We Got the Cover Pages—America’s Spies Are Assembling a Dossier on Trump
Intellipedia editors are gathering up info on the president
by DAVID AXE
In the weeks before Donald Trump’s inauguration as U.S. president, officials within Barack Obama’s administration, believing they possessed what The New York Times characterized as “damning” evidence of Russia’s attempts to influence the presidential election, scrambled to preserve that intelligence.
DEFIANT has obtained, via the Freedom of Information Act, a glimpse at the Obama officials’ apparent means of preserving their intel — the National Security Agency’s Intellipedia, “a secret wiki used by American analysts to share information,” according to the Times.
“At intelligence agencies, there was a push to process as much raw intelligence as possible into analyses, and to keep the reports at a relatively low classification level to ensure as wide a readership as possible across the government — and, in some cases, among European allies,” the paper reported. “This allowed the upload of as much intelligence as possible to Intellipedia.”
The official wiki, which launched in 2005, actually has three sections — one each for top-secret, secret and sensitive-but-unclassified information. Any of the roughly 100,000 members of the intelligence community can edit Intellipedia.
In November, DEFIANT formally requested from the NSA a copy of the Intellipedia’s entry for Trump. In early December 2016, we got back a scan of a print-out of the cover page for the wiki entry, dated Nov. 14, 2016.
It’s heavily redacted, and includes just Trump’s name, photo and titles and the names of his relatives, plus some statistics related to the page’s editing, which had last occurred on Nov. 9, 2016.
We don’t know what other information the cover page links to. Nor do we know the page-creator’s identity or the identities of any subsequent editors. We do know that readers and editors had accessed the cover page 95 times by the time the NSA printed it out for us.
In January 2017, we filed another FOIA request for the Intellipedia entry on Trump. And here’s where it got interesting. On Feb. 21, 2017, the NSA approved our request — and sent us redacted screen shots of two cover pages, one each for two separate entries on Trump, each dated Jan. 9, 2017.
Remember, Intellipedia features three layers of increasing classification. In November 2016, if our FOIA work is any indication, the only Trump page on Intellipedia existed on the wiki’s top-secret layer. In February we got another glimpse at that cover page. It had last been edited on Nov. 29. 562 intelligence agents and analysts had accessed it by Jan. 9, 2017.
But some time after December 2016, someone in the U.S. intelligence created a new wiki page for Trump on Intellipedia’s secret — as opposed to top-secret — layer. We got a copy of that cover page, too. It had last been edited on Jan. 3, 2017 and had been accessed 143 times. Again, we don’t know the editors’ or users’ identities or what other info the cover page links to.
Secret information is easier to legally share than top-secret information is, although neither category can be shared with foreigners. Still, in many ways the less-secret Intellipedia entry is more useful than the top-secret entry is for anyone trying to build a case against Trump. Sharing anti-Trump intel with America’s allies could require an analyst to create an unclassified Intellipedia entry.
Owing to the NSA’s redactions to our FOIA finds, we don’t know what the editors of the Trump intel-wiki are saying about our paranoid yet loose-lipped president and his alleged ties to Russia. But we do know they’re saying something.
In fact, more and more somethings, at lower and lower levels of classification, as Trump’s volatile presidency enters its third dangerous month.
You can file your own FOIA request related to Intellipedia by starting here. Stay defiant.