Abramson: U.K. asked New York Times to ‘relinquish’ Snowden material

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Representatives from the United Kingdom’s embassy in Washington, D.C., asked New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson to “relinquish any material that we might be reporting on, relating to Edward Snowden,” she tells Guardian reporter Ed Pilkington. “Needless to say I considered what they told me, and said no.”

Earlier this year, Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger wrote in August that two representatives of Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters oversaw “the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian’s basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents.”

Former U.K. Independent Editor Chris Blackhurst writes that he wouldn’t have published Snowden material. He asks: “where is the story?

If it’s that the security services monitor emails and phone calls, and use internet searches to track down terrorists and would-be terrorists – including, I now read, something called the “dark net” – I cannot get wound up about it.

The Independent “also received information from the Snowden files” this year, Blackhurst writes. It didn’t publish “much of the information we were given because the Government, in the shape of a Defence Advisory Notice or “DA” notice, asked us to desist, in the interests of national security.”

Last week National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander told Tom Brokaw bad guys “listen, they see what has come out in the press and they adjust,” Julia Angwin reports.

He said the damage from the leaks is irreversible. “I believe people will die because we won’t be able to stop some of those threats.”

That critique might “have some weight if others in the intelligence community hadn’t already noted that terrorists already know all of this and avoided using these systems,” Mike Masnick writes.

Having followed pretty closely what the Snowden docs have revealed, it’s not at all clear how any of it would actually make it more difficult for the NSA to do its job. It basically revealed that they’re tapping a bunch of things that most people realized weren’t particularly secure in the first place.

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