Nel's New Day

September 21, 2017

Don’t Go Away, Hillary!

Much of the coverage of a book released in September, What Happened, has been extremely negative as both right and left media tell her to go away. They treat her as badly as they did during her campaign and blame her for her election loss after a perfect storm of opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Russian influence, incessant lying about her, and the release of negative information from former FBI director James Comey less than two weeks before the election despite the his refusal to release evidence about Russians colluding with the campaign of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT).

Heather Digby Parton, however, has a different perspective, as the following article shows:

I’m not going to review Hillary Clinton’s book What Happened, since there are approximately 12,576 reviews out there already, with more to come. But I do want to discuss one issue that came up in the book that has been addressed in a couple of those reviews. That would be the fact that the press regularly and tiresomely slags Clinton for her failures in the 2016 campaign but have still completely failed to acknowledge their own.

There are many aspects of this story that are unique to Clinton. As Politico’s Jonathan Allen, then of Vox, wrote at the beginning of the campaign, there was an establishment media groupthink about her that was obvious, although the press itself seemed completely oblivious to it. (I wrote about this on Salon in real time as it unfolded and after the race was over. )

Allen put it bluntly:

“The Clinton rules are driven by reporters’ and editors’ desire to score the ultimate prize in contemporary journalism: the scoop that brings down Hillary Clinton and her family’s political empire. At least in that way, Republicans and the media have a common interest.”

Indeed they did. (As it turns out, maybe some members of the Russian government did too.) And one aspect of the coverage verged on outright corruption: the “deal” The New York Times and The Washington Post made with a Steve Bannon associate to publish excerpts of a book of lies called Clinton Cash that set the tone for much of the coverage to come.

The Atlantic’s James Fallows addressed the press obsession with the Clinton email story in his review of What Happened:

“No sane person can believe that the consequences of last fall’s election — for foreign policy, for race relations, for the environment, for anything else you’d like to name (from either party’s perspective) — should have depended more than about 1 percent on what Hillary Clinton did with her emails. But this objectively second- or third-tier issue came across through even our best news organizations as if it were the main thing worth knowing about one of the candidates.”

David Roberts at Vox took on the subject by analyzing in depth the way the media reported one particular incident in the campaign: Hillary Clinton’s alleged “coal gaffe,” which he described as “navigating a hall of mirrors.” Her comment about putting coal miners out of business was poorly phrased, but as it was reported, it was also truncated and taken out of context. The way her response was then distorted by the GOP and the press as an illustration of Clinton’s disqualifying character flaws was the real crime, Roberts writes:

“Mainstream news outlets should stop treating ‘how it looks’ as though it’s some fact in the universe that they discover. They are the arbiters; they decide how it looks. They build and reinforce narratives. They seek out confirming evidence and ignore disconfirming evidence. They amplify some voices and not others. They direct attention, which is the coin of the realm in modern politics. If they draw attention to a bullshit scandal, they are the ones ensuring that it damages the campaign. If they play along with the ludicrous notion that Clinton loves firing coal miners, they are sanctioning and disseminating misinformation. They are not doing their jobs.”

Whether you are convinced by these arguments or not, it’s tempting to write them off as something that only pertains to Hillary Clinton. There is no doubt that the narratives spun around her in the campaign and for years prior were informed by systemic sexism. The press is no different from the rest of society in being unable to grapple with that reality. But in fact, this wasn’t the only time this happened.

The coverage of the 2000 presidential campaign, and to a lesser extent the 2004 campaign as well, had similar characteristics. In the race between George W. Bush and Al Gore, the media mercilessly abused the latter with a series of shallow character attacks that were both unfair and untruthful. Roberts’ analysis of Clinton and the “coal gaffe” is exactly the same sort of prejudicial coverage the media gave Gore for his “I invented the internet” and “Love Canal” gaffes, among a dozen others.

One vivid illustration of journalists’ collective disdain for Gore was reported in Time’s article about an early New Hampshire debate between Gore and his Democratic primary rival, Sen. Bill Bradley:

“The 300 media types watching in the press room at Dartmouth were, to use the appropriate technical term, totally grossed out. Whenever Gore came on too strong the room erupted in a collective jeer, like a gang of fifteen-year-old heathers cutting down some hapless nerd.”

Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank explained why the press corps was so hostile:

“Gore is sanctimonious, and that’s sort of the worst thing you can be in the eyes of the press. And he has been disliked all along, and it was because he gives a sense that he’s better than us — he’s better than everybody, for that matter, but the sense that he’s better than us as reporters. Whereas President Bush probably is sure that he’s better than us — he’s probably right, but he does not convey that sense. He does not seem to be dripping with contempt when he looks at us, and I think that has something to do with the coverage.”

Reporter Margaret Carlson explained in her book that one of the reasons the media gave Bush such good coverage was that he served Dove bars and designer water on the press plane, while Gore only offered granola bars and sandwiches.

As far as I know, the media have still never given their coverage of that campaign a second thought. Four years later, John Kerry was mocked for ordering the wrong cheese and drinking green tea and otherwise being a snobby New Englander without the common touch of George W. Bush, originally of Kennebunkport, Maine. And then there was 2016 and “her emails.”

None of this is to say that these candidates weren’t flawed or bear no responsibility for the outcome of those races. The point is that the press corps made a collective decision that they didn’t “like” these people and obsessively covered them in a trivial manner, as if they had been running for homecoming queen instead of president of the United States. With fake news and social media and foreign propaganda distorting our democracy, it’s past time for the press to stop behaving like the mean girls of D.C. High.

Parton’s comments above demonstrate the control that the media has over elections. Canadian Kristen Pyszczyk also published a piece discussing the disproportionate scrutiny Clinton received as a woman. Mitt Romney used private email when he was the Massachusetts governor and then destroyed them when he left office. Congress ignored the 13 attacks on U.S. embassies killing 65 people, and embassy attacks during the Reagan presidency killed hundreds. Pyszczyk wrote:

“We live in a culture where women are shamed for speaking up, seeking power and existing successfully in the public eye. (Check out the comments section to this piece if you don’t believe me!) The mere fact that Clinton is still speaking out is incredible.”

Pyszczyk was 100-percent right about the comments. She also repeated Carly Fiorina’s “joke” on the campaign trail:

“If you want to stump a Democrat, ask them to name an accomplishment of Hillary Clinton.”

Here are a few:

First ever student commencement speaker at Wellesley College. Distinguished graduate of Yale Law School. Former Director of the Arkansas Legal Aid Clinic. Former civil litigation attorney. Former Law Professor at the University of Arkansas School of Law. Former First Lady of Arkansas. Former First Lady of the United States, and the first FLOTUS in US History to hold a postgraduate degree. First ex-FLOTUS in US History to be elected to the United States Senate. Elected by the… State of New York to serve two terms in the United States Senate. Former US Secretary of State. GRAMMY Award Winner.

And a few more. Clinton:

  • Laid the groundwork for today’s healthcare plan supported by a majority of people.
  • Helped develop State Children’s Health Insurance Program for poor children.
  • Helped create the Adoption and Safe Families Act and the Foster Care Independence Act.
  • Successfully fought to increase research funding for prostate cancer and asthma at the National Institute of Health (NIH).
  • Spearheaded investigations into mental illness plaguing veterans of the Gulf War revealing Gulf War Syndrome.
  • Championed the Violence Against Women Act
  • Helped create the DOJ office on Violence Against Women.
  • Worked to secure over $21 billion in funding for the World Trade Center redevelopment after 9/11.
  • Drafted the first bill to compensate and offer the health services for 9/11 first responders after taking a leading role in the investigation of these health consequences.
  • Introduced the Pediatric Research Equity Act to alleviate over-dosages for children with chronic diseases like epilepsy and asthma.
  • Proposed a revival of the New Deal-era Home Owners’ Loan Corporation to help homeowners refinance their mortgages in the wake of the 2008 financial disaster.
  • Brokered human rights with Burma and acted as a major proponent of ceasefire between Hamas and Israel.
  • Called for the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan that led to his death.
  • Constantly traveled as Secretary of State in diplomatic missions.
  • Co-founded the Clinton Foundation that improves living conditions for nearly 400 million people in over 180 countries.

Before that:

  • Founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families to educate the public on children’s issues.
  • Chaired Arkansas Educational Standards Committee, which created new state school standards.
  • Founded Arkansas Home Instruction Program for Pre-School Youth.
  • Helped created Arkansas’ first neonatal intensive care unit.

