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Snowden, Greenwald and the Third Man

by Bjinse Wed Aug 14th, 2013 at 10:00:33 AM EST

Or, specifically, a woman: Laura Poitras.


Picture
: Olaf Blecker for The New York Times

Every Batman needs a Robin, every Holmes a Watson, and every Watson has a Crick, every Woodward has a Bernstein. Appealing stories of superheroes or heroic super-stories, the formula of timely partnerships seems to apply in both.

This engrossing portrayal of Laura Poitras in the New York Times tells how the news story of this year, and quite possibly of much longer, was not just the work by prolific journalist Glenn Greenwald. But what's more, the portrayal is also underlining the encroachment of the shadow government of the USA. And finally, the story provides a strong testimony of the virtues of advocacy journalism.

Below the fold I lift out a few noteworthy snippets that I found particularly outrageous or revealing.

[Update] 14:20 CET: Minor edits and additions to the original text.


While the story is engrossing all by itself, it really picks up when Poitras herself becomes a person of interest for the Department of Justice, a result from her documenting the war in Iraq as an embedded journalist and documentary filmmaker (for which she was Oscar-nominated).

Attempting to tell the story of the war’s effect on Iraqi citizens made Poitras the target of serious — and apparently false — accusations. On Nov. 19, 2004, Iraqi troops, supported by American forces, raided a mosque in the doctor’s neighborhood of Adhamiya, killing several people inside. The next day, the neighborhood erupted in violence. Poitras was with the doctor’s family, and occasionally they would go to the roof of the home to get a sense of what was going on. On one of those rooftop visits, she was seen by soldiers from an Oregon National Guard battalion. Shortly after, a group of insurgents launched an attack that killed one of the Americans. Some soldiers speculated that Poitras was on the roof because she had advance notice of the attack and wanted to film it. Their battalion commander, Lt. Col. Daniel Hendrickson, retired, told me last month that he filed a report about her to brigade headquarters.

There is no evidence to support this claim. Fighting occurred throughout the neighborhood that day, so it would have been difficult for any journalist to not be near the site of an attack. The soldiers who made the allegation told me that they have no evidence to prove it. Hendrickson told me his brigade headquarters never got back to him.

As probably is well known by now, spying programmes, presented as 'security measures', took a flight in the wake of 9/11 under the Bush administrations, the most notable example being the Patriot Act. Over a decade later, these programmes have become a sinister tool to track any of the government's undesirables, including activists, or journalists and filmmakers who are performing their roles to scrutinize the powerful. This was already highlighted earlier this year by the revelation the Obama government was tapping phones from reporters at The Associated Press. AP speculates the tapping was a direct result from an earlier revelation, scooped by AP, that the CIA thwarted a terrorist action of an underwear bomb, linked to Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's most wanted bombmaker.

I leave discussing the role of secret agencies in targeting terrorist practices abroad as is. I do want to highlight the encroachment on ordinary citizens, citizens whom governments are meant to protect, underlined by the case of Poitras:

She was detained for the first time at Newark International Airport before boarding a flight to Israel, where she was showing her film. On her return flight, she was held for two hours before being allowed to re-enter the country. The next month, she traveled to Bosnia to show the film at a festival there. When she flew out of Sarajevo and landed in Vienna, she was paged on the airport loudspeaker and told to go to a security desk; from there she was led to a van and driven to another part of the airport, then taken into a room where luggage was examined.

“They took my bags and checked them,” Poitras said. “They asked me what I was doing, and I said I was showing a movie in Sarajevo about the Iraq war. And then I sort of befriended the security guy. I asked what was going on. He said: ‘You’re flagged. You have a threat score that is off the Richter scale. You are at 400 out of 400.’ I said, ‘Is this a scoring system that works throughout all of Europe, or is this an American scoring system?’ He said. ‘No, this is your government that has this and has told us to stop you.’ ”

After 9/11, the U.S. government began compiling a terrorist watch list that was at one point estimated to contain nearly a million names. There are at least two subsidiary lists that relate to air travel. The no-fly list contains the names of tens of thousands of people who are not allowed to fly into or out of the country. The selectee list, which is larger than the no-fly list, subjects people to extra airport inspections and questioning. These lists have been criticized by civil rights groups for being too broad and arbitrary and for violating the rights of Americans who are on them.

