As DSWright informs us on the FDL front page, in today’s Guardian Glenn Greenwald and Spencer Ackerman show from documents that the Obama administration continued a Bush era program called Stellar Wind, in which the NSA collected bulk internet metadata involving “communications with at least one communicant outside the United States or for which no communicant was known to be a citizen of the United States.” Moreover, although a named administration official claimed that the program ended in 2011 (while — significantly — acknowledging that it did exist until then), in another article Greenwald and Ackerman argue from other evidence that such collection is still going on even if not under that program.
This comes amid a fascination with the figure of Edward Snowden, the leaker of this and previously highlighted information, which supplements the ongoing hero vs. traitor debate with the tabloid-like account of the US attempt to secure him and of the resistance to the attempt by the rest of the world. (There the story seems to have segued from white Bronco to where’s Waldo, thus bringing in additional speculation involving a revival of cold war politics — the names of Graham Greene and Robert Ludlum have been cited.) In addition, there is a dispute over whether or not Greenwald is a true journalist, in which he himself has chosen to engage. Will all this still dominate the headlines in the coming days in view of the new revelations?
Here it is well to remember what happened after the last revelations, the June 20 release of two 2009 memos describing exception-ridden procedures to be followed in supposedly guarding against surveillance of US persons. The very next day the government first leaked, then unsealed their week-old indictment of Edward Snowden, and also suddenly decided that the evidence of chemical weapons use by the Syrian government was conclusive and announced military aid to the rebels. That did pretty much drown out specific discussion of the 2009 memos, although not entirely the general criticism of NSA surveillance. What will the government do next to distract attention from the new Greenwald release?
We may have part of the answer already. It seems a bit too coincidental that the Massachusetts US Attorney’s office has just announced a 30-count, 74 page, throw-it-all-against-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks indictment of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for the Boston marathon bombing and allegedly associated matters. There is certainly no way that that development will fail to garner some news coverage.
But stay tuned.