It's been somewhat incredible to watch government officials try to claim that reporters covering the NSA revelations from Ed Snowden's leaked documents are somehow "traitors." Last week, in the UK, the head of MI5, Andrew Parker, made a fool of himself going around telling other newspapers that The Guardian had somehow helped terrorists. However, as Amy Davidson at the New Yorker reminds us, when the government suddenly starts calling journalists "traitors," it pays to be skeptical, because it's most likely that the government is just very embarrassed about some news that makes them look bad.
Davidson relays the story of "the Spiegel Affair" from 1962, in which German officials went completely insane in attacking Der Spiegel for supposedly "putting lives at risk" by revealing 41 "highly classified state secrets." Officials also claimed that the publisher and the reporter were fleeing the country and needed to be stopped and arrested. The publication's offices had to be raided. Of course, it all later turned out to be almost entirely bogus. The report was certainly embarrassing to German officials -- highlighting how ill-prepared the country was in the case of an attack, because a simulation had resulted in fifteen million West Germans dead. Many of the official claims were outright lies (like the publisher skipping town to Cuba, which never happened). While that doesn't mean that reporters can't sometimes reveal too much, it's a good reminder that when the government flips its lid in situations like this, it pays to take the claims with a very large grain of salt.
The key paragraph from Davidson makes the point clear:
The professional secret-keepers are phenomenally bad at distinguishing between the threat of terror and their terror at being threatened—or worse, as with Strauss, at being humiliated. They need the press not just to shake them up but also to keep them from being destabilized by their own weaknesses and vanities.
We've discussed at length the overclassification problem in the government, and this is all a symptom of that. The government likes to overclassify things that may embarrass government officials -- and thus they tend to overreact when those things eventually come out. This is, in part, because of the embarrassing information, but also because of the attempt to cover up the embarrassment, which only makes the whole thing worse.
Either way, this historical example is good to remember as we continue to see government officials make fanciful claims without any evidence to support them about how much the Chelsea Manning or Ed Snowden leaks have "harmed" our safety.
If you dig through a Techdirt search on augmentation, you'll return links for our ongoing Daily Dirt pieces and some interesting stuff about augmented reality. That kind of thing is all well and good, but fans of cyberpunk thrill-rides like me have something different in mind for ourselves when it comes to augments. We want the good stuff. You know, implanted HUD vision, mechanical servos in our leg joints that will make us jump like LeBron, maybe a gun-arm or two so we can savagely disperse justice on unsuspecting bad guys. Unfortunately, very little in the way of improvement in these fields has occurred.
Oops. See, part of the reason that Sarif Industries' cybernetic implants are still in their infancy is that the company doesn't exist. Sarif Industries is a fictitious company from a cyberpunk video game, Deus Ex, set in a future Detroit. As Kotaku notes:
Granted, the folks behind The Sun don't really care that much about nonsense like "accuracy" or "making sure the news they report isn't actually from a video game." And yes, perhaps eyeball implants will indeed be common in 50 years. But they probably won't come from Sarif Industries.
Thank science for all the fact-checking our brick and mortar newspapers do. On the other hand, seriously, how much fact-checking is required to determine that no biomedical company producing what would be a ground-breaking achievement in augmentation exists in Detroit? I recognize that the Sun has a bit of a reputation for skipping out on pesky little things like "facts" in its reporting, but rewriting video games as fact seems to take things to a different level.
Back in May, we wrote about Aaron Swartz's final project, done in collaboration with Wired's Kevin Poulsen, to create a very secure platform to allow whistleblowers to anonymously submit documents to the press. At the time it was called DeadDrop, and the initial media partner was The New Yorker, which set up its version as Strongbox. It's unclear if anyone's actually used Strongbox, but obviously since that launch there's been renewed attention concerning leakers and whistleblowers, and ways to leak information safely.
Today it was announced that the Freedom of the Press Foundation, an offshoot of the EFF which we've covered before, has taken over the project, now dubbed SecureDrop. Besides having the support of the Foundation to help with development and deployment of the platform, they've also announced that the system has gone through a significant security audit by some of the most respected names in the business, leading to a few additional improvements:
SecureDrop’s code has gone through a detailed security audit by a team of University of Washington researchers, led by Alexei Czeckis. Other authors of the audit include renowned security expert Bruce Schneier and Tor developer Jacob Appelbaum. Freedom of the Press Foundation has made a number of updates to SecureDrop based on these findings and will be making a significant investment in continually improving the system.
