|By: Kevin Gosztola|
Al Jazeera English and The Guardian have published top secret documents, which are part of a trove of cables, dossiers and other files from some of the world’s major spy agencies that were leaked to Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit.
The first set of revelations primarily stem from documents from Mossad and South African intelligence. After Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned it was a year from producing nuclear weapons, Mossad informed allies that Iran was not working on developing a nuclear weapon.
The CIA attempted to contact Hamas, even though there is a ban on contacting members of the organization because the United States government has designated it a “terrorist organization.” South Africa’s National Intelligence Agency (NIA) has been pressured by the US government to expend huge resources into monitoring Iranian intelligence activities, despite the fact that it does not view the country as a threat to South Africa.
South Africa’s security agency acknowledged in a November 2012 report that President Barack Obama threatened Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas over a bid for “non-member observer status” at the United Nations.
Documents were also obtained from Russia’s intelligence service, FSB, as well as agencies in the US, United Kingdom, France, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Oman and multiple nations in Africa.
An editor’s note from Al Jazeera explains the significance of the “Spy Cables” published.
“We believe it is important to achieve greater transparency in the field of intelligence,” the note states. “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.” And, “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.”
However, Al Jazeera recognized that publishing identities of undercover operatives or agents could potentially harm 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.”
Names of agents and undercover operatives have been redacted. Sections of documents, such as details about chemical formulas for explosives, have been redacted as well.
There are also apparently hundreds of documents that Al Jazeera indicates will never be published for legal and editorial reasons, which are not entirely made clear in the note.
Regardless, the leak, which appears to have likely come from an individual in South Africa, will potentially generate some positive attention on global espionage. It will expose power dynamics among countries and invite further scrutiny of flawed policies, such as the US foreign policy toward Iran.
Clayton Swisher, who is Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit director, said this is the first time he can remember that journalists have had documents from Mossad. “It is the largest leak that South Africa has faced,” Swisher added, and the first time that some other agencies, like the FSB, have experienced this kind of “daylight.”
Iran has always maintained that its nuclear program would be for its civilian population, not for military weaponry. The October 22, 2012, cable from Mossad clearly indicates:
That contradicts the hysterical mongering of Netanyahu, who claimed that Iran was 70 percent of the way toward completing production of a nuclear weapon, less than a month earlier during a speech at the UN General Assembly.
Even though the Mossad cable maintains Iran is waiting for the right moment to give the order for Iranian scientists to go ahead and begin production of a nuclear weapon, it admits it has no evidence of whether Iran has the appropriate infrastructure for such development.
More “surveillance reports, inter-agency information trading, disinformation and backbiting, as well as evidence of infiltration, theft and blackmail,” according to The Guardian, were in the leak. There should be more “Spy Cables” revelations published throughout the week. They promise to further demonstrate how Africa has become a new arena for spy agencies to subvert and battle each other for influence in the world.