By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
Former CIA director James Woolsey accuses NSA defector Edward Snowden of having a role in the terrorist attacks in Paris. He said, “…I would give him the death sentence, and I would prefer to see him hanged by the neck until he’s dead, rather than merely electrocuted.” He added, “I think the blood of a lot of these French young people is on his hands.”
Defenders of Snowden insist that his critics are jumping to conclusions, and that it hasn’t been officially proven or confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that the terrorists used secret communications.
We know the terrorists got away with the massacre, a reality suggesting that intelligence agencies failed for one reason or another to monitor their communications and stop the attack. That evidence suggests one possibility—that terrorists used encrypted communications apps, such as Telegram, which was developed by a Russian, Pavel Durov, who was mysteriously allowed to leave Putin’s paradise and develop high technology of potential use to terrorists. Since the massacre, Telegram has reportedly been shutting down some channels used by the Islamic State, or ISIS. This constitutes incriminating but circumstantial evidence.
In a piece for Bloomberg View titled, “Don’t Blame Snowden for Terror in Paris,” Eli Lake and Josh Rogin write that the U.S. intelligence community “has never explained what specific leaks from Snowden caused what specific terrorists to go dark.”
That’s quite a demand: specific leaks and the names of specific terrorists.
Such a public explanation would be itself an illegal disclosure. It would confirm the accuracy of Snowden’s leaks to more people. Lake and Rogin add, “Current and former U.S. intelligence officials didn’t provide such information to us either this week either [sic].” Additional confirmation to these two journalists would also constitute an illegal disclosure, perhaps a form of espionage that would tip off more terrorists to forms of communications beyond the current knowledge of intelligence officials.
I don’t think the public wants to know in specific terms how the terrorists planned their carnage. I do think the public wants these massacres to stop.
Why don’t our media agree with this assessment? It’s apparently because they believe that more people have to die before they will give the intelligence agencies any slack. Perhaps the attacks have to take place on the streets of New York or Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, they will give the benefit of the doubt to Snowden, his Russian sponsors and the terrorists.
No wonder the public hates the press.
These journalists are saying to the intelligence agencies: give us specific evidence that Snowden’s disclosures aided the terrorists, and tell us what specific means of communication the terrorists employed in the Paris massacre. Otherwise, they’ll take Snowden off the hook.
Common sense tells you that such disclosures would probably make it impossible for the intelligence agencies to stop the next series of attacks, since the disclosures would alert the terrorists to what the authorities know about their activities, and would therefore prompt the terrorists to use another form of communication.
Our media don’t believe in common sense. They want to expose secrets that would make all of us more vulnerable to terrorist attack.
In a Sunday article, “Why it’s hard to draw a line between Snowden and the Paris attacks,” two Washington Post writers tried to give us their “insights.” Their conclusions were suggested by the headline. The case against Snowden hasn’t been definitively proven, at least to the satisfaction of these reporters.
Nevertheless, the paper noted that “CIA Director John O. Brennan made clear that he blames leaks by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden for enabling terrorists to evade detection.”
In addition, the paper noted:
- Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said that terrorist groups “adapted to the disclosures by Snowden and have made it more difficult for us to track their whereabouts as well as their plotting and planning.” He also said, “I do think the Snowden revelations have had an adverse security impact, because our enemies know far more about our capabilities and programs.”
- “Experts who monitor the communications and social-media postings of terrorist groups said there are indications that Islamist militants studied the Snowden coverage.”
The Post did not remind its readers that Post reporter Barton Gellman worked with Snowden on some of his disclosures. So the paper may already have the blood of those young people in Paris on its hands.
We noted evidence that a 34-page ISIS manual on how to conceal communications from the NSA and other intelligence agencies used Snowden as a source.
Elsewhere, in an editorial, the Post said, “In the past, the Islamic State has used a heavily encrypted free program known as Telegram for promotion and recruitment. Telegram said it is trying to close down the accounts, but it has not been entirely successful.”