On top of that the Foundation has hired computer security expert James Dolan to maintain the code and to help install the system for media organizations. He helped do the original installation of StrongBox for the New Yorker. Hopefully a bunch of media organizations look into using this system, as it will help provide better ways to protect whistleblowers, especially in an age where they're under such constant attack from the government.
We've already discussed why it makes sense for journalists to make a reasonable determination about whether or not leaked intelligence documents are newsworthy, but apparently some journalists feel differently about their own judgment. Chris Blackhurst, who until recently was the editor of The Independent (and is now "group content director" -- whatever that means) has published an absolutely incredible article that's basically a total and complete abdication of his role as a journalist stating directly: "If MI5 warns that this is not in the public interest who am I to disbelieve them?"
As the title suggests, Blackhurst makes it quite clear that he believes the role of a journalist is to be a stenographer of the government, to simply amplify their position on things, rather than to hold them accountable:
If the security services insist something is contrary to the public interest, and might harm their operations, who am I (despite my grounding from Watergate onwards) to disbelieve them?
In August, this paper also received information from the Snowden files. We did not publish much of the information we were given because the Government, in the shape of a Defence Advisory Notice or "DA" notice, asked us to desist, in the interests of national security. Several times in my career, I've been served with a DA notice. On each occasion, I confess, I've not published. Does that make me a coward and an establishment lackey? Or responsible and sensible?
He later defends this by arguing that there's nothing that interesting in the Snowden leaks anyway.
First, try as I might, I cannot get that excited about it. With the Snowden leaks I find myself speculating – as I did with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks – as to whether I am getting too old and losing the plot as a journalist. But, as with WikiLeaks, will someone please put the boasts about size and volume on one side and tell me: where is the story?
If it's that the security services monitor emails and phone calls, and use internet searches to track down terrorists and would-be terrorists – including, I now read, something called the "dark net" – I cannot get wound up about it. At Kings Place, home of The Guardian, they will say my judgement is a mess. Never had any, they will probably sneer. Far too cosy to the powers-that-be, they might add.
In which case, guys, uncurl your lips and explain what it is, exactly, that the NSA and GCHQ, are doing that is so profoundly terrible? What justifies all the posturing we've been subjected to these past months? I watched The Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who obtained the Snowden scoop, on Newsnight the other evening and was nonplussed. I wanted him to say what the real scandal was that he had uncovered. But he did not.
Apparently collecting data on every phone call, as well as scooping up a ridiculous amount of everyone's communications data, despite previous claims of not doing that, isn't a concern to Blackhurst. He simply believes -- because the government tells him -- that they need this information to "stop terrorists." And yet, the evidence has shown that these efforts haven't actually done much to stop terrorists and that this information has been abused for a variety of reasons. Furthermore, it's not as if we need to reach very far back in history to find examples of governments abusing this kind of information to destroy people's lives -- including reporters. But, Blackhurst seems to think that if his buddies in the government say it's okay, it must be okay. Because.
I don't want my civil liberties infringed, and as a taxpayer I'd like to know as much as possible about what the Government and its agents are doing with my money. But I also want the security services to do their jobs properly, to make the world safer. I know they will make mistakes; I know that occasionally they will stray. I hope I'm not complacent. Others, doubtless, will disagree.
Again, this seems to be totally ignoring his role as a journalist to be the one to help people understand what the government is doing with his and their money -- and to make sure that the security services are actually doing their jobs properly and not abusing the system (which goes way beyond merely making "mistakes.") If this is the way The Independent views its journalism role these days, it really ought to change its title to "the Government's Mouthpiece" or something more appropriate.
Nick Davies at The Guardian has an interesting article challenging those (including some competing UK newspapers) who have been arguing that it's somehow inappropriate for journalists to make the decision about whether or not Snowden's leaked documents can be revealed without revealing sensitive information that puts lives in danger. We've seen similar claims elsewhere, including in our comments, where some insist that it's preposterous to think that anyone other than the intelligence community can know for certain whether or not the documents are sensitive. Davies, however, makes the strong case that the government has a long and sordid history of hiding behind these kinds of claims to disguise highly questionable activity -- and, instead, it's the power of the press that is necessary to keep them honest.
