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Why We Published the Decryption Story

We explain why publishing this story about U.S. and U.K. government efforts to decode enormous amounts of internet traffic previously thought to have been safe is in the public interest.

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Sept. 6: This Closer Look has been updated with a response from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

ProPublica is today publishing a story in partnership with the Guardian and The New York Times about U.S. and U.K. government efforts to decode enormous amounts of Internet traffic previously thought to have been safe from prying eyes. This story is based on documents provided by Edward Snowden, the former intelligence community employee and contractor. We want to explain why we are taking this step, and why we believe it is in the public interest.

The story, we believe, is an important one. It shows that the expectations of millions of Internet users regarding the privacy of their electronic communications are mistaken. These expectations guide the practices of private individuals and businesses, most of them innocent of any wrongdoing. The potential for abuse of such extraordinary capabilities for surveillance, including for political purposes, is considerable. The government insists it has put in place checks and balances to limit misuses of this technology. But the question of whether they are effective is far from resolved and is an issue that can only be debated by the people and their elected representatives if the basic facts are revealed.

It’s certainly true that some number of bad actors (possibly including would-be terrorists) have been exchanging messages through means they assumed to be safe from interception by law enforcement or intelligence agencies. Some of these bad actors may now change their behavior in response to our story.

In weighing this reality, we have not only taken our own counsel and that of our publishing partners, but have also conferred with the government of the United States, a country whose freedoms give us remarkable opportunities as journalists and citizens.

Two possible analogies may help to illuminate our thinking here.

First, a historical event: In 1942, shortly after the World War II Battle of Midway, the Chicago Tribune published an article suggesting, in part, that the U.S. had broken the Japanese naval code (which it had). Nearly all responsible journalists we know would now say that the Tribune’s decision to publish this information was a mistake. But today’s story bears no resemblance to what the Tribune did. For one thing, the U.S. wartime code-breaking was confined to military communications. It did not involve eavesdropping on civilians.

The second analogy, while admittedly science fiction, seems to us to offer a clearer parallel. Suppose for a moment that the U.S. government had secretly developed and deployed an ability to read individuals’ minds. Such a capability would present the greatest possible invasion of personal privacy. And just as surely, it would be an enormously valuable weapon in the fight against terrorism.

Continuing with this analogy, some might say that because of its value as an intelligence tool, the existence of the mind-reading program should never be revealed. We do not agree. In our view, such a capability in the hands of the government would pose an overwhelming threat to civil liberties. The capability would not necessarily have to be banned in all circumstances. But we believe it would need to be discussed, and safeguards developed for its use. For that to happen, it would have to be known.

There are those who, in good faith, believe that we should leave the balance between civil liberty and security entirely to our elected leaders, and to those they place in positions of executive responsibility. Again, we do not agree. The American system, as we understand it, is premised on the idea -- championed by such men as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison -- that government run amok poses the greatest potential threat to the people’s liberty, and that an informed citizenry is the necessary check on this threat. The sort of work ProPublica does -- watchdog journalism -- is a key element in helping the public play this role.

American history is replete with examples of the dangers of unchecked power operating in secret. Richard Nixon, for instance, was twice elected president of this country. He tried to subvert law enforcement, intelligence and other agencies for political purposes, and was more than willing to violate laws in the process. Such a person could come to power again. We need a system that can withstand such challenges. That system requires public knowledge of the power the government possesses. Today’s story is a step in that direction.

Update (9/6): Statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence:

It should hardly be surprising that our intelligence agencies seek ways to counteract our adversaries’ use of encryption. Throughout history, nations have used encryption to protect their secrets, and today, terrorists, cybercriminals, human traffickers and others also use code to hide their activities. Our intelligence community would not be doing its job if we did not try to counter that.

While the specifics of how our intelligence agencies carry out this cryptanalytic mission have been kept secret, the fact that NSA’s mission includes deciphering enciphered communications is not a secret, and is not news. Indeed, NSA’s public website states that its mission includes leading “the U.S. Government in cryptology … in order to gain a decision advantage for the Nation and our allies.”

