Glenn Greenwald: To be a modern journalist means that one understands and uses cryptography tools

December 29, 2013 | By | Reply More

To be a modern journalist means that one understands and cryptography tools. This is the modern price to pay in order to do any investigative journalism, and Greenwald made it clear that training up on these tools is a significant investment of time and energy. This is one of the themes of this talk by Glenn Greenwald, who indicates that all serious journalists now embrace tools such as TOR browser, PGP and OTR.

[Note the minute markings are from an audio recording that is no longer available – I’ve substituted a video of Greenwald’s talk that more recently became available].

He also indicates:

The NSA, the President and Congress will only pretend to reform the NSA. (6 min mark). There will not be “meaningful reform.”

It is “possible” that some courts might asserts some meaningful oversight. Other countries will put pressure on the U.S., and some large

Crytography tools such as TOR browser, PGP and OTR will be more often employed, and the battle for privacy will be fought on a technological battlefield. That’s why Keith Alexander dresses up in a “cool” way trying to recruit young hackers at hacker conferences. (8 min)

The power to further the power of the government to spy lies with programmers who develop internet/computer tools. (11 min).

Gives great credit to Laura Poitras (13 min) and Edward Snowden (14 min) for allowing him to do his job. He speaks of Snowden in terms of courage, bravery and inspiration. But all of them have been inspired by others, notably Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning). Also inspiring much of this work was Daniel Ellsberg (16 min). The organization that “pioneered the template” was Wikileaks, including Sarah Harrison, who rescued Edward Snowden from Hong Kong. (17 min). Barrett Brown and Aaron Swartz.

It is a long growing list of whistle blowers and transparency activists who are being disproportionately intimidated and punished, and this demonstrates how sick the system is. (Min 20). When these people have seen government abuses, it emboldens them to step forward to do what was right, and this is a sign of “serious activism.”

The U.S. government is completely committed to one outcome: putting Edward Snowden in a small cage, incommunicado. (23 min). The U.S. cannot allow Snowden to live any sort of decent life, because that might inspire others who might also be tempted to act against government abuses.

There are people who are willing to stand by and allow people of good conscience get crushed by corrupt governments. This includes many politicians who express indignation for spying on their own country, but fail to take steps to protect whistle-blowers who have exposed this wrong-doing. (min 26). The U.S. will make many of these countries (Germany and Brazil, for example), pay a price, but they should pay that price. Edward Snowden certainly paid that price.

Greenwald knew that the some of his biggest adversaries would be the so-called news media, who constitute the most loyal and devoted servants of governments who are abusing the privacy of their citizens. (min 28). He decided that he would need to be “very disruptive” of the status quo regarding the media. These leaks did not occur with the assistance of the media, but despite the media. (min 29). Greenwald recounts a BBC interview from last month where he commented that government officials routinely lie. The interviewer interrupted Greenwald and was incredulous that U.S. and British officials were routinely making false statements. (30 min). This is common behavior for “media stars,” who consider it immoral to seriously question government officials. This, despite clear proof that James Clapper lied to Congress. Keith Alexander clearly lied that the NSA couldn’t give numbers involving the number of those affected by the NSA program, “Boundless Informant.” Many reports have now shown that the NSA is commonly spying on private corporations. (32 min). This is “serial lying,” yet the media acts scandalized when you suggest that they have an adversarial role. (34). There are “very brave” journalists out there who heaped criticism upon those whistle-blowers who the U.S. government has scandalized and marginalized. (35 min). They argue that these whistle-blowers have “broke the law and should now pay the penalty.” But when the NSA lies to Congress, as James Clapper has done, you hear only silence. (35 min).

The media has decided that its job is to serve the government. That is why Greenwald is part of a new journalistic enterprise, which takes on a clear adversarial role.

There is one over-arching point to all of the recent revelations: The goal of the NSA and its five-eyes partners is to eliminate privacy globally, to ensure that there cannot be any human communications that evade their surveillance net. They want to be sure that all forms of communication by telephone or internet are “collected, monitored, stored and analyzed by that agency, and by their allies. This is a ubiquitous surveillance state. You don’t need hyperbole to make that point.” All of this has been proven with the documents released by Edward Snowden. “The NSA and the GCHQ are being driven crazy by the idea that you can go on an airplane and use certain cell phone devices and internet services and be away from their prying eyes for a few hours at a time.” (min 39). They aren’t targeting particular people; rather they are targeting everyone, at all times.

This goal collides with the need to express dissent without fear. (40 min). “A surveillance state by its necessity, by its very existence, breathes conformity. because whenever people know that they are always susceptible to being watched, even though they are not always being watched, the choices that they make are far more constrained, far more limited than when they could act in the private realm. The “elimination of privacy” is at the top of the list for the NSA.


Category: Orwellian, Secrecy, Spying, Whistle-blowers

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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