I didn’t really intend to write yet another post about The Intercept and Glenn Greenwald today, I really didn’t. But as I wrote over the Summer, I’ll stop doing it when he stops misleading the public. And it happened again today.
For the record, I’m neither a fan nor a defender of the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. At the very least, his erroneous, perhaps illegal remarks to Congress about NSA’s metadata collection was a resignation-worthy blunder. However, in his first non-reportorial blog post at The Intercept today, Greenwald excoriated Clapper for the following remark:
CLAPPER: We’re beginning to see changes in the communications behavior of adversaries: particularly terrorists. A disturbing trend, which I anticipate will continue . . . Terrorists and other adversaries of this country are going to school on U.S. intelligence sources, methods, and tradecraft. And the insights they’re gaining are making our job in the intelligence community much, much harder.
Greenwald insisted that there’s no evidence for this statement. He wrote today that these and other remarks are “evidence-free tactics,” “highly predictable, cliched attacks” and “cartoons.”
Indeed, there are occasions when invoking terrorism and 9/11 goes way, way overboard, and I’ve documented some of these instances during both the Bush and Obama administrations over the years.
But in this case, Clapper wasn’t lying or exaggerating. You know how I know this? Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill told us. From their NSA/drones article earlier this week:
One problem, he explains, is that targets are increasingly aware of the NSA’s reliance on geolocating, and have moved to thwart the tactic. Some have as many as 16 different SIM cards associated with their identity within the High Value Target system. Others, unaware that their mobile phone is being targeted, lend their phone, with the SIM card in it, to friends, children, spouses and family members.
Some top Taliban leaders, knowing of the NSA’s targeting method, have purposely and randomly distributed SIM cards among their units in order to elude their trackers. “They would do things like go to meetings, take all their SIM cards out, put them in a bag, mix them up, and everybody gets a different SIM card when they leave,” the former drone operator says. “That’s how they confuse us.”
News of NSA’s use of cellphone tracking and the drone program’s reliance upon it as a counterterrorism measure was previously reported by Barton Gellman back in October, based on an Edward Snowden document. Dana Priest also covered the collaboration between NSA tracking and the drone program back in July.
Either way, Greenwald’s two most recent posts at The Intercept are in direct and obvious conflict. But I’m sure he’s hoping we won’t notice.
(h/t The People’s View)