More NSA leaks to come, Guardian says

Journalists from the British paper provide new details around the process for publishing leaks

The flood of stories on government spying will not be slowing soon -- in fact the majority of the most important documents detailing how the U.S. National Security Agency collects personal data have not been published yet, journalists from U.K. newspaper The Guardian said on Tuesday.

The British newspaper responsible for breaking many of the stories surrounding the government surveillance program known as Prism said that there are thousands of relevant documents that it has obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Of those documents, the majority of ones that should, and will, be published still remain, said Glenn Greenwald, a reporter for the paper who has been covering many of the leaks.

"There are definitely huge new stories to come," he said, adding that "there are still many specific revelations that I think will surprise most people, coming imminently."

Greenwald's comments, and those of the Guardian's U.S. editor in chief Janine Gibson, were made during an online Q&A on Reddit's site.

The paper did not say what types of disclosures would be coming, though Gibson said that the paper's motive was to report stories in the public interest. "There is a debate that needs to be had about the size and scale of government surveillance," she said.

The Guardian and The New York Times have been at the forefront of breaking many of the recent stories surrounding the NSA's spying programs, based on documents obtained by Snowden. In August the papers announced they would work as partners to give the U.S. paper access to documents leaked by Snowden.

Although the Guardian did not scoop itself during the Q&A, Greenwald and Gibson's responses to people's questions provided many more details about how the paper goes about reporting the leaks.

The journalists were asked to explain why the leaks are reported piecemeal rather than all at once. The reasons, they said, are many. For starters, it would go against the agreement they made with Snowden. "If he wanted them all dumped, he could have done it himself," Greenwald said.

But also, it would be impossible for the public to process such a large amount of information, and irresponsible for the paper to go to press without first understanding the implications of publishing the documents, Greenwald said.

"The debate that we should be having would get overwhelmed by accusations that we were being irresponsible and helping the terrorists," he said.

To show how careful they are, Greenwald and Gibson revealed a nuanced process for seeking the advice and response of the government in the U.S. and in the U.K. before publishing a story on the disclosures.

The process involves approaching the administration, telling them what they're reporting on and identifying any documents that they might quote from or publish, Gibson said.

"We ask them to share any specific national security concerns that would result from those disclosures," she said.

Sometimes officials respond with redaction requests, the Guardian said, but often the paper has already made its own decisions about redactions of obviously sensitive operational details or people's names that shouldn't be published, Gibson said.

Some other theories floating around about how the paper decides to publish leaks are bogus, the editor said. "Obviously we try and make sure each story has as much impact as possible, but we tend to publish when we've found a story, worked it up to our satisfaction, determined that it's in the public interest, and it's ready," she said.

There are several circumstances under which The Guardian would not publish a story. Speaking personally, Greenwald said he would not publish documents that could help other states learn how to better spy on their own citizens. Also not to be published: the names of covert agents, the names of agency employees who are not high-ranking officials and documents that could unfairly defame someone, he said.

One question is the extent to which the revelations surrounding the NSA have constituted actual illegal activity. The journalists were asked to address this, and whether there would be more "smoking guns" providing undeniable proof that the government has broken specific laws.

"I think there already are things clearly showing the government broke the law, including the Constitution," Greenwald said.

Some previously classified documents have shown that the NSA has operated illegally in certain cases. In August a 2011 court ruling from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was made public, saying that the way the NSA collected data violated the Fourth Amendment.

Despite multiple disclosures, some readers seem indifferent, apparently already having assumed that the government monitors citizens' communications as part of counterterrorism efforts. That response, The Guardian's Gibson said, is baffling.

"It's inexplicable, given the number of administration voices all welcoming the debate and acknowledging it would not have happened without Edward Snowden," she said.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags securityprivacyinternetlegaldata protectionInternet-based applications and servicesThe Guardian

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Zach Miners

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?