Why would this be a tactical mistake? The general public DOES NOT GIVE A FUCK. The government(s) know(s) this quite well.
If you think for a second that detention of associates of political enemies matters to an electorate far more interested in the minutiae of Kanye West's baby, you're living in a fairy land of your own making.
Right now, in addition to this being the top story on HN, it is is on the default reddit front page at #9 and rising. It's also on the front page of the New York times website, and also in the top three headlines at news.google.com. Google reports 25 articles most being published in the last hour.
By these measures, it seems to me that a lot of people are rather interested in the story.
Now, I understand that you may not consider "the population that consumes its news on the internet" to be equivalent to the "general public". But any argument about that question is a much larger one than an argument about the public's interest in this particular story.
The fact is, even amongst all of the tabloid trash real news stories do matter to people, and people who consume cotton candy celebrity media for entertainment can also be consumers of hard news. The existence of one doesn't preclude interest in the other.
Edit: The Sun does, however, have boobs on its homepage, the Daily Mail talks about celebrities and the BBC's international site talks about Syria, Gibraltar and Usain Bolt, with its England page concerned with assisted suicide, a rider who died after a horse accident, something about climate activists and this gem: "Leicester Globe pub closes over anti-military rumours"...
Edit 2: Colour me impressed, the Telegraph not only reports on it on its frontpage, it also has an additional quote by an Amnesty International spokesperson. That's at least something, I suppose?
You see it all the time. Go back to the very first HN discussions about PRISM and phonetapping and you'll see people swearing on their mothers life that nobody outside HN will ever care because it is just a 'nerd issue' or something.
Now, along comes a situation which looks a lot like an attempt at journalistic suppression by the state. The incentive for the media to go along with any potential D-notice has evaporated because this is just censorship by other means, and if you're going to censor us anyway, why bother with D-notices? Issuing a D-notice over harrassing a journalist (via their family, in this case) would be something of a bodyliner, and I don't think even the British press would have a hard time figuring out what to do about it.
If anyone issued a super-injunction over this, the British media would see it as a challenge as to who could ensure the details were insinuated in such as way as to ensure the widest distribution.
I wrote to my MP, (Michael Gove) about this. While I disagree with him on many (if not most) things as an ex-journalist I hope he is unhappy with this.
They can make an oxygen-sucking scandal out of nothing. This could devour the rest of Obama's second term if it gets out of hand (and the Republicans decide there's more mileage in beating him up about it rather than supporting the security state).
The public does not have to care for this to be a huge negative for the gov't. The only people who need to care are precisely the ones most likely to--folks rather like Greenwald.
The fact that you instantly jump to 'licking the boots of power' indicates to me that you don't tolerate any dissent from your views.
> They can make an oxygen-sucking scandal out of nothing. This could devour the rest of Obama's second term if it gets out of hand
This is not 'journalism'. This is blackmail.
I know you're trolling me here, but fuck it there probably are some halfwits out there nodding along with these power-worshiping redefinitions of old, well-understood law. From 18 U.S.C. § 873, blackmail: "Whoever, under a threat of informing, or as a consideration for not informing, against any violation of any law of the United States, demands or receives any money or other valuable thing, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned..." There's no money here. What is the "other valuable thing"? The safety of journalists' innocent loved ones? That's monstrous, and that isn't a proper interpretation of law.
No, the 'other valuable thing' in this case is immunity from search or seizure.
"Don't do this or I will harm your reputation" is blackmail. Not really a moral thing to be talking about doing.
It's naiveté at the highest level to think that any meaningful proportion of the electorate cares, and that a single thing will change. If anything, the State now has tacit permission to press even further down the road of dystopia.
We live in a highly insular world in which our ideas are echoed by like-minded people. In such a world, it's easy to make the mistake of assuming that the broader populace is similarly like-minded. The reality, however, is that so long as sufficient bread and circuses are provided, nobody will care nearly as much as you or I do.
The DEA partnership basically won over minorities, drug people, young people.
You could probably find ways to make this an anti-immigrant issue in general (spying on foreigners; obviously if you're Muslim or brown, but maybe it could somehow extend to Chinese immigrants too?)
Tech people hate it naturally. Business people (other than defense contractors) hate it because it makes doing business harder, particularly if you're doing business with Europe or other international business.
This abuse of Greenwald's lover might win over gay people.
Gun people were already super suspicious of the government since Sandy Hook w.r.t. registry and confiscation (honestly for the entire Obama administration, and even during Bush, and definitely during Clinton, too, but more so now)
Right wing people are suspicious due to IRS and general hatred of Obama. "NSA shares records with IRS" would be a great extension to the story, but even lawful IRS subpoena of electronic records supports the case for strong crypto under the control of the end user.
All we need is for NSA records to be used against Christians (pro life groups? I'm finding it hard to find ways NSA spying is specifically anti mainstream Christians) to essentially have 80% of people on the side of freedom, each for his own reason and maybe totally different from the others.
The only people left on the other side are die-hard militarists, defense contractors, and the political class, or people who are irrationally putting hypothetical safety over even their own liberty (I'd expect people to sacrifice unused liberty or the liberty of other people for their own hypothetical safety, always).
This is the demographic we need.
It may not be related, but we know first hand what its like to have the government entirely too "in the know" about your life. Not many of us are fans of it, even when it was arguably necessary to keep people alive.