The stories published yesterday, however, reveal specific and classified details about how we conduct this critical intelligence activity. Anything that yesterday’s disclosures add to the ongoing public debate is outweighed by the road map they give to our adversaries about the specific techniques we are using to try to intercept their communications in our attempts to keep America and our allies safe and to provide our leaders with the information they need to make difficult and critical national security decisions.

Namaste’ <3

Thank you for shining a light on this dark corner of our system that is very ripe for abuse.

Milorad Ivovic

Sep. 5, 2013, 3:54 p.m.

It shouldn’t be necessary to offer a pre-emptive defence against charges of “aiding the enemy” in a message which basically breaks down to “we’re journalists, practising journalism.”

The fact that explanation was deemed warranted is troubling.

Christian Stork

Sep. 5, 2013, 4:02 p.m.

There have been many notes at the end of articles such as these describing the “potential” for abuse by intelligence agencies, implying the use of blackmail against politicians and other officials. Is there a reason why one ought ignore the tales of NSA whistleblower Russell Tice? He’s gone on record, multiple times, saying that when he was at NSA he personally had orders to wiretap Samuel Alito and then-Senator Barack Obama. The only criticism I’ve heard mustered against him is that he was there during Bush’s warrantless wiretapping, and thus his concerns are no longer valid (as specious as that sounds). Why hasn’t his tale been told as widely as it needs to be? Here’s just the latest of his many interviews. I don’t like citing Russia Today, but apparently no one in the American media sees fit to give him the time of day—https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Faw9R8wurs

Christian Bell

Sep. 5, 2013, 4:12 p.m.

Outstanding work, ProPublica. Hold your heads high.

Thank you ProPublica, the Guardian and the New York Times. We really mean it.

Thank you, not just for overturning the stone slabs of secrecy and misdirection, but for giving us hope, once again, of a strong fourth estate.

As a citizen I am grateful.  Incredibly shaken, even after all the revelations of the last months, but deeply grateful.
Now comes the really hard part.  Where do we go from here?

Milorad Ivovic: Morons like you are really the problem on this planet. Here’s why ...

Perhaps if you had actually read the piece in question, you’d know that this was not a “pre-emptive defence”. The US and UK were sent the Guardian piece to read before publication, and they asked for it to not be published due to its sensitive nature.

This piece is a response to that request, giving the reasons for publishing. That means, genius, that it’s NOT preemptive.

But none of that matters to simpletons like you. You just want to make your ignorant comments and defer to authority. It’s people like you that are the problem: Ignorant and authoritarian.

A better analogy might be the Union intelligence services listening to Confederate telegraph lines during the Civil War. The messages were often encrypted, particularly business messages, but civilians in the Confederacy were technically U.S. citizens. Reading enemy messages requires also reading all civilian messages in order to find the military messages.

Milorad Ivovic

Sep. 5, 2013, 4:54 p.m.

Wow Bill, you wanker. Why so butthurt?
You’ve absolutely and completely mistaken me for someone I’m not.

It’s preemptive in the public eye. The reasoning is not necessary unless apologising to someone about something, so why is it here?

It’s trying to appease USG apologists, of which I am not one, you insolent prick.

Milorad Ivovic

Sep. 5, 2013, 5:01 p.m.

My point was, and remains… moral justifications like this whiney drivel shouldn’t be necessary where journalism is concerned.

This justification reads like the pleading which would have accompanied requests for USG approval. Any part of the public that actually matters, doesn’t require an explanation of why information like this is in the public interest, it should be immediately obvious to all but the most ardent USG bootlickers why this is legitimate, important journalism.

So why the explanation? Who is being appeased here? Perhaps it’s pitchfork wielding morons like Bill.

OneSovereignCitizen

Sep. 5, 2013, 5:13 p.m.

KUDOS ProPublica!  You folks NEED a MSM prime-time node on Public Airwaves!

Disband and destroy the entire NSA/Intelligence jungle; America doesn’t need nefarious onlookers to hang over our virtual shoulder.

