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Greenwald gives away the game on his PRISM claims

Admits he has no idea what arrangement exists between internet companies and the NSA
Media • Views: 28,765

Just a few hours ago All In With Chris Hayes featured an interview with The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald. Greenwald gave an extremely revealing answer in response to Hayes’ final question, in which he was asked for more clarity on the relationship between the NSA and private internet companies.

Here’s the video of the interview:

MSNBC Video

And here’s the transcript of the final exchange:

HAYES: In terms of the revelations that we’ve gotten so far, and they fall into a number of different categories, but I do want to ask you, before I let you go, there’s been some push back on the reporting, particularly about the PRISM program, and there’s another program codenamed BLARNEY, that come from those power point slides that use the phrase directly from the servers, direct access, and there was push back by the tech companies who are listed in those slides saying we didn’t give any direct access. And there’s some question, I think, about what exactly that phrase means or could mean. And I just want you to clarify your best understanding of what the reality is about the nexus between how the NSA is working with these private tech companies.

GREENWALD: Sure. We’ve published four stories so far. The only one about which there has been any questions raised is the one that the Washington — the only one the Washington Post also published which is the PRISM story. Our story was written differently than the way the Post wrote theirs, which is why they’ve had to walk back theirs. Our story was the following: we have documents, a document, from the NSA that very clearly claims that they are collecting directly from the servers of these internet giants. That’s the exact language that this document used. We went to those internet companies before publishing and asked them, and they denied it, and we put into the story very prominently that they denied it. Our story is that there is a discrepancy between the relationship that these, that the private sector and the government has, in terms of what the NSA claims and what the technology companies claim. What is definitely true, and follow-up reporting by the Times has proven this, is that there have been all kinds of negotiations about back door access. They have agreements in all sorts of ways to share data with the government. I don’t think anybody knows at this point exactly what the nature of those arrangements are and the reason we published our story and reason we presented it as this discrepancy is precisely because, whatever the tech companies and the government are doing, in terms of turning over data to the government, should be done in public. We should know what agreements they’ve reached. We should know what the government has asked for and what they’re negotiating with now, in terms of access. What we do know for sure, is that the government has a program that targets the communication over these companies, that huge numbers of people around the world use to communicate with one another, and we think there should be accountability and transparency for whatever those exact agreements are.

A couple of quick points about that answer. First, Greenwald has given up defending his “direct access” claim and recast his PRISM story as actually being about the discrepancy between his interpretation of the leaked PowerPoint slides and the denials of internet companies responding to that interpretation. Second, in response to Hayes asking for more detail on what exactly the data sharing relationship is between the NSA and the internet companies, Greenwald provides no clarity and instead essentially admits he has no real knowledge of those relationships (“I don’t think anybody knows at this point exactly what the nature of those arrangements are”).

Greenwald’s inability to defend his original PRISM reporting might help explain its absence from the Guardian’s more recent coverage. See:
The Guardian quietly walks back their PRISM overreach without correcting previous reporting

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