of heavy spook harassment
Shortly after the Guardian's New York office published the first NSA bombshell, heavy handed surveillance, intimidation and cyber harassment dogged the footsteps of Guardian journalists, according to a Guardian reporter's account of the Snowden affair.
"The paranoia was understandable," writes Luke Harding in The Snowden Files, an account written at the behest of the Guardian's top editor, Alan Rusbridger. "From now on the Guardian found itself under intense NSA scrutiny" following its report based on the data leaked by Edward Snowden, an NSA systems expert. "It was unclear on what basis the NSA was spying on our journalists going about their job and protected by the first amendment. But it was clear that whatever electronic privacy they had once enjoyed had now vanished."
Guardian staff members thought it strange that a work crew showed up in front of its New York offices on a Wednesday night and dug up the street. The same activity occurred in front of its Washington office, Harding relates.
"Soon, every member of the Snowden team was able to recount similar unusual moments -- 'taxi drivers' who didn't know the way and forgot to ask for money, 'window cleaners' who lingered and re-lingered next to the editor's office." In other words, the feds, in a classic intimidation operation, wanted to make clear that the journalists were being watched.
"In the coming days, the Guardian's laptops repeatedly stopped working," Harding relates. New York editor Janine Gibson, who had defied Washington pressure to kill the NSA stories, was "especially unlucky," says Harding. "Her mere presence had a disastrous effect on technology. Often her encrypted chats with Greenwald would collapse, raising fears of possible hacking. She stuck a Post-it on one compromised machine. It read: 'Middlemanned! Do not use!'"
Glenn Greenwald, who broke the NSA story for the Guardian, discovered that a laptop had vanished from his locked Brazilian residence, he wrote in his account, No Place to Hide. British associates tipped him that the CIA's Rio de Janeiro station was very active and led by a highly aggressive spy.
As is customary in such situations, there is no proof that a specific agency was involved. However, seasoned journalists would certainly be aware that odd things were going on that hadn't been going on prior to their exposes being published.
Harding, page 248:
"Using tactics perfected by the 1970s Stasi, East Germany's secret police, the FSB [successor to the KGB] would break into the homes of so-called enemies. Typically these were western diplomats and some foreign journalists. But the FSB also played a leading role in the suppression of internal dissent, and targeted Russians too, including those working for US or British embassies. A team of agents would break into a target's flat. They would leave clues that they had been there -- open windows, central heating disconnected, mysterious alarms, phones taken off the hook, sex manuals by the side of the bed.
"These methods of psychological intimidation became more pervasive during Putin's second ... term..."
This shows that such tactics are an old standby. My claim is that they have been used by security forces on Americans, including myself.
Harding charges that as he was writing The Snowden Files, just-written paragraphs would vanish before his eyes. This malicious hazing didn't cease until the matter became public, he says.
Another reporter for a major news organization found that Google's search data were falsified on behalf of a government entity.
When Washington Post reporter Dana Priest was researching Top Secret America, she entered the address of one of the many new top secret installations, an address that was visible from the street. Google changed the address she entered -- every time she tried, she writes.
Well, such a trick may be predictable, given the circumstances. But it shows that either Google is willing to falsify data on behalf of government entities, or that Google permits its search engine to be overridden by government code writers.
'The Blacklist' by Franz Kafka