The Latest Snowden Revelation is Another Clear Example of Reporters Misleading the Public

The level of deception in the reporting on Edward Snowden’s stolen National Security Agency documents has reached an all time high. Or shall we say “low?” The latest item, an article by James Risen and Laura Poitras, is so obvious in its prevarication that it was shocking to see it on the front page of The New York Times.

The article, titled “Spying by N.S.A. Ally Entangled U.S. Law Firm,” is transparently intended to mislead people into thinking the NSA lawlessly spied on American lawyers. In fact, when I first read the lede I thought that was exactly what Risen and Poitras were alleging. The lede:

The list of those caught up in the global surveillance net cast by the National Security Agency and its overseas partners, from social media users to foreign heads of state, now includes another entry: American lawyers.

The lede — the very first sentence in the article — explicitly says that that “American lawyers” have been caught up in the “surveillance net” cast by overseas spy agencies and NSA. The operative word being “and.” NSA and its “overseas partners” are spying on a U.S. law firm. If it’s not deliberately intended to mislead, then it’s very poorly written.

The reporters cleverly didn’t mention which agency is specifically doing the spying until the middle of the third paragraph where we discover that it wasn’t NSA who’s spying on the law firm at all, it was the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), and the law firm, possibly an outfit called Mayer Brown, represented the government of Indonesia in trade talks with the U.S.

Since the ASD was the agency doing all the spying in this instance, you’d think we’d see the ASD mentioned not just in the lede but throughout the article. Instead, it appears just once in the roughly 2,000 word piece. How many times did Risen and Poitras mention NSA? 32 times. To repeat, the spy agency in question was mentioned by name only once, while the NSA was mentioned 32 times.

Why is this significant? Farhad Manjoo wrote a fascinating and troubling post for Slate last year that showed how online readers hardly ever read through an entire article. Most readers, in fact, only read half, while many readers don’t even bother to scroll (on my computer, I had to scroll down to read the sole mention of the ASD). Anyone skimming the article would naturally see “NSA” all over the place. It appears three times before the ASD or Australia is ever mentioned.

The only involvement by NSA in the entire operation came when the ASD informed NSA’s Canberra liaison about the data collected about the law firm. In response, NSA’s general counsel office “provided clear guidance” for the ASD. Benjamin Wittes and Jane Chong writing for the Lawfare blog theorized that the guidance likely had to do with minimizing the data collected from the law firm in compliance with U.S. law. Indeed, Risen and Poitras, deep within the article, noted that NSA “is prohibited” from spying on law firms without a warrant and that:

[T]he N.S.A. can intercept the communications of Americans if they are in contact with a foreign intelligence target abroad, such as Indonesian officials. The N.S.A. is then required to follow so-called minimization rules to protect their privacy, such as deleting the identity of Americans or information that is not deemed necessary to understand or assess the foreign intelligence, before sharing it with other agencies.

First of all, the authors confirmed here that it’s perfectly legal for this form of surveillance to occur, buttressing the notion that no wrongdoing was uncovered by Snowden. But again, while this highlights the minimization rules preventing the surveillance of U.S. persons, it also attempts to imply that it was NSA doing the spying here, even though it wasn’t: “the N.S.A. can intercept the communications of Americans if they are in contact with a foreign intelligence target abroad, such as Indonesian officials.” Why drop Indonesia in there other than to link NSA to spying on Indonesia in this context?

If that’s not the case, and NSA has tasked ASD with acquiring intelligence data about the law firm, then this could be problematic for NSA. But there’s no indication of this whatsoever in the article. Risen and Poitras note, however, that NSA “declined to answer questions…whether information involving the American law firm was shared with United States trade officials or negotiators.” This indicates that the document doesn’t say one way or another whether the law firm information was handed over.

On top of everything else, there’s no evidence that the law firm or any American citizens were deliberately targeted by either the ASD or NSA. This sounds exactly like inadvertent collection which was minimized in accordance with U.S. regulations.

The other elephant in the room is yet another story about Australia’s surveillance of Indonesia in the midst of heightening tensions between the two nations. As we’ve previously discussed, an earlier Snowden article helped to precipitate a military escalation in the seas separating the two nations after Indonesia withdrew its assistance in curbing a growing “people-smuggling” problem. And here we are again.

It’s continuously astonishing how nearly every reporter tasked with writing about the Snowden documents has slyly misled readers about the various files. Why isn’t the article clear in the lede about who’s doing the spying? Why is the actual spy agency only mentioned once, while NSA is mentioned dozens of times, twice in the context of spying on Indonesia? Why is exculpatory information buried deep within the lengthy article?

If these and countless other examples from the Snowden reporting aren’t intentional efforts to mislead, but, rather, accidental errors and poor reportorial judgment, then we’ve been witnessing some of the worst writing in the history of the modern press. If this is about misleading the public and inciting outrage, some serious accountability is in order.

  • doyougetmesweetheart

    Personal integrity is the cornerstone of a Journalist’s credibility – and it is NEVER permissible to put forth deliberately distorted information. There are only a few sources today where one can find truthful information that is reported by rigorous, investigative journalists. I came to this story after reading another one written by this same author – and the other story revealed a bias so evident, that for him to make honest journalism the focus of this story is hypocritical; at the very least.

  • Simon

    Just to highlight some further silly, craven and ridiculous tidbits:
    >> Risen and Poitras note, however, that NSA “declined to answer
    questions…whether information involving the American law firm was shared
    with United States trade officials or negotiators.” This indicates that
    the document doesn’t say one way or another whether the law firm
    information was handed over.

    No, that the NSA declined to answer questions indicates that the NSA declined to answer questions, which they do routinely. It indicates nothing whatsoever. I do think trying to read the tea leaves of official denial is rather cute, though. It feels like.. deep, unshakeable faith in what PR agencies tell you! Except here they’re not even saying anything.

    >> First of all, the authors confirmed here that it’s perfectly legal for
    this form of surveillance to occur, buttressing the notion that no
    wrongdoing was uncovered by Snowden.

    This is sooooo cute, it make me want to f*** a kitten! Obviously, the fact that technically no laws were broken in this particular incident buttresses no such notion because rather a lot has been leaked by Snowden and much of it purports to show illegality. But it’s the complete faith in the law displayed by the author which makes me all gooey inside.

    Anyway, I did enjoy writing these comments. If you think this article is persuasive, try reading the piece in the NYT beyond the 3rd paragraph and decide for yourself instead of relying on this hack.

  • Simon

    This whole article is totally hyperbolic and silly. The Australian agency is referenced throughout the article by James Risen and Laura Poitras. That they only use the acronym ‘ASD’ once is hardly super deceptive. And if you need to scroll to read the third paragraph then maybe try a screen wider than five inches? Or a smaller font?

    “The list of those caught up in the global surveillance net cast by the National Security Agency and its overseas partners” is not deceptive language either. The Anglo intelligence agencies (the Five Eyes) of the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada cooperate closely. What one of them does is definitely relevant to all. Grouping them together is not misleading

    There is no argument this author is making that seriously undermines James Risen & Laura Poitras’ journalism. All they are accused of is some nebulous bias and subliminally manipulating the short-attention-spanned. Not that this carries any weight, but even if it did, “we’ve been witnessing some of the worst writing in the history of the modern press”? Seriously?! Someone leads a sheltered intellectual life.

  • repugnicant

    Wow, I just watched Scahill on Real Time. He’s the new Giuliani: A noun, a verb, and NSA. He also said it was The Intercept’s goal to empower journalists to determine what’s in America’s interest. My Gawd.

    • Tort Master

      Good grief, repugnicant, that goes beyond even the “Investigative Editorialism” that Fox News sells.
      Meanwhile, Greenwald comes out with a new post at the Intercept that can be summarized as follows: “Government keen to learn about Foreign Anarchist?
      Pop the Stresses!!! Oops, too excited there. Meant to say, “Stop the Presses!”

  • CL Nicholson

    A wonderful form of Schadenfreude… Stewart Baker going H.A.M. into Daniel Ellsberg for the fact that Edward Snowden purposefully joined the NSA to steal data. It was magically awesome to hear Ellsberg and Amy Goodman tapping dancing around the fact that yes, Edward Snowden is a thief with a political agenda and not purely some Geek Squad guy who just happened to trip over some ghastly spy stuff.

    • Jason

      There was no tap dancing by Ellsberg, but there was a significant amount of correction going on, as baker just loves to throw a whole lot of diversionary garbage out that Ellsberg has to painstakingly debunk before they can get back to any real discussion. Fairly typical establishment apologist tactics.

    • Tort Master

      When I watched the debate between Rand Corporation analyst Daniel Ellsberg and Stewart Baker, I came away with three main new-ish bits of information, CL, which included the following:
      1. When discussing potential damage to the country caused by the Snowden leaks, Ellsberg stated, and I quote, “… for which the journalists would also be responsible.” That is at 50:01 of your linked debate. He is not the hair-on-fire Freedom of the Press guy that Libertarians like to think.
      2. Unlike the Greenwald and Snowden fans on the internet, at least Ellsberg had enough good common sense to state, quote: “Of course there must be intelligence, and, of course, there must be secrecy about it.” That’s at 50:40.
      3. Ellsberg also admitted that Congress knew about the NSA metadata program while Clapper was testifying in March 2013. Kinda blows a hole in Snowden’s pretend rationalization for anarchy. That’s at 21:30 of the debate.

