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Category Archives: Media Criticism

The CIA in Hollywood: How the Agency Shapes Film and Television

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Friday, April 17, 2015 at 11:00 AM

Though everyone would surely prefer otherwise, public relations crises are part of the CIA’s ordinary business. The fact that so much of its work is classified puts the Agency in one of those tricky, plumber-like governmental roles: when it does its job right, no one should notice. But when it screws up, there’s a mess, . . .
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“A Necessary, If Still Unpalatable, Potential Ally in Combating the Islamic State”

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Thursday, April 2, 2015 at 9:07 AM

Remember these words the next time the New York Times runs a pious editorial decrying—with a spurious combination of selective facts and distorted law—some morally complicated aspect of U.S. counterterrorism policy. Remember them the next time the New York Times runs an editorial invoking the great moral authority of the paper of record on, well, just about anything. Remember them because . . .
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No Need to Prosecute Bowe Bergdahl?

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Friday, March 27, 2015 at 8:30 AM

I normally make a point of not arguing with New York Times editorials, contenting myself with my role as their unofficial fact-checker on national security legal matters. (Don’t thank me.) I find myself called, however, to say a substantive word about today’s editorial, “No Need to Prosecute Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.” There’s no specific factual error . . .
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The Washington Post Fingers the Person Behind the Snowden Disclosures!

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015 at 2:15 PM

In what is surely a typographical error, the Washington Post has named NSA General Counsel Raj De as the man behind the Snowden disclosures: De’s last day was Friday, and he plans to start at Mayer Brown in June as head of the firm’s privacy and security practice in Washington. He had been NSA’s general counsel . . .
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Did the New York Times Editorial Page Accuse General Petraeus of a Crime Spree?

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015 at 11:44 AM

I’m not sure, but I think so. From today’s editorial, entitled, “Gen. Petraeus’s Light Punishment“: Mr. Petraeus, who charmed and provided extraordinary access to handpicked journalists and national security experts during his tours running the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was all too familiar with the currency of classified information in the battleground of public . . .
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The Real Story Behind Citizenfour’s Oscar

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Monday, February 23, 2015 at 4:21 PM

Like a lot of Lawfare readers, we were pretty surprised by Citizenfour‘s triumph at the Oscars last night. It wasn’t just that there was Glenn Greenwald, foe of all things mainstream, holding—of all things—that picture of establishment respectability, the Oscar. It was, more importantly, the question of who the heck decided to honor this paranoid and self-congratulatory film? . . .
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The New York Times Public Editor Backs James Risen’s “Truth-Telling”

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Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 5:09 PM

Soon after Jack posted this piece on James Risen’s attacks on Eric Holder, which Ben had criticized earlier, the New York Times’s Public Editor, Margaret Sullivan, wrote a post in support of Risen’s tweets. Reasonable people will differ over the right norms for journalists on Twitter—an issue Ben’s original post and Sullivan’s both engage. But there is one . . .
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Risen, Holder, and Journalists’ Sensitivity to Accountability

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Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 2:24 PM

I largely agree with Ben’s critique of James Risen’s sharp twitter criticisms of Attorney General Holder, but want to add (or reiterate) several points. First, to underscore what Ben says, the absence of a First Amendment reporter’s privilege long preceded Eric Holder and cannot plausibly be said to be part of his “legacy,” as Risen . . .
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James Risen’s Twitter Tirade Against Eric Holder

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015 at 10:19 PM

Yesterday, speaking at the National Press Club, Attorney General Eric Holder was asked a question about the Obama administration’s prosecution of leakers, and he offered the following thoughts: Question: The Obama administration has prosecuted eight alleged whistleblowers under the Espionage Act, more than all previous presidential administrations combined. What justifies this more aggressive posture towards leakers? . . .
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Pew Poll on Investigative Journalists and Digital Security

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Monday, February 9, 2015 at 7:51 AM

