NSA Caught Illegally Spying on Americans and Keith Alexander’s Answer Is a Group Hug

Kevin Gosztola had a superb post yesterday on a letter NSA Deputy Director John Inglis and DIRNSA Keith Alexander sent to family members of NSA employees to make them feel better about the dragnet. It’s a two page letter attempting to convince the family members of our SIGINT spies that their mission is noble and their actions within the scope of the law.

I’m particularly interested in the timing of it. As Kevin notes, the letter cites a typically obsequious post from Ben Wittes on how the Administration should have responded to WaPo’s disclosure of an internal review (just as one example, Ben claims to have read the report closely but somehow misses that 9 to 20% of violations consist of analysts breaking rules they know).

Inglis and Alexander write,

There are some in the media who are taking the time to actually study the leaked material, and they have drawn conclusions that are very different from those who are in it for a quick headline. One such legal scholar wrote that we should have made our case more forcefully by responding,

Shameful as it is that these documents were leaked, they actually should give the public great confidence both in NSA’s internal oversight mechanisms and in the executive and judicial oversight mechanisms outside the agency. They show no evidence of any intentional spying on Americans or abuse of civil liberties. They show a low rate of the sort of errors any complex system of technical collection will inevitably yield. They show robust compliance procedures on the part of the NSA.

We couldn’t agree more.

I wonder if NSA would like to send family members my way, given that I have taken even more time than Ben studying these revelations and find he’s frequently engaging in spin?

Hmm. Probably not.

But what’s most fascinating by this citation is the timing.

Ben wrote that post on August 18, in the midst of a slew of disclosures by WaPo and the Guardian.

But Inglis and Alexander wrote this letter on September 13 — last Friday — at the end of a month when all of the major US-based disclosures (save that NSA has deliberately made all of us more vulnerable to hackers) have come from the government. In the month leading up to this letter, we learned the NSA:

At the end of 2008, the NSA had authorized contact chaining off of 27,090 identifiers and analysts could go four hops deep into the data, which effectively would allow them to create a relationship map of the entire country. And they used it not just to find “terrorists,” but also people they could coerce to inform on targets.

A system the Stasi would envy!

And FISA Court judges had deemed some of the first and third practices illegal. One threatened criminal referral and the other even shut down at least part the program for a period.

Read more

Obama’s Credibility Trap

President Obama just stood before the nation and said,

And if you look at the reports — even the disclosures that Mr. Snowden has put forward — all the stories that have been written, what you’re not reading about is the government actually abusing these programs and listening in on people’s phone calls or inappropriately reading people’s emails. What you’re hearing about is the prospect that these could be abused. Now, part of the reason they’re not abused is because these checks are in place, and those abuses would be against the law and would be against the orders of the FISC.

Even as he was speaking, his Administration released a document that said, in part,

Since the telephony metadata collection program under Section 215 was initiated, there have been a number of significant compliance and implementation issues that were discovered as a result of DOJ and ODNI reviews and internal NSA oversight. In accordance with the Court’s rules, upon discovery, these violations were reported to the FISC, which ordered appropriate remedial action. The incidents, and the Court’s responses, were also reported to the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees in great detail. These problems generally involved human error or highly sophisticated technology issues related to NSA’s compliance with particular aspects of the Court’s orders. The FISC has on occasion been critical of the Executive Branch’s compliance problems as well as the Government’s court filings. However, the NSA and DOJ have corrected the problems identified to the Court, and the Court has continued to authorize the program with appropriate remedial measures.

While (as I will show in a future post), Obama’s Administration has worked hard to prevent details of these violations from becoming public and delayed even the Judiciary Committees from being briefed, some of them may come out as part of the DOJ Inspector General review that the Administration tried to thwart in 2009.

Also, even as he was speaking, EFF announced the government will turn over a redacted copy of the October 3, 2011 FISA Court ruling that found the minimization procedures for Section 702 violated the Fourth Amendment. A new Guardian report suggests that ruling may pertain to the use of a backdoor to conduct warrantless searches on US person content already collected under Section 702. (While many commentators have insisted the Guardian report provides no evidence of abuse, NSA and DNI’s Inspectors General refused to count how often Americans have been searched in such a way, effectively refusing to look if it has been abused.)

