By Charles Johnson/Little Green Footballs:
Today on BBC Newsnight, activist Glenn Greenwald faced an uncomfortable grilling from the host and several guests, including former senior GCHQ officials who openly scoffed at Greenwald’s tales, particularly his claims that the Russians couldn’t possibly have gotten access to Edward Snowden’s stolen NSA files, and his claims that intelligence agencies are not harmed by massive leaks and that terrorists are not aided.
Many of the questions he faced are the same ones we’ve been asking here, about the discrepancies and problems in his stories about Snowden and the NSA. And when the heat was finally turned up, Mr. Greenwald responded with an utter lack of grace, insulting and patronizing everyone on the show. It’s an amazing, thoroughly unpleasant performance, and shows why Greenwald normally only grants interviews to sympathetic hosts, because he comes off as … well, basically a terrible person. As if someone combined the worst qualities of a weaselly cheap lawyer with a narcissistic fame-seeking paparazzi, and added too much nasty sauce to the mix.
Take it away, Glenn.
In the following clip, former chair of the British Joint Intelligence Committee Pauline Neville-Jones says there’s no way the Russians don’t have access to Snowden’s files. Greenwald responds:
The ignorance of those comments is truly astounding to me. First of all you would think that a rational person before making an extremely serious accusation like ‘Russia and China has gotten all of his data’ would have at least a little bit of evidence before saying that? There is NONE. What is the basis for it, some tingly sensation in the stomach?[…]She said, they got the data on his laptops. That isn’t how data works, it’s not 1998. Data is stored on thumb drives, and on those thumb drives are very sophisticated means of encryption shells, that as I said before and I know this because I’ve read the documents that I have on this, not even the NSA can break.The encryption codes are 4,000 characters long…
I did a double take when I heard him say that, because in his patronizing lecture to Baroness Neville-Jones (who has spent much of her life involved in national security and intelligence at the highest levels), Greenwald actually got this important detail completely wrong, in a very amateurish kind of way. The type of encryption he’s talking about (XAES) uses a key with a length of 4096 bits, not “4,000 characters.”
The difference between “4,000 characters” and 4096 bits is huge. He’s off by several factors of 2. Oops.