Well this is exciting news for those interested in independent journalism and brilliant document analysis:
Last week, First Look Media announced that it will publish a family of new digital magazines – each with its own editorial voice, its own look and feel, and each led by veteran journalists with deep expertise in their fields. Early next week, we will launch the first of these digital publications.
The new site will be led by the experienced and award-winning team of Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Jeremy Scahill. Its initial focus will be in-depth reporting on the classified documents previously provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Marcy Wheeler, an independent journalist best known for her deep analysis of legal documents on counterterrorism programs, will serve as senior policy analyst. She will work with the staff as a consultant on an article-by-article basis while she continues her renowned blogging on national security and civil liberties at Emptywheel.net. Marcy has written for The Guardian and Salon, among other publications, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation into the outing of Valerie Plame.
Some have been (unjustly so, in my opinion) wary of the Greenwald relationship with ebay founder Omidyars new media venture. The addition of Wheeler to the team should help ease some concerns about the quality of analysis that will be given to the Snowden documents. Perhaps the addition of Wheeler will also provoke some concern from otherwise passive progressives on the issue of journalism on Snowden documents being labeled 'fencing stolen merchandise' and journalists themselves labelled as accessories to a crime.
First Look is still in the midst of building our team and refining our larger editorial vision and strategy. Later this year, we will launch more digital magazines, along with a flagship site. But in recent weeks, there has been a dramatic escalation in the threats against journalists reporting on the NSA story. First Look will uphold the rights of journalists everywhere to report on the sensitive and often controversial information that they learn from sources. We are launching the new site as a public service, committed to reporting on one of the most pressing issues of our time in a transparent and responsible manner.Wheeler herself has posted on the new gig:
Working together, the site's staff has already uncovered a host of new and disturbing revelations in the NSA documents. The site will be published on mobile devices, as well as online. I
I am just working for First Look as a consultant — just doing document analysis, not my own reporting — and just part time. I will continue to do the kind of reporting I always do here — and potentially for other media outlets.
Some of the stories I have broken or significantly advanced since the Snowden leaks started (ignoring that I guessed the Bush’s illegal program had been moved under PATRIOT back in 2009) include:
FISC never issued an opinion finding the dragnet legal until last year (confirmed by PCLOB 7 months later)
NSA’s phone dragnet violated Section 215′s minimization requirements (confirmed by PCLOB 2 months later)
NSA can query the Section 215 dragnet for Iranian targets in addition to al Qaeda related ones
NSA uses the dragnet to identify potential informants
Technical personnel have unaudited access to raw dragnet data to remove “high volume” numbers and carry out other still-secret tasks
NSA destroyed the evidence of such tech personnel moving and retaining data outside FISC guidelines
NSA watchlisted 3,000 US persons under the phone dragnet with no First Amendment review
NSA itself considered some of its 2009 practices similar to Project Minaret’s watch-listing of anti-war activists
NSA trains analysts to recreate domestic phone dragnet queries using EO 12333 data to get around dissemination protections
NSA rolled out a new contact-chaining approach overseas just as NSA began disclosing its 5-years of Internet dragnet violations to FISC (the timing was subsequently confirmed by additional government disclosures)
Section 702 is used for counterterrorism, counterproliferation, and cybersecurity (strongly suggested by the Review Group 6 months later)
NSA uses upstream Section 702 collection for cybersecurity purposes (and Leahy-Sensenbrenner would end this use)
NSA can query US person content incidentally collected under Section 702 (reported by the Guardian 2 months later)
NSA does not even need Reasonable Articulable Suspicion to conduct these queries
FBI has had that authority to search incidentally collected content since 2008 (confirmed by subsequent government release)
NSA secretly expanded minimization procedures meant to protect life and body to cover property
Mike Rogers never shared the written notice to Congress in 2011 (confirmed by Justin Amash, then reported by multiple outlets)
In one of the briefings held instead, FBI misled Members about abuses committed under Section 215
NSA did not inform the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees about significant interpretations of Section 215 until after PATRIOT was reauthorized in 2010
NSA did not inform the Judiciary Committees about its geolocation efforts until after PATRIOT was reauthorized in 2011
John Brennan briefed Colleen Kollar-Kotelly on the need for the Internet dragnet in 2004 along with the “hospital confrontation” heroes and villains (I’ve been promising more interesting details about this in the future — stay tuned!)
Roughly 9% of NSA’s violations consist of analysts breaking standard operating procedures they’ve been trained on
All this in addition to debunking the obfuscations and lies of the NSA’s defenders on a daily basis.