As a result, one wonders to what extent our own European agencies have adopted flag lists.

In an aside, a recent story in a Dutch newspaper shows that Turkey monitors foreign journalists, and flags them when they get too critical. I also know of a journalist working in Bulgaria who claimed to be monitored and once received a warning from the Dutch embassy to lay off. This may not be too surprising, considering, yet Bulgaria is an EU nation.

What follows next for Poitras is an increasing compartmentalisation of her work method, which is both hair-raising as well as instructive. The article lists examples that show what has happened when people critically target the American secret services:

These precautions might seem paranoid — Poitras describes them as “pretty extreme” — but the people she has interviewed for her film were targets of the sort of surveillance and seizure that she fears. William Binney, a former top N.S.A. official who publicly accused the agency of illegal surveillance, was at home one morning in 2007 when F.B.I. agents burst in and aimed their weapons at his wife, his son and himself. Binney was, at the moment the agent entered his bathroom and pointed a gun at his head, naked in the shower. His computers, disks and personal records were confiscated and have not yet been returned. Binney has not been charged with any crime.

Jacob Appelbaum, a privacy activist who was a volunteer with WikiLeaks, has also been filmed by Poitras. The government issued a secret order to Twitter for access to Appelbaum’s account data, which became public when Twitter fought the order. Though the company was forced to hand over the data, it was allowed to tell Appelbaum. Google and a small I.S.P. that Appelbaum used were also served with secret orders and fought to alert him. Like Binney, Appelbaum has not been charged with any crime.

More shockingly, but in the end utterly unsurprising, comes the realisation that under Obama's presidency none of the spying and interrogation practices have been lifted or trimmed down. Rather, both Obama and Democrats readily extended the most controversial provisions of the Patriot Act in 2011. To add, it should be stressed again, that under Obama the juridical clampdown on leaks of classified information has been larger than any other USA administration. In this regard, Obama overtakes Bush Jr.

Finally, although not specifically underlined, the portrait of Poitras provides another noteworthy insight, more interesting from a journalist perspective: Snowden approached Greenwald first – but he ignored him as a source.

Poitras was not Snowden’s first choice as the person to whom he wanted to leak thousands of N.S.A. documents. In fact, a month before contacting her, he reached out to Greenwald, who had written extensively and critically about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the erosion of civil liberties in the wake of 9/11. Snowden anonymously sent him an e-mail saying he had documents he wanted to share, and followed that up with a step-by-step guide on how to encrypt communications, which Greenwald ignored. Snowden then sent a link to an encryption video, also to no avail.

“It’s really annoying and complicated, the encryption software,” Greenwald said as we sat on his porch during a tropical drizzle. “He kept harassing me, but at some point he just got frustrated, so he went to Laura.”

While this reads fairly non-judgemental, and Greenwald was already working at breakneck speed, I find it stupendous to learn that he'd blown off a knowledgeable source like that – which hints at a painful oversight in his professionalism. Of course, to err is human. Speaking from my limited personal experiences, I've already developed a decent dose of scepticism when being approached by an anonymous source with a spectacular sounding scoop. E-mail boxes of research journalists attract a fair deal of whacked worldviews in general. Last year, I drove deep into country tracking a spectacular claim someone was 'murdered' by the Fairtrade organisation. As I came to realise during the day, this only was a widow's interpretation of her husband collapsing of heart failure while he was struggling to set up his own cooperation of African farmers.

So I spent a day on what was ultimately a non-story – but consider if the claim had been ground in reality, the payoff could've been significant. Greenwald's dismissal of a step-by-step guide to encrypt communications is in my perspective a horrendous miss. It all turned out well for him, with much thanks to his platform – and thanks to the fact Greenwald is one of the world's best known advocacy/activist journalists.