      • CL Nicholson

        Thanks for picking up on those nit bits, Tort. My issue is that this ‘Lion’ of the libertarian anti-spying types admitted, on air, in friendly territory that yeah, Snowden did steal stuff and yes, the government has an obligation to have spies to protect us from threats.

        It was a great debate, if only because neither side really talks to each other and for the most part, Baker and Ellsberg respect each other. GG and Scahill would have been whiny little brats claiming that they know more about spy world than a lawyer for spies.

  • nathkatun7

    “If these and countless other examples from the Snowden reporting aren’t intentional efforts to mislead, but, rather, accidental errors and poor reportorial judgment, then we’ve been witnessing some of the worst writing in the history of the modern press. If this is about misleading the public and inciting outrage, some serious accountability is in order.”

    Thank you so much Bob for this incredible post! As far as I am concerned, most of the so called mainstream media (MSM) are in the business of “misleading the public and inciting outrage….” Sadly, because the MSM are only accountable to their corporate overlords, there is very little that “We the people” can do to hold them accountable for telling/ publishing the TRUTH.

  • Tort Master

    First point: It seems that Bob Cesca has really hit a raw nerve. And it is something that fans of Greenwald and the others should be concerned about. This isn’t one article, it is every article, and it isn’t one of these “reporters,” it is every one of these reporters.
    Second point: This is not “Investigative Journalism.” It’s barely even “Investigative Editorialism.” At least with what I call Investigative Editorialism at Fox News, they occastionally mention the other side of the story or acknowledge that there are competing interests or other possible conclusions to be drawn from their speculation.
    Third point: This is the best they got? Big fanfare about the new Greenwald media blockbuster conglomerate, and we get served nothingburgers having nothing to do with the Constitution or the privacy rights of American citizens. This latest piece in the NYT involves spying by a foreign government on another foreign government. Keep it up, Bob, this bullshit needs to be called out.

    • Badgerite

      Well and concisely said. Kudos.

  • Tort Master

    When it happens Every. Single. Time. then you’ve got a problem. Perhaps these reporters, when they finally get cabalized into First Look, should run propaganda ads about how they are “Fair and Balanced.” Greenwald can have his own corner of the blog called the “No Spin Zone,” and Scahill can have discussions with his “Great Anti-American Panel.”

  • Trulyunbelievable2020

    4.) “… online readers hardly ever read through an entire article…”

    Sorry, I didn’t get that far. Haha, just kidding. I rememberManjoo’s article, and it was interesting, but I don’t quite understand what you want. Should the NYT start every article on this topic with an announcement? “TLDR: BASICALLY NOT MUCH TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT HERE!”? How is the NYT expected to retain any journalistic quality whatsoever if it publishes stories with the assumption that readers aren’t going to finish them? Yes, “burying the lede” is a thing, but I don’t see it here.

    In any case, this was an article that was published in the paper itself and then reposted online. I would imagine that the percentage of readers who get through the whole thing is higher when they either have to pay for a subscription or use one of their ten stories a month to read something.

    • repugnicant

      Well, all that was pretty humorous. I always enjoy watching people, who berated the numerous excuses/defenses of Bush 2 for 8 years, engage in the very same practice they once scoffed at.

      Anywho, only around 38 people over at the Huffington Post, which enjoys a massively higher amount of traffic globally, cared to engage in this non-sensical piece over 2 days. There’s trouble in Libertarian paradise. What to do now?

      • Jason

        ummm….excuse making?
        Wow that is a fairly tortured analogy considering how easily it would be to equate Obama and the NSA over reach with the Bush administrations excesses and the journalists reporting on the NSA overreach with the journalists reporting on the Bush administration.
        You do understand that you are the establishment apologist in this discussion yeah?

        • repugnicant

          Tortured analogy? LoL! This is fun.

          • Jason

            Bob can sometimes be useful as a gauge of what the moderate establishment position on various issues is. But less so since he became infatuated with Greenwald.
            Now i am mostly just morbidly interested in how he tries to spin each of the NSA stories. And while i am here i might as well put my opinion forward :-)

          • repugnicant

            The only gauge here is how far people are willing leap to protect their egos. It doesn’t take a genius to notice all the discrepancies in ALL these NSA stories. Its as they were written by Frank Luntz.

          • Jason

            Come on repug, i thought we were having an honest moment just now. Both you and i can surely agree that neither Bob nor Glenn is at the same level as Luntz

          • repugnicant

            You can’t influence ANYONE when your number one requirement is that they ASSUME the worst is actually happening. Just putting lipstick on a Tea Party pig.

      • Badgerite

        For people who don’t seem to think to highly of Bob’s pieces they sure spend a lot of time here griping about them.

        • repugnicant

          That’s what happens when articles are unable to stand on their own merits. We witnessed 8 years of that with Bush.

  • Trulyunbelievable2020

    3. “Instead it [the ASD] appears just once in the roughly 2,000 word piece.”

    I would be willing to bet a great deal of money that the reason for this has to do with the NYT’s stylistic guidelines. I don’t have a NYT stylebook handy, but I was easily able to find this “cheat sheet” for the AP stylebook (pages.towson.edu/lieb/mcom358/apcheatsheet.doc).

    It states that: ““As a general rule, use only commonly recognized abbreviations. The most common such as NASA, FBI, and CIA, can be used on all references. Less well-known but still common ones such as OSHA and NATO can be used after you spell out the full name on first mention. In most cases, however, the stylebook suggests using a generic reference such as ‘the agency’ or ‘the alliances’ for all references after the first.”

    I would imagine that this explains the stylistic quirk that you’re complaining about.

    In any event, this complaint is just silly. Yes, the abbreviation “ASD” appears once. But there are a host of clear and unambiguous references to the agency: Paragraph 3: “the N.S.A.’s Australian counterpart”; Paragraph 4: “the Australians”; Paragraph 5: “the Australians”; “the Australian agency”; Paragraph 7: “Australian or American intelligence agencies”; Paragraph 14: “its [Australia’s] intelligence agencies”; paragraph 16: “Australian intelligence.”

    That’s not an exhaustive list. It only covers the first half of the article or so. Are you seriously arguing that: 1) a literate person would be confused by this and/or 2) that substituting “the ASD” for any of these references would substantially change the article in any sense?

    • formerlywhatithink

      Weak. There are countless articles which will spell out an acronym, give the acronym in parentheses, then use the acronym from then on. The authors could have easily used “Australian Signals Directorate (ASD)” then continued with ASD after that.

      Paragraph 4: “The Australians told officials at an NSA liaison office…” That doesn’t clearly state that it was the Australian Signals Directorate, not just Australians, but it specifically points NSA.

      Paragraph 5: “On behalf of the Australians, the liaison officials asked the NSA..” Again, just a vague “Australians” while NSA is quite prominent.

      Paragraph 5: “Australian agency” Again, why the omission of Signals Directorate?

      Then paragraphs 8-13 focused solely on the NSA and possible domestic surveillance of law firms by the NSA. So much for this being a story about a foreign government conducting surveillance on an American law firm in another foreign land.

      It’s not until paragraph 14 that Australia is mentioned again.

      Then it goes on more about the NSA, not the ASD through the article. Oh, I’m sorry, since you are so confused by acronyms, ASD stands for “Australian Signals Directorate“. It’s like writing an article about Bollywood, but never calling it Bollywood, instead just referring to as India but mentioning Hollywood as much as possible.

  • Trulyunbelievable2020

    2. “The reporters didn’t mention which agency specifically doing the spying until the middle of the third paragraph…”

    The third paragraph? You don’t say! So NYT readers have to go through a whole 146 words before they learn the name of the agency in question? They have to slog their way through seven percent of the article?

    The average adult reads at a rate of about 250 words for a minute. If we assume that your average NYT reader reads a little faster (say, 300 wpm), then it would take less than 30 seconds to reach this point. That is, of course, assuming that the average reader doesn’t get mixed up by that whole “and” thing in the first line…

  • Trulyunbelievable2020

    I have one long comment, but I’ll chop it up into little pieces so that you folks can actually read it without just giving up halfway through.

    1. “The lede… explicitly says that that that ‘American lawyers’ have been caught up in the global surveillance net cast by overseas spy agencies and NSA.”

    I don’t get your point, Bob. Are you accusing them of burying the lede… in the lede? I also don’t get why the “and” confused you so much. Perhaps I’m missing something here.

  • D_C_Wilson

    I’m so glad Snowden is protecting American’s privacy from the NSA by revealing how foreign governments are spying on lawyers.

  • http://twitter.com/Cody_K/ Cody

    OUCH! http://www.balloon-juice.com/2014/02/17/props-to-greenwald-and-poitras/

    First John Cole bodyslams Cesca and now this…?

    “…If there’s another definition for the craft, I don’t know what it is, and I Hate Glenn Greenwald is not an argument…” ~Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce
    http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/glenn-greenwald-polk-award-021714

    Keep tilting those windmills, Bob.

    • Ashes Defacto

      The irony is that you are guilty of exactly what you are accusing others
      of, just on behalf of Glen Greenwald and Edward Snowden.

    • MorganleFay

      Why ouch??

      Why ” I Hate Glenn Greenwald is not an argument…”

      How about, “the reporting is inaccurate is the argument?

      I notice that Charlie Pierce did not accuse Ed Bott just hating Glenn Greenwald;

      The real
      story in the NSA scandal is the collapse of journalism

      http://www.zdnet.com/the-real-story-in-the-nsa-scandal-is-the-collapse-of-journalism-7000016570/

      Or;

      How did
      mainstream media get the NSA PRISM story so hopelessly wrong?

