Greenwald Misleads Again, This Time It’s About NSA and Internet Routers

If you’re wondering why there’s been a bump in Glenn Greenwald sightings, his new book, No Place To Hide, about Edward Snowden and the National Security Agency, was released today, and so for a short period of time we’ve been experiencing a natural surge in Greenwald hyperbole and polemics.

As you may have guessed, the book contains a narrative of how he met Snowden and all of the Jason Bourne drama surrounding the reporting. But it also contains new leaks from Greenwald’s goody bag of NSA files. One of those files was pre-released on Monday as a teaser for the book. The article, published in The Guardian rather than The Intercept, is titled: “Glenn Greenwald: how the NSA tampers with US-made internet routers.”

Greenwald described the operation like so:

The NSA routinely receives – or intercepts – routers, servers and other computer network devices being exported from the US before they are delivered to the international customers.

International customers? Wow. So that’s, like, a lot of people, right?

On last night’s The Colbert Report, he said this to Stephen Colbert:

“If people around the world buy routers and switches from American companies, they literally physically interdict the product out of the mail, open up the package, stick a backdoor device into it and reseal the products and send it on to the unwitting user.”

People around the world? Unwitting users?

Colbert jokingly asked Greenwald if the next time his Netgear router goes down, could he call NSA for tech support. Greenwald laughed, then replied:

“It probably came from them, there’s a good chance that it did. So maybe they can help you with it.”

Gads! Surveillance state run amok!

24 hours later, that’s not really the case. Like always. Greenwald dumped a PDF compilation of documents referenced in his book onto his website (again, not The Intercept). If you scroll through the 108 page document down to page 61 (labeled “Page 149”) you’ll find the NSA slide that goes along with Greenwald’s router revelation.

And here we find out that the program is strictly aimed at “targets” — as in terrorism targets or other targeted bad actors.

Stealthy Techniques Can Crack Some of SIGINT’s Hardest Targets

Here’s how it works: shipments of computer network devices (servers, routers, etc.) being delivered to our targets throughout the world are intercepted. Next, they are redirected to a secret location where Tailored Access Operations/Access Operations (AO-S326) employees, with the support of the Remote Operations Center (S321), enable the installation of beacon implants directly into our targets‘ electronic devices.

Targets, targets and hardest targets. Not random people, and certainly not Stephen Colbert. Greenwald only used the word “target” once in his article, in reference to the person who wrote the slide, the Chief of Access and Target Development. Furthermore, Greenwald openly admitted that the operation has only reported “one recent case” in which one of the beacons actually sent back some signals “after several months.” Doesn’t sound like widespread spying on ordinary people at all.

But of course Greenwald bets on the chance his TV audience or readers of The Guardian won’t scroll through a cumbersome, non-indexed PDF file — most of those people probably don’t even know it exists, nor will they care 24 hours after the initial story went public and have have moved on to caring about other topics. As for his true-believers, they’ll find a convoluted excuse to suggest that it’s still bad for NSA to spy on terrorist targets in any form.

And so here we are again with another misleading story from Polk Award Winner Glenn Greenwald. From the looks of this document, too, there will be many more misleading chunks to be siphoned from his book.

Adding… By the way, you might recall how the hacker collective Anonymous has issued a threat to disrupt Greenwald’s book tour. Well today Greenwald posted another article in which he correlates Anonymous and, yes, Martin Luther King, Jr. That’s right: anonymous hackers are just like MLK.

Bob Cesca is the host of the Bob Cesca Show podcast, a twice weekly political talk show. He’s also a contributor to Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

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