My complaint filed with the CBC Ombudsman over Greg Weston’s story on NSA spying in Canada

weston

My complaint is against the story filed by reporter Greg Weston Nov 27, 2013 and subsequently aired on The National hosted by Peter Mansbridge and is in two-parts:

1) That the CBC broke its own Journalistic Standards and Practises by paying Glenn Greenwald for the stolen NSA documents in his possession

2) That the story’s claim(s) did not support the documents used as its source material

I include statements by Conservative MPs Paul Calandra and Larry Miller tabled in the House of Commons as well as columns by Sun News’ Brian Lilley and the National Post’s Matt Gurney as further evidence that what Greg Weston and Peter Mansbridge claimed is false and that the CBC broke its Standards code:

Mr. Paul Calandra (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, the CBC’s Journalistic Standards and Practices make clear that:

To ensure we maintain our independence, we do not pay for information from a source in a story.

When CBC’s The National aired a report about U.S. activities during the G8 and G20, neither Peter Mansbridge nor Greg Weston disclosed that they had paid their source, Glenn Greenwald.

Greenwald is a Brazilian based former porn industry executive, now assisting Edward Snowden leak national security information.

CBC only admitted to its cash for news scheme after The Wall Street Journal forced it out. CBC is trying to justify the violation of its own ethical standards by claiming that Greenwald is a freelancer.

Greenwald has strong and controversial opinions about national security. Of course, that is his right, but when CBC pays for news, we have to ask why furthering Glenn Greenwald’s agenda and lining his Brazilian bank account more important than maintaining the public broadcaster’s journalistic integrity?

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Mr. Larry Miller (Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the CBC violated its own code of ethics in giving a payoff to Brazil-based former porn industry executive, Glenn Greenwald, for national security information stolen from one of Canada’s allies. Shockingly, Canadians watching the original TV broadcast were not informed of this cash-for-news scheme.

What is more, yesterday we learned that the CBC also grossly inflated the contents of the U.S. documents. According to Professor Wesley Wark, who was the national security expert used by CBC in its original story:

There was no support in the document for the claim originally made by the CBC that the communication security establishment in Canada would lend its technical expertise to the NSA effort.

The CBC should apologize for violating its code of ethics. It should apologize for concealing its cash-for-news scheme with a former Brazil-based porn industry executive, and it should apologize for allowing Glenn Greenwald’s personal and partisan agenda direct its news coverage. To the CBC: Just apologize.

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Sun News’ Brian Lilley column: CBC Spy Spin http://blogs.canoe.ca/lilleyspad/politics/video-cbc-spy-spin/

OTTAWA — CBC’s bombshell claim that the National Security Agency (NSA) spied on Canadian soil with the support of the Harper government was blown to bits Monday after the state broadcaster released its source documents.
Last Wednesday, CBC’s The National trumpeted a story of American spies targeting foreign leaders.

“Stephen Harper’s government allowed the largest American spy agency to conduct widespread surveillance in Canada during the 2010 G8 and G20 summits,” the headline on CBC’s website read.

The documents, released online Monday, don’t support that claim and read more like a standard security briefing ahead of an international summit.

Wesley Wark , a visiting professor at the University of Ottawa, said the claims made by the story and the words in the documents don’t match.

“There was no support in the document for the claim originally made by the CBC that CSEC (the Communications Security Establishment Canada would lend its technical expertise to the NSA effort,” Wark said.

Security analyst David Harris of Insignis Strategic Research agreed with Wark that the documents don’t support the claims CBC made in its original story.

“As smoking guns go this is the ultimate smokeless gun, there’s no compelling evidence of any kind of CSEC collaboration with any imagined NSA plot to penetrate private discussions of visiting government leaders,” Harris told QMI Agency.

That’s a far cry from the way CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge and reporter Greg Weston played the story last Wednesday evening on The National.

“The U.S. was monitoring the communications of world leaders while they were all in Toronto for the G20 summit and Canadian officials approved it,” Mansbridge said as he introduced the story.

Weston claimed on air that the spying operation was done, “all with the blessing of the Canadian government.”

“Beyond the indication about ‘co-ordination’ with the Canadian partner there are no details about what CSEC or the Canadian government felt about this U.S. operation,” Wark said.