      Summary: Last week’s bombshell stories by The Guardian and The
      Washington Post accused some of the biggest names in tech of willingly working
      with the NSA to give up your data. It now appears that those stories misread
      the technical details and got the story wrong.

      http://www.zdnet.com/how-did-mainstream-media-get-the-nsa-prism-story-so-hopelessly-wrong-7000016822/

      11:10 AM, JUNE 14 2013

      PRISM Isn’t Data Mining and Other Falsehoods in the N.S.A. “Scandal”

      http://www.vanityfair.com/online/eichenwald/2013/06/prism-isnt-data-mining-NSA-scandal

      Epic botch of the PRISM
      story.

      Mark Jaquith’s post The PRISM Details
      Matter is spot-on. Glenn Greenwald has
      misunderstood a key technical fact, one that removes the most explosive charge
      in the whole scoop. And for some reason, Greenwald refuses to correct it.

      https://medium.com/prism-truth/82a1791c94d3

      • D_C_Wilson

        Funny how you think “I hate Greenwald” was the argument in an article that never once mentioned Greenwald.

        • MorganleFay

          I’m responding to Cody

          • 13 minutes ago−

          “…If there’s another definition for the craft, I don’t know what it is, and I Hate Glenn Greenwald is not an argument…” ~Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce

          • D_C_Wilson

            Whoops. My bad. I meant that to be a reply to Cody.

          • MorganleFay

            I figured, that, but it can be hard to tell.

      • http://twitter.com/Cody_K/ Cody

        I’m not seeing any of those stories deny that NSA has collected my email contacts list and my cell geolocation data without first meeting the 4th Amendment standard for reasonable suspicion.
        Moreover, James Clapper hasn’t even offered a plausible lie to reassure me further on that very same point.

        I’m fine with the reporting. Everyone recocognizes Bob Cesca and Charles Johnson are on the desperate dead-ender losing side of America’s opposition to Patriot Act overreach that even Bob opposed up until June 2013.

        • MorganleFay

          The problem is that EVERYTHING that Snowden claimed was old or exaggerated. No one did fact checking.
          There WAS no direct access.
          PRISM was know since 2006.
          Every Greenwald story has, (at the end), something that takes the reader from, “OH MY GOD!!!! to, Oh well, that’s different.

          The reporting on this has been like that of the run up to the war on Iraq and the subsequent gushing over Bush.Now the popular kid is Greenwald instead of Bush.

          • Jason

            Much of the stuff revealed by Snowden was already suspected or known, but until there was documentary evidence the NSA could simply ignore the accusation. Without the evidence, legal proceedings against the NSA were dismissed for lack of standing. Now there is no denying and suddenly the apologists are saying “There is nothing new here, move along nothing to see”

            Comparing Greenwald to Bush? Really?…..was Hitler just too much of a stretch for even you to stomach?

          • Badgerite

            The legal proceedings have to do with actual questions involving constitutional rights of American citizen and those cases have yet to reach an ultimate legal disposition, much as your group wants to pretend otherwise. And it is basically one issue. And that issue is bulk collection and retention of American citizens phone records ( metatdata).
            Not spying on foreign governments. Not whether attorney-client privilege will adher in trade negotiations. ( It doesnt’)
            Not whether it is alright to spy on Angela Merkel or the lady leader in Brazil. Not whether it is alright to have intelligence sharing arrangements with allies.

          • Jason

            I am pretty sure spying is illegal regardless of what the US courts think of attorney client privilege, yeah?

          • Badgerite

            Well, it wouldn’t be if the information shared had anything at all to do with terrorism issues. But I’m not sure it did. And in that case, I’m not sure. I think the terrorism restriction applies only to American communications. And since this was communication with a foreign government, I think it is probably legal. The NSA is allowed to spy on foreign governments. That is what they are supposed to do.

          • Jason

            But there is little doubt that Indonesian law was broken in the commissioning of the spying right?

          • Badgerite

            Jason. get in your jammies and go to bed. Night now.

          • Jason

            But i just had a coffee, and it is only 3pm :-(

          • Badgerite

            I don’t know Indonesian law. There is little doubt that Pussy Riot or anyone who supports gay rights is violating Russian law. What’s your point. A United States spy agency is not required, under American law, to abide by foreign laws against spying and vice versa. I’m sure Jonathan Pollard, the Israeli spy who is still serving time in a US prison for violating US espionage laws, did not violate any Israeli laws while engaging in espionage.

    • D_C_Wilson

      Funny how you think “I hate Greenwald” was the argument in an article that never once mentioned Greenwald.

      • Lady Willpower

        Yeah, but it’s we who are projecting.

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

      I’m not mentioned in either post. Talk about tilting at windmills.

      • http://twitter.com/Cody_K/ Cody

        You had no problem identifying who John Cole was clearly referring to.
        https://twitter.com/bobcesca_go/status/435503058923970560
        And you think Charlie Pierce meant someone else…? lol
        C’mon. He specifically points to your “IT WAS THE AUSSIES!” argument.
        I haven’t read anyone else making that weak argument.

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

          That tweet was based on a commenter, not Cole.

        • Lady Willpower

          I’ve seen a lot of fatuous arguments on the internet in my 45 years, but this assertion that “fanboy” is a homophobic slur might be the dumbest shit I’ve ever seen.

    • drspittle

      So the sole purpose of Bob’s writing is to obtain approval from John Cole and Charlie Pierce and if they disapprove (not just disagree – disapprove) Bob’s articles are to be automatically disregarded?

      • http://twitter.com/Cody_K/ Cody

        They both like Bob. I’ve seen both say how they’d like to see his reporting come back to the left side of the issue (as would I)… where Bob USED to be…
        http://bobcesca.thedailybanter.com/blog-archives/2011/05/no-sir-i-dont-like-it.html
        He likely doesn’t need their approval. But he certainly takes their critiques and condemnations to heart.
        I’ve seen it happen.

        • drspittle

          To paraphrase MorganieFay below, to me the biggest issue is not “left or right”, it’s what is the real issue and how is it being reported. Rand Paul is now suing the NSA. Do you consider him to the left?

        • Jason

          I have to admit, i also liked Bob’s writing at one stage. He was probably my favourite writer way back when i read Huffpo last decade sometime.
          I certainly never suspected he would become such an establishment apologist given the way he sledged Bush back in the day

        • Jason

          Holy Crap!!….was that a link to Bob Cesca endorsing Rand Paul?
          OMG Bob is a libertarian!!! And by the transitive property of bullshit, Bob is clearly an advocate for Glenn Greenwald.

    • Badgerite

      I used to read Juan Cole a lot. Do you have any idea how often he has been exactly wrong about everything he predicts is going to happen? I can’t remember how many times he predicted that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was not going to do something that they then went right ahead and did. Often. “Informed Comment” does not mean prescient comment. And by the way, Iran spies to beat the band and so does Syria and any other actor in the Middle East that can manage it.

    • Badgerite

      Ah, balloon juice. Would these be the same people who were screaming that James Clapper should be indicted for “lying to Congress” and have only recently admitted that Congress was already informed and had been putting Clapper in the position of divulging in public session information that was classified and making him subject to prosecution for doing so?
      And also, as Benjamin Wittes does point out, trade negotiations would not fall under the cover of attorney-client privilege. It is like the ‘Clapper should be prosecuted’ thing.
      You say it often enough, you think it is true. Problem is, it isn’t.
      That isn’t journalism. That is misinformation or propaganda. Which ‘news’ outlets often commit.

  • conundrum

    I’d reall like to see someone take apart Snowden’s interview on German television. Every answer he gave was like some aboriginal tale such as “How the leopard gained his spots”; one obscure fact or almost-fact and then wild extrapolation not supported by that fact. Things like somebody heard somebody who worked at NSA say they’d like Snowden dead extapolated into the NSA is out to kill him, and he’s in danger every second of every day.

  • Lucifer_Sam

    Whenever you see Cesca fuming on his blog you know that some actually important properly journalistic work was done somewhere else.

    • repugnicant

      Well, you see, there’s ANOTHER accusation hurled.. and NO ONE is supposed to examine it, just swallow it like a big glob of…..?? That’s really a sick way to think of things.

  • Jan R.

    That’s some really petty nitpicking. Yes they only name the Australian Signals Directorate once, but continually and throughout they refer to “the Australians” “the Australian government” “the NSA’s Australian counterpart” etc. If you didn’t find that all to be clear references to ASD then you’re an idiot (and I don’t believe you are – rather you are being deliberately obtuse to support your bias.)

    As for what “guidance” the NSA would have given to the ASD regarding what attorney-client communications they believe they have authority to collect, see Marcy Wheeler here: http://bit.ly/1gwfiVJ

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

      You accuse me of nitpicking then link to that Wheeler post? Hilarious.

      • Jan R.

        Oh she nitpicks all the time, but not in the way you did here – pretending that there was only one reference to the ASD in the whole piece. She gets mind-numbingly into the weeds, but she doesn’t lie by petty distinction.

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

          Not even Australia(n) and ASD combined are mentioned as often as NSA. If you don’t think that’s a problem in an article about the ASD, I don’t know what to tell you.

          • Jan R.

            No, I don’t particularly think that the fact that 32 is somewhat larger than 22 or 24 or 28 (depending on how many references to Australia you think can be legitimately counted) is of any significance at all, especially since the story is not merely about this case of Australia collecting attorney/client communications of American lawyers, but also about how they share such data with the NSA and the broad interpretation the NSA puts upon its authority to collect and use such data.