This article has more.

And Carly Fiorina? She was fired as an executive because of serious problems at the company. Clinton has spent her life helping women, children, veterans, etc. while DDT who lies, bullies, cheats, and destroys everyone except the wealthy.

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January 5, 2017

What Passes for News on NBC:

Filed under: Media — trp2011 @ 8:46 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Criticized for being close to Donald Trump (DT) and advising him on his campaign, Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC’s The Morning Show, claimed that people had to be good friends with political figures in order to get news from them. The conservative “news” show host has stayed while MSNBC fired progressive talk show hosts and replaced them with hacks such as Chuck Todd who has a daily show on that cable network as well as destroying the reputation of Meet the Press.

Now NBC has picked up Megyn Kelly from Fox, despite the latter’s offer of $100 million for her to stay. Kelly became a Fox star after she verbally attacked DT in the first primary debate. Now NBC is trying to boost its ratings by scheduling her as host of a daily daytime show and a Sunday newsmagazine program while she covers major political events.

Here’s some of Kelly’s past “journalism”:

Santa Claus is white. Kelly responded to a Slate column suggesting that black Santa Clauses make people of color feel more included:

“Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change, you know? I mean, Jesus was a white man too. He was a historical figure, that’s a verifiable fact, as is Santa — I just want the kids watching to know that.”

A journalist should know that “white” didn’t exist in first-century Palestine or third-century Turkey. Or that Santa Claus is not “a historical figure.”

Oh yes, Jesus was also white.

Victims should be blamed. Kelly said that Dajerria Becton, a 15-year-old black girl thrown to the ground by a police officer, deserves blame because of being “no saint.”

“The girl was no saint, either. He had told her to leave, and she continued to linger. When a cop tells you to leave, get out.”

Becton was doing exactly what the cop ordered: he said to leave “now” and she walked away. Corporal Eric Casebolt yelled at her, ran after her, grabbed her, and dragged her to the ground. He only stopped because two other officers grabbed him. He resigned, and she was not charged.

Pepper spray is just “a food product.” Kelly says that being sprayed is not any problem.

“It’s a derivative of actual pepper, it’s a food product, essentially. A lot of experts are looking at saying is that the real deal. Has it been diluted?”

Police-grade pepper spray is 5.5 times hotter than the hottest known pepper, the ghost chili that has been compared to “a cocktail of battery acid and glass shards.” A U.S. Army study stated that pepper spray’s active ingredient “is capable of producing mutagenic and carcinogenic effects, sensitization, cardiovascular and pulmonary toxicity, neurotoxicity, as well as possible human fatalities.”It can cause corneal damage and was associated with 26 deaths in California between 1993 and 1995—one in every 600 people sprayed by state police officials. The product is banned for military use overseas by the Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits the use of “any chemical which through its chemical action on life processes can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm to humans or animals.” 

Criticism of the Vietnam War sounds like Osama bin Laden. Bill Ayers, a former member of the Weather Underground, agreed that it was fair to criticize his actions in bombing government buildings during the 1960s but that people should criticize violent actions that the U.S. takes in its military campaigns throughout the world. Kelly responded:

“I hear you saying — You sound like, with respect, Osama bin Laden.”

People in Colorado can commit voter fraud by printing out ballots at home. No they can’t! Kelly failed to understand the vote by mail process when she claimed that a new law “literally allows residents to print ballots from their home computers, then encourages them to turn ballots over to ‘collectors’ in what appears to be an effort to do away with traditional polling places.” Only people living abroad or serving in the military can receive them via email.

The New Black Panther Party is the greatest threat to American democracy ever. Six years ago, Kelly found prominence on the Fox network through her “shocking” reports about the organization that she accused of leading a vicious voter intimidation campaign during the 2008 election. In reality—not something of importance to either Kelly or Fox—two Black Panthers stood outside a heavily black Philadelphia voting place. Police removed them after complaints. Two years later, one Black Panther was at the same location, politely opening the door for voters. Media Matters reported that Kelly “devoted 45 segments, totaling more than 3.5 hours, to the investigation in a two-week timeframe” on the “scandal.” Her story was one of anti-white racism from Eric Holder, then head of the Department of Justice, who protected the NBPP and refused to investigate black people.

