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Newly-Leaked NSA Slide Shows that NSA Is Tapping All Data from Main Undersea Phone and Internet Cables

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Washington’s Blog
July 11, 2013

The Washington Post published a new slide leaked by Edward Snowden showing that the NSA taps into the main undersea data cables along which telephone and internet communications pass through the U.S.

This confirms what high-level NSA whistleblowers William Binney, Russell Tice and others have said for years: The government is spying on all of our digital communications.

Remember that massive surveillance of the American people started before 9/11 .

For example – as regards undersea cables – Zdnet reported 3 months before 9/11:

Much of the information the agency once gleaned from the airwaves now travels in the form of light beams through fiber-optic cables crisscrossing continents and ocean floors. That shift has forced the NSA to seek new ways to gather intelligence–includingtapping undersea cables, a technologically daunting, physically dangerous and potentially illegal task.

In the mid-1990s, the NSA installed one such tap, say former intelligence officials familiar with the covert project. Using a special spy submarine, they say, agency personnel descended hundreds of feet into one of the oceans and sliced into a fiber-optic cable.

***

Undersea taps would pose tricky legal issues for the agency, too. For example, U.S. law forbids the NSA to intentionally intercept and process the phone calls and e-mails of U.S. citizens without court approval. Such communications make up a sizable slice of undersea cable traffic.

Some outside analysts and U.S. intelligence officials think the NSA should abandon such efforts in favor of more narrowly targeted intelligence-gathering efforts. One intelligence official estimates that tapping all the world’s undersea cables, assuming it could be done, would cost more than $2 billion a year. And no one knows whether the NSA will ever have enough computing power to analyze the resulting gusher of digital data.

Even so, the agency has been pushing ahead. At General Dynamics’ Electric Boat shipyard in Groton, Conn., the Navy is deep into a five-year, $1 billion retrofit of the USS Jimmy Carter, a nuclear-powered vessel that intelligence experts say will be the premier U.S. spy sub when it hits the seas in 2004. Among its many planned features, says one former official familiar with the project: state-of-the-art technology for undersea fiber-optic taps.

***

The NSA recognized from the start that fiber optics could be a problem. In early 1989, the agency assembled a team of researchers in a small warren of labs at its headquarters in Fort Meade, Md. Other researchers fanned out to corporate research centers to bone up on the new technology. Their mission, according to one former NSA researcher who worked on it, was to find a way to get inside fiber-optic cables and secretly siphon off the data moving through them.

***

One retired NSA optical specialist insists that the NSA devised a way to splice a fiber without being detected. “Getting into fiber is delicate work, but by no means impossible,” the former specialist says. Neither he nor the NSA will discuss the matter further.

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Yet the NSA’s [chief] Lt. Gen. Hayden says … computing power will allow it to process greater masses of data, which he says he hopes will eventually “allow a single analyst to extract wisdom from vast volumes of raw information.”

How could this massive spying program possibly have started before 9/11 ushered in the “war on terror”?  Because mass surveillance of the American people isn’t really aimed so much at preventing terrorism … but rather increasing power and control.

This article was posted: Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 11:48 am





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