12 Observations About Greenwald’s New Website, ‘The Intercept’

(UPDATED below)

Glenn Greenwald’s new website, The Intercept, launched early Monday. In case you’re just joining us, the site is part of Pierre Omidyar’s First Look Media, a $250 million investment into the world of software development and digital journalism. The Intercept is the first “magazine” to launch and is run by editors Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill and Laura Poitras.

The site posted its first two articles based on the National Security Agency (NSA), one of which we covered yesterday, and, as promised, here are some impressions of not only the site in general but also the first post by Greenwald and Scahill.

1) Corporate trackers. As predicted, each page of The Intercept contains two analytics trackers from alleged PRISM collaborator Google and another called Mixpanel. Among other things, according to Ghostery, the Google bug alone collects your browser information, your demographic data, what hardware and software you use, your IP address, your search history, “location based data” and, weirdly, your phone number. Google doesn’t disclose who it shares your information with or how long it retains it. It’s unlikely The Intercept would want all of this information, but the fact that Google has it should be a little bit alarming to anyone concerned about privacy rights. It’s also curious how a site dedicated to outing alleged violations of privacy would employ such an invasive tracking tool — even though the site discloses it on their Privacy Policy page.

2) DDoS attack or normal traffic? About midday, the site suffered from a 503 error, which generally happens when there’s too much traffic hitting it. Greenwald attributed the outage to exactly that, traffic, but wouldn’t it be ironic if it was actually a distributed denial of service attack, also known as a DDoS attack, which involves hackers crippling a site with a glut of automated hits, considering how last week Greenwald conflated hacking with protected political speech?

3) Credit where credit is due. The Intercept team was wise enough to hire a technical editor with a background in “operational security, source protection, privacy, and cryptography.” Micah Lee is a former staffer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and he’ll certainly have his hands full, especially since Greenwald once admitted that before meeting Snowden he was “technically (sic) illiterate,” and yet he’s been authoring article after article about top secret operations that are all about technology.

4) Where are the documents? Greenwald and Scahill posted a massive 4,000 word article that cites a variety of documents, but the “Documents” vertical is empty. The article reveals small snippets, but fails to post the documents in full with appropriate redactions.

Let’s talk about the first big Greenwald post. The article, titled “The NSA’s Secret Role in the U.S. Assassination Program,” details how NSA helps to track terrorist targets for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) strikes — also known as drone strikes. Yes, drones and NSA — a serious outrage cocktail. The article quotes from documents as well as two former drone operators, one anonymously, one by name.

5) Old news. Barton Gellman published an article about this back in October; Dana Priest in July and Stuart Fox back in 2011, pre-Snowden.

6) Death by metadata. “Death by metadata” is sure to become a meme. From the article:

What’s more, [the drone operator source] adds, the NSA often locates drone targets by analyzing the activity of a SIM card, rather than the actual content of the calls. Based on his experience, he has come to believe that the drone program amounts to little more than death by unreliable metadata.

“Death by metadata” is misleading since it’s ultimately cellphone geolocation tracking that shows the location of a potential target. The article later states:

Relying on this method, says the former JSOC drone operator, means that the “wrong people” could be killed due to metadata errors, particularly in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia.

But the Snowden document clip embedded in the post clearly references “geolocation algorithms” — not metadata.

Blogger Ryan Goodman observed: “But, for now, this seems more like a failed media hook than a matter of substance.” Media hooks. These articles are all about media hooks.

7) Dana Priest wasn’t skeptical enough? Greenwald and Scahill referenced an article by The Washington Post‘s Dana Priest about the post-9/11 growth of NSA and accused her of not being skeptical enough about NSA’s claims. The article:

But the Post article included virtually no skepticism about the NSA’s claims, and no discussion at all about how the unreliability of the agency’s targeting methods results in the killing of innocents.

It’s really not her job to express skepticism in a hard news article. Her job is to report the news — just the facts. It’s also interesting to read Greenwald giving journalism advice to one of the nation’s premiere national security reporters and a two-time Pulitzer winner when he only wrote his first hard news article in June.

8) Where’s the HUMINT? The article suggests that human intelligence, or HUMINT, observed by operatives on the ground, would be more reliable than geolocation tracking. But how would this ameliorate the problem of collateral damage — unintended civilian casualties in drone strikes?

The article doesn’t really say. But it seems to suggest, however, that HUMINT is used in addition to metadata, SIM cards and geolocation tracking, collectively known as signals intelligence (SIGINT).

The problem is that both of those sources often involve NSA-supplied data, rather than human intelligence (HUMINT).

Often or always? There’s an important difference. If it’s often, then we can only infer that HUMINT is sometimes used, and that would render the article’s lede to be inaccurate: “The National Security Agency is using complex analysis of electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence…”

9) Tipping off the targets. The article:

One problem, he explains, is that targets are increasingly aware of the NSA’s reliance on geolocating, and have moved to thwart the tactic.

And this article confirms that it’s working! So carry on, targets.

10) Pilots are pilots. The article makes only one mention of targeted strikes carried out by methods other than drones, but what’s abundantly clear is that drones aren’t just mindless airborne robots. They’re piloted by, among others, two of the sources in the article. The only difference between piloted aircraft and drones is that if a drone is shot down, the pilots aren’t harmed. This has both positive and negative consequences (negative insofar as it makes war less risky in terms of American military casualties), but it’s fascinating how much lopsided attention is placed on drones, probably because they sound scary and are therefore easier to demagogue.

11) An actual document might’ve come in handy. Greenwald & Scahill’s documentation only shows “U.S. military” assistance in killing terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki — not NSA. The article:

Another top-secret NSA document confirms that the agency “played a key supporting role” in the drone strike in September 2011 that killed U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, as well as another American, Samir Khan.

NSA is a branch of the Department of Defense, but the document doesn’t specify the agency by name — at least the document snippet published in the article doesn’t.

DT-4

12) Thanks, Obama. This was shoehorned into the end of the article:

Obama once reportedly told his aides that it “turns out I’m really good at killing people.” The president added, “Didn’t know that was gonna be a strong suit of mine.”

Because if you’re writing a mercilessly long, 4,000 word article, why not?

There are many problems with the drone program and, admittedly, this article highlights an issue with accuracy — an issue we already knew about (see also countless articles about collateral damage and al-Awlaki’s son). And since we already knew, how is explicitly spilling the beans about how targets are tracked in the public interest?

Again, there’s a debate to be had about the future of the drone program and its efficacy in the war on terrorism. But this article, as well as the articles that both preceded and which will surely follow it only serve to misinform and sidetrack the debate.

