The Top 10 Most Inaccurate and Exaggerated NSA Stories (So Far)

This is the actual scare-photo from The Atlantic Wire’s article about an NSA goon-squad targeting a reporter. That’s NOT the reporter's family or her house.

This is the actual scare-photo from The Atlantic Wire’s article about an NSA goon-squad targeting a reporter. That’s NOT the reporter’s family or her house.

As we enter the third month of The Story of the Summer, the Edward Snowden NSA saga, I thought it might be a good time recap some of the most ridiculous and inaccurate claims made by various reporters covering this beat.

I hasten to note that I’m leaving out anything from Alex Jones or other well-known conspiracy theorists, though it appears as if there’s a new litter of leftie conspiracy theorists emerging, some of whom will be mentioned below. I’m also not including self-debunked stories: for example, the posts that make outrageous claims as the lede or headline, then clarify (usually about the existence of court oversight and warrants) deep within the belly of the article itself. Furthermore, some of these items follow the 24-hour Rule: once a wild claim is made, it’s often clarified within a day or so, but only after the misleading claim has circumnavigated the internet several times over. That’s exactly what happened when it was reported that…

10) Legendary civil rights leader, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), “praises” Snowden.

On Wednesday, The Guardian‘s Paul Lewis posted an article in which the reporter misrepresented what the congressman said when asked in an interview about the Booz Allen Hamilton leaker. Lewis appears to have merely speculated that Snowden himself believes he acted in good conscience and in the tradition of others who engaged in “civil disobedience.” But then, in keeping with our 24-Hour Rule, the congressman released a statement on Thursday in which he emphatically denied The Guardian‘s framing: “I never praised Mr. Snowden or said his actions rise to those of Mohandas Gandhi or other civil rights leaders. In fact, The Guardian itself agreed to retract the word “praise” from its headline.” As of this writing, the reporter has yet to post an update to include the congressman’s statement.

9) NSA analysts enjoy “direct access” to “tap” tech giant servers.

Our first, but not our last Glenn Greenwald claim. It feels like a million years ago when Greenwald posted his now infamous article about NSA’s PRISM database and how the agency somehow “taps” (Greenwald’s word in his headline) into proprietary servers belonging to Google, Microsoft, Facebook and so forth. Like the Rep. Lewis story, this one also adhered to the 24-Hour Rule. Almost immediately, other reporters began to question how “direct access” was possible. It turns out, NSA could, in fact, directly access drop-box style secure FTP servers where the tech giants would post requested data. Additionally, Snowden himself said that there were “policy protections” against literal “direct access.” Without “direct access,” the story disintegrated into, 1) something that, for the most part, had been previously revealed anyway, and 2) a less intriguing story about an NSA database, which, by the way, was constantly misunderstood to be a “program.”

8) The British GCHQ collects 21 petabytes of data every day from underwater fiber optic cables.

If you recall, this story began as a wild theory — literally — published on The Guardian, which subsequently morphed into reality as it jumped from publication to publication, including The Atlantic (no correction issued) and The Young Turks show on Current. This was a stupendously aggravating example of how shoddy reporting circulates through the tubes and is eventually repeated as fact.

7) President Obama is fighting a deliberate “war on whistleblowers.”

This isn’t necessarily specific to the NSA story, but it’s absolutely one of Greenwald’s preferred frames for whenever leakers or, in this case, Edward Snowden’s name is brought up. It insinuates that the president and the Justice Department are viciously persecuting any and all whistleblowers, irrespective of circumstances. We’re to infer that if you blow the whistle on the government, you’re doomed. This is simply untrue. As Charlie Savage reported in the New York Times, the so-called “war” is simply a matter of happenstance: leftover prosecutions from the Bush years, greater ease of digitally tracking leaks and so on. On top of this inconvenient reality, the president not only signed an executive order to protect legitimate whistleblowers in the intelligence community who expose “waste, fraud or abuse” via proper channels, but he also signed the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act last year.

6) The U.S. sentences whistleblowers to be tossed in “a cage for decades” and “disappeared.”

Greenwald said this on national broadcast television — twice — as a weak and false excuse for why perhaps Snowden fled the country to Hong Kong and Russia. The longest sentence handed down in this “war on whistleblowers” was 30 months, which is currently being served by John Kiriakou who blew the whistle on CIA torture, and who was prosecuted for outing the names of CIA officers. Elsewhere, yes, Bradley Manning could face up to 90 years in prison, but he hasn’t been sentenced yet. Even if he received the maximum sentence, he would be the first and only leaker to be imprisoned “for decades.”

5) Snowden might be assassinated by the U.S. government.

Credit for this outlandish conspiracy theory goes to three people: Greenwald, Ron Paul and Snowden himself who said during an online Q&A session: “All I can say right now is the US Government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me. Truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped.” He repeated this suspicion in a statement posted by Wikileaks. Greenwald, for his part, mentioned state-sanctioned assassination to La Nacion newspaper, while adding an additional twist: “the dead man switch.” Greenwald said, “The U.S. government should be on its knees every day begging that nothing happen to Snowden, because if something does happen to him, all the information will be revealed and it could be its worst nightmare.”

4) Reporter Michael Hastings was being wiretapped by NSA and was subsequently assassinated when the government hacked into his On-Star system and accelerated his car to 85 miles per hour, causing his fatal accident.

Yes, really.

3) NSA admits listening to U.S. phone calls without warrants.

That was the exact CNET headline. (I’m not sure how an agency can admit something, but I nitpick.) CNET chief political correspondent Declan McCullagh published a selectively edited exchange between Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and then-FBI Director Robert Mueller, and extrapolated their confusing and brief conversation into evidence that NSA has been eavesdropping on American citizens without any court orders or oversight. As we observed with Rep. Lewis this week, Rep. Nadler issued a statement the following day denying CNET’s story. 24 hours later, like clockwork, McCullagh changed the headline and issued an update.

2) The temporary embassy closings are a false flag to distract from NSA reporting.