            And I particularly don’t think it’s legitimate to pretend the ratio is 32 to 1 when it’s in fact substantially less than 2 to 1.

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

            So if we should include Australia(n) as a substitute for ASD, I assume we can use America(n) and U.S. in the word count, too. U.S. is mentioned 12 times and America(n) is mentioned 24 times. In a story about the Australian Signals Directorate.

          • Jason

            Aaaaaaaaaand back to nit picking.
            Well done Bob

          • formerlywhatithink

            Jesus, you people are falling over yourselves trying establish that by using “Australian” the authors were in fact referring to the “ASD” therefore the two terms are, and should be, interchangeable and anyone who says otherwise is wrong, over and over and over and over.

            And you accuse Bob of nitpicking? Seems like projection isn’t just for conservatives anymore.

        • Eisenhower303

          Anyone skimming the article is going to see “NSA” all over. Acronyms stick out.

        • Badgerite

          I do not quibble with her ‘nit picking’. But I do quibble with her conclusions. If a law firm is acting as a negotiator or offering advise as to negotiations in trade talks, it does not seem to me to fall under the cover of attorney-client privilege.
          She seems to treat trade talks the same as legal proceedings. And they are not the same at all.

    • formerlywhatithink

      If they are writing about the Australian ASD, why bring up the NSA in the very first sentence? The entire thing was intentionally written to make it seem like the NSA was the one who was being written about and that it was the NSA who was doing the surveillance.

      Trying to deny that by saying that they mentioned “Australians” (usually along with the NSA in the very same sentence) is some really petty nitpicking.

      • Jan R.

        They mention the NSA because they were reporting on an NSA document describing a case of data-sharing between the ASD and the NSA.

        I have no idea how anyone could read this piece and think there was any effort to obscure the ASD’s role – it’s mentioned in the headline (“Spying by N.S.A. Ally”) and in practically every paragraph.

        And the whole issue of how the “five eyes” work together in ways that implicate the privacy and civil rights of all their citizens is clearly a matter of public interest.

        • ruth crocker

          The article contained nothing proving that Australia was spying on US persons for the US. It did show that the NSA’s General Counsel was consulted to ensure that any inadvertently gathered data on US persons would be properly minimized.

          • Jan R.

            The NSA’s non-denial denial notwithstanding, we already know from prior cases that the NSA believes it has the legal authority to collect attorney/client communications so long as the client has not yet been indicted – even if both attorney and client are US persons and the collection takes place on US soil. It defies reason to think the vaguely described “guidance” provided in this case would have consisted of stricter restrictions than in the already known cases.

          • Badgerite

            Trade negotiations do not involve attorney-client privilege. They don’t involve advise on legal matters. They involve bargaining. And representing someone as a bargainer. As Benjamin Wittes states, that is not privileged.

        • formerlywhatithink

          I have no idea how anyone could read this piece and think there was any effort to obscure the ASD’s role – it’s mentioned in the headline (“Spying by N.S.A. Ally”)

          Spying by N.S.A. Ally

          Yeah, still trying find “ASD” in the title “Spying by N.S.A. Ally”. Is it hidden in an anagram somewhere in there? How about this for an accurate title: “Spying by ASD”? Ooops, that couldn’t of been used because a.) most people have no idea who ASD is and b.) it doesn’t contain “NSA” in it therefore loses it’s fear factor. And, no, putting “Ally” in the title doesn’t absolve them of deliberate obfuscation.

          The first line:

          The list of those caught up in the global surveillance net cast by the National Security Agency and its overseas partners, from social media users to foreign heads of state, now includes another entry: American lawyers.

          Hmmm, can’t seem find any mention of the ASD in that either, but the “National Security Agency” is sure given a prominent spot. Now, I’m sure you’ll come back with some reply that points out it does mention “overseas partners”, yet why not refer to the ASD by, well, it’s name, the ASD?

          The entire thing is an exercise is using “NSA” as much as possible to produce outrage and fear. Not to mention that a tiny blurb, which apparently people like you gloss over, mentions that the NSA did nothing illegal. But, hey, BOO!!!! NSA!!!!! seems to be an acceptable form of “journalism” to you.

        • Badgerite

          Did it ever occur to you that the reason the Indonesian government hired an American law firm to advise in their trade negotiations with the United States would have been to get the advantage of the knowledge such a law firm would have of United States businesses? Inside knowledge of American economic realities and what they could reasonably hold out for in negotiations. Do you know what that would not be? The kind of legal advice covered by the attorney-client privilege. Actually, Benjamin Wittes pointed that out but she didn’t pay any attention a lot of attention to it and went on to call this spying on privileged attorney-client communications. Which it was not.
          She also mentions EO 12333 ( Executive Order 12333) a lot and that hasn’t been the basis for NSA actions since the Bush years. It was an executive order issued by Ronald Reagan to try to circumvent the restrictions in foreign intelligence activities that the Congress had legislated. It was used as authority for the NSA prior to the 2008 FISA legislation that put their activities under the warrant requirements and oversight of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Why she mentions it at all is beyond me. It was used as authority during the Bush years ( see John Yoo’s novel ideas on law) but is not now.
          The major contention in her article as to why this was so HORRENDOUS is that the transactions involved were privileged. I don’t believe that is accurate.
          And if I am right, ( and Benjamin Wittes is right) what we have here is the ASD spying on a foreign government of a land where terrorist activity has resulted in deaths of Australian citizens and citizens of other nationalities and picking up non privileged communications of the Indonesian Government officials with the law firm representing them in those trade negotiations and passing that along to the NSA after being told what they can legally share.
          The problem is what? That they were spying on the Indonesian government at all? That they were spying on trade negotiations?
          What? That an American law firm might have had their communications surveillance in a trade negotiation. That would have to be so common in business and trade negotiations as to be a given.
          The lawyer himself states that in this day and age he had to assume he was being spied on. He had no confirmation or feeling that it had occurred but he had to assume that. I would think any prudent lawyer doing international trade negotiating would.

    • Jason

      Bob is so good at projection, he really should be working at a cinema

      • conundrum

        Nobody projects like Snowden and Greenwald; every powerpoint slide is like a Rorschach ink blot to them, and they pour every ounce of their darkest fears and deadly fantasys into “interpreting” it.

    • Badgerite

      I appreciate the link, but I would quibble with the idea that trade talks involve legal adversaries. They are trade talks. Negotiations.
      This is quoted from the American Bar newsletter.
      Business and Commercial Law attorney client privilege.

      “The key to determining whether a privilege will apply in a transactional setting is whether the transactional lawyer will later be deemed by a court to be functioning solely or primarily as a business negotiator rather than a legal advisor. The courts will often look to what they consider ‘the dominant purpose’ of the communication TO DETERMINE WHETHER ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGE APPLIES. If the dominant purpose is to provide non legal advise, then the privilege may not apply.”

      It is an open question as to whether or not the attorney-client privilege would apply here.
      I’m guessing it would not.

  • CygnusX1isaHole

    Considering the amount of cooperation, sharing of facilities, and mix of personnel between the Australian and American NSA it’s not misleading in the least to say that the Australian NSA is a “partner”. Understood in this context nor is the lede of the article in any way misleading.

    From the middle of the NY Times article:

    Several newly disclosed documents provide details of the cooperation between the United States and Australia, which share facilities and highly sensitive intelligence, including efforts to break encryption and collect phone call data in Indonesia.

    Near the end of the NY Times article:

    The documents show that the N.S.A. and the Australians jointly run a large signals intelligence facility in Alice Springs, Australia, with half the personnel from the American agency. The N.S.A. and its Australian counterpart have also cooperated on efforts to defeat encryption. A 2003 memo describes how N.S.A. personnel sought to “mentor” the Australians while they tried to break the encryption used by the armed forces of nearby Papua New Guinea.

    * bold print for emphasis

    • ruth crocker

      I should hope so. There are serious terrorst threats in Indonesia.

      • Jason

        If the terrorists are engaging US legal firms then perhaps the NSA could get a warrant and do their own dirty work next time

        • ruth crocker

          I was referring to the cooperative us/australian effort to break encryption and gather phone call data in Indonesia, the “dirty work” the nsa is supposed to be doing.

  • CygnusX1isaHole

    “…To repeat, the spy agency in question was mentioned by name only once, while the NSA was mentioned 32 times.”

    ———–

    This is grossly (and intentionally) misleading on your part, Bob.

    The Australian NSA, after being initially identified as the Australian Signals Directorate in paragraph three is subsequently referenced as “Australia”, “Australians” or the “Australian agency” four more times in the next four paragraphs.

    Clearly there is no deception by the authors of the article no matter how much you desire this to be the case.

    Here are paragraphs 4, 5, 6 and 7 with each mention in bold print:

    The Australians told officials at an N.S.A. liaison office in Canberra, Australia, that “information covered by attorney-client privilege may be included” in the intelligence gathering, according to the document, a monthly bulletin from the Canberra office. The law firm was not identified, but Mayer Brown, a Chicago-based firm with a global practice, was then advising the Indonesian government on trade issues.

    On behalf of the Australians, the liaison officials asked the N.S.A. general counsel’s office for guidance about the spying. The bulletin notes only that the counsel’s office “provided clear guidance” and that the Australian agency “has been able to continue to cover the talks, providing highly useful intelligence for interested US customers.”

    The N.S.A. declined to answer questions about the reported surveillance, including whether information involving the American law firm was shared with United States trade officials or negotiators.

