As part of the effort, the GCHQ tracked in real-time any visitors to wikileaks.org, monitoring what they were searching for on the website.
The NSA also considered to designate WikiLeaks and other websites such as thepiratebay.org as “malicious foreign actors,” which would lift restrictions on spying on institutions and individuals inside the U.S that work with them. This might include international press agencies working in the U.S.
Watch an interview with Assange’s legal council Michael Ratner on DemocracyNow! here (it is the correct video, despite the image of Assange in the first frame):
In Ratner’s view, the persecution of whistleblowers and journalists parallels the U.S. government’s COINTELPRO program targeting radicals and “subversives” (such as Martin Luther King) between the late 1950s and the 1970s.
And here is Assange, from the same broadcast on DemocracyNow!:
On November 28, 2013, journalist Glenn Greenwald, known for reporting on the NSA leaks by Edward Snowden, gave an interview to BBC HARDtalk, a format known for tough questioning that does not accept standard talking points.
The interview takes place at a time when the UK government, partly under pressure from the U.S., tries to attack the Guardian newspaper, i.e. shoot the messenger, for exposing the NSA’s and GCHQ’s blanket mass surveillance of the world’s citizens.
[Podcast] Dan Carlin Interviews NSA Whistleblower William Binney
You should definitely listen to this. Dan Carlin of the ‘Common Sense’ and ‘Hardcore History’ podcasts recently interviewed NSA whistleblower William Binney.
Before Edward Snowden, Binney and Thomas Drake were among the few former NSA officials to go public about the agency’s activities after 9/11.
Many of the allegations made by these earlier whistleblowers against the NSA’s antidemocratic, totalitarian mass surveillance efforts were confirmed in 2013 by the Snowden leaks.
Some of the interesting aspects touched on in in the interview are
Binney’s estimation that the NSA stores the content of our electronic communication
The disregard of the U.S. Constitution among the leadership of the NSA
How U.S. presidents, once they take office, are “bamboozled” into believing the intelligence services’ narrative that they need to be allowed to break the Constitution in any way they wish in order to protect national security
The subversion of the judiciary process through creeping of NSA data into criminal cases that that do not have anything to do with terrorism and the subsequent cover-up through ‘parallel construction’ of legal cases
According to the Guardian, the Obama administration wanted to find out the source of an “alleged Yemen terrorist plot story.”
Here is a report by Think Progress on the background of the DOJ’s action. According to them, the AP’s reporting on a foiled terrorist plot in Yemen “put AQAP [Al-Quida in the Arabic Peninsula] on notice that the CIA had a window into their activities.”
Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project said the following:
Obtaining a broad range of telephone records in order to ferret out a government leaker is an unacceptable abuse of power. Freedom of the press is a pillar of our democracy, and that freedom often depends on confidential communications between reporters and their sources.
The Freedom of the Press Foundation has published the audio recording of Private First Class Bradley Manning’s statement to the military court in Ft. Meade on his motivations for leaking documents to whistleblowing website Wikileaks.