Once Again, Will People Say That Reporters Revealing Details Of US Intelligence On Syria Be Called Criminals?

from the just-wondering dept

We've pointed out many times now how the old guard media seems to hate the new guard, in part because they're not getting their stories the "old fashioned way" -- which is buddying up to government officials and having them as "sources" where the reporter acts as an unofficial press officer for the government. Instead, when a Glenn Greenwald comes along, and gets information from Ed Snowden, he's accused of criminal acts. People keep insisting that Snowden's leaks revealed sources and methods, but so far they really haven't.

Yet, when more detailed leaks come directly from more obvious government sources, no one bats an eye. We pointed out how clear this was in the past with Barbara Starr, the CNN reporter that Greenwald has jokingly referred to as "the Pentagon spokesperson who works at CNN." She was among those who keep publishing reports from "inside sources" claiming that Snowden's leaks were incredibly damaging.

And yet, here is the very same Barbara Starr, reporting from an anonymous "U.S. official," details about what kinds of communications the US has intercepted by Syrian military leaders.
CNN has learned the United States has intercepts of conversations among top Syrian military officials discussing the chemical weapons attack after it took place last week, according to a U.S. official.

The intercepts form a key basis for the conclusion that the Syrian regime was behind the attack.
Right, so just as the US is pushing to intervene militarily in Syria, suddenly we get a "leak" revealing details of intelligence intercepts of Syrian leaders? Wouldn't you think that's the kind of thing that the government would most want to keep secret? But, of course, in this case, the hope is that this "leak" will help bolster the government's case for bombing Syria, so it's "okay." Yet, how come we don't hear the normal Snowden and Greenwald attackers calling for investigations into this "leak" and suggesting that Starr is a criminal?

Greg Mitchell has a succinct update of Richard Nixon's famous "if a President does it, it's not illegal" statement for the modern era. Apparently, "if a President leaks it, it's not illegal."

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2013 @ 10:24am

    Anything to justify another needless war. There's reason for the UN to be there, but not US (imo).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2013 @ 10:29am

    How do you know the leak was unauthorized?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    John Doe, 30 Aug 2013 @ 10:37am

    I don't believe anything the government tells me

    Why anyone at this point would believe anything the government has to say is beyond me. They lie and they lie about lying.

    On another note, where is the Democratic outcry about Bush, I mean Obama, getting us into another war? The wars and the deficit are the biggest things the Dems complained about under Bush and Obama has seen Bush's effort and doubled them and yet not one peep from the left? Hypocrite much?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    anonymouse, 30 Aug 2013 @ 10:37am


    The only ones believing the lies at this stage are those that are lying and need the lies to be accepted by the wider public so as that they can further whatever agenda they have.

    I doubt there is a radio intercept just as i doubt anything that comes form the US or Uk government when it comes to giving or finding reasons to go to war.

    And lets not discuss the reporter here, she is an obvious shill and any report she makes is obviously from the government, anyone with even a small sense of reality will ignore the legal leaks of Intel. This is one way to become an irrelevant reporter, print the lies the government tell and go down with the ship when the lies are so obvious nobody believes you or your integrity ever again.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    out_of_the_blue, 30 Aug 2013 @ 11:05am

    Pre-Iraq war: "Achmed, they're listening to us! Don't mention nerve agents!"

    "Yes, General! I will not mention nerve agents!"

    That's pretty near verbatim from Colin Powell's lies at the UN pretending it was a real intercept to justify attacking a country that had not and was not going to attack the US. Didn't pass the laugh test with me: you'd NEVER get anything so explicit and handy -- any more than you'd get a video of Osama Bin Laden bragging about planning the WTC attack -- those are clear fakes.

    And we're seeing the same pattern again: chemical weapons used on women and children (unknown by whom, but Assad was winning and isn't crazy), so we must begin bombing and incidentally murder hundreds or thousands MORE.

    By the way, speaking of Greenwald: this supports my notion of a limited hangout that actually just give excuses to increase the tyranny:

    David Miranda: police win wider powers to investigate seized data


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Zakida Paul (profile), 30 Aug 2013 @ 11:06am

    Not just criminals

    They will be labelled terrorists and treated as such.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 30 Aug 2013 @ 11:09am


    If it's authorized, it's not a leak.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    DCX2, 30 Aug 2013 @ 11:22am

    Re: I don't believe anything the government tells me

    The scary thing is that some people knew the Nigerian yellowcake letters were forgeries, they just didn't care.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2013 @ 11:24am

    "Two leaks good, four leaks bad."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    Carl "Bear" Bussjaeger (profile), 30 Aug 2013 @ 11:28am

    Re: How do you know the leak was unauthorized?

    Just a WAG: no official release from the the WH spokesidiot, an anonymous "US official", no official confirmation...

    True, there's really unauthorized (Snowden) versus "unauthorized" (conveniently timely unattributed propaganda -wink, wink, nudge, nudge-).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    DCX2, 30 Aug 2013 @ 11:38am


    Perhaps you have not yet heard of al-Nusra. They're one of many Syrian factions. But you may know who is aligned with al-Nusra - and that is al-Qaeda. I don't know about you, but I don't want my taxpayer dollars to go toward dropping bombs to help al-Qaeda take control of Syria.

