Home / journalism / Journalamism 102 – Handling sensitive documents to protect your sources & your organization’s reputation

Journalamism 102 – Handling sensitive documents to protect your sources & your organization’s reputation

Comments
/
/
/
934 Views

The Intercept gets an F-.

Today, The Intercept released documents on election tampering from an NSA leaker. Later, the arrest warrant request for an NSA contractor named “Reality Winner” was published, showing how they tracked her down because she had printed out the documents and sent them to The Intercept. The document posted by the Intercept isn’t the original PDF file, but a PDF containing the pictures of the printed version that was then later scanned in.

The problem is that most new printers print nearly invisibly yellow dots that track down exactly when and where documents, any document, is printed. Because the NSA logs all printing jobs on its printers, it can use this to match up precisely who printed the document.

In this post, I show how.

Apparently no one at the Intercept thought Hey, let’s make sure we handle these classified documents with extreme care because our source could go to jail. Instead it seems they decided to provide a definitive answer to the question Is The Intercept a virtual rag run by hacks that poses a danger to itself and others?

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • Q.E.Dumbass

    If the Intercept’s latest fuckup is an F-, then what would the Journalismism equivalent of Quadruple F-Minus be? The collective oeuvres of Cillizza, CNN & Shafer?

    Also, OT: what in the actual fuck TNR

    • Brien Jackson

      Well at least Tracey is being honest in saying that acknowledging Russia’s malicious acts around the world makes it harder for anti-American leftists to sell the idea of American retrenchment from the world.

    • I’m surprised he’s out of the hospital already, after the severe beating he took from Maxine Waters.

    • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

      I love how he thinks the party that just won the popular vote by 3M votes should engage in cleansing self-recrimination and course correction.

      Although The New New Republic publishes many fine writers*, it also has a weakness for the “true leftists rooool, DNC neoliberulz drool” perspective – Alex Shephard, Clio Chang, Sarah Jones, etc. and now Tracey.

      * (eg Jeet Heer, Josephine Livingstone, Lovia Gyarkye (sp?), Brian Beutler, and some dude named Lemieux.)

      • postmodulator

        Although The New New Republic publishes many fine writers*, it also has a weakness for the “true leftists rooool, DNC neoliberulz drool” perspective…

        Which is more than a little irritating from the outlet that endorsed Joe Lieberman in 2004.

        • CP

          Obligatory opinion from me that at the end of the day, the Sandersites and Liebermanites have far more traits in common than not.

          • MPAVictoria

            Yes wanting good things and wanting bad things are very much the same.

          • Nepos

            Makes sense, considering that neither of them are Democrats.

      • Murc

        I love how he thinks the party that just won the popular vote by 3M votes should engage in cleansing self-recrimination and course correction.

        The idea isn’t nuts in isolation. The popular vote means nothing in terms of actually winning except inasmuch as it can be used to make people perceive Trump as illegitimate and to maybe be an issue that drives change.

        We didn’t win in the system we’re provided, and when that happens self-reflection and course correction are necessary even if the fix was in, because you have to figure out how to deal with the fix and you also do have to analyze exactly what went wrong that was under your control.

        The problem comes from the fact that Tracey himself has a poor track record of engaging in productive self-reflection of that sort, and that he doesn’t actually want to change the Democratic Party, he wants to destroy it.

        I want to like guys like Tracey, I really do. Their policy preferences and to a large extent their politics are absolutely mine. And there’s nothing wrong with writing strategy or advocacy pieces from a standpoint of “people further to our right and/or people who reject leftism are setting the terms of the debate in ways that aren’t helpful to our cause in the medium and long term, what can we do to counter this and them and increase our own influence?”

        But it seems like his entire plan is for the center-left and those who are liberals but not leftists to just… go away at some point. This is, shall we say, unrealistic.

        • Rob in CT

          The idea isn’t nuts in isolation. The popular vote means nothing in terms of actually winning except inasmuch as it can be used to make people perceive Trump as illegitimate and to maybe be an issue that drives change.

