Glenn Greenwald NSA

Now Greenwald Denies ‘Direct Access’ Reporting

So Greenwald wrote a thing yesterday in which denied ever claiming that the NSA had “direct access” to servers belonging to the tech giants. He wrote, instead, that he was merely illustrating the discrepancies between the PRISM slide and statements from the tech giants.

But Charles Johnson at LGF compiled numerous examples of Greenwald ballyhooing “direct access” as the central scoop in his original article. For example:

With this program, the NSA is able to reach directly into the servers of the participating companies and obtain both stored communications as well as perform real-time collection on targeted users.


By reporting that the NSA had “direct access” regardless of where they got the information, Greenwald was reporting that it was true. Otherwise, he would’ve written in the article and within subsequent tweets: “reportedly direct access” or “the NSA claims to have direct access, but The Guardian hasn’t been able to confirm…” There was nothing in Greenwald’s reporting indicating that it might be untrue, other than the tech giants’ refutations. But the onus is on any journalist to take responsibility for what he reports as the truth — and especially to discover from his IT expert source how such a process might work, thus confirming its existence.

He’s seriously weaseling out of what way too many people interpreted to be truthful in his original article about PRISM.

Adding… Greenwald also wrote: “Rick Perlstein falsely accuses me of not having addressed the questions about the PRISM story.” Perlstein responded here.

  • Sandy Knauer

    I would feel like a fool if I had fallen for this Snow(den) job – but I would be willing to admit that I had been foolish and hasty and do everything I could to correct every bit of misinformation and inappropriate mud slinging I did as a consequence of my foolish and hasty actions. Anxious to see the internet flooded with such apologies and retractions now.

  • Badgerite

    GG stated that he didn’t have to address any criticisms of the accuracy of his reporting because these criticisms were coming from people who were interested in defending anything Obama did because Obama did it. Well, that is classic avoidance. And if you have to resort to classic avoidance of actually addressing the issues raised, then it is probably because the critique is true. Frankly, reporting carries with it a certain responsibility to resolve the ‘contradictions’ in your story as much as possible BEFORE you report it. It does not appear that he made much of any real effort at determining what the truth was before putting the story out there. Not that he would have accepted any explanation that didn’t comport with his own underlying bias. He still doesn’t. He implies that the contradiction exists because the Prism power point slide implying direct acces, as breathlessly presented by him and the Guardian, is what is true. At least that is what he tries to argue while saying he isn’t saying that. As a American citizen, I want Congress to engage in active oversight of theses programs. But I keep hearing about how this metadata can be abused in the wrong hands but no one actually says how that would occur. Alan Grayson complained that the he can’t imagine why the government wants or needs to know that he called his mother, etc. Frankly, I don’t think the government does want to know that and I can’t imagine what it would do with it that could possibly harm Alan Grayson. The information conveyed is not of particular sensitivity or of a kind where you would have a heightened expectation of privacy. Does he think that the government doesn’t know he has a mother and that he probably calls her. In a lot of ways, this sounds like the complaint of organizations like the NRA that does not want gun registration because then the government could conceivably know where to find them when they come to round up all the true patriots and put them in camps. Bill Moyers website raised the only real concern I can think of and that is should journalists who talk to government leakers be worried? That is really the valid issue raised. Lawrence Lessig on Bill Moyers PBS show stated that collection of metadata would concern him if and when it would result in some action taken that impacted the individual whose information had been gathered. But that action by the state would still have to be based on some violation of law, would it not?

  • Hal Swann

    GG just can’t shake his “intertubes” moment.

  • Mark Erickson

    Three points. 1: Greenwald and the WaPo both have over 30 slides that they haven’t released. One or more slides may be too descriptive of the process to release.

    2: read bruce schneier’s quote af the end of this piece: Heres a long interview with him.

    3: why don’t you include the neo-con WaPo in your continual denouncing? Here’s the lede of their story right now: “The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post.”

    FYI, other great sources are (@emptywheel) and Cato’s Julian Sanchez (@normative).

    • muselet

      Even though Glenn Greenwald bungled the initial story by not bothering to confirm basic facts with people who, you know, actually know how these dang computer thingies work, we should believe his every word because some information he has “may be too descriptive of the process to release”?

      Uh-huh. Yeah, I’m convinced.


    • Alan Ahern

      Greenwald has walked back his claims and says he never said “directly”

  • D_C_Wilson

    Only two flying monkeys today. I guess the rest of Greenwald’s minions took the weekend off.

  • reanimate

    It’s hard to take any of these columns seriously when people like Bob continue to ignore what has actually been reported. If you have a response to the story below, I’d love to hear it. Until then, your endless bashing of Greenwald seems pretty lame and misguided. Ignoring facts that don’t fit your conclusion – that’s the way Fox News operates.

    “The companies have publicly denied any knowledge of PRISM or any system that allows the government to directly query their central servers. But because the program is so highly classified, only a few people at most at each company would legally be allowed to know about PRISM, let alone the details of its operations.

    Executives at some of the participating companies, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, acknowledged the system’s existence and said it was used to share information about foreign customers with the NSA and other parts of the nation’s intelligence community.