    Some other interesting information. The gas attack happened exactly one year after Obama's red line speech. It happened a few days after UN weapons inspectors arrived, and very close to where they were staying. Assad either has gonads the size of pineapples, or the rebels launched a false flag.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2013 @ 11:42am

    CNN has the credibility. Of Those checkout lane gossip rags. So nobody listened, No Harm/No Foul.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2013 @ 11:46am


    I hope you're being sarcastic. CNN is the official pentagon-sanctioned propaganda machine for the comfortable educated middle class (what's left of it). If that passes for credibility, then we're fucked.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2013 @ 11:49am

    Re: Re:


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Jerrymiah, 30 Aug 2013 @ 12:05pm

    Once again, will people say

    To me is looks simple, the leak cama from Obama himself. He's been known to do that since he was first elected.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    Zangetsu (profile), 30 Aug 2013 @ 12:47pm

    New Ad Campaign

    Speaking of leaks I hear that Depends has a new ad campaign with General Keith B. Alexander, the Director of the National Security Agency. It's his picture with the slogan: "If only we had used Depends you wouldn't be seeing us now."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2013 @ 3:02pm

    maybe it should read 'if a president leaks, he gets just as wet as when someone else does'

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2013 @ 3:12pm

    The administration is now going to find what the price of telling lies to the public costs. Other than the water toters for the old guard, no one else is buying this.

    While congress is out of session already there are calls to bring it back just to ride herd on this next made up excuses for another military strike.

    The public isn't buying it either. NYT is running all the stuff the administration wants the public to believe but no where does it seem any one in the organization is asking serious questions about the why. It looks to be as if the NYT has been picked to be the mouthpiece to the public for what these officials want to leak. Crap even their comment section is loaded with public responses about why. Yet not a peep from the paper other than the official line.

    I find it mind boggling that all these whistle blowers are being claimed to be doing so much damage they need court and jail time yet no one went to jail over the Valery Plame affair, something far more damaging (and to be fair not part of this administrations faults) or that those such as Manning have went to jail while those he exposed are free to go about their daily lives. Official leakers have no problems with being hunted for letting out secrets.

    It tells me once again the public is the victim of the government and this administration trying to do the fancy two step with out a bit of truth to it. Anytime these sorts of information can come out yet things like the NSA keeping metadata is a high government classified secret, you know there are some serious problems with believability, credibility, and truth.

    As such I believe not one iota of this business with Syria being what this administration has made up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. icon
    Peter Gerdes (profile), 31 Aug 2013 @ 11:01am

    If the President Leaks it It's Not Illegal

    That is a totally reasonable rule since the president has the power to declassify anything he wants. (perhaps modulo some small areas about revealing identities of intelligence operatives and nuclear secrets protected by explicit statues but everything else is done by executive order).

    So the role played by allowing leaks authorized by presedential policy is not that it allows the executive to release information it otherwise couldn't. Rather, it is simply allowing the administration to make claims without having to make those claims official government positions.

    For instance, this allows the government to deal with situations like the U2 Gary Powers incident where everyone knows the cover story (meteorological observations) is a load of crap but for legal/diplomatic reasons it makes sense to officially stick with the cover story while still telling citizens what is really going on. Also, it allows the administration to make statements that might require long legal nitpicking if they were to be official statements and thus something that could be easily referenced in lawsuits etc.. Saying that we have electronic surveillance inside Syria could easily fall into the first category.

    The problems with classification muzzling dissenting voices all stems from the fact the president can pick and choose what to reveal while everyone else can be prosecuted for revealing what they think is appropriate. But leaks just cut down on paperwork here since this asymmetry would remain even if there were no executive leaks (they would just have to bother officially declassifying the info they wanted to reveal and nothing else and then examine the official statements more closely).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. icon
    Peter Gerdes (profile), 31 Aug 2013 @ 11:09am


    Umm, EVERYONE (even Syrian allies like Russia and the UN and every country in the world) agress chemical weapons were used.

    You only have two choices left now. Either Syria used them or the rebels used them. Do you really think it's more likely the rebels used them? Distributing chemical weapons is a tricky business and it appears a not-insubstantial amount was used and effectively distributed.

    I mean compare the effectiveness of this attack to the Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway and ask yourself (ignoring anything the admin has said) whether you really believe it is more likely some scavenged/brew at home chemical weapons or the product of a (relatively) well equipped professional military?

    Besides, on top of the question of ability there is the question of target. It is perfectly plausible that Syria (not believing there would be consequences) used poison gas against protestors. Hell, the historical precedent in Syria is that when you have protestors you destroy the cities they live in civilians be damned. But, while perhaps a non-absurd strategy in the abstract, the idea that the rebels used the gas on their own people just to cause international response seems much more unlikely.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. icon
    Peter Gerdes (profile), 31 Aug 2013 @ 11:18am

    Absurd Story

    Also if you go back and look Peter Kind is just a crazy outlier. No legal scholar or even substantial fraction of any political branch suggested that Greenwald should be prosecuted for merely receiving a leak of classified info. Whether or not he technically violated the law is another matter (the law is much broader here than anything that is ever pursued or even constitutional).

    Certainly no serious journalist and definitely not Starr thought Greenwald should be prosecuted.

    So why have a story asking why some journalist did (what you suggest) is legally equivalent when that journalist and all but a tiny minority agree that what Greenwald (actually) did shouldn't be prosecuted and is in the general tradition of investigative reporting?


    Besides that small percent of people who think Greenwald should be prosecuted can easily point to the obvious difference that Greenwald is publishing what amounts to a raw data dump (filtered by him) from a low level employee unaware of all the issues while Starr is reporting a fact that top admin officials have judged won't be harmful if known.

    Hell, even Peter King only suggested that Greenwald should be prosecuted for revealing sources and methods and Starr clearly didn't do that (because she didn't really reveal much at all).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2013 @ 5:12am

    Re: I don't believe anything the government tells me

    But Bush was a bad president and Obama is not a bad president. See the difference?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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