“Well, think about that. Think about that. … Now you’re going to have instances like this where Black Panthers and others can go to the polling stations and do this if they so choose. And they just basically are gonna get a pass because while it’s not an official thing, it’s been made very clear to all the rank-and-file voting rights attorneys in the DOJ those cases are not to be pursued.”

Racism has no relationship to police shootings of black people. Again not true! Yet Kelly continually used former Los Angeles Police Department officer Mark Fuhrman on her show to dismiss any racism. She also decried the “anti-cop, thug mentality” in black communities and criticized the Obama administration for encouraging integrated neighborhoods “whether the communities want it or not.”

megyn-kelly

Kelly gently searches for Donald Trump’s (DT) sensitive side. After her original attack on DT in the first primary debate and his refusal to attend another debate because of her, she changed to a cozy interview after he gained his GOP candidacy. At one point, she asked:

“Has anyone ever hurt you emotionally?”

Racist “jokes” among officials are acceptable and normal. After a police officer killed Michael Brown in Ferguson (MO), an investigation uncovered blatantly racist email exchanges among the town’s commanders, police officers, and court officials. For example, the comment that President Obama would not keep his job in the 2012 election because “what black man holds a steady job for four years” and depicted him as a chimpanzee. Another example was the “joke” about a man seeking “welfare” for his dogs because they are “mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English and have no frigging clue who their Daddies are.”

Most of the points above illustrate Kelly’s racist approach in her “news.” Her move to NBC appears to be a support of racist conspiracies and falsehoods in mainstream news.

Over a year ago, Andrew Lack, head of news for NBC and MSNBC, said that he was shifting away from left-wing hosts to save the network. Since then, the networks concentrated on presidential candidate DT over his competition and became another venue to tout the right wingers.

If NBC hopes to bring Fox network watchers to its network, they’re sadly mistaken. Reading the comments on the NYT article shows that the conservatives dislike her more than the progressives do. Of course, the highly conservative CEO of NBC won’t mind copying Fox in its non-progressive policies.

A much quieter move from Fox to MSNBC was accomplished by Greta Van Susteren. It appears that Megyn Kelly had already sucked all the oxygen out of the two networks.

December 17, 2016

President Right about Media, Clinton

Filed under: Media — trp2011 @ 9:01 PM
Tags: , , , ,

The way that Russian hacking may have controlled the 2016 presidential election was a major subject of President Obama’s last press conference this year.

“Unless the American people genuinely think that the professionals in the CIA, the FBI, our entire intelligence infrastructure—many of whom, by the way, served in previous administrations and who are Republicans—are less trustworthy than the Russians, then people should pay attention to what our intelligence agencies say.”

He also talked about the danger of the belief “that it’s okay to intimidate the press, or lock up dissidents, or discriminate against people”—issues that may become popular in the next few years. He added his worry about “certain folks in the Republican Party and Republican voters suddenly finding a [Russian] government and individuals who stand contrary to everything that we stand for as being okay, because ‘that’s how much we dislike Democrats.’”

Part of his comments, however, dealt with how the mainstream media in the U.S. acts like a Russian propaganda machine through obsessively searching for anything negative about Hillary Clinton—including such ridiculous pieces as a risotto recipe from her former campaign manager John Podesta.

The media largely ignored the president’s comments directed toward them or took umbrage. Slate chose to misrepresent what he said as referring only to “fake news,” and Atlantic only provided a few of his quotes with no comments. The Washington Post, a conservative publication that supported Trump until it thought he could win the primaries, declaimed “First Amendment rights” for accenting Podesta’s risotto recipe over DT’s involvement in Russian hacking. A pundit on MSNBC said that the president should have pushed the media harder if it wanted them to publicize the corruption and fraud of DT’s campaign and foreign involvement.

A review of the political media for the past 18 months more than supports President Obama’s comments about the media:

Clinton’s Emails: While the media obsessed with the non-existent scandal of Hillary Clinton’s private server, they glossed over the extensive list of DT’s alleged sexual assault victims and his other misogyny. At the same time, mainstream TV “news” equated the two; for example, ABC’s Matthew Dowd tweeted, “Either you care both about Trump being sexual predator & Clinton emails, or u care about neither. But don’t talk about one without the other.” Pushback to his tweet brought the response that people who thought sexual assault was worse than Clinton’s legal actions were “partisan.” Clinton was asked twice about her email server in debates, and DT was asked only once about his sexual abuse.

