How To Read The New Edward Snowden Documents

by Noor Al-Sibai

Edward Snowden made history in 2013 when he illegally leaked classified information from the National Security Agency. Snowden defended his actions at the time by saying the government organization used its software to essentially spy on American citizens by tapping into their phone calls. After three years of dealing with the repercussions of being a whistleblower, the website The Intercept published previously-unreleased files from Snowden's cache. Specifically, they're releasing incremental batches of copies of SIDtoday, the NSA's internal newsletter, with documents dating as far back as 2003. You'll definitely want to see these, so here's how to read the Snowden documents online.

Glenn Greenwald, the reporter formerly of The Guardian who worked with Snowden to publish this information in 2013, announced that he and Snowden would publish these documents on The Intercept on May 16.

Often more exciting than your average newsletter, the SIDtoday archives reportedly contain information about top-secret reports, from details about the NSA's involvement in Guantánamo Bay to their role in the invasion of Iraq. Paired with the raw data itself is an irresistible look into the occasionally-mundane inner workings of one of the world's most secretive organizations, one where stories of high espionage accompany trivial information about vacations taken by analysts.

The descriptions given by Greenwald make the files seem fascinating, but when taking a cursory look at The Intercept's article about them, it's somewhat confusing trying to figure out how to get to them.

Luckily, there's an easy way to access the SIDtoday files on The Intercept's "Snowden Archive" landing page. From there, you can scroll through the 166 documents and individually read each file in the archive at your leisure. You can find the archive files by scrolling past the paragraphs summarizing each document, as well as the "Featured Articles" links, until you see the words "Browse the Archive" in large letters.

From there, you can click on each file, which have the dates they were released and the headline from their original appearance in the SItoday newsletter. When you click a file, a short summary appears, along with the page length of the document. Click "See Document" to read the entire file.

The archive is sorted by "most recent" as a default, but you can also sort them to show the oldest files first. Additionally, you can sort the archive by topics, including everything from "book reviews" to "Afghanistan" and "customer relations."

DIY truth-seekers can download the entire zipped cache on The Intercept's special site or via GitHub directly. But the lazier among us can read the site's reporting on the SIDtoday files, which include summaries of the NSA's alleged involvement in Guantánamo Bay interrogations, a roundup of the most fascinating spy stories, and even an overarching description of SIDtoday itself, through the eyes of an Intercept reporter.

Perusing the files shows the sometimes-startling and often banal hive mind of the NSA; when paired with other revelations made by Snowden, they offer an important and somewhat disturbing glimpse into the organization tasked with keeping Americans safe.