Joseph Cox – Why All the Snowden Docs Should Be Public: An Interview with Cryptome

Joseph Cox – Why All the Snowden Docs Should Be Public: An Interview with Cryptome

Ever since the phrase “Information wants to be free” was first uttered in the early 80s, activists have campaigned for technology to act as a vehicle for knowledge. We’ve since seen the advent of the internet, the proliferation of personal computers, and the rise of whistleblowing sites.

Before Snowden and Wikileaks grabbed the headlines, there was Cryptome. Launched in 1996, the website, or “digital library,” as its owners John Young and Deborah Natsios describe it, is a tome of classified documents. Including everything from lists of MI6 agents to details on nuclear technology, the archive currently stands at over 71,600 files, spanning nearly two decades of disclosures.

Among those is all the available information on the Snowden files, and the duo behind the venture are adamant that the entirety of the leaked NSA documents should be dumped online, rather than strategically trickled out by journalists. Cryptome has even made vague hints that the Snowden documents may be released in full this month.

I phoned up Young and Natsios to ask how they felt the freedom of information movement has changed, for better or worse, over the past two decades.

When Cryptome was launched as a bare-bones website and started to host an assortment of documents for anyone to sift through, there weren’t many ways to get information out onto the internet. “We happened to have the technology to turn paper documents into a digital form,” Young told me. “A lot of other people didn’t yet have that technology: scanners, formatters.”

They offered this service to the cypherpunks list, an email chain linking some of the biggest movers and shakers in cryptography. Julian Assange was an avid reader, and years later the first vestiges of Bitcoin would be posted among its members.

Young and Natsios are both licensed architects in New York. They said they thought it was ironic that Cryptome is considered an underground project, because “our work does increasingly take us to underground sites, in fact.” These might be a subway system expansion, or vaults beneath sidewalks. Young and Natsios quite literally expose what is lying underneath the city.

Below the glitz of Times Square and hubbub of Manhattan, there’s a different world that directly influences the surface. One of their jobs involves making sure that these hidden spaces are functioning correctly. “Because we’re called into urban infrastructures in moments of crisis and disrepair, you could say we’re involved in ‘radical’ cultures of repair,” Natsios said.

While their architectural work is keeping the city in a good state of repair, their freedom of information work (i.e. publishing classified documents) ​​does the same for the public domain, also in a “radical” way. “We are required by state laws as architects to police issues of public health, safety and welfare. This is in the name of the public good. From Cryptome’s perspective, we are obliged as architects to police the police, if you will. We are obliged to dissent, as required for the public good,” she said.

We are required by state laws as architects to police issues of public health, safety and welfare.

Of course, a counter analogy could suggest that the whirring of pipes underneath the surface needs to be closed off to avoid being tampered with by those with a malicious intent, that having them publicly accessible could put the city in danger, just as having government secrets available on the internet could pose its own risks.

Ten years after Cryptome first started, Wikileaks arrived. Wikileaks has been responsible for some of the most shattering disclosures in recent history, such as the Iraq war logs or the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and although both outlets act in fairly similar ways, Wikileaks differed in one key aspect.

“The critical thing [Wikileaks] brought to it, which we’ve never done, is that they used publicity and advertising, and sought press coverage,” Young said. “They ran a press operation with press releases. They went into a high profile operation.”

You might think that would be beneficial to freedom of information, encouraging more public engagement, but Natsios disagrees. “[Wikileaks] brought some troubling methodologies into the frame, that is the embracing of a kind of public relations sensationalism at each and every turn,” she said. The public, in her eyes, “are less educated, they’re not embracing the nuances of issues and are becoming passive themselves. They are passively consuming sensational tidbits, and the public good isn’t served by that kind of consumer behaviour.” Instead of taking Wikileaks’ material and dealing with it in a productive manner, she said, people are waiting “for the ever greater adrenaline jolt of the next sensational terabyte of leaks released.”

