Boing Boing 

Trevor Timm

Trevor Timm is a co-founder and the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. He is a writer, activist, and lawyer who specializes in free speech and government transparency issues. His work has appeared in The Atlantic, Al Jazeera, Foreign Policy, The Guardian, Harvard Law and Policy Review, Politico, PBS MediaShift and Salon. Trevor formerly worked as an activist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Before that, he helped the longtime General Counsel of The New York Times, James Goodale, write a book on the Pentagon Papers and the First Amendment. In 2013, he received the Hugh Hefner First Amendment Award for journalism.

Justice Department contradicts Attorney General Loretta Lynch's claims about Patriot Act

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch was just interviewed by CBS News, fearmongering about losing Section 215 of the Patriot Act if Congress fails to re-authorize it. Only problem for her is the DoJ's own IG just released a report today that directly contradicts what she said. Read the rest

US officials leak information about the ISIS raid that’s more sensitive than anything Snowden ever leaked

Source: Institute for the Study of War By The New York Times.


Source: Institute for the Study of War
By The New York Times.

Over the weekend, the US government announced that special forces soldiers entered Syria to conduct a raid that killed an alleged leader of ISIS, Abu Sayyaf. In the process, anonymous US officials leaked classified information to the New York Times that’s much more sensitive than anything Edward Snowden ever revealed, and it serves as a prime example of the government’s hypocrisy when it comes to disclosures of secret information.

Read the rest

Petraeus receives no jail time for leaking. Whistleblowers face decades in jail.

At the same time as David Petraeus got off with probation and a fine, the Justice Department has been pushing for extreme jail time for other leakers who talk to journalists—often over leaks of far less sensitive material.Read the rest

US Congress to vote on 'cybersecurity' bills that are basically surveillance bills in disguise

Congress is expected to vote on two 'cybersecurity' bills sometime in the next week that are essentially surveillance bills in disguise. Trevor Timm writes in this editorial, cross-posted on the Freedom of the Press blog, about how they affect journalists and whistleblowers.Read the rest

New version of SecureDrop, open-source whistleblower submission system originally created by Aaron Swartz

secure_drop_slideshowimg

At Freedom of the Press Foundation, we’re excited to announce the release of a brand new version of SecureDrop, our open source whistleblower system which media organizations can use to communicate and receive documents from sources.

Read the rest

The James Risen case and Eric Holder's tarnished press freedom legacy

Eric Holder. Photo: Reuters


Eric Holder. Photo: Reuters

Attorney General Holder raised some eyebrows yesterday when answering a question about his Justice Department’s notorious crackdown on leaks, and by extension the press, most notably saying this about its notorious pursuit of New York Times reporter James Risen, while claiming the DOJ did nothing wrong:

Read the rest

Barrett Brown’s sentence is unjust, but it may become the norm for journalists

Jailed, in part, because he shared a link to a stolen document that he did not steal, and despite the fact that this is not a crime.Read the rest

British spy agency intercepted emails of journalists, considers them 'threats' alongside terrorists and hackers

Edward Snowden.


Edward Snowden.

Newly disclosed documents from Edward Snowden, revealed by the Guardian, show that the British spy agency (and close NSA partner) GCHQ intercepted emails from many of the US and UK’s most well-known news organizations, including the New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, Reuters, the Guardian, Le Monde, the Sun, and NBC.

Read the rest

If Petraeus is charged over leaks, feds may use same law they're going after Snowden with

David Petraeus, L, used a pseudonymous Gmail account to sext biographer/lover Paula Broadwell, R. They were outed in part by Gmail metadata.

In a surprising development, the New York Times reported late Friday that the FBI and Justice Department have recommended felony charges against ex-CIA director David Petraeus for leaking classified information to his former biographer and mistress Paula Broadwell. While the Times does not specify, the most likely law prosecutors would charge Petraeus under is the same as Edward Snowden and many other leakers: the 1917 Espionage Act.

Read the rest

Obama’s Justice Department secretly helped kill FOIA transparency bill

U.S. President Barack Obama looks toward Attorney General Eric Holder. Justice Department investigators have engaged in aggressive tactics against journalists in recent months. [Reuters]


U.S. President Barack Obama looks toward Attorney General Eric Holder. Justice Department investigators have engaged in aggressive tactics against journalists in recent months. [Reuters]

We’ve long known the Justice Department’s stance on transparency has been hypocritical and disingenuous. But they’ve really outdone themselves this time.

Read the rest

Watch: 2 years before Snowden, Barrett Brown on why reporters should be covering intel contractors

Today, a judge in Dallas will decide the fate of journalist Barrett Brown, who is being sentenced in a case that has been fraught with controversy and deplorable conduct by the Justice Department from its beginning in 2013. Brown, who author Barry Eisler profiled earlier today, was one of the very few reporters covering intelligence contractors and their role in mass surveillance of citizens around the world for years before we ever heard the name Edward Snowden.

Director Brian Knappenberger, whose film The Internet's Own Boy was just short-listed for an Oscar, has released to us this previously unpublished outtake interview of Brown from his previous film We Are Legion. Brown's description of these shadowy contractors and the necessity of journalists to uncover their secrets is uncanny, given the interview was conducted almost two years before the first NSA leaks from Snowden. Watch Knappenberger's clip above.