After all, many news outlets shun open activist journalism these days, as a way to manage (formal) objectivity as a journalistic standard. But advocacy journalism has found a consistent (and successful) niche at smaller outlets. Greenwald worked previously for Salon before moving to the Guardian – but even there his work is positioned outside the main stream. It is an interesting choice, both of him and the Guardian.

Who knows, the reasons why Snowden picked Greenwald above any other outlet, may even awaken an increase of this partial branch of journalism. After all, advocacy journalism has been shown to be hugely successful before, but with a caveat: it has brought great stories with great effect, but has also ended with dead journalists.

Display:
How Laura Poitras Helped Snowden Spill His Secrets - NYTimes.com
Poitras and Greenwald are not facing any charges, at least not yet. They do not plan to stay away from America forever, but they have no immediate plans to return. One member of Congress has already likened what they've done to a form of treason, and they are well aware of the Obama administration's unprecedented pursuit of not just leakers but of journalists who receive the leaks. While I was with them, they talked about the possibility of returning. Greenwald said that the government would be unwise to arrest them, because of the bad publicity it would create. It also wouldn't stop the flow of information.

I have been struck, when discussing Snowden with American friends, by the fact that many approve what he has done, but think him a coward for not doing it in the USA.

Daniel Ellsberg disagrees

"Many people compare Edward Snowden to me unfavorably for leaving the country and seeking asylum, rather than facing trial as I did. I don't agree," Ellsberg writes. "The country I stayed in was a different America, a long time ago." Ellsberg added, "I hope Snowden's revelations will spark a movement to rescue our democracy, but he could not be part of that movement had he stayed here. There is zero chance that he would be allowed out on bail if he returned now and close to no chance that, had he not left the country, he would have been granted bail. Instead, he would be in a prison cell like Bradley Manning, incommunicado."

This makes the position of Poitras and Greenwald very interesting indeed...

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Aug 14th, 2013 at 08:57:41 AM EST
While this reads fairly non-judgemental, and Greenwald was already working at breakneck speed, I find it stupendous to learn that he'd blown off a knowledgeable source like that - which hints at a painful oversight in his professionalism.

The way I read this passage, the painful oversight in Greenwald's professionalism was lack of attention to the need for encryption when talking with sources, and thus lack of effort to learn how to do it. Later Snowden chides him for it (in his replies to the NYT reporter):

...At the same time, this is 2013, and [he is] a journalist who regularly reported on the concentration and excess of state power. I was surprised to realize that there were people in news organizations who didn't recognize any unencrypted message sent over the Internet is being delivered to every intelligence service in the world."

More from Snowden quoted later in the article:

"In the wake of this year's disclosure, it should be clear that unencrypted journalist-source communication is unforgivably reckless."

But Poitras got Greenwald up to speed, as Greenwald readily admits:

Greenwald installed encryption software and began communicating with the stranger. Their work was organized like an intelligence operation, with Poitras as the mastermind. "Operational security -- she dictated all of that," Greenwald said. "Which computers I used, how I communicated, how I safeguarded the information, where copies were kept, with whom they were kept, in which places. She has this complete expert level of understanding of how to do a story like this with total technical and operational safety. None of this would have happened with anything near the efficacy and impact it did, had she not been working with me in every sense and really taking the lead in coordinating most of it."


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Aug 14th, 2013 at 09:49:05 AM EST
One quote from Poitras that struck me in particular was on why she doesn't want to discuss her encounters with Snowden much.

...She showed no emotion and did not mention that she had been in the middle of an encrypted chat with Snowden. At the time, I didn't press her, but a few days later, after I returned to New York and she returned to Berlin, I asked if that's what she was doing that evening. She confirmed it, but said she didn't want to talk about it at the time, because the more she talks about her interactions with Snowden, the more removed she feels from them.