Greenwald, Alex Jones and Glenn Beck (okay, so they they made the list anyway) each put forward their own versions of this one, but the most NSA-related example was Greenwald’s who tweeted several blurbs about it, then came right out and detailed the conspiracy theory during an interview on Democracy Now!

catalano_tweets3

1) An NSA goon-squad targeted a reporter who Google-searched “pressure cookers” and “backpacks.”

Reporter Michele Catalano wrote that NSA tracked her Tsarnaev-ish internet searches and then dispatched “FBI” agents or members of the “joint terrorism task force” to her home where they questioned Catalano’s husband for 45 minutes and performed a cursory search of the house. The internet went nuts on this one, with the story circulating to nearly every online blog and publication including, of course, Greenwald and his clones. A reporter for The Atlantic Wire speculated that NSA used its XKEYSCORE interface to track Catalano’s search terms. Insanity all around. And then, in accordance with the 24-hour Rule, the truth came out. It turns out the goon squad was actually members of the Suffolk County Police Department who were acting on a tip from the husband’s former boss who noticed the suspicious searches on a work computer.

I wish I could say this will be the last of it. It won’t be. I also wish we could’ve had this debate about NSA surveillance without all of the garment rending, martyrdom and bad reporting. But here we are: one of the most disturbing episodes in the history of digital journalism.

Bob Cesca is the managing editor for The Daily Banter, the editor of BobCesca.com, the host of the Bubble Genius Bob & Chez Show podcast and a Huffington Post contributor.

  • condew

    I fear the Paulites and the left fringe (maybe the same thing) are trying to do to NSA what the GOP Tea Party did to Acorn. Just make gross, unfounded accusations and when the accused answer truthfully, refuse to believe anything that helps them while using anything you can twist into an admission. You can’t prove a negative; you can’t prove that nobody affiliated with your organization helped the fake hooker and pimp, and you can’t prove that nobody in your organization didn’t purposely infringe on the fourth amendment rights of anybody while searching for the communications of people who blow things up.

  • kfreed

    Bravo. Only one thing to add. I’m cross-posting this comment from another blog covering the misapropriation of the remarks of Rep. John Lewis as relates to the notion the “civil disobedience” and lying about the “endorsement” of Snowden.

    It’s the weekend and I don’t feel like spending all day arguing minutia with Greenwald’s clones so I’m plopping this smack in the middle of your comments section, seeing as few of us want to address the elephant in the room (or maybe some of us just don’t SEE the elephant in the room):

    Why Greenwald and Co. don’t see a problem with lying about Rep. John Lewis (or otherwise) and won’t retract (LINK coming up below – it’s important)…

    Greenwald is THE poster child for what’s known as “ratfucking.” He’s leading the emoprogs around by the nose and here are the tactics Greenwald employs to accomplish that (purely right-wing tactics). ***It behooves us to start by separating the wheat from the chaff re: who is being misled (emoprogs) and who is doing the misleading (RW libertarians/right-wingers pretending to be lefties like Greenwald and Huffington – links at bottom). We need to start pointing this out to progressives who don’t realize they’re being played.

    Once we wrap our brains around the fact that Greenwald isn’t a progressive, or an emoprog, but that he is in fact a Koch libertarian (his Ron/Rand Paul love should have been the first tip-off), then we need to examine his tactics.

    Keep in mind Greenwald’s motivation for marrying the far left and the far right in a full on assault on the Left/Democrats for the benefit of the Right – Joy Ann Reid ain’t stupid:

    Joy Ann Reid: “Re-rise of the Naderites: Glenn Greenwald’s third party dreamin’ **UPDATE: on Libertarianism”
    http://blog.reidreport.com/2011/04/re-rise-of-the-naderites-glenn-greenwalds-third-party-dreamin/

    Have a look at this (taking note of the section on “New Traditionalists and Libertarians” from the right-wing’s published playbook linked to below) and ask what about Greenwald’s approach to “journalism” sounds familiar…

    First and foremost – two things that apply to Greenwald’s tactics specifically: “This essay is based on the belief that the truth of an idea is not the primary reason for its acceptance.”

    “We will maintain a constant barrage of criticism against the Left. We will attack the very legitimacy of the Left. We will not give them a moment’s rest.”

    Introducing the far Right’s blueprint on how to enlist libertarians in order to screw with us long term:

    “The Integration of Theory and Practice: A Program for the New Traditionalist Movement” otherwise known as “Paul Weyrich’s Teaching Manual”

    Excerpt and commentary: http://www.yuricareport.com/Dominionism/WeyrichManual.html

    In full (the section on Libertarians is here):
    http://www.yuricareport.com/Dominionism/FreeCongressEssay.html

    Profile: Libertarian Glenn Greenwald of Cato Institute (scroll past the stuff about Foust):
    http://exiledonline.com/glenn-greenwald-of-the-libertarian-cato-institute-posts-his-defense-of-joshua-foust-the-exiled-responds-to-greenwald/

    Profile: Arianna Huffington (her close associationw ith Andrew Breitbart in launching Huff Po is the tip-off that she isn’t “reformed”):

    http://shameproject.com/profile/arianna-huffington/

    Another positive side-effect for right-wingers is this: adding Glenn Greenwald onto the roster of actual journalists over at the Guardian is ruining the Guardian’s reputation as a reliable news source for readers on the left, thereby undermining the valuable reporting of some very sharp Guardian journalists who are on to the magnitude of the corruption of the Republican Party by extremists.

    This is all one giant mindfuck operation and exactly why Greenwald and friends sound a lot like Alex Jones:)

    • http://mollysmiddleamerica.blogspot.com/ Middle Molly

      “It behooves us to start by separating the wheat from the chaff re: who is being misled (emoprogs) and who is doing the misleading (RW libertarians/right-wingers pretending to be lefties like Greenwald and Huffington – links at bottom). We need to start pointing this out to progressives who don’t realize they’re being played.”

