mark Erickson

    Here is some independent confirmation of the scope of the Section 215 program ( ) from Thomas Drake: “In the first week of October 2001, President Bush had signed an extraordinary order authorizing blanket dragnet electronic surveillance ( ) Stellar Wind was a highly secret program that, without warrant or any
    approval from the Fisa court, gave the NSA access to all phone records
    from the major telephone companies, including US-to-US calls. It
    correlates precisely with the Verizon order revealed by Snowden; and
    based on what we know, you have to assume that there are standing orders
    for the other major telephone companies.”

    • Mr X

      But but but Binney hung out with a lady who might’ve filmed insurgents attacking U.S. troops in Iraq! That magically makes everything he says false!

  • Daz K

    I’ve only started reading the Daily Banter since this NSA story broke. And I must say its a breath of fresh air for a frustrated rational liberal like myself!

    The sycophantic behaviour of people on the Guardian website towards Greenwald is driving me insane, there has always been some kind of bizarre cult following of him on that site, and his pieces and opinions have never sat easy with me (especially his hatchet job on Sam Harris), but this is a whole new level. As stated on here, this story is riddled with holes and innuendo. I work in network security and there isn’t much meat regarding the technical details of this story, and having worked in the defence sector myself I cannot see how a contractor like Snowden would have so much access, permanent government employees wouldn’t have such unfettered access, as this itself is a major security risk. It certainly looks to me like the collection of data from fibre cables will be data supplied by order to a neutral FTP server or DMZ away from the main data centres of these companies.

    If evidence comes forward to prove me wrong, I will change my opinion accordingly, but I cannot sign up to this at the moment, the evidence, Greenwald’s reputation and the holes in this story are concerning me. I’m also very concerned about all those taking this as gospel at this early stage, and using it to forward anti American prejudice and/or conspiracy theory

    • Mr X

      Not as syncophantic as the LGF lizardoids.

      • Daz K

        Unsophisticated, unreasoned ad hominem attacks.

        The mark of a Greenwald occultist.

        Why not engage in some rational debate.

        • Steeevyo

          You are not aware of the history of LGF and the obvious mental issues of his founder Charles Johnson?
          It’s quite rich of him to accuse Greenwald blocking him from twitter when he deleted and blocked everyone who made critical remarks during his pro Bush war on terror and bomb towelheads into oblivion phase. Then when he was done with that he deleted and blocked everyone of those petty racists, when he suddenly decided to become a liberal again.

  • Older_Wiser2

    Is this treason, as Charles Johnson asks? Sounds like it…

    Snowden reportedly showed reporter Lana Lam documents that showed NSA
    had been hacking computers in Hong Kong and on the mainland since 2009.
    He estimated there were hundreds of targets in Hong Kong and mainland
    China, including the Chinese University of Hong Kong. None of the
    documents revealed any information about Chinese military systems,
    Snowden said.

    “We hack network backbones – like huge internet routers, basically –
    that give us access to the communications of hundreds of thousands of
    computers without having to hack every single one,” Snowden told Lam.

    • blackdaug

      So that’s it then. The “hero” is now revealing details of our intelligence gathering operation to… China.
      Thanks for enabling GG. You molded a immature, naive, disgruntled IT tech with more access than he should have had, into a flat out spy selling info to our largest global competitor. Cracker jack journalism indeed.

      • Jim Hollander

        So instead of asking of asking, why the NSA are spying on Universities in HK? You get suckered into the smear campaign.

        • nicole

          A truly idiotic response. I hope you aren’t more than 5 years old.

        • D_C_Wilson

          Gee? I don’t know. Maybe because we’ve been spying on China for decades now? They are still officially the largest communist country in the world, a nuclear power, and our biggest economic rival, you know.

          Or do you honestly believe that history began on January 20, 2009?

    • Mr X

      Fuck LGF and fuck Johnson. He’s done nothing but worship Obama after he ceased being a Bush worshipper following the Col. Killian memoes. He’s even worse of a weathervane than Andrew Sullivan.