"It's an incredible emotional experience," she said, "to be contacted by a complete stranger saying that he was going to risk his life to expose things the public should know. He was putting his life on the line and trusting me with that burden. My experience and relationship to that is something that I want to retain an emotional relation to." Her connection to him and the material, she said, is what will guide her work. "I am sympathetic to what he sees as the horror of the world [and] what he imagines could come. I want to communicate that with as much resonance as possible. If I were to sit and do endless cable interviews -- all those things alienate me from what I need to stay connected to. It's not just a scoop. It's someone's life."



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Aug 14th, 2013 at 09:54:30 AM EST
Excellent article! I read it Tuesday evening from a link in one of ceebs' Newsroom posts. We are fortunate to have people such as Manning and Snowden, regardless of how little the majority of the population deserve them. We are also fortunate to have both Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras. It seems we need An Idiot's Guide to Secure Communication. Many of the considerations and techniques have been discussed on ET previously, recently by ATinNM, eurogreen and Coleman in Oui's diary Lavabit and the Strong Arm of Big Brother USA.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Aug 14th, 2013 at 10:57:46 AM EST
When I read it last night, the bit that raised my  eyebrows was Greenwalds dismissal of encryption. There's an article by Heather Brooke where she talks about the lengths she goes to when investigating, including leaving phones at home. But i cant find it at the moment.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Aug 14th, 2013 at 11:09:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The harder it is to do the easier it is to dismiss the need to do it.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Aug 14th, 2013 at 12:00:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I once read a Salon column by Glenn Greenwald that showed an apparent gap in his knowledge in a different area. Unfortunately I can't remember what the original column was about, but something he said prompted one reader, a law lecturer in New Zealand, to write some comments about points of international human rights law that were relevant to the issue discussed in the column but had not been mentioned. This grew developed into a back and forth between the lecturer and Greenwald, who seemed to interpret the comments as a speculative and underdeveloped argument that certain human rights standards could be enshrined in international law and made binding on all states.

But the lecturer wasn't trying to advance an argument about what international law should be or should say; he was merely setting out principles of international human rights law as it already existed, including treaties ratified by the United States, that were generally recognised throughout the world. Even though Greenwald had great expertise in US constitutional and civil rights law, he seemed, at least back then, to be entirely unaware of international treaties and conventions on human rights.

by Gag Halfrunt on Wed Aug 14th, 2013 at 03:16:51 PM EST
To be fair, the US has shown great willingness to ignore international treaties when it suits the interests of those in power.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 04:26:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The operational viewpoint of the US Government is that International Treaties apply when it suits us.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 10:50:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So you vaguely remember reading an article by Greenwald ("I can't remember what the original column was about") and a discussion which grew out of it between him and a law lecturer in New Zealand. You remember having interpreted (obviously you don't have a link and haven't been able to check) part of Greenwald's response as a failure to understand the NZ guy's point and you interpreted this as "seeming" (thanks for that qualification) to show that Greenwald was "entirely (sic) unaware of international treaties and conventions on human rights."

This seems to be a rather extreme conclusion to me, unfortunately, without the link, one can't verify if it's at all a reasonable interpretation. It does seem unlikely that he was "entirely" unaware of such things, given his "great expertise in US constitutional and civil rights law", a not entirely unrelated area.

I'm not suggesting that Greenwald is beyond criticism (though I admire him and what I have read of his work), he's human. But I do think criticism ought to be a bit a better supported, Greenwald himself is usually pretty meticulous in providing quotations and links.

This is particularly true in the current context; Greenwald had already made powerful enemies through his criticisms of the Bush and Obama administrations and of mainstream media coverage of them. But attacks on him (and Snowden, Poitras has wisely kept a pretty low profile so far) have become more widespread and virulent after the NSA reporting, as he expected:

"When I made the choice to report aggressively on top-secret NSA programs, I knew that I would inevitably be the target of all sorts of personal attacks and smears.
...
When I asked Ellsberg about that several years ago, he explained that the state uses those tactics against anyone who dissents from or challenges it simply to distract from the revelations and personally smear the person with whatever they can find to make people uncomfortable with the disclosures.