      Thank you, thank you for this comment and the particular quote above. I’ve been suspicious of all of these emoprogs/firebaggers/uber-libs who are jumping all over Prez Obama and the Dems about every appointment that they don’t like… every clause in an (often routine) piece of legislation that they don’t like… every news item, whether true or false, that seems to show that Obama is just as bad or worse than Bush and co.

      I’ve been suspicious for months and years now that much of the criticism of Obama from the supposed left is actually the result of right-wing agitation. I’ve felt that Democrats/liberals/progressives are being used when they jump on the anti-Obama and the “both parties are the same” bandwagons.
      When I see another Facebook friend claim that she/he just “can’t support Obama anymore” and go into a rant about how disappointed he/she is, I tell these people that they are probably being played. I don’t know if they will listen to me, but there’s just too much of this stuff going on these days.

      As for Snowden, as soon as I read that he had supported Ron Paul and that Greenwald was a “libertarian”, I knew I was smelling a dead rat in all of this NSA stuff.

      • kfreed

        Ever notice how the mantra is always the same? “I voted for Obama. Now I’m sooooo disappointed!” [parroting Greenwald follows] Most of these online personalities are Paulbots. Not that I don’t know a few people who were right-wingers, cliamed to have changed affiliation to dem, and are now claiming to be libertarian;)

        Redstate was kind enough to post this online, explaining how one might go about impersonating progressives online: http://www.redstate.com/davenj1/2011/05/15/weakening-the-democratic-base-part-5-liberal-netroots/

        They specifically mention D-Kos. Since anyone can sign up and upload a diary, what are the bets that a good portion of them are libertarian?
        I’ve been digging deep into Tea Party/libertarian doings since the health care town hall “debates”… I calls ‘em like I sees ‘em:)

        • Waltb31

          That redstate article is a trip. These guys see this as a running propaganda battle; screw the truth. They are pretty blatant posting that online.
          What ever happened to doing what’s best for the country.
          I know this response is off the original topic, but that redstate link pissed me off so much.

          • kfreed

            You’re not alone. Pisses me off to no end.

  • FlipYrWhig

    Re: 6, IIRC Kiriakou didn’t blow the whistle on CIA torture, insofar as that implies he objected to it, had a pang of conscience, and spoke out against it. Kiriakou bragged about the effectiveness of CIA torture. Even if you think he was railroaded, he’s not a “whistleblower” by any reasonable definition of the term.

    • FlipYrWhig

      Looks like versions of the story differ, and he speaks out now as though he were conscience-stricken, but that’s not how I remember it unfolding in the media. For a while there he was THE go-to guy for the notion that waterboarding was nothing terrible but worked well at scaring terrorist cowards into talking.

  • HilaryB

    #5 may need to be updated soon. Apparently, since the President talked about Snowden in the past tense during today’s press conference, some conspiracy theorists now believe that it’s been accomplished.

    • ak1287

      That’s a fucking joke, right?

      Edit: Actually, I don’t want to know the answer. I’m already depressed enough about the state of journalism, and humanity in general, for jumping on all this bandwagon shit with little-to-no actual knowledge or thought about it.

      • HilaryB

        No, unfortunately.

        • nathkatun7

          Name a better one!

          • kfreed

            Rand Paul/ snark.
            [Hi there!]

          • nasani

            Hey there, Kfreed? I understand where you are coming from with your snark. Rand Paul, even though he is not yet president, is already perceived, by both teabaggers and and emoprogs, to be better than President Obama. Absolutely amazing!

          • kfreed

            We can see where this is going. First it was the Ron Paul loving. Then it was #StandWithRand, instigated by none other than Glenn Greenwald.

            We need only look at the travesty unfolding in Tea Party controlled states to understand what a Tea Party Nation would look like. Or we could have a look at the model legislation proposed by Koch libertarians (alecexposed.org).

            Not to mention, the so-called libertarians are electing hordes of Christian fundamentalists to public office who are on record as having said they envision a “Christian Nation’ based on “biblical law” (Ron and Rand Paul among them). meanwhile, they’ve been legislating accordingly.

            So, when someone tells me the Democrats are as bad as the Republicans – so hey, let’s all vote for “principled” Tea partiers Ron/Rand Paul – I assume they’ve escaped from a mental institution. The fact that the progressive intelligensia buy up the libertarian drool peddled by Greenwald goes to show that they’re no less brain dead than your average bagger.

            Guess it doesn’t dawn on them that the right pulled this same stunt with Clinton. We all remember what our reward for turning on Clinton was: the gift of George W. Bush that keeps on giving.

          • nathkatun7

            I know you are being a bit snarky; though not entirely wrong. I Will not be surprised if the “self anointed, holier than thou progressives” start telling us that Rand Paul is better candidate than all the “corporate” Democrats”running. Some people, who are supposedly on our side are just as prone to hype and sensationalism, as are the GOP right wing leaders.

          • kfreed

            Just a little bit snarky… not entirely:)

      • http://www.facebook.com/felonious.grammar Felonious Grammar

        Obama is a better President than this country deserves. That he bears all this nasty vilification while dealing with one crisis after another that was not of his making, a Republican House that needs straight-jackets and rubber rooms, a booming hate industry, and a 4th Estate that couldn’t find a fact if it followed them around pointing to the evidence and explaining itself; while doing pretty much what he said he was going to do and doing his best to speak to and for all U.S. citizens— he is a monument to equanimity. tolerance, and patience.

        His vision of long-term change was one of the things I had in mind when I voted for him. Not that I would have voted for anyone else, but I liked voting for him.

        • ak1287

          Grammar, I like you. Let’s become best friends.

          • http://www.facebook.com/felonious.grammar Felonious Grammar

            Aw, shucks. You can call me “Fel”.

          • ak1287

            Excellent!
            COMMENCE THE FROLICKING.

        • http://mollysmiddleamerica.blogspot.com/ Middle Molly

          I liked this comment so much that I pasted it on my FB timeline.

  • blackdaug

    Remember the months just prior to this. One phoney trumped up outrage after another, all pointing toward the same conclusion that conveniently painted this President as an incompetent overreaching tyrant. It was going to be the summer of “Watergates”! If there were no real scandals, who cares! The right so transparently decided to just pull incidents out of the air, things that would occur as the normal course of governance….and drum them into the public conscience as crimes until the narrative became common knowledge.

