James Bamford — The Shadow Factory The Ultra Secret NSA from 911 to the Eavesdropping on America — Videos
9/11 NSA + CIA : James Bamford’s documentary
James Bamford Describes His NEW Interview With Edward Snowden
James Bamford on NSA Leaks – Charlie Rose 06/13/2013
James Bamford: Inside the NSA’s Largest Secret Domestic Spy Center
James Bamford The Shadow Factory The Ultra Secret NSA from 911 to the Eavesdropping on America 2008
DIGITAL AGE – Was 9/11 A Digital Failure? – James Bamford – March 8, 2009
James Bamford on Declassified History, NSA & the Need for More Investigative Journalism
James Bamford – Confronting the Surveillance Society (2007)
“The NSA Is Lying”: U.S. Government Has Copies of Most of Your Emails Says NSA Whistleblower
An Inside Look at the NSA With Whistleblower William Binney (Part 1 of 2)
An Inside Look at the NSA With Whistleblower William Binney (Part 2 of 2)
William Binney – The Government is Profiling You (The NSA is Spying on You)
NSA whistleblower William Binney Keynote at HOPE Number Nine
He told you so: Bill Binney talks NSA leaks
NSA Whistleblower Thomas Drake speaks at National Press Club – March 15, 2013
PBS Nova S36E11 The Spy Factory Full Documentary
Inside The NSA~Americas Cyber Secrets
Full Documentaries – National Security Agency Secrets – (NSA) Special Documentary
NSA can spy on 98 percent of the world
Glenn Becks “SURVEILLANCE STATE”
Glenn Greenwald on Domestic Surveillance: NSA Warrantless Wiretapping Controversy (2006)
Yahoo Releases Documents Proving NSA Forced Them To Violate User Privacy
The Shadow Factory
Bamford was born on September 15, 1946 and raised in Natick, Massachusetts. During the Vietnam War, he spent three years in the United States Navy as an intelligence analyst. He was assigned to a National Security Agency unit in Hawaii — as part of his three years of active duty in the Navy during the Vietnam War. With the G.I. Bill he would earn his law degree as Juris Doctor, International Law from Suffolk University Law School in Boston, Massachusetts. Then, as a reservist in law school, he blew the whistle on the NSA when he stumbled across a program that involved illegally eavesdropping on US citizens. He testified about the program in a closed hearing before the Church Committee, the congressional investigation that led to sweeping reforms of US intelligence abuses in the 1970s.
After graduation, he decided to write his first book about the NSA: The Puzzle Palace in 1982. At several points he was threatened with prosecution under the Espionage Act, a 1917 law. Those threats had no basis and were never carried out. Rather than practice law, he entered the field of journalism, becoming an expert on the then highly secretive NSA. His book was researched through the extensive use of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). As a then super-secret agency, NSA was concerned about its unveiling to the world; accordingly, the government reclassified certain documents in an effort to stop publication. The publication of his book resulted in threats of prosecution, when the Department of Justice claimed that he was holding classified documents. His counter argument was that the documents had been given to him under review by the Carter Administration and were declassified when he got them; under an Executive Order in place at the time, documents that had been declassified could not be “reclassified”. President Ronald Reagan later issued a new Executive Order to make it possible to reclassify documents, but that could not be applied against Bamford due to Constitutional prohibition against ex post facto law.
He next published Body of Secrets, also about the NSA, in 2001, and A Pretext for War (2004). His 2008 book, The Shadow Factory, became a New York Times best-seller and was named by The Washington Post as one of “The Best Books of 2008.” It was the third book in his NSA trilogy and focused on the NSA involvement in the 9/11 investigations and intelligence failures. The NOVA‘s The Spy Factory was based on this book.
Bamford now lectures nationally in the United States and was a distinguished visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He also spent nearly a decade as the Washington investigative producer for ABC‘s World News Tonight. In 2006, he received the National Magazine Award for Reporting, the top prize in magazine writing.
In 2014, Bamford conducted the lengthiest in person interview to date with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in Moscow. The interview was published in Wired magazine in August of that year with the title “The Most Wanted Man In the World”.
- Bamford, James (1982). The Puzzle Palace: A Report on America’s Most Secret Agency. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-14-006748-5.
- Bamford, James (2001). The Puzzle Palace: Inside the National Security Agency, America’s Most Secret Intelligence Organization. Viking Pr. ISBN 0-14-023116-1.
- Bamford, James (April 30, 2002). Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency. Anchor. ISBN 0-385-49908-6.