    Duane Layton, a Mayer Brown lawyer involved in the trade talks, said he did not have any evidence that he or his firm had been under scrutiny by Australian or American intelligence agencies. “I always wonder if someone is listening, because you would have to be an idiot not to wonder in this day and age,” he said in an interview. “But I’ve never really thought I was being spied on.”

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

      Even the word “Australia(n)” appears less often than NSA.

      Anyway, that’s just one point among many.

      • Jason

        You made another point in your piece?
        Could you point it out?

        • Badgerite

          See my reply to Kenneth. You obviously are one of those people Bob referred to who never read through to the end of an entire article.
          His main complaint, really, is the that the true nature of the surveillance by the NSA was to be contacted by the ASD that it had information regarding an American law firm that had had contact with Indonesian officials in its possession at which time the American Office of Legal Counsel provided guidance ( guidance being making sure that minimization procedures were followed so that the NSA’s acquisition of the information in question would comply with the law). And that part was buried at the end of or deep within the article. Most people would not have even read it, let alone comprehended its significance.
          It also seems to me that the point of the Poitras article was to further the idea that Snowden is pushing and that Bill Maher found rather ridiculous that the NSA is not doing surveillance for the purpose of stopping terrorism but has a secret economic agenda of America that it is furthering.

    • formerlywhatithink

      “The Australian NSA, after being initially identified as the Australian Signals Directoratein paragraph three is subsequently referenced as “Australia”, “Australians” or the “Australian agency” four more times in the next four paragraphs.”

      That’s some really petty nitpicking.

  • Wilson Valdez III

    And again, this article with the “revelations” that squarely attempted to place the blame on NSA, so disingenuously, was published the day before John Kerry was to visit Indonesia. I’m sure that was all just a coincidence, though, rather than a well-timed attempt at diplomatic sabotage.

    http://news.msn.com/world/kerry-in-indonesia-to-talk-climate-change

    • petesh

      I’d call it self-promotion myself; I doubt they rise to the level of sabotage as a goal, that’s just collateral damage. Of course, I could be wrong.

      • Wilson Valdez III

        Sure, it’s most definitely self-promotion, at the least. But I really can’t remove the idea of deliberate sabotage, given the actors’ (in this case, Poitras) anti-Western bent. But whether that was their intent or not, like you said, it is most definitely an (in)direct result of the disclosures, at the very least.

        • ruth crocker

          This has bothered me from the very beginning of these leaks – timing the stories to drop during the meeting between Obama and Chinese officials, the G8 summit etc., photobombing incredibly important international meetings to embarass Obama, hijack the agenda, and give talking points to our adversaries.

          • Jason

            Just remember is the NSA that gave those taking points by actually commuting the acts reported on. No point shooting the messenger

          • ruth crocker

            Do you fully approve of everything your country’s sercurity services do abroad getting a full context-free airing in the press? I think you’ve said you’re Australian – do you like the idea of your country losing leverage with Indonesia as a result of these leaks? Do you want your officials talking about this recently revealed surveillance rather than hammering out trade deals, discussing what to do about Indonesian immigrants, and making security agreements about terrorism?

          • Jason

            We are constantly told that the spying is for national security reasons. To protect us from the “terrorists”. So I have no problem when the security forces supposedly protecting me get caught spying on a neighbor for merely commercial reasons.
            If these revelations cause us embarrassment and disadvantage Australia in negotiations then Australia needs to stop the embarrassing behavior

          • ruth crocker

            Getting information about treaties and trade deals is a perfectly legitimate part of a country’s intelligence gathering aparatus. Countries depend on it to make sure partners are not publicly saying one thing and privately planning another, so they aren’t blind-sided at negotiations. However, when it becomes public, leaders have to feign outrage, or they look weak. This isn’t a scandal – this is how countries protect themselves, and always have.

          • Jason

            I am not sure the Indonesians are “feigning” the outrage.
            So now, any time we hear an NSA official saying they need all these surveillance tools to protect us from the terrorists, then we can automatically append “and to gain commercial advantage over our neighbors”.
            Yeah?

          • Aaron Litz

            “Protecting us from the Terrorists” is NOT the only thing intelligence gathering is used for, and to keep dredging up that straw canard from the Bush era is purposefully and intentionally disingenuous. For one, thing it’s used to make sure other countries aren’t lying out their asses, and for another, it’s used to keep an eye on dangerous situations in other countries that they might not even be aware of and we can warn them about. And the list goes on and on.

            The whole “all espionage is inherently evil and only has evil uses” trope gets old and tired very quickly.

            Individual people read newspapers (and websites) to learn what they need to know about what’s going on in the world around them. National governments gather intelligence for the same reason, and with the same intent; to be healthily informed about the world around them. It’s not all nefarious plots and assassination schemes. I’m afraid your idea of intelligence gathering and espionage as looking like a 3rd rate claptrap spy thriller or Tom Clancy novel is just a tad hyperbolic.

            The world isn’t black and white, it is various shades of black, grey, red, orange, purple, plaid, and The Colour Out of Space.

          • Frito

            *chirp chirp chirp*

          • beulahmo

            Okay, so you don’t believe “merely commercial reasons” are legitimate justification for your government’s covert intelligence activity (by the way, I don’t accept your belief that trade agreements are strictly of commercial interest and of no consequence with respect to national security — but that’s a separate and complex discussion). Are you prepared to deny the Australian government’s authority to do that kind of surveillance, even if other governments continue to spy on Australia’s government, its businesses, and its citizens? I’m not judging here — I’m just curious about how you feel about that.

          • william trent

            Your boy Snowden is a traitor and should be in prison. He’s nothing but a ventriloquist’s dummy for the execrable Glenn Greenwald.

  • Kenneth Mayer

    “To repeat, the spy agency in question was mentioned by name only once, while the NSA was mentioned 32 times.”
    The “by name” dodge points to the fact that this whole blog entry is snake oil.
    The whole NYT article is about the ASD. What part of “the Australian agency”, “Australian intelligence”, “Australian surveillance”, “its [Australia's] intelligence agencies”, “the spy services of its [the NSA's] partners”, the N.S.A. and its close partners”,
    “The N.S.A. and its Australian counterpart”, “the Australian eavesdropping service”, “the N.S.A. and the Australians jointly run a large signals intelligence facility” does
    Bob Cesca not understand?

    • Kenneth Mayer

      Also, the ASD was until last year, the DSD, so the actual spying that the reporting covers was not the ASD “by name”. The many circumlocutions in the article probably come out of that effort at accurate and honest reporting.

      • formerlywhatithink

        “The many circumlocutions in the article probably come out of that effort at accurate and honest reporting.”

        HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHHAHA

        Ahhhhh, that caused my true, first belly laugh of the day.

    • Tort Master

      6 is a smaller number than 32. Also, do you understand the word “and”?

      Tomorrow, we fingerpaint.

      • CygnusX1isaHole

        There are more than six references to the Australian NSA (I don’t feel like counting them all).

        Bob Cesca grossly misrepresented an alleged bias in the article by stating that the count was 32 to 1.

        If you were intellectually honest you’d agree that the alleged bias has been proven massively incorrect.

        • formerlywhatithink

          Why do you continue to refer to the ASD as the Australian NSA? Why not refer to them as just the ASD or, if you want more specificity, the Australian Signals Directorate? My guess is that, like the authors of the article in question, you know that any mention of the NSA is guaranteed to raise hackles and piss people off and that the use of ASD would not. Petty. Very petty. When you’re willing to use such childish tactics, all it’s doing is just undercutting whatever seriousness your arguments may contain (not very much to start with).

          But, if such infantile theatrics, like referring to the ASD as the Australian NSA makes you happy, go right ahead. I’m sure Tort Master can arrange for nap time after finger painting so you can refresh your outrage muscles.

          • Kenneth Mayer

            FormerlywhatIthink. Hi, you read my comment below about how the ASD was called the DSD until 2013, so most of the events described in the article were done by the DSD, which is currently called the ASD. It’s hard to convey that info concisely while making things clear to an American audience. Again, I think the phrases in the article are an attempt to be rigorously honest and clear to a primarily American audience, which is mainly concerned with whether and how its own government spies on themselves. As an American, I’m less worried about whether Russia or Australia spy on me, because I already assume they do, my votes can’t stop it, and my taxes don’t pay for it. And if my opinion causes you another belly laugh today, well, that’s also a contribution.

    • CygnusX1isaHole

      I should’ve read your accurate and concise comment before I posted mine proving the same point.

    • Badgerite

      It’s a non story story. http://www.lawfareblog.com/2014/02/what-i-am-and-what-i-am-not-saying-about-laura-poitras/#UwNhlvldVFp
      Quoting Benjamin Wittes:
      “—–the shocking news that Australia spies on Indonesia and cooperates in intelligence matters with the United States.”
      That what allies tend to do.
      The point of the article, I think, was to try to support Snowden’s contention that the surveillance going on has nothing at all to do with terrorism. That it is all about western industrially developed countries trying to keep former colonial prey down. But that is a tough sell, I think, given all of the terrorist and radical Islamic activity that has gone on in Indonesia and the Philippines, at one time. Terrorist activity that impact both America and Australia.

      • Kenneth Mayer

        Thank you, Badgerite. I find the previous post in Lawfare linked in the article you posted very persuasive and interesting. http://www.lawfareblog.com/2014/02/the-latest-snowden-leak-nsa-isnt-spying-on-lawyers
        On Wittes’s terms, there might be less to this story than the NTY suggests, but this misleading blog entry by Bob Cesca does not do any favors to that position, but his bad math and willful misreading implies that there are no good arguments to advance.

