Over the weekend, as everyone knows, activists started posting documents they found in State Security offices online. I've read a fair number (there are good collections here and here) and just wrote something about them for The Daily Beast.
The heading at The Beast, which I didn't write, gets a few things wrong--I'm not sure if there are "thousands" of documents out online yet (?), and I haven't seen SS documents directly discussing kidnapping and torture (although of course we know from other sources that it took place). In fact:
The documents made public do not discuss the rendition program that Egypt operated for the United States; there is no documentation of secret detention facilities, no transcripts of interrogations, no information about how informers were bribed or blackmailed into collaborating. These documents may have been destroyed already; or they may be in secret, secure locations.
As I mention towards the end of the piece, I'm convinced that not only is this the tip of the iceberg but that, as this Al Masry Al Youm story suggests, these documents may have been left behind on purpose to give people something to sift through when they were finally allowed to break in. It's certain that the most sensitive documents were destroyed or transported to secure locations weeks ago.
I would not use the word "hoax," however. We shouldn't diminish the significance of what happened. It means a lot that citizens took over SS offices, and it means a lot that they found and publicized documents that show the massive, systemic, petty interference of the "security" apparatus in everyday life. But we need to recognize that there is a very deep game being played here, and that the SS shadow state may be undermined and on the defensive, but still operational.
The fact that the documents that were left behind--which show widespread spying, wire-tapping, breaking into emails, using networks of informers to penetrate every political party and movement, directing the media, and total election engineering--are obviously considered by State Security to be light stuff, just points to how bad the "bad" stuff must be.