UPDATE: Some tech observations from Intoxination in the comments:

I did some tech digging through the site yesterday. They were given $50 million to get things started in December. Well that didn’t go towards tech. They are using a rather vanilla WordPress with a custom theme (hell I would have done that for $1 million and I hate themeing!)

More interesting is their hosting. Looks like they are self hosting through a Level3 rack in San Jose. What makes that interesting is that Level 3 was accused of giving backdoor access to Yahoo and Google through their backbone lines, by Snowden! Also I find it interesting that someone who is so worried about the overreach of the “big, bad US government” would opt to place the infrastructure of their livelihood in the US.

  • carl56

    Is the bulk, warrantless collection of the communications of virtually every American citizen a crime in your book? Is it a breach of the constitution?

  • GROPENOTMOAN

    LOL. Watching never-has-beens like Cesca foam at the mouth about proper journalists getting the story of the century right is amazing :)

    • http://www.jeremyduns.com/ jeremyduns

      Any substantive points to make, GROPENOTMOAN?

      I thought not.

  • Trulyunbelievable2020

    “…last week Greenwald conflated hacking with protected political speech[.]”

    No, he didn’t. You just made this up on the basis that he used the term “hacktivist,” the exact same term that your own Ben Cohen used in November of last year (http://thedailybanter.com/2013/11/anonymous-targets-japanese-government-over-dolphin-killings/)

    At no point did the article suggest that DDOS attacks are protected political speech. Rather, it quoted an expert who argued that by launching attacks against sites and chat rooms that served as forums for people to engage in protected speech on the basis that some of the members advocated or engaged in DDOS attacks, the GCHQ was thwarting a great deal of protected speech in the name of combating illegal DDOS attacks. Other experts questioned the wisdom of using GCHQ resources to target what are essentially cyber-vandals.

    It quoted another expert who argued that it is just as illegal for GCHQ to use DDOS attacks as it is for Anonymous to do that.

    At no point did it suggest that the DDOS attacks perpetrated by Anonymous are themselves protected political speech.

    Learn to fucking read.

    • http://www.jeremyduns.com/ jeremyduns

      Yes, conveniently all the quotes from experts in the piece support one point of view. It’s sheer coincidence – experts who felt there was no evidence of wrongdoing in the story simply don’t exist – and it isn’t at all selective quoting on the authors’ part presenting, say, Greenwald’s own private views, which most certainly do conflate legitimate targets with ‘hacktivists’ and ‘common criminals’.

      https://twitter.com/ggreenwald/status/431804357881761792
      https://twitter.com/ggreenwald/status/431802268141096960

      Learn to fucking read between the lines.

      • Trulyunbelievable2020

        “Yes, conveniently all the quotes from experts in the piece support one
        point of view. It’s sheer coincidence – experts who felt there was no
        evidence of wrongdoing in the story simply don’t exist.”

        Bullshit. Complete, absolute, and total bullshit. This claim is demonstrably false. How do I know? I know because I read the fucking article on NBC. Here is the VERY FIRST quote from an expert:

        ““While there must of course be limitations,” said Michael Leiter, the former head of the U.S. government’s National Counterterrorism Center and now an NBC News analyst, “law enforcement and intelligence officials must be able to pursue individuals who are going far beyond speech and into the realm ofbreaking the law: defacing and stealing private property that happens to be online.”

        “No one should be targeted for speech or thoughts, but there is no reason law enforcement officials should unilaterally declare law breakers safe in the online environment,” said Leiter.”

        Care to retract your claim?

        • http://www.jeremyduns.com/ jeremyduns

          Sure. I retract the claim. There is one expert quoted outside the current intelligence community presenting an opposing view. He happens to be the former heead of the National Counterterrorism Center.

          But my other points stand, don’t they? Sure, Greenwald and his co-authors haven’t explicitly stated in the piece ‘Everyone involved in hacking websites is engaging in political speech and should be left alone’. That would be bizarre. But if you read between the lines, and read Greenwald’s tweets, I think the claim that there is a conflation is certainly valid.

          I’m happy to discuss this, incidentally, like adults – but not if you’re going to be quite so angry with me every time we disagree! Then you can type away to yourself and convince nobody. But if you want to have a civil discussion about it, I have an open mind. Because I can’t for the life of me see the evidence in the article of any actual wrongdoing by GCHQ – it all seems to be predicated on the possibility of wrongdoing, which isn’t the same. Have I missed something? The experts discuss that potential wrongdoing as though it has happened, but I don’t see it. I see them going after real criminals, and it strikes me that the story has very little public interest and simply tips the hand of a Western intelligence agency.

          • http://www.jeremyduns.com/ jeremyduns

            Not being funny, but which paragraph of the story is that Leiter quote in?

          • Trulyunbelievable2020

            I apologize for the tone. I’ve been arguing on here for a few weeks and today is the day I finally started dropping F-bombs. That’s a pity, since you’re the first person who has had any interest in having anything approaching a serious conversation about this on this website.

            I’ll try to respond later. Have to work right now.

          • http://www.jeremyduns.com/ jeremyduns

            Okay. I see you’re commenting on other articles here in the meantime. Whenever you’re ready to explain the public interest justification for this story was, I’m all ears. If you’re finding it hard to articulate to yourself what the public interest justification was, shouldn’t that bother you?

    • GROPENOTMOAN

      “Learn to fucking read.”

      And write, I might add.

      • http://www.jeremyduns.com/ jeremyduns

        To not much purpose.

  • http://www.jeremyduns.com/ jeremyduns

    I’d add the following points.

    The name of the magazine is The Intercept. How very droll. How very trolling.

    One tab bar reads ‘Glenn Greenwald’, which is amusingly revealing.

    I think there’s another point to make about it being constructed on WordPress. Isn’t it effectively…. a blog? Okay, not really, in that Scahill and many others are respected and established professional journalists, and they’re being paid, and so on. But this is something I raised towards the end of this piece on my own website (itself built on WordPress!) – the prospect Greenwald could simply leave The Guardian and publish it elsewhere:

    http://jeremyduns.net/2013/08/24/is-the-da-notice-system-dead/

    And we know from that interview Miranda suggested to him that he do just that. My point is that today, what is a journalist, precisely? What if he hadn’t had a billionaire’s backing, or colleagues like Scahill? He could simply have done all this on his blog. And what, then, is the difference between these things?

    It’s undefinable, surely. Twenty years ago, ‘being a journalist’ was easier to define. But what is the appreciable difference between Greenwald at The Guardian, Greenwald at The Intercept, or Greenwald just on his own blog? None, is there? Also, look at the Wikileaks example.