The editorial noted that “The Paris police found an unencrypted smartphone in a trash bin near the Bataclan concert hall that contained the text message ‘Let’s go, we’re starting.’” This fact has been seized upon by Snowden defenders who claim it means that the terrorists did not use encrypted messages. Of course, by that time, there was no need to encrypt messages, since the terrorist operation was underway.
The editorial went on: “We understand the benefit of encryption, including for citizens living under authoritarian regimes. But we also do not underestimate the risks to the public that terrorists and other criminals may pose. It seems obvious that, if there is a terrible attack in the United States, privacy advocates and tech companies instantly will lose this argument.”
Yes, they will lose this argument and people will lose their lives.
“We don’t have a solution,” said the Post, “but it would be in everyone’s interest to keep looking for one, before the next catastrophe.”
How’s that for taking a stand against terrorism?
This is the attitude of the media: let’s wait for the next catastrophe to happen, and then we will run more stories about who’s to blame.
The Post previously noted that the Russian inventor of Telegram, Pavel Durov, had stated publicly that he knew “that terrorists might be using his app to communicate” and had “decided it was something he could live with.”
The paper quoted him as saying, “I think that privacy, ultimately, and our right for privacy is more important than our fear of bad things happening, like terrorism.”
It seems to me that legitimate journalists ought to start asking some tough questions about Snowden and Durov and their links to Russia. We know Snowden fled to Russia, but Durov is reported to have fled from Russia and is typically described as “the Russian-born entrepreneur.” We know enough about Putin’s authoritarian rule to understand you don’t become successful to the extent he did in Russia without the blessings of Putin and his KGB comrades.
A real opponent of Vladimir Putin, such as Bill Browder, fled Russia and lives in fear of being assassinated. Browder’s attorney was taken into custody in Russia by authorities, and was tortured and killed. Browder and those knowledgeable about Putin’s police state know what happened to former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, who disclosed Russian training of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, one of the most closely-held secrets of the KGB. Litvinenko was poisoned in London, sending a signal about what happens when the regime’s links to international terrorism are publicly revealed.
We know Snowden lives in comfort in Russia, a fact that makes Russia’s opposition to ISIS ring hollow. Even if a specific Snowden link to the Paris massacre cannot be revealed or proven, we know enough to say his disclosures have helped terrorist groups. Rep. Schiff admits that much publicly. If Russia were really opposed to ISIS, it would turn Snowden over to U.S. authorities so he could be prosecuted for espionage. Instead, Russia continues to protect the NSA leaker.
Durov left Russia, supposedly because he had disagreements with the Putin regime. But he still runs around the world developing his technology, useful by his own admission to the terrorists targeting the West. If Durov was a real threat to Russia, he would be dead by now.
The Russian connection to ISIS terrorism is what our media need to take a hard look at.
A good place to start is an article by Christian Gomez in The New American titled, “The Russian Roots of ISIS.” Research points to the Russian security services being behind the threat they ostensibly oppose.
This is not to say the Russians control all factions of ISIS, or that “blowback” cannot affect them in the same way that U.S. military interventions have unexpected consequences.
Despite the downing of the Russian plane last month, there is an anti-Western flavor to what ISIS has been doing. The Paris attacks have been followed by threats against New York and Washington, D.C., not Moscow.
Therefore, the attacks on Paris have already served Putin’s purposes, since he’s been embraced by the weak French socialist President François Hollande, taking his NATO country into the Russian camp. Not surprisingly, President Obama lets the plan proceed.
Meanwhile, as if on cue, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the United States, Russia and other countries have to defeat terrorists “in the name of humanity.” UN Wire reports that on Friday the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved a French-backed resolution calling for countries to take action against the Islamic State. The “New World Order” has arrived!
The irony, of course, is that the Soviet Union sponsored international terrorism for decades, and the Russian state today is led by a former Soviet KGB official. If Putin were sincere about this grand coalition against terrorism, he would immediately send Snowden back to the U.S. to stand trial. The fact he does not do so demonstrates that he is manipulating terrorism to get his way globally, in this case dividing NATO and diverting attention away from his continuing aggression in Ukraine.
Our media are too busy to notice any of this because they are defending Snowden.