Reflections on The Intercept’s Snowden Archive

At long last, The Intercept has decided to “broaden” access to the massive trove of NSA documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden. Here’s my initial thoughts on this momentous decision, written hastily from South Korea. Thanks to Lauren Walker of The Daily Dot for calling my attention to this story. 

The Intercept’s decision to unlock access to these NSA documents is long overdue. Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers to every paper that would take them in 1971, and the Snowden documents should have been exposed to the same light.

This archive has badly needed the scrutiny of people who understand the NSA in a historical and economic context. That’s particularly true, from my perspective, of the few journalists who have reported on NSA’s relationships to its operational contractors such as Booz Allen Hamilton, which employed Edward Snowden when he leaked his trove.

But I have mixed feelings about this announcement. Even in the small trickle of documents printed in The Intercept, I’ve seen their in-house experts miss important revelations, particularly about the contractors involved in NSA intelligence gathering. By refusing and delaying access to experts in critical areas of intelligence and acting like each successive release from their reporters was a major scoop and a reflection on their own greatness, The Intercept did a disservice to journalism and the public.

Still, I can only applaud the fact that Glenn Greenwald has listened to critics such as myself and the people at Cryptome, and I look forward to going through these newly released documents. This is an important moment in the history of national security journalism.

Tim Shorrock

Gwangju, South Korea

May 17, 2016

 

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