Move Over Ed Snowden, Al Jazeera Has A Huge New Stack Of Spy Documents

from the and-the-revelations-just-keep-on-coming dept

There have been questions of when (not if) the next “Ed Snowden” situation would show up. There certainly have been a few recent leaks that appear to have been from folks other than Snowden, but they’ve mostly been one-off leaks. However, this morning, Al Jazeera is claiming that it got its hands on a huge trough of spy documents, in the form of cables from South Africa’s spy agency, the State Security Agency (SSA), and it will begin reporting on what’s in those documents, in collaboration with reporters at The Guardian:

Spanning a period from 2006 until December 2014, they include detailed briefings and internal analyses written by operatives of South Africa’s State Security Agency (SSA). They also reveal the South Africans’ secret correspondence with the US intelligence agency, the CIA, Britain’s MI6, Israel’s Mossad, Russia’s FSB and Iran’s operatives, as well as dozens of other services from Asia to the Middle East and Africa.

The files unveil details of how, as the post-apartheid South African state grappled with the challenges of forging new security services, the country became vulnerable to foreign espionage and inundated with warnings related to the US “War on Terror”.

As Al Jazeera points out, this is not “signals intelligence” (SIGINT) material, but rather “human intelligence” (HUMINT) of the kind normally done by the CIA, rather than the NSA. It’s about spies on the ground — and also, according to Al Jazeera, their humdrum daily office existence. Honestly, it almost sounds like the plot of a bad sitcom: come work at a premier national intelligence agency… and bitch about the lack of parking:

At times, the workplace resembles any other, with spies involved in form-filling, complaints about missing documents and personal squabbles…. One set of cables from the Algerian Embassy in South Africa relates to a more practical concern. It demands that “no parking” signs are placed in the street outside. The cable notes that the British and US embassies enjoy this privilege, and argues that it should be extended to Algeria as well.

Whether or not this latest leak turns up anything more interesting than parking disputes, it is worth noting that another trove of intelligence documents have leaked…

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Companies: al jazeera, guardian

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Comments on “Move Over Ed Snowden, Al Jazeera Has A Huge New Stack Of Spy Documents”

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tomczerniawski (profile) says:

The biggest story I’ve seen so far in this tranche of documents, is that the Israeli Mossad doesn’t believe that Iran is pursuing a bomb at all, despite Netanyahu’s insistence that we’re milliseconds away from being nuked by Iran.

This might torpedo that warmonger’s political future, and give someone a bit more peace-minded a chance at office. Once again, a leak of secret materials stands to improve the world.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Agreed. While I welcome any meaningful leaks, and am positive there will be many more to come, I’m not seeing anything bulleted in the AJ article (besides the Netanyahu item) that’s anything other than one would expect from legitimate spy work.

~The CIA made attempts to contact Hamas directly despite the US government listing the Palestinian group as a “terrorist organisation”
– So contact is a bad thing?

~Britain’s MI6 sought South African help in an operation to recruit a North Korean official who had previously refused their cash
– Maybe what they tried after failing with cash is bad?

~South African and Ethiopian spies struggled to “neutralise” an assassination plot targeting a leading African diplomat
– Wouldn’t this be a good thing?

Maybe these leaks will turn out to be more significant than they seem from their intro. But for now, I don’t see much of a reason for Snowden to “move over” (or even move slightly to the left) for these revelations.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

so who from Al Jazeera is the US going to file suit against for treason?

Despite lots of recent talk, nobody’s ever been charged with treason for leaking information to a journalist, and it’s unlikely the DOJ would try. The constitution is very strict about what counts as treason because, at the time of writing, English kings had been abusing treason laws quite a bit. People claiming leaking information is treason don’t understand history (or are lying).

ryuugami says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

From that link:
Make sure your child understands that stealing is the unlawful taking of another person’s property. Be clear that stealing can be done physically, such as taking a candy bar from a store, or electronically, such as taking music that hasn’t been purchased, from the Internet.

And then make your child return what he stole, such as a candy bar to the store, or the music to the Internet. Just imagine how many people would’ve bought that song, but they couldn’t because a child stole it. Millions lost in revenue! Millions!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Actually this could fit with their motives. Iran and the US have ISIS as a common enemy. This has made working together in a not-cooperating way awkward.

So if they can shove Netanyahu onto his sword they can normalize relationships with Iran and minimize negative diplomatic impact on Israel by revealing it to be a rogue PM.

Assuming that the CIA fed Al Jazeera (a large assumption), the big question would be how long did they know this? Were they withholding this knowledge because they previously wanted to act against Iran but decided to play their card now? Or did they just find out relatively speaking?

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