          We didn’t win in the system we’re provided, and when that happens self-reflection and course correction are necessary even if the fix was in, because you have to figure out how to deal with the fix and you also do have to analyze exactly what went wrong that was under your control.

          Yeah. Further to this, the situation we’re in isn’t just about the 2016 election. It’s also about the 2014 and 2010 elections. And lots of other local elections.

          The system is designed to over-privilege rural areas and we’ve been getting our asses kicked in rural areas.

          But it seems like his entire plan is for the center-left and those who are liberals but not leftists to just… go away at some point. This is, shall we say, unrealistic.

          Well, not if the entire center-right and hard-right also vanish realize their false consciousness and join the people’s revolution!

        • Justin Runia

          It’s maddening because dropping the ‘idpol’ is itself a kind of centrism, but white dudes are too deep in their own navels to recognize that. So you get super clever doods like Slothrop2 pulling the “these women are men in disguise” gambit, which works precisely as well as Cornel West trying to call Obama an Oreo. Which is to say, Obama may not have been black enough for West, but he was more than black enough for most of America.

        • Aexia

          Tracey’s ideal progressive is Ron Paul. Once you remember that, everything else falls into place.

      • I’m probably the only one that likes the New New Republic better than the Old New Republic. Maybe because they at least have non-white writers. ;-P

        • Linnaeus

          No, you’re not. The New New Republic has its flaws, but I agree with you that it’s better than the previous New Republic regime (which I didn’t expect, to be honest).

        • q-tip

          It’s much better now than at any other time I ever read it (on and off through the late 80s and early 90s). I do miss Rick Hertzberg; he seems semi-retired from the New Yorker now, too.

      • humanoid.panda

        “I love how he thinks the party that just won the popular vote by 3M votes should engage in cleansing self-recrimination and course correction.

        If you think that the party that lost both Houses, the presidency, and a shit-ton of state positions in 8 years doesn’t need an accounting of what went wrong, you are deluding yourself.

        • Murc

          To be fair, Panda That Walks Like A Man, the Republicans absolutely did not engage in such an accounting in 2008, when they were the party that had lost both Houses, the presidency, and a shit-ton of state positions in eight years.

          Didn’t hurt them none with regard to taking back power.

          Now, we should engage in self-reflection and an accounting because we’re the reality-based community… but there’s a very real chance one of the answers is simply “being the in-party is actually very harmful, and also folk democracy is a terrible, terrible lie.”

          • sibusisodan

            To be fairer than fair, the Republicans did engage in such an accounting, and then proceeded to ignore the crap out of it.

            • so-in-so

              True, but going full-on racist isn’t an option for the Democrats. Real reflection and accounting is reasonable. Bro-ish “how can we make sure Hillary never runs again” is useless wanking.

          • ploeg

            I’m with the self-reflection thing myself. But then again, one large part of the program might be to make the case that, for those of you who want change, maybe the most effective way to get that change is to leave in the folks who know what they are doing, and not replace them with a bunch of stage 3 syphilites?

          • RonC

            The Republicans did in fact change. They became more economically Randian and more socially reactionary and in so doing they won most of what was out there. They were of course helped by a Democratic party that decided that the way to win the hearts and minds of the American voter was to become more technocratic.

            • Redwood Rhiadra

              Except of course that the Democratic party has become MORE PROGRESSIVE, not more technocratic. On issues both social and economic, the Democratic party has been moving steadily to the left since 2000.

              But that’s never enough for the fucking socialist assholes like you, I guess.

        • kped

          How much of that is “messaging” vs being the party in power (and being the party in power for the majority of a horrible economic crash that devastated lives worse than anything since the great depression). While that recession may have started under Bush, it really occurred during Obama’s term.

          Not to say self reflection isn’t good or smart, but a lot of these problems aren’t going to be fixed by “being more leftist” or some other inane critique. Frankly, I’m not sure what a real viable solution is to increased polarization, which is kind of scary.

        • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

          No, what I believe is that “tear out the Democratic Party root and branch, incinerate it, piss on its ashes, and salt the Earth when you’re done” is strategically sub-optimal. Also, don’t pick a fight with Maxine Waters, ever.

      • MPAVictoria

        “* (eg Jeet Heer, Josephine Livingstone, Lovia Gyarkye (sp?), Brian Beutler, and some dude named Lemieux.)”

        Do you even read Jeet Heer? Cause he is incredibly critical, and rightly so, of “centrist” democrats.

        • Murc

          Do you even read Jeet Heer? Cause he is incredibly critical, and rightly so, of “centrist” democrats.

          Why would you assume that this is something the esteemed Doctor James would have a problem with?

          • MPAVictoria

            ““true leftists rooool, DNC neoliberulz drool””

            That comment right there.

            • Murc

              The comment expressing his distaste for the sort of leftists who bring nothing better to the debate than a demand liberals stop existing and also apologize for being liberals and also fuck off?

        • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

          Yes, but I don’t mind criticism from the left when it’s thoughtful and brings up points I haven’t already considered (I’ve actually moved to the left on most issues as a result). Chang, Jones, Shepherd etc just seem to have an outsized axe to grind with HRC, DNC, Podesta, Neera Tanden etc. The Perez Ellison kerfuffle was the nadir.

          • sibusisodan

            > Perez Ellison kerfuffle

            Band name!

    • rea

      This is different than producing bad work like Cillizza, Tracey, et al. This is not knowing what you are doing, and destroying the life of your confidential source. The Intercept is not unfamiliar with dealing with confidential sources. If it’s going to burn them through incompetence or malice, what is the point of the Intercept existing?

      • liberalrob

        Did you know about the NSA’s little yellow dots? I sure didn’t.

        • Nepos

          Not specifically that, no, but I sure as hell would have assumed that the freakin’ NSA could do some pretty impressive backtracing, if given a copy of the original documents.

          Seriously, this is the NSA! This shit is their bread and butter. Giving them a copy of the actual document is so incredibly stupid that I almost think it had to be deliberate.

        • Aexia

          Microdot printing has been around for 10-15 years. Just about every color printer does it.

        • were-witch

          They’re not “the NSA’s” — literally all printers manufactured in the last decade or so have unique codifying marks.

          And yes, literally everyone who has any comptency whatsoever with handling secure documents is well aware of this.

        • addicted44

          It’s been around for a LONG time. And it’s something the EFF has been talking around for more than a decade.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Printer_steganography

          If you’re in the secret preserving business and did not know that printouts can be traced you need remedial courses immediately.

        • Aaron Morrow
  • Rusty SpikeFist

    Love how all the Obama-worshippers who would seize any dumb argument to rationalize Obama’s unprecedented crackdown on whistleblowers, are now suddenly all about protecting innocent people of integrity from persecution. Little late for that now.

    http://time.com/4638617/chelsea-manning-commutation-obama-whistleblower-legacy/

    • Brien Jackson

      What’s “any argument?” Manning isn’t a whistleblower by any reasonable definition, the vast majority of the information she leaked either had no merit as public info OR was highly sensitive info that legitimately endangered people like anti-authoritarian activists in the Putinshere, and considering the behavior of Assange leaking huge collections of material to him rather than an actual journalistic enterprise is, at the very least, quite fucking close to outright espionage by any measure.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        Hmm…. Putinsphere? Putin Shire? I like Putin Shire.

      • liberalrob

        Manning isn’t a whistleblower by any reasonable definition

        Crimeny. By your “definition” almost nobody’s a whistleblower. Revealing the “Collateral Murder” video was absolutely whistleblowing. Revealing the inner workings of the State Department and the Afghan War Logs was also whistleblowing, as in “here is the shit that is going on in your name.” Whether you think it “has no merit as public info OR was highly sensitive info that legitimately endangered people” has fuck-all to do with whether it was blowing the whistle on what was really going on. I will also note that that is the standard argument by the Republicans for why Manning should be in jail (or worse) and Snowden and Assange should join her. Nice company you keep there.

