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Category Archives: Media Criticism

A Very Brief Reply to Glenn Greenwald

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Sunday, March 23, 2014 at 9:16 AM

Over at his new publication, The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald has a piece taking to task those criticizing Edward Snowden for news stories that, in fact, reflect the editorial judgments of the newspapers that published them. I actually agree with Greenwald about this. I have criticized both the New York Times and the Washington Post for their editorial judgments . . .
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From Planet Egypt

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 12:21 PM

This is from a real Egyptian government web site, that of the State Information Service. Headline: “US chargé d’affaires in Egypt denies US plot against Egypt.” Here’s how the text opens: US Chargé d’Affaires in Egypt Marc Sievers said on Tuesday  15/2/2014 that there is no US plot against Egypt, stressing that the US administration . . .
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A Question for the New York Times

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Monday, February 24, 2014 at 12:45 PM

The New York Times has an editorial today about the need for data privacy legislation and about the report that president adviser John Podesta is putting together on big data and privacy. “The president and the public need from Mr. Podesta and his team not only a thorough description of how businesses are collecting private data but . . .
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The Latest Snowden Leak: NSA Isn’t Spying on Lawyers

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Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 9:11 AM

Unless the public is really tiring of matters Snowden, the New York Times’s latest is going to stir up the hornet’s nest. “Spying by N.S.A. Ally Entangled U.S. Law Firm,” blares the headline of the story by reporter James Risen and freelancer Laura Poitras—from whom the Times (which insists it never pays for information) sometimes . . .
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Spinning the IMF Report on Iran Sanctions

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Thursday, February 13, 2014 at 3:04 PM

I am amused today by these two headlines about the IMF’s just-released assessment of Iran’s economy and the effects of remaining sanctions: the New York Times reports that I.M.F. Study Details Perils of Iranian Economy, while the Wall Street Journal reports that Iran’s Economy Improving Amid Nuclear Talks. Since one of the most difficult challenges . . .
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Looks Like I’m Not Alone in My View of the New York Times Editorial Page

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 4:31 PM

According to the New York Observer, anyway, the news staff seems to agree with me: IT’S WELL KNOWN AMONG THE SMALL WORLD of people who pay attention to such things that the liberal-leaning reporters at The Wall Street Journal resent the conservative-leaning editorial page of The Wall Street Journal. What’s less well known—and about to break into the open, threatening the very . . .
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Two Thoughts on the Sanger/Shanker Story on NSA Infiltration of Foreign Networks

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 6:56 AM

David Sanger and Thom Shanker have a lengthy story in the NYT about various NSA techniques for penetrating foreign computers and networks, including a strategy for accessing seemingly air-gapped computers.  Two thoughts: First, this article shows how much publication norms have changed in recent years.  (Sanger and Shanker note that the NYT did not publish . . .
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Describing Bob Litt in Contradictory Terms?

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 8:04 AM

In his profile yesterday of DNI General Counsel Bob Litt, the Washington Post‘s Greg Miller writes: Litt has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates and causes, and friends describe him in somewhat contradictory terms: an avowed liberal on social issues but a true believer in the propriety of surveillance programs such as those . . .
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Best Correction of the Month

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 7:46 PM

From the Financial Times: Apology to His Excellency Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al Khalifa An article about detainees at Guantanamo Bay in FT Weekend (‘Guantanamo inmates face two divergent paths after 12 years’, Dec 21/22) was mistakenly accompanied by a photograph of Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al Khalifa, foreign minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain, . . .
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My Correspondence with Rick Perlstein: You Decide

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Monday, December 23, 2013 at 4:13 PM

On Saturday, I posted this piece in response to a particularly slimy blog post on The Nation‘s web site. The post dealt with Lawfare‘s relationship with the New Republic and the sponsorship of our joint Security States project by Northrop Grumman. The post contained preponderantly false information—particularly about Jack—and Perlstein had not bothered to contact either Jack or me . . .
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Eugene Robinson Gets it Wrong on Drones

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013 at 7:53 AM

Over at the Washington Post, columnist Eugene Robinson has a piece decrying the morality of drone strikes—a piece that expresses with an admirable economy of words nearly every conceptual error one can make on the subject. Let’s dissect. The problems begin right at the top, where Robinson begins by conceding that “U.S. drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan . . .
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Disclosing Secrets

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at 9:29 AM

As a short follow up to Ben’s post about the editorial judgment of the Washington Post, I am reminded of what the New York Times Public Editor, Byron Calame said about the SWIFT disclosures, in an opinion piece entitled “Banking Data: A Mea Culpa” (scroll to the second entry on the second page): Since the . . .
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Blowing Secrets for the Sake of Doing So?

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at 8:45 AM

The Washington Post this morning has the latest Snowden-leaked document story: “The National Security Agency is harvesting hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal e-mail and instant messaging accounts around the world, many of them belonging to Americans, according to senior intelligence officials and top-secret documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.” The story has a lot of . . .
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The NSA, the Washington Post, and the Administration

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Sunday, August 18, 2013 at 12:00 PM

I cannot decide if I am more annoyed at the Washington Post or more annoyed at the Obama administration for the way this latest cache of Snowden-leaked NSA documents is playing. I have now gone through the documents with some care, and I find both the Post’s formulation of the story and the administration’s response to the . . .
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A Hard-To-Justify Leak

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Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 9:08 AM

Eli Lake and Josh Rogin have an amazing story at the Daily Beast about how last week’s closure of embassies was prompted by a USG intercept of a conference call of “more than twenty” leaders of AQ and affiliates from around the globe.  In addition to describing the conference call in detail, Lake and Rogin note that . . .
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More on that Non-Jaw-Dropping, Non-U-Turn by Bill Lietzau

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Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 2:25 AM

Yesterday, I posted posted this little piece objecting to a Daily Mail story‘s account of its interview with Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense William Lietzau, in which it describes a “jaw-dropping U-turn” by Lietzau on Guantanamo and detention policy. The piece wasn’t mainly about military commissions, but the following passage from Jess Bravin’s book, The Terror Courts: . . .
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A “Jaw-Dropping U-Turn” Story that Isn’t

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013 at 8:20 AM

I saw this breathless story in the Daily Mail by reporter David Rose a few hours after seeing William Lietzau, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee matters, at a social event: The Pentagon official in charge of Guantanamo Bay has admitted that if he had his time over, he would have argued that the notorious detention . . .
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New York Times Edit: “No One Has Questioned the N.S.A.’s Role in Collecting Intelligence Overseas”

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 1:29 AM

The New York Times editorial page is annoyed, though not surprised, that some politicians are trying to exploit the [embassy closure] episode by arguing that it proves the value of the National Security Agency’s domestic intelligence sweeps. On Sunday, Senator Saxby Chambliss, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said of the N.S.A. sweeps: “If . . .
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The New York Times Declares Al Qaeda Membership Legitimate Political Activity

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Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 12:00 PM

I was away when the New York Times ran its latest editorial related to national security legal issues, so I’m afraid I did not fly-speck “The Guantanamo Stain” for factual errors.  No matter. It doesn’t really contain many factual errors in the sense of factually-false statements of the type I normally note. It does, however, . . .
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Memo to the New York Times Editorial Page on Detention and Lawlessness

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Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 9:14 AM

There are no major factual blunders in yesterday’s New York Times editorial on the Guantanamo Bay hunger strikes, and there’s actually a fair bit in the editorial with which I agree. But I’d be negligent in my duties as the Times‘s Unpaid, Unofficial Ombudsman for Factual Matters in National Security-Oriented Editorials (a title I hereby grant myself) . . .
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