So I've been fully expecting those kinds of attacks since I began my work on these NSA leaks. The recent journalist-led "debate" about whether I should be prosecuted for my reporting on these stories was precisely the sort of thing I knew was coming.
...

I'm 46 years old and, like most people, have lived a complicated and varied adult life. I didn't manage my life from the age of 18 onward with the intention of being a Family Values US senator. My personal life, like pretty much everyone's, is complex and sometimes messy.

If journalists really believe that, in response to the reporting I'm doing, these distractions about my past and personal life are a productive way to spend their time, then so be it."

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jun/26/nsa-revelations-response-to-smears

Maybe he should have known more about international laws and treaties, and about encryption and should have taken Snowden's approaches more seriously, more quickly. But at the moment I'd prefer to focus on the impressive work he's done, I'm impressed by the research in his articles which I've read, his debating skills in youtube videos I've seen and his courage in criticising powerful organisations - which hasn't made his life too easy;

Poitras and Greenwald are not facing any charges, at least not yet. They do not plan to stay away from America forever, but they have no immediate plans to return. One member of Congress has already likened what they've done to a form of treason, and they are well aware of the Obama administration's unprecedented pursuit of not just leakers but of journalists who receive the leaks.
...
 Greenwald asked Poitras, "Since it all began, have you had a non-N.S.A. day?"

"What's that?" she replied.

"I think we need one," Greenwald said. "Not that we're going to take one."

Poitras talked about getting back to yoga again. Greenwald said he was going to resume playing tennis regularly. "I'm willing to get old for this thing," he said, "but I'm not willing to get fat."

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/18/magazine/laura-poitras-snowden.html



Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 07:43:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Possible article by Glenn Greewald @Salon titled "Eavesdropping" on 9 Sept. 2008. I could only find the cached version to article - here - or comments section - here.

It could be you misread a discussion which at the time appeared Glenn Greenwald was on the losing side. Knowing what we understand today, improbability has turned out to be reality. Perhaps the New Zealand law lecturer was part of the establishment and had talking points of the "Five Eyes."

I was saddened by this fp story @BooMan - What a Dumb Argument. Taking Glenn Greenwald to task. It's not a conspiracy, it's what the Internet has become.

by Oui on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 09:22:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ted prompted me to look for the origin of what you recall, too, and I found a quite likely candidate, but with roles somewhat switched. In Binding U.S. law requires prosecutions for those who authorize torture, it is Greenwald who argues that the Convention Against Torture makes the prosecution of torturers binding on all states that signed it, including the USA. New Zealand law professor Kevin Jon Heller disagreed by pointing out some nuances that allow governments to maintain some degree of discretion as to whether to prosecute torturers. In his Update III to his Salon article, Greenwald didn't reject that argument, but argued that these legal backdoors don't cover the actions and excuses of the Bush regime. In his own update, Heller reacted with complete agreement.

So, unless there was another discussion here, Greenwald and the New Zealand law professor both argued on the basis of international law, Greenwald's ignorance was about a backdoor making the binding part less strong rathern than about something being binding, and the argument ended in agreement rather than accusations of speculation.

Either way, a reason I was uncritical about your recollection was that the NYT article contained two passages that bothered me for considering the rights violations of American citizens only [my emphasis]:

...The Snowden story, they both said, was a battle they were waging together, a fight against powers of surveillance that they both believe are a threat to fundamental American liberties.

...These lists have been criticized by civil rights groups for being too broad and arbitrary and for violating the rights of Americans who are on them...



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 10:48:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It does seem to be the discussion referred to - well found. Of course I'm glad to see that my scepticism about the accuracy of this recollection was justified.

As to your point about the American emphasis - well, it was in the NYT. However it does point out that he works for the Guardian and includes this:

I followed Poitras and Greenwald to the newsroom of O Globo, one of the largest newspapers in Brazil. Greenwald had just published an article there detailing how the N.S.A. was spying on Brazilian phone calls and e-mails. The article caused a huge scandal in Brazil, as similar articles have done in other countries around the world
 ...

