In 2013, journalists began revealing secrets associated with members of the Five Eyes (FVEY) intelligence alliance. These secrets were disclosed by Edward Snowden, a US intelligence contractor. The journalists who published about the documents did so after carefully assessing their content and removing information that was identified as unduly injurious to national security interests or threatened to reveal individuals’ identities. During my tenure at the Citizen Lab I provided expert advice to journalists about the newsworthiness of different documents and, also, content that should be redacted as its release was not in the public interest. In some cases documents that were incredibly interesting were never published on the basis that doing so would be injurious to national security, notwithstanding the potential newsworthiness of the documents in question.
Since 2013 I have worked with the Snowden documents for a variety of research projects. As part of these projects I have tried to decipher the meaning of the covernames that litter the document (e.g., CASCADE, MEMORYHOLE, SPEARGUN, or PUZZLECUBE), as well as objectively trying to summarise what is contained in the documents themselves without providing commentary on the appropriateness, ethics, or lawfulness of the activities in question.
In all cases the materials which are summarised on my website have been published, in open-source, by professional news organizations or other publishers. None of the material that I summarise or host is new and none of it has been leaked or provided to me by government or non-government bodies. No current or former intelligence officer has provided me with details about any of the covernames or underlying documents. This said, researchers associated with the Citizen Lab and other academic institutions have, in the past, contributed to some of the materials published on this website.
As a caveat, all descriptions of what the covernames mean or refer to, and what are contained in individual documents leaked by Edward Snowden, are provided on a best-effort basis. Entries will be updated periodically as time is available to analyse further documents or materials.
Summaries are organized by the year in which the underlying documents were made public, as opposed to the year they may have been authored internal to the agency.
This page was last updated January 17, 2023.
- Note Proposing Extended Relationship between Australia and the NSA
- SUSLOC Facilitates Sensitive DSD Reporting on Trade Talks
- 3G: Impact and Update
Note Proposing Extended Relationship between Australia and the NSA
Summary: The document is a three paragraph snippet from a larger work. The document notes that Australia faces challenges obtaining reliable access to communications used to combat terrorism. However, the NSA has provided the DSD with access to minimized data which has helped the DSD to disrupt and contain terrorist activities in the region, as highlighted by the arrest of Umar Patek, who was involved in bombing Bali. The author of the document notes their willingness to extend the partnership to cover Australians who are involved with Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
Document Published: May 13, 2014 Document Dated: Undated Document Length: 1 page Associated Article: Australia asked Americans for more help to spy on Australian citizens Download Document: Note Proposing Extended Relationship between Australia and the NSA Classification: Unknown Authoring Agency: DSD Codenames: None
SUSLOC Facilitates Sensitive DSD Reporting on Trade Talks
Summary: The document includes one paragraph stating that the Australian Signals Directorate (DSD) has identified a US law firm representing the Indonesian Government in trade discussions. The disclosure explains that the US Special Liaison in Canberra (SUSLOC) sought guidance about whether DSD could continue to monitor the Indonesian communications given attorney-client privileges. DSD was provided guidance and permitted to continue its surveillance operations. The intelligence produced is described as being “highly useful” and as being used by a US client.
Document Published: February 15, 2014 Document Dated: February 2013 Document Length: 1 page Associated Article: Document Describes Eavesdropping on American Law Firm; Spying by N.S.A. Ally Entangled U.S. Law Firm Download Document: SUSLOC Facilitates Sensitive DSD Reporting on Trade Talks Classification: TS/SI/REL Authoring Agency: DSD Codenames: None
3G: Impact and Update
Summary: This is a slide deck published by the Australian Department of Defence and the Defence Signals Directorate (now known as the Australian Signals Directorate – ASD). It provides an update on ASD surveillance of 3G mobile networks in Southeast Asia. The slides clarify which 3G service providers the ASD has been targeting in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Targets of interest in the Indonesian Government and their cell phone models are also listed. They include, inter alia the President, the First Lady and the Vice President of Indonesia, wherein the President’s network and calling habits are mapped out. The slide deck concludes by acknowledging the importance of continued surveillance of the Indonesian leadership.
Document Published: November 18, 2013 Document Dated: November 2009 Document Length: 6 pages Associated Article: The slides that show Australian attempts to monitor Yudhoyono's phone; Australia's spy agencies targeted Indonesian president's mobile phone; Edward Snowden leak: Australia spied on Indonesian phones and data Download Document: 3G impact and update Classification: Top Secret COMINT Authoring Agency: ASD Codenames: None