The Intercept has begun publishing a large tranche of NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden. All 166 articles from SID Today, an NSA internal newsletter, are coming in the first portion of Snowden docs that The Intercept will release, with more to come.
The investigative news outlet says it is releasing the documents so that interested parties can scour them for stories they may have overlooked. As anyone who's followed the Snowden story knows, the docs that accompany them are impenetrably dense, written in a combination of government and IT jargon that has often been deliberately obfuscated by referring to companies, agencies and people by pseudonyms. This presents serious difficulty for responsible journalists, who want to minimize the possibility that they'll release documents that have no public interest but may undermine legitimate security undertakings — when you can't figure out what a document is about, how do you know if releasing it will cause harm?
The limited release approach is reminiscent of the searchable database of names from the Panama Papers — a way for the wider world to try to untangle the deliberately knotty affairs of those who work in secret.
From the start of our reporting on the archive, a major component of our approach has been to partner with foreign (and other American) media outlets rather than try to keep all the material for ourselves. We have collectively shared documents with more than two dozen media outlets, and teams of journalists in numerous countries have thus worked with and reported on Snowden documents (that's independent of the other media outlets which have long possessed large portions of the Snowden archive — the Washington Post, the New York Times, The Guardian, ProPublica). This partnership approach has greatly expedited the reporting, and also ensured that stories that most affect specific countries are reported by the journalists who best understand those countries.
But allowing other journalists full access to the archive presented security and legal challenges that took time and resources to resolve. We now feel comfortable that we can do so consistent with the responsibility demanded by these materials and our agreement with our source. We have begun to provide archive access to journalists from Le Monde and other media outlets in collaboration with The Intercept's editorial, research, legal, and technology teams. We are excited by the reporting this new arrangement will generate.
There are still many documents of legitimate interest to the public that can and should be disclosed. There are also documents in the archive that we do not believe should be published because of the severe harm they would cause innocent people (e.g., private communications intercepted by NSA, the disclosure of which would destroy privacy rights; and documents containing government speculation about bad acts committed by private individuals (typically from marginalized communities), the disclosure of which would permanently destroy reputations).
FILES [The Intercept]
(via Ars Technica)