        You should go back and read this again and then maybe you might reconsider whether Manning can “reasonably” be considered a whistleblower.

        ETA: None of this should be construed as support for Rusty Doofus up there.

        • burnspbesq

          BTW, Manning is out, having served the requisite time for the crimes to which she admitted.

          You wanna have a tickertape parade to celebrate her service to America, knock yourself out. I support appropriate recognition of her service. Although my personal choice would be to leave her alone at let her get on with her life. It’s her choice whether to be in the public eye, and whatever that choice is, we should all respect it.

        • Aexia

          If Manning had stuck to the video tape, she could be considered a whistle blower.

          As it was, she grabbed thousands of documents and handed them off to people to put them out unredacted into the wild for the lulz.

        • Pete

          Jim Wright at Stonekettle Station published a piece on Chelsea Manning that I find very convincing. He’s not a huge fan.

          Was looking for the link, but his blog has no search feature i could find…

    • Jhoosier

      What are you on about?

    • timb

      Your truth-to-power is amazing, friend. The clamor on this site to find the leaker and then prosecute her as much as possible was deafening. Even now, I know most front pages still think Obama should have executed her.

      Good job on calling everyone out

      • Brien Jackson

        I mean….even I said the the condition’s of Manning’s imprisonment required a commutation of her sentence.

      • rhino

        I can’t think of any front pagers here who support the death penalty…

        • timb

          Did you really miss the sarcasm?

    • tsam

      I love Rusty ShitFest and his off topic rants.

      • Aaron Morrow

        He’s on-topic if he assumes that The Intercept is a pawn of Putin, and intentionally burned their source for Trump.

        (I’m on Team Incompetent, myself.)

        • so-in-so

          They are Incompetent either way – if they were fully on Team Putin they’d have burned the source and NOT published the article.

          • tsam

            Oh I’m leaning competence gap too. I’m half guessing the downplaying might have something to do with potential legal problems for the reporters or the Intercept themselves, though it appears that they did do some of the requested redacting.

        • Donna Gratehouse

          Same. And I also think Winner chose The Intercept because she’s a 25 year old with left wing views and probably likes them a lot.

    • trollhattan

      Suppose I’m an “Obama-worshipper” given he’s the best president of my lifetime. This leaves you the opportunity to continue worshipping St. Ronaldus of the House of Reagan. In the meantime, rusty fist up your own cloaca, as Lee Atwater suggests.

    • addicted44

      Once again we completely ignore that Obama pardoned Manning.

      • SIWOTI

        Except Obama didn’t pardon Manning.
        Obama commuted Manning’s sentence, allowing her to be released early.
        Different creature entirely.

  • Meanwhile, Trump’s administration leaks like a sieve.

    • so-in-so

      Starting with the leaker-in-chief.

  • Murc

    That was a really good article right up to the wince-inducing “violation of the 3rd Amendment” final line.

    I mean. I know that’s a nitpick and that the meat of the post was purely technical in an entirely fact-based way. But man, it sure does make me side-eye this guys legal and political analytical abilities.

    • timb

      I read that as a joke, since the author does not believe the printing add-ons are illegal. Everyone who makes fun of the knee kerk if-I-don’t-like-it-it-is-unconstitional view of the law uses the 3rd Amendment.

      Maybe others read that seriously?

      • Murc

        The poster doubles down in the comments tho?

        • Jhoosier

          Where was that? Honestly asking, since I went through the comments to see if I could find something posted in comments by the author.

          • Murc

            Actually, that’s just straight up my being wrong and not reading, sorry.

      • rea

        It’s a joke, based on a claim that putting software on your printer is like quartering soldiers in your house.

        It might almost be amusing, except, of course, it was the government’s printer.

    • Gwen

      I honestly am not sure if this was intended as a joke or not. I definitely read it as a creative interpretation of the third amendment.