This is interesting. From the Pew Research Center: About two-thirds of investigative journalists surveyed (64%) believe that the U.S. government has probably collected data about their phone calls, emails or online communications, and eight-in-ten believe that being a journalist increases the likelihood that their data will be collected. Those who report on national security, foreign . . .
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The Intercept, SecureDrop, and Foreign Intelligence Services: A Response

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Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 2:30 PM

Those readers who do not spend a lot of time on Twitter may have missed the beating Ben has been taking there for this post last week suggesting that the folks at The Intercept may be overestimating their security capabilities relative to the offensive capabilities of nation state intelligence services. The claim in the original article was . . .
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Safe Havens Still Matter

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015 at 9:13 PM

Micah Zenko and Amelia M. Wolf, both with the Council on Foreign Relations, have a new piece in Foreign Policy which argues against the “myth” that safe havens allow terrorists a space in which to flourish. They claim that this myth has only led us fruitlessly abroad in search of monsters to destroy. It’s a stunning . . .
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Moral Obtuseness, Guantanamo, Boko Haram, and the Media

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 6:18 PM

This morning’s BBC’s NewsHour show opened with a news judgment reflecting a genuinely odd moral calculus. At the end of the show’s headlines section, announcer James Menendez says: “coming up later in the program today, our West Africa correspondent . . . is on the shores of Lake Chad, where survivors—many of them missing family members—have . . .
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There is Nothing Wrong with Comey Criticizing the NYT

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Friday, January 16, 2015 at 1:30 PM

The U.S. government has effectively granted journalists immunity from prosecution for violating the criminal prohibitions on publication of certain classified information, and it has begun to recognize a norm against forcing journalists to disclose their sources.  As I wrote in Power and Constraint, “Underlying this persistent restraint [by the USG] is a recognition—based in part . . .
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Misunderstanding Terrorism: Charlie Hebdo Didn’t Provoke the Killers

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Monday, January 12, 2015 at 3:01 PM

Some commentators who have condemned the Charlie Hebdo killings have, in the same breath, criticized the publication for being unnecessarily provocative. Last Wednesday over at the New York Times, Ross Douthat countered the “unnecessary” half of this characterization, writing: “If a large enough group of someones is willing to kill you for saying something, then . . .
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The Intercept Finds an Anonymous Source It Can Trust

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Friday, January 9, 2015 at 4:34 PM

For years, Glenn Greenwald has been railing against against mainstream newspapers for, as he put it just the other day, “as usual—corruptly grant[ing] anonymity to ‘senior administration officials’ to disseminate their inflammatory claims with no accountability.” At last, however, Greenwald’s publication, the always-adversarial The Intercept, has found an organization worthy of trust, one to whose senior officials it can . . .
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The Onion’s Minotaur Video

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Friday, December 12, 2014 at 12:17 PM

No news source in any medium captures the CIA interrogation debate more fully than this video from the Onion, which bears reposting this week:

A Further Thought on the Demise of the New Republic

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Friday, December 5, 2014 at 8:47 AM

Jack summed up well my feelings on yesterday’s news about the New Republic, and I have only two things to add—one of them institutional and one of them personal. On the institutional side, as readers know, Lawfare has had a productive relationship with TNR for a while now, one in which TNR promoted Lawfare‘s content and in which we developed . . .
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On the Sad Collapse of the New Republic [UPDATED]

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Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 6:21 PM

I’ve read the New Republic since college.  And I’ve read book reviews in the “back of the book,” edited by Leon Wieseltier, most devotedly.  I have always loved the books he chose and the reviews he edited.  Through many different styles of Editor-in-Chief and other upheavals at the magazine over the years, Leon’s book reviews . . .
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Khorasan: Not Quite Out of Nowhere

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Monday, September 29, 2014 at 9:31 PM

In a post this weekend, to which both Jack and Ben have already written responses, Glenn Greenwald suggests the Khorasan group is a “wholesale concoction” that appeared “seemingly out of nowhere” in the press in the run-up to the current campaign. In contrast to Greenwald’s claim, the Long War Journal has a series of posts dating . . .
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