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Details Revealed On Old NSA Intelligence Database: ANCHORY

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Mike Masnick
Tech Dirt
July 27, 2013

You may remember that, back in June, we pointed out that if you plugged in a few of the “code names” for various NSA programs (as revealed by Ed Snowden’s leaks), you could find a few resumes of NSA employees, listing out other such code names. Jason Gulledge apparently saw that post, and used the list of code names that we posted to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on NSA documents concerning those programs. Amazingly, they actually sent back some info — though, just about the very first program, ANCHORY, and the info sent is from 1993 (and some from 2000), describing the text search system that the government has to search through various intelligence reports. From 1993, long before “search engines” were a thing:

ANCHORY is a system that provides timely retrieval of textual data by keyword and other relevant information on a 24-hour per day, 7 day per week basis. [REDACTED] is the ANCHORY hardware platform and BRS/Search, a commercial software product, is the engine behind ANCHORY text retrieval and database management functions.

[….] ANCHORY contains three years of full text reports written by NSA, CIA, DIA, State and Foreign Broadcast Information System, as well as Reuters News Service, Cryptologic Intelligence Reports and precis of hard copy reports.

The documents are interesting, mainly for the historical interest aspect. Though, at the same time, it does suggest that the NSA is (once again) completely full of crap when it claims that itdoesn’t have the technology to search its own emails. If it had text search twenty years ago for all reports, it has the capability to do email search today (not that this is a surprise).

Unfortunately, the FOIA person at the NSA rejected Gulledge’s request to waive the FOIA fees, which it will do for media operations when there is a strong public interest basis for the request. Muckrock, the FOIA service Gulledge is using (and which, of course, we’ve used many times as well) is now appealing that decision. However, because of that, the NSA has not looked into whether it can send the documents on any of the other code named programs listed.

This article was posted: Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 2:04 am

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