As Shane Harris astutely describes, all of this kabuki is designed solely to make people feel more comfortable about these dragnets.

And the President’s message really boiled down to this: It’s more important to persuade people surveillance is useful and legal than to make structural changes to the programs.

“The question is, how do I make the American people more comfortable?” Obama said.

Not that Obama’s unwilling to make any changes to America’s surveillance driftnets — and he detailed a few of them — but his overriding concern was that people didn’t believe him when he said there was nothing to fear.

But the President just stood up and claimed the government hasn’t abused any of these programs.

It has, by its own admission, violated the rules for them.

Meanwhile, Ron Wyden has already released a statement applauding some of these changes while noting that Obama is still minimizing how bad the violations have been.

Notably absent from President Obama’s speech was any mention of closing the backdoor searches loophole that potentially allows for the warrantless searches of Americans’ phone calls and emails under section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. I believe that this provision requires significant reforms as well and I will continue to fight to close that loophole. I am also concerned that the executive branch has not fully acknowledged the extent to which violations of FISC orders and the spirit of the law have already had a significant impact on Americans’ privacy.

Ultimately, details of these violations will come out, and are on their way out in some form already.

If this press conference was designed solely to make us feel better, wouldn’t Obama have been better advised to come clean about these violations than to pretend they don’t exist?


The James Clapper Stall Declaration

On Thursday July 25, the ACLU met the government for a hearing in their suit to stop the Section 215 dragnet (which I’ll call ACLU Injunction for this post). While there, the government handed the judge a filing for ACLU’s Section 215 FOIA, asking for more time (until September 15, or maybe longer) before respond in that case; they sent ACLU a redacted copy by letter the next day.

The filing includes a James Clapper declaration written way back on July 7 meant to apply to four or five cases asking for a two month delay on FOIA or related litgation; as far as is publicly known, however, the declaration had not yet been submitted in any of those cases.

The filing (and its redactions) are interesting for several reasons:

It suggests one ongoing case pertains to Section 215 and/or Section 702 surveillance in a way that is not publicly known.

As I said, this declaration pertains to four or five cases. Three of those are named:

  • EFF v. DOJ (12-1441): EFF’s FOIA suit to get the FISA Court opinion deeming Section 702 to have violated the Fourth Amendment (EFF FISC Opinion FOIA)
  • EFF v. DOJ (4:11-5221): EFF’s FOIA suit to get a limited number of documents pertaining to Section 215 (EFF 215 FOIA)
  • ACLU v. FBI (11-7562): ACLU’s FOIA suit to get a broader range of documents pertaining to Section 215 (ACLU 215 FOIA)

But after referencing those suits, the Clapper declaration redacts over a line describing at least one other case.

Screen shot 2013-07-28 at 10.16.40 AM


The letter accompanying this declaration includes a footnote explaining,

Some redactions in the declaration include information that, in isolation, may be unclassified but, in the context of the discussion in the declaration, could tend to reveal information that is still classified in other settings.

Given the other redactions — which largely refer to still unacknowledged or undisclosed aspects of the Section 215 and Section 702 surveillance, along with one probable reference to CIA — the name of these case(s) are probably one of those redactions that would be unclassified in other circumstances.

That suggests that it may be the relevance to this issue — the role of Section 215 or Section 702 — that makes the reference to the case classified.

My first guess about what case(s) might be included in that redaction is EPIC’s FOIA suit for materials pertaining to the investigation of supporters of WikiLeaks. As I have described, the government not only withheld everything under an “ongoing investigation” exemption, it also invoked “protected by statute.” But it didn’t say what statute prohibited it from releasing the materials, an unheard of FOIA practice. That suit is awaiting the judges decision on motions to dismiss.

Read more

Tasers with Wings

I’ve been focusing on Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations, but I didn’t want this tidbit of news to go unnoticed. Among the other documents EFF has gotten in its FOIA on drones in the United States is a planning document for Customs and Border Patrol’s use of the  Predator drone. In it, there’s one line that suggests future upgrades (the report dates to 2010) might include non-lethal immobilization technology.

Customs & Border Protection (CPB) report, released in response to EFF’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the agency, shows CBP has considered adding weapons to its domestic Predator drones.