CBC obtained the documents from Glenn Greenwald the journalist, lawyer and former porn promoter who has been working with NSA leaker Edward Snowden. CBC paid Greenwald for access to the documents, a fact omitted from the broadcast of their original story.

Harris called it strange that CBC partnered with someone like Greenwald, a person who calls for more open government, but initially refused to release the documents.

“For people pushing governments to be more honest and transparent, it certainly took a lot to get the documents out of them,” Harris said

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National Post’s Matt Gurney column titled: ‘Supporting documents’ for CBC’s bombshell NSA scoop don’t support the story much at all http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/12/03/matt-gurney-supporting-documents-for-cbcs-bombshell-nsa-scoop-dont-support-the-story-much-at-all/

In the interests of “transparency and showing supporting documents,” CBC News has posted online a document it claims supports its major story last week about Canada and the U.S. conspiring to spy on foreign leaders. But it’s far from clear the document supports the CBC’s original story much at all.

The original article was an “exclusive” posted Nov. 27 on CBC News’ website. It reported that, during the G8 and G20 summits in Southern Ontario, the U.S. National Security Agency was actively engaged in intelligence operations.

On Monday, five days later, the CBC posted a slightly redacted document online. The document appears to be one of the NSA memos obtained by leaker Edward Snowden, and then provided to Brazil-based U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald, who reportedly was paid $1,500 for his help in writing the CBC’s original story.

The CBC says it held off on releasing the document that formed the basis of its Nov. 27 story because it wanted to give the U.S. government a chance to comment, and claims the only substantive reply it received was a request to redact the names and any potential personal information of NSA employees, which it agreed to do.

That’s fair. But the document raises questions about the CBC’s original story, which goes a hell of a lot further than the document itself does.

The document generally conforms to the CBC’s story. It does indeed note that the NSA would be providing support to policymakers during the summits, that it would be co-ordinating with other U.S. intelligence officials based out of the American Embassy in Ottawa, that it would provide regular security and threat assessment updates to the event venues, and that the NSA was co-operating with a Canadian partner.

There is no proof of “widespread surveillance.” Clearly, an operation was being conducted. But no hint whatsoever is given to how widespread the surveillance was, or was not. You can’t tell from this document.

Further, there is nothing to back the CBC’s claim that the “spying at the Toronto summit in 2010 fits a pattern of economic and political espionage by [the NSA] and its partners [in Canada].” Beyond the generic statement that the NSA “is actively assisting executive protection and event security, and providing support to policymakers,” the document contains nothing approximating an even semi-complete operational plan or list of objectives that could then be fitted into any broader pattern. The closest we come is a generic list of services the NSA could offer, and the document itself notes the list is not exhaustive.

Indeed, it’s only clear upon rereading how little information the Nov. 27 report ever really claimed came from the NSA documents.

There are splashes of actual documenty goodness here and there, but the bulk of the CBC’s original report is mainly summarizing what’s believed to be known about prior U.S. and Canadian intelligence operations at similar global leadership summits, and some expert opinion on whether the NSA could lawfully operate on Canadian soil.

In short, the document the CBC released to support its Nov. 27 story in fact reveals that it was at least as much analysis and — bluntly — informed speculation, as it was news.

To be fair, I agree with the speculation. I have no doubt that Canada and the U.S. were working together to scoop up every last morsel of intelligence they could, and, as written in these pages last week, I have no problem with that.

But speculation and analysis aren’t news … and the CBC treated this as news. The CBC had a legitimate scoop with the mere fact that the NSA was conducting any operations, at all, during the 2010 summits. It didn’t need to go further and claim that there was slamdunk proof of widespread spying that fit a pattern of phone tapping and email snooping. That’s probably exactly what was going on, but there’s no proof of that in the CBC’s supporting document.

Indeed, as I directly compared the two pieces of material — the CBC story and the NSA’s document — I began to wonder if the CBC had somehow been duped. Perhaps they hadn’t seen the document before the news story ran, and took Greenwald’s word for what it contained. Perhaps the CBC had access to other documents that informed their reporting.

But no. In response to a request for comment by the National Post, the CBC replied, in part, “Our story … was based on a single document which we had in advance and has since been made public.” (Emphasis mine.)