        • Badgerite

          He cites to the lawfare blog article and it is the basis for his own complaint. It isn’t as if this is the first time that the Greenwald faction have written or operated on misleading premises. A walk down memory lane. “The NSA claims it has direct access to the servers of major US internet companies.”
          The NSA ‘claimed’ no such thing. Greenwald did. And they did not have direct access to servers.
          I could go on but I weary.

        • Badgerite

          So you are accusing him of “bad math”. Oh the humanity.
          This is what I find ridiculous about this argument. I can cite and often have cited chapter and verse of misleading to the point of fabrication articles penned by Greenwald ( My personal favorite is “The NSA claims” bullshit about “direct access”. Both contentions total bullshit.) In fact one person who comments does so later on in the thread. But you are actually quibbling about how many time Greenwald does or does not mention the NSA vs the ASD as evidence of misrepresentation on Cesca’s part. I do not think that his point is based wholly on how many times Greenwald says NSA vs ASD.

          • Kenneth Mayer

            Your post has inspired me to reread Cesca’s post. It seems his beef is with the lede and first 2 paragraphs of the NYT article. I’m willing to concede all manner of manipulation by Greenwald, but I still find that Cesca misrepresents the NYT article. It was nothing like what I imagined based on his article, and is entirely about the possibility of Australian/NSA connections leading to misuse and abuse. I think Wittes has made a good defense of the NSA, reading the purloined NSA document charitably. The same can not be said for Cesca. Friends of mine who can’t read the NYT because it’s behind a paywall are ill-served by this piece. I am sorry that Cesca and his defenders back out and point at Greenwald this and that or result to ad hominem attacks on commenters that disagree. I’m beginning to lose my faith that conflicts can be resolved by commenting on websites! ;)

          • Badgerite

            You can get the gist of what the New York Times article was about by the cites to those who commented on it. Particularly Lawfare blog.
            The writing itself, isn’t spectacular or unique. I mean, you could put it in a paragraph without losing anything.
            I comment because I like the back and forth debate. I have never thought that conflicts could be resolved by doing so. But I do occasionally learn something or get some information or new way of looking at an issue that I hadn’t considered. Or just appreciate a good or funny snark. So. Have a good day.

  • dubstub

    This is getting ridiculous.

    The article, titled “Spying by N.S.A. Ally Entangled U.S. Law Firm,” is transparently intended to mislead people into thinking the NSA lawlessly spied on American lawyers

    So an article that says in the title that the spying was done by an ally is “transparently intended to mislead people into thing the NSA lawlessly spied”? What? No one has to wait until the middle of the third paragraph to discover something because it is right there in the headline. This is a pretty weak criticism.

    • condew

      “U.S. Law Firm Spied on by A.S.D.” would have been both more concise and more accurate. I wonder why a headline like that was not used instead …

      • formerlywhatithink

        ASD is not as scary sounding as NSA?

        • condew

          Maybe NSA should just change it’s name. Worked for Blackwater. Maybe something along the lines of “Clear Skies”, “Healthy Forests”, or “P.A.T.R.I.O.T.”?

          • ruth crocker

            Natalie’s Salon Accessories

    • ruth crocker

      You don’t find it odd that “spying by NSA” are the first words you read?

  • Chris Carr
    • beulahmo

      Yes — that was a good post. Thanks for sharing the link. I read the Wittes-Chong post as well. I hope they continue their critiques.

    • Badgerite

      Money quote = last sentence.
      “The New York Times, after all, the paper of record, put on its front page this morning-above the fold – the shocking news that Australia spies on Indonesia and cooperates in intelligence matters with the United States.”
      The writer also points out the ethical conflict involved when the person writing the article is writing about a story that they themselves have become an integral part of.
      If they wanted non objective journalism as a standard, it would appear they have achieved it. But that doesn’t necessarily give the people accurate journalism.

  • http://cendax.wordpress.com/ Norbrook

    A good indicator that Snowden and Greenwald aren’t really interested in any actual conversation about monitoring of US citizens, or correcting any purported abuses is that they’ve moved well beyond that in their “whistleblowing.”

    What’s the actual lede here? “Foreign country spies on lawyers working for another foreign country.” No kidding, like no one who has ever read a spy novel or gone to see a spy movie wouldn’t have guessed?

    • Ashes Defacto

      They’ve never been interested in a conversation, if anything they’re about preventing that conversation at this point. An actual reform effort would render them irrelevant because, as has been noted a thousand times, Greenwald is really only about the advancement of Greenwald.

    • D_C_Wilson

      They moved beyond talking about any NSA abuses about five seconds after Snowden’s plane landed in Hong Kong.

  • missliberties

    This rhetorical fear mongering stuff is dangerous. Very few folks take the time to dig in and find out what the truth is.

    I have to say, I am getting upset about the perpetual lies promoted by Snowden and the right wing, I am horrified to say that my own son is buying into this fear mongering and it disturbs me no end.

    • ruth crocker

      Maybe this would be a good “teachable moment” to discuss the importance of intellectual independence, critical thinking skillls, careful reading, resisting “group think” and an awareness that people will try to manipulate him for their own purposes.

      • missliberties

        True. But once ‘that’ corner gets turned it’s hard to go back. It doesn’t help that his neighbors (who are very very nice people, into health food, outdoors etc.) are right wingish and own an AR 15. Molon

      • missliberties

        Also, its disturbing that IF my son is buying into this then obviously many other youths are too. Of course that has been Snowden’s intent.

  • Tort Master

    “Australia spied on American lawyers working for Indonesian Government.” That lede’s as tantalizing as a Peter King wardrobe malfunction. I could see myself reading a paragraph, perhaps even two, of that article, unless I found something else to LOL.

    Excuse my slight change of subject, but I’ve recently concluded something about Snowden. This is my lede: “Snowden based his theft of top secret documents on a mistake of fact.” I was watching Daniel Ellsberg debate Stewart Baker about the Snowden affair on Democracy Now, and Ellsberg admitted that Clapper knew that Congress knew he was lying about surveillance of Americans. That got me to thinking. Did Snowden know that Congress knew? Here’s a time line:

    Clapper testified on March 12, 2013, which is about three months before Snowden left the country.

    Snowden took his Booz Allen position approximately three months before he left the country.

    In February 2014, Snowden gave an interview to a German reporter and stated the following:

    Snowden: The breaking point is seeing the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, directly lie under oath to Congress – there is no saving an intelligence community that believes that it can lie to the public and to legislators who need to be able to trust it and regulate its actions. Seeing that really meant for me there was no going back. Beyond that, it was the creeping realization that no one else was going to do this. The public had a right to know about these programs. The public had a right to know that which the government is doing in its name.”

    (emphasis added). Did Snowden not know that Congress knew the details about the program? Did he not know that Congress knew that Clapper was lying? That raises other questions as well, including: Would Snowden have done what he did if he knew that Congress was aware of the NSA program? I think it is pretty clear, now, that everything that Snowden did was based, at least in part, on a huge mistake of fact.

    • Aaron Litz

      Of course he would have. That BS about the lying to Congress was just after-the-fact rationalizing and excuses. Snowden did what he did to take a big shot at Obama. He had been perfectly fine with, and actively defended online, the NSA for a decade before his actions.

      • Tort Master

        Yes, Aaron, but this establishes that even Snowden’s after-the-fact rationalizations are bullshit.

        • Aaron Litz

          True, true. Very good point.

      • missliberties

        Only too true.

    • condew

      I can just imagine Snowden coming to the realization that he made a mistake as he lay in his Hong Kong hotel room just days after becoming one of the biggest traitors the U.S. has endured. But whether he figured it out or not, he did not alter his actions, he doubled down, revealing key U.S. intelligence secrets to the Chinese, and then more secrets to the Russians. If Snowden ever thought he was a “whistle-blower”, he only remained so for a few days.

      • ruth crocker

        from the very beginning he treated the dox as a get out of jail free card. first in hong kong, giving explicit details about nsa operations in china, so he could ride a wave of indignation to safe harbor (china could pressure hong kong to give him amnesty), and most recently telling brazil he’d love to help them against the nsa if he could only find some way to get there, hint hint. how anyone could watch these weasely attempts at bribery and call him a hero is beyond me.

      • Badgerite

        A real ‘whistle blower’ would have stayed in America, provided enough information for the lawsuits regarding bulk collections of American phone records to be challenged in court and let the process proceed, as it would have, from there.
        But he wanted to also reveal all the foreign operations going on around the world.
        He must have a hell of an ego if he thought anything he would do would stop that as a worldwide reality. This kind of surveillance has not and will not stop. If the United States were to entirely shut down its foreign surveillance tomorrow, it would still go on. In China, in Russia, in Iran, in Syria, in Brazi, in Australia, in France, in Germany. Hell, just about everywhere where there is the technical capability. Shutting down surveillance is not the hope of the world. Open and free communication is. And I don’t see how he has helped that part of the internet one bit.

    • Badgerite

      They always admit these things long after they’ve screeched all over the internet about how he should be prosecuted for “lying to Congress” when any lane brain could see by Wyden’s demeanor when he asked the question that he already knew what the answer was. And he raised the question in the first place as a way of making public what was classified. During the Bush years, the lack of judicial and congressional oversight was true. That has not been true since 2008. The congress and the courts were not ‘lied to’.
      That was and is bullshit. There is one thing I would truly fault the NSA for and that is contesting the standing issue in the court cases brought against it in 2006 regarding the bulk collection of American call records. That is an issue that should truly go before the SCOTUS and in no way, shape or form should they have prevented that from happening.
      Even if they could.

