The Washington Post gave a peek on Thursday night into the ways in which it brushed back the White House during contentious negotiations over its bombshell story about the National Security Agency's repeated privacy violations.
The story, which was written by former Post reporter Barton Gellman based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden, revealed that the NSA had admitted to breaking privacy rules thousands of times since 2008. Gellman's article detailed internal audits which showed how the vast surveillance capabilities of the NSA had been abused.
The Post went to the NSA and the White House for comment before the article's publication, as it does with almost any sensitive national security story. "The government was made aware of The Post's intention to publish the documents that accompany this article online," the article stated.
But, in a separate post, the paper revealed that, after the Post refused to let the White House edit quotes from an on-the-record conversation Gellman had conducted with John DeLong, the NSA's director of compliance, the administration tried to substitute the quotes with a prepared statement. The Post tersely told readers that it had declined:
An NSA interview, rewritten
The Obama administration referred all questions for this article to John DeLong, the NSA's director of compliance, who answered questions freely in a 90-minute interview. DeLong and members of the NSA communications staff said he could be quoted "by name and title" on some of his answers after an unspecified internal review. The Post said it would not permit the editing of quotes. Two days later, White House and NSA spokesmen said that none of DeLong's comments could be quoted on the record and sent instead a prepared statement in his name. The Post declines to accept the substitute language as quotations from DeLong. The statement is below.
The Post also sent out a tweet about the back-and-forth:
Gellman also tweeted about what had happened: