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The Sunday Times’ Snowden Story: Journalism at Its Worst and Filled With Falsehoods

Compliant media exposed dancing to government spin doctors fabricating a white wash

By Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept – 14 June 2015

Glenn Greenwald is a journalist, constitutional lawyer, and author of four New York Times best-selling books on politics and law.


Western journalists claim that the big lesson they learned from their key role in selling the Iraq War to the public is that it’s hideous, corrupt and often dangerous journalism to give anonymity to government officials to let them propagandize the public, then uncritically accept those anonymously voiced claims as Truth. But they’ve learned no such lesson. That tactic continues to be the staple of how major U.S. and British media outlets “report,” especially in the national security area. And journalists who read such reports continue to treat self-serving decrees by unnamed, unseen officials — laundered through their media — as gospel, no matter how dubious are the claims or factually false is the reporting.

We now have one of the purest examples of this dynamic. Last night, the Murdoch-owned Sunday Times published their lead front-page Sunday article, headlined “British Spies Betrayed to Russians and Chinese.” Just as the conventional media narrative was shifting to pro-Snowden sentiment in the wake of a key court ruling and a new surveillance law, the article (behind a paywall: full text here) claims in the first paragraph that these two adversaries “have cracked the top-secret cache of files stolen by the fugitive U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden, forcing MI6 to pull agents out of live operations in hostile countries, according to senior officials in Downing Street, the Home Office and the security services.” It continues:

Western intelligence agencies say they have been forced into the rescue operations after Moscow gained access to more than 1m classified files held by the former American security contractor, who fled to seek protection from Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, after mounting one of the largest leaks in U.S. history.

Senior government sources confirmed that China had also cracked the encrypted documents, which contain details of secret intelligence techniques and information that could allow British and American spies to be identified.

One senior Home Office official accused Snowden of having “blood on his hands,” although Downing Street said there was “no evidence of anyone being harmed.”

Aside from the serious retraction-worthy fabrications on which this article depends — more on those in a minute — the entire report is a self-negating joke. It reads like a parody I might quickly whip up in order to illustrate the core sickness of Western journalism.

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Palmer warns of covert surveillance occurring everyday

Clive Palmer delivers his maiden speech to parliament

Billionaire MP Clive Palmer delivers his maiden speech to federal parliament, calling on Australians to ‘pull together for the common good under the Southern Cross’.

Clive Palmer delivers his maiden speech to parliament

02 December 2013

Spied on? … Clive Palmer delivers his maiden speech in parliament. Pic: Strange Ray Source: News Limited

CONTROVERSIAL mining magnate turned politician Clive Palmer says he is worried Australia’s top spy agency ASIO is listening into his phone calls and monitoring his emails.

The billionaire, who was elected into the Sunshine Coast electorate of Fairfax in September, said he was speaking to fellow MPs about potentially setting up an inquiry to uncover the extent of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation’s spying on politicians.

You’re being watched … Palmer talks with Queensland MP Bob Katter. Source: News Limited

Mr Palmer said he was “surprised” when crossbench senator Nick Xenophon first shone a light on political surveillance in the Senate recently and revealed that some politicians were having their phones tapped and emails checked by spooks.

“That’s a very disturbing thing generally for Australia,” Mr Palmer said.

“I’d be interested in knowing if my phone is tapped, are my emails being intercepted?


“I would also be interested in knowing if ASIO has any other foreign intelligence services reporting the activities of the members of this place because we all know the plausible deniability that has been used in Washington, London and most of the other intelligence services when they get other intelligence services to do their dirty work.”

Mr Palmer, who has recently been involved in funding and building a replica of the Titanic, said a full inquiry into the extent of the spying should be considered.

“It’s very disappointing and it is very dangerous that this type of political surveillance is going on and we need to do something to stop it,” Mr Palmer said.

“I’ll be talking about (an inquiry) to other members because it is very disturbing that this type of thing is going on.”

Mr Palmer’s suspicions over political surveillance comes as the government is dealing with the fallout of the Indonesian spying saga and new revelations that the Defence Signals Directorate was collecting metadata from everyday citizens.

The Abbott government has already confirmed it is bracing for more embarrassing intelligence leaks but says it will not take a backwards step on spying.

Defence Minister David Johnston has told industry and defence experts that the government is assuming the worst when it comes to further possible leaks from fugitive US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The event in Canberra on Monday was closed to the media but audio was obtained by The West Australian newspaper and made available on its website.

“Suffice to say that this is not an area that I can get into in great detail, but I simply say assume the worst,” Senator Johnston told the gathering.

Palmer calls for thought revolution

Clive Palmer has credited his party with the coalition government’s election.

“We are watching with great acuity what is happening in the space. But we must assume the worst. There is no alternative for us.”

Senator Johnston says the “Five Eyes” intelligence sharing arrangement between Australian, the US, the UK, Canada and New Zealand had achieved “amazing and wonderful things”.

“We have invested far too much to even contemplate a backward step,” he said.

“We must assume the worst but we’ve got to toughen up and get on with the job.”

Mr Palmer’s comments this morning follow his maiden speech in parliament yesterday in which he spoke of his family and his love for Australia, called for unity, more women in parliament and a bigger effort to get the nation back on track.