Espionage and paranoia

By now, you've probably heard that Angry Birds -- yes, Angry Birds -- is among the many "leaky" game apps that spy agencies have used to collect the player's personal information, secret British intelligence documents reveal.

The New York Times numbered among the many publications leaping to cover this new revelation. "Surprise, you've been playing Angry Birds with the N.S.A.," was the tease from NYT assistant editor Paul Werdel. Reacting to the ProPublica article on that, Michael Grabell also there shared "New docs show NSA probes Angry Birds & other apps, which can include gender, income & whether you're a swinger." Colleague Justin Elliott nicknamed it the "nothing is sacred dept."

 James Ball with the Guardian was on that story too, revealing these targeted tools were loosely codenamed after Smurf characters. "'Paranoid Smurf' is some high-quality GCHQ trolling, got to give credit where due," coworker Spencer Ackerman acknowledged. On a more serious note, however: "Next inevitable step: NSA & GCHQ in deal with telcos to install Orwellian telescreens in handphones," broadcast journalist Teymoor Nabili predicted. 

But while our paranoia may be substantiated, the case being built against the US government by Afghanistan's president Hamid Karzai is murkier. "Karzai suspects US is behind insurgent-style attacks, including the suicide attack in an expat restaurant 2 weeks ago," detailed Subel Bhandari at Deutsche Presse-AgenturMinnesota Public Radio's Bob Collins made the depressing observation that "Karzai thinks US is responsible for insurgent attacks. Your billions of dollars in taxes at work."

That story's author, Washington Post's Kevin Sieff, even managed to glean the surprisingly candid quote from the US ambassador that Karzai harbors "a deeply conspiratorial view that’s divorced from reality." ABC News correspondent Muhammad Lila reflected, "Hard to see US/Karzai making friends again after this." Also worth noting: Afghanistan-based media production company Pressistan was none too pleased with Sieff's piece, tweeting, "This is a bad story, with bad sourcing."

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