      I mean, Fifth Amendment (takings/self-incrimination) would probably be a less ridiculous argument and it’s still kind of ridiculous.

      (If only because there is actual case law on the fifth amendment).

    • jam

      The author probably doesn’t have any relevant legal knowledge, but at least they kept that separate from the technological and technical analysis.

  • twbb

    I’m not an investigative journalist or a counterespionage expert, and my professional IT experience is almost 20 years old at this point, but even I know that you should obsessively sanitize what you get, preferrably by just retyping it, but at least by rescanning it, cropping it, and erasing white space just to be safe.

    But does anyone know the dynamics of how the Intercept works? Because the story was written by 4 non-Greenwalds, and Greenwald and fellow editor Scahill have been trying to undermine the story on twitter.

    • But does anyone know the dynamics of how the Intercept works? Because the story was written by 4 non-Greenwalds, and Greenwald and fellow editor Scahill have been trying to undermine the story on twitter.

      From the About

      Today, The Intercept is an award-winning news organization that covers national security, politics, civil liberties, the environment, international affairs, technology, criminal justice, the media, and more.

      So, it’s fair to assume it maintains editorial control over what gets published under its banner and that means the editor(s) have some responsibility for what gets published. Unless they’re claiming the four reporters wrote and published a story without anyone’s knowledge.

      As for why two editors are publicly disputing an article their organization published but not taking the article down – which is what I’d expect from an “award winning news organization” – I think the answer is Even higher levels of incompetence than previously guessed.

      • Brien Jackson

        They aren’t so much “disputing” it as they’re downplaying the importance of the report…while maintaining the leaked document required publishing.

        • Ha ha haha ha.

          Christ, these people.

          • humanoid.panda

            I feel icky for having to defend Greenwald, but some contexualization of this story is in order: this is an important document, but it doesn’t show Russia interfering with voter tallies..

            • If The Intercept’s editors believe the article is suspect they should post a notice at the top of the article to that effect.

              Letting it sit top of screen on the website and grousing about it on Twitter makes no sense.

              • Shantanu Saha

                Unless they’re doing it solely (or soullessly) for the clicks.

            • kped

              I agree with what you say here, but as editors, they can maybe have control in how the story is written to make that more clear. This just looks sloppy, or like they are undermining their story.

            • Brien Jackson

              That was Scahill. Greenwald basically said you shouldn’t believe the NSA report.

      • twbb

        I don’t buy the About, though, because the stance on Russia changes dramatically depending on who the author is, and has done so for the past year. So I suspect that it’s either more like Salon.com where they seem to intentionally get differently-viewed (sort of) writers to write “newspinion” pieces, or the editor-in-chief is starting to sour on Greenwaldian pro-Russia spin.

      • efgoldman

        why two editors are publicly disputing an article their organization published but not taking the article down – which is what I’d expect from an “award winning news organization”

        Since the leaker has already been arrested and is being charged, a little late for that. Just a tad.

    • kped

      I’m guessing they are in a panic over there. No stories/blog posts today at all so far.

    • redbike

      I’m a bit late to this party, but it’s worth recalling that Edward Snowden first attempted to communicate securely with Greenwald. When Greenwald showed he lacked the technical competence to operate a light switch, Snowden then sought out Laura Poitras. I’m cautious about painting The Intercept as a whole with the paint brush that’s applicable to Greenwald, but it’s the simplest answer and it may be appropriate.

      Some news entities have taken steps to offer their sources some security; others, (apparently including The Intercept) not so much.

  • It sounds like the Intercept burned her, but it also sounds like Winner didn’t do herself any favors. From WaPo:

    An internal audit showed that six people had printed out the top-secret materials after they were published at the beginning of the month. One of them was Winner, who worked for Pluribus International at a facility in Georgia, the affidavit says.

    Investigators said they searched Winner’s work computer and found that she had emailed the news outlet in March from a personal account. In her message, they said, she appeared to ask for transcripts of a podcast. In response, the news outlet “confirmed Winner’s subscription to the service,” according to the affidavit.