Criminalize career despots and punk politicians’ behavior instead of allowing these fools to shag whistleblowers, etc.  See: http://www.tinyurl.com/stop-corruption

This “why we published” column reads like you’re patting yourselves on the back. You talk about the dangers of “unchecked power”—but you were in a position to be that check, and you chose not to.

The article contains no specifics and you didn’t publish any of the actual documents, even redacted versions.

It looks like you did at least some of what the government wanted and almost nothing that could help citizens.

“Such a person could come to power again.”

The last two presidents qualify, down to the getting re-elected bit.

If he had knowledge that encryption could be broken by stae agencies, does it not make Greenwald et al’s actions in shipping data across international borders on zip drives even more reckless, and undermine his own argument that he took care to ensure that the data was secure?

who are you explaining yourself to? the government?

Christopher Rath

Sep. 5, 2013, 6:03 p.m.

Thank you for publishing both the story itself and this explanation.

The story is about the NSA and spying on US citizens and others around the planet. The method the NSA documents became public is of little interest if the documents are legitimate. We know that someone is accused of stealing these documents and is likely to face harsh treatment at the hands of the US “justice” system. If that individual could be out of the public eye, perhaps his chances of safety would increase. He has done the world a favor and it could be honored by ignoring him.

The only thing they can’t read or understand is your prayers.
They should not know a damn thing between me and God.
Ever. They are Godless and damned.

Robert Benney

Sep. 5, 2013, 8 p.m.

Shameful.  Utterly and completely shameful.  Journalists and public slam the intel agencies after terroris events.  “How could you miss this”.  “How could you let this happen”. They could care less about you blithering idiots worrying they have the time or inclination to look at your comms.  They work to keep us safe. 

Shame on you authors.  Shame on you editors.  Shame on you snowden.    The next terrorist event is on your shoulders as you have chosen to sacrifice my safety.

Denkof Zwemmen

Sep. 5, 2013, 8:06 p.m.

Publishing your decryption story was absolutely justified, as you point out. But the threat of another Richard Nixon is sort of anti-climactic. Compared to 21st century administrations, Nixon was a pussy-cat when it comes to subverting the constitution. He just nibbled at it here and there when he thought it would serve his personal interests. The possibility of a wacko like J. Edgar Hoover in the Oval Office should give pause, however.

“Such a person could come to power again.”

What makes you think that such PEOPLE have/are not in power.  Do you seriously believe that we live in a democratic republic!?

MtVernonCannabisFarms

Sep. 5, 2013, 9:56 p.m.

smashed hard drives , detention , and seizure

the 4th estate appears to have let a few jewels slip through its fingers

Ambigo from mandigo

Sep. 5, 2013, 11:13 p.m.

I don’t believe ProPublica’s claim about the reason’s it’s grandstanding around this old news. I suspect ProPublica is grandstanding to make a name for itself, and to use sympathies generated by rehashing this old news to build sympathy for the thread of political ideology that is evident for all to see ProPublica’s story selection, story telling and staffing decisions.

Bob Youngstown

Sep. 5, 2013, 11:14 p.m.

Thanks for your explaination, however I have a question.

How have you corroborated the documents that Greenwald has provided?

I don’t expect the editors/reporters to reveal their sources, but can you tell me that the documents have been authenticated by reliable independant sources?

Can you explain why, knowing these companies are assisting the NSA to track citizens, you let those companies track ProPublica users?

When we visit ProPublica, we’re tracked by at least nine methods including those by facebook, twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Typekit, Google Adsense, Chartbeat, Google Analytics and Comscore Beacon.

Wait ... I know why you didn’t report that. All we have to do is install DoNotTrackMe on Firefox to see how you report our activities to the companies you’ve “exposed” as if we didn’t already know their ties to the NSA, so you can’t as easily build your political brand by acting as if your breaking news by pointing to “leaked” documents that mostly tell us what we already knew - stuff that was buried in back pages until somebody decided leaked documents makes it headline news.

Alexander Smith

Sep. 6, 2013, 12:04 a.m.

Excellent reasoning.  I especially enjoyed the mind-reading analogy.  This very clearly illustrates what is wrong and right with being able to read privately encrypted documents at will.  It is wrong without a warrant.