  • Frederic Poag

    Bob, it’s okay! Laura Poitras won a Polk Award for her reporting on Snowden. So it’s okay right? I shouldn’t be weeping for the state of American journalism. It’s okay, right? Bob tell me it’s okay.

    • ruth crocker

      It should be the “Poke” award for gratuitouly poking the US in the eye.

      • Reilly

        Or “The Pig in a Poke Award.”

    • missliberties

      No. It’s not okay. Because these folks are scaring the bejesus out of the children and turning them into anti-American lone wolfs.

      • condew

        I belong to a technical club with many people in their 20s, and some of them lay awake at night worrying how the NSA is infiltrating their computer. It’s a religious issue with them, no facts will convince them otherwise, and the far more invasive data collection by private business is not a problem to them.

        • conundrum

          Oh no! The NSA knows I like porn!

      • villemar

        That’s a really good way of putting it.

      • feloniousgrammar

        What better way to ratfuck a POTUS who is pushing for a raise in the minimum wage, traveling the country talking about wealth disparity, public works, jobs, job training, education, holding corporations responsible for their messes, and taxing the rich?

        The NY fucking Times doesn’t have an editor? Or the NYT is happy to jump on the ratfucking express?

        The problem with a good deal of the left is their willful ignorance and the ease with which they can be encouraged not to vote or to vote for navel gazing losers. President Obama is promoting a liberal’s wet dream, but a large part of people who think themselves liberal or “progressive” are hell bent on vilifying him over some punks who got the key to the car and are determined to run over anyone associated with their family, no matter what the damage. There are goddamned adults running the world and that really pisses off the junior intellects of Snowden, Greenwald, and the like. Where’s the fucking unicorns? Where’s Galt’s Gulch?

        Snowaldians should really work this out with their parents. It’s sickening to see such juvenile emotarian left garbage have such an effect, as if the emotarian right weren’t enough. The greatest liberal President in our lifetime is being railroaded by virulent racists and economic morons.

        • Aaron Litz

          Beautiful. Simply beautiful. That was sheer poetry!

          These people have the shallowest, most simplistic utopian view of the world, and don’t seem to understand that utopia is a dream, but we live in the waking world, and things ain’t perfect here, nor will they ever be. So we have to muck through things as best we can, with half steps and slow progress toward our goals, until we get as close as we can to where we want to be. But there ain’t no jumping straight from the starting line to the goal.

          But because these twits don ‘t get to pass go, collect their 200 dollars, AND land on Free Parking all on their first turn, their response is to burn the board, scribble on the play money, and call the rules the product of a fascist police state.

          It’s like an 8 year-old refusing 50 cents because she can’t have a dollar.

        • Jason

          “President Obama is promoting a liberal’s wet dream,”

          I think perhaps you have no idea what a liberals wet dream is.

          IT really isn’t useful to the discussion to keep equating progressivism and NSA reform with libertarianism. It simply isn’t the same discussion.
          And the reason so many are being enthused by the ideas arising from the left these days is because then population is genuinely more left than you think, and can see the value in progressive policy.

        • Chris Carr

          I’m not from the US but that is how it looks from here. Well said

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

      Twitter told me that because I didn’t win a Polk award, all of my articles are wrong.

      • Jason

        The George Polk award isn’t like a Nobel Peace prize. … They don’t just give them away

        • Ashes Defacto

          Jason blows a racist dog whistle, go figure.

        • Lady Willpower

          That is so fucking weak. You should be ashamed of yourself for so blatantly repeating FOX talking points.

          • Jason

            yah…it is a fairly trite comment, but then trivial and cheap is pretty much the tone set by all Bob Cescas articles.

          • Badgerite

            Again with the personal attacks on Bob. Not cool.
            You sure spend a lot of time doing that.

          • Jason

            Personal attacks? Come on now Badgie, I have listened to the Bob and Chez show. I am merely learning at the feet of masters. Bob calling Greenwalds journalism “trivial” is never going to stir Chez from his game of solitaire during the second half of the show. He usually has to get a lot more personal than that.

          • Badgerite

            It is Badgerite, to you.

        • D_C_Wilson

          Yeah, that’s why they gave one to Inside Edition.

          • beulahmo

            Lulz. No joke?
            Have they given one to Entertainment Tonight?

          • Jason

            So Bob is shittier than Inside Edition AND Today Tonight?
            Thats some harsh judgement right there.

          • Badgerite

            I don’t usually give down votes but this one cried out for it.
            One could rephrase that as, “So, the new standard of non objective Greenwaldian journalism has taken journalism to the standard of Inside Edition.”
            Couldn’t one?

          • nathkatun7

            Badgerite, I wish I could give you ten up votes for your response to Jason’s idiotic comment.

          • Badgerite

            Thanks. He sure is here a lot slamming Cesca. One has to wonder why?

          • nathkatun7

            You are most welcome! Thank you for always posting thoughtful and informative comments.

          • D_C_Wilson

            There was a big deal back when Bill O’Reily’s feud with Al Franken was hot. O’Reily, defending Inside Edition in an interview, claimed that the show wasn’t just a tabloid program because they had once won a Peabody award. Franken looked into and found that the show had never won a Peabody, but it did win a Polk, – After O’Reilly had left the program. Franken hammered O’Reilly then for claiming credit for not only naming the wrong award, but for claiming credit for the one the show did win after he was no longer a part of it.

          • Badgerite

            Seriously. Inside Edition? Good lord. What for?

        • Lady Willpower

          I like how you have one lonely upvote, and it’s from “Guest” AKA “I just logged out of my account so I could anonymously give myself an upvote.”

          • Jason

            you pay much attention to up and down votes?
            Did you delete your earlier comment?

          • Lady Willpower

            Nope, it’s still there. Disqus is funny like that.

          • Jason

            Hey!! I got a second upvote :-D…..
            but still just a guest :-(
            I am getting all the anonymous love

          • ruth crocker

            In all seriousness, Jason, although I disagree with much of what you say, I kinda like you, and hope you have the opportunity to gain a lot of enriching life experiences, meet interesting people, and have time to follow your interests.

          • Jason

            That is a lovely sentiment Ruth, thank you very much. And may the same come true for you.

          • Badgerite

            So you have a friend down under?

  • Badgerite

    The Greenwald already has some rather substantial support in the press, now they are looking to garner support from high powered law firms and corporations. You can’t really accuse them of being naive about how the world works. Which leads me to believe there is an agenda at work that is not what they say it is.

    • Aaron Litz

      Heh.

      “The Greenwald.”

      Nice. :)

      And, lest we should forget, The Greenwald was himself a “high powered lawyer” who was self-admittedly more interested in getting into really good fights than who he was defending.

      • http://cendax.wordpress.com/ Norbrook

        And who was censured for … illegally and unethically taping a conversation.

        • Eisenhower303

          say what?

          • http://cendax.wordpress.com/ Norbrook

            Oh. Didn’t you know that? :-)
            http://www.democraticunderground.com/1002101211
            “”The magistrate judge granted both motions, finding defense counsel’s conduct unethical under two separate rules: Local Rule 83.58.4(a)(4), prohibiting “dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;” and Local Rule 83.54.4, stating “a lawyer shall not … use methods of obtaining evidence that violate the legal rights of person.””ANDERSON v. HALE
            159 F.Supp.2d 1116 (2001)”
            Good old Glenn! Some things never change.

          • Badgerite

            Good link. Who would have guessed?

          • Kerry Reid

            You left out the part where Glennie called the plaintiffs against white supremacist Matt Hale “odious and repugnant” for bringing their civil suit. So, you know — just like Snowden, if Glennie deems something or someone BAD! (like Billy Mumy in that “Twilight Zone” episode), he believes that the rules no longer apply to him.

    • missliberties

      And the agenda is pro-corporate, pro right wing. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if Greenwald comes out in support of Chris Christie for using hard line tactics to win, because that’s what it takes to stay in power. Just like Putin.

      • conundrum

        No, Christie hugged Obama, and Greenwald will never forgive him for that. I mean, here’s Snowden committing treason to injure the black, illigitamate userper, and Christie hugged him? Besides, we already know Rand Paul has Greenwald’s support.

        • drspittle

          And the racist Ron Paul.

        • Jason

          come on now, stop being silly. Even you know none of that is true.
          Well….except that Christie did hug Obama. But everyone deserves a hug every now and then

    • trgahan

      I think the agenda is pretty clear.

      The entire Greenwald et al. constructed narrative most strongly resonates with two voter demographics that are the GOP’s only shot at peeling away votes from Democrats: A) white, professional middle and upper middle class and B) low information “undecided” voters. The narrative has been managed and manipulated to nicely feed both the “both sides do it” (to induce selective amnesia for the Bush years) and the “look at how out of control the current guy in charge of our nation is” (to sour people on the current administration) marketing strategies.

      Successfully saturating both of those demographics with this nonsense is intended to peel away just enough votes to hold congress and the states through 2014 and slip a “moderate” Republican through in 2016. It doesn’t matter if the specific voters switches parties or just doesn’t vote. Both are electoral wins for the current GOP.

      • condew

        I agree, the Greenwald propaganda is doing an excellent job of pealing the paranoid left away from the socially responsible left and Democratic party.

