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The Propaganda & Yellow Journalism Which Undermines Snowden's Whistleblowing

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STARR: Now, the reality is al Qaeda has used encrypted communications for years, some of their operatives even long ago giving up their cell phones. But now U.S. officials say other terrorist groups are reacting to these disclosures by  Snowden and very quickly also changing their communications methods--Wolf

What is remarkable is how Odierno's statement was taken out of context. Here he is what he said:

I can't say whether I've seen any changes. Obviously, there's always concern that when information like this is leaked, what's the impact it has? What's the impact it has on our operational forces deployed forward. What's the impact it has on our ability to continue to conduct operations around the world, and I always worry about the protection of our forces who are in 150 countries around the world, so I'm very concerned about this leak. It's not just about leaking information, from my viewpoint, it's must bigger than that. It puts American soldiers at risk"actually soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines at risk -- who are overseas, conducting operations. [emphasis added]

Including the words, "I can't say whether I've seen any changes," would create doubt around whether any changes have occurred. Since Odierno is in a high-ranking military position and would know, it could undermine the hype rife within the package that aired.

It would make what Odierno said similar to what former Pentagon spokesperson Geoff Morrell said when WikiLeaks published the Afghan War Logs, which Pfc. Bradley Manning has taken responsibility for disclosing:

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We have yet to see any harm come to anyone in Afghanistan that we can directly tie to exposure in the WikiLeaks documents"There is in all likelihood a lag between exposure of these documents and jeopardy in the field.

The last statement is boilerplate. It is what military or intelligence officials will always say when leaks occur but that does not mean what they are suggesting is truth.

However, the idea that the terrorists have changed tactics because of Snowden's disclosures was picked up by the Associated Press and republished by multiple news outlets.

Two U.S. intelligence officials say members of virtually every terrorist group, including core al-Qaida, are attempting to change how they communicate, based on what they are reading in the media, to hide from U.S. surveillance -- the first time intelligence officials have described which groups are reacting to the leaks. The officials spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to speak about the intelligence matters publicly.

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The officials wouldn't go into details on how they know this, whether it's terrorists switching email accounts or cellphone providers or adopting new encryption techniques, but a lawmaker briefed on the matter said al-Qaida's Yemeni offshoot, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, has been among the first to alter how it reaches out to its operatives. [emphasis added]

In other words, officials, who would likely condemn the publishing of leaks on US secret surveillance programs leaked information on how the terrorists are changing tactics after leaks on US secret surveillance programs. They engaged in a journalistic transaction similar to Snowden going to The Guardian. In fact, how do we know that these unnamed officials are not possessing classified information and using the material in ways that could pose a risk to national security? If these are supposed to be "closely held," how do we know they aren't putting this country at risk by letting the terrorists know that America knows that they are adapting operations so they can better fight America?

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for

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