- Bamford, James (May 10, 2005). A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America’s Intelligence Agencies. Anchor. ISBN 1-4000-3034-X.
- Bamford, James (September 16, 2008). The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-52132-4.
|8/9/82||Newsday (Viewpoints Section)||“The UN: A Gold Mine for U.S. Intelligence”|
|11/6/82||The Nation||“How I Got the NSA Files . . . How Reagan Tried to Get Them Back”|
|12/82||The New York Times Book Review||“On the Trail of a Mole”|
|9/9/83||The Boston Globe (Op-Ed Section)||“Victim of the Long Electronic War”|
|10/83||Boston Observer||“How We Know What We Know About KAL 007”|
|12/4/83||The Washington Post Magazine||“Big Brother is Listening”|
|1/8/84||The Washington Post Magazine||“The Last Flight of KAL 007: How the U.S. Watches The Soviets in the Far East”|
|1/13/85||The New York Times Magazine||“America’s Supersecret Eyes in Space”|
|4/21/85||Los Angeles Times Book Review||“Black Box: KAL 007 and the Superpowers; KAL Flight 007: The Hidden Story”|
|6/9/85||The Washington Post Book World||“Stansfield Turner and the Secrets of the CIA”|
|4/6/86||The Washington Post Book World||“The Spy Plane That Flew Into History”|
|5/86||Proceedings (U.S. Naval Institute)||“Naval Review Issue, The Walker Spy Case: Navy Medicine, Maritime Terrorism”|
|5/24/86||The Boston Globe (Op-Ed Section)||“U.S. Satellite Photos of Plant Should Have Been Released”|
|7/6/86||Los Angeles Times (Op-Ed Section)||“Searching for Security, Casey Fires at the Press”|
|7/13/86||The New York Times Book Review||“Keeping Intelligence Smart”|
|8/3/86||The New York Times Book Review||“When Ideology Was Thicker Than Money”|
|9/28/86||Los Angeles Times Book Review||“Shootdown, The Target is Destroyed”|
|10/5/86||Los Angeles Times (Op-Ed Section)||“CIA Gets Billing Again in Nicaragua, as Covert Action Becomes the Norm”|
|11/9/86||Los Angeles Times (Op-Ed Section)||“Satellites Show a World of Secrets, to Rival Powers and Now the Press”|
|1/4/87||Los Angeles Times (Op-Ed Section)||“Reagan CIA: Arrogance Instead of Oversight”|
|1/18/87||The New York Times Magazine||“Carlucci And The N.S.C.”|
|2/8/87||Los Angeles Times (Op-Ed Section)||“An Aspirin for the CIA, But Major Surgery Needed”|
|2/8/87||The Washington Post Book World||“Bankrolling International Murder and Extortion”|
|6/14/87||Los Angeles Times (Op-Ed Section)||“Ghosts of CIA Haunt Hearings”|
|10/11/87||Los Angeles Times Magazine||“They Also Serve Who Watch and Listen”|
|10/18/87||The Washington Post Book World||“The Nugan Hand Affair: Banking on Espionage”|
|11/29/87||Los Angeles Times (Op-Ed Section)||“Carlucci: Big Man About Intelligence”|
|2/21/88||Los Angeles Times (Op-Ed Section)||“FBI: If It’s Under Cover, It May Be Out of Control”|
|3/6/88||Los Angeles Times Magazine||“Taking on The Mob”|
|5/29/88||Los Angeles Times (Op-Ed Section)||“Fighting the Drug War, Congress Opens Door to Intelligence Misdeeds”|
|6/88||Proceedings (U.S. Naval Institute)||“Book Review, Merchants of Treason”|
|6/26/88||Los Angeles Times (Op-Ed Section)||“A Pentagon of Impurity”|
|7/3/88||The Washington Post Book World||“Where Secret Armies Clash By Night”|
|8/7/88||The New York Times Book Review||“A Mole Without Portfolio”|
|9/9/88||The New York Times (Op-Ed Section)||“Reagan’s Done Nothing to Stop the Spies“|
|2/9/92||The New York Times Book Review||“Of Cabals and Coups”|
|1/29/95||The New York Times Book Review||“The View From the KGB”|
|3/3/96||Los Angeles Times (Op-Ed Section)||“Has a 30-Year Mystery Unraveled?”|