    But what if in the future we have someone who is not at Slate, or Salon, or The Guardian, or The Intercept, as a source? What if the next Snowden leaks to a blogger? Are they still a journalist? Where is it being defined? I thought Mike Rogers was way out of line – Greenwald’s absolutely right that he is acting as a freelance journalist in cooperating with other media outlets, and of course his being paid for articles isn’t ‘fencing’. But I wonder how this might change in the future – can anyone simply call themselves a journalist if they have a blog, and thereby publish classified material? What if it’s on Tumblr, or Facebook, or Twitter or some not-yet-created site? Could anyone just set up a fancy-looking WordPress site, add an About page and a few colleagues, claim to be acting in the public interest and then publish whatever came their way and claim the constitution protects their rights? I don’t know the answer…

    • http://www.jeremyduns.com/ jeremyduns

      As pointed out elsewhere, three arty night-photos of agencies is hardly a scoop.

      Wikileaks strongly objected to the drones story on Twitter. I thought one of their points was bizarre – where are the documents? You’ve said that here, too, but the story clearly isn’t about the documents in this case, but the sources, particularly the new source.

      We have a new source. He’s anonymous, and talks very broadly – this is ‘shady’. Greenwald repeatedly objects to reporters not showing any scepticism about national security officials’ statements, and quoting anonymous sources. And yet this story does just that.

      Who is this guy? How reliable is he? How have they vetted him? Bear in mind that the Washington Post’s first report on Snowden’s material, before he had revealed his identity publicly, called him ‘a careerintelligence officer’. As we soon found out, and Greenwald admitted, he was in fact a ‘relatively low level’ consultant for the NSA:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bGeMMyZmyQ&t=8m57s

      These aren’t the same thing at all. So who is this new source, and how much does he really know? Who’s vetted this?

      The headline. Apart from the oh-so-cointreauversial use of the word ‘assassinations’, it’s both inaccurate and misleading. It’s not secret that NSA plays a role in drone strikes. And that isn’t actually their story anyway – their story isn’t that it’s secret, but that the way they do it leads to innocent lives being lost.

      Innocent lives are lost in wars. Collateral damage, as you point out. But this source seems to provide a lot of hearsay, and very little concrete evidence of this. What would be an unacceptable level of errors, do we think? None? No form of intelligence is perfect, especially not HUMINT.

      And HUMINT is also used – how much isn’t clear. You correctly point out that this is fudged in the piece.

      The other point Wikileaks made was more interesting, and made by others, too: the bit about these ‘suspected’ terrorists throwing their SIM cards into a bag. This doesn’t pass the sniff test. First of all, if they’re doing that there’s surely a fairly good reason to suspect them! Secondly, Wikileaks’ point, this doesn’t stop them being tracked. Wikileaks tweeted: ‘#Firstlook: The IMEI is transmitted into the air with the phone number; both are metadata and are harvested. State of art for 10+ years.’ Thirdly, if this did work, by switching SIM cards they’d just make each other targets, which is hardly NSA’s fault, and would also provide NSA with provable links between them all. Fourthly, who on earth would do this, really? A very weird suicide bomb-key party scenario, this. We know some of us are targets, so let’s just randomise it? They can’t be that idiotic, surely. Say NSA has the least important figure in the room’s phone details. He switches with the most important man in the room’s phone, and he then gets blasted. Not exactly a brilliant tactic.

      All of that surely means the source is BSing, at least to some degree. To what degree precisely is of course the exact thing that seasoned journalists who know how to gauge sources would spend a lot of time weighing, consulting others on and researching. Hopefully you’d also have some very rigorous editors to ask the tough questions before publication. But the multitude of problems in the piece don’t make one overly optimistic.

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

        Well said, Jeremy. Thanks for this.

      • undsoweiter

        “So who is this new source, and how much does he really know? Who’s vetted this?”

        As Mr. Cesca points out, Greenwald is all about blurry journalism. As long as we’re handing out press credentials to anyone with a keyboard and at least one finger, who’s to say that there even is a new source?

        We’re throwing the established “rules” of journalism out the window, here. What’s one more?

        • http://www.jeremyduns.com/ jeremyduns

          Well, I’d want to see evidence of fabrication before levelling that charge. There is none, and I very much doubt they have invented the source. On the other hand, it does strike me as possible that the source isn’t who he says he is. There’s nothing in the piece about how they verified his identity and level of expertise for some very broad statements with no supporting evidence. There are a *lot* of Walter Mitties in the intelligence community.

          Scahill gave an interview to Democracy Now in which I think he actually made a much better argument for the public interest validity of the story than he does in the story itself:

          http://www.democracynow.org/2014/2/10/death_by_metadata_jeremy_scahill_glenn

          Not all the stuff about ‘pre-crime’, but he has framed the story much more clearly, namely:

          ‘…What we understand is that under the current guidelines issued by the White House, President Obama gives a 60-day authorization to the CIA or the U.S. military to hunt down and kill these individuals who they’ve tracked with these SIM-card-tracking technologies or handset-tracking technologies, and that they only have to have two sources of intelligence to indicate that this is the individual that they’re looking for…They do not require an actual human confirmation that the individual SIM card or phone handset that they’re tracking is in fact possessed by the
          person that they believe is a potential terrorist. And so, what we
          understand is that this is essentially death by metadata, where they think, or they hope, that the phone that they’re blowing up is in the possession of a person that they’ve identified as a potential terrorist. But in the end, they don’t actually really know. And that’s where the real danger with this program lies.

          And the reason that our source came forward to talk about it is because he was a part of this program and was a participant in operations where he knew the identity of one individual that was being targeted, but other people were killed alongside of that
          person. And he also said that he just felt incredibly uncomfortable with the idea that they’re killing people’s phones in the effort to kill
          them and that they don’t actually know who the people are that are holding those phones.’

          If this were substantiated in the story, it would be a much better story. But as it stands at the moment, what they have is more of a ‘Here’s a potential problem raised by one source’. As an editor, I’d have wanted something in the piece either giving some concrete detail of this particular operation, or if that were utterly impossible as it would give away their source’s identity to the government, to state that this is the case, but that they have looked into it and found such an operation took place. To run an allegation like this, you’d need the source to tell you about what happened. It looks like either the source didn’t even tell them the detail of it, or he did – but they didn’t check that it happened. So, say he told them the operation took place at the end of September in XYZ region of Yemen. They can then look into that to see if such a thing happened, ie corroboration. Scahill’s understanding of how corroboration works seems to me to be severely lacking. From the Democracy Now interview:

          ‘And in fact, when we asked the White House for comment, we went to the National Security Council spokesperson, Caitlin Hayden, and asked directly, “Is it true that you’re ordering strikes where you don’t actually have any human intelligence?” And the White House refused to directly answer that. They just said, “Well, we don’t select targets based on only one source of intelligence.” Well, we knew that already, and we told them that we knew that. The point here is that they don’t actually have a requirement to confirm the identity of the individuals that they’re targeting, and that’s one of the reasons why we’re seeing so many innocent people being killed in these strikes. It effectively amounts to pre-crime, where an acceptable level of civilian deaths is any civilians who die in the pursuit of a limited number of so-called bad guys.’

          He’s an articulate guy so it’s easy to miss, but this is really shockingly bad journalism.

          1. He presumes that Hayden not directly answering their question means that the answer to it is ‘Yes’. ‘The point here…’ on assumes this and gets into political activism – ‘pre-crime’ etc. The responsible approach would be ‘The White House refused to tell us whether they order strikes when they don’t have any human intelligence. Our source suggests…’
          2. And oh, problem. Their source suggests they do use HUMINT. ‘Almost zero in Yemen’ is not zero in Yemen, let alone zero across the board. They need two sources but ‘both of those sources often involve NSA-supplied data, rather than human intelligence (HUMINT).’ Often. Not always. And how often?
          3. ‘It effectively amounts to pre-crime, where an acceptable level of civilian deaths is any civilians who die in the pursuit of a limited
          number of so-called bad guys.’ The ‘so-called’ is revealing – without that proviso you’re discussing war, which always has civilian casualties. The concept of trying to kill people you’ve identified as enemies before they kill you is hardly new here, or shocking. But where’s the evidence in the piece for the ‘so-called’. An anonymous source and Brandon Bryant. Ironic, really, that the story complains NSA doesn’t use enough human sources, as they haven’t

          4. ‘Well, we don’t select targets based on only one source of intelligence.’ Really, this is ‘We are professionals doing our job.’ For the NYT to run this piece, you’d hope that the journalists would have provided hard evidence to contradict this.
          5. Scahill’s statement, when I watch it again, makes the story feel rather convenient. Their source has said they don’t use HUMINT enough so it becomes ‘death by metadata’. But for that to work they have believed him that HUMINT isn’t being used enough – on what basis? – and bought his premise that it is needed. Switch it around and imagine the source said they only used HUMINT, no SIGINT or IMINT. You can run the same story. HUMINT is *notoriously* much more prone to being wrong than SIGINT and IMINT. People lie. People have feuds. People make mistakes.

          The article is rather better written than Greenwald’s usual screeds, but the more I look at it the less convinced I am. I suspect Scahill might just be cleverer at hiding the problems. And where is the editorial oversight with these guys? Is anyone asking these sorts of questions of them – and would they listen if they did?

          • http://www.jeremyduns.com/ jeremyduns

            Oh, and note the repetition of ‘what we understand’. It seems to mean ‘What this one guy has told us’. It’s not what would usually pass for a story like this, but then even major newspapers and media outlets seem to have abandoned a lot of journalistic checks and balances when reporting on the Snowden cache.

          • formerlywhatithink

            “what we understand” is the Greenwaldian equivalent of Fox’s “some people say”.

      • Trulyunbelievable2020

        “As pointed out elsewhere, three arty night-photos of agencies is hardly a scoop.”

        Nor was it presented as a “scoop.”

        • http://www.jeremyduns.com/ jeremyduns

          I disagree. Have a look at the headline: ‘New Photos of the NSA and Other Top Intelligence Agencies Revealed For The First Time’. If you have ‘Revealed For The First Time’ in a story you are claiming a scoop.

          Was that the only one of my points you could make a substantive (but incorrect) criticism of?

          • Trulyunbelievable2020

            Since “scoop” is a word that doesn’t have a formal, agreed-upon definition, I’ll just quote Wikipedia on this one:

            “Stories likely considered to be scoops are important news, likely to interest or concern many people. A scoop is typically a new story, or a new aspect to an existing or breaking news
            story. Generally the story is unexpected, or surprising, and/or a
            former secret. This means the scoop typically must come from an
            exclusive source.”

            Saying that you are publishing never before seen photos isn’t the same as saying “We have a major scoop.”

            It’s a minor point and I agree that the headline slightly oversold the feature, which I didn’t find to be that interesting.

          • http://www.jeremyduns.com/ jeremyduns

            Ah, Wikipedia – last refuge of a scoundrel! I didn’t say they claimed it was a major scoop, or in fact that they even presented it as one. I think they did present it as ‘unexpected, or surprising, and/or a
            former secret’, from the headline down, and it’s none of those things really, but my point was more that this was the very first item on their website. So it *should* have been a scoop. It wasn’t. It’s three night-time shots of widely photographed US intelligence agencies’ buildings. A bit odd for the first item, in my view.

            You and Wikipedia might disagree, but it is my opinion nevertheless. :)

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

      Part of Greenwald’s stated goal is to blow up the established rules of journalism and write all new ones. I suppose the blurring of the line between blogging and journalism is one (I’m not totally opposed, on a case by case basis) — not to mention the line between hackers/journalists/activists. But one thing’s for sure, he’s really pushing his “journalist” title out there. His NBC News bio refers to him as “Journalist Glenn Greenwald.”

      • http://www.jeremyduns.com/ jeremyduns

        Yes, he hates being called a blogger. And really, I see his point. I’d never heard of this site until a few months ago, for example. The design is actually rather similar in some ways to The Intercept: simple, clean, black, red and white. And there are many sites like this, ie relatively new, aren’t ‘established journalism’, and yet have lots of loyal readers and are, in fact, conducting journalism. My point is that there really is no distinction anymore. So let’s leave Greenwald and fast-forward to 2017. A CIA operative takes a memory stick with 18 milllion documents on it and hands it to privacy activist ‘Professor Spiesarebad’. Spiesarebad isn’t a journalist. But he quickly sets up a website on WordPress called The Real Journalism, Honest Guv, and starts reporting on the documents. Spiesarebad could make all the arguments Greenwald is making now. So this entire idea of constitutional protection for journalists doesn’t fit the 21st century reality.

        Another *totally* hypothetical scenario would be that Professor Spiesarebad contacts newspapers and TV stations around the world. In exchange for seeing some of his CIA documents about their country, he would like a fee, and a byline. They can write the story, but he’d like to be sent it by email in English before it’s published. He won’t otherwise contribute to it. Is this still journalism?

        (Purely hypothetical example. I don’t think this is what Greenwald has done. But it would be possible to do, wouldn’t it?)