Nixon was bad. However, he was following in his “friend” JFK’s footsteps.  JFK used the IRS to target his political opponents, along with using the FBI and CIA to wiretap those in congress and any reporter who disagreed with him.  He used the FBI to raid steel executive offices and personal homes, as well as having the IRS audit them, when steel prices increased.  So, the lesson?  Both Democrats and Republicans are very capable and very willing to abuse power.  That is why there needs to be Transparency, and that is why the three Branches of Government are supposed to be Separate but Equal—as opposed to United against the People, as they are now.

~ N

“We the people” have no reason to assume that all elected and appointed officials have honorable goals or have the intellectual capacity to comprehend what is said or written. Judge Bork, Justices Scalia and Thomas all say they cannot understand the IX Amendment. Read it for yourselves. If you do have trouble, look for legal commentaries. If you still have trouble, sorry.

We have no special reason to trust those hired to fulfill a specific goal. Who knows what they are told as they happily seek to solve a puzzle? The CIA and NSA have both been caught out lying to Congress and us. The rest of the 20 plus set of arcane and odd acronyms? No one can say accurately what those organizations are doing in all circumstances. Those who can and do are charged as Manning has been and Snowden likely will be.

Defending your country from the ethical lizards may result in your being charged by them with some form of espionage. No terrorist organization could have wreaked such damage to equal the harm done by our ‘patriots.’

It’s unfortunate that your partners apparently did not for this story only publish it as you normally would of instead of vice versa but at least you get to do that for your explanation, to those who want to read it, click to here.

What critics of your decision to comment on why you have not complied with State requests to not share what you have learned ignore is that claims about ‘back pages’ are not completely accurate.  It’s rather that everyone has refused to share this credibly, and fully, and that when we wonder why the world remains so fucked up this is a good area to look to to explain it.

Instead of wondering about what would be wrong if this had been already stopped, we must consider what might be already far better.

We do not know how this power has been abused, how corporations might of been able to engage in lethal espionage against individuals given the fact that we use operating systems that give third parties access to anything, ANYTHING, our computers can obtain.  Few realise how long pc’s have had microphones inside them- I was surprised to find out a very old laptop I used a few years ago had one built in even though it lacked a webcam just like desktops had previously.  I wish more of us had the sophistication to know how to write something without it being possibly read letter for letter as it’s typed beyond using cursive in a windowless room in the dark etc. on paper on dirt you subsequently blend up or something like that (something that would work better).

I wish the fact that discussion about whether it is worth the cost of letting evil people have privacy in order to let good people have it as well is rather moot, unless those who are unwilling to pay that cost understand that they can move or change our rules and that is why they speak. The question has been called and decided. Sore loser’s break the law now for too long and we are all denied the benefits of privacy to our great peril.  No terrorist group could do the damage all the good nations of the world are doing to our planet, nor would want to, and we continue to do this largely because the kind of resistance that real privacy could of fostered has been absent.

To spare the planet losing a few continents to privacy would be good deal I say.  It is wrong to take the all or nothing approach in international relations, and very very wrong for our citizenry to expect the safety we enjoy to continue if we do not manage to remain worthy of and good as a nation.  Most people it seems have this attitude, that as long as they don’t know about the evil being done in there name then it is right for the to protect themselves from it’s consequence at all costs.  A soldier a citizen is not.  A citizen has the even greater right to accept accountability.  To atone.  For what we have done as a nation any historian would say our suffering is incommensurate to our wrong doing so far.  Our ‘brand’ would be redeemed if our computers came with a guarantee that the person buying them had every aspect of there design in there best interest- in the straight forward way.  It takes a nation to make a personal computer trustworthy. Our nation argues this in fact about importing technological infrastructure.  It seems that obtaining trustworthy word processing tools is beyond our knowledge at this time.  If you happen to own a trs-80 or something that’s been in your continous possession and you have taken photo’s of it with a large format camera that you have an optical system to compare and always carry those ‘negatives’ on your person.. then you can install a switch to turn off the monitor and type if you have that ability to control the word perfect or whatever your using without seeing the screen.

