We had dumber things to discuss: Yesterday, we cited Walter Pincus’ reaction to the current NSA revelations. To read that post, click here.
This isn’t real new, Pincus seemed to say. He recalled an article from March of last year by James Bamford, a well-known expert on the NSA:
PINCUS (6/11/13): On March 15, 2012, Wired magazine published a long article by James Bamford, who has written books about the NSA. Bamford described the agency’s new $2 billion Utah Data Center and its ability to “intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks.”Bamford wrote the piece in Wired. The mainstream press corps just sat there and stared, Pincus said.
He wrote that when the center is fully running at the end of this year, “stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital ‘pocket litter.’ ”
Was there any follow-up in the mainstream media to Bamford’s disclosure, or anything close to the concerns voiced on Capitol Hill this past week? No.
Later, we decided to check it out. How much did the mainstream press corps say about Bamford's report?
Judging from the Nexis archives, the press corps said virtually nothing. On March 21, 2012, the Salt Lake City’s Deseret Morning News did a 376-word report about what Bamford wrote. But that was mainly a short local story, connected to the Utah location of the NSA’s new center.
On March 20, Jon Carroll had discussed Bamford’s piece in a column about the Patriot Act in the San Francisco Chronicle. On March 25, the piece was mentioned in the Knoxville News-Sentinel, but that too was largely a local piece, tied to the Oak Ridge Lab.
In early April, civil libertarian Nat Hentoff wrote a column about Bamford’s piece. According to Nexis, the column appeared in a few tiny newspapers. When’s the last time you read the Herkimer (New York) Evening Telegram?
Wisely or otherwise, the New York Times didn’t mention Bamford. Neither did the Washington Post or the Associated Press.
Sorry, Charlies! The press corps had bigger fish to fry in March 2012. The GOP was conducting an endless series of utterly pointless primaries. Pundits and reporters alike were waiting for colorful, stupid or misquoted statements which they could pretend to dissect.
Also, Rush Limbaugh dropped his various bombs on Sandra Fluke at this time. In the process, Bamford’s report fell straight through the cracks.
When it came to those GOP primaries, attention did have to be paid! That said, the endless attention to colorful, stupid and misconstrued statements didn’t produce a lot of comprehension. At his first debate with Obama that October, Romney described the budget plan he had unveiled in February 2012 during the Arizona primary.
From Obama right on down, no one seemed to have any idea what he had initially said.
As Pincus noted, Bamford’s lengthy report produced virtually no reaction from the mainstream media. But then, your “press corps” had stopped responding to matters of substance at least by the time when Candidate Gore didn't say he invented the Internet.
We're going to admit it: We've never heard of Herkimer, New York. This proves that the town doesn't have a bar which does comedy one night a week.
Just this once, we decided to let you ask us about our business.