      • Trulyunbelievable2020

        Exactly how many pieces of investigative reporting must a person publish for major world media outlets in order to qualify as a “journalist?” Not a “good journalist.” Not a journalist who you respect. Not a journalist who follows your made-up rules of “journalism 101.” Just a journalist.

        • http://www.jeremyduns.com/ jeremyduns

          I don’t know. What number would you put on it?

          • Trulyunbelievable2020

            As a general rule? 1. I can imagine exceptions, though. For example, if a person was, say, an expert on nuclear proliferation and they wrote a single investigative piece for a major newspaper, I might not call him a journalist.

            A person who makes a living by publishing reports in major world newspapers, however, is most certainly a journalist. That doesn’t mean that you have to agree with him or think that he’s a good journalist. It just means that he’s a journalist.

          • http://www.jeremyduns.com/ jeremyduns

            But what are you arguing against here? If you think I’m arguing that Glenn Greenwald isn’t a journalist, you’re wrong. My point was more ‘can anyone call themselves a journalist now’?

            We’ve only had a few short exchanges, but I already sense a pattern, ‘Trulyunbelievable2020′. You ignore large points you can’t disagree with and instead hone in on one tiny one you can, and then split hairs over that, avoiding all discussion of the other points that you can’t argue against. I’m afraid, though, that I’ve tangled with the master of this technique – Glenn Greenwald, of course – so you won’t get anywhere doing it with me. I’ll just calmly keep pointing it out until you either engage in reasoned debate on substantive (and real) points, resort to personally abusive attacks and therefore lose the argument, or storm off in a temper.

          • formerlywhatithink

            You ignore large points you can’t disagree with and instead hone in on one tiny one you can, and then split hairs over that, avoiding all discussion of the other points that you can’t argue against.

            Spend enough time here and you’ll see this tactic used over and over, not only by trulyunbelievable2020, but the other resident Greenwald acolytes as well (jason, cygnus, etc).

        • formerlywhatithink

          One would be nice. But, and this where Greenwald is disqualified, it must contain actual journalism and not just fear mongering prose.

          • GROPENOTMOAN

            LOL. You really, really have to be dumb to deny that Greenwald is a journalist.

    • GROPENOTMOAN

      “One tab bar reads ‘Glenn Greenwald’, which is amusingly revealing.”

      Yes, imagine that – he will have his own blog on there, just like he had on Salon, and Guardian.

      Dunce.

      • http://www.jeremyduns.com/ jeremyduns

        You’re awfully touchy, ‘GROPENOTMOAN’!

        Yes, I know he’ll have his own blog on there. But look at it. There are just seven tabs, and one labelled with his name is the second one – before the staff or the About page. The other staff members’ blogs or comment pieces are under Voices. I would have expected his blog to be prominent on the site – but not quite this prominent. I think if you look at the page, it speaks for itself.

  • CygnusX1isaHole

    The Intercept is blazing a trail for privacy for news organizations.

    From Press Freedom Foundation dot org:

    …But The Intercept is also using technology to protect press freedom, which is increasingly important in the age of mass surveillance.

    The Intercept is the first major news publication in the United States to make its entire site HTTPS encrypted by default. As the NSA documents have shown, this is vital for reader privacy, as every site you visit is vulnerable to snooping by intelligence agencies if it’s left unencrypted. HTTPS can also help protect readers against getting hijacked by outside attackers, like when the news site Slashdotwas unwittingly spoofed by Britain’s spy agency.

    This should a minimum best practice followed by every news organization, but unfortunately, for various reasons, no other news organization has done so before today. In the coming months, we hope to help change that.

    We’re also proud to have helped The Intercept launch their own version of SecureDrop, the whistleblower submission system that was originally created by Aaron Swartz. We currently maintain the open-source project and worked with The Intercept’s staff to make sure their version is as secure as possible. SecureDrop provides a way to help sources to get documents and information to journalists in a secure and anonymous way.

    Unedited:
    https://pressfreedomfoundation.org/blog/2014/02/greenwald-and-poitras-launch-intercept-putting-press-freedom-and-digital-security-first

    • JozefAL

      Sorry, but I don’t see how “press freedom” is being protected from this little press release. Sure. They’re “protecting” the READER’s privacy (except for the analytics trackers that Bob noted) but not what “press freedom” is being protected. The press has NO right to be read and, it’s worth noting, an internet press has even less right (if, for some reason, the government caves to the big internet providers, there’s a good chance that the only way anyone will be able to go the “The Intercept” is to pay for the privilege).

      It also looks like you might’ve missed the part where this group points out how it/they helped “The Intercept” to essentially steal someone else’s work–“launch their own version of SecureDrop” (what was wrong with the original creation?).

      • Scopedog

        Also–and please correct me if I’m wrong–but doesn’t Greenwald sit on the board of the Press Freedom Foundation?

        • nathkatun7

          He sure does!

    • formerlywhatithink

      Ok, so explain to me how the Intercept gathering the very same data that the NSA would be interested in is protecting my privacy.

      As predicted, each page of The Intercept contains two analytics trackers from alleged PRISM collaborator Google and another called Mixpanel. Among other things, according to Ghostery, the Google bug alone collects your browser information, your demographic data, what hardware and software you use, your IP address, your search history, “location based data” and, weirdly, your phone number.

      • CygnusX1isaHole

        Explain to me how using HTTPS, used to protect online banking activities, isn’t a step in the right direction?

        • formerlywhatithink

          When I go on my banks website, I expect them to ask for, and obtain, personal information to verify my identity. When I go to a news site, why are they trolling through my personal information?

          And as IrishGrrrl said above “If the website is allow corporate data trackers the HTTPS on the site is worthless anyway.”

          It’s basically saying “we’ll protect you from the mean NSA while we collect the very data that we are shielding the NSA from collecting.”

    • Horace Boothroyd III

      Bragging about HTTPS? Where did you find that, the onion?

      • CygnusX1isaHole

        Would you feel that your online banking transactions were secure if they weren’t using HTTPS?

        Why can’t you applaud this higher level of protection being used by a news organization to protect its readers and sources? Isn’t this a step in the right direction?

        • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

          You missed Horace’s point. HTTPS is not “blazing” a trail. It’s been around for quite a while and it should be the absolute bare minimum security used by The Intercept.

          • CygnusX1isaHole

            “The Intercept is the first major news publication in the United States to make its entire site HTTPS encrypted by default.”

            ———-

            If this statement is correct then they are blazing a trail. It should be acknowledged as such.

          • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

            If the website is allow corporate data trackers the HTTPS on the site is worthless anyway. I would call it trail blazing if they had no corporate trackers AND they used HTTPS for all traffic.

  • undsoweiter

    Ah, no documents, no context. I suppose that parcelling them out one tidbit at a time might help to stretch what increasingly looks like hundreds of thousands of cups of weak tea.

  • repugnicant

    Interesting that Scahill would dump a Mark Halperin (‘Obama is a dick’) book segment in there at the end, who quotes (another) anonymous source. There seems to be all kinds of conveniently placed anonymous sources these days, along with ‘documents’ we’re apparently not worthy of seeing.

    I’m still going through all this – Scahill is a really good writer (I see no obvious evidence of Greenwald-ian syntax in how the article is written), to the point where you get a sense of legitimacy (how much do you think they’re paying him for that, since that’s obviously his sole purpose for being there?)… until he starts throwing in ‘The WHISTLEBLOWER Edward Snowden’, and I’m immediately reminded of Scahill’s role at The Intercept. Documents? No need to see, Scahill says they’re legit. Anonymous sources? Scahill vouches for them, don’t worry about it. Bestowing whistleblower status on Snowden is purely a personal preference, a preference Scahill is openly committed to. In court, this would be a serious conflict of interest.

    One big problem I have with the article is the reliance on drone operators to push the point across. Seriously, how involved are drone pilots in the accumulation and deciphering of intelligence on targets? They’re just the trigger, the sum of thousands of hours of work carried out by a massive intelligence apparatus. Their ‘testimony’ implies that they’re heavily involved, which doesn’t make sense. Why would they be?

    Anywho, I predict the Cescas out there will prove too much for someone like Scahill to handle, and he’ll bail on the whole project. Given the choice between having to defend your legitimacy on a daily basis, or detaching yourself from a lightening rod of angst, he’ll choose the latter.

    • http://www.jeremyduns.com/ jeremyduns

      ‘One big problem I have with the article is the reliance on drone
      operators to push the point across. Seriously, how involved are drone
      pilots in the accumulation and deciphering of intelligence on targets?
      They’re just the trigger, the sum of thousands of hours of work carried
      out by a massive intelligence apparatus. Their ‘testimony’ implies that
      they’re heavily involved, which doesn’t make sense. Why would they be?’

      That is an extremely good point. Really, the first question one would hope they asked the source. How exactly are *you* in a position to judge that the intelligence has been insufficient?

      • undsoweiter

        How much they are involved in the decision making is the 800lb. “stick monkey” in the room.

  • elgallorojo

    Bob — you mad, dudebro?

  • CL Nicholson

    Man, I did web development for a few years and I’m pretty good friends with guy still in the business. And, to say the least, this launch was weak as Watered Down O’Douls. Two rehashed articles on Drones and what was basically an Instagram about Forte Meade (you mean the place that anyone in southern VA could drive up to and go into the visitor’s center)? Even if you’re all rah-rah about Team Greenwald’s new venture – this launch was lame.

  • petesh

    Thanks, Bob. I look forward with interest to the disappearance of Greenwald from the headlines, not because of assassination but because of widespread boredom. I suppose he will shortly try to get himself arrested upon entry to the US; I hope they don’t bother.

    • http://www.dlancystreet.com reginahny

      Greenwald in an interview with Brian Beutler: “he did say he would likely return to the United States to accept a prestigious journalism award, should he win one.” Prestigious journalism award givers, take note.

      • D_C_Wilson

        Usually, those awards go to someone with more than six months experience in journalism.

        • drspittle

          I must disagree. I don’t think GG has spent one minute engaging in journalism or reporting. Other than reporting opinions.

  • http://polisstasis.com/ Daniel Phelan

    I want to point out a small conflation of terms in point #2: a DDoS attack isn’t a Denial of Service attack, but rather a Distributed Denial of Service attack. Greenwald has made this same mistake in the past, and, while it does serve as an example of his limited tech-knowledge, it’s wrong to repeat.

    A DoS attack can be carried out on a single laptop by repeatedly sending requests to a server. DDoS attacks, on the other hand, occur when those requests are sent by multiple machines. Usually, these machines are part of a botnet, infected by malware.

    The scale of response is also different between the two attacks. While a DoS attack can be fought by blocking the attacker’s IP address, a DDoS attack entails many more attackers. This makes DDoS attacks extremely difficult to defend against.

    One of Greenwald’s more recent claims was that the British government made DDoS attacks on Anonymous, when in fact the documents pointed towards DoS attacks. Had the attacks been DDoS, this would have suggested the British were infecting machines across the world with malware. The media repeatedly confused the terms, creating, as has been the usual with the NSA beat, a larger story than the technical documents merited.

  • Razib_Taif1

    Great article Bob. I agree, their fundamental kvetch (other than the idea that all intelligence and covert agencies should be disbanded) is that we should ALWAYS use human intelligence in lieu of or to supplement signal intelligence. I’m agnostic on the issue as I’m not an experienced intelligence officer but hey, neither are Greenwald and I-did-an-entire-documentary-about-my-face-in-cool-exotic-places Scahill. I don’t know the signal intelligence algorithms, I don’t have data to their past accuracy and value. I don’t have access to information that al qaeda may be adapting to past algorithms. Etc. And like me, neither do Greenwald and Scahill. Thus their observation sorta amounts to little more than uninformed criticism.

    Maybe the NSA, et al have data that show their current algorithms to be more accurate than human intelligence (this is increasingly the case for almost …. well everything).

    • CL Nicholson

      I’m agnostic on the issue as I’m not an experienced intelligence officer but hey, neither are Greenwald and I-did-an-entire-documentary-about-my-face-in-cool-exotic-places Scahill.

      +1 For pointing out that most of Scahill’s journalism is about Scahill as the white savior.

      • Razib_Taif1

        I’m to stop watch Dirty Wars and determine the percentage of the documentary with the frame centered on his face. Do a sample of other docs and actually empirically prove that his face is in that doc orders of magnitude then most other political docs.

        • Lady Willpower

          Well, it is a very nice face.

  • knownquantity

    I’m still trying to figure out why anyone would think that the NSA wouldn’t be involved in providing intelligence data on foreign nationals as part of the war on terror. It seems like a perfectly normal function of their intelligence role as part of the DOD. Not really following the idea that there’s something to worry about in terms of the NSA being involved in that capacity.

    And it’s also obvious that it’s not the NSA that actually gets to determine who is targeted for drone strikes. The president has to sign the orders permitting the targeting of a specific person, and the decision to carry out an actual strike based on electronic intelligence, HUMINT, or both is determined by military or CIA commanders, not someone at the NSA. They’re performing a supporting role, not directing the operations.