Of course if you have time you can buy a pc for cash, type on it without ever connecting it to the internet, and then read off it’s lcd to anotehr medium for hand carrying etc.

A few wealthy people could put out a tool so much better then this though.  Computer scientists should be able to figure out a way for us to buy machines we can trust widely, affordably, and without additional delay. The failure of our media to bring this problem to wider attention so far has prevented this from happening yet.  The world can prosper with privacy more then ever because it’s never enjoyed it before.  I share your belief that we wanted to try it, and still can, it may not be too late, and is certainly what we’ve been missing all this time.  We should be closer to it though, not further away then perhaps ever.  Nobody can afford to have no enemies, but we make enemies from being too evil ourselves, and we can, we should, be forced to be less evil from fear of not surviving ourselves if we don’t, as privacy may someday be here, and on that day if we have not made amends we won’t be for long beyond that.  Such is the dream of justice.

What would happen if the government learned to read our minds?

They’d get this done by selling us mobile devices to track where we are, what we say and what we buy.  Computers that hold this information would be government owned and access to this information would be for government only.  There would be no restrictions on content for these devices, but content would be addictive and the pathway to more addictive content would be built in.  Media content would be one endless commercial for government.

National government won’t get there, but corporate government has.  Corporate government has access to national government that is no longer restrained by law and never really was effectively restrained.

John Henry Bicycle Lucas

Sep. 6, 2013, 6:44 a.m.

Propublica is to be commended for both articles.

Six months ago, if items as these were discussed, you were labeled as conspiracy theory nut. All the same, many of these revelations had already been quietly disseminated into our news outlets, one crumb at a time. This way, it was hard to put all of it together.

Enter Snowden. He put a face on the whole whistleblower idea. He made it personal. In my mind, he did the right thing, and exposed a lot of what was going on wrong. Still is wrong. Snowden had no choice to go to another country and expose the NSA, since he would have been persecuted by the government here, right or wrong. Obama ain’t no Bill Clinton. Clinton made sure whistleblowers had some sembleance of protection under the law. Snowden exposed criminal wrongdoing.

The governments of the world do not like to have the wrongs they are doing drug out into the light.

Thank you for standing up to freedom and citizen oversight against a runaway surveillance state. The 4th estate in the US needs to be part of the solution, not an enabler of the powers-that-be.

Terrorists will benefit from your revelation, innocent peoples’ lives will be jeopardized, and you have decided for yourselves to profit from the disclosures.

Can we put away the “terrorist that uses GMail over the Verizon network” bogey man?  Terrorists organize over distributed networks where nobody knows more than a handful of other operatives, so that there is no central repository of knowledge to locate and break.

What kind of idiot lives their life that way, but communicates using a centralized system?

Heck, what terrorists have we seen that can afford a monthly Internet bill?

They’re spying on us.  Their reasons are irrelevant.  “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions,” as they say, and setting up a police state to protect us from potential enemies sounds about right.

This country and many others were founded because people were willing to risk their lives for freedom.  I knew people who died in the World Trade Center, but I’m willing to risk it happening every day, if it means my family doesn’t need to worry about saying the wrong thing or buying too much fertilizer or too many pressure cookers.

Those of you who think that’s too much to ask might want to consider moving someplace where the government explicitly controls everything for the sake of the people.  I hear Syria is lovely, this time of year, for example, and the people there must be perfectly safe, with all the power Assad wields.

Bob Youngstown

Sep. 6, 2013, 10:37 a.m.

How has Propublica corroborated the documents that Greenwald has provided?

I don’t expect the editors/reporters to reveal their sources, but can you tell me that the documents have been authenticated by reliable and independant sources?

Marion Baldwin

Sep. 6, 2013, 11:37 a.m.

I wish you and The Guardian et. al. would publish the names of the corporations who are busy selling us ‘secure’ products with one had, then handing out backdoor keys with the other. At least we can then choose whether or not to use their product, or own their stock.

Seems like there’s a class action lawsuit in here somewhere as well. Don’t we have laws governing commerce, specifically in the realm of gross misrepresentation of something we are being charged money for?

