Almost three years since The Intercept began reporting on the archive supplied to them in Hong Kong by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, and they sought to meet his two main requests for how the contents should be handled. As time went on, The Intercept tried different methods for getting files from the archive into the control of the public, consistent with what Snowden had initially imagined.
Today The Intercept announced two initiations on how they will publish the materials and reports. They indicate that both measures were created to ensure that coverage on the archive continues on as expeditious and insightful as possible, in agreement with the arrangements they entered into with Snowden about how those documents would be disclosed, a framework that he, and they, have openly described on numerous occasions.
The first measure will involve releasing a large cache of files on internal NSA newsletters, which cross over a decade beginning after 9/11. They're beginning with the earliest posts, from 2003, and working their way through to the most recent, from 2012; occasionally releasing batches until they've made the whole set.
The Intercept indicates that some are self-serving and boastful - designed to justify budgets or impress supervisors. However, some posts have been the basis of revelations, according to them.
They hope that the release will encourage other interested parties, researchers, and journalists, to comb through those documents, to find any additional content of interest; storylines or hints that lead to stories.
Consistent with their deal, The Intercept says that their editors and reporters have carefully examined each file, removed names that were low-level officials, and other info that could inflict serious damage on innocent people, in addition to giving the NSA an opportunity to comment on the records that they will print. The Intercept believes that the releases will enrich public understanding of these very powerful surveillance agencies.
The other innovation will be their ability to entice external journalists, from foreign media outlets, to work together to explore the complete Snowden archive.
Since The Intercept began reporting on the file, a significant part of their strategy has been to partner with foreign media outlets rather than try to keep all the material for themselves. They've jointly shared documents with more than two dozen media outlets, and teams of journalists in numerous countries, have worked with The Intercept, and reported on Snowden documents. This partnership approach has significantly expedited the reporting from journalists who understand their countries.
The Intercept indicated that "There are still many documents of legitimate interest to the public that can and should be disclosed." In addition to files in the archives that they do not believe should be printed because of the damage it could potentially cause innocent people.
An archive of this size and importance naturally presented questions about how better to report on it, says The Intercept. However, "These two new approaches will, we believe, facilitate reporting and disclosure while fulfilling our obligations to the public and to our source."
Also published on Medium.