Editors on the NSA files: ‘What the Guardian is doing is important for democracy’
On Thursday the Daily Mail described the Guardian as ‘The paper that helps Britain’s enemies’. We showed that article to many of the world’s leading editors. This is what they said
In a democracy, the press plays a vital role in informing the public and holding those in power accountable. The NSA has vast intelligence-gathering powers and capabilities and its role in society is an important subject for responsible newsgathering organisations such as the New York Times and the Guardian. A public debate about the proper perimeters for eavesdropping by intelligence agencies is healthy for the public and necessary.
The accurate and in-depth news articles published by the New York Times and the Guardian help inform the public in framing its thinking about these issues and deciding how to balance the need to protect against terrorism and to protect individual privacy. Vigorous news coverage and spirited public debate are both in the public interest. The journalists at the New York Times and the Guardian care deeply about the wellbeing and safety of their fellow citizens in carrying out their role in keeping the public informed. Jill Abramson, executive editor, the New York Times
The utmost duty of a journalist is to expose abuses and the abuse of power. The global surveillance of digital communication by the NSA and GCHQ is no less than an abuse on a massive scale with consequences that at this point seem completely unpredictable.
It is understandable that the governments of the US and Britain aren’t pleased that journalists, with the assistance of informants within government ranks, are exposing this abuse of power. It is a classic approach for governments to attack media that have the courage to publish such stories with arguments that they threaten national security or that they are supporting an enemy of the state. And it is a tragedy that media outlets aligned with governments are now accusing the journalists uncovering these abuses of “lethal irresponsibility”.
In terms of DER SPIEGEL‘s position on this affair: With each story we have published, we have given both the NSA and GCHQ the opportunity to comment prior to publication and to alert us to aspects that could be highly sensitive. The NSA took advantage of this opportunity, GCHQ did not.
The material contains myriad evidence of terrorist investigations. However, for good reason, we have refrained from reporting on these specific operations.
It is the indiscriminate mass surveillance of communications that DER SPIEGEL considers to be a scandal — not the search for terrorists. As we stated, it is the media’s duty in a free society to report on these abuses.
Exposing the intensity with which intelligence agencies conduct surveillance on the Internet does not provide proof that such reporting in any way assists terrorists.
It is common knowledge that security agencies monitor telephones, and yet, terrorists still use them.
What is clear is that the surveillance conducted by the NSA and GCHQ goes far beyond anti-terror measures.
It is for this reason that SPIEGEL and numerous other media outlets around the world will continue to take their duty seriously and report when a security apparatus spins out of control and acts beyond its remit. Wolfgang Buechner, editor-in-chief, Der Spiegel
Journalists have only one responsibility: to keep their readers informed and educated about whatever their government is doing on their behalf – and first and foremost on security and intelligence organisations, which by their nature infringe on civil liberties. The Snowden revelations, and their publication by the Guardian, have been a prime example of fearlessly exercising this journalistic responsibility.
In Israel, the media are subject to pre-publication review by a military censor of any news related to security and intelligence. Israeli editors are therefore relieved from the dilemmas faced by our British or American counterparts, who should judge what might harm national security. Nevertheless, we struggle endlessly to push back the walls of government secrecy and concealment and expand the scope of public debate. Aluf Benn, editor-in-chief, Haaretz …
and many of those important news-papers, please, read here this phänomenal article:
- NSA’s attempt to crack web privacy tool used by dissidents is revealed: Agency believes criminals use Tor to hide identities GCHQ says system is used by ‘very naughty people’ (hispanicbusiness.com)
- Guardian defends leaked intelligence (bbc.co.uk)
- GCHQ leaks ‘hand the advantage to terrorists’ says MI5 chief (cyberparse.co.uk)
- Australian editors unite to support the Guardian’s NSA revelations (oddonion.com)
- Guardian’s NSA revelations: spies to go under spotlight (theguardian.com)
- Clinton in state surveillance call (standard.co.uk)
- The spooks strike back over GCHQ leaks – but they have a history of exaggerating threats | Richard Norton-Taylor (theguardian.com)
- Editors on the NSA files: ‘What the Guardian is doing is important for democracy’ (talesfromthelou.wordpress.com)
- Guardian was ‘entirely correct’ to publish NSA stories, says Vince Cable (theguardian.com)