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9 February 2014

Poitras and Greenwald Gamed

Date: Sun, 09 Feb 2014 10:27:01 +0300
From: ianG <iang[at]>
To: noloader[at], John Young <jya[at]>
CC: cpunks <cypherpunks[at]>, cryptome[at], cryptography[at], Cryptography List <cryptography[at]>
Subject: Re: [cryptography] Snowden Drop to Poitras and Greenwald Described

On 9/02/14 09:11 AM, Jeffrey Walton wrote:

> On Sat, Feb 8, 2014 at 6:28 PM, John Young <jya[at]> wrote:
>> (7.6MB 1.5MB))
> That should be titled, "How Greenwald nearly missed the scoop of the
> millennium". It appears the man did nearly everything in his power to
> undermine the contacts and the meetings.

One of the things I read that really helped understand this process was an old novel (not sure title/author) about the IRA bombers. In that novel (and do note that the spy novelists typically craft their plots with as much reality as they can steal) the theme was about chasing the chief IRA bomber and beating him.

But, the bomber also learnt, and adopted his tradecraft. So what British Intelligence did was to switch gears and harass his operations to make them as difficult as possible. Instead of trying to necessarily stop the bombs, they pushed gear across that made bomb making risky, and aggressively clamped down on 'safe' gear where they could. In effect, making unstable explosives and detonators available, and controlling the market for the quality stuff.

So the bomb maker was forced into employing ever more risky techniques ...

This tactic of harassing the enemy to make mistakes more likely is rather well known. In war as in business. And it can and is applied to the media.

Since Iraq-I the technique of embedding has allowed the media to be corralled and gelded, a technique the Americans got from the Brits who developed it in the Falklands. What is left is a clear trail of those very few who decline to be embedded.

So, all of the legal, political, business and intel machines can be used to harass and challenge the targets. In that story, Poitras was detained 40 times at airports. This is deliberate harassment not to punish her, but to try to slow her down, and to force her to make mistakes. Recall PRZ? They tried to break him. Recall the IETF and its difficulty in getting good crypto deployed? Good stuff was harassed, crap was rewarded.

Given this level of harassment, it really is entirely logical that Greenwald -- he's a journo fakrisake -- took every excuse to avoid getting in deep. And both he and Poitras felt entrapment was a likely direction, another sign that harassment was a real tactic.

They were acting entirely to the enemy's game plan, in the role cast for them. Be suspicious, be nervous, make like a rabbit. Snowden's challenge was to beat the plan, although reading the story, I'm suspecting that he didn't recognise that game plan per se, and got through with persistence, luck and desperation.

(And the next guy that tries that process is going to be caught, but that's part of their story, not this one.)