The official answer is that we should trust the security agencies themselves. Over the past 35 years, I've worked with a clutch of whistleblowers from those agencies, and they've all shared one underlying theme – that behind the screen of official secrecy, they had seen rules being bent and/or broken in a way which precisely suggested that the agencies should not be trusted. Cathy Massiter and Robin Robison, for example, described respectively MI5 and GCHQ pursuing politically motivated projects to spy on peace activists and trade unionists. Peter Wright told of MI5 illegally burgling its way across London "while pompous bowler-hatted civil servants in Whitehall pretended to look the other way". David Shayler exposed a plot both lawless and reckless by MI5 and MI6 to recruit al-Qaida supporters to assassinate Colonel Gaddafi.
All of this was known to their bosses. None of it should have been happening. But the agencies in whom we are invited to place our trust not only concealed it but without exception then attacked the whistleblowers who revealed it.
Davies also destroys the idea that politicians in charge of "oversight" can do an effective job:
Would we do better to trust the politicians who have oversight of the agencies? It's instructive to look back from our vantage point, post-Snowden, to consider what was happening only two years ago when the government attempted to introduce new legislation which came to be known as the snooper's charter. If the oversight politicians are as well-informed as they claim, they must have known that this was in part a cynical attempt to create retrospective legal cover for surveillance tools that were already secretly being used, but they said nothing. And when parliament refused to pass that law, clearly indicating that there was no democratic mandate for those tools, they still stayed silent.
Politicians fall easy victim to a political Stockholm syndrome which sees them abandon their role as representatives of the people in favour of becoming spokesmen for the spooks. It was there in the 1970s when the New Statesman bravely exposed security lapses and financial corruption in GCHQ, only to face a prosecution orchestrated by a Labour attorney general; there again with Jack Straw describing in his autobiography how MI5 had spied on him and his family since he was 15 but declaring that he was "neither surprised nor shocked – this was the world we lived in"; and there again, of course, in the foreign secretary William Hague's bland presumption that "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear" from the systems of mass surveillance exposed by Snowden.
These are all UK examples, of course. But we've seen the identical situation in the US as well. The over-classification problem in our government is well-documented and no one seems to want to fix it. Furthermore, stories of intelligence community abuses of power are well-known throughout US history. As for political oversight, the litany of stories we've had concerning Rep. Mike Rogers tells a different story altogether. He's supposedly in charge of oversight, but comes from an intelligence background and has shown, repeatedly that his focus is not on oversight, but on running cover to prevent real oversight of the intelligence community's actions.
Journalists may not be perfect, but they certainly have a much better track record than either governments or politicians in making these kinds of determinations.
We all know that companies will occasionally use social media in a way that just comes off as wrong, either intentionally or not. For instance, one pizzeria's friendly promotion for free pie is another feminist league's gross attempt to view women's breasts. The point is that in a world that is more connected than ever, in which social media attempts can go viral quickly for reasons good or bad, a corporation had damned well better get the message right or risk the consequences.
One would think that news organizations and their employees, already adept at writing headlines, would be proficient in this. One would not, however, always be right in that regard. Take the example of a Fox News employee, Joyce Evans, who tweeted the following to followers of the local Philadelphia station:
Thought "Breaking Bad" was hot last Sunday? @FOX29philly See who's breakin' bad in SW Philly leavin' 6 people SHOT - Tonite at Ten!
— Joyce Evans (@JoyceEvansFox29) October 7, 2013
Your reaction range ought to be somewhere between cringe and laugh, depending on how dark your sense of humor is. Teasing a story in which multiple people were shot using that kind of terminology is something you just don't do. At the very least, those involved in the story are going to be outraged. More likely, you're going to outrage a good portion of those not involved who don't think that conflating entertainment with the real-life harm of a multiple shooting is something news companies should be doing.
So, as you'd imagine, the properly chastised Evans issued a sincere apology. Just kidding, she doubled down on her ignorance.
Last tweet NOT AST ALL A JOKE. Very real life drama was the point as oppose to one that end on tv. That was my point
— Joyce Evans (@JoyceEvansFox29) October 7, 2013
Mmm, no. Your point was that the story was "hot" in the same entertaining way as a fictional show. And nobody is buying the BS, either. Welcome to social media, Joyce!
Over the past several months, the Obama Administration has defended the government's far-reaching data collection efforts, arguing that only criminals and terrorists need worry. The nation's leading internet and telecommunications companies have said they are committed to the sanctity of their customers' privacy.
I have some very personal reasons to doubt those assurances.