    It could not have been a more transparent strategy…if they had announced it, which they practically did!

    Then GG was on Maher’s show, defending every one of them. I swear I even remember Maher at one point stopping and saying: “I sometimes wonder whose side you are on?” Because he wasn’t really familiar with Greenwald’s more recent work.

    Greenwald, sitting there on that show, defending Behghazi! the I.R.S. and every other nothing burger of the day, already had Snowden deep in his hip pocket….just waiting for the moment to pull him out like a rabbit out of a hat!

    How can anyone, over the age of 12, observing this show, not know it is a show!

    The rabbit was in the hat the whole time folks….and guess what, he didn’t saw the lady in half either!

    • drspittle

      I totally agree. I’ve thought from the beginning that the Summer of Snowbros was part of the orchestrated scandal mongering. I don’t believe these “scandals” are unrelated. The NSA has been around a long time. The Patriot Act was passed over 10 years ago. But now it’s a problem because Obama is President. I agree we need to have a conversation about these programs, as Bob and many comments here have stated. But Snowald has an agenda over and above self aggrandizement. I’d like to know who is behind Snowden.

      • blackdaug

        Have you noticed that one thing they all have in common?:
        They are all arcane areas, that the general public has pretty much zero knowledge of to begin with.
        Most couldn’t have located Benghazi on a map if their lives depended on it, most don’t understand internet technology any better than they do nuclear fusion, the IRS is almost universally despised as an organization, but fairly secretive by nature…. easy to cast as villains…..or just anything to do with the workings of the State Department, who deals with “foreigners” in “strange lands”….bugga!..bugga!.
        The NSA and Snowden were a big chocolate kiss landing in GG’s lap. Guaranteed to mystify even real journalists and politicians and positively baffling to people who are trying to eke out actual lives in flyover country.

        • drspittle

          I did not make those connections that you did regarding the arcane nature of these “scandals”. Very insightful! Of course we know that “substance” is not relevant. The intent is to keep the bright shiny squirrel circus going and saturate the airwaves with non stop accusations that Obama is inept, malevolent, treasonous, evil, blah blah blah. I blame the Faux Fox outlets (owned by Sinclar, CNN, etc) more than I blame Fox. And I suspect the same forces that are driving the initial “scandals” are connected with Snowald’s heist of NSA material. Did you notice the timing of these “scandals”? I believe these “revelations” began shortly after PBO announced his intent to re-examine GWOT, what it means, how US deals with it. I felt that was a kind of “throw-down” and he was not only speaking for himself but for certain factions in the intelligence establishment. After his speech, I thought of the Bette Davis line from “All About Eve” – “Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride”.

          • kfreed

            Do we really believe that high school dropout Snowjob managed to skate through background checks for a security clearance?

          • drspittle

            Well, it appears the media and quite a few Blogging SnowBro’s (who herald his “courage”) have not questioned anything. I feel like I’m in some kind of bizarro universe.

          • nathkatun7

            “I feel like I’m in some kind of bizarro universe.”

            Me too, drspittle! Can you imagine a person who escaped, first to China, then to Russia, being idolized as a hero by Americans, including the so called mainstream media? This is only possible because the hatred of the Black guy in the WH tramps every thing.

          • drspittle

            Sad to say but I think you are right.

          • http://mollysmiddleamerica.blogspot.com/ Middle Molly

            I remember reading about Snowden’s background on Day 1 of the NSA mess. What the H was this guy with his sketchy background doing with access to such data? Something just seemed really, really wrong to me.

          • kfreed

            Fishy… big time. Then we get a timeline from Foust demonstrating how Greenwald and Snowden were in contact with one another BEFORE Snowden took the job with Booz Allen. Red flags shouldhave gone up all over the place.

    • kfreed

      Bingo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don’t take this the wrong way, but I may be in love (snicker).

    • first last

      Yup. Libertarian Curveball, a gun extremist who preached violent overthrow of the government to counteract gun control measures, began contacting journalists offering to serve as a source for classified info one week after the mass shooting in CT and the Obama administration began pushing for gun control.
      The timing probably isn’t coincidental.

  • mrbrink

    The caricature of the president personally listening to phone calls and ‘wagging the dog’ and using the IRS to silence mere critics and political enemies alike is pretty much a big barrel of common wisdom, now.

    This never had anything to do with facts and reason and everything to do with retribution and making the president look like the alcoholic version of Santa Claus. Otherwise, the reporting wouldn’t have so many holes, or subsequent desperate attempts at vindication.

    What Greenwald and his ilk are doing is not at all up to the empirically factual standard we’ve worked so hard to fortify over the past decade of trial and error. They’re pissing away our hard fought integrity capital with their warped brand of Progressive Paddle Ball. The box says, “Progressive,” but the product is just some crap made in some dude’s basement with some fishing wire and wads of hemp gum. ‘Buy or beware’ isn’t our fucking policy anymore, assholes!

    They’ve sewn the seeds of a false history with this ongoing parody of reality. They’ve stripped ‘Hope and Change’ nude, laughed at it, ridiculed it, and then clothed it in their own brand of career paranoia and distrust.

    All the fake scandals= Obama betrayed you! They told us so, and then went out and made it happen. So, you’ll think twice before ever trusting another Democrat again. Hence, both sides are the same, your vote doesn’t matter because no matter who wins, everyone in the world will disappoint you– except the Greenwalds of the world, of course.

    It’s like weaponized cynicism. You can almost see them loading up the canon and firing on our national sensibilities at will.

    • nathkatun7

      THIS!!!

    • trgahan

      The underlying reasons and motives for all this NSA screeching are pretty disgusting. I feel sorry for the people who think the media/policy people trying to hang all of this on Obama actually care about what the NSA is doing.