  • joe smith

    But why hasn’t Bob Cesca decided to go after Barton Gellman, who was the origninal reporter to publish the PRISM data? After all, it was Barton Gellman who originally published the PRISM slides, and then it was followed up by Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian.

    • FJN

      You’re right, he should have, neither Gellman or Greenwald seems to have done all their homework here.

      • Mr X

        Because Gellman works for the Washington Establishment Post.

  • Hans Etter

    Prior to this none of you have ever heard of Prism or what it does ,so if you think this reporter sucks and they guy that gave up the information, then do something about it yourself instead of wasting your time here. Find out the facts.

    • Betty Eyer

      Oh, really? I guess the news articles showing Bush signing the orders to start up PRISM in 2006 don’t exist???

  • Older_Wiser2

    I’m thinking this is not going to turn out well for Snowjob and Glennzilla. And Edward Snowden talking to the South China Morning Post (which is favorable to Beijing) wasn’t a wise move on his part, either.

    • joe smith

      You are a good little sock puppet aren’t you? Another paid disinformation troll.

      • Older_Wiser2

        See above.

      • Victor_the_Crab

        … Says the crackpot to the kettle!

    • Steeevyo

      South China Morning Post friendly to China?
      You know who is friendly to China?
      Apple and every other major corporation in the United States of America.
      You are welcome.

  • Hans Etter

    Why don’t you ask NSA what they collect instead of harping on him for doing his job? Where have you been when this was going on ?

    • joe smith

      They are too busy furiously masturbating to all things Obomber. The God King worship is truly epic.

      • Lady Willpower

        You’re getting a lot of mileage out of that “furiously masturbating” line. How repressed are you?

  • Mark Hanson

    There appear to be a number of flaws in this article. I address three of them here by presenting some thoughts.

    1) The suggestion by Greenwald that the NSA took data “directly from the servers” is a quote from one of the slides in the PRISM leak. The Guardian published this final slide (with certain details necessarily redacted, such as names) after this attempt at debunking by questioning the term was first attempted.

    2) Snowden has said that he specifically chose journalists and news outlets that would respect that full disclosure, such as happened with Bradley Manning and Wikileaks, could harm innocent people and the interests of the US and the world. Hence full disclosure what not be ethical.

    3) It may not be commonly known in the US, but here in the UK we well recognise the inherent bias in stories appearing in the Guardian, as, indeed, we do when reading news from any source. “Hard facts” is not what any newspaper or television news purely reports.

    • BumpIt McCarthy

      Your first point actually brings up a few more questions , then, that everyone including Greenwald ought to be interested in exploring: if the slide describes a process inaccurately, “DIRECT ACCESS,” then what else is inaccurate in this PowerPoint presentation?

      The Guardian’s a well-known left-leaning paper, and a well-regarded one, but even polemicists like Greenwald are obligated to check their facts; inaccuracies only weaken their argument. Greenwald’s method of dripping information a little every day is sensationalist; it isn’t a substantive multipart investigation, which the story certainly merits. It looks like Greenwald and the Guardian were more concerned about making a splash before the WaPo story came out, which is almost musical-comedy-grade newspaper stuff, but still too bad for accuracy.

      • Adam Watson

        It would be rash to leap to conclusions. The delays might be a result of sensationalism, but I think it’s more likely to be due to diligence on the part of the Guardian about what should be released, in the appraisal of public interest vs national security. Greenwald himself has been preoccupied in Hong Kong, and has spent the majority of the last few days on a plane (his words). He did say he has more to release, so let’s wait and see.

      • Betty Eyer

        What is it about a power point presentation that we would accept it as being genuine? If you work somewhere you can lift logos and even signature images from other documents. I don’t understand why the slides are being treated like the stone tablets of Moses. They aren’t legal documents.

    • formerlywhatithink

      Disingenuous enough?

      1) As linked above (which you obviously did not read), this explains how drastically the Guardian went from “direct access” to describing the actual procedure.

      2) Snowden chose Glenn Greenwald because their politics were in sync.

      3)There will always be bias in news accounts, but an actual journalist tries to be impartial as much as they can. Glen Greenwald has a well known, well established hate against anything Obama and has repeatedly written false and misleading stories.