    The review of Winner’s computer history also showed that on May 9 she searched the agency’s classified system using search terms that led her to the report, the affidavit says. That day, it says, she printed the document.

    • Brien Jackson

      Between accounts like this and the DOJ summation that she basically admitted to everything right away, it sure sounds like Winner almost wanted to get caught.

      • gmack

        I don’t have any thoughts on whether she wanted to get caught.

        However, in addition to the stuff that the Knight of Nothing just cited, there are other factors that would make the Intercept’s behavior a bit less egregious. My understanding is that she mailed a copy of the document anonymously to the Intercept. So they had no idea what this document really was or who sent it to them. Under those conditions, I’m not sure what precisely they did wrong. Obviously, they needed to try to verify the document, and altering it would seem to be a bad strategy if the goal is verification.

        • sibusisodan

          It doesn’t seem like rocket surgery to separate the information contained in the document from the document itself when asking for verification.

          • so-in-so

            OCR has been a thing for quite a while. Anybody with a scanner can do, and feed the results to Word or pdf.

          • gmack

            Put yourself in the position of the journalist. You’ve received a document in the mail that appears to be from the NSA. You have no idea who sent it to you or why. The first thing you’d likely do is show this document to the NSA and ask whether it is authentic, right? Yes, the document had features that would make it easy to determine who printed it. However, in addition to the fact that the way she acquired and printed the document would have gotten her caught regardless of The Intercept’s actions, I don’t see what obligation the reporter has to try to hide the identifying features of the document. It’s not like there was some prior agreement with the source. It seems to me under these circumstances that it is primarily the responsibility of the person sending the document to hide her identity.

            • sibusisodan

              My understanding of journalism from the outside is that a responsible journalist should go to very great lengths to protect the identity of a source – for much the same reasons the intelligence community does.

              The reporter has no obligation to this source. But any reporter wanting to remain a reporter, or to retain a useful source, would put some protections in place, I think.

              • gmack

                I’m not a journalist, nor do I know much at all about journalistic ethics. So I have to admit my total ignorance when it comes to the question of how one is supposed to handle anonymous documents one receives in the mail. I am willing to concede that perhaps the Intercept reporters were careless in the method they used to verify the document. In the current case, I still am having a difficult time working up huge amounts of outrage at their behavior, however. Partly that’s because the source would have been caught regardless of the Intercept’s behavior.

              • FMguru

                You also want to protect your sources because if your incompetence gets one of them burned like this, then why on earth would any future sources ever approach you?

                The Intercept did itself an enormous amount of lasting damage by bungling this so badly. If I’m the next Edward Snowden or Deep Throat, Glenn Greenwald’s little day care center would be just about the last place I’d take my bombshell revelations.

                • random

                  If you’re the next Ed Snowden, then you’re working for Russia in the first place and Greenwald is exactly the guy you’re going to go to.

                • This is one of the reasons I shifted from Intercept was malicious to Intercept was moronic.

                  If I’d ever sent it information or even spoken to its reporters off the record I’d be very concerned right now.

            • Brien Jackson

              I would think that before that you find someone who can advise you on how to prevent the NSA from identifying the leaker as you try to verify it.

              • Correct.

                It’s also important to note that reporters don’t have to follow up on every lead, hint, rumor they receive, if only so they can get some sleep.

            • jam

              I don’t see what obligation the reporter has to try to hide the identifying features of the document

              Their obligation there is to appear competent to potential future sources, and they fell far short of that.

              They also showed how false their own claims about themselves are:

              From https://theintercept.com/leak/:

              We’ve taken steps to make sure that people can leak to us as safely as possible. Our newsroom is staffed by reporters who have extensive experience working with whistleblowers, as well as some of the world’s foremost internet security specialists.

              Does hosting a pdf with identifying marks showing the date/time/printer serial number used to print the document sounds like they have “extensive experience” and taken advice from “some of the world’s foremost internet security specialists”?

