Leak shows desperate
need for federal shield law
Edward Snowden, who has been granted asylum in Russia, leaked vital information to The Washington Post.
AMAZON BILLIONAIRE Jeff Bezos must be a proud man today, laughing all the way to the bank.
His new acquisition, The Washington Post, broke a major story on how the National Security Agency is breaking the rules and violating the privacy of thousands of people – and all other major media are playing catch-up.
The leak of an internal audit by Edward Snowden that shows the NSA broke the law thousands of times is now prominently displayed on the web sites of The Post, The New York Times, BBC News and The Guardian … and thousands of other outlets.
Snowden has been granted temporary asylum in Russia, but his work continues to reverberate around the globe.
It is vitally important. We need to know what the government is doing for us and to us.
WHEN ALL MAJOR media outlets have the same item on prominent display on the same day, no one can escape how important it is.
The coverage in the Washington Post is comprehensive and includes graphs and charts showing just how bad the situation is.
In NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times per year, audit finds Barton Gellman writes:
The web site of The Washington Post with its huge scoop prominently displayed. Click image to enlarge.
“The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents.
“Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by statute and executive order.
“They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls.”
The rest of the story is gripping in its examination of the details. It is something we all need to know.
But The New York Times was not far behind (although in the National Edition, which I receive, it was buried on Page A14). Charlie Savage, reporting from Washington in N.S.A. Often Broke Rules on Privacy, Audit Shows took a very similar approach to Gellman.
“The National Security Agency,” he wrote, “violated privacy rules protecting the communications of Americans and others on domestic soil 2,776 times over a one-year period, according to an internal audit leaked by the former contractor Edward J. Snowden and made public on Thursday night.”
Later in the story he had the official government reaction:
“In a statement, the N.S.A. said its surveillance activities “are continually audited and overseen internally and externally.”
“When N.S.A. makes a mistake in carrying out its foreign intelligence mission, the agency reports the issue internally and to federal overseers — and aggressively gets to the bottom of it,” the statement said.”
The BBC, the media outlet with the biggest audience on the planet, is leading its web site with the same story, but BBC credits The Post in the second paragraph.
It’s headline was remarkably similar: Edward Snowden documents show NSA broke privacy rules
The NSA story is featured on the front page of the web site of The New York Times. Click image to enlarge.
“The US National Security Agency (NSA) broke privacy rules and overstepped its legal authority thousands of times in the past two years, according to documents leaked by Edward Snowden,” the story tells us.
“[T]he incidents resulted in the unauthorised electronic surveillance of US citizens, according to documents published by the Washington Post.
“Mr Snowden, a former NSA contractor, has leaked top secret documents to the US and British media.”
The leaks from Snowden now compare – or surpass – the importance of those government secrets leaked by Bradley Manning, who has been convicted on 20 charges relating to publication by WikiLeaks of thousands of classified documents.
Both Snowden and Manning have done the American public – and the world – a great service by revealing vital information that we need to know.
It is our right and duty to be informed about government abuse, and this clearly fits into that category.
President Obama has prosecuted more government whistleblowers than all other presidents combined, including Snowden and Manning.
If anything points out the desperate need for a federal shield law to protect anonymous sources like these two, todays developments do so in BIG BOLDFACE TYPE.
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