American and British spy agencies have worked to defeat most forms of Internet encryption, even going so far as to insert “back doors” into security products that allow them access to communications most would consider private.
That’s the rattling news contained in stories published Thursday as a result of a collaboration, news of which BuzzFeed broke in late August, between The New York Times, the Guardian and ProPublica. The stories are reported out from documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
Any such complicated collaboration on such an important story is going to generate intense interest: In what combination did the organizations share reporting, editing and source materials, for instance? The New York Times and ProPublica ran what appears to be the same story, credited to the Times’ Nicole Perlroth and Scott Shane and ProPublica’s Jeff Larson.
The Guardian’s story is credited to James Ball, Julian Borger and Glenn Greenwald. Both stories say intelligence officials asked the news organizations not to publish the stories, and that they removed some facts but published anyway. ProPublica wrote a separate article about its decision to publish. Did all three remove the same facts? How closely did the three operations cooperate?
Very closely, if the organizations’ responses to such questions are any indication.
ProPublica spokesperson Mike Webb: “I think the story speaks for itself and what’s been published online should help answer your questions.”
Guardian spokesperson Gennady Kolker: “As to your questions, the stories speak for themselves. We’re not going to comment on anything beyond that at this time.”
New York Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy: “For now, we’re going to let the story speak for itself and not focus on the process or collaboration in reporting it.”
Better a disappointed media reporter than an enlightened intelligence official, I guess.
Correction: This post originally gave an inaccurate timeline for when ProPublica joined the collaboration.