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...

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    tomczerniawski, 23 Feb 2015 @ 1:40pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Feb 2015 @ 2:01pm

    I feel like this leak is designed to obscure the true leaks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Feb 2015 @ 2:28pm

      Re:

      Certainly a possibility, i for one will wait and see

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Feb 2015 @ 5:10pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Feb 2015 @ 2:15pm

    so who from Al Jazeera is the US going to file suit against for treason? they must get someone, surely. it wont seem like a proper leak until the DoJ tries to throw someone's ass into Gitmo, never to be seen again, for committing acts of terrorism!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Feb 2015 @ 6:58am

      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).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Feb 2015 @ 2:21pm

    Hey Masnick- Your hated Hollywood is making a movie about Snowden. Are you going to criticize them for that or just steal it when it's out?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Feb 2015 @ 2:21pm

    I'm just waiting for Al Jazeera to get a US guided missile "accidently" fired into its headquarters ... for the third time.

    Apparently the attitude-adjustment gained from first two bombings has worn off, and these wayward Arabs need another gentle reminder of what happens to foreign news agencies who get too far out of line.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Feb 2015 @ 8:25pm

    Didn't one of the Manning cables show the Al Jazeera head working with CIA, pulling stories on request etc?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Feb 2015 @ 8:59pm

      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?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 24 Feb 2015 @ 3:06am

    Eventually there will be leakage. It is good because it shines light into shady behavior and at the same time it may be bad with all the surveillance we are seeing. That's personal data leaking into hands that may not be friendly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.