Feds given deadline to subpoena NYT reporter over CIA leak

Reporter James Risen of the New York Times and author of the book, "State of War" speaks during a taping of "Meet the Press" at NBC studios January 8, 2006 in Washington, DC.  Image: NBC


Reporter James Risen of the New York Times and author of the book, "State of War" speaks during a taping of "Meet the Press" at NBC studios January 8, 2006 in Washington, DC. Image: NBC

Now is not exactly the best time for Obama's Justice Department to be subpoenaing one of the nation's best journalists for reporting on a spectacularly botched CIA operation, but that's the decision Attorney General Eric Holder faces this week.

Read the rest

New Zealand police raided home of reporter working on Snowden documents. Here's how you can support his defense.

Photo via The Intercept


Photo via The Intercept

On October 6th, New Zealand police raided the house of one of the country’s best independent investigative journalists, Nicky Hager, seizing many of his family’s belongings and his reporting equipment—all in the search for one of his sources. This is a flagrant violation of basic press freedom rights, and today we are announcing a campaign to assist Hager in raising money for his legal defense.

Read the rest

Cognitive Dissonance about the FBI and NSA at 60 Minutes

FBI Director James Comey speaks with Scott Pelley.


FBI Director James Comey speaks with Scott Pelley.

60 Minutes, which has been harshly criticized for running puff pieces for the NSA and FBI recently, is at it again.

Read the rest

Eric Holder was the worst Attorney General for the press in a generation. We deserve better.

eric_holder

Attorney General Eric Holder announced he would resign yesterday, after serving as the nation’s top law enforcement official since President Obama came into office in 2009. Holder will leave behind a complex and hotly debated legacy at the Justice Department on many issues, but one thing is clear: he was the worst Attorney General on press freedom issues in a generation, possibly since Richard Nixon’s John Mitchell pioneered the subpoenaing of reporters and attempted to censor the Pentagon Papers.

Read the rest

When can FBI use National Security letters to go after reporters? Sorry, that's classified.

 U.S. President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have been vigorous in combating leaks. KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS


U.S. President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have been vigorous in combating leaks. KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS

Two weeks ago, the DOJ Inspector General released a report on the FBI’s use of National Security Letters (NSLs)—-the controversial (and unconstitutional) surveillance instruments used to gather personal information of Americans without any prior oversight from a judge. In a little-noticed passage buried in the report, the IG describes how NSLs have been used on journalists in the past, and indicates that the FBI can currently circumvent the Justice Department’s media guidelines to do so in the future.

Read the rest

The lie about Edward Snowden that just won't die

Edward Snowden

We’ve fact-checked statements in the media about Edward Snowden and the NSA before, but by far the biggest falsehood being spread by government advocates is the alleged fact that he took 1.7 million documents from the NSA.

All the parties involved—Snowden, the journalists, and even the government—either deny it or have said they have no reason to believe it is true, yet it has become the go-to number when discussing Snowden's case. It's time news organizations start issuing corrections.

Glenn Greenwald wrote about this last week, showing that news outlets have taken the statement by an NSA official on 60 Minutes that Snowden—at one point or another in his career—“accessed” or “touched” millions of documents and warped it into a claim that he’d stolen that many:

Ever since then, that Snowden “stole” 1.7 or 1.8 million documents from the NSA has been repeated over and over again by US media outlets as verified fact. The Washington Post‘s Walter Pincus, citing an anonymous official source, purported to tell readers that “among the roughly 1.7 million documents he walked away with — the vast majority of which have not been made public — are highly sensitive, specific intelligence reports”. Reuters frequently includes in its reports the unchallenged assertion that “Snowden was believed to have taken 1.7 million computerized documents.” Just this week, the global news agency told its readers that “Snowden was believed to have taken 1.7 million computerized documents.”

As Greenwald pointed out, in an interview given to the Australian Financial Review, former NSA chief Keith Alexander was asked point blank if the NSA can really say how many documents Snowden took. Here's what he said:

Well, I don’t think anybody really knows what he actually took with him, because the way he did it, we don’t have an accurate way of counting. What we do have an accurate way of counting is what he touched, what he may have downloaded, and that was more than a million documents.

Read that again. They do not know how many documents he took. But this actually isn’t anything new, we’ve known this for months. After the New York Times reported Snowden “accessed” 1.7 million files in February, they also wrote, albeit a dozen paragraphs later, that DIA head General Michael Flynn admitted in Congressional testimony they still had “a great deal of uncertainty about what Mr. Snowden possessed. ‘Everything that he touched, we assume that he took,’ said General Flynn.” In other words, they have no idea.

Despite these known facts, even this week, the Wall Street Journal has published an incredibly irresponsible piece by Edward Jay Epstein, who based an entire op-ed around the false 1.7 million statement as a way to claim that Snowden is working for a foreign goverment. And look what happens when you Google the phrase “Snowden 1.7 million”: He either “took,” “has,” or “stole” nearly 2 million documents is all over the entire front page.

So to sum up, Edward Snowden has said the number is made up, the journalists involved deny they have 1.7 million documents, and the government has stated multiple times they do not know how many documents he took. Literally no party in the NSA story believes the 1.7 million number is true, yet most media organizations claim it’s a fact.

We look forward to Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, and others who have been peddling this fictitious number issuing corrections.