      • BumpIt McCarthy

        Snowden also chose Greenwald because his first choice, the Washington Post, wasn’t compliant enough:

        (Barton) Gellman explains that Snowden insisted on a promise that the Post would publish, within 72 hours, a PowerPoint presentation about the PRISM Internet surveillance system. After the Post
        refused to guarantee what or when it would publish, Snowden “replied
        succinctly, ‘I regret that we weren’t able to keep this project
        unilateral.’ Shortly afterward he made contact with Glenn Greenwald of the British newspaper The Guardian.”

        Now who could he turn to who would be eager enough to publish a leak of classified information on a timeline that would exclude checking out the info and the source? Hmmmmm…..

        • gn

          Now who could he turn to who would be eager enough to publish a leak of classified information on a timeline that would exclude checking out the info and the source?

          Spot. on. Who could he turn to? One of the most reckless and sensationalist national journalists in the country*: GG.

          *far right, FauxNews, etc. excluded from the definition of “journalists” for obvious reasons.

      • Adam Watson

        “Glen Greenwald has a well known, well established hate against anything Obama and has repeatedly written false and misleading stories.”

        Such as? Also, to clarify, Greenwald’s ‘hatred’ of Obama isn’t anything of the sort. It would take some degree of brilliance to avoid the transparent conclusion that the Obama admin has a terrible record on civil rights, and a foreign policy that expands, rather than reigns in, the worst excesses of the Bush admin (eg: issuing an Executive Order in 2010 to extend system of indefinite detention at Gitmo, expanding drone strikes on ‘suspected’ terrorist targets resulting in huge civilian casualties, extrajudicial killings of US citizens merely for being suspected of terrorism, and now expanding the surveillance state).

    • Mr X

      Yep. They’re parsing every syllable by Greenwald while demanding nothing in terms of answers from the NSA and taking all of their denials and ‘trust us’ ‘safeguards’ at face value.

  • blackdaug

    I think that once Snowden contacted Greenwald (after first having to show him how to use and encrypted email program) and told him where he had worked, this story was going to come out whether it had any real “revelations” or not. GG was going to tailor the story to fit his agenda.
    Greenwald may have had no idea that these programs existed or had no grasp of their technical aspects. By the time Snowden told him the government had the ability to monitor calls or emails, or the other…just bullshit aspects, that he had the “authority” to monitor anyones phone calls including the president’s (when is somebody going seriously question that statement? and thus everything else coming out of this guys mouth?) GG was all in. He may have at some point realized that there was no real story here, but he committed to releasing it in a way that would set hair on fire. Now all he can do is “claim” there are many more revelations to come, as the original ones are discredited…..and hope peoples outrage will blur their memories.
    It may work. He had an agenda, and crafted the story to support that goal. That isn’t journalism by any standard…unless you count Fox.
    How telling is it that the tech world is shredding the story daily. People who work in IT were all well aware of this program and how it worked, and are amazed that the at large populace is buying into it as some kind of “bombshell”.

  • John Carvill

    ” So why didn’t he also contact one of the many tech news sites like BoingBoing, Slashdot or Wired? ”

    Maybe because he didn’t trust them not to be conformist?

    Re. tech details: why has most mainstream media accepted notion that records of phone calls – numbers dialled, etc. – are ‘metadata’ rather than data? This is an unusually broad interpretation of what ‘metadata’ generally refers to, particularly in this context.

    • Betty Eyer

      If the voice content is the data, then the numbers, time, location, carrier, etc. is the metadata. Makes sense to me.

      • Mr X

        All of which can be used to blackmail any member of Congress who’s ever called an escort service or abortion clinic, for starters. This whole con this author is putting on for the White House is based on the whole fraud that the NSA would never, ever share that data with the DHS or the IRS, both of whom have been caught either denouncing tea partyers as the enemy or aggressively auditing them. You are all going to look like fools when more whistleblowers emerge linking NSA directly to the White House attack machine that always magically came up with dirt on every Obama opponent from the start of the ex-CIA man Barry Soetoro’s political career.

