With all eyes already on the National Security Agency comes another example of what exactly it does: The Washington Post reports that the government routinely hacks Al Qaeda’s online propaganda, including the most recent issue of the DIY terrorist rag Inspire. Following the news that the Boston Marathon bombers may have learned bomb-building techniques from the publication, Inspire’s spring issue was uploaded online last month as a corrupted .PDF file with “garbled” text and twenty blank pages thanks to U.S. intelligence. It worked, briefly: The issue was pulled, but two weeks later a new one, this time flaunting the Boston bombing, appeared.
“The decision to disrupt the magazine last month was part of a debate within the Obama administration over the response to online publications that promote radicalization,” according to the Post. “Each time an issue is about to hit the Internet, officials from the NSA, CIA, Pentagon, State Department and Justice Department debate whether to sabotage it.” As for disregarding First Amendment protections, the government cites the title’s mission as “an incitement to imminent lawless action.”
Making Inspire disappear entirely is apparently more difficult, although if the rest of the magazine industry is any indication, it’ll head that way on its own eventually.