    • beulahmo

      NSA and drones have become highly-charged words that are guaranteed to incite outrage in their target audience. These guys often write about NSA as an all-powerful villain.

  • http://www.intoxination.net intoxination

    I did some tech digging through the site yesterday. They were given $50 million to get things started in December. Well that didn’t go towards tech. They are using a rather vanilla WordPress with a custom theme (hell I would have done that for $1 million and I hate themeing!)

    More interesting is their hosting. Looks like they are self hosting through a Level3 rack in San Jose. What makes that interesting is that Level 3 was accused of giving backdoor access to Yahoo and Google through their backbone lines, by Snowden! Also I find it interesting that someone who is so worried about the overreach of the “big, bad US government” would opt to place the infrastructure of their livelihood in the US.

    • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

      would opt to place the infrastructure of their livelihood in the US.

      Our security apparatus decided that what little privacy protections we have on servers that “sit” in the US is not extended to servers in other countries. That’s my guess. /not a GG supporter, just thinking out loud

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

      Nice. Really good to know.

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

      Posted your comment as an update above. Thanks, my friend.

  • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

    My first thought was WTF does metadata have to do with geolocation? Nothing but they’re betting Americans are too ignorant to know better and they are right, unfortunately.

    Where possible we always use HUMINT. For example, the movie Lone Survivor was about this…using a team of Navy Seals to get eyes on a drone target to ensure identification. Where it is possible we do use HUMINT and we do so at great risk to those military personnel. So it’s not like we’re just killing with drones all the time without spotting teams.

    Which goes to my your point about human involvement and funny how they ignore the people behind drones….. (both before and after). In the first link to a video posted by The Guardian (no less) a former? Air Force airman discusses the protocol. Notice how he says two officers notice a group of people setting up a mortar position. How did the officers see this? Through the drone and it’s footage. They run this position as a possible target up the chain of command. So how many more humans are notified? How much time passes? You see where I’m going with this. It’s not the like the drones are out there doing some kind of face recognition and then blowing the target up right at the moment they identify them. There’s a process…a military process…that runs through humans….one that is not any different than if our troops were on the ground and had to make the decision to engage.

    So GG and crowd are ignoring quite a lot…also, too, they’re ignoring who controls the drones (DOD or CIA), who funds the drones (did they notice that Congress blocked funding to allow the transfer of drones from CIA to Pentagon–so Congress must want to execute people illegally now because they’re leaving it in the hands of the CIA which has expanded permissions beyond the Pentagon)….where is GG’s outrage against Congress? All I’m hearing is crickets.

    Suffice it to say GG has an agenda and this country’s best interests aren’t part of it.

    • Scopedog

      “Suffice it to say GG has an agenda and this country’s best interests aren’t part of it.”

      Yep. And it’s been clear as day for some time now, but expect to be pilloried by his acolytes accusing you of being a mindless, drooling O-bot.

      • drspittle

        Hands IG towel inscribed with “Hope and Change” and picture of Obama.

        • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

          LOL Towel accepted

    • D_C_Wilson

      There are limitations to HUMINT just like everything else. For one, it’s very, very hard for American agents to infiltrate terrorist groups. Not only is it hard for an outsider to gain their trust, but they would be required to participate in some grissly acts just to get past the initiation phase. The other option is to try to turn someone already on the inside, which again, is not an easy task. It also runs the risk of depending on another Curveball to provide you with intel.

      • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

        Exactly why we’ve switched to drones. But the main point being that humans still review what the drone sees and still direct it in what it does. So does it matter that a human is “pulling” the figurative trigger remotely? It’s still a human making the decision. Why should we have to put our people in danger if we don’t have to? Out of fairness? Screw that…there is no “fairness” in war.

  • mrbrink

    I’ll say it again, yesterday’s AP report makes a mockery of everything they think this president is about.

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The case of an American citizen and suspected member of al-Qaida who is allegedly planning attacks on U.S. targets overseas underscores the complexities of President Barack Obama’s new stricter targeting guidelines for the use of deadly drones.

    The CIA drones watching him cannot strike because he’s a U.S. citizen. The Pentagon drones that could are barred from the country where he’s hiding, and the Justice Department has not yet finished building a case against him[…]

    The case has galvanized congressional opponents of Obama’s plan to transfer drones from the CIA to the Defense Department. Before the plan was announced, either CIA or Pentagon drones could go after terrorist targets, even if they were U.S. citizens. The CIA could also fly drones in areas where host countries might object. But by law, the Pentagon can only strike in war zones, in countries that agree to U.S. counterterrorism action or in lawless areas like parts of Somalia where that government’s security forces cannot reach. Even then only al-Qaida-linked suspects can be targeted.[…]

    U.S. officials said both Senate and House appropriators have blocked funding that would transfer the CIA’s stealth RQ-170 drone fleet to the Pentagon.

    New restrictions on drones? Building a legal case? Public debate? Taking drones away from the CIA but being blocked by democratically elected representatives?

    Where’s the lawlessness? I was guaranteed lawlessness, goddamn it. And secrecy! With no concern for anything but unbridled lawlessness. Getting burned by Greenwald is nothing new. I like Jeremy Scahill. I’m very forgiving when it comes to certain people and their views, but he’s been way overselling a misconception about this administration. He should get away from Greenwald fast. These are cubs being treated like lions and it’s fucking with natural selection. The actions of this president and the justice department make a mockery of everything Greenwald and Scahill have been claiming.

    • drspittle

      Scahill will always have a place in my heart for the way he ripped Chuck Todd on Real Time a few years ago.

    • CygnusX1isaHole

      I highly recommend this article from the WSWS for a different interpretation of this story.

      http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/02/11/dron-f11.html

      • mrbrink

        Sorry, no. I don’t need my information explained to me through the prism of second semester drama class.

        • formerlywhatithink

          Well, I’m sorry to say that you can no longer be considered for membership in the Greenwald/Paul/Snowden fan club ( our slogan is “Home of GENUINE Liberals”). Not needing information explained to you through the prism of second semester drama class violates the clubs bylaws and therefore makes you ineligible to become a genuine liberal. Please turn in your tinfoil hat as you exit.

          • mrbrink

            No way. I’m keeping the tinfoil. Yeah! Just try and stop me! You’ll never catch me, police state! Never catch…[runs away face-first into closed door].

  • bill_boyles

    you skipped #5

    • http://phydeauxpseaks.blogspot.com/ Bob Rutledge

      #5 — No Pouftas.

