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This is the difference between companies voluntarily giving the government direct and unilateral access to arbitrary customer data and companies merely complying with the law in a technically efficient way that doesn’t change the nature of the data received by the government.
If Greenwald and MacAskill have documents or detailed statements from Snowden that provide illumination on this point, they should share this information.
Because as it stands now, the only way their story is true is if all the companies involved are lying, and the NSA is lying, and Senators Feinstein and Rogers are lying, and the President is lying, and the New York Times’ sources are lying.
Everyone but Greenwald’s source would have to be lying.
This certainly isn’t impossible. Much more likely in my estimation is that Greenwald’s use of “direct” and “unilateral” was technically imprecise or the result of exaggerations from his source.
Either way, the American people deserve to know the truth.