      • John Carvill

        It may ‘make sense’, but there is a distinction between what you are describing, sometimes termed ‘descriptive metadata’, and the stricter definition sometimes termed ‘structural metadata’. The latter, in this context, would be, say, how many digits are in a phone number, how many characters in an address, etc. Metadata is ‘data about data’; items such as whose phone number you dialled are just plain ‘data’.

        • BDeNovo

          “Descriptive metadata” is still metadata, by definition. Time, location, and duration of a phone call can certainly be considered metadata. It’s not “unusually broad” at all.

          • John Carvill

            Structural metadata would be a more narrow standard t apply; descriptive is broader, by definition. Allowing details such as ‘phone number’ to be classed as metadata, and this then being used to assert that ‘only metadata’ is being collected, rather than data, is sophistry.

  • i_a_c

    Unfortunately I’m inclined to believe that the NSA is collecting all, or nearly all, phone records, simply because it doesn’t make any logical sense to limit collection to one carrier. Feinstein said that the program has been in existence for a very long time, continuously reauthorized, by the FISA Court since 2006, and possibly illegally all the way back to 2001.

    But nonetheless, even if they are collecting just Verizon records, that’s an awfully wide net.

    So far that’s the only revelation to be concerning to me. The details that fueled the PRISM outrage have been pretty much debunked, and it doesn’t sound like anything out of the ordinary–just a slightly more high-tech version of what typically happens in run-of-the-mill criminal investigations.

    • Bob Cesca

      Even if it was all customers of all carriers, that doesn’t mean “all Americans.” Some people don’t have phones or they use prepaid cellphones, etc.

      • i_a_c

        To play devil’s advocate for a moment (I might have to shower after this post), he did clarify himself to say “phone records.” But in general you’re correct about the agenda-driven hyperbole.

      • joe smith

        But why haven’t decided to go after Barton Gellman, who was the origninal reporter to publish the PRISM data? After all, it was Barton Gellman who originally published the PRISM slides, and then it was followed up by Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian.

        Sounds like you’re a good little sock puppet Cesca. Also sounds like you suck Axelrod’s dick.


        • Bob Cesca

          >>Also sounds like you suck Axelrod’s dick.

          A Greenwald disciple AND a homophobe. Weird.

          • blackdaug

            ahem…! MOD….Have we not heard enough from this guy …smith?
            It’s really just the same post over and over…with a new insult thrown in at the end..
            P.S. Isn’t “Axelrods Dick” the latest incarnation of GNR…..?

          • Mr X

            The irony of this comment regardless of progressive tut tutting about crudities is that the NSA knows precisely who’s sucking and who’s getting theirs sucked by professionals in Congress. You fucking morons really think Obama’s minions didn’t get that data? You don’t think Lindsey Graham doesn’t worship the police state and every single fucking war because all of his boy on boy stuff is logged?

      • Mr X

        nice try Bob. Even metadeta from Verizon alone would be enough to blackmail several members of Congress. Don’t be the reporter called in by the Nixon royalists to make the boss look better cerca late 73′ or early 74, m’kay?

  • desertflower1

    I just wanted to tell you how much I’ve appreciated your work on this story. Clear and to the point. There’s so much bullcrap out there surrounding this…so thank you for what you’ve done with this.

    The other thing I’d like to mention is that, to my way of thinking, the story that is not being talked about, and the broader picture here, is that we need to get the private contractors OUT of the jobs that only the govt should be doing. Just like church/state are meant to be separate…govt/private for profit business has no business doing this sensitive work. Not only is it more expensive this way, but we’re talking about the Carlyle Group in this case! Are you KIDDING ME??? Why should this corporation have any say in these matters? Why are private companies doing the vetting for security clearances? That’s nuts! Their goal…is to MAKE MONEY, not keep us safe! This needs to stop.

    A report this year to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said that a total of 483,263 contractors held Top Secret clearances in 2012.WOW. Look at all those potential leakers of sensitive info! Don’t you feel safe now?

    The revolving door of govt work to places like Booz Allen and back again…is a huge part of the problem.I say, why don’t we put our veterans back to work doing our govts intel business, and get these private contractors the hell out of “security” for hire! I see that there’s not much in the way of accountability in the private sector, either. “Opps..well, we fired him.”is NOT good enough. Day late and a dollar short.

