Well, at least the NSA is watching Al Jazeera America

Lest you think that the NSA is spending all of their time poking through your G-mail account, browsing your YouTube videos and listening to your Aunt Ginnie carping about how nobody will mow her lawn, they apparently still have a few other people to watch. Several outlets are reporting that they were also checking out the activities at Al Jazeera.


It makes sense that America’s National Security Agency (NSA) would be interested in the Arab news broadcaster Al Jazeera. The Qatar-based channel has been broadcasting audio and video messages from al-Qaida leaders for more than a decade.

The United States intelligence agency was so interested, in fact, that it hacked into Al Jazeera’s internal communications system, according to documents from former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden that have been seen by SPIEGEL.

One such document, dated March 23, 2006, reveals that the NSA’s Network Analysis Center managed to access and read communication by “interesting targets” that was specially protected by the news organization. The information also shows that the NSA officials were not satisfied with Al Jazeera’s language analysis.

For the record, I don’t have a problem with the NSA keeping tabs on Al Jazeera. It falls into the admitted double standard I hold when it comes to snooping at home and abroad by US intelligence agencies. I don’t like our government peering into the bedrooms of American citizens without following proper, constitutionally mandated paths which recognize the rights of our citizens. As to people in other countries? Meh… you really need to elect a government with better counterintelligence resources. We need to walk a very careful line when going near an American news outlet, but for the ones around the rest of the world? Well… not so much. (Say, has anyone bothered hacking into The Guardian yet? Just asking here…)


Still, there’s a silver lining to most clouds, and since Al Jazeera opened shop on their American outlet, they might be happy to know that the NSA is watching. They could use the ratings boost.

Al Jazeera America launched last week, and we have the ratings from Nielsen for its first few days.

Not surprisingly given the low-rated channel it replaced (Current TV), and the fact that it lost a few million homes from AT&T before launch (it is currently in just over 40 million homes), AJAM’s launch ratings were pretty low by traditional cable news standards.

The highest rated show on AJAM last week was the Thursday evening edition of “Real Money with Ali Velshi,” which drew 54,000 total viewers.

Their highest rated show drew 54K sets of eyeballs? I just did a quick check and more people than that read Quotes of the day last night. Then again, I don’t think Current TV ever did that much better, did they?

On a related note, a quick reminder: you can talk about the NSA, for the most part, all you want. But don’t use their logo to sell shirts and bumper stickers or you’ll be getting a call in short order.

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