In 2004, my telephone records as well as those of another New York Times reporter and two reporters from the Washington Post, were obtained by federal agents assigned to investigate a leak of classified information. What happened next says a lot about what happens when the government's privacy protections collide with the day-to-day realities of global surveillance.
The story begins in 2003 when I wrote an article about the killing of two American teachers in West Papua, a remote region of Indonesia where Freeport-McMoRan operates one of the world's largest copper and gold mines. The Indonesian government and Freeport blamed the killings on a separatist group, the Free Papua Movement, which had been fighting a low-level guerrilla war for several decades.
I opened my article with this sentence: "Bush Administration officials have determined that Indonesian soldiers carried out a deadly ambush that killed two American teachers."
I also reported that two FBI agents had travelled to Indonesia to assist in the inquiry and quoted a "senior administration official" as saying there "was no question there was a military involvement.''
The story prompted a leak investigation. The FBI sought to obtain my phone records and those of Jane Perlez, the Times bureau chief in Indonesia and my wife. They also went after the records of the Washington Post reporters in Indonesia who had published the first reports about the Indonesian government's involvement in the killings.
As part of its investigation, the FBI asked for help from what is described in a subsequent government report as an "on-site communications service" provider. The report, by the Department of Justice's Inspector General, offers only the vaguest description of this key player, calling it "Company A.''
"We do not identify the specific companies because the identities of the specific providers who were under contract with the FBI for specific services are classified,'' the report explained.
Whoever they were, Company A had some impressive powers. Through some means – the report is silent on how – Company A obtained records of calls made on Indonesian cell phones and landlines by the Times and Post reporters. The records showed whom we called, when and for how long -- what has now become famous as "metadata."
Under DOJ rules, the FBI investigators were required to ask the Attorney General to approve a grand jury subpoena before requesting records of reporters' calls. But that's not what happened.
Instead, the bureau sent Company A what is known as an "exigent letter'' asking for the metadata.
A heavily redacted version of the DOJ report, released in 2010, noted that exigent letters are supposed to be used in extreme circumstances where there is no time to ask a judge to issue a subpoena. The report found nothing "exigent'' in an investigation of several three-year-old newspaper stories.
The need for an exigent letter suggests two things about Company A. First, that it was an American firm subject to American laws. Second, that it had come to possess my records through lawful means and needed legal justification to turn them over to the government.
The report disclosed that the agents' use of the exigent letter was choreographed by the company and the bureau. It said the FBI agent drafting the letter received "guidance" from "a Company A analyst.'' According to the report, lawyers for Company A and the bureau worked together to develop the approach.
Not surprisingly, "Company A" quickly responded to the letter it helped write. In fact, it was particularly generous, supplying the FBI with records covering a 22-month period, even though the bureau's investigation was limited to a seven-month period. Altogether, "Company A" gave the FBI metadata on 1,627 calls by me and the other reporters.
Only three calls were within the seven-month window of phone conversations investigators had decided to review.
It doesn't end there.
The DOJ report asserts that "the FBI made no investigative use of the reporters' telephone records." But I don't believe that is accurate.
In 2007, I heard rumblings that the leak investigation was focusing on a diplomat named Steve Mull, who was the deputy chief of mission in Indonesia at the time of the killings. I had known Mull when he was a political officer in Poland and I was posted there in the early 1990s. He is a person of great integrity and a dedicated public servant.
The DOJ asked to interview me. Of course, I would not agree to help law enforcement officials identify my anonymous sources. But I was troubled because I felt an honorable public servant had been forced to spend money on lawyers to fend off a charge that was untrue. After considerable internal debate, I decided to talk to the DOJ for the limited purpose of clearing Mull.
It was not a decision I could make unilaterally. The Times also had a stake in this. If I allowed myself to be interviewed, how could the Times say no the next time the government wanted to question a Times reporter about a leak?
The Times lawyer handling this was George Freeman, a journalist's lawyer, a man Times reporters liked having in their corner. George and the DOJ lawyers began to negotiate over my interview. Eventually, we agreed that I would speak on two conditions: one, that they could not ask me for the name of my source; and two, if they asked me if it was ‘X,' and I said no, they could not then start going through other names.
Freeman and I sat across a table from two DOJ lawyers. I'm a lawyer, and prided myself on being able to answer their questions with ease, never having to turn to Freeman for advice.
Until that is, one of the lawyers took a sheaf of papers that were just off to his right, and began asking me about phone calls I made to Mull. One call was for 19 minutes, the DOJ lawyer said, giving me the date and time. I asked for a break to consult with Freeman.
