This might be faint praise, but I actually have to compliment author Glenn Greenwald. For nearly a year now, Greenwald has been badgered by libertarian hackers, crypto-extremists and Wikileaks supporters to dump all of his Snowden NSA documents in the same way Julian Assange dumped Private Manning’s leaked files.
But Greenwald, to his credit, has held fast and in some cases employed his special brand of caustic Twitter ferocity, usually deployed against NSA or Obama voters, against those who are indeed more extreme on transparency than he is. Until I witnessed it happen, I didn’t think it was possible for anyone to be more radical on this front, but there it is.
Such was the case yesterday on Twitter when Greenwald sparred with both Julian Assange and American Wikileaks hanger-on Jacob Appelbaum. The debate culminated in something that could provoke the first serious body-count from Edward Snowden’s foolishly irresponsible NSA document theft.
It all began Monday morning when The Intercept posted a new Snowden revelation with cutesy headline: “Data Pirates of the Caribbean: The NSA Is Recording Every Cell Phone Call in the Bahamas.” Get it? Pirates! The article exhaustively describes an operation called MYSTIC and another called SOMALGET in which NSA gathers audio and metadata of cellphone calls in the Bahamas in order to spy on human traffickers and drug cartels. The Bahamas is notorious for both.
Naturally, the article featured all of the deceptive Greenwaldian bait-and-switch we’ve come to expect from his Snowden articles. For example, in paragraph seven, Greenwald and his co-authors Ryan Devereaux and Laura Poitras noted that Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey routinely vacation in the Bahamas:
By targeting the Bahamas’ entire mobile network, the NSA is intentionally collecting and retaining intelligence on millions of people who have not been accused of any crime or terrorist activity. Nearly five million Americans visit the country each year, and many prominent U.S. citizens keep homes there, including Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Bill Gates, and Oprah Winfrey.
NSA is spying on Oprah! Stop the presses! But no, if you read all the way down to the 54th paragraph (!!) Greenwald tosses in a token mention of NSA’s rules about preventing data collection against U.S. Persons, whether or not they happen to be inside the U.S. There are very strict “minimization” procedures to eliminate the data that might’ve been inadvertently collected. Why? Because it’s illegal to spy on Americans without an individual warrant. And, by the way, Greenwald & Company noted that the SOMALGET program is, yes, legal.
The article refers to five nations where MYSTIC is used: the Bahamas, Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines and nation that Greenwald redacted because, to quote the article, “The Intercept is not naming in response to specific, credible concerns that doing so could lead to increased violence.”
The redaction didn’t sit well with Julian Assange, who is widely believed to operate the @wikileaks Twitter account.
Assange lashed out against The Intercept and its editor John Cook, suggesting that it’s the prerogative of the citizens living in the redacted nation to revolt over NSA spying. Appelbaum jumped in and accused The Intercept of deliberately trying to make Wikileaks look comparatively extreme by redacting the information. Suffice to say, Wikileaks and Assange do quite well beclowning themselves without any help.
Greenwald hit back, tweeting… READ MORE