Assange threatens to release Snowden info that Greenwald says could endanger lives

Julian Assange attacked Glenn Greenwald yesterday for a redaction in a recent story based on Snowden's NSA documents. Greenwald said it was done to save lives. 

Sang Tan/AP/File
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange making a statement to the media and supporters at a window of Ecuadorian Embassy in central London, in 2012. Assange attacked Glenn Greenwald Monday for a redaction in a recent story based on Snowden's NSA documents.

The presumed tension between anti-secrecy activist Julian Assange and Glenn Greenwald, the arch-disseminator of NSA documents provided by Edward Snowden, erupted into the open yesterday on Twitter. The two sparred publicly over Greenwald's decision to redact a piece of information from a recent story.

The story released yesterday and written by Greenwald and two colleagues, alleges that the US is "secretly intercepting, recording, and archiving the audio of virtually every cell phone conversation on the island nation of the Bahamas." The story, published on First Look Media's Intercept channel, also says that the US is harvesting cellphone metadata from four other countries and names three of them - Mexico, The Philippines and Kenya.

The fifth country? The article says "The Intercept is not naming (it) in response to specific, credible concerns that doing so could lead to increased violence."

Assange is generally assumed to write the Wikileaks Twitter feed (and has been watched doing so.) And he wasn't happy at Greenwald's decision to withhold information.

Greenwald then sought to persuade Assange that some redaction to save lives is reasonable. He wrote, among other things:

But Assange was unmoved and after some more back and forth, Assange's twitter account dropped this bombshell:

Is Assange telling the truth? If he is, that strongly implies a major leak in Greenwald's boat, which discredits his and Snowden's earlier claims that all documents taken by Snowden were being handled responsibly, and that there was no chance of their leaking to anyone.

Assange does have a track record of saying things that are provably false, for instance his claim that the trove of battlefield reports leaked by Chelsea Manning "was available to every soldier and contractor in Afghanistan." But he's now put himself on the spot by promising a specific detail in such a limited time-frame.

Does he have access to documents? Have collaborators of Greenwald's been feeding him information? Possibly, yes. This opens the door to the full Snowden trove being published without any review or redaction, as happened with the Manning documents provided to Wikileaks. Some of the anti-secrecy activists with whom Greenwald has collaborated in publishing Snowden's revelations, like Jacob Appelbaum, have close personal ties to Assange.

Which country is it and was the redaction necessary to protect lives? On the latter question, Greenwald has been more cavalier in this regard than most reporters, so the argument against publication is probably very convincing.

For his part, Assange doesn't seem to care.

The "72 hour" threat was made about 52 hours ago. Stay tuned.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.