The report, titled “Concept of Operations for CBP’s Predator B Unmanned Aircraft System” and submitted to Congress on June 29, 2010 shows that, not only is the agency planning to sharply increase the number of Predator drones it flies and the amount of surveillance it conducts by 2016 (detailed further in a separate blog post tomorrow), but it has considered equipping its Predators with “non-lethal weapons designed to immobilize” targets of interest. (p. 63).

And remember: CBP loans out its drones to other Federal agencies. I suspect when Robert Mueller testified recently that FBI had used drones he had CBP ones in mind.

So the next time LAPD uses loaner drones in a manhunt across Southern California, that drone may well be armed with industrial sized tasers.


Has OLC Written Memos Authorizing Illegal Wiretapping Again?

Yesterday, CNet reported that, as part of an expanding cybersecurity effort, DOJ has immunized telecoms for violating wiretap laws.

The secret legal authorization from the Justice Department originally applied to a cybersecurity pilot project in which the military monitored defense contractors’ Internet links. Since then, however, the program has been expanded by President Obama to cover all critical infrastructure sectors including energy, healthcare, and finance starting June 12.

“The Justice Department is helping private companies evade federal wiretap laws,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which obtained over 1,000 pages of internal government documents and provided them to CNET this week. “Alarm bells should be going off.”

Those documents show the National Security Agency and the Defense Department were deeply involved in pressing for the secret legal authorization, with NSA director Keith Alexander participating in some of the discussions personally. Despite initial reservations, including from industry participants, Justice Department attorneys eventually signed off on the project.

The Justice Department agreed to grant legal immunity to the participating network providers in the form of what participants in the confidential discussions refer to as “2511 letters,” a reference to the Wiretap Act codified at 18 USC 2511 in the federal statute books.

One of Obama’s first acts as leader of the Democratic party was to cave on immunity for telecoms that accepted Attorney General notes in lieu of warrants under Dick Cheney’s illegal wiretap program.

Those notes may be very similar to what they’re getting in this case, which may explain why the telecoms are squeamish about relying on AG notes again.

In CNet’s article, Paul Rosenzweig (also a Lawfare contributor) likens these notes to the torture memos.

Paul Rosenzweig, a former Homeland Security official and founder of Red Branch Consulting, compared the NSA and DOD asking the Justice Department for 2511 letters to the CIA asking the Justice Department for the so-called torture memos a decade ago. (They were written by Justice Department official John Yoo, who reached the controversial conclusion that waterboarding was not torture.)

“If you think of it poorly, it’s a CYA function,” Rosenzweig says. “If you think well of it, it’s an effort to secure advance authorization for an action that may not be clearly legal.”

But remember, before DOJ wrote those notes for Cheney’s program, they got John Yoo to write a series of OLC memos authorizing the practice.

Which reminded me of the January 8, 2010 memo OLC wrote to authorize telecoms to “voluntarily” hand over records on international calls with no legal process. The memo reinterpreted a different part of 18 USC 2511 than this one, one limited to foreign communications.

(f) Nothing contained in this chapter or chapter 121 or 206 of this title, or section 705 of the Communications Act of 1934, shall be deemed to affect the acquisition by the United States Government of foreign intelligence information from international or foreign communications, or foreign intelligence activities conducted in accordance with otherwise applicable Federal law involving a foreign electronic communications system, utilizing a means other than electronic surveillance as defined in section 101 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, and procedures in this chapter or chapter 121 and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 shall be the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance, as defined in section 101 of such Act, and the interception of domestic wire, oral, and electronic communications may be conducted.

But it still authorized a very novel reading of the statute.

And yet here DOJ is, making an even more novel reading either of statute or prosecutorial function.

Did OLC authorize this reading too?

Why Won’t the FAA Tell EFF Who’s Flying the Drones in US Airspace?

According to this October 2010 report, these are all the locations at which someone–DOD, DHS, and NASA are publicly admitted users; “Other Government Agencies” (spooks) are always included in the discussion though not detailed–got waivers from the Federal Aviation Administration since 2008 to operate drones outside of restricted airspace. And we know they’ve been active since then, doing things like helping to arrest Sovereign Citizens who had stolen 6 cows.

Last April, the Electronic Frontier Foundation FOIAed to find out who was operating these drones.