    • alwaysthink

      Ditto from here.

      • MsJoanne


    • Doug Brooks

      Agreed on the great reporting, but honestly the private contractors appear to be far *less* likely to leak your secrets. Manning, Aimes and so many others were regular government employees . . . Can you name the other contractors who have leaked secret information?

      • Peter

        Daniel Ellsberg, RAND Corp…

        • Doug Brooks

          Ha! In fact Salon had an article the other day bemoaning the fact that so few contractors actually do leak . . .

    • Jack Carlton

      Thank you, desertflower, for saying what I was thinking and for acknowledging the value of Bob’s great work on this story.

      I’ll add a shout out to Bob’s podcast partner, Chez Pazienza. Their recent podcast about Glenn’s recklessness was spot on.

  • Dan

    Reveals massive program to capture domestic communications data on American citizens; ‘not good enough’ because he doesn’t have all the answers. This article is a joke, Bob. Why are you slinging mud on behalf of those invading our privacy?

    • Lady Willpower

      No “not good enough” because Glenn claims to have much more information than he’s doled out so far, but refuses to clarify. Because we’re all too dumb to follow along, or something.

      • Older_Wiser2

        Glennzilla fancies himself smarter than anyone on the planet.

    • joe smith

      Because Bob is a paid mouthpiece for the Obummer administration and has a personal axe to grind with Greenwald. It’s embarrassing in it’s naked vitriol.

      • Lady Willpower

        Paid by whom, exactly?

      • Dikkins Little

        Do have proof of that statement? Or is just that your hobby is slander.

      • Victor_the_Crab

        The only thing embarassing around here is your lack of intelligence that you more than make up for with your over the top immaturity.

      • Mr X

        That and the fact that these Obama sock puppet jackasses don’t realize

        1) More will come out making the entire fucking RINO/eternal war/Military Industrial Complex whore Establishment look like suckers for Obama that they defended him when he obtained NSA data to blackmail tea partyers and even mainline Republicans

        2) If this isn’t stopped the states will take matters into their own hands and finally issue warrants for Gen. Alexander of his successor’s arrest under state wiretapping laws. You can shove your supremacy clause up your ass the supremacy clause only applies to federal laws that actually uphold the Constitution not use it for toilet paper.

        If the feds decreed that they confiscate all guns tomorrow and the states said no and ordered the door kickers to be arrested if they came into Texas, who would be the insurrectionist? Who would be the revolutionaries as opposed to the counter revolutionaries? That would be the feds who are building the domestic war machine you liberal idiots are apologizing for. They’re going to blackbag your neighbors, and when patriots respond Obama and the feds aren’t going to feed you or keep the lights on in your city or protect you from the starving useless EBT card hordes. Get it?

  • 54vet

    I think the whole thing is driven by Glenn Greenwald’s massive ego and young Mr Snowden’s massive ego. I think google should sue Greenwald. He lies and causes many of their customers to freak out.

    • BanditBasheert

      Totally agree… narcissist has found another narcissist. Then they begin to embellish and exaggerate.
      Sure there is a story – but if it’s got legs, get it out there.
      Greenwald has an agenda – he has had an agenda for years since Obama was elected.
      He’s literally on a mission and he found a fellow traveler on his way.

    • joe smith

      But why hasn’t Bob Cesca decided to go after Barton Gellman, who was the origninal reporter to publish the PRISM data? After all, it was Barton Gellman who originally published the PRISM slides, and then it was followed up by Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian.


      • Bob Cesca

        That’s not how it happened. Gellman and WaPo rushed their Prism story to coincide with Greenwald’s Prism story. It’s not like Glenn was quoting WaPo. They both had the information and both published it independently. The only difference? Gellman et al revised the inaccurate and misleading language in their story. Greenwald, to date, hasn’t.

  • js hooper

    It seems increasingly obvious that Greenwald made outrageous and over the top claims that he had no direct evidence of, but felt comfortable doing so because they advanced his agenda.

    Now he is sitting back and throwing his hands up and saying…”Oh well it’s all too complicated for me to give any more details.”

