The news organization created by Pierre Omidyar, First Look went live this morning with its on-line magazine, The Intercept.
Led by award-winning journalists Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Jeremy Scahill, the initial focus will be on stories based on documents from Edward Snowden
February 10, 2014 01:00 AM Eastern Standard Time
NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–First Look Media, the news organization created by Pierre Omidyar, today announced the launch of its first digital magazine, The Intercept. It is the first of what will eventually become a family of digital magazines published by First Look, covering topics from sports and entertainment to politics and business. The site is live at theintercept.org, and for the latest updates and news follow @the_intercept.
The Intercept will initially focus on new reporting involving the disclosures made to Greenwald and Poitras by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Their previous work for a host of publications worldwide has sparked a global conversation on the extent of government surveillance and the value of a free press.
The decision to launch The Intercept now was driven by the team’s sense of urgency and responsibility to continue and expand their reporting on the NSA story. The site’s first news article, by Greenwald and Scahill, raises troubling new questions about the NSA’s methods of identifying targets for lethal drone strikes.
“Glenn, Laura, and Jeremy are relentless in their pursuit of a story and rigorous in finding the truth,” said Omidyar. “We share a belief in the fundamental importance of a free and independent press on keeping a democracy vital and strong. In all of our reporting, at The Intercept and beyond, we will be anchored by that vision and hold ourselves to the highest journalistic standards. First Look journalists have editorial independence and support and are encouraged to pursue the transformative and engaging stories of our time, no matter the subject.”
While the initial focus of The Intercept will be based on documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, over time the reporting will expand to a wide range of issues involving government and corporate accountability.
“Today’s launch is just the beginning,” said Greenwald. “Our day one story is significant and we have more coming. Laura, Jeremy, and I recognize the responsibility in front of us, and are thrilled to be embarking on this exciting and important journey.”
In addition to the return of Greenwald’s regular column, The Intercept will offer ongoing commentary and analysis, publication of relevant primary source documents, robust digital storytelling, and guest authors who are experts in their fields.
First Look Media will launch a flagship site and additional digital magazines later this year.
And of course, the first two stories are extraordinary.
Over the past eight months, classified documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden have exposed scores of secret government surveillance programs. Yet there is little visual material among the blizzard of code names, PowerPoint slides, court rulings and spreadsheets that have emerged from the National Security Agency’s files.
The scarcity of images is not surprising. A surveillance apparatus doesn’t really “look” like anything. A satellite built by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) reveals nothing of its function except to the best-trained eyes. The NSA’s pervasive domestic effort to collect telephone metadata also lacks easy visual representation; in the Snowden archive, it appears as a four-page classified order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Since June 2013, article after article about the NSA has been illustrated with a single image supplied by the agency, a photograph of its Fort Meade headquarters that appears to date from the 1970s.
The photographs below – which are being published for the first time – show three of the largest agencies in the U.S. intelligence community. The scale of their operations was hidden from the public until August 2013, when their classified budget requests were revealed in documents provided by Snowden. Three months later, I rented a helicopter and shot nighttime images of the NSA’s headquarters. I did the same with the NRO, which designs, builds and operates America’s spy satellites, and with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), which maps and analyzes imagery, connecting geographic information to other surveillance data. The Central Intelligence Agency – the largest member of the intelligence community – denied repeated requests for permission to take aerial photos of its headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
This is an absolute must read.
The NSA’s Secret Role in the U.S. Assassination Program
By Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald
The National Security Agency is using complex analysis of electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence, as the primary method to locate targets for lethal drone strikes – an unreliable tactic that results in the deaths of innocent or unidentified people.
According to a former drone operator for the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) who also worked with the NSA, the agency often identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cell-phone tracking technologies. Rather than confirming a target’s identity with operatives or informants on the ground, the CIA or the U.S. military then orders a strike based on the activity and location of the mobile phone a person is believed to be using.
The drone operator, who agreed to discuss the top-secret programs on the condition of anonymity, was a member of JSOC’s High Value Targeting task force, which is charged with identifying, capturing or killing terrorist suspects in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
His account is bolstered by top-secret NSA documents previously provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden. It is also supported by a former drone sensor operator with the U.S. Air Force, Brandon Bryant, who has become an outspoken critic of the lethal operations in which he was directly involved in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen.
In one tactic, the NSA “geolocates” the SIM card or handset of a suspected terrorist’s mobile phone, enabling the CIA and U.S. military to conduct night raids and drone strikes to kill or capture the individual in possession of the device.
The former JSOC drone operator is adamant that the technology has been responsible for taking out terrorists and networks of people facilitating improvised explosive device attacks against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But he also states that innocent people have “absolutely” been killed as a result of the NSA’s increasing reliance on the surveillance tactic.
Congratulations and best wishes on the the new endeavor!
h/t to bobswern at Daily Kos for the first heads up.