        • Woodrowfan

          well, having the leaker arrested sure as hell verified it!

          • postmodulator

            Yeah, does anyone else think that we’ll eventually learn they rushed publication once they learned of the arrest?

        • Just_Dropping_By

          The theory that the Intercept deliberately burned her also makes very little sense since they published the document under circumstances that made the connection between the leak and her being arrested extremely clear. That means other people will be dramatically less likely to leak to them in the future, which seems counterproductive to functioning as a honeytrap for the Trump administration.

          • postmodulator

            Well, I don’t think they deliberate burned her either (any more), but this is a foolish argument. Anyone who can consider future consequences almost by definition won’t be a “honeytrap” for Trump in the first place.

          • Did I say “deliberate”? Did Shakezula?

            I think the old adage applies: “never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity.”

            • random

              Why not both?

        • Lasker

          Yeah, while I’m not ready to jump in and defend the intercept, I’m hesitant to rush to say they messed this up as well.

          I think much of this comes down to what the norms of verification are. Like, if you receive an anonymously mailed scanned document, to what extent should you assume that whoever sent it has already taken steps to cover their tracks?

          I also wonder about their government source they reached out to for verification. What are the norms for what journalists expect from someone in that role? Do they assume that they share the inquiry with higher ups, or is that unusual? Was this someone the intercept had reason to believe was friendly to them?

          It does seem irresponsible to me that the intercept willingly shared the location the docs were mailed from.

          It seems to me that if only 6 people printed the document and the leaker was known to have emailed the intercept, she was almost certainly going down eventually.

          • rea

            Was this someone the intercept had reason to believe was friendly to them?

            It was the NSA, which by history, isn’t all that friendly to the Intercept.

            Christ, it’s like asking Al Capone to confirm or deny a leak about the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

            • kped

              To be fair, they did follow some proper guidelines here, since this is secret information, they allowed the NSA to request things be redacted. They agreed to redact some, not others, but that seems like best practices.

            • Nepos

              More specifically, asking Al Capone if what his henchman Bob told you about the St. Valentine’s Massacre is true.

          • Lasker

            Barton Gellman had a convincing tweetstorm to the effect that the intercept failed badly – sharing the document in order to confirm is not the norm.

            And Rea, what I meant was, were they teaching out to a generic NSA person, or perhaps someone who they had worked with before, shared information with the intercept themselves, and who they therefore might not have expected to share their inquiry etc.

            It wouldn’t exonerate them for their carelessness but I do think it would be interesting to know whether they were caught out by a personal double cross, since that could potentially indicate government interest in discrediting them.

          • jam

            I’m hesitant to rush to say they messed this up as well.

            You and I and the entire world now knows the date, time, and printer serial number that she used to print the document. They fucked up.

      • twbb

        Who wants to bet Greenwald’s constant demand that the US not punish leakers will not extend to Winner?

        And then when called on it, he’ll make some mealy-mouthed agreement that she shouldn’t be punished, followed by endless screeds about how the Democrats did the same thing and something something McCarthyism?

      • Woodrowfan

        it may have been guilt and nervousness. I’ve had students do that. I say “well, there’s a problem with your paper/exam/quiz..” and BOOM, here comes the confession.

        • BiloSagdiyev

          To whistleblowing and treason?! Oh, you mean plagiarism and purchased term papers…

          • postmodulator

            So everyone’s saying her name is as if Thomas Pynchon was writing reality, but it sounds like she behaved more like a Dostoevsky character.

  • BiloSagdiyev

    As of this week, I’m starting to think along this lines:

    How Greenwald sees himself: As naked Viggo Mortensen in a steam sauna fending off a big gang of scary Chechens with scary flooring knives.

    How the world sees Greenwald: As Pee Wee Herman in a biker bar, yelling, “I’M TRYING TO USE THE PHONNNNNNNE!!!”

    (Really, up until about a year or two ago, he really was looking like Pee Wee. Age and/or weight have finally covered up the similarity.)

