Edward Snowden is back in the news for his document cache, allegedly now in the hands of the Russians and Chinese.
Britain has pulled out agents from live operations in “hostile countries” after Russia and China cracked top-secret information contained in files leaked by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, the Sunday Times reported.
Security service MI6, which operates overseas and is tasked with defending British interests, has removed agents from certain countries, the newspaper said, citing unnamed officials at the office of British Prime Minister David Cameron, the Home Office (interior ministry) and security services.
Snowden downloaded more than 1.7 million secret files from security agencies in the United States and Britain in 2013, and leaked details about mass surveillance of phone and internet communications.
The United States wants Snowden to stand trial after he leaked classified documents, fled the country and was eventually granted asylum in Moscow in 2013.
He went to Russia via Hong Kong, and although he claimed in 2013 that the encrypted files remained secure, Britain believed both Russia and China had cracked documents which contain details that could allow British and American spies to be identified, the newspaper said, citing officials.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Snowden had done a huge amount of damage to the West’s ability to protect its citizens.
Team Greenwald calls bullshit on the allegations.
Aside from the serious retraction-worthy fabrications on which this article depends – more on those in a minute – the entire report is a self-negating joke. It reads like a parody I might quickly whip up in order to illustrate the core sickness of western journalism.
Unless he cooked an extra-juicy steak, how does Snowden “have blood on his hands” if there is “no evidence of anyone being harmed?” As one observer put it last night in describing the government instructions these Sunday Times journalists appear to have obeyed: “There’s no evidence anyone’s been harmed but we’d like the phrase ‘blood on his hands’ somewhere in the piece.”
The whole article does literally nothing other than quote anonymous British officials. It gives voice to banal but inflammatory accusations that are made about every whistleblower from Daniel Ellsberg to Chelsea Manning. It offers zero evidence or confirmation for any of its claims. The “journalists” who wrote it neither questioned any of the official assertions nor even quoted anyone who denies them. It’s pure stenography of the worst kind: some government officials whispered these inflammatory claims in our ears and told us to print them, but not reveal who they are, and we’re obeying. Breaking!
The truth I suspect is somewhere in the middle. Of course Greenwald will deny everything vehemently and his permanent, self-serving outrage mode is grating as hell (and no, the NSA is not reading every single e-mail in America), but Britain has a surveillance regime that makes the Patriot Act look like child’s play, and they’re not above actually using the scare tactics Greenwald is accusing them of using this time.
Where that truth is, well, I don’t know. Neither side benefits from telling it, it seems.
Hash it out below.