Violence from DT Supporters: Pundits, including those from the supposedly “liberal” New York Times,  incessantly claimed that “both sides” fueled an acrimonious campaign. DT promised to legally defend anyone who punched a protester in the face, told another than he would “beat the crap” out of him, and called on anti-DT people to be “roughed up.” He constantly lambasted journalists to the extent that at least one of them had to be protected by guards as she left a rally. Clinton never said one inciting word. There was no proof that Clinton backers caused the violence from Trump supporters, the media accused the campaign of causing these problems.

“Race Relations” instead of White Supremacy: The false rhetoric used in the media implied a conflict between two equal parties instead of attacks from white supremacists wielding their power over minorities. In the debates, Lester Holt insisted on the need to “heal the divide” between races, and Elaine Quijano asked, “Do we ask too much of police officers in this country?”  No one discussed the problem of minority subjugation.

Equaling Anti-Racism and Racism: This campaign saw the rise of opposition to “political correctness,” and columnists such as David Brooks promoted the position that fighting oppressors is as bad as oppressing, similar to considering hostages in a bank robbery as equal bad as the bank robbers if they try to overpower their captors:

“But it’s not only racists who reduce people to a single identity. These days it’s the anti-racists, too. To raise money and mobilize people, advocates play up ethnic categories to an extreme degree.”

MSNBC has been accused of being so liberal that it’s the opposite of the Fox network, but Joe Scarborough, host of The Morning Joe Show, was a propaganda shill for DT, going to far as meeting with him at the Trump Tower to help him plan campaign strategy.

As soon as Clinton announced her run for president in 2015, mainstream media gloried in putting out massive negative coverage, according to a study by Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on media coverage.

“Whereas media coverage helped build up Trump, it helped tear down Clinton. Trump’s positive coverage was the equivalent of millions of dollars in ad-buys in his favor, whereas Clinton’s negative coverage can be equated to millions of dollars in attack ads, with her on the receiving end.”

The study found a ratio of 45 negative stories to one positive story on emails, most of them generated by the GOP and Fox network before being repeated on mainstream media. Eighty-four percent of Clinton’s coverage in this period was negative before the primaries with 90 percent negative during the negatives. The belief in Clinton’s unworthiness came from the media.

The media obsessed over the false accusation that Clinton was putting the United States at risk because of a private email server while it expressed no concern about DT considering Gen. David Petraeus for Secretary of State. Eighteen months ago he was convicted of passing classified information to his girlfriend while he was director of the CIA. The media, including the supposedly progressive Public Broadcasting System, has also totally ignored the fact that both Bob Gates and Condoleezza Rice—strong supporters for the Russia-connected Secretary of State nominee, Rex Tillerson—are on the payroll of Exxon, Tillerson’s employer.

In addition to admitting sexual assault, DT has broken the law in countless other ways including using illegal immigrants and mob help to build the Trump Tower, not paying sales taxes, committing federal income tax fraud, spending money from his personal non-profit charity foundation for personal expenses and bribery, failing to pay his workers, conning students at Trump University, paying off prosecutors with political donations, and now using his position as president-elect to blackmail other countries into better business deals. And he also destroyed his own emails to avoid problems in court. Clinton broke no laws, but the media has spent 18 months avoiding DT’s illegal activities while making Clinton’s legal activities seem the reverse.

Mainstream media incessantly called out Clinton for her speaker’s fees from Wall Street but said nothing about how a network marketing company judged to be a pyramid scheme paid DT $1.35 million for three speeches last year. Taxpayers paid $127 million for a golf course on top of a Bronx garbage dump that is named after DT. He keeps almost all the money for its first 20 years while taxpayers pay for the utility bills.

The media touts DT as a good businessman, but he passes along all his losses to other people as he consistently fails at his projects. Most of the structures with “Trump” in the name are owned by others; they pay DT for the name. Then there are the 250 buyers who lost money, sometimes their life savings, for a project in Baja, licensed to a third-party developer. He could have gotten them some money back, but he lied about not having insurance after it failed. The media let him get away with all his bad business deals just as they printed his lies about shutting down offshoring manufacturing and failed to report on his massive offshore retail deals.