Cryptome has a similar stance on the handling of the Snowden documents. “Mr. Snowden, please send your 41 PRISM slides and other information to less easily cowed and overly coddled commercial outlets than Washington Post and Guardian,” the couple wrote on the site in June 2013.


When asked what they would do if Cryptome had access to the Snowden documents, Young told Gawker, “We would have dumped it, the whole thing. Everyone else likes to play this game: ‘What if we harm somebody’ or all this kind of crap. Which is strictly cowardice. Of course the companies who run the outlets, their lawyers won’t let them do this kind of thing, so if you’ve got money invested in your operation you won’t take these kind of risks.”

The Intercept recently decided not to disclose the name of one country that the Snowden documents reported had 100 percent of its phone traffic recorded. It justified its decision because of “specific, credible concerns that doing so could lead to increased violence,” according to the article. Wikileaks, however, later revealed the country to be Afghanistan.

In order to avoid pressures to suppress details, Young and Natsios are reluctant for Cryptome to be considered in any way an institution. “We find that increasingly because of legal and financial pressures, institutionalized freedom of information groups become quite inflexible, not agile, not tactical enough,” said Natsios.

“We prefer being independent agents: We prefer that agility, we prefer that daily lack of master-plan agitation, and not being limited by the annual report obligations upon freedom of information non-profits; we have no annual report.” This is perhaps why Cryptome releases more controversial files than other groups, such as graphic photos of the Iraq war.

Cryptome basically thinks that the more information released, the greater the benefit for an informed public. “The Snowden team has been flunked out of not releasing this stuff by saying it will harm the nation, and I think we’re about to see something more harmful to the nation if they don’t release,” said Young.

He suggested, for instance, that more details might help people resist NSA surveillance. “The internet has been completely compromised, so it is not a good place for freedom of information,” he said. “It has been turned on the public, and Snowden has revealed some of that, but only two percent of it. He’s not revealed any of the means we need to counter that takeover.”

“We think the entire thing should be released, in order that more people can work on the counter-surveillance side,” he continued. “Now there are people working on this, on how to take it back, but I think that they can’t take it back without the rest of Snowden’s material because they don’t know the depth of control [being carried out by intelligence agencies].”

The way that information is distributed has changed dramatically since Cryptome’s inception. From the cypherpunks to Wikileaks, and now journalism in a post-Snowden world, the public has undoubtedly become more informed about what its government is doing. But with more information available than ever before, Cryptome would argue, we still need to know more.

Cryptome – 9/11 Secrecy Prolongs Warmaking and NSA Excess

Cryptome – 9/11 Secrecy Prolongs Warmaking and NSA Excess

9/11 Secrecy Prolongs Warmaking and NSA Excess


At 09:08 PM 2/20/2014, A wrote:

Mr. Young,

I’m curious about your opinion about what really happened on 9/11. I was reading one of your FOIA posts and was curious about your opinion. Please don’t waste too much time on this. I’m working an 80-hour per week job and am married. So, I don’t have as much time as I would like to research. A simple copy-and-paste job will do with a few different links.

Thank you for your time and for all the documents you post,



21 February 2014


These are some of my comments on WTC.

9/11 is a much larger issue than WTC which I am still brooding about. There is still a lot of information which the USG has not released, and until that is done it will be difficult to do more than speculate.

It is a great shame, likely criminal, that the USG refuses to release all material it has, for that perpetuates suspicion of a cover-up of those at fault and sets yet another precedent for using official secrecy to avoid accountability.

A somewhat lesser but related shame is that there has been no person or persons in the USG held accountable or punished for 9/11, leaving the false impression nothing could have been done to prevent it.

Our view is that public pressure should be continued, and increased, for full release of the USG material, both classified and unclassified. Withholding this material will undermine trust in government, and worse, leave government free to avoid responsibility to the public for war and peace. So long as that fundamental responsibility to the public is avoided we think continuous war is inevitable for unnecessary loss of life and limb and unforgiveable waste of national resources.