So they had the document. And only this document. And it only partially supports their reporting. I challenge anyone to read their story, and the NSA document, and declare that the CBC can really claim the document proves their version of events is true.

It probably is. I think most reasonable observers would agree. But the CBC can’t back up the claims they made in a news story. That’s not how this business is supposed to work.

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14 Responses to “My complaint filed with the CBC Ombudsman over Greg Weston’s story on NSA spying in Canada”

  1. E Mac Says:

    You can’t envisage journalistic transparency from the CBC, and certainly not from their affiliate lowlife operatives.
    We should not expect truthfulness or authenticity from this leftist rabble.
    Mansbridge leading Weston by the schnoz to answer patently specified questions, exposes this dialogue as shoddy background investigation at best.
    Misleading Canadians is what CBC does on a regular basis – problem is, some consider their bafflegab as real McCoy.
    Integrity – Pffft…

  2. CBC Caught Lying Again | Calebs StrengthCalebs Strength Says:

    […] My complaint filed with the CBC Ombudsman over Greg Weston’s story on NSA spying in Canada […]

  3. Bubba Brown Says:

    CBC makin’ **** up 24/7, 365 days of the year on our dime.
    Mandsbridge, news reader, and reporter (?) Weston were just running with something they hoped would reflect negatively on the Conservative Government.
    Same old, same old.
    Fordboarding ™ as it were.
    Real scandals, wether it is a Liberal Senator in jail for fraud, bouncing off a lamppost, accused of extreme behavior or caught scamming a charity for 8 million dollars, that ain’t news.
    If there is no Conservative involved it ain’t a scandal.
    This has been a constant since the last election, it was bad before that getting worse by the day.
    The CBC is so biased and crooked shutting it down is the only answer.JMO

  4. Tim Says:

    This is nothing new for the Ceeb. Whatever it takes to push their despicable narrative, even if it means fabrication, speculation innuendo or outright lies, as long as they get to spread their propaganda. And this will continue until CBC brass heads roll. That’ll never happen, our politicians are too gutless and self- important.

  5. Martin Says:

    Several days after 2 CPC MPs have made statements in Parliament ctriticizing CBC for ethical shortcomings, I have seen nothing whatever on the story on their website. CBC, meaning we taxpayers pay lucrative salaries to people like Kady O’Malley to do nothing but report from PH, and blog about the latest gossip. This reminds me of the climate change leaked e-mails Kady also wouldn’t touch. Why exactly are we paying her salary?

  6. Bec Says:

    Well there is some good news. There is always the bottom half of the class with every degree, the Ceeb hired them.

  7. Mary Hines Says:

    The last “Power and Politics” I watched was when Greg Weston was on their liberal panel begging “Wright” to send him a little brown envelope with more information so he could keep the senate scandal going…… he sort of felt it was winding down, he needed some more information to keep it alive… He is a pathetic piece of work for a journalist… nothing but one of Evans and the CBC’s little liberal hacks…

  8. Jen Says:

    What is needed now, is more advertising firms that supports CBC to leave and through their advertising elsewhere. Surely Advertisers who count on the success of Canada’s economy to survive, should remove themselves from CBC since CBC and CTV are advocating for the downfall
    to canada’s economy, especially to the very strength-the ‘oilsands’.

  9. Jen Says:

    Weston sees the FREE’ money dangling in front of him BUT HE CANNOT get it unless he follows the CBC’s rules- SPEAK AGAINST US (CBC) AND YOU WILL GET NOT A DIME. Besides, CBC does not speak for Canada, that which we have become accustom too.

  10. wilson Says:

    ”But the CBC can’t back up the claims they made in a news story. That’s not how this business is supposed to work.” says NPs Gurney

    Media using ‘anonymous sources’ for their stories at every turn. They should be forced to reveal sources and documentation or pull the story.

  11. CBC’s response to my complaint against Greg Weston’s NSA spy story | BC Blue: One BC Conservative's view on it all... Says:

    […] Below is the email I received from Jack Nagler Director of Journalistic Public Accountability and Engagement, CBC News in response to the complaint I filed Dec 4th (see here): […]


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