    These executives said PRISM was created after much negotiation with federal authorities, who had pressed for easier access to data they were entitled to under previous orders granted by the secret FISA court.

    One top-secret document obtained by The Post described it as “Collection directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.”

    Intelligence community sources said that this description, although inaccurate from a technical perspective, matches the experience of analysts at the NSA. From their workstations anywhere in the world, government employees cleared for PRISM access may “task” the system and receive results from an Internet company without further interaction with the company’s staff.”

    • Alan Ahern

      Greenwald himself is now walking back his claim of “direct access”

  • Ebert McFartington VI

    Dirtbag Bob and the idiot Perlstein attempting to deflect from the issue at hand: Obama’s illegal snooping. I say “attempt” because it’s a joke talking point, nothing GG can’t handle.

  • mrbrink

    No backsies! Ever.

  • Alan Ahern

    One of the main problems is Greenwald never explained what metadata is or that the collection of metadata is constitutionally sound, its even public record in Arizona, most of the chicken little “this is just like russia” screech monkeys i have talked to actually believe there is a bespectacled geek at the NSA listening to recordings of everybody’s phonecalls.

    • differentdrummer

      GG was a lawyer, supposedly a Constitutional law specialist, so he bloody well ought to know Smith v. Maryland – the 1979 SCOTUS case that explicitly made collection of (telephone) metadata legal.

      • Bob Rutledge

        He doesn’t give a flying fuck at a rolling donut about the legality or illegality of the program, alls he cares about is getting page hits and having his ego stroked by the neo-racists.

        • Ebert McFartington VI

          HAHAH this is all about racism! GOOD ONE!
          hint: “metadata” includes your texts, not that your Obama hacks care.

          • Bob Rutledge

            Stroke away, fan boy.

          • Ebert McFartington VI

            Right in your mouth, waterboy.

          • Victor_the_Crab

            Which is how you wet dream Greenwald does to you, his personal cheerleader.

          • Alan Ahern

            6 billion texts are sent in the US daily allow me to put your sphincter at ease, you are not important enough to have yours read. By the way its data about the text that is collected not the specific message

      • Mark Erickson

        GG specialized in 1st Amendment issues, FYI. Do you really think a decision about a single target made before personal computers existed is relevant anymore? Every time the current bulk surveillance has been challenged in court, judges have denied standing or used state secrets to deny a hearing on the merits.

        • Alan Ahern

          It is relevant because of the reasons SCOTUS held use of metadata legal. You already share it with phone company, your point about personal computers is irrelevant because they didnt distinguish between human and equipment. You cant have a legitimate expectation of privacy of info you readily agree to share.

          • Mark Erickson

            The point is that the Supreme Court can easily conclude Smith is not controlling and that current practice has not been allowed to be challenged in federal court. Also, read Marcy Wheeler on why 215 is different in kind from survelliance envisioned in Smith:

          • Alan Ahern

            no they cant just decide smith is not controlling stare decisis rules, they would need to see fundamental differences in the collection of metadata now and 1979 but they made no distinction between man and machine in smith, AND due to the fact that metadata is public record in some states plus its so widely used by phone companies, marketing companies, social networking sites, tv companies there is no way you can have an expectation of privacy with regards to metadata.

          • Mark Erickson

            First, the Supreme Court can do whatever it wants. My point isn’t right to privacy, but the 4th Amendment.

      • Alan Ahern

        He knows about Smith v. Maryland (1979) it makes his “bombshell” less sexy.

  • FlipYrWhig

    Greenwald is so obstinate and ungracious. Look, dude, you got out on a limb, and you fucked up. Take your beating, regroup, and come at it another way if you need to. The infallibility act is so wearying.

    • Ebert McFartington VI

      Not quite.

  • differentdrummer

    NSA has “direct access” to the server Google set up to house its secure FTP specifically for government downloading. By that standard I have “direct access” to Google’s servers when I log in to my GMail account.

    Greenwald’s problem is he’s too arrogant to admit he’s got less tech savvy than my mom.

  • JMAshby

    I didn’t say that thing I said.

  • trgahan

    Perlstein simply cut and pastes direct quotes written by Greenwald and Greenwald’s response is the equivalent of a school yard “I know you are, but what I am?” Just more evidence of “journalists” who get a pass because they are willing to parrot the ideas of a segment of our society’s elite.

  • KABoink_after_wingnut_hacker

    Greenwald has always been about Greenwald and his ego driven agenda. Period!
    It’s never been about facts, investigative journalism, ethics or integrity in anything he writes.
    I’ve come to the conclusion that he’s just an attention whore similar to Palin.

  • missliberties

    The delicious, slow takedown of Greenwald’s insidious journalism.

    May his reputation as a serious journalist be destroyed.

    What Greenwald did was frankly beyond the pale. I seriously believe he has compromised our national security with Asia, Syria with is vapid self serving claims. Because of course peopel believe the first thing they hear that they want to believe wheter it is true or not.

    • Ebert McFartington VI

      Take “liberties” out of your name, you NSA shill.

      • Lady Willpower

        Haha, you said “fart.”