NPR Is Laundering CIA Talking Points to Make You Scared of NSA Reporting by By Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman.
From the post:
On August 1, NPR’s Morning Edition broadcast a story by NPR national security reporter Dina Temple-Raston touting explosive claims from what she called “a tech firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.” That firm, Recorded Future, worked together with “a cyber expert, Mario Vuksan, the CEO of ReversingLabs,” to produce a new report that purported to vindicate the repeated accusation from U.S. officials that “revelations from former NSA contract worker Edward Snowden harmed national security and allowed terrorists to develop their own countermeasures.”
The “big data firm,” reported NPR, says that it now “has tangible evidence” proving the government’s accusations. Temple-Raston’s four-minute, 12-second story devoted the first 3 minutes and 20 seconds to uncritically repeating the report’s key conclusion that ”just months after the Snowden documents were released, al-Qaeda dramatically changed the way its operatives interacted online” and, post-Snowden, “al-Qaeda didn’t just tinker at the edges of its seven-year-old encryption software; it overhauled it.” The only skepticism in the NPR report was relegated to 44 seconds at the end when she quoted security expert Bruce Schneier, who questioned the causal relationship between the Snowden disclosures and the new terrorist encryption programs, as well as the efficacy of the new encryption.
The day after that NPR report, I posted Hire Al-Qaeda Programmers, which pointed out the technical absurdity of the claims made in the NPR story. That three different organizations re-wrote security software within three to five months following the Snowden leaks. Contrary to all experience with software projects.
Greenwald follows the money to reveal that both Recorded Future and ReversingLabs are both deeply in the pockets of the CIA and exposes other issues and problems with both the Recorded Future “report” and the NPR story on the same.
We can debate why Dina Temple-Raston didn’t do a fuller investigation, express more skepticism, or ask sharper questions.
But the question that interests me is this one: Why report the story at all?
Just because Recorded Future, the CIA, or even the White House releases claims about Edward Snowden and national security isn’t a reason to repeat them. Even if they are repeated with critical analysis or following the money trail as did Greenwald.
Even superficial investigation would have revealed the only “tangible evidence” in the possession of Recorded Future is the paper on which it printed its own speculations. That should have been the end of the story.
If the story was broken by other outlets, then the NPR story is “XYZ taken in by a false story….”
Instead, we have NPR lending its credibility to a government and agencies who have virtually none at all. We are served “credible” disinformation because of its source, NPR.
The average listener isn’t going to remember the companies involved or most of the substance of the story. What they are going to remember is that they heard NPR report that Snowden’s leaks harmed national security.
Makes me wonder what other inadequately investigated stories NPR is broadcasting.
PS: You could say that Temple-Raston just “forgot” or overlooked the connections Greenwald reports. Or another reporter, confronted with a similar lie, may not know of the connections. How would you avoid a similar outcome in the future?