      I am sure it will all go away if the Scandal Avalanche strategy succeeds and a far right candidate squeaks into the White House in 2016. The only thing left will be to retain one of these hacks to eviscerate Obama’s legacy with the already field tested “this is what happens when one of THOSE gets elected!” story line.

    • sam stone

      If this was correct, then Michelle Bachmann, Peter King and the other right-wing Obama-haters that were so vocal in attacking the President on Benghazi, IRS everything else should be just as upset about this. If this is another phony scandal, then why are Bachmann, King and others instead standing with you and Bob Cesca on this one, defending the NSA programs and attacking the critics?

      • http://www.dlancystreet.com reginahny

        They are happy to pile on to anything that is against President Obama. It has nothing to do with their thinking around surveillance — hence the fact that in spite of being fully informed they jumped on the outrage train. Being able to pretend to join forces with pretend liberals is just icing on the cake for those nutjobs. Thanks pretend liberals for empowering them. You go.

        • sam stone

          That’s just my point. They’re happy to pile on to anything that hurts the President, yet they sound just like Bob Cesca on these issues. When you’ve got Michelle Bachmann on your side it might be worth pausing to reflect on which side of history you’re going to be on.

          • blackdaug

            Since you have Glen Beck and Alex Jones on your “side”, you might want to do the same.

          • Lex

            il take alex jones over michell bachmann,peter king and lamar smith

          • blackdaug

            Then take em!
            il or otherwise…and shove em while ur at it!

          • first last

            Man, if we’re gonna divide into camps and play guilt-by-association game then hands-down then the Libertards are definitely gonna lose that one. That side includes skinheads, klansmen, drug cartels, child pornographers, and theocratic terrorists.

          • sam stone

            Yeah, I wasn’t going for the guilt-by-association angle at all. My point was just that the fact that people like Michelle Bachmann are defending the NSA program is a good reason to think that this is something other than the manufactured outrage that really is motivated by hatred for Obama.

          • That River Gal

            Please, take a shift key and apostrophe with you.

          • http://www.twitter.com/bobcesca_go Bob Cesca

            Say hello to Louie Gohmert on your side.

          • blackdaug

            I am just waiting to see if he points out that he is just quoting John Oliver from The Daily Show…..

          • sam stone

            Indeed, it cuts both ways. My point is only that it seems careless to dismiss the concerns surrounding NSA surveillance in the same way as you might dismiss those other politically driven ‘scandals’.

          • DHaradaStone

            Bob isn’t dismissing the concerns. He’s asking for a debate based on facts rather than paranoia and politics. GG and his ilk can’t separate their disdain for Obama and his supporters from the substance of the story, even though ALL of the actual NSA activity revealed so far began before O took office. It’s funny how even when a story involves the Obama administration ending a surveillance program, such as the collection email metadata, GG’s emphasis is on the fact that it continued for some time during O’s tenure. Indeed, the administration has reined in some activity and subjected all its surveillance operations to congressional and judicial oversight, much of it by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee and the FISA courts. But GG has worked overtime to personalize the story, making it less about a now 12-year-old government and bureaucratic overreaction to 9/11, and all about Obama.

          • sam stone

            Except that Cesca never gets around to actually discussing the real issues. For instance, when the Amash-Conyers amendment came before the House, there was not so much as a mention of it here. I have no problem with Cesca providing a counterbalance to Greenwald’s reporting. That can be a valuable contribution to the conversation. The thing that bothers me is that Cesca has written numerous posts suggesting that the primary motivating factor here is a political desire to impugn the Obama administration. Whether or not this desire motivates either Greenwald or Snowden (I don’t think it does) it seems way off base to dismiss those of us who are interested in seeing reform as being primarily motivated by a disdain for Obama.

          • formerlywhatithink

            The thing that bothers me is that Cesca has written numerous posts suggesting that the primary motivating factor here is a political desire to impugn the Obama administration.

            Cesca has written numerous posts saying that Greenwald’s primary motivating factor is a political desire to impugn the Obama administration There are numerous other writers who have detailed Greenwalds intense efforts to impugn Obama at any chance. This is not some wild theory cooked up by Cesca but a known and established fact.

            Whether or not this desire motivates either Greenwald or Snowden (I don’t think it does) it seems way off base to dismiss those of us who are interested in seeing reform as being primarily motivated by a disdain for Obama.

            What Cesca is dismissing are people who use Greenwalds completely biased, and often times misleading and dishonest, articles as the primary basis of their argument. You can’t hold a good faith argument when the very source of your argument is tainted. If you look at Cesca’s writings about other NSA whistle blowers, he lauds their courage and expresses the wish that people like them continue to follow their conscience.

          • kfreed

            “Cesca never gets around to discussing the real issues”

            … double-speak for “Never mind. Fall in line.”

            It just irks you to no end that Cesca refuses to pick up the torch and insists on factual reporting, doesn’t it?
            You’re here constantly repeating the same few lines over and over, which basically amount to ALL Hail Greenwald. Kinda creepy.

          • http://www.facebook.com/felonious.grammar Felonious Grammar

            Yeah. It’s as if Emo-Progressives and Libertarians are not only ignorant of the way that the government does and is supposed to work; but they’ve no idea what it is to be really busy on a job in which everything that needs to be done is very important. I wouldn’t trust these people to babysit, they have seriously perverse ideas about responsibility.

          • Olga Grobut

            This is precisely correct. May I direct all future inquiries to you? That would save everyone, except maybe you, a great deal of time.

          • formerlywhatithink

            There’s a huge difference between carelessly dismissing the concerns surrounding the NSA surveillance and demanding truth in reporting. Those other politically driven ‘scandals’ were debunked by truth in reporting. See the difference? The truth will either confirm or debunk any given controversy. By willfully warping the NSA story to fit a specific political view point (Greenwald, Beck, Jones, et al), they are the ones who are blocking any meaningful conversation. Bob Cesca has never “dismissed” concerns over the NSA. He has repeatedly stated that there are legitimate concerns to be had, but he also points out that continued skewing of the story does not contribute anything to the concerns and instead trivializes them by shifting the focus to bogus stories.

            p.s. Bob, could you stop with the pop up?