|8/20/98||The New York Times (Op-Ed Section)||“Our Best Spies are in Space”|
|8/26/99||The New York Times (Op-Ed Section)||“Spy Stories”|
|11/14/99||The Washington Post (Sunday Outlook Section)||“Loud and Clear: The Most Secret of Secret Agencies Operates Under Outdated Laws”|
|3/18/01||The New York Times Magazine||“My Friend The Spy: Robert Hanssen is Accused of Deceiving the FBI. If so, He Deceived Me Too.”|
|4/5/01||The New York Times (Op-Ed Section)||“The Danger of Spy Planes”|
|4/12/01||USA Today (Op-Ed Section)||“Rethink Spy Missions”|
|8/8/01||The Guardian (London)||“Attack on the USS Liberty”|
|8/9/01||The Guardian (London)||“The Cover-Up”|
|8/28/01||The New York Times (Op-Ed Section)||“Guard the Secrets, Then Catch the Spies”|
|9/18/01||The New York Times||“Of Atomic Secrets, Loyalty and Bitter Deceit”|
|12/01||Nieman Reports (Harvard)||“Is The Press Up to The Task of Reporting The Stories of September 11?”|
|1/20/02||The Washington Post Book World||“The Wrong Man”|
|2/7/02||The New York Times||“A Former CIA Cowboy and His Disillusioning Ride”|
|6/2/02||The Washington Post (Sunday Outlook Section)||“Intelligence Failures”|
|7/19/02||USA Today (Op-Ed Section)||“Linguist Reserve Corp Answers Terror Need”|
|8/27/02||The New York Times (Week in Review Section)||“Washington Bends The Rules”|
|8/29/02||USA Today (Op-Ed Section)||“Bush Wrong to Use Pretext as Excuse to Invade Iraq“|
|9/8/02||The New York Times (Week in Review Section)||“War of Secrets”|
|9/8/02||The Washington Post Book World||“Strategic Thinking”|
|9/14/02||The Guardian (London)||“What Big Ears You Have”|
|9/17/02||USA Today (Op-Ed Section)||“Untested Administration Hawks Clamor for War”|
|10/24/02||USA Today (Op-Ed Section)||“Maintain CIA’s Independence”|
|11/24/02||The New York Times (Week in Review Section)||“How To (De-)Centralize Intelligence”|
|12/15/02||The Washington Post Book World||“Shadow Warriors”|
|3/23/03||Los Angeles Times Book Review||“Ike as Spymaster: Secrets on High”|
|4/27/03||The Washington Post Book World||“A Look Over My Shoulder: Richard Helms at the CIA”|
|7/4/03||The New York Times||“The Labyrinthine Morass of Spying in the Cold War”|
|2/29/04||The Washington Post Book World||“Sowing the Whirlwind”|
|5/9/04||Los Angeles Times Book Review||“Secret Warriors: The Great Game”|
|6/13/04||The New York Times (Op-Ed Section)||“This Spy For Rent”|
|2/20/05||The Washington Post Book World||“We’re Watching Them”|
|3/28/05||The American Conservative||“Breeding Terror: The Intelligence Community Analyzes a Counterproductive War”|
|12/1/05||Rolling Stone||“The Man Who Sold The War”|
|12/25/05||The New York Times (Week in Review Section)||“The Agency That Could Be Big Brother”|
|1/9/06||The New York Times||“Where Spying Starts and Stops”|
|4/1/06||The Atlantic Monthly||“Big Brother is Listening”|
|8/10/06||Rolling Stone||“The Next War: Iran”|
|8/20/06||The New York Times Book Review||“Intelligence Test”|
|12/12/06||The Washington Post||“‘Curveball’ And A Slam Dunk“|
|1/31/07||The New York Times||“Bush Is Not Above the Law“|
|3/15/12||Wired||“The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)”|
|6/12/13||Wired||“The Secret War“|
|10/2/14||First Look Media||The NSA and Me|
- Scott Shane (October 10, 2008). “Decades on the Trail of a Shadowy Agency”. The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-03-08.
For 30 years, on a sometimes lonely hunt, James Bamford has pursued that great white whale of American intelligence, the National Security Agency. It has been a jarring ride at times.
- “James Bamford”. Random House. Retrieved 2011-03-08.