We came back, and answered questions about the phone calls. I said that I couldn't remember what these calls were about – it had been more than four years earlier – but that Mull had not given me any information about the killings. Per our agreement, the DOJ lawyers did not ask further questions about my sources, and the interview ended.
I didn't know how the DOJ had gotten my phone records, but assumed the Indonesian government had provided them. Then, about a year later, I received a letter from the FBI's general counsel, Valerie Caproni who wrote that my phone records had been taken from "certain databases" under the authority of an "exigent letter,'' (a term I had never heard).
Caproni sent similar letters to Perlez, to the Washington Post reporters, and to the executive editors of the Post and the Times, Leonard Downie and Bill Keller, respectively. In addition, FBI Director Robert Mueller called Downie and Keller, according to the report.
Caproni wrote that the records had not been seen by anyone other than the agent requesting them and that they had been expunged from all databases.
I'm uneasy because the DOJ report makes clear that the FBI is still concealing some aspect of this incident. After describing Caproni's letters, the report says: "However, the FBI did not disclose to the reporters or their editors that [BLACKED OUT]." The thick black lines obliterate what appear to be several sentences.
If you were to ask senior intelligence officials whether I should wonder about those deletions, they'd probably say no.
I'm not so sure.
The government learned extensive details about my personal and professional life. Most of those calls were about other stories I was writing. Some were undoubtedly to arrange my golf game with the Australian ambassador. Is he now under suspicion? The report says the data has been destroyed and that only two analysts ever looked at it.
But who is this 'Company A" that willingly cooperated with the government? Why was it working hand in glove with the FBI? And what did the FBI director not tell the editors of the Times and the Washington Post when he called them acknowledging the government had improperly obtained reporter's records?
For years, we've talked about the ridiculousness with which many old school journalists want to blame the internet (or, more specifically Google or Craigslist) for the troubles some in the industry have had lately. It is a ridiculous claim. Basically, newspapers have survived for years on a massive inefficiency in information. What newspapers did marginally well was bring together a local community of interest, take their attention, and then sell that attention. What many folks in the news business still can't come to terms with is the fact that there are tons of other communities of attention out there now, so they can't slide by on inefficiencies like they did in the past.
Either way, it's always nice to see some in the industry recognize that blaming the internet is a mistake. However, Chris Powell, the managing editor for the Journal Inquirer in Connecticut's choice of a different culprit doesn't seem much more on target. Powell, who it appears, actually does have a journalism job (I can't fathom how or why) published an opinion piece (found via Mark Hamilton and Mathew Ingram) that puts the blame squarely on... single mothers. Okay, not just any single mothers:
Indeed, newspapers still can sell themselves to traditional households -- two-parent families involved with their children, schools, churches, sports, civic groups, and such. But newspapers cannot sell themselves to households headed by single women who have several children by different fathers, survive on welfare stipends, can hardly speak or read English, move every few months to cheat their landlords, barely know what town they're living in, and couldn't afford a newspaper subscription even if they could read. And such households constitute a rising share of the population.
Indeed. I'm curious if Powell can point to the stat on the "rising share of the population" who check off all of the following boxes: Single woman? Check! Several children by different fathers? Check! Need my welfare check to survive? Check. Can hardly speak or read English (don't ask how I filled out this hypothetical census form)? Check! Move every few months to cheat my landlord? You betcha. Barely know what town I'm living in? Hell, I don't even know what state this is. Couldn't afford a newspaper subscription? What's a newspaper? Anyway, Powell seems to think he has the stats on this "rising" population. I'd like to see them.
This actually sounds a lot more like the Reagan-era myth, rather than an actual group of real people. But, you know, apparently Powell has to reach out and blame some mysterious "other" force, and this is what he latched onto.
Of course, then it gets even more crazy. As David Quigg quickly pointed out, on that very same page where Powell wrote the above paragraph, there's a giant "rules of conduct" image which appears to be directed at those evil, evil commenters, because clearly Powell didn't pay much attention to the list -- especially number four.
Many in the press still seem to have difficulty recognizing that a whistleblower, even one disliked by the government, isn't somehow an automatic pariah to society. Instead, they like to lump them in with actual law breakers. Here are two recent examples. First up is the Washingtonian, who seems to think that Ed Snowden and Chelsea Manning should be viewed in the same light as actual spies -- people who famously chose to sell secrets to our enemies or to help those enemies against the US. Lumping Manning and Snowden in with Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Benedict Arnold, Aldrich Ames, John Walker Lindh and others suggests a profound misunderstanding of what Snowden and Manning did: releasing evidence of significant wrongdoing by the US government to the press. You would think if anyone could understand it, it should be the press.
