The Guardian's Editor Explains Intimidation Tactics from U.S. and U.K. Governments After Showden Leaks


Thu, Dec 5th, 2013 12:00 by capnasty NEWS

On The New York Times, Ravi Somaiya reports on the recent Commons Home Affairs Committee in London on Tuesday, which heard the testimony of Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian. Rusbringer faced "aggressive questioning from lawmakers, particularly those of the ruling Conservative Party," with accusations that the newspaper had handled "the material irresponsibly, putting it at risk of interception by hostile governments and others." The editor's own allegiance to his native country was put in to question as well.

At one point during the hearing, Mr. Rusbridger was asked, to his evident surprise, whether he loved his country. He answered yes, noting that he valued its democracy and free press. After Mr. Rusbridger’s testimony, a senior British police officer, Cressida Dick, refused to rule out prosecutions as part of an investigation into the matter.

Since the revelations, newspapers, particularly those that have dealt with Mr. Snowden’s material, have also had to adjust to a harsh new reporting environment, security experts and journalists said, as governments and others seek secret material held by reporters.

“The old model was kind of like your house,” said Marc Frons, the chief information officer of The New York Times. “You locked your front door and windows, but not your desk drawer, even if it had your passport inside. In the new model, you have locks on everything.”

The Guardian, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal declined to comment about internal security arrangements.

Meanwhile, Carl Bernstein, the American investigative journalist who reported on the Watergate scandal, has written an open letter to The Guardian's editor warning him that his appearance before the Commons was actually an attempt "by the highest UK authorities to shift the issue from government policies and excessive government secrecy in the United States and Great Britain to the conduct of the press."

The stories published by The Guardian, the Washington Post and the New York Times based on Mr Snowden's information to date hardly seem to represent reckless disclosure of specific national security secrets of value to terrorists or enemy governments or in such a manner as to make possible the identification of undercover agents or operatives whose lives or livelihoods would be endangered by such disclosure. Such information has been carefully redacted by the Guardian and other publications and withheld from stories based on information from Mr Snowden. Certainly terrorists are already aware that they are under extensive surveillance, and did not need Mr Snowden or the Guardian to tell them that.

Rather, the stories published by the Guardian — like those in the Washington Post and the New York Times — describe the scale and scope of electronic information-gathering our governments have been engaged in — most of it hardly surprising in the aggregate, given the state of today's technology, and a good deal of it previously known and reported and indeed often discussed "on background" with reporters by high government officials from the White House to Downing Street confident that their identities will not be disclosed.

Also, in the news: NSA revelations could cost U.S. tech companies $35 billion as non-U.S. companies are cancelling contracts with U.S. providers.

Lastly, The Washington Post reports that that the NSA is "gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world," allowing the agency to "track the movements of individuals — and map their relationships — in ways that would have been previously unimaginable."



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