    • Gwen

      Thanks. Everytime I read the Intercept from now on, I’m gonna have to yell “TEQUILA!” in addition to drinking it.

  • twbb

    Speaking of crazy news, I am having a hard time processing this one:

    Breitbart Editor Fired After Anti-Muslim Tweets

    http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/breitbart-editor-fired-after-anti-muslim-tweets/ar-BBC9jIA?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=spartanntp

    It’s like I understand each of those words but not together.

    • FMguru

      Be sure and contribute to her GoFundMe to help cover her ongoing medical expenses now that she’s jobless.

    • jam

      It’s possible there was an internal political/editorial conflict and her overtly bigoted statements provided a convenient excuse. We know that Breitbart embraces bigotry, so their purported explanation doesn’t really fit.

      • twbb

        I was thinking that might be it, but it’s still strange. I mean, their READERS embrace bigotry so it’s kind of hard to see where they’re going.

        By the way, I really wish the MSM would pay a lot more attention to Robert and Rebecca Mercer, who bankroll a lot of the alt-right shadiness.

        Robert especially seems to not like press attention, but I don’t think you should be allowed to subvert democracy and not get cameras and microphones shoved in your face.

        • jam

          Their readers have loyalty to The Movement, not to a particular editor or journalist. Their readers will fall in line behind the publishers at Breitbart.

          The readers embrace bigotry, but not overtly. A few will make a stink about the management firing her, but The Movement declared her an Unperson and very few will disagree.

          • Pete

            That sounds right to me, although I’m also a bit surprised.

            McHugh’s tweets were remarkably ignorant and xenophobic, even for Breitbart. She uses an air horn instead of a dog whistle.

            If the place wants to appear at all respectable — which it now appears they do — they can’t keep her onboard.

    • wengler

      I said nothing wrong. As President Donald Trump says, if we don’t get smart, it will only get worse.

      A real winner there.

      • Q.E.Dumbass

        Don’t you mean…a REALITY WINNER?!??!??!!!??!!

  • EvanHarper

    It’s not clear to me whether the Intercept did in fact screw up here, but in any case, it’s not how the person was caught. She printed the docs at work and emailed The Intercept from her workplace.

    A better reason to hiss and laugh at Glenn would be to go check his Twitter where he’s been implicitly throwing shade on his own organization’s big scoop because it conflicts with the “Russia is just a lame excuse for the failures of the odious, obsessed Washington Establishment Dems!” narrative.

    • jam

      The Intercept fucked up. Thanks to material they published, we know:

      The document leaked by the Intercept was from a printer with model number 54, serial number 29535218. The document was printed on May 9, 2017 at 6:20.

      There’s no way to say that’s not an operational fuckup.

    • Aexia

      She emailed about a podcast transcript in March. It wasn’t about the leaks.

      If she had lawyered up instead of confessing, there’d probably only be a circumstantial case against her.

      Instead, the Intercept doomed her no matter what she did.

      • vic rattlehead

        Just generally, without taking a position on The Intercept’s conduct-
        This is a common source of confusion. People get convicted based on circumstantial evidence all the time.

        • Pete

          Yep. Being one of just a few people with access who had printed a copy, plus having contacted the Intercept in the past — she’d still be sitting right where she is sitting now, although it may have taken a bit longer.

  • Mike G

    Let me just say that stuttering gif pic is damn annoying.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      You are not alone. I’m not even sure what that motion adds to the comedy. Maybe it was that quick a shot in the original show, but out of context, ow mah branez.

  • yenwoda

    Just read The Intercept’s statement. As weaselly as it gets, casting extremely vague aspersions on the government’s federal court filings without actually denying any of the several operational fuckups detailed therein. And of course Greenwald jumps right on the weasel train suggesting that anyone who takes the filings seriously is being an authoritarian stooge.

    It’s not as if The Intercept and Greenwald are third-party observers here. “The Reporter” in the filings works for The Intercept! If they have something to set straight in the record, they should do it or shut up.

It is main inner container footer text