      @#MontyPythonRules

      • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

        Noooooooooooo pouftas!!!!!!

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

      The NSA deleted #5.

  • ruth crocker

    Hold on – per your point 7, are you saying Greenwald WANTS the NSA to be listening to the content of calls, but they aren’t? But I thought they were listening to all of our calls, everywhere, all the time! Now the NSA isn’t listening enough?

  • trgahan

    Wait, reviewing the linked articles I am confused…is the NSA a comic book-level super villain bent on enslaving us all? Or just incompetent and needless violating “civil liberties” to likely slaughter the wrong people in foreign nation?

    I thought all of this was about the former? But the first round of articles point mostly to the latter. So is it wrong or just bad execution (no pun intended)?

    As for point 13…why the needless, unsubstantiated accusation? I assume just throwing red meat to the faux-libertarian fan boys by quickly pulling back the curtain and showing what this is really all about.

    • condew

      George Bush got re-elected as the only one who can keep us safe, after his administrations pig-headed refusal to listen lead to 9-11. I guess Greenwald is getting set to elect a Republican by hanging Bush’s domestic spying excesses on Obama, who has been quietly throttling them back. Greenwald does know that Obama won’t be running for reelection, doesn’t he? This could even backfire on him by giving Democrats more credibility as the ones who will do what it takes to keep us safe.

      • ruth crocker

        I promise you, even if Rand Paul were elected President, he wouldn’t scale back the NSA or drones program. No one responsible for the lives of 300 million Americans would. Obama making the reforms he has is truly remarkable – I’d like to see him get some credit. I’m afraid pulling the plug on the NSA or decomissioning drones was never an option.

        • Jon Fox

          Paul only objects to the theoretical of drones in the US. He’s 100% drones in Pakistan/Yemen/etc.

          • D_C_Wilson

            He’s also said he’d have no problem with using a drone to kill someone running out of a liquor store with a gun and a load of cash.

          • Jon Fox

            #freedom!

        • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

          The Pauls say they are isolationist but they’re all for big business and that’s what drives our military-industrial complex so you’re spot on. They’d ride that cash cow for as long as they could and privacy/rights be damned.

          • Jon Fox

            Paul’s a stock GOPer who flirts with libertarianism to try and get “moderate” votes. Its a snow job.

        • nathkatun7

          Well said Ruth!

      • trgahan

        I think you hit it on the head. Right now, it seems the point is to lay the entire post-9/11 national security establishment constructed under Bush (with thundering applause by such pre-2006 right wing media “intellectual” apologists like Greenwald, Sullivan, Hitchens, etc) on Obama and the Democrats.

        The mass selective amnesia of how we got here (ca. 2001-2008) has been particularly infuriating and, to me, indicates Greenwald et al.’s motives are anything but a concern about my civil liberties as an American citizen.

        • Horace Boothroyd III

          For confirmation of this important set of points, just peruse the diaries written by those hysterical ninnies over at dailykos.com. They persistently reject any suggestion that President Obama has implemented important measures to reign in the previous excesses of the National Security State, regarding torture and surveillance and so forth, while insisting that The President take the blame for those excesses.

          For my entire life as a leftist I have dismissed “America hater” as a stupid trope from the fever swamps of the nihilist right, but watching these guys has forced me to change my comfortable opinion. Some of these people simply hate America, and they want to do damage regardless of who gets hurt.

      • villemar

        I don’t know what you’re referring to in your first sentence. Nothing happened between January 2001 and January 2009. On the historical timeline there just are a bunch of question marks over that section. No one knows, really. All I know is that in late January 2009 a bloodthirsty monster suddenly stepped into the White House for some reason. Apparently his only objective was and is to murder brown babies for teh lulz.

    • Scopedog

      “As for point 13…why the needless, unsubstantiated accusation?”

      Well, why not? Remember, GG feels that the only way to really change things here in the US is to get a Repub back in charge and for the Democrats to lose, lose, lose. Also, Obama–despite the wails to the contrary coming from the Far Left–is a 180 degree turn from G. W. Bush. And it’s probably the fact that this President is a Constitutional scholar who knows a helluva lot more than his critics–Greenwald included.

      • ruth crocker

        There’s been nothing in the Snowden “revelations” that compares with warrantless wiretapping. Yet people seem to think that having their phone records with their identity removed stored in a database that can’t be searched without the approval of a judge is worse.

        • Aaron Litz

          As I’ve been saying since this whole thing broke out, Snowden was deliberately trying to hurt Obama, no other reason. He was a vocal opponent of whistleblowers before the Obama administration, and mocked and verbally harassed people who complained about the NSA’s domestic surveillance program (go check his compiled posts at Ars Technica.).

          Snowden’s entire story is bullshit. He wanted to hurt Obama, period. He was in contact with Greenwald and planned things out before he was hired. The entire thing was a con-job.

          The gullibility and eagerness to accept anything SnoWalden says on the part of all the contrarian hipster emo-Left poseurs just sickens me. Being an iconoclast is all well and good, I am one myself, but acting IRRATIONALLY CONTRARIAN just for the sake of contrariness is ridiculous.

          • beardsley james

            I was married to a Muslim at the time of 9/11. I was visited by the FBI and am sure my phone was tapped (odd clicks). I also have been in a real police state (visiting the family of said spouse). People talking about gross violations of privacy and the “Orwellian” nightmare state just don’t know what they’re talking about.

          • Aaron Litz

            I sympathize with you. I can’t say that I know how you feel, because I’ve never experienced anything even remotely like what you must have gone through, but you have all the empathic sympathy my mind can muster.

            THIS is what TRULY makes me SICK about Greenwald and Snowden and their followers: their claims that the US is a police state is insulting to those people like Beardsley James who have actually had to live through a REAL police state. thd utter gall they have saying that is unbelievable. They display a total lack of empathy for other people’s suffering and automatic sense of entitlement characteristic of a spoiled 6-year old, coupled with a 6-year old’s lack of introspection. Both Greenwald and Snowden, and all of their privacy concern poseur disciples, act like petulant children, demanding what they want RIGHT NOW and damn the consequences of how they get it, as long as their immediate cravings are satisfied then they don’t care who else their demands effect.

            But here’s the deep down truth about Greenwald and Snowden; both of them are fairly well off white boys who wouldn’t know true adversity if it bit them on the ass. Their whole goal is to be self-inflicted martyrs to a cause they manufactured themselves.

            Poseurs. Poseurs, every last one of them.

      • drspittle

        “Remember, GG feels that the only way to really change things here in the US is to get a Repub back in charge…”

        I would add the word “white” before Repub.

        • Scopedog

          Spot on.