FWIW, the nephew of a very close friend of mine mentioned the topic of Snowden to me. He's a former army ranger, just recently mustered out and now going to veterinary school. He thought Snowden was a hero. His mom, who basically owns a few gas stations, has been very pro Assange and Bradley Manning for years and I'm sure is also paying a decent amount of attention to Snowden's story.
Astrophysicists, mathematicians, and scientists, for the most part, don't read Hacker News. But they do read the Huffington Post. Some of them even are so clever they made these microwaveable-beef taquitos that always come out crunchy that I'm just about to snack on. They don't care about issues that directly affect their freedoms and liberty? The masses are unwashed?
Your corrosive cynicism isn't helping them care, nor is it furthering the debate any.
People may not be up in arms and shouting in streets now, but once the public opinion takes root in the mind, it would be hard to change come election no matter who promises what.
It'd be like giving a batter an extra swing. He'll probably miss, but there's no reason to give him the opportunity.
What catches my attention is the wide variety of reasons people have for carrying. Some are afraid that the government is going to use it to take away their guns, others are concerned about surveillance of GSM/LGBT activists, others are particularly disturbed by the NSA/DEA angle. One of those conversations was then followed up with a tirade about 9/11 and the moon landing... but the vast majority of people who are concerned by this are perfectly normal people.
From what I've seen so far, many people care, but not in the way we'd like. A surprising amount of people think along the lines of "If Greenwald/Snowden/etc are doing something wrong, maybe they shouldn't be doing it" or "If this makes me safe from terrorists, then I support it".
Don't underestimate the stupidity of the general populace. People are dumb and selfish and generally won't stand up against injustices unless it somehow directly affects them.
This has been news for two months now and it continues to be news. It affected US-Russia relations, its big in Brazil, Germany. There was a vote which almost succeeded in defunding the NSA. Ordinary people do care and opinion polls show it.
The second option is equally unpleasant, but for different reasons. We would require a total and catastrophic economic collapse, such that bread and circuses can no longer be affordably provided and such that the populace becomes sufficiently uncomfortable to actually start giving a shit. THIS solution is also not advisable, since such scenarios don't offer options to guide who is elected in the place of the devil we know. The transition from the Weimar to the Third Reich offers a valuable, and scary, precedent here.
Since both of the above are unpalatable, my solution is to drink heavily and bitch endlessly on the internet while still enjoying my comfortable life.
People overestimate the impact of the Internet, but they also underestimate it; I have a suspicion that the dissolution of traditional mass media will make it easier for interest groups to influence the public sphere via social networks, using propagation techniques similar to those that Upworthy is currently harnessing. That's what I find fascinating about Upworthy: using social media marketing strategies to sell ideas instead of products.
FFS don't talk nonsense and if you must don't do it here.
There is a legal solution. Courts may yet declare this unconstitutional.
Then there is a voting solution. People voted for Obama because he promised to get rid of all this. As Bush said fool me once, you cant fool twice. So people might in 2016 elect someone who has a record of being against these measures.
Plenty of solutions before a violent revolution. See for example the transition from The McCarthy era.
I've had quite the opposite experience so far. Most of the non-tech people I met recently on buses, shops etc. seemed to understand the problem very clearly and they cared. People cared about the issues at hand and quite intensely at that.
True that the majority seems silent, but deep inside almost everyone expressed a kind of hatred towards the 'O-force'.
Let's not misunderstand people because each one of us wants to hear positive news everyday. Stuff like Kanye's baby. This is not an unexpected behavior because ordinary people like us really want only one thing: Not being hassled by assholes.
In my opinion most of the times people are in pursuit of happiness and that is also, mark my words, the sole reason why people voted the O's to power in the first place. Let's not underestimate the power of people and lose hope altogether. It's much quicker to fall downhill than to climb high in the trust game of politics. Ever wondered how many people still dislike the bygone Bush?
"I don't care if Obama reads my text messages. All he'll learn is how to sext."
Most of the "smart" people I know, both in and out of the tech industry, are more interested in Egypt, Syria, and the large drop in US stock market indices last week.
How sad is it that Orwell's dire portrayal of Big Brother is no longer as relevant to most people as following reality TV's Big Brother...
So Orwell was a little paranoid... but Huxley was spot on.
A lot of stories, like the LavaBit shutdown for example, never elicited the strong backlash that it should have. It was however, well known in security and technology media circles.
Because it is a slow(er) Sunday news morning, the reaction on twitter to this story has been quite intense, and that is translating into a huge amount of print and broadcast news stories.
If this was intended to intimidate journalists, that would have been achieved through the inevitable reporting in specialty blogs and twitter feeds of those intensely interested in the subject.
This controversy on the other hand, is blowing up in their face, which will result in reporters making the next 72 hours hell for the various authorities involved on both sides of the pond.
Either those changes are due to Snowden and then he should own up and show some of that transparency he's promised or he's lying through his teeth. Either way it is not looking good.
Probably need a citation for that. I didn't see such an assertion in his conference. In fact, he said "repeated leaks of classified information have initiated the debate".
It might be a well-planned tactical move: perhaps they wanted to enrage and provoke Greenwald, hoping he might make mistakes, accidentally disclose sources or additional material.
But yes, the most likely explanation is that they simply don't care, they abuse their power all the time and act like criminals, why should they respect people like Greenwald?