(1) any active certificates or authorizations issued by the FAA for any type of drone or unmanned aircract (UA), including public UAs and private UAs, and all corresponding agency records;

(2) any expired certificates or authorizations issued by the FAA for any type of drone or UA, including public UAs and private UAs, and all corresponding agency records;

(3) any applications for UA certificates or authorizations that were denied by the FAA, and all corresponding agency records.

But thus far, the agency has refused to fulfill the FOIA request. On Tuesday, EFF sued to get those records.

Kudos to the EFF for suing to get these records. But FAA’s silence thus far really raises questions about what kind of drone surveillance they’ve already got us under.

In Jewel Decision, Article III Uses Article I to Rebut Article II

The 9th Circuit just released its decisions in two warrantless wiretap suits: Jewel, which claimed that the dragnet collection of communications from the Folsom Street AT&T facility violated FISA, Electronic Communication Privacy Act, and the Stored Communications Act; and Hepting, which argued that the FISA Amendments Act–which grated the telecoms retroactive immunity for their illegal wiretapping–was unconstitutional. Both opinions were authored by Margaret McKeown.

The Hepting decision is a slam dunk win for the telecoms. While there are some interesting–and perhaps dubious moves–in the decision, the Circuit completely upheld Vaughn Walker’s District Court ruling that the retroactive immunity granted to the telecoms was constitutional.

But that huge win for the telecoms relies on the Circuit’s observation that Congress has the authority to pass laws regarding surveillance. And that’s what gets the government in trouble in Jewel. The Circuit based its decision that Carolyn Jewel had standing to sue the government for collecting her communications on that same principle–that Congress could and had passed laws that regulate surveillance–including the private right of action for claims of illegal surveillance.

Both the ECPA and the FISA prohibit electronic interception of communications absent compliance with statutory procedures. The SCA likewise prohibits the government from obtaining certain communication records. Each statute explicitly creates a private right of action for claims of illegal surveillance.

McKeown’s opinion then uses the authority of Congress to dismiss the notion that this question–whether the Executive could be punished for its illegal surveillance of Jewel–should be thrown back in Congress’ lap. Congress has already weighed in on the issue, McKeown points out, both in the underlying statutes (providing for a judicial avenue of relief), and in the FAA (granting immunity to the telecoms but not the government).

After labeling Jewel’s claim as an effort “to redress alleged malfeasance by the executive branch,” the district court stated that “the political process, rather than the judicial process,” may be the appropriate avenue. There is little doubt that Jewel challenges conduct that strikes at the heart of a major public controversy involving national security and surveillance. And we understand the government’s concern that national security issues require sensitivity. That being said, although the claims arise from political conduct and in a context that has been highly politicized, they present straightforward claims of statutory and constitutional rights, not political questions. See Japan Whaling Ass’n v. Am. Cetacean Soc., 478 U.S. 221, 230 (1986).

The district court’s suggestion that Congress rather than the courts is the preferred forum ignores two important points: To begin, Congress already addressed the issue and spelled out a private right of action in the FISA, ECPA and SCA. Read more

ODNI’s Response on Intelligence Oversight Board Shows Lack of Intelligence

In September, I wrote about EFF’s efforts to find out whether Obama had an Intelligence Oversight Board–the board that’s supposed to provide some outside review over potential problems and abuses in the intelligence community.

ODNI has finally responded to EFF’s FOIA lawsuit.

And the results show a distinct lack of intelligence. Meaning, they’re kind of dumb.

There are three documents:

  • Biographies of David Boren, Chuck Hagel, and Lester Lyles, labeled “IOB Member,” “IOB Chair,” and “IOB Member,” respectively.
  • An email (presumably from a press person at the White House) informing the then PIAB General Counsel Homer Pointer that “the announcement” of seven new members of the PIAB–including Lyles–“had been made.” A notation in the corner lists “IOB Members: Hagel (Chair), Boren, Miles.”
  • An ODNI email discussing who, outside that office, should be invited to the DNI Holiday Reception, basically consisting of a list of PIAB members and staffers with “(Also IOB Co-Chair)” noted next to both Hagel and Boren’s names, and “(IOB member)” next to Lyles’.

Maybe I’m just being persnickety, but that appears to suggest ODNI doesn’t know whether David Boren is a Co-Chair of IOB, or just its third member.

