The Spy Cables: A Glimpse Into The World Of Espionage

Excerpts:

Unlike the Edward Snowden documents that focus on electronic signals intelligence, commonly referred to in intelligence circles as “SIGINT”, the Spy Cables deal with human intelligence, or “HUMINT”.

This is espionage at the more humdrum, day-in-the-office level. At times, the workplace resembles any other, with spies involved in form-filling, complaints about missing documents and personal squabbles. Some of the communiqués between agencies are simply invitations for liaison meetings or briefings by one agency to another.

Rather than chronicling spy-movie style tales of ruthless efficiency of intelligence agencies, they offer an unprecedented glimpse into the daily working lives of people whose jobs are kept secret from the public.

The Spy Cables: A Glimpse Into The World Of Espionage

Secret documents, leaked from numerous intelligence agencies, offer rare insights into the interactions between spies.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/ 2015/02/spy-cables-world- espionage-snowden-guardian- mi6-cia-ssa-mossad-iran- southafrica-leak- 150218100147229.html?utm_ source=dlvr.it&utm_medium= twitter
Al Jazeera Investigative Unit | 23 Feb 2015 08:23 GMT | Africa, Europe, US & Canada, Middle East, Asia Pacific
STORY HIGHLIGHTS

The Spy Cables are one of the most wide-ranging leaks of intelligence papers ever, taking us into the world of espionage

Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit, in collaboration with The Guardian newspaper, is publishing a selection of “top-secret” documents, and exploring the stories within them
The documents come from intelligence agencies around the world, including: Israel’s Mossad, Britain’s MI6, Russia’s FSB, Australia’s ASIO and South Africa’s SSA

A digital leak to Al Jazeera of hundreds of secret intelligence documents from the world’s spy agencies has offered an unprecedented insight into operational dealings of the shadowy and highly politicized realm of global espionage.

Over the coming days, Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit is publishing The Spy Cables, in collaboration with The Guardian newspaper.

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”.
‘HUMINT’

Unlike the Edward Snowden documents that focus on electronic signals intelligence, commonly referred to in intelligence circles as “SIGINT”, the Spy Cables deal with human intelligence, or “HUMINT”.

This is espionage at the more humdrum, day-in-the-office level. At times, the workplace resembles any other, with spies involved in form-filling, complaints about missing documents and personal squabbles. Some of the communiqués between agencies are simply invitations for liaison meetings or briefings by one agency to another.

Inter-agency communiqués include “trace requests” for individuals or phone numbers. 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.
Rather than chronicling spy-movie style tales of ruthless efficiency of intelligence agencies, they offer an unprecedented glimpse into the daily working lives of people whose jobs are kept secret from the public.

REDACTED – Editor’s note
It has not been easy to decide which Spy Cables to publish, and hundreds will not be revealed.
After verifying the cables, we had to consider whether the publication of each document served the public interest, in consultation with industry experts, lawyers, and our partners at The Guardian. Regardless of any advice received, the decision to publish has been Al Jazeera’s alone.

We believe it is important to achieve greater transparency in the field of intelligence. The events of the last decade have shown that there has been inadequate scrutiny on the activities of agencies around the world. That has allowed some to act outside their own laws and, in some cases international law.

Publishing these documents, including operational and tradecraft details, is a necessary contribution to a greater public scrutiny of their activities.

The Spy Cables also reveal that in many cases, intelligence agencies are over-classifying information and hiding behind an unnecessary veil of secrecy. This harms the ability of a democratic society to either consent to the activities of their intelligence agencies or provide adequate checks and balances to their powers.

The Spy Cables are filled with the names, personal details, and pseudonyms of active foreign intelligence operatives who work undercover for the dozens of global spy agencies referenced in the files.

We confronted the possibility that publishing identities revealed in the cables could result in harm to potentially innocent people. We agreed that publishing the names of undercover agents would pose a substantial risk to potentially unwitting individuals from around the world who had associated with these agents.

We believe we can most responsibly accomplish our goal of achieving greater transparency without revealing the identities of undercover operatives.

For these reasons, we have redacted their names. We have also redacted sections that could pose a threat to the public, such as specific chemical formulae to build explosive devices.
Finally, some of the Spy Cables have been saved for future broadcast – ones that needed further contextualisation. Regardless of when we publish, the same considerations will inform our decisions over what to redact.

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