James Bamford was raised in Natick, Massachusetts, and spent three years in the Navy before attending law school in Boston on the G.I Bill. After graduation, intrigued by the machinations of the Watergate scandal, he gravitated toward journalism. However, rather than pursue a newspaper career he decided instead to write a book. …
- The Most Wanted Man In the World
- Bamford, “The NSA and Me,” The Intercept, 10/02/2014.https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/10/02/the-nsa-and-me/
- National Security Agency: “American-Cryptology-during-the-Cold-War-1945-1989-Book-IV-Cryptologic-Rebirth-1981-1989”
- “Bamford, J. The Puzzle Palace. 1982”. NameBase. Archived from the original on 2012-01-16. Retrieved 2010-08-12.
- “Report on a James Bamford Talk at Berkeley”. Lewrockwell.com. 2002-02-11. Retrieved 2010-08-12.
- James Bamford: Inside the NSA’s Largest and Most Expansive Secret Domestic Spy Center 2 of 2 on YouTube, Democracy Now, Bamford interview with Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh. 2012 Mar 12 (via youtube)
- |Bamford, “The NSA and Me,” The Intercept, 10/02/2014.
- PBS Spy Factory web page
- Drake pleads guilty to misdemeanor in NSA espionage case, Tricia Bishop, 6 10 2011
- The Most Wanted Man In the World
||This section contains a list of works that does not follow the Manual of Style for lists of works (often, though not always, due to being inreverse-chronological order) and may need cleanup. (July 2014)|
- Bamford, James. “The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say).” (Archive) Wired. March 15, 2012.
- Booknotes interview with Bamford on Body of Secrets, September 16, 2001.
- The Spy Factory, PBS and WGBH-TV, Nova program series. February 3, 2009.
- James Bamford at the Internet Movie Database
- James Bamford on National Public Radio in 2008
- James Bamford on National Public Radio in 2005
- James Bamford on National Public Radio in 2001
- James Bamford. The Man Who Sold the War, Rolling Stone, November 17, 2005.
- “Crypto man”, Profile by Michael Scherer, Salon.com, December 2005
- James Bamford, The N.S.A.’s Chief Chronicler, profile by Alexander Nazaryan, The New Yorker, June 10, 2013
- “John Rendon, Bush’s General in the Propaganda War”, interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!, November 21, 2005 (video, audio, and print transcript).
- Hour-long interview about The Shadow Factory and NSA spying with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, October 14, 2008 (video, audio, and print transcript).
- Scott Horton. James Bamford’s interviews, The Weekend Interview Show (December 3, 2005)
- Jenny Asarnow. James Bamford KUOW-FM Speaker’s Forum (April 19, 2007)
- James Bamford interview (February 9, 2008)
- Kevin Zeese. “James Bamford: Inventing a Pretext for War”, Democracy Rising (May 23, 2005)
- Steve Clemons. John Rendon and the U.S. propaganda, The Washington Note, (November 21, 2005)* William Sweet. “NSA Spying & FISA Court”, IEEE Spectrum Radio interview (February 20, 2006)
- Section on James Bamford, Center for Cooperative Research.
- Report on a James Bamford talk at Berkeley, Lew Rockwell.com, (February 11, 2002)
- James Bamford. Washington Bends the Rules, The New York Times, (August 27, 2002)
- CHRISTOPHER DICKEY (January 9, 2009). “The Surveillance-Industrial Complex”. The New York Times.
National Security Agency
The National Security Agency (NSA) is a United States intelligence agency responsible for global monitoring, collection, decoding, translation and analysis of information and data for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes – a discipline known as Signals intelligence (SIGINT). NSA is also charged with protection of U.S. government communications and information systems against penetration and network warfare. The agency is authorized to accomplish its mission through clandestine means, among which are bugging electronic systems and allegedly engaging in sabotage through subversive software.
Originating as a unit to decipher coded communications in World War II, it was officially formed as the NSA by Harry S. Truman in 1952. Since then, it has become one of the largest of U.S. intelligence organizations in terms of personnel and budget, operating as part of the Department of Defense and simultaneously reporting to the Director of National Intelligence.
Unlike the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), both of which specialize primarily in foreignhuman espionage, the NSA has no authority to conduct human-source intelligence gathering, although it is often portrayed doing so in popular culture. Instead, the NSA is entrusted with coordination and deconfliction of SIGINT components of otherwise non-SIGINT government organizations, which are prevented by law from engaging in such activities without the approval of the NSA via the Defense Secretary. As part of these streamlining responsibilities, the agency has a co-located organization called the Central Security Service(CSS), which was created to facilitate cooperation between NSA and other U.S. military cryptanalysis components. Additionally, the NSA Director simultaneously serves as the Commander of the United States Cyber Command and as Chief of the Central Security Service.
