Jack Shafer

The (misguided) passion of Glenn Greenwald

By Jack Shafer
May 14, 2014

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It’s not that journalists have thin skins — it’s that they have no skins.

State Secrets in the Snowden Era

By Jack Shafer
May 6, 2014
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This piece originally appeared in the March/April issue of Foreign Affairs, and is reprinted with permission.

The Times advances the NSA’s amnesty-for-Snowden trial balloon

By Jack Shafer
January 2, 2014

Of course the New York Times editorial page wants clemency or, at the very least, a generous plea bargain for National Security Agency contractor turned super-leaker Edward Snowden! The news pages of the New York Times have directly benefited from top-secret leaks from Snowden to break stories since last August, when the paper acquired a cache of his NSA material from the Guardian. (The Guardian published its own “pardon for Snowden” editorial today.) In urging leniency for Snowden, the Times editorial page is urging leniency for a specific news-pages source, which the editorial doesn’t directly state. If that doesn’t define enlightened self-interest, nothing does.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s 1998 lesson on the price of secrets

By Jack Shafer
December 27, 2013

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2013 issue of the Columbia Journalism Review and is reprinted with permission.

The information singularity is coming!

By Jack Shafer
December 19, 2013

“Data! Data! Data!” Sherlock Holmes cried impatiently. “I can’t make bricks without clay.”

Plotting the Snowden plea bargain

By Jack Shafer
December 16, 2013

CBS News gave the National Security Agency an early Christmas present on Sunday—a segment on “60 Minutes.” The title of the segment, “NSA Speaks Out on Snowden, Spying,” telegraphed the network’s generosity. After taking beatings in the press and in Congress, NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander reached out to “invite” (which is how CBS News put it) the program to receive the NSA’s version of the Snowden affair. “What they got was a chance to make their case,” said correspondent John Miller.

Governments worldwide buried in the Snowden avalanche

By Jack Shafer
November 7, 2013

If the U.S. and British governments could stop the press from publishing stories based on the National Security Agency files leaked by Edward Snowden in June, they probably would have acted by now. Oh, the Guardian was coerced by the British government into destroying the hard drives in London containing the leaked files, and London police used terrorism law to detain the partner of Glenn Greenwald — one of the journalists to whom Snowden leaked — at Heathrow Airport and confiscated computer media believed to contain leaked files.

The NSA never takes “no” for an answer

By Jack Shafer
September 6, 2013

At several recent junctures, the U.S. government has publicly sought to expand its power and control over the electronic privacy of its citizens. At each point, the government was roundly foiled by the public and the majority of the political class, which rebuked it. But that has evidently never stopped the government from imposing its will surreptitiously. As the reporting of the New York TimesProPublica, and the Guardian about the National Security Agency’s programs exposed by Edward Snowden showed once again yesterday, when the government really wants something, it can be temporarily denied but rarely foiled.

From Tom Paine to Glenn Greenwald, we need partisan journalism

By Jack Shafer
July 16, 2013

I would sooner engage you in a week-long debate over which taxonomical subdivision the duck-billed platypus belongs to than spend a moment arguing whether Glenn Greenwald is a journalist or not, or whether an activist can be a journalist, or whether a journalist can be an activist, or how suspicious we should be of partisans in the newsroom.

How to leak and not get caught

By Jack Shafer
July 9, 2013

If U.S. prosecutors ever get their hands on Edward Snowden, they’ll play such a tympanic symphony on his skull he’ll wish his hands never touched a computer keyboard. Should U.S. prosecutors fail, U.S. diplomats will squeeze — as they did in Hong Kong — until he squirts from his hiding place and scurries away in search of a new sanctuary. But even if he finds asylum in a friendly nation, his reservation will last only as long as a sympathetic regime is calling the shots. Whether he ends up in Venezuela or some other country that enjoys needling the United States, he’ll forever be one election or one coup away from extradition.