          • DHaradaStone

            There is already plenty of coverage of the need for reform, including in the Daily Banter. See http://goo.gl/E6ei9T and http://goo.gl/FNJCXY. There are relatively few progressive journalists taking on the thankless task of correcting the misinformation spread by GG and others. With everyone from Cenk Uygur to Chris Hayes participating in the beatification of Snowden and treating GG’s reporting as gospel, raising questions about their truthfulness and their motives doesn’t win you any plaudits from the progressive blogosphere.

          • first last

            “Say hello to Louie Gohmert on your side.”

            Louie Gohmert my ass. All of the white supremacist groups also firmly in the Greenwald camp (read any posting over at Stormfront.org on this topic for example). The various South American and Mexican drug cartels are also huge fans of curtailing these programs, as are the various child porn sites hiding in the darknet.

          • kfreed

            I’ve decided: not the side waving a gun, a bible, and a flag with a stupid looking snake on it.

          • sam stone

            “Tea baggers don’t actually want the NSA gone… notice they had problem with it under Bush. In fact, they cheered it on.” – kfreed, 2 minutes ago

          • kfreed

            Correction:

            That was to read, “notice they had NO problem with it under Bush”

            kfreed, just this minute:)

            Don’t want to throw you off your mantra. Please proceed. LOL.

      • BlueTrooth

        Let’s see, the snarky answer would go something like, “And now you expect us to attribute good judgment to King (actually running for President, hmmm) or Bachmann (Ethics investigations can turn off the batshit light?). Obviously, King and Bachmann are taking self-serving positions, but they do have access to real information and must have felt compelled to “break character” for one reason or another.

      • kfreed

        1) Bachmann and King have nothng to lose by defending the NSA. Tea baggers don’t actually want the NSA gone… notice they had problem with it under Bush. In fact, they cheered it on.

        2) “Progressive” loons are doing their work for them so why complain? Contradictions aren’t unusual for the Tea Party, in case you hadn’t noticed. It’s all about the messaging. The message is: “Obama = Tyrannt.”

        • sam stone

          Don’t you see, that’s my point. The claim being made here and elsewhere is that this is another manufactured scandal, that people only care about the NSA because they want to harm Obama. But that just doesn’t match up with reality.

          • http://mollysmiddleamerica.blogspot.com/ Middle Molly

            The point is that there are different groups who want to harm debase Obama and his presidency … some coming from different philosophies, some just using different philosophies to accomplish their aim of debasing Obama and destroying his presidency. If an uber-progressive idealist schtick can be used to debase Obama, good. If an uber-right schtick can be used against him, that’s fine too. The ends justify all of the means.

          • kfreed

            Cesca has been documenting the reality from the get-go. You’d know that had you ever actually read and absorbed the content here, rather than showing up to mimic Greenwald incessantly.

          • Olga Grobut

            Actually, I think we might share some concerns – if only we could cut through the noise and have a conversation.

            See, I have been involved in internet security since the mid nineties; none of the Snowden leaks came as any surprise at all and I was astounded that so many people all of a sudden became hysterical and started screeching that the NSA was the WORST FUCKING THING EVER!!!!!

            And if you suggested that metadata logging was bad, but there are other bad things out there, and the real problem is the nexus between government surveillance and corporate data collection, well then YOU ARE WORSER THAN HITLER AND A PAID NSA DISTRUPTOR TROLL OBAMABOT!!!!!

            Which kind of puts a damper on the discussion. So Bob has done yeoman’s work in shooting down some of the more pneumatic exaggerations. He has not done as much as I would like in terms of proposing solutions to the core problems, but then it’s not exactly his job – it’s my job, and the job of people I can find to work with – and no one else has been proposing solutions either. Padlocking the NSA, salting the Earth under the data barn in Utah, and overthrowing capitalism to usher in the post industrial socialist paradise are not what I consider to be legitimate solutions.

            To close the loop, I consider Greenwald and his embarrassingly sloppy attempts at reportage to have been a major hindrance in the campaign to identify the real problems and to implement real, workable solutions.

            In conclusion the internet is a fickle mistress and a pawnshop in the marketplace of ideas, so I’m not going to extend an olive branch and suggest that we work together. But I do sense that you are trying to do the right thing, and I hope that you find success.

        • http://mollysmiddleamerica.blogspot.com/ Middle Molly

          Um… To the righties, Obama is an inept, lazy tyrant who cannot lead. Definite contradictions.

      • Olga Grobut

        It’s the old strategy of don’t interfere when your enemy is floundering.

        In this case, the Teabuggers are more than happy to let the emoprogs do the dirty work for them. If you haven’t noticed, the hysterical ninnies over at dailykos.com have declared that Obama is Worse than Bush – the NSA surveillance being just the icing on the cake – and are gearing up to throw the midterm elections to the GOP. After another two years of suffering, so the thinking goes, the American people will be begging the Greens and the AnarchoSyndicalists to step in and save the country.

    • http://www.dlancystreet.com reginahny

      Right on. “Weaponized cynicism” is a perfect description, I’ll be using it if you don’t mind.

    • Norbrook

      It’s not only weaponized cynicism, it’s also a veneer over their racism and not a little bitterness that their hoped for power and money didn’t materialize. There’s a group who even back in 2008 managed to believe that the right wing was right, that Obama was a radical socialist, all evidence to the contrary. Thus they were primed for disappointment when the President actually started doing what he said he was going to do, instead of delivering unicorns farting fairy dust. The more prominent bloggers and columnists – the “opinion leaders” – thought that they’d be cashing in with book sales, media appearances, and being consulted for policy, like the the left’s version of Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, and O’Reilly. Hence their “outrage” when none of that happened, along with a heft dose of “how dare that (censored) ignore US!!!”

      So ever since, they’ve been looking to get even, and prove that they’re really “right” about this President, even as they just become the inept version of the Tea Party: All the rhetoric, none of the capability.

    • http://www.twitter.com/bobcesca_go Bob Cesca

      Right on!