NSA surveillance has been a matter of political controversy on several occasions, such as its spying on prominent anti-Vietnam warleaders or economic espionage. In 2013, the extent of the NSA’s secret surveillance programs was revealed to the public by Edward Snowden. According to the leaked documents, the NSA intercepts the communications of over a billion people worldwide and tracks the movement of hundreds of millions of people using cellphones. It has also created or maintained security vulnerabilities in most software and encryption, leaving the majority of the Internet susceptible to cyber attacks from the NSA and other parties. Internationally, in addition to the various data sharing concerns that persist, research has pointed to the NSA’s ability to surveil the domestic internet traffic of foreign countries through “boomerang routing”.
The origins of the National Security Agency can be traced back to April 28, 1917, three weeks after the U.S. Congress declared war on Germany in World War I. A code and cipherdecryption unit was established as the Cable and Telegraph Section which was also known as the Cipher Bureau and Military Intelligence Branch, Section 8 (MI-8). It was headquartered in Washington, D.C. and was part of the war effort under the executive branch without direct Congressional authorization. During the course of the war it was relocated in the army’s organizational chart several times. On July 5, 1917, Herbert O. Yardley was assigned to head the unit. At that point, the unit consisted of Yardley and two civilian clerks. It absorbed the navy’s cryptoanalysis functions in July 1918. World War I ended on November 11, 1918, and MI-8 moved to New York City on May 20, 1919, where it continued intelligence activities as the Code Compilation Company under the direction of Yardley.
MI-8 also operated the so-called “Black Chamber“. The Black Chamber was located on East 37th Street in Manhattan. Its purpose was to crack the communications codes of foreign governments. Jointly supported by the State Department and the War Department, the chamber persuadedWestern Union, the largest U.S. telegram company, to allow government officials to monitor private communications passing through the company’s wires.
Other “Black Chambers” were also found in Europe. They were established by the French and British governments to read the letters of targeted individuals, employing a variety of techniques to surreptitiously open, copy, and reseal correspondence before forwarding it to unsuspecting recipients.
Despite the American Black Chamber’s initial successes, it was shut down in 1929 by U.S. Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson, who defended his decision by stating: “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail”.
World War II and its aftermath
During World War II, the Signal Security Agency (SSA) was created to intercept and decipher the communications of the Axis powers. When the war ended, the SSA was reorganized as the Army Security Agency (ASA), and it was placed under the leadership of the Director of Military Intelligence.
On May 20, 1949, all cryptologic activities were centralized under a national organization called the Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA). This organization was originally established within the U.S. Department of Defense under the command of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The AFSA was tasked to direct Department of Defense communications and electronic intelligence activities, except those of U.S. military intelligence units. However, the AFSA was unable to centralize communications intelligence and failed to coordinate with civilian agencies that shared its interests such as the Department of State, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). In December 1951, President Harry S. Trumanordered a panel to investigate how AFSA had failed to achieve its goals. The results of the investigation led to improvements and its redesignation as the National Security Agency.
The agency was formally established by Truman in a memorandum of October 24, 1952, that revised National Security Council Intelligence Directive (NSCID) 9. Since President Truman’s memo was a classified document, the existence of the NSA was not known to the public at that time. Due to its ultra-secrecy the U.S. intelligence community referred to the NSA as “No Such Agency”.
In the 1960s, the NSA played a key role in expanding America’s commitment to the Vietnam War by providing evidence of a North Vietnamese attack on the American destroyerUSS Maddox during the Gulf of Tonkin incident.
A secret operation code-named “MINARET” was set up by the NSA to monitor the phone communications of Senators Frank Church and Howard Baker, as well as major civil rights leaders including Dr. Martin Luther King, and prominent U.S. journalists and athletes who criticized the Vietnam War. However the project turned out to be controversial, and an internal review by the NSA concluded that its Minaret program was “disreputable if not outright illegal.”
Church Committee hearings
In the aftermath of the Watergate Scandal, a congressional hearing in 1975 led by Sen. Frank Church revealed that the NSA, in collaboration with Britain’s SIGINT intelligence agencyGovernment Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), had routinely intercepted the international communications of prominent anti-Vietnam war leaders such as Jane Fonda and Dr. Benjamin Spock. Following the resignation of President Richard Nixon, there were several investigations of suspected misuse of FBI, CIA and NSA facilities. Senator Frank Churchuncovered previously unknown activity, such as a CIA plot (ordered by the administration of President John F. Kennedy) to assassinate Fidel Castro. The investigation also uncovered NSA’s wiretaps on targeted American citizens.