In the end, The Guardian moved ahead with their articles. But Poitras and Greenwald have created their own publishing network as well, placing articles with other outlets in Germany and Brazil and planning more for the future.



Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 11:33:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I did read those passages (and was well aware of both the German and Brazilian stories before), but the NYT puts the "American" in Greenwald's and Poitras's mouth at least in the first quote, which made me think that bringing out the latter two stories was just business for Greenwald. But now I think that it is indeed just as likely that the NYT put words in their mouth they didn't say like that.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 11:47:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"It's really annoying and complicated, the encryption software," Greenwald said as we sat on his porch during a tropical drizzle. "He kept harassing me, but at some point he just got frustrated, so he went to Laura."
While this reads fairly non-judgemental, and Greenwald was already working at breakneck speed, I find it stupendous to learn that he'd blown off a knowledgeable source like that - which hints at a painful oversight in his professionalism. Of course, to err is human.
How about the possibility of falling for a sting operation? Is that a reason for a journalist to ignore such an approach?


Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 16th, 2013 at 03:43:03 AM EST
Although there are always politicians that get horribly worked up about prosecuting journalists, as long as the journalists lawfully acquire sensitive information, they should be safe from prosecution with countries that have free press enshrined in their constitution. Though, for the USA, there already is a caveat:

Journalists and the Espionage Act: Prosecution risk is remote but real | Alison Frankel

Gregory's prosecutorial tone didn't go over well with journalists trained to believe that the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark 1971 ruling in The New York Times v. United States (better known as the Pentagon Papers case) gives them carte blanche to publish materials they've received lawfully from their sources, even if their sources broke the law to obtain the information. The court's subsequent 2001 ruling in Bartnicki v. Vopper confirmed that the media cannot be punished for publishing information that sources obtained illegally, so long as the information is of public importance. But there's actually a distinction in the law between the media's right to publish sensitive national security information and the government's right, at least in theory, to bring charges against reporters and publishers for possessing and disclosing classified information.

Gregory's question, in other words, may have been inaptly posed but it addressed a legitimate, albeit remote, risk for reporters with hot national security stories. No journalist has so far been prosecuted under the Espionage Act for a story that reveals sensitive information (nor, for that matter, under other federal laws addressing classified information), and Attorney General Eric Holder has said publicly that he doesn't intend to start charging reporters for doing their job. Nevertheless, there's enough uncertainty about criminal liability that the government has used the threat of prosecution to try to squelch reporting, according to a fascinating 2008 paper, "National Security and the Press: The Government's Ability to Prosecute Journalists for the Possession or Publication of National Security Information," from the Communication Law & Policy journal.

A Dutch example was the 2006 prosecution of two Dutch journalists, who were wiretapped and even got jailed, because they possessed a file from the Dutch secret service and they refused to reveal their source. They fought the tapping and jailing tooth and nail up to the European court in 2012 and every single time it was a crushing slapdown on the account of the Dutch state.

It should not come as a surprise, therefore, that the huntdown on whistleblowers has intensified instead.

by Bjinse on Fri Aug 16th, 2013 at 07:08:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
.
@Bjinse: Some court cases have been won by default where wire taps played a role. Dutch police can't delete wire taps of lawyer/client conversations because the system is bought from Verint (Israel) and the company won't allow entry by "third"parties. See a partial reposting of my 2010 diary ...

Justice minstry Internet taps up five fold in one year

(Dutch News) July 19, 2013 - The number of Internet taps carried out by Dutch police rose 500% to 16,600 last year, according to new justice ministry figures. By contrast, the number of phone taps rose just 3% to nearly 25,500 despite doubts about their usefulness. And the number of requests for information about phone calls - such as the location calls were made from - reached almost 57,000, up 10% on 2011. The Netherlands sanctions more phone taps than any other country in the world. The figures do not include taps by the security services.