And note that the name of the person who puts together James Clapper’s Holiday Party is a secret. Cause the terrorists will win if they know who sets up our intelligence community holiday parties, I guess.

Frankly, maybe the big question is not who the members of IOB are, but who the staffers are, because it appears that between December 2009 and October 2010, IOB got new staffers, seemingly replacing Homer Pointer (who had gone on the record several times complaining about the non-existent IOB) with Ray Heddings (who had worked at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency) as Counsel.

So while at one level, these three documents may tell us nothing. At another, they make me wonder whether the Administration’s solution to rising questions about the IOB was simply to replace the guy, internally, who actually cared?

Two of Obama’s Independent Intelligence Advisors Have Supported Oversight in Past; Why Not Now?

I’ve written recently about Obama’s refusal to appoint anyone to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which is supposed to ensure the government protects privacy while laying out a dragnet to catch terrorists, most recently when Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton issued their 10-year report card on the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations. And I wrote about Bush’s efforts to bypass the intelligence oversight that is supposed to be exercised by the Intelligence Oversight Board by simply eliminating the part of the Presidential Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board that did that oversight, the IOB.

But it seems Obama has ensured–as he has with PCLOB–that IOB can’t do its job. Or at least that’s the appearance from the government’s stone-walling on information about the board.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has been trying to see whether Obama has fulfilled his promise to restore the IOB to functionality by FOIAing who is on it and what they’ve been doing (and whether they’ve been ignoring the National Security Letters the Army has been sending out).Thus far, the government has denied their FOIA.

The IOB is supposed to alert the president and attorney general when it spots behavior that is unlawful or contrary to executive order. However, in his nearly three years in office, President Obama has not yet announced any appointments to the IOB. EFF’s suit comes after the ODNI refused to respond to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for membership, vacancies, and other information about the IOB made earlier this year.

“The IOB has a critically important mission – civilian oversight of America’s intelligence activities. The board exists to make sure government agencies are not overstepping their authority and abusing citizens’ rights,” said EFF Open Government Legal Fellow Mark Rumold. “History has shown that intelligence agencies overseeing their own behavior is like the fox guarding the henhouse. If the IOB is ineffective, impaired, or short-staffed, that’s information Americans need to know.”

So now they’re suing to get that information.

But there’s something else weird about Obama’s stone-walling here. Here’s the list of people Obama has appointed to the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, the board that oversees the IOB.

  • Chuck Hagel (10/28/2009)
  • David Boren (10/28/2009)
  • Roel Campos (12/23/2009)
  • Lee Hamilton (12/23/2009)
  • Rita Hauser (12/23/2009)
  • Paul Kaminski (12/23/2009)
  • Ellen Laipson (12/23/2009)
  • Les Lyles (12/23/2009)
  • Jami Miscik (12/23/2009)
  • Richard Danzig (12/1/2010)
  • Daniel Meltzer (12/1/2010)
  • Thomas Wheeler (4/17/2011)
  • Mona Sutphen (9/6/2011)
  • Phillip Zelikow (9/6/2011)

You know, Lee Hamilton, the 9/11 Commission Chair who just weeks ago was nagging the Administration that, “there should be a board within the executive branch to oversee adherence to the [privacy] guidelines we recommend and the commitment the government makes to defend our civil liberties.” And Phillip Zelikow, who wasn’t involved in the anniversary nagging, but who was involved in the original recommendation? (FWIW, Chuck Hagel voted for PCLOB as part of the larger counterterrorism reform package of which it was a part.)

These men obviously think (or at least used to think) our intelligence community needs some oversight. I realize PCLOB isn’t the same thing as IOB (as originally conceived and even as statutorily defined PCLOB was supposed to be stronger in some ways than IOB, though it was targeted at privacy, not intelligence violations). So why not push for oversight designated to be a part of the board on which they serve?

Seven years ago, Hamilton and Zelikow signed off on the this language:

[W]hile protecting our homeland, Americans should be mindful of threats to vital personal and civil liberties. This balancing is no easy task, but we must constantly strive to keep it right.

This shift of power and authority to the government calls for an enhanced system of checks and balances to protect the precious liberties that are vital to our way of life.