Media support for DT comes from corporate greed. The CBS CEO openly admitted that he wanted the money he got from ratings. A DT presidency will lower taxes on network CEOs and senior executives as well as cut regulations that make media accountable for the public interest. NBC in particular will benefit from the “reality show” coming out of the White House because DT is the executive producer. DT’s “reality show” of rallies, tweets, and other announcements dominated during the campaign.

Clinton got attention only when she was attacking DT, and the media complained about her having no policies while they ignored the ones that she presented. The sole goal of making more money in network television came from the end of the Fairness Doctrine, any enforcement of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, and independent television after the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

There’s a good reason that the official word of 2016 from the Oxford English Dictionary is “post-truth.” The media. The people who claim that they aren’t the “truth squad” know that they can get away with anything by denying that they’re doing anything wrong. Business as usual: the mainstream media cozies up to DT and normalizes the oligarchy that he wants to bring into the White House. And then says, “It’s not my problem!”

August 19, 2014

Why We Can’t Trust the NPR

Filed under: Media — trp2011 @ 7:33 PM
Tags: , , , ,

People who ridicule the Fox network and get their news from National Public Radio (NPR) might want to read Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman’s response to NPR’s spin on the government’s accusations that “former NSA contract worker Edward Snowden harmed national security and allowed terrorists to develop their own countermeasures.” A four-minute story on August 1 from national security reporter Dina Temple-Raston used information from “a tech firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.” Recorded Future supposedly worked with “cyber expert Mario Vuksan, the CEO of ReversingLabs,” to prove the government’s allegations against Snowden.

The first 80 percent of the story repeated the report’s key conclusion that “just months after the Snowden documents were released, al-Qaeda dramatically changed the way its operatives interacted online” and, post-Snowden, “al-Qaeda didn’t just tinker at the edges of its seven-year-old encryption software; it overhauled it.” Only 44 seconds at the end showed any skepticism with a quote from security expert Bruce Schneier, who questioned the causal relationship between the Snowden disclosures and the new terrorist encryption programs, as well as the efficacy of the new encryption.

Missing from NPR’s story is that Recorded Future is funded with millions of dollars by the CIA and U.S. intelligence community. In 2010, the firm filed forms to become a NSA vendor. Jason Hines, the company’s vice president, has refused to answer any questions about the current relationship between Recorded Future and the NSA. According to public reports, Recorded Future “earns most of its revenue from selling to Wall Street quants and intelligence agencies.” In July, 2010, Wired‘s Noah Shachtman stated that the company is backed by both “the investment arms of the CIA and Google.”

In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of both the CIA and other intelligence agencies including the NSA, has seats on Recorded Future’s board of directors. The company’s websites lists Recorded Future as one of the companies in its “portfolio.” The New York Times noted these connections in 2011: “Recorded Future is financed with $8 million from the likes of Google’s venture arm and In-Q-Tel, which makes investments to benefit the United States intelligence community, and its clients have included government agencies and banks.”

Temple-Raston had this information. In 2012, NPR’s Morning Edition broadcast her profile of Recorded Future and its claimed ability to predict the future by gathering internet data. At the end of her report, she noted that the firm has “at least two very important financial backers: the CIA’s investment arm, called In-Q-Tel, and Google Ventures. They have reportedly poured millions into the company.”

As Temple-Raston knows, “cyber expert” Vuksan also has significant financial ties to the U.S. intelligence community. In 2012, In-Q-Tel touted a “strategic partnership” with ReversingLabs to develop new technology for the Department of Homeland Security. Vuskan hailed the partnership as vital to his company’s future prospects.

To use this story as independent analysis is the same type of fear mongering that keeps the hawks threatening to attack more countries for the financial benefit of their constituents. Hiding CIA connections with Recorded Future, former NSA General Counsel Stewart Baker used the report to argue in The Washington Post that “the evidence is mounting that Edward Snowden and his journalist allies have helped al-Qaeda improve their security against NSA surveillance.” Long before Snowden’s release of information, however, terrorists have successfully developed encryptions and other methods to protect communications from electronic surveillance.

