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Photo by: joanneleon.  May, 2013.

Photo by: joanneleon.  May, 2013.


Johnny Rivers - Secret Agent Man

News & Opinion

This guy, Rick Perlstein, and The Nation, should be ashamed of themselves.  They make a big deal out of a matter of semantics and pretend it's a technical "botch".  He uses an appeal to authority, a tech friend he claims is a tech genius, and points out that Greenwald is not a techie, etc.  The only thing that was really supposed to make an impact was the title anyway.  All the while he claims to "deeply admire" Glenn and the Guardian.  He gets creamed in the comments, and Glenn also responds to him at the Guardian as well, as part of a larger response to various things.  Man, there are a lot of people in the media and in the blogging world who are showing themselves during this past week.

Glenn Greenwald's 'Epic Botch'?

Bloggers and experts in the tech world have been raising an important caveat to a key aspect of Glenn Greenwald’s world-shaking scoop about the NSA’s PRISM story—an aspect my friend Karl Fogel, an open-source software guru, blogger and the proprietor of, calls an “epic botch” by Greenwald. People outside of the tech world absolutely need to know about this debate too, which is why, though I’m no expert, I’m sharing it with this wider audience. I deeply admire what Greenwald and his team at The Guardian are doing. I write in the interest of helping them do it better.
Fogel points out that a widely read post to this effect called “Cowards” from the blog Uncrunched—“What has these people, among the wealthiest on the planet, so scared that they find themselves engaging in these verbal gymnastics to avoid telling a simple truth?”—is “mostly wrong.” He says, “It looks like Greenwald and company simply misunderstood an NSA slide [see image at the top of this post for the slide] because they don’t have the technical background to know that ‘servers’ is a generic word and doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing as ‘the main servers on which a company’s customer-facing services run.’ The ‘servers’ mentioned in the slide are just lockboxes used for secure data transfer. They have nothing to do with the process of deciding which requests to comply with—they’re just means of securely and efficiently delivering information once a company has decided to do so.”

Perlstein comes back with this, again citing his genius tech friend Karl Fogel.  He gets called out again in the comments and this time, lambert points out that Fogel is a fellow at the New America Foundation and two of their biggest donors are Eric Schmidt and Bill Gates.  Schmidt plays a big role on their board.
A Response to Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald has posted a response to his critics today, including myself, titled “;On PRISM, Partisanship, and Propaganda”: “In a Nation post yesterday,” he writes, “Rick Perlstein falsely accuses me of not having addressed the questions about the PRISM story.” Actually I didn’t accuse him of not having addressed “the questions,” but instead a single question, which he still does not address: whether, in his claim that corporations have allowed the National Security Agency direct access to their servers, he misunderstands the meaning of the word “server” in an NSA slide to imply “all their data,” when it probably means “places to store a highly delimited amount of secured data the companies have agreed to provide to the government after consultation with their lawyers in response to government requests made through legal channels.” (By the way, you can still hold that those “legal channels” are ghastly, invasive and immoral, as I suspect they may well be, and stimultaneously believe that Greenwald may have made a grave and self-defeating error both in terms of accuracy and in terms of advocacy.)

Chemical weapons experts still skeptical of U.S. claim that Syria used sarin

Washington • Chemical weapons experts voiced skepticism Friday about U.S. claims that the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad had used the nerve agent sarin against rebels on at least four occasions this spring, saying that while the use of such a weapons is always possible, they’ve yet to see the telltale signs of a sarin gas attack, despite months of scrutiny.

"It’s not unlike Sherlock Holmes and the dog that didn’t bark," said Jean Pascal Zanders, a leading expert on chemical weapons who until recently was a senior research fellow at the European Union’s Institute for Security Studies. "It’s not just that we can’t prove a sarin attack; it’s that we’re not seeing what we would expect to see from a sarin attack."

Foremost among those missing items, Zanders said, are cellphone photos and videos of the attacks or the immediate aftermath.

"In a world where even the secret execution of Saddam Hussein was taped by someone, it doesn’t make sense that we don’t see videos, that we don’t see photos, showing bodies of the dead, and the reddened faces and the bluish extremities of the affected," he said.

Other experts said that while they were willing to give the U.S. intelligence community the benefit of the doubt, the Obama administration has yet to offer details of what evidence it has and how it obtained it.

Scahill on Leno.
Jeremy Scahill On The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: We Totally Lost Track Of Our Values

Retired Federal Judge: Your Faith In Secret Surveillance Court Is Dramatically Misplaced

[...] U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner stood up in the audience to counter the statements of conservative law professor Nathan Sales that secret surveillance requests are subject to meaningful judicial review. She cautioned:

As a former Article III judge, I can tell you that your faith in the FISA Court is dramatically misplaced.
Two reasons: One … The Fourth Amendment frameworks have been substantially diluted in the ordinary police case. One can only imagine what the dilution is in a national security setting. Two, the people who make it on the FISA court, who are appointed to the FISA court, are not judges like me. Enough said.

Regime change in Qatar and apparently it wasn't pretty.
Patrick Cockburn on U.S. Plans to Arm Syrian Rebels: Where Is the Skepticism About Chemical Weapons?


Stop Watching Us.

The revelations about the National Security Agency's surveillance apparatus, if true, represent a stunning abuse of our basic rights. We demand the U.S. Congress reveal the full extent of the NSA's spying programs.

Crowd-Fund a Court Stenographer for Bradley Manning's Trial

The trial of Bradley Manning will have an enormous impact on press freedom and the rights of future whistleblowers. Help us crowd-fund enough donations so we can hire a court stenographer to take transcripts of the trial. The government refuses to make its transcripts available to the public.

Your donation to this project will be tax-deductible. You can also donate by check.

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