One brief anecdote. You saw how pissed I got last week when I couldn’t advance the CIA "significant action" story that I broke? Here’s a taste of what it’s like to chase this stuff.
So the Guardian has this story about the program being about domestic assassinations. Remembering the general admonition against relying on British papers, I run it by an intelligence official. The reply I get? "This effort has been briefed to the Congress. They know what this was and what it wasn’t." … OK then. So I take it to a congressional staffer. "Like Congress can talk about it," came the reply.
Reporting, including intelligence reporting, is a lot more than this, and there are lots of other methods to dig deeper at reporters’ fingertips. But this is an example of what intelligence reporters go through every day, and so I throw it out there as a day-inna-life sort of thing.