House Intel Committee Releases Fact-Free Fearmongering About Impact Of Snowden Revelations

from the the-smearing-of-ed-snowden,-brought-to-you-by-mike-rogers dept

House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Mike Rogers and his Democractic counterpart Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger published a press release today touting a classified Defense Department report alleging that Edward Snowden’s leaks—and by proxy, stories published by news organizations—threaten national security and “are likely to have lethal consequences for our troops in the field.”

Before going any further, let’s remember what the Washington Post reported last month about Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper:

Clapper has said repeatedly in public that the leaks did great damage, but in private he has taken a more nuanced stance. A review of early damage assessments in previous espionage cases, he said in one closed-door briefing this fall, found that dire forecasts of harm were seldom borne out.

Now go back and read the press release closely. No specific examples are given, and you will notice virtually every sentence includes the word “could”—meaning real damage hasn’t actually occurred, they are just saying it potentially could happen. And of course, the actual report is secret, so the two Congressmen are able to say whatever they wish about it, and it can’t be independently verified. (Rep. Mike Rogers also has a long history of not telling the truth.)

We’ve seen this same scene over and over again in the past decade, and the results are always the same: the government serially exaggerates damage to national security in an attempt to make sure newsworthy stories are not published or to villify whistleblowers.

When WikiLeaks started publishing State Department cables in 2010, the administration was claiming in the media that WikiLeaks would have “blood on its hands.” But then it turned out, as Reuters reported, in private the government believed only “that a mass leak of diplomatic cables caused only limited damage” and that “the administration felt compelled to say publicly that the revelations had seriously damaged American interests in order to bolster legal efforts to shut down the WikiLeaks website and bring charges against the leakers.”

The Bush White House said the same thing—”you will have blood on your hands”—to New York Times editors before they published their original NSA warrantless wiretapping stories in 2005 and 2006. Bush’s Attorney General later threatened to prosecute the New York Times under the Espionage Act. Similar statements were made about Dana Priest’s investigation of CIA secret prisons for the Washington Post. The damage of course never materialized, and the both Priest and the New York Times reporters went on to win the Pulitzer Prize.

This is a tried and true tactic used by the US government made famous by Richard Nixon. Back in 1971, the Nixon administration told the US Supreme Court that if the New York Times continued to publish the Pentagon Papers it would result in “grave and immediate damage to the United States.” The man who made those arguments, Solicitor General Erwin Griswold, later wrote in the Washington Post, “I have never seen any trace of a threat to the national security from the publication.” He called on the public to be skeptical of “national security” claims made using secrecy.

New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson probably said it best when she flatly stated last year, “No story about details of government secrets has come near to demonstrably hurting the national security in decades and decades.”

Virtually any time newspapers print something the government doesn’t like, they will claim it hurts national security without providing any details or proof. This is standard operating procedure for them, and news organizations should not be scared to push back on such claims, without direct evidence to the contrary.

Republished from the Freedom of the Press Foundation

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Comments on “House Intel Committee Releases Fact-Free Fearmongering About Impact Of Snowden Revelations”

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out_of_the_blue says:

Oh, Trevor! Through the magic of copy-paste, you're back again already!

Moocher Mike loves free filler.

Apparently one-liners are effective here.

Oh, and PIRATE FANBOY KIDS, ’cause apparently those mere words upset the pirate fanboy kids too.

If you like yapping ankle-biters, you’ll love Techdirt!


RD says:

Re: Oh, Trevor! Through the magic of copy-paste, you're back again already!

Yeah, um, this article has FUCK ALL to do with piracy, so be a good little shitbag and go suck your paymasters off or something.
also, by posting ALL THE TIME on here with your incessant twisting of every article into an attack on Mike,


Anonymous Coward says:

considering what was reported yesterday about how the head of the NSA at the time, Rogers, had turned down a multi million dollar project that would have gleaned certain information that would have been valuable to the USA, in favor of a multi billion dollar program made by a contractor (i dont suppose he got any back hander out of it, no way!), he is bound to try to shout the loudest, to avert suspicion. if what else was in that report about the info gained prior to this project about what a certain terrorist group was planning but held that information without passing it on, is also true, he could be the one individual responsible for the deaths of thousands in the 9/11 attack! again, no wonder he is shouting the loudest and doing as much as possible to get the blame for what he did, didn’t do and damage he caused at the feet of someone else! it’s a typical tactic of a guilty coward!! he used/uses his position and the power that comes with that position to screw as many as possible for whatever possible as long as it keeps him in the clear. and dont forget the others involved are exactly the same!!

Anonymous Coward says:

The good old “national security” banner. Anyone who drapes this banner around themselves, is immune to common sense, rationality, facts, logic, and from being exposed to the light of day.

If anyone questions the wearer of the “national security” banner, they will be branded as a terrorist sympathizer who should be hung from a “tall oak tree”, for questioning the “national security” banner wearer.

The “national security” banner allows for absolute power and secrecy over all laws, including Constitutional Law, because following the law would put the “national security” of this country at risk to “terrorism”.

Even though more people die in car crashes and from cancer each year, than they do from terrorist attacks. It’s more important to fight “terrorism”, because it has “terror” in it’s name. Therefore, that makes “terrorism” more scary than a car crash or watching your loved one die of cancer.

Personally, I’d argue Misrep. Rogers is a cancer to this great nation.

De-anonymized Coward says:

Re: Re:

I dont disagree but…

If their currency is “secrets” then how to avoid these Custodians Of Secrets (NSA, FBI, other US agencies) over-hoarding each gov’t secret until such a time as they the government decide to part with it?

Closer to home, if we cant trust that NSA higher-ups (internal procedures) properly pre-assess & understand the post-leak impact of unveiling 1 secret on all other secrets, then I suppose we’re also supposed to have even lower trust in the local whistleblower (NSA lower levels, ex employees) as the individuals deciding –beyond formal procedures– to declassify any single government secret, or batch thereof.

So who do we trust to properly classifying “secrets” as needing to remain secret? Meaning: If not government higher-ups, then whom.

This particularly interests me as a non-american, as the government of mine is no doubt perpetually and by design (for better or worse) kept in the dark as to at least a sizable subset of US gov’t (NSA) secrets. Even those that are literally a matter of life and death, for US allies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Seriously? A press release about a classified report? That is just sad.

All those leaks have done is expose corruption. Every fact about the matter paints Snowden as a hero.
Which is why the government-friendly media is serving up press releases that by definition cannot possibly contain any facts. Because every fact is classified. Not because they’re dangerous, but because they’re embarrassing.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Easy explanation

Virtually any time newspapers print something the government doesn?t like, they will claim it hurts national security without providing any details or proof. This is standard operating procedure for them, and news organizations should not be scared to push back on such claims, without direct evidence to the contrary.

The reason for this is that to many politicians, they don’t see themselves working for the nation, as members of the government, rather they believe that they(and by extension the government) are the nation, which means anything that threatens their jobs, reputations, or ‘future employment opportunities’ is something they consider a ‘national security’ issue.

Anonymous Coward says:

Based on assumptions made by the National Insecurity Agency and its supporters , I think it’s time for reporters to ask the question , What actual damages have been done ,and what damages are expected in the foreseeable future .. a hard line approach is the only cure for the truth .. bluntly asking will do 2 things make them come up with something that can be refuted ,or show some actual proof of damages.

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