    • Jeremy Grunloh

      You’re a really good writer, dude.

    • blackdaug

      Excellent work as usual Mr. Brink!
      Is it now time for the long days of professional deference to the deeply flawed hack to end?
      Is there a tipping point to be reached in this farce?
      I can almost see it…..

    • http://mollysmiddleamerica.blogspot.com/ Middle Molly

      I had to copy part of your comment here to FB as well… Thanks!

      • kfreed

        People need to hear it.

  • http://norwegianshooter.blogspot.com/ Mark Erickson

    “When Congress returns to session in September, let us take note of whether Bob Cesca – who was invisible in the lead-up to the Conyers-Amash vote – emerge on the side of the Free Internet or the NSA and its Intelligence Committees in Congress.”

    • Norbrook

      Right, you’re an idiot. “Free Internet?” When has that ever existed? Seriously, do you have *any* idea of how the Internet came to be, and who created it? I happen to, just because I was on it before it became known as “the Internet.” Do you have any idea of who “controls” the internet now?

      The Conyers-Amash vote was simply another congressional pandering vote to the wingnut fringe on both sides of the aisle. It wasn’t going to pass, everyone knew it wasn’t going to pass, and it ranks right along with the “Repeal Obamacare” votes in terms of wasting time instead of dealing with real legislation.

    • nathkatun7

      It’s interesting that instead of responding to the post you tried to change the conversation to “Conyers- Amash vote,” which failed. By the way, have you apologized yet for spreading the lie that Rep. John Lewis praised Snowden? That was # 1 on Bob’s list of inaccuracies about the NSA story,

      • http://norwegianshooter.blogspot.com/ Mark Erickson

        Yes, I have. Here it is again – I was wrong.

        • sam stone

          John Lewis does not dispute the accuracy of the quotations in the article, only their framing, so you ought not concede too much on this point.

          • Claude Weaver

            Considering the “framing” in question turned Lewis’s words to mean the opposite of what he meant, I don’t see how that is any different. Hell, anytime someone selectively edits a quote to sound like the person said something else, they are changing the “framing”. While the words were technically said by that person, they were not said in the manner nor intent the altered quote is presented in.

            And seeing how Lewis followed up by saying how Snowden should NOT be seen as similar to civil rights leaders precisely because of his globe-hopping, it makes your attempt to put the genie back in the bottle a bit sad.

          • sam stone

            Rep. Lewis clarified that he did not praise Snowden’s actions, but he does not dispute the accuracy of the quotations, including:

            When it was pointed out to Lewis that many in Washington believed that Snowden was simply a criminal, he replied: “Some people say criminality or treason or whatever. He could say he was acting because he was appealing to a higher law. Many of us have some real, real, problems with how the government has been spying on people.”

          • formerlywhatithink

            Again, someone quoting Rep Lewis and leaving out the most salient portion of his comments:

            You have a right to defy those laws and be willing to pay the price.

            Seriously, if you just want to pull out portions of his comments that seem to support your circlejerk over Snowden go do it the Daily Kos.

          • sam stone

            That quote was also included in the Guardian piece, so I’m not sure what your point is. From his original statement and his subsequent clarifications it is clear that Rep. Lewis was outlining a subtle, thoughtful position. It’s not surprising that this would be lost on people interested only in scoring cheap political points.

          • formerlywhatithink

            The point is when people use Rep Lewis’s quotes to show purported support for Snowden, they always leave out the part of personali responsibility in a way to try and show Rep Lewis fully supports Snowden unconditionally. Furthermore, in his rebuttal to the Guardian, he makes absolutely clear that he does not support Snowden at all, and again, stressing personal responsibility:

            “News reports about my interview with The Guardian are misleading, and they do not reflect my complete opinion. Let me be clear. I do not agree with what Mr. Snowden did. He has damaged American international relations and compromised our national security. He leaked classified information and may have jeopardized human lives. That must be condemned.

            “ I never praised Mr. Snowden or said his actions rise to those of Mohandas Gandhi or other civil rights leaders. In fact, The Guardian itself agreed to retract the word “praise” from its headline.

            “At the end of an interview about the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, I was asked what I thought about Mr. Snowden’s actions. I said he has a right as an individual to act according to the dictates of his conscience, but he must be prepared to pay the price for taking that action. In the movement, we were arrested, we went to jail, we were prepared to pay the price, even lose our lives if necessary. I cannot say and I did not say that what Mr. Snowden did is right. Others will be the judge of that.”

            So, based on Rep Lewis’s statement after the Guardian article, to continue to claim that he supports Snowden is ludicrous and completely misleading.

          • nathkatun7

            Well done! This is what Sam Stone is refusing to acknowledge. He pretends to be reasonable, yet he continues to parrot the Greenwald/Guardian lies.

          • PostSurgeOperative

            Well, at least you ADMIT that you’re only interested in scoring cheap political points. Thank you for finally being honest about that.

          • nathkatun7

            Why don’t you quote the entire statement John Lewis issued to challenge the Guardian article!

          • kfreed

            That is a perfect example of what is called “selective editing”

            Again:

            Rep. John Lewis: No Praise for Snowden
            http://johnlewis.house.gov/press-release/rep-john-lewis-no-praise-snowden

            Aug 8, 2013

            “News reports about my interview with The Guardian are misleading, and they do not reflect my complete opinion. Let me be clear. I do not agree with what Mr. Snowden did. He has damaged American international relations and compromised our national security. He leaked classified information and may have jeopardized human lives. That must be condemned.

            I never praised Mr. Snowden or said his actions rise to those of Mohandas Gandhi or other civil rights leaders. In fact, The Guardian itself agreed to retract the word “praise” from its headline.

            “At the end of an interview about the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, I was asked what I thought about Mr. Snowden’s actions. I said he has a right as an individual to act according to the dictates of his conscience, but he must be prepared to pay the price for taking that action. In the movement, we were arrested, we went to jail, we were prepared to pay the price, even lose our lives if necessary. I cannot say and I did not say that what Mr. Snowden did is right. Others will be the judge of that.”

