Significant Holes Emerge In The Washington Post‘s NSA Story After It’s Too Late
Throughout the past year of covering the shoddy journalism orbiting the NSA story, it never ceases to amaze that so many award-winning journalists, some veterans, some not-so-much, are unable to adequately explain things. Decide for yourself whether this murky reporting is deliberate or symptomatic of the complexities of this issue. There’s no real way of knowing why. All we know is that even with access to a former NSA systems administrator, Snowden, one article after another is loaded with massive holes, which are only clarified 24-hours later (or more), after it’s too late.
Such is the case once again with the latest article from The Washington Post‘s Barton Gellman. Admittedly, Gellman has been one of the better, more responsible reporters with access to the Snowden files, but his latest article, co-written by Ashkan Soltani and Julie Tate, is a journalistic mess, to put it mildly.
Before we get into how much of a mess it is, let’s recap what we covered yesterday.
–Gellman reported that 160,000-plus intercepted communications between 2009 and 2012 contained 65,000 “minimized” (hidden or encrypted) incidental references to people who might be Americans not targeted by NSA. There were also 900 references to email addresses that were apparently not minimized, which Gellman and his team ascertained were “strongly linked” to U.S. persons.
–Meanwhile, the communications showed that NSA was doing its job. It had acquired “fresh revelations about a secret overseas nuclear project, double-dealing by an ostensible ally, a military calamity that befell an unfriendly power, and the identities of aggressive intruders into U.S. computer networks.” Additionally, the files showed that NSA provided information leading to the arrest of at least two terrorism suspects.
–Later in the article, Gellman wrote that some of the minimization wasn’t entirely discreet. He cited “minimized U.S. president-elect” from early 2009, and “minimized U.S. president” in communications from later years.
This article, as most of them do, incited the usual outrage addicts, who began flailing around the internet about the evil U.S. surveillance state. It’s what they do. It’s their brand. The incomplete nature of the reporting, whether from Gellman or Greenwald or the untold dozens of other reporters who somehow received copies of the Snowden documents, is irrelevant, as long as the over-arching hyperbole of the article jibes with their ongoing daily narrative.
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