Behind the avoidance of public responsibility is the ever increasing use of unjustified secretkeeping, prolongation of exaggerated threats to national security, and as Ike warned the perpetuation of the lucrative military-industry-media complex hidden by official secrecy. It is this secrecy which breeds suspicion of the USA at home and overseas and will almost surely lead to more 9/11s.

NSA excess is directly attributable to 9/11 secrecy about lack of government accountability.



Revealed by Cryptome – Glenn Greenwald and Satoshi Nakamoto Comsec

Revealed by Cryptome – Glenn Greenwald and Satoshi Nakamoto Comsec

Frequently new and multiple public keys (PKs) suggests one time use, a sound practice. Supplemented with private exchanges of PKs not uploaded to public servers.

However, it is easy to forge PKs, so all these may not belong to Glenn Greenwald or Satoshi Nakamoto, the alleged inventor of Bitcoin who has never been identified.

Signers of keys can also be forged and those shown may not be authentic. Note signers “Satoshi Nakamoto,” “Micah Lee” and “Ola Bini.” The last two are real persons but the key signings may or may not be authentic.

Search results for ‘greenwald glenn’ (25 December 2013)

Type bits/keyID Date User ID

pub 2048R/198D40E5 2013-11-06 Glenn Greenwald
Fingerprint=22AB 3D11 435D 5032 1FFD CC82 D81F 0501 198D 40E5

pub 2048R/198D40E5 2013-11-06
Fingerprint=22AB 3D11 435D 5032 1FFD CC82 D81F 0501 198D 40E5

uid Glenn Greenwald
sig sig3 198D40E5 2013-11-06 __________ 2017-11-06 [selfsig]

sub 2048R/79EE0450 2013-11-06
sig sbind 198D40E5 2013-11-06 __________ 2017-11-06 []

pub 4096R/58E6E873 2013-11-01 Glenn Greenwald
Fingerprint=94FB 8BDA E98E 8FB9 8DBA BD0E 0503 DAB6 58E6 E873

pub 4096R/58E6E873 2013-11-01
Fingerprint=94FB 8BDA E98E 8FB9 8DBA BD0E 0503 DAB6 58E6 E873

uid Glenn Greenwald
sig sig3 58E6E873 2013-11-01 __________ 2017-11-01 [selfsig]

sub 4096R/C995C03C 2013-11-01
sig sbind 58E6E873 2013-11-01 __________ 2017-11-01 []

pub 2048R/0DE83F50 2013-10-28 Glenn Greenwald
Fingerprint=B2E6 1CAD 75FD C4B0 443F 5B90 883B 96F1 0DE8 3F50

pub 2048R/0DE83F50 2013-10-28
Fingerprint=B2E6 1CAD 75FD C4B0 443F 5B90 883B 96F1 0DE8 3F50

uid Glenn Greenwald
sig sig3 0DE83F50 2013-10-28 __________ 2017-10-28 [selfsig]

sub 2048R/A258A6DB 2013-10-28
sig sbind 0DE83F50 2013-10-28 __________ 2017-10-28 []

pub 2048R/6B821530 2013-10-28 Glenn Greenwald
Fingerprint=F80F A78A 1CAF EA81 55D4 572A 4B77 A307 6B82 1530

pub 2048R/6B821530 2013-10-28
Fingerprint=F80F A78A 1CAF EA81 55D4 572A 4B77 A307 6B82 1530

uid Glenn Greenwald
sig sig3 6B821530 2013-10-28 __________ 2017-10-28 [selfsig]

sub 2048R/354FCB1D 2013-10-28
sig sbind 6B821530 2013-10-28 __________ 2017-10-28 []

pub 4096R/EB3B0427 2013-10-19 Glenn Greenwald
Fingerprint=244E A383 742A 89A3 AC37 4A18 F963 197F EB3B 0427

