Yesterday’s The Intercept story by Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux about the numbers of people caught up in the various government’s watch lists was based on confidential documents from the National Counterterrorism Center that was leaked to them. What was interesting is that these were not part of the trove of documents released by Edward Snowden and the date of the documents is August 2013 showing that they were created after Snowden left the NSA.
The government has concluded that this is the work of a new leaker, which must be giving them headaches as their fears that Snowden would inspire others to follow suit seems to becoming reality.
The federal government has concluded there’s a new leaker exposing national security documents in the aftermath of surveillance disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, U.S. officials tell CNN.
In a February interview with CNN’s Reliable Sources, [Glenn] Greenwald said: “I definitely think it’s fair to say that there are people who have been inspired by Edward Snowden’s courage and by the great good and virtue that it has achieved.”
He added, “I have no doubt there will be other sources inside the government who see extreme wrongdoing who are inspired by Edward Snowden.”
It’s not yet clear how many documents the new leaker has shared and how much damage it may cause.
The government’s ham-handed way of dealing with these stories was revealed once again. The editor of The Intercept John Cook went to the NCC for comment and response before they published the story, as is the usual journalistic custom. But the NCC, in a petty move, then gave a friendly reporter Eileen Sullivan at the Associated Press advance notice of this story so that she could scoop The Intercept and also write a story that was more friendly to the government, which she did.
After the AP story ran, The Intercept requested a conference call with the National Counterterrorism Center. A source with knowledge of the call said that the government agency admitted having fed the story to the AP, but didn’t think the reporter would publish before The Intercept did. “That was our bad,” the official said.
Asked by The Intercept editor John Cook if it was the government’s policy to feed one outlet’s scoop to a friendlier outlet, a silence ensued, followed by the explanation: “We had invested some quality time with Eileen,” referring to AP reporter Eileen Sullivan, who the official added had been out to visit the NCTC.
But since the AP published their story only a few minutes before The Intercept, it made the NCC’s attempt at undermining the story less effective. But what the NCTC did is a big no-no in the world of journalism and as a result of their pettiness, The Intercept editor says that in future, they will give the government only 30 minutes to respond to stories before they publish. Now expect the government to whine that they are not being given enough time.
This incident illustrates the dangerous cozy relationship between some journalists and the national security state and the need for a distant, if not outright antagonistic, relationship between journalists and the people they cover.