Still, I can understand how some confused people still want to argue that there's at least a continuum between some of those folks and Manning and Snowden -- even if I disagree wholeheartedly -- simply because of the releasing of classified information. I think it's very different to give that info to the press, which is then able to go through it and report on the stories (as both Snowden and Manning did) than giving it to a foreign power, but some people don't seem to get that distinction.
Yes, the argument they're making is that these are all examples of "missed signals in our government-clearance system." And we've certainly discussed how terrible the process is for getting top secret clearance these days. But, even so, lumping those four together is crazy. There's nothing about what Manning or Snowden did that should have set off alarm bells during the clearance process. They were people who loved America and then realized that the government was secretly doing things that they believed to be fundamentally anti-American, and they set out to try to fix that by alerting the public. That's pretty damn different than going someplace and shooting it up.
These are both subtle ways in which the press is trying to smear Snowden and Manning, by lumping them in with crimes of which they are not guilty.
Over at Cryptome today there's an absolutely incredible exchange between the Justice Department's Brian Fallon (from the Office of Public Affairs -- basically a PR guy) and Brad Heath, an investigative reporter from USA Today. Heath had sent the DOJ a FOIA request to the DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) asking basically whether or not the OPR had been involved in any investigation concerning the recently declassified FISA Court order, about how the NSA had misled the FISA court and abused its capabilities repeatedly. It certainly seems reasonable to try to find out if the DOJ then investigated those abuses and the NSA's misrepresentations to the FISA court.
The DOJ claimed that there were no responsive documents -- which even by itself is quite incredible. Heath appears to have then followed up with Fallon at the DOJ to seek comments. Fallon's response by itself is stunning:
I have an answer from OPR, and a FISC judge. I am not providing it to you because all you will do is seek to write around it because you are biased in favor of the idea that an inquiry should have been launched. So I will save what I have for another outlet after you publish.
Basically, this is the DOJ giving the middle finger to Heath, telling him that they have answers to his questions, but won't give them to him in order to purposely try to make him look bad by giving those quotes to someone else. Heath, quite reasonably, responded that he's been perfectly patient in waiting for an answer, but if none is forthcoming, he'll write the story as he has it (which, from the FOIA request, suggests that the DOJ did absolutely nothing about the NSA's abuses and misrepresentations to the FISC).
Fallon responds that he's "done negotiating" and claims that he "will work with someone else afterwards explaining why what you reported is off base." So, not only is the DOJ not answering the reporter, it's telling the reporter that the reporter has incorrect information but the DOJ refuses to correct the reporter in order to make the reporter look bad. Heath points out that he's not "negotiating" he's just asking for answers to basic questions. And then the real issue comes out in the DOJ's reply:
You are not actually open-minded to the idea of not writing the story. You are running it regardless. I have information that undercuts your premise, and would provide it if I thought you were able to be convinced that your story is off base. Instead, I think that to provide it to you would just allow you to cover your bases, and factor it into a story you still plan to write. So I prefer to hold onto the information and use it after the fact, with a different outlet that is more objective about whether an OPR inquiry was appropriate
Yeah. The DOJ is saying that it has answers to a reporter's questions, which it knows adds to the public debate about the DOJ's response to the NSA's activities, but because it's trying to stifle the report, it won't share the info with him. This is incredible. It's a clear move by the DOJ to try to silence the press with an effective threat: "if you agree not to publish your article, then we'll explain why we did what we did. If you do publish your article, we'll make you look foolish."
This is incredibly childish and unprofessional behavior by Fallon and the DOJ. Remember how this is supposed to be "the most transparent administration in history"? Apparently the DOJ thinks that only means "we'll be transparent if you only agree to write nice stuff about us." That's not how it works.
Heath points out that Fallon is wrong -- if Heath just wanted to publish the story he would have done so already, without waiting for a comment from the DOJ. And then he points out the obvious:
You can’t seriously ask me not to publish something on the basis of information you won’t share
Either way, this seems to highlight (once again) how the federal government, and especially the DOJ, views journalists these days -- especially investigative journalists. It will do anything possible to intimidate them into not publishing stories that might embarrass the administration. That's not transparency, it's thuggery and intimidation.