Web

Newly leaked internal newsletters give rare glimpse inside the NSA

snowden sidtoday batches edward pose
Looking for a newsletter you can really sink your teeth into? No, we’re not talking about the Digital Trends email newsletter — we’re talking about SIDToday. If you haven’t heard of it, that’s probably because it’s the NSA’s internal newsletter, and it’s rarely, if ever, been seen out in public — until now that is.

Three months of newsletters are being disseminated by The Intercept, a news organization formed for the specific purpose of reporting on data provided by Edward Snowden. The site claims the documents have been in its possession for quite some time, but it’s not that easy to share hundreds of classified documents.

The newsletter is named for the Signals Intelligence Directorate, a branch of the NSA that’s responsible for spying on and gathering intelligence about targets. As you might imagine, that’s a more complex and far-reaching job than it sounds on the surface.

The newsletter ranges from offering extremely important details about the war in Iraq to the sorts of events, announcements, and even jokes you’d expect to find in any company’s internal newsletter.

At the more serious end of the spectrum, there are reports on where the blueprints for the hospital Jessica Lynch was rescued from originated, and the tracking efforts of individual members of insurgent groups, but that’s just in the Iraq war. There are also stories of the SID uncovering illegal North Korean military developments, tracking Russian mobsters, and even listening to foreign satellites for information.

It’s not all work, though, and some of the newsletters contain amusingly benign information about the NSA and its employees. There are farewell letters from executives, tips for welcoming new staff members, and even a primer on April Fool’s Day jokes.

Interestingly enough, one of the more lighthearted posts takes a look at the amenities and recreational activities for agents stationed in Guantanamo Bay. It takes you through a day in the life of an NSA analyst stationed there, revealing a close connection between the government organization and the interrogation happening there in the early 2000s.

The Intercept made sure to point out some of the standout stories from the first batch. There’s quite a lot of information to parse in the 166 leaked documents, and The Intercept has made sure to already share these documents with select journalists both domestic and foreign. There are more on the way, too, almost nine years worth, so expect to learn more as The Intercept clears the legal hurdles required to publish the files.

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