Right now, even as Hamilton and Zelikow serve as Obama’s handpicked independent intelligence advisors, the checks and balances on our intelligence system are actually worse than when they signed off on those words. They may not be able to do anything about EFF’s FOIA to learn what has become of the IOB. But it’d be nice if they used their advisory position to implement checks and balances more generally on the intelligence community.

Have WSJ and Al Jazeera Already Ceded the Espionage Debate?

EFF has a report on the terms of service WSJ and AJ offer leakers using their WikiLeaks competitor sites. I had already heard that WSJ offered almost no technical security (which EFF describes), but it turns out neither offer much in the way of confidentiality guarantees.

Despite promising anonymity, security and confidentiality, [Al Jazeera Transparency Unit] can “share personally identifiable information in response to a law enforcement agency’s request, or where we believe it is necessary.” [WSJ’s] SafeHouse’s terms of service reserve the right “to disclose any information about you to law enforcement authorities” without notice, then goes even further, reserving the right to disclose information to any “requesting third party,” not only to comply with the law but also to “protect the property or rights of Dow Jones or any affiliated companies” or to “safeguard the interests of others.” As one commentator put it bluntly, this is “insanely broad.” Neither SafeHouse or AJTU bother telling users how they determine when they’ll disclose information, or who’s in charge of the decision.


By uploading to SafeHouse, you represent that your actions “will not violate any law, or the rights of any person.” By uploading to AJTU, you represent that you “have the full legal right, power and authority” to give them ownership of the material, and that the material doesn’t “infringe upon or violate the right of privacy or right of publicity of, or constitute a libel or slander against, or violate any common law or any other right of, any person or entity.”


SafeHouse offers users three upload options: standard, anonymous, and confidential. The “standard” SafeHouse upload “makes no representations regarding confidentiality.” Neither does the “anonymous” upload which, as Appelbaum pointed out, couldn’t technically provide it anyway. For “confidential” submissions, a user must first send the WSJ a confidentiality request. The request itself, unsurprisingly, is neither confidential nor anonymous. And until the individual user works out a specific agreement with the paper, nothing is confidential.

Similarly, AJTU makes clear that “AJTU has no obligation to maintain the confidentiality of any information, in whatever form, contained in any submission.” Worse, AJTU’s website by default plants a trackable cookie on your web browser which allows them “to provide restricted information to third parties.” So much for anonymity!

I’m fascinated by this not just because they obviously won’t provide a real alternative to WL, but because of what they say about the evolving gatekeeper relationship of news outlets.

Keep in mind that both these outlets make curious candidates for a WL competitor.

For its part, WSJ would be unable to sustain its unique market position if it routinely offered corporate whistleblowers–particularly from the finance industry–a way to leak confidentially. Its demand that leakers represent that they have not violated the rights of any person, its warning that it might share information on leakers with requesting third parties, and its intent to safeguard the interests of others all sounds like WSJ is more interested in its corporate advertisers and the security of their information than protecting whistleblowers. Indeed, you might even say this is more of an ambivalent information service WSJ offers, potentially luring (say) Bank of America leakers who might otherwise leak to WL, possibly for stories, but possibly also to share with BoA.

Then there’s al Jazeera. Particularly since it is not US-based, and given its tie with the Qatari government, one would assume that they such a site would be closely monitored. The US has a long history of persecution of AJ, including imprisoning and killing journalists. Perhaps it’s not surprising how few protections it offers.

And all that’s before you consider the fact that the US government is trying to prosecute WL for espionage. Murdoch is in the middle of a spying scandal in the UK; AJ journalists have been treated, unfairly, as terrorists. That makes both somewhat vulnerable. And the USG has declared an entity that publishes anonymous leakers to be spy organizations, not something either WSJ or AJ need.

Which is why I find it so interesting that these two outlets, while claiming to do the same thing as WL did, fall so far short of attempting to offer true anonymity to their sources. Here, the protection accorded leakers is actually less than a traditional journalist would offer. It’s as if they’re ceding the US government argument that anonymous leaks are so much worse than the leaks from the powerful so often featured in outlets like WSJ.

Or perhaps they’re just trying to reinforce their traditional gatekeeper role while attempting to undercut the competition?

Updated for syntax and to fix WSJ/Murdoch conflation.