The comments added today delight me.  Marion’s initial and only so far though I can’t tell that the tone for of the bottom line which is the second sentence in the second and concluding paragraph, as it appears likely it is direct, sincere, and in that warmly oblivious to how only religiosity of a otherwise customer exploiting old voice landline provider, a diversity darling ....a learned hand conceived ....whose old bell’s clear sweet testimony now even if previously just once wrung heroically for us, can save enough of our ass’s again; in remembering and encoding it’s spirit for the next generation of provider’s.

They could of been still benefiting lucratively like Ford- the sole one left standing without having to explain putting there hand out, but there soul less competitor’s DID all get pardoned (against class action accountablity)  by congress, and there founder, beyond the court that was sufficiently enlightened perhaps because of treasonous pearls like Hollywood’s “The Phone Company”, broke up a monopoly that in retrospect for this author has cost us real connectivity now in swinging too far and freely for too many decades, as everyone is being hustled into time sharing wireless connections with no assured quality even in how well they work compared to tin cans and string.  We can and must try again however.

As is often still the case, our liberty requires words well drawn, a trip back to the board, that makes our “made of them” corporate servant incapable of coercion.  Google may or many not sell infrastructure to the upstart if it hurts them enough in getting our business because it’s structure assures safety.  Merely expressed Intent to do no evil is not enough.  The place must dissolve if required, just die so it’s not even ‘lawfully’ asked to be part of “our’s.”

This loophole must be closed.  Companies that can blame our Uncle for what they do to us need not be patronized.  We must ask those we HAVE to trust to show us there documents, and if it’s possible they could be part of something known predatory to us there customers, consequently find it impossible to maintain market share/business-as-usual.

It doesn’t take another act of Congress.  It only requires the details be spelled out. “If asked to fork over your private stuff we will instead resign our entire existence even if we are not allowed to explain why.”

No publicly traded corporation perhaps has ever been required to violate it’s charter that demands it must not survive if certain conditions do not continue to be met,and I have hope that this can be exploited by us to create the only thing we can trust, a corporation ENTIRELY _newly_ minted in GREAT detail to bridal our governments whim by having not just conscience, but a specified however Captain Kirkish bezerky ability to die before it betrays what really matters.  Everything now pandering to us is far too much over thirty(Months?), and “that’s the news” folks. We can’t live free without putting lawyers to work for us again big time- they have never been more worth the apparent crime of being so sublime to give them even more billing time; nothing may be more violent, but resistance, even calling on them, is most golden despite how bad the waging past the sewers of redemption might feel or stink us up to the depth of our bones.  This is that revolutionary right, to talk the walk, deny our dollars to our contemporary Hitler’s follower’s we must as there is no other real god for us to bust with.

Ask “what will you do if required to do evil?” before making a home on anyone’s page people!

Karl? What the hell is all that supposed to mean?

Karen Gardner

Sep. 6, 2013, 2:37 p.m.

I perhaps naively trusted my government to a certain degree; however, I now truly ‘get’ what Thomas Jefferson said, “When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty.”  I now fear my government.

This story is of historic importance in terms of what the free press should ideally do to fulfill its fundamental mission in protecting liberty and informing the people. The most fundamental part of the story is in the disussion on why to publish this information.

Liberty is the most lasting achievement of America and its guardians are few and with limited resources compared to the vast actors working to unravel it. Implications of these now officially known revelations should be seismic to perception and implementation of online privacy.

Thank you for this historically important article.

Without naming technologies or commercial software products that are compromised these articles are useless.
Please publish the leaked documents without ahy editorial.

Excellent watchdog journalism ProPublica, The Guardian and NYTimes.  Also extra praise for the transparency about your decision process—that’s what we need a lot more of in journalism today.

Daniel Anderson

Sep. 6, 2013, 7:15 p.m.

You do not need to explain why you published this.

Anyone who read it realized how important it is that this story be told.

This is good reporting.

Great story, good explanation of why you published it. According to the story itself, in the 1990s the NSA lost the fight for Clipper Chips. Rather than defer to the democratic process, such as it is, the NSA went ahead and created back doors anyway. I think the question that this story - among others - raises is whether the NSA is subject to any effective oversight whatsoever. I suspect Edward Snowden is sharing his documents because he believes there is no oversight to speak of. So kudos to your journalists and also to your primary source.

