...print the legend.
Another story begun with Blockbuster!Revelations! (from CNET Friday):
"NSA Admits Listening To U.S. Phone Calls Without Warrants"
Has quickly become somewhat less blockbusterish and revelatory than originally advertised (from CNET Saturday):
NSA spying flap extends to contents of U.S. phone calls
... Updated 6/16 at 11:15 a.m. PT The original headline when the story was published on Saturday was "NSA admits listening to U.S. phone calls without warrants," which was changed to "NSA spying flap extends to contents of U.S. phone calls," to better match the story. The first paragraph was changed to add attribution to Rep. Nadler. Also added was an additional statement that the congressman's aide sent this morning, an excerpt from a Washington Post story on NSA phone call content surveillance that appeared Saturday, and remarks that Rep. Rogers made on CNN this morning.]
Also this from Buzzfeed:
Rep. Nadler in a statement to BuzzFeed says: “I am pleased that the administration has reiterated that, as I have always believed, the NSA cannot listen to the content of Americans’ phone calls without a specific warrant.”
Also this from "Vanity Fair":
PRISM Isn’t Data Mining and Other Falsehoods in the N.S.A. “Scandal”
Also this via LGF:
But even though Rep. Nadler has now made it exceptionally clear that the NSA is not allowed to listen to phone calls without a warrant, the subtitle for CNET’s article still makes the false claim:National Security Agency discloses in secret Capitol Hill briefing that thousands of analysts can listen to domestic phone calls. That authorization appears to extend to e-mail and text messages too.Some points:
- In the original video, Rep. Nadler never says this information was disclosed to him by the NSA. He refers only to a “briefing.”
- The claim that “thousands of analysts can listen to domestic phone calls” was completely made up out of thin air. Nobody said this, ever.
- The first sentence of Declan McCullagh’s article still makes a claim that is now completely debunked: “The National Security Agency has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls, a participant said.”This is almost unbelievably sloppy, irresponsible reporting. As Josh Marshall tweeted:Shorter CNET: we're sticking w strained interpretation of Nadler statement even tho new statement seems to invalidate r interpretation— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) June 16, 2013
And, to complete the cycle, with the groundwater now thoroughly polluted with thousands of earnest FaceBook "likes" and Twitter retweets, finally, this:
Congressman denies report claiming NSA can listen to calls without warrantsSummary: CORRECTED: The senator who allegedly said the U.S. National Security Agency can listen to phone calls of both U.S. residents and foreign nationals without a court order debunks the original report...
Update at 2:50 p.m. ET on June 16: We're pulling the plug on this story, following Rep. Nadler's comments that debunk CNET's story...
To misquote "Deep Throat", please just follow the damn data.
Please, please, please stop trying to slant-drill every aspect of this story into some preconceived acrimonious political narrative.
Here is what Mr. Greenwald took away from the comments of Bob Schieffer this morning:
That huge & lovely club - Journalists Against Transparency and Leaks - adds yet another new illustrious member http://t.co/uVtaysePSl
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) June 16, 2013
Are we very, very clear on that?
Bob Schieffer is against transparency.
Bob Schieffer is against leaks.
Except this is what Bob Schieffer -- who I don't know and don't usually watch and don't really care about either way -- actually said.
"I like people who are willing to stand up to the government. As a reporter, it’s my job to do that from time to time. Some of the people I admire most are in the government. Men and women who led the civil rights movement— Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr.—they are true heroes. I’m not ready to put Edward Snowden in that category. For one thing, I don’t remember Martin Luther King, Jr. or Rosa Parks running off and hiding in China. The people who led the civil rights movement were willing to break the law and suffer the consequences. That’s a little different than putting the nation’s security at risk and running away." ...
Schieffer noted that his criticism of Snowden did not mean that he approved of the programs that he helped reveal to the public, saying "I don’t know yet if the government has over-reached since 9/11 to reinforce our defenses, and we need to find out. What I do know, though, is that these procedures were put in place and are being overseen by officials we elected and we should hold them accountable."
Yes, Mr. Schieffer has some unkind things to say about Mr. Snowden, but mostly he faults him for not staying here and fighting. What Mr. Schieffer does not do at any point is come out against either transparency or leaks.
I have no idea what is wrong with Mr. Greenwald -- why he keeps finding new and exciting ways to abandon the main line of his own important and consequential story in order to go waaaay the hell out of his way to behave like a whiny shit -- but since he is clearly incapable of keeping his bile in check on his own, his friends or editors really need to quietly intercede.
...to get to True Narrative North, please ask for clarification when something is not 100% clear. Ask stupid questions. Ask the simple-simple questions about how the machinery all works down to how the bytes get into the wire as if you're a 82-year-old retiree taking your first class on spreadsheets down at the Learning Annex and, damn it, you paid for this class! For example, you know what I don't understand? The last part of this statement by Mr. Snowden (emphasis added):
“I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal e-mail.”
I'm not doubting his word, I just have no idea...
- What having "a personal email" means [Knowing your target's email address? Having password access to your target's email address? Other?]
- What does having a personal email has to do with the "authorities to wiretap anyone", unless in this context "wiretap" only means "snooping someone's email" or,
- Is Mr. Snowden implying that he can was able to use the information gleaned from someone's personal email network packet information to do something even more devious and VOIP-ish that somehow got him access to phone conversations?
I could spin plausible, science-fiction theories all day long, but I have no idea what the answer is and were I interviewing Mr. Snowden, I would be asking him to amplify this little nugget considerably because I find it both confusing and potentially fascinating.
Please make sure that you don't conflate metadata dragnets (bad but very likely legal under current US law) with phone-call content dragnets (very, very bad and very clearly illegal.)
Please make sure not to confuse the technical capacity to do a thing (The traffic cop who just waved to me and my stepdaughters as we were out riding our bikes also has a shotgun in his trunk) with the actual doing of that thing (The traffic cop who just waved to me and my stepdaughters as we were out riding our bikes pulls a shotgun out of his trunk and starts blazing away at us.) H-bombs are terribly dangerous and can level cities but to date none have ever actually done so (Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed by A-bombs.)
And finally, insofar as possible, please try to ascertain what the organizational policy actually is versus what some cowboy within the organization is capable of doing if he or she decides to go suddenly renegade. Or to quote cranky, fictional Libertarian Jubal Harshaw (from "Stranger in a Strange Land" PDF):
Harshaw: You would have me play God? But we're veering off the subject. Douglas didn't try to have you assassinated.
Ben Caxton: Says who?
Harshaw: Says the infallible Jubal Harshaw, speaking ex cathedra from his belly button. See here, son, if a deputy sheriff beats a prisoner to death, it's sweepstakes odds that the county commissioners didn't order it, didn't know it, and wouldn't have permitted it had they known. At worst they shut their eyes to it-afterwards-rather than upset their own applecarts. But assassination has never been an accepted policy in this country.
I would very much like to get to the bottom of what the NSA has been up to in my name and I do not think it is too much to ask the reporters who are working on that story to abide by these broad guidelines.