    I reluctantly watched his interview with Lawrence O’Donnell (while hiding out in Hong Kong). He didn’t give any information on what was illegal or an example of abuse. Instead he rambled on about how this was about sparking a “debate”. When O’donnell tried to get him to give specifics of his interaction with Snowden, Greenwald said it was “high tech stuff”. He sounded like a child, not a journalist who had spent time educating himself on the subject.

    • BanditBasheert

      Any journalist worth his paycheck would get the information out there, if only to back up his story. This drip drip drip that Greenwald is doing is to burnish his own ego.
      If all the story is true, it will stand on its own. He’s trying to gin up the story, but he isn’t giving out info. He’s spinning so fast, he’s dizzy.

  • ranger11

    Can’t wait for the show tonight. Should be interesting…

    • Victor_the_Crab

      Me too!

  • Oscar Jimison

    The original PRISM story never passed the smell test with me for two reasons. 1) I’m no legal expert, but I don’t believe the govt can compel these companies to give it that kind of access, and 2) why would these companies give that kind of access to the govt if they’re not legally obliged to do so. What benefit would it be to, say Google, in voluntarily giving the govt unfettered access the it’s “central” servers?

    Here’s a mention of how the Guardian as significantly contradicted it’s original PRISM reporting without any acknowledgment.

    • gn

      why would these companies give that kind of access to the govt if they’re not legally obliged to do so.

      No reason to do so, and considering the ongoing sensitivities re: govts looking for excuses to restrict citizens’ access to Google or filter Google search results, every reason in the world not to. GG and Snowden’s sloppy, reckless report just gave every repressive regime in the world a “the Americans are using Google to spy and read all of your emails, we can’t let you have unrestricted access to it” card.

      • BanditBasheert

        “sloppy and reckless” is a very apt description. Predict that the first allegations are all that they’ve got and they are being forced to back away from those.

    • blackdaug

      That is an excellent link. The Guardian is now describing the program the same way Google did in their denial statement.
      The whole story now is just like some sort of headless monster with a life of its own. All of the major components of it have been discredited and redacted, but it keeps flailing around blindly hoping to hit something…..

      • BanditBasheert

        The headless story is being advanced by a shameless narcissist and the poor doof he managed to suck into his web. Even the timing is off.
        Guardian has backed off PRISM and yet Greenwald still refuses to explain.
        Did his ego tell him that people would fall for this in spite of having more holes than a block of Swiss cheese?

        • blackdaug

          I think it is possible that GG himself just didn’t understand the technology…. but he had this, on the surface, killer inside source that he just couldn’t let go….(Deep thought / throat!)
          When Snowden started rattling off the details of what the system was capable of doing, GG ..a.) didn’t understand that capabilities and what is actually being done are two different things and b.) the programs were legal, vetted, subject to oversight and the details have been public knowledge for a long time.
          He ran with it before having anyone with any IT knowledge vett the details…and now it is all falling apart.
          What is really baffling is how that doesn’t seem to make any difference to a lot of people. One by one, as the most damning parts of the story collapse, there are still people defending it to their last ounce of outrage!

          • Mr X

            BS BS BS BS BS NOBODY believes in your oversight anymore no one understands how Barry O got this far without blackmailing Petreus, Roberts, et al!

          • blackdaug

            Hey…Ms. X ..from everybody here and on the internet everywhere…f%%k you. Seriously you are most repetitive bleating moronic troll….ever. Take your keyboard and stomp on it right now. Then shove the pieces up your ass. Then take the stick that is usually up there, and shove them up a little more.

        • Cowicide

          > narcissist

          Kind of funny how everyone keeps parroting that corporate mass media talking point that Snowden must be a narcissist. You’d almost think that people aren’t thinking for themselves, or something….

    • Mr X

      LGF is full of crap. They haven’t done any original reporting since the Col. Killian memos. It’s read by about 400 fanatic atheist lizardoids who drink the same koolaid. NSA direct spy data to the White House is coming out and all you Obama groupies at HuffPost are going to look like Nixon groupies in 1973-74!

  • GunNut2600



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