A 45-page, single-spaced manual called a “Jihadist Handbook,” last updated about September 2003 and translated into English in 2005 or 2006, appears to be an excerpt from a 268-page document called Abu Zubaydah’s Encyclopedia, self-described as the “cumulative result of efforts of the brothers who walked on the path of jihad.” It contains highly specific and sophisticated instructions for avoiding electronic surveillance. Included are directions on keeping landline and mobile telephone calls, emails, and online chats secure because SIM cards in cell phones can be used by the NSA as tracking devices.  Instructions explain how to remove both the battery and SIM card from cell phones. Also described are how code words should be used for all online communication. Many sections are identical to the 2010 manual from the British intelligence and security agency, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), to operatives explaining how to keep communications secure.

Recorded Future’s chronology gives September 2013 as the roll-out of “the first Islamic encryption software for mobiles,” but “jihadists” had been working in this area for at least a decade. Al-Qaeda’s release of software in 2007 and 2008 shows a continual approach toward message encryption. The software was popularized in the first issue (July 2010) of Inspire, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s quarterly online magazine, in a post entitled “How to Use Asrar al-Mujahedeen: Sending and Receiving Encrypted Messages.” Every issue since then has a “how-to” section on encrypting communications, recommending MS2 as the main encryption tool.

In February, 2001, USA Today reported that al-Qaeda and other groups have been using “uncrackable encryption” since the mid-1990s. Terrorists did not need Snowden’s material to know that the U.S. and its allies are working to monitor their communications.

Recorded Future did admit that Al-Qaeda has had at least one encryption product but described a “significant uptick” after the Snowden reporting with no data about this. One impetus may have been the federal government boasting in August 2013 to McClatchy and The Daily Beast that the State Department ordered the closing of 21 embassies because of what it learned from an intercepted “conference call” among Al Qaeda leaders. Daily Beast reported:

“Al-Qaeda leaders had assumed the conference calls, which give Zawahiri the ability to manage his organization from a remote location, were secure. But leaks about the original intercepts have likely exposed the operation that allowed the U.S. intelligence community to listen in on the al-Qaeda board meetings.”

As The New York Times reported one month later:

“Senior officials have made a startling finding: the impact of a leaked terrorist plot by Al Qaeda in August has caused more immediate damage to American counterterrorism efforts than the thousands of classified documents disclosed by Edward Snowden. The drop in message traffic after the communication intercepts contrasts with what analysts describe as a far more muted impact on counterterrorism efforts from the disclosures by Mr. Snowden of the broad capabilities of N.S.A. surveillance programs.”

Schneier thinks these leaks will “help U.S. intelligence efforts” because fear will make “people abandon good algorithms and software for snake oil of their own devising [that is less successful].” Chris Soghoian, technologist for the ACLU whose lawyers represent Snowden, noted that security companies occasionally put out reports “on the use of bespoke encryption software by terrorists, and then media eats it up.”

In response to this criticism, Recorded Future supplemented its report with a claim that the terrorists “are not using home-brew crypto algorithms” but rather “off the shelf” methods of cryptography. Both Schneier and Soghoian suggested that the developments claimed by Recorded Future make it easier, not harder, for the U.S. government to monitor the communications of extremists. According to these two experts, “using terrorist-specific encryption tools will only attract the attention of intelligence agencies.”

Basically, NPR used a report from a CIA-dependent company responsible for spreading pro-government propaganda, no matter how ridiculous. In the past, Recorded Future boasted that its monitoring media coverage of Occupy Wall Street detected Iran’s “growing influence” over that coverage. As Greenwald and Fishman wrote:

“None of these serious doubts, fallacies, or questions about this company and its ‘report’ were even alluded to by Temple-Raston in her NPR story, beyond a cursory and very limited Schneier quote tacked onto the end. It’s hardly surprising that these kinds of firms, linked to and dependent on the largesse of the U.S. intelligence community, produce pro-government tripe of this sort. That’s their function. It’s the job of media outlets to scrutinize these claims, not mindlessly repeat and then glorify them as NPR did here.”

The key revelation of the Snowden reporting is that the surveillance system built in secret by the NSA and its partners is directed at hundreds of millions of ordinary people and entire populations rather than “the terrorists.” People need to pay attention to the conservative bent of NPR since Koch brothers started “buying” it.

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