pub 4096R/EB3B0427 2013-10-19
Fingerprint=244E A383 742A 89A3 AC37 4A18 F963 197F EB3B 0427

uid Glenn Greenwald
sig sig3 EB3B0427 2013-10-19 __________ 2017-10-18 [selfsig]
sig sig BB77E554 2013-10-19 __________ __________ Ola Bini
sig sig 84AF7F0C 2013-10-19 __________ __________ Ola Bini
sig sig3 A3DCF10E 2013-12-04 __________ __________ Ola Bini (Master Key)

sub 4096R/E39E9F38 2013-10-19
sig sbind EB3B0427 2013-10-19 __________ 2017-10-18 []

pub 2048R/CC604FF1 2013-07-23 Glenn Greenwald
Fingerprint=F3AB 523F 6B5E 75A0 B4F1 B987 5A2A D5A1 CC60 4FF1

pub 2048R/CC604FF1 2013-07-23
Fingerprint=F3AB 523F 6B5E 75A0 B4F1 B987 5A2A D5A1 CC60 4FF1

uid Glenn Greenwald
sig sig CC604FF1 2013-07-23 __________ __________ [selfsig]
Notation data: pgpmime

sub 2048R/17D4D0B2 2013-07-23
sig sbind CC604FF1 2013-07-23 __________ __________ []

pub 4096R/9FC79942 2013-05-28 DosSantosManagement
Fingerprint=69F3 54F3 E808 2A24 20D9 61E2 0C2B E886 9FC7 9942

pub 4096R/9FC79942 2013-05-28
Fingerprint=69F3 54F3 E808 2A24 20D9 61E2 0C2B E886 9FC7 9942

uid DosSantosManagement
sig sig3 9FC79942 2013-05-28 __________ __________ [selfsig]
sig sig3 99999697 2013-10-03 __________ __________ Micah Lee
sig sig BB77E554 2013-10-04 __________ __________ Ola Bini
sig sig 84AF7F0C 2013-10-04 __________ __________ Ola Bini
sig sig3 B2A94400 2013-11-29 __________ __________ Satoshi Nakamoto
sig sig3 A3DCF10E 2013-12-04 __________ __________ Ola Bini (Master Key)

sub 4096R/2EBE17CD 2013-05-28
sig sbind 9FC79942 2013-05-28 __________ __________ []

Search results for ‘satoshi nakamoto’

Type bits/keyID Date User ID

pub 4096R/B2A94400 2013-11-29 Satoshi Nakamoto
Fingerprint=A94B 1B7E 09FA 80C8 8602 EAF4 3358 4388 B2A9 4400

pub 4096R/B2A94400 2013-11-29
Fingerprint=A94B 1B7E 09FA 80C8 8602 EAF4 3358 4388 B2A9 4400

uid Satoshi Nakamoto
sig sig3 B2A94400 2013-11-29 __________ __________ [selfsig]

sub 4096R/B99FB561 2013-11-29
sig sbind B2A94400 2013-11-29 __________ __________ []

pub 2048R/FA35C955 2013-11-16 Satoshi Nakamoto
Fingerprint=913F B248 9757 8550 60CB BF8D BC9D 6EEB FA35 C955

pub 2048D/7201B5B5 2013-06-29 Satoshi Nakamoto
Fingerprint=C77B 25E7 D6A9 862A 0567 04D9 E557 0238 7201 B5B5

pub 4096R/D4E8A41E 2013-06-29 Satoshi Nakamoto
Fingerprint=89C3 5477 C7D7 A908 DD40 F032 0E52 4DDE D4E8 A41E

pub 2048R/64E6F250 2013-06-21 Satoshi Nakamoto
Fingerprint=159F 4FD3 C52A 9D9B 6FCB 1007 021A D318 64E6 F250

pub 1024D/5EC948A1 2008-10-30 Satoshi Nakamoto
Fingerprint=DE4E FCA3 E1AB 9E41 CE96 CECB 18C0 9E86 5EC9 48A1