          • Jeremy Grunloh

            *rolls eyes*

          • nathkatun7

            You are a liar! Read the entire text of Rep. Lewis’ position about how he does not condone what Snowden did and about the damage Snowden did to National Security!

          • sam stone

            The two statements are not even contradictory. They are both the words of John Lewis. It is possible to think that Snowden may have acted according to his conscience, that the leaks pertain to unjust laws, that civil disobedience is unjustified, and still not condone what Snowden did. This is the position of Rep. Lewis. I didn’t lie about anything, it’s just a subtle position. Calm the fuck down and think a little.

          • nathkatun7

            Absolute nonsense!

          • sam stone

            You’re just too stupid to understand, I guess.

          • nathkatun7

            And I will not argue with a liar who thinks we are all stupid when we point out his/her lies. Rep. Lewis was very clear. He did not condone what Snowden did. He was clear that what Snowden did was wrong and undermined the security of this country. The only fool is you who insists on imposing your views on what John Lewis said.

            For your information, I, as a black person, did not live to be 67 in this country being a fool! I know for a fact that if the President in the White House was white, Snowden, who run away to China and Russia and shared Classified information with those adversaries of the U.S., would be universally regarded as a traitor by most Americans. Obviously, during the Obama presidency, a white defector to Russia is now regarded as a hero of nonviolence civil disobedience. Never mind Russia’s horrific record on civil liberties.

          • kfreed

            Here’s the link to the response from Rep. Lewis himself:

            “No Praise for Snowden”
            http://johnlewis.house.gov/press-release/rep-john-lewis-no-praise-snowden

            Sam Stone can’t read. It would’t matter to him even if he could read.

          • kfreed

            Wrong. Here’s the man himself on hs own site:

            Rep. John Lewis: “No Praise for Snowden”
            Aug 8, 2013

            “News reports about my interview with The Guardian are misleading, and they do not reflect my complete opinion. Let me be clear. I do not agree with what Mr. Snowden did. He has damaged American international relations and compromised our national security. He leaked classified information and may have jeopardized human lives. That must be condemned.

            “ I never praised Mr. Snowden or said his actions rise to those of Mohandas Gandhi or other civil rights leaders. In fact, The Guardian itself agreed to retract the word “praise” from its headline.

            “At the end of an interview about the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, I was asked what I thought about Mr. Snowden’s actions. I said he has a right as an individual to act according to the dictates of his conscience, but he must be prepared to pay the price for taking that action. In the movement, we were arrested, we went to jail, we were prepared to pay the price, even lose our lives if necessary. I cannot say and I did not say that what Mr. Snowden did is right. Others will be the judge of that.”

            http://johnlewis.house.gov/press-release/rep-john-lewis-no-praise-snowden

        • kfreed

          But the fact that this particular lie was reported by the Guardian as fact, on top of the other outright lies and misreporting on the subject, phases you not at all and according to you, shouldn’t phase anyone else either.

    • http://norwegianshooter.blogspot.com/ Mark Erickson

      That was a doctored quote. The actual quote is from Snowden and goes like this: “When Congress returns to session in September, let us take note of
      whether the internet industry’s statements and lobbyists – which were
      invisible in the lead-up to the Conyers-Amash vote – emerge on the side
      of the Free Internet or the NSA and its Intelligence Committees in
      Congress.” http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/09/lavabit-shutdown-snowden-silicon-valley

      • BlueTrooth

        Free internet…maybe he actually meant Internet Freedom? I’m waiting for the Greenwald articles that cover all of the false arrests, the renditions, the “missing emails”, the intercepted Skype calls…ANYTHING from an average citizen roaming the internet shopping for bath soaps (ding!). That phony story about Google search was right up that alley, but of course it was phony. To you and every other “They SPY!!!”, you HAVE our interest and our concern. Do you get that? We ARE paying attention to YOU. Now deliver some truth to the dialogue instead of wasting our time with a shell game of misinformation and that smug, arrogant attitude.

    • http://norwegianshooter.blogspot.com/ Mark Erickson

      The question is, whose side is Cesca on?

      • ultraviolet_uk

        Primarily he is on the side of truth, and that immediately lines him up against Greenwald and his bootlickers.

  • dbtheonly

    The thread running through all the stories is that the original “report” is picked up & circulated “through the tubes”. There’s Oliver’s post earlier in the week debating the need for legal protection for “journalists” which hangs on the definition of “journalist”.

    So Bob,

    Do you see any potential solution or are we, the public, going to be bombarded with ever more sensational stories of dubious accuracy?

    Then, when you think you’ve got an answer; I’ll toss James O’Keefe into the mix as he is cheerfully creating “scandals” where none exist.

    • KABoink_after_wingnut_hacker

      I posted about James O’Keefe on another blog to the ‘hair on fire’ folks and they just ignored it or got angry when I compared his self serving, baseless sensationalism to the great and all knowing Glenn Greenwald.
      Conspiracy nuts are hard to turn around and immediately attack or run when you cut to the chase.

      • dbtheonly

        KAB,

        I see a huge difference between Greenwald, who I see as devoted, deluded, but essentially honest, i.e. he really believes the stuff he publishes, & O’Keefe, who is an out-and-out fraud & knows it.

        • Badgerite

          Yes, but Greenwald is claiming to publish as a journalist publishing what he KNOWS, not what he BELIEVES. There is a difference. He BELIEVES the government is lying about the direct access claim. He keeps trying to vindicate that. But as a journalist, there is nothing he has published that indicates that his original story was anything other than a corruption of the truth of what is actually happening. And there are documents he has published that actually support the government’s story. He is engaging in propagandizing, not journalism.

        • nathkatun7

          I just don’t see how a guy who goes on national t.v, to declare that President Obama has “Disappeared” people can be regarded as “essentially honest.”

        • drsquid

          Not really. The only difference between O’Keefe and Greenwald is Greenwald isn’t planning to rape CNN reporters on his boat.

          • blackdaug

            Anderson Cooper better watch out for roofies…