Monday, August 18, 2014

NPR Serves One Master and it's not the Public

by Jason Peirce
Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman have a new article, “NPR is Laundering CIA Talking Points to Make You Scared of NSA Reporting,” revealing the agenda and interests behind a recent NPR news story. As well as exposing NPR, the revelation serves as a reminder to ask of every news story: Qui bono? To whose benefit? And then to follow up that question with another question: what are the implications of the answer of “Qui bono?” for freedom? As for the NPR story, the intended beneficiary is the United States Government -- The State -- at the expense of freedom –yours and mine.  
In short, on August 1, 2014, NPR broadcast a story on a report by two tech firms purporting to contain “tangible evidence” validating the U.S. Government’s claims that
revelations from former NSA contract worker Edward Snowden harmed national security and allowed terrorists to develop their own countermeasures.” 
 Greenwald and Fishman assert that the intention of NPR was to “seriously misled NPR’s millions of listeners.” Why? It turns out that one of writers of the report, the tech firm Recorded Future, is “funded by the CIA and U.S. intelligence community with millions of dollars” and had filed forms to become a vendor for the NSA. Wired magazine also notes that Recorded Future had the backing of both “the investment arms of the CIA and Google.” One such “investment arm,” Q-Tel, holds seats on Recorded Future’s board of directors, while also holding the firm in its portfolio. Greenwald and Fishman note that even The New York Times (which also is often accused of disseminating U.S. Government propaganda) reported on the connections in 2011: “Recorded Future is financed with $8 million from the likes of Google’s venture arm and In-Q-Tel, which makes investments to benefit the United States intelligence community, and its clients have included government agencies and banks.” 
 As for the other writer of the report at the center of NPR’s broadcast, that’s Mario Vuksan, cyber-expert and CEO of the firm ReversingLabs. Vuksan “has his own significant financial ties to the U.S. intelligence community. In 2012, In-Q-Tel proudly touted a ‘strategic partnership’ with ReversingLabs to develop new technology for the Department of Homeland Security. Vuskan hailed the partnership as vital to his company’s future prospects.” 
 Most revealing though, is the fact that NPR’s reporter for the story, Dina Temple-Raston, was aware of the questionable connections and conflicts of interest: “Worse, Temple-Raston knows all of this. Back in 2012,NPR’s Morning Edition broadcast her profile of Recorded Future and itsclaimed ability to predict the future by gathering internet data. At the end of her report, she noted that the firm has ‘at least two very important financial backers: the CIA’s investment arm, called In-Q-Tel, and Google Ventures. They have reportedly poured millions into the company.’ That is the company she’s now featuring as some sort of independent source that can credibly vindicate the claims of U.S. officials about how Snowden reporting helps terrorists.”
 Greenwald and Fishman continue:
               “If one wants to argue that a government-mimicking report from a company that is funded by the CIA, and whose board is composed in part of its investment arm, and which centrally relies on research from another CIA partner is somehow newsworthy—fine, one can have that debate. But to pass it off as some sort of independent analysis without even mentioning those central ties is reckless and deceitful—especially when, as is true here, the reporter doing it clearly knows about those ties… Beyond all these CIA connections, the conclusion touted in the NPR report—that al-Qaeda developed more sophisticated encryption techniques due to the Snowden reporting—is dubious in the extreme. It is also undercut by documents contained in the Snowden archive… The Recorded Future “report”… is designed to bolster the year-long fear-mongering campaign of U.S. and British officials arguing that terrorists would realize the need to hide their communications and develop effective means of doing so by virtue of the Snowden reporting. Predictably, former NSA General Counsel Stewart Baker promptly seized on the report (still concealing the firm’s CIA connections from readers) to argue in The Washington Post that “the evidence is mounting that Edward Snowden and his journalist allies have helped al-Qaeda improve their security against NSA surveillance… But actual terrorists—long before the Snowden reporting—have been fixated on developing encryption methods and other techniques to protect their communications from electronic surveillance. And they have succeeded in a quite sophisticated manner...As has long been clear, “the terrorists” did not need Snowden reporting to know that the U.S. and its partners are doing everything possible to monitor their communications… But the key revelation of the Snowden reporting is that the surveillance system built in secret by the NSA and its partners is directed at hundreds of millions of ordinary people and entire populations rather than “the terrorists” (my bold)… In sum, Recorded Future is a CIA-dependent company devoted to spreading pro-government propaganda, no matter how absurd…It’s hardly surprising that these kinds of firms, linked to and dependent on the largesse of the U.S. intelligence community, produce pro-government tripe of this sort. That’s their function. It’s the job of media outlets to scrutinize these claims, not mindlessly repeat and then glorify them as NPR did here.” 
 Qui bono? Who is the intended beneficiary of the NPR story? What are the implications of the answer, for freedom? Qui bono? Who is the intended beneficiary of the Greenwald and Fishman story? What are the implications of the answer, for freedom?
In closing, here are two quick points. One, media propagandizing for The State is nothing new. In reference to The New York Times, here is an excellent inquiry by Robert Wenzel “Is the New York Times an Agent of the Government?”. Two, it’s often more important what is edited out of a news story. One recent example is The New York Times’ coverage of Cliven Bundy. Whatever one feels about Bundy personally, or the legality of his cause, he was widely characterized as an ignorant bigot. Here is a link to the statements of Bundy which The New York Times chose to edit. Qui bono?

5 comments:

  1. Good save bedwere. Combined Spanish and Latin: "Splatin" :)

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  2. ...or Latin and French: "Latrench"

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  3. What amazes me is how readily people suck propaganda up as the truth without any critical reasoning or thought.

    For all intents and purposes, we live in The Matrix and most people take the blue pill. And I'm not saying it's their fault either. Who's got the time to research all the propaganda that gets spewed out?! It's a lot easier now because of the internet, as the cost is lower, but still. People work, they have families, they are struggling just to make ends meat because The Fed destroys their purchasing power daily.

    I wouldn't be surprised if this is part of the overall plan of divide and conquer. You can't focus on the actions of the state when you're just trying to make a living every day. Everything the state does actually focuses on taking away critical thinking and problem solving from the public. "Public" education is the start, and the "News" media conglomerates are the reinforcement.

    One thing that you can only see over long term is how diplomacy no longer exists in public and private life. Society has changed a lot over the past few decades. It's like straight out of 1984. New wars and enemies then old wars and old enemies with new contexts. Orwell must be laughing 6 feet under.

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  4. Excellent comments Cory Brickner---on point with each. Especially your point that it’s hard to stay informed when just trying to pay the bills. You’re right. The lens we see through—the frame—can help. “Cui bono?” and “freedom” are excellent lenses and frames. Interesting point on societal changes as well. The breakdown of civil society would make Marx proud.
    Not to exonerate the NYT, but interestingly, Dowd just wrote “Obama is channeling Orwell”: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/17/opinion/sunday/maureen-dowd-wheres-the-justice-at-justice.html?emc=eta1&_r=0
    It’s about time.

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