My dairy @BooMan - Dutch Are Champions with 26,435 Phone Taps [January 10, 2010]

Dutch intercept recordings done by Israeli supplier Verint ...

Phone taps, Justice and intelligence services

(BBC News) - The Dutch have been using telephone tap evidence since the 1970s - anyone who is suspected of having committed a crime punishable with four or more years in prison can be the subject of a telephone intercept.

Once Dutch police officers have a warrant from a judge they tell the telephone service providers to divert all calls via a central intercept centre. The calls are recorded digitally and the police computer can store as many as 10 million calls.

Safeguards

Robert Van Bosbeek, the Dutch police commissioner in charge of this operation, stresses that ordinary police officers are not allowed access to the area where the recordings are made in order to preserve the integrity of the recordings.

All calls are recorded so that they can also provide material for the defence. However, there are some concerns from the Dutch data protection authorities about the recording of calls between lawyers and their clients.

Dutch Police Don't Know How to Delete Intercepted Calls

"The law in the Netherlands says that intercepted phone calls between attorneys and their clients must be destroyed. But the Dutch government has been keeping under wraps for years that no one has the foggiest clue how to delete them (Google translation). Now, an email (PDF) from the National Police Services Agency (KLPD) has surfaced, revealing that the working of the technology in question is a NetApp trade secret. The Dutch police are now trying to get their Israeli supplier Verint to tell them how to delete tapped calls and comply with the law. Meanwhile, attorneys in the Netherlands remain afraid to use their phones."

Dutch article NRC newspaper: Ministry of Justice had no knowledge how to delete wiretaps

See e-mail from an expert of the Korps Landelijke Politiediensten (KLPD) establishing the fact the technology is proprietary of the Israeli supplier of the computersystem for intercepts (Verint).

"It is explained to me by representatives of the head company that information is deleted in one of the subsystems of the interceptsystem. This subsystem is named "Netapp" and is obtained by our supplier from their supplier of this subsystem."

by Oui on Fri Aug 16th, 2013 at 08:46:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As far as I remember Greenwald's work was mostly based on analysing public information/ interviewing public personalities. I'm not sure he even had a story based on anonymous sources before.
by generic on Fri Aug 16th, 2013 at 08:52:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
.
New revelations puts Obama, US Congress and the NSA intelligence community under more pressure. I love this snippet in the news ... President Obama will keep Congress informed of compliance issues as they arise.

Newest revelations of domestic spying by NSA stir up anger

(AP) White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said that the NSA documents showed that NSA's Compliance Office established in 2009 "is monitoring, detecting, addressing and reporting compliance incidents," and that "the majority of the compliance incidents are unintentional." In a statement from the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard, where the president is vacationing, he added that the administration is "keeping the Congress appropriately informed of compliance issues as they arise."

by Oui on Sat Aug 17th, 2013 at 05:19:52 AM EST
They are 'appropriately informed' no doubt.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 17th, 2013 at 01:38:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now they've held Greenwald's partner at Heathrow for 9 hours.

Detaining my partner: a failed attempt at intimidation

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 08:18:34 PM EST
.
The NSA spy case and Snowden didn't warrant much discussion @BooMan. This affair in London with Glenn Greenwald's partner loosened the tongues ... 120+ comments on fp story.

The Greenwald Drama Ramps Up

by Oui on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 09:55:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Detaining my partner: a failed attempt at intimidation | Glenn Greenwald | Comment is free | The Guardian
David had spent the last week in Berlin, where he stayed with Laura Poitras, the US filmmaker who has worked with me extensively on the NSA stories. A Brazilian citizen, he was returning to our home in Rio de Janeiro this morning on British Airways, flying first to London and then on to Rio. When he arrived in London this morning, he was detained.

Next time, he'll fly Lufthansa.

by Bernard on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 02:40:24 AM EST
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but perhaps France will deny him airspace?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 04:11:38 AM EST
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British Air, or some Russian airline maybe, but Lufthansa? Surely not. Get both Brazil und Germany on their back?

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 08:20:41 PM EST
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