        • conundrum

          Yeh, but wouldn’t that paranoid left be involved in some 3rd party cosplay pretending to run for office, pretending they could win, pretending their pure, unadulterated bullshit was actually a workable party platform? Does it really hurt to peal off votes that were going to be wasted on some purity jackass anyway?

          • http://www.dlancystreet.com reginahny

            To my mind, it’s more that they are creating “purity jackasses” by trying to make this an issue that resonates with young people. Young people (when they vote — whole ‘nother story) tend Democratic. This way, before these voters learn about pragmatism and politics they are guided to the “government sucks / both sides” meme and fancy themselves to be idealists. Especially painful for 2014 midterms.

          • Jason

            Yah…those young voters aren’t exactly feeling too enthusiastic about the Democratic party these days are they. It really isn’t terribly difficult to understand when you see how little the democratic party offers young people.

          • http://www.dlancystreet.com reginahny

            You are such an unmitigated ass. The Democratic party offers young people reproductive rights protections, LGBT rights advances, no rollback of voting rights, minimum wage increases, help with college loans, fucking health insurance and more. The only young voters not enthusiastic about Dems are those that are falling for the glibertarian bullshit that the only thing that matters is their so-called privacy from data collection. You go with your bad self, I’m fighting with every bone in my body to get young people to vote in the midterms. You think your comment is a snappy comeback? In your tiny mind, perhaps.

          • Jason

            And yet little on the most important thing of all, Jobs.
            Mostly we keep hearing more about austerity and a fair bit about trying to fast track the TPP which is likely to make the job situation even worse for the youth.
            You can bleat on about all the things the democratic party offers, but if the youth are staying home it may not be necessarily just because of the “glibertarian bullshit” of which you complain.

          • http://www.dlancystreet.com reginahny

            Yeah, I get the “bleat” thing, mindless sheep that I am. And you can bleat about all the things the Republican party offers, because face it — that’s what your glibertarian vote suppressing will garner. Do tell, what do the Repubs have to offer young people? Vaginal ultrasounds? Lifetime second class citizenship for immigrants? (not that they even have the guts to stick with that lame proposal.) Anyway, I’m not much of an online warrior, I’ll stick with my real world activism. Baaaaa, Baaaaa.

          • Jason

            Careful, your assumption is showing. I am no republican.
            The Democratic party should be ashamed that when given the choice between the republican party and the Democratic party, they choose to stay home. This should be an easy win for the Democrats, but so often they end up looking like a monkey fucking a football.

          • Badgerite

            Well, you aren’t even an American so it would stand to reason that you don’t have democratic or republican affiliation. But you are an Assangite. And he thinks that Rand Paul is “the only hope”.
            He doesn’t say for what. He doesn’t say for what. But I can.
            He would be a hope for a return to Jim Crowe policies of refusing to let blacks sit at lunch counters and that, of course, will result in quite a lot of jobs, don’t ya know. (sarcasm alert).

          • condew

            Ask Mr. Boehner about that jobs bill he promised and never produced, and the austerity also comes from the Republicans.

          • Badgerite

            “Jobs” All of a sudden you sound like John Boehner. Interesting.
            And, of course, one could never fault the GOP for getting in the way of any decent recovery that involved the whole economy as opposed to their ‘base’, the financiers on Wall Street and the none ’47 percent’.

          • Frito

            Don’t forget about cutting SS benefits. That seems to be a priority for Obama.

          • nathkatun7

            You are bold-faced liar!

          • Frito

            The Catfood Commission says hi.

          • nathkatun7

            You are still a bold-faced lair!

          • Kitty Smith

            Hey Jason, you got some rat on your balls.

          • william trent

            Tell me, does the GOP National Committee pay you by the word or by the post?

          • Jason

            Nah, i get payed per response

          • Razib_Taif1

            Speaking of paranoid left…. How are things Jason?

          • Badgerite

            Ain’t it the truth.

          • Badgerite

            I believe it sure did in 2000. Nader made it close enough to steal.
            There is a reason that the GOP was paying good money to try to help get Nader on the ballot everywhere they could in 2000 and it wasn’t that they wanted him to win.

      • CygnusX1isaHole

        Greenwald has a secret agenda?

        Where’s the evidence?

        Isn’t Alex Jones conspiracy type stuff treated harshly on this web site?

        Why is this commenter not being pilloried for writing such unsubstantiated nonsense?

        • trgahan

          Seriously, who does he think he is fooling! I mean, he doesn’t even provide an endless stream of links from disparate and questionably sourced internet postings that somehow draw it all he said together if you squint while reading in the afternoon sun! The nerve!

          Forget that Democratic Party election strategists say the two demographics named above are the current “weak spot” for their candidates. Forget Greenwald’s years of right wing apologetics prior to 2006 midterms threatened his media career. Forgot all that money faux-libertarian billionaires are dumping into the anti-NSA/”both sides” media crowd since President Obama approval rating down ticked 10 points over the summer.

          But especially, forget that he’s just providing an opinion on a comment thread, is not a paid journalist, has a day job, and not here to spoon feed you information you have already repeatedly rejected out of hand anyway. But I know he’d love to be pilloried someday….

          • Badgerite

            LOL.

        • D_C_Wilson

          Greenwald does have an agenda, but there isn’t much secret to it. His self-described goal is to blow up both the left-right paradigm of politics and the prevailing standards for journalistic behavior.

          • conundrum

            Well, he’s doing great against the standards for journalistic behaviour; leading by example.

    • drspittle

      I’ve believed that since Day 1.

    • D_C_Wilson

      “How the Greenwald Stole the Media” – By Doctor Paul.

    • Jason

      I would have though Greenwalds overt agenda of exposing NSA malfeasance is serious enough, but hey if you feel you need to Jones it up to some misguided New World Order stuff then go right ahead.

      • Badgerite

        Spying on Angela Merkel isn’t really malfeasance.

  • ruth crocker

    Yesterday’s NYT front page story was about Australia spying on Indonesia. Today’s front page story is “Indonesia Takes Aim at Australia Over Spying.” While these stories are obviously exacerbating relationships between countries, they are not advancing the public interest, and I question the value of publishing them.
    As to your first point, the article’s comment section showed that very few people had actually read the article beyond the misleading headling and possibly a quick scan that wouldn’t delay them too long from posting a hysterical comment about our totalitarian state that spies on our law firms and foreign businesses. If the NYT ran the headline “NSA Targets Burger Joints” with an article about how NSA staff ordered take out, there would be hundreds of anguished comments about how now the NSA is spying on fry cooks.

    • Aaron Litz

      I am absolutely sick of deceptive Internet ledes that are totally at odds with the actual content of the articles they front. I noticed that the Huffington Post was particularly guilty of this deception, not too long before I gave up reading there altogether. And a lot of other sites aren’t much better about it.

      • beulahmo

        I’m sick of them too. I resent them for duping me into wasting my time reading the article and realizing the headline was only click-bait. You’re right about HuffPo — it feels like one of those supermarket tabloids.

    • D_C_Wilson

      I’m still waiting for a Snowden “bombshell” that 1) Isn’t something we knew about the NSA ten years ago; 2) Isn’t about the NSA spying on other countries; or 3) Isn’t about the activities of foreign governments instead of the NSA.

      If Snowden’s mission is to warn American citizens about how the NSA is spying on us, I wish he’d get around to actually revealing a case of that.

      • ruth crocker

        They must not have anything – look what Greenwald came out with last week, and then this NYT article about Australia and Indonesia’s clove cigarette and shrimp negotiations. I think the NSA has actually come out pretty well from all this. Their internal audits seem to be working and this NYT piece shows their legal department taking American persons privacy rights very seriously. It’s been a thorough audit by people who despise them, and as you say, nothing damning has been disclosed.

      • nathkatun7

        Well said, D_C_Wilson! I’ve been clamoring for real evidence that proves that the NSA, and the Obama administration, have been invading and violating the privacy of innocent Americans. So far, all I get from the NSA critics is total silence, or some gibberish about mega data!

  • trgahan

    Another explanation…Snowden only managed to steal training power point presentations and internal case studies designed to illustrate how an NSA official should handle the myriad of situations where intelligence gathering could easily cross a legal line.

    Probably why this WHOLE situation has changed from “Look! They ARE after you!” to “Ok, so they are not, never mind what we have been saying….but they COULD come after you!”
    How are these “reporters” going to get the money, fame, and split of the U.S. Democratic vote reporting on the bureaucratic oversight mechanisms actually working?

    • Jon Fox

      That’s plausible. It would explain why a lot of slides we’ve seen talk about hypothetical or proposed programs more than active programs(like Squeaky dolphin).

    • ruth crocker

      The document in this case was some sort of newsletter of the Australian intelligence agency.

      • trgahan

        Apologies! I swear I read beyond the headline AND scrolled, but obviously didn’t read closely enough.

        Though, in my defense (HA!), if I keep selectively half reading things then commenting maybe a faux-libertarian billionaire will give me $50 million to start a media website that cost at most $100,000 to launch…one can dream.

      • Naomi Colvin

        No it wasn’t – it was a briefing written by NSA officials based at the NSA liaison office in Canberra.

        • ruth crocker

          Just double checked. It said monthly bulletin, and I can’t tell from this who generated it, since both have offices in Canberra:
          “The Australians told officials at an N.S.A. liaison office in Canberra, Australia, that “information covered by attorney-client privilege may be included” in the intelligence gathering, according to the document, a monthly bulletin from the Canberra office.”