Glenn Greenwald has called out National Public Radio in a recent interview for a story by Dina Temple-Raston for a story that it aired on how a study had found “tangible evidence” that leaks by Edward Snowden had harmed security by showing terrorists that they have to develop more sophisticated encryption programs. However, that study was the work of a firm named “Recorded Future,” which Greenwald claims has been funded by the CIA to the tune of millions of dollars. Greenwald chastises Temple-Raston and NPR for not informing listeners that the source is a CIA funded outfit. He accuses NPR of essentially airing CIA talking points.
The company released a report called “How Al-Qaeda Uses Encryption Post-Snowden” in two parts in May and August on how “Snowden leaks influencing Al-Qaeda’s crypto product innovation.”
Temple-Raston responded to the release with a story entitled Big Data Firm Says It Can Link Snowden Data To Changed Terrorist Behavior. She interviewed Recorded Future’s CEO and co-founder Christopher Ahlberg who said that they began to delve more deeply into the issue when “We saw at least three major product releases coming out with different organizations with al-Qaida and associated organizations fairly quickly after the Snowden disclosures.” She reported:
As it turns out, Recorded Future and Reversing Labs discovered that al-Qaida didn’t just tinker at the edges of its seven-year-old encryption software; it overhauled it. The new programs no longer use much of what’s known as “homebrew,” or homemade algorithms. Instead, al-Qaida has started incorporating more sophisticated open-source code to help disguise its communications.
Greenwald calls the failure to inform listeners of the CIA connection “a pure and indisputable case of journalistic malpractice and deceit.” He also notes that stories running back to 2001 detail how al-Qaeda was fully aware of the need to develop more advanced forms of encryption. I cannot find any response from NPR to the allegations.
The cause and effect relationship of the report can clearly be challenged given the continual reports of U.S. intelligence interceptions before and after the Snowden disclosures. That makes the connection and possible funding of the CIA more problematic if true. I do believe that, if Greenwald is correct and this firm receives such a high level of funding from the CIA, it should have been disclosed.
Recorded Future takes on an ominous sound if it is, as Greenwald claims, a company that has received millions from the CIA. He alleges that “the investment arm of the CIA, In-Q-Tel, sits on the board of this company, and the researcher on whom they rely himself is the head of a company in a strategic partnership with the CIA.” The company’s motto is “creating an insightful world.”