This piece, contradictorily and without success, attempts to justify the very serious industrial scale and indiscriminate criminal theft of highly classified material by bolting on a hastily thought up righteous moral message that fails to bear even basic scrutiny.
This enterprise is either starkly naive or amounts to a calculated attempt to undermine, and compromise, the functionality of our security services - dangerous treachery. Your stated, and miscontextualisd,  wartime example overlooks the inexorable fact that had Bletchley’s success against the German Enigma or Lorenz ciphers been disclosed then it is highly likely that today, a Swastika would be flying over the British parliament.
We aren’t just talking about the disclosure of one or two documents on a matter of public interest to stimulate debate, rather on GCHQ the theft of so much data that it would likely give any adversary a blueprint for how the agency covertly operates and put lives in danger, potentially for decades to come. And because Greenwald lacks any sort of security awareness this data has been so recklessly handled as to effectively hand it to the Russians and Chinese and any other hostile unvetted ‘mates’ with an interest in trawling it. In any cases could the Guardian or these traitors protect this info for decades? Of course not. We are now less safe and our future that bit more perilous because of a failed lawyer seeking a personal vehicle at the expense of human lives.
SIGINT techniques have evidently played a role in: disrupting the almost weekly seizures of bombs and weapons in Northern Ireland, numerous overseas driven terrorist plots that aimed to inflict mass casualties on the streets of the UK and turn our streets into a little war-zone, delayed Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons, apprehend mass shipments of drugs, protect innocent women and children from genocide in conflict zones, PROTECT OUR TROOPS ON THE BATTLEFIED, stopping the omnipotent Russian and Chinese intelligence services causing further mass unemployment by bankrupting our companies through the theft of IP, and on and on.  This , I’m sure, leaves the stretched work-force at places like GCHQ with little capacity to do much else, let alone keep on top. The Guardian had the chance to inform the authorities and protect the people of this country, they chose instead to put their own economic interests first.

This shameless milking for financial gain is non more evident than in the spin and misrepresentation of the data: it is patently clear from the material being disclosed that carte-blanche interception is not taking place – that still requires an individual warrant, signed by a minister, in each case;it would, in the UK, be impossible to place a line on intercept without such an instrument.  But that’s not a story is it? Where metadata is being ‘harvested’ the evidence presented, and legal frameworks make clear, it is so that specific events relating to specific terrorist (or other major threat) associated selectors can be identified and interrogated, with each search requiring authorisation: this is not the blanket trawling of everyone’s communications – and the Guardian knows this. Checks and balances that intelligence services in China, Russia and Brazil aren’t so bothered about, but that’s not worth reporting is it?

Why not write a story about the lethal, wholescale abuses and murders by the Russian intelligence Services and the absolute corruption of democracy by Putin’s intel-criminal autocracy? Because it doesn’t fit with your anti-western agenda?

Saw your performance tonight on Aljezzera network.  I’m not impressed!

Julian Assange

Sep. 6, 2013, 11:34 p.m.

“Pro Publica” claims to be “an independent, non-profit newsroom” that “shines a light on exploitation of the weak by the strong and on the failures of those with power to vindicate the trust placed in them”. Sounds very noble and high-minded indeed.

Well, I am afraid that their actions speak rather louder than their pretentious, self-aggrandising rhetoric. By colluding with the intelligence agencies to redact any meaningful details from this story that might enable the general public to identify which of the actual protocols, encryption schemes and tools used by them have been compromised, they reveal themselves to be willing tools of the authorities.

A real “Pro Publica” would have behaved in a very different manner. Perhaps it’s too much to expect real investigative journalism to come out of any organization that chooses to base itself in the territory of the “sole remaining superpower” on the planet!

John Henry Bicycle Lucas

Sep. 7, 2013, 1:01 a.m.

Julian, it is kind of disheartening to know that those in charge of the “sole remaining superpower” have access to ICBMs.

Did you get your mold spore problems taken care of?