The CIA has been earning rave reviews for the pitch-perfect comedy of its newly created Twitter account.
But while facetious tweets like “No, we don’t know where Tupac is” or “We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet” have lent a little levity to an intelligence community buried by Edward Snowden’s airing of its spy-program laundry, the comedy has not dissuaded journalists from fact-checking at least one of the account’s claims.
In a lengthy article Friday, Washington Post journalist Barton Gellman attempted to answer some questions that have surfaced since he reported last week on a new Snowden leak. Buried deep in the report is a two-paragraph gem that says the CIA’s Twitter, while funny, is also propagating misinformation.
The CIA opened a Twitter account last month and has used cheeky humor to win a large following in a short time. On Monday, the account sent out this announcement: “No, we don’t know your password, so we can’t send it to you.” It went viral, with more than 12,000 retweets.
As it happens, the [National Security Agency] files we examined included 1,152 “minimized U.S. passwords,” meaning passwords to American e-mail and chat accounts intercepted from U.S. data links. Don’t expect tech support from Langley, but the CIA does have access to that raw traffic.
Those numbers come from a batch of 160,000 intercepted communications provided by Snowden, a tiny sample of the Internet data the NSA routinely collects. U.S. communications that are incidentally collected during surveillance of a foreign target are required to be “minimized,” meaning there are limits to how they can be searched. But such searches are not forbidden, and, Gellman notes, agencies can distribute U.S. identities in reports to one another.
Gellman’s big NSA exposé last week claimed that the vast majority of Internet accounts monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies do not belong to overseas targets, but instead to ordinary Internet users who communicate directly with those targets.
The implications of Gellman’s story are profound and serious, and partially refute some findings in a report from the president’s independent privacy-watchdog panel, which declared the NSA’s foreign surveillance techniques legal and effective.
The CIA Twitter account’s may be attempting to leverage levity for flexibility with the facts, but that’s unlikely to quell the horde of anti-surveillance activists who claim the intelligence community has persistently been misleading and dishonest about the true magnitude of its spy programs.
What We're Following See More »
Following their meeting, President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico and Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump, briefly addressed the media, with Peña Nieto subtly rebuking Trump's rhetoric. While he spoke respectfully about Trump, Peña Nieto did not back down, saying that free trade has proved effective and that illegal immigration into America from the south has decreased over the last ten years while the flow of people and drugs into Mexico has increased. Additionally, he stressed that Mexicans in America are "honest" and "deserve respect." Trump responded, calling some Mexicans "tremendous people" while saying others are "beyond reproach." Trump laid out five important issues, including the end of illegal immigration and the ability for either country to build a wall or border. However, Trump said he did not discuss who would pay for the wall.
A divided Supreme Court "refused Wednesday to reinstate North Carolina’s voter identification requirement and keep just 10 days of early in-person voting. The court rejected a request by Gov. Pat McCrory and other state officials to delay a lower court ruling that found the state law was tainted by racial discrimination."
"Police say a woman walked into U.S. Rep. Danny Davis' office on Chicago's West Side, drank out of a bottle of hand sanitizer, poured the sanitizer over herself and set herself on fire with a lighter." The Democrat wasn't in the office at the time.