Posts tagged with ‘security state’

Google-NSA: A Relationship That Dares Not Speak Its Name →

Via Wired:

A federal appeals court on Friday upheld the National Security Agency’s decision to withhold from the public documents confirming or denying any relationship it has with Google concerning encryption and cybersecurity.

That’s despite the fact that Google itself admitted it turned to “U.S. authorities,” which obviously includes the NSA, after the search giant’s Chinese operation was deeply hacked. Former NSA chief Mike McConnell told the Washington Post that collaboration between the NSA and private companies like Google was “inevitable.”

The Electronic Privacy Information Center, invoking the Freedom of Information Act, had sought such documents following the January 2010 cyberattack on Google that targeted the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. The attack was among the considerations that prompted Google to consider abandoning China, and Google announced that it was “working with the relevant U.S. authorities.”

The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post followed up, saying Google had contacted the NSA following the attack.

EPIC sought documents seeking to know what type of collaboration there was between Google and the NSA and, among other things, records of communication between the NSA and Google concerning Google’s e-mail service Gmail.

In response, the NSA invoked a so-called “Glomar” response in which the agency neither confirmed nor denied the existence of records on the topic at all. EPIC sued and lost in the lower courts.

On appeal, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sided with the NSA’s conclusion that admitting the existence of relevant documents would harm national security. (.pdf)

Read More.

When President Obama addressed the American Society of News Editors convention last month, the real news was what didn’t happen. The watchdogs didn’t bark. No discouraging word from the gathering of 1,000 of the country’s top news people, facing a president whose administration has led a vigorous attack on journalism’s most indispensable asset — its sources.

Obama took office pledging tolerance and even support for whistleblowers, but instead is prosecuting them with a zeal that’s historically unprecedented. His Justice Department has conducted six prosecutions over leaks of classified information to reporters. Five involve the Espionage Act, a powerful law that had previously been used only four times since it was enacted in 1917 to prosecute spies…

…As Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ government secrecy project, put it: “The administration’s aggressive pursuit of leaks represents a challenge to the practice of national security reporting, which depends on the availability of unauthorized sources if it is to produce something more than ‘authorized’ news.”

What’s behind the administration’s fervor isn’t clear, but the news media have largely rolled over and yawned. A big reason is that prosecutors aren’t hassling reporters as they once did. Thanks to the post-9/11 explosion in government intercepts, electronic surveillance, and data capture of all imaginable kinds — the NSA is estimated to have intercepted 15-20 trillion communications in the past decade — the secrecy police have vast new ways to identify leakers.

So they no longer have to force journalists to expose confidential sources. As a national security representative told Lucy Dalglish, director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, “We’re not going to subpoena reporters in the future. We don’t need to. We know who you’re talking to.”

— Edward Wasserman, Miami Herald. Media silent when administration targets sources.