From 1980s to 1990s
In 1986, the NSA intercepted the communications of the Libyan government during the immediate aftermath of the Berlin discotheque bombing. The White House asserted that the NSA interception had provided “irrefutable” evidence that Libya was behind the bombing, which U.S. President Ronald Reagan cited as a justification for the 1986 United States bombing of Libya.
In 1999, a multi-year investigation by the European Parliament highlighted the NSA’s role in economic espionage in a report entitled ‘Development of Surveillance Technology and Risk of Abuse of Economic Information’. That year, the NSA founded the NSA Hall of Honor, a memorial at the National Cryptologic Museum in Fort Meade, Maryland. The memorial is a, “tribute to the pioneers and heroes who have made significant and long-lasting contributions to American cryptology”. NSA employees must be retired for more than fifteen years to qualify for the memorial.
War on Terror
In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the NSA created new IT systems to deal with the flood of information from new technologies like the internet and cellphones. ThinThread contained advanced data mining capabilities. It also had a ‘privacy mechanism’; surveillance was stored encrypted; decryption required a warrant. The research done under this program may have contributed to the technology used in later systems. ThinThread was cancelled when Michael Hayden chose Trailblazer, which did not include ThinThread’s privacy system.
Trailblazer Project ramped up in 2002. SAIC, Boeing, CSC, IBM, and Litton worked on it. Some NSA whistleblowers complained internally about major problems surrounding Trailblazer. This led to investigations by Congress and the NSA and DoD Inspectors General. The project was cancelled in early 2004; it was late, over budget, and didn’t do what it was supposed to do. The Baltimore Sun ran articles about this in 2006–07. The government then raided the whistleblowers’ houses. One of them, Thomas Drake, was charged with violating in 2010 in an unusual use of espionage law. He and his defenders claim that he was actually being persecuted for challenging the Trailblazer Project. In 2011, all 10 original charges against Drake were dropped.
Turbulence started in 2005. It was developed in small, inexpensive ‘test’ pieces rather than one grand plan like Trailblazer. It also included offensive cyber-warfare capabilities, like injecting malware into remote computers. Congress criticized Turbulence in 2007 for having similar bureaucratic problems as Trailblazer. It was to be a realization of information processing at higher speeds in cyberspace.
Global surveillance disclosures
Scope of surveillance
It was revealed that the NSA intercepts telephone and internet communications of over a billion people worldwide, seeking information on terrorism as well as foreign politics, economics and “commercial secrets”. In a declassified document it was revealed that 17,835 phone lines were on an improperly permitted “alert list” from 2006 to 2009 in breach of compliance, which tagged these phone lines for daily monitoring. Eleven percent of these monitored phone lines met the agency’s legal standard for “reasonably articulable suspicion”(RAS).
A dedicated unit of the NSA locates targets for the CIA for extrajudicial assassination in the Middle East. The NSA has also spied extensively on the European Union, the United Nations and numerous governments including allies and trading partners in Europe, South America and Asia.
The NSA tracks the locations of hundreds of millions of cellphones per day, allowing them to map people’s movements and relationships in detail. It reportedly has access to all communications made via Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, YouTube, AOL, Skype, Apple and Paltalk, and collects hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal email and instant messaging accounts each year. It has also managed to weaken much of the encryption used on the Internet (by collaborating with, coercing or otherwise infiltrating numerous technology companies), so that the majority of Internet privacy is now vulnerable to the NSA and other attackers.
Domestically, the NSA collects and stores metadata records of phone calls, including over 120 million US Verizon subscribers as well as internet communications, relying on a secret interpretation of the Patriot Act whereby the entirety of US communications may be considered “relevant” to a terrorism investigation if it is expected that even a tiny minority may relate to terrorism. The NSA supplies foreign intercepts to the DEA, IRS and other law enforcement agencies, who use these to initiate criminal investigations. Federal agents are then instructed to “recreate” the investigative trail via parallel construction.
The NSA also spies on influential Muslims to obtain information that could be used to discredit them, such as their use of pornography. The targets, both domestic and abroad, are not suspected of any crime but hold religious or political views deemed “radical” by the NSA.
According to a report in The Washington Post in July 2014, relying on information furnished by Snowden, 90% of those placed under surveillance in the U.S. are ordinary Americans, and are not the intended targets. The newspaper said it had examined documents including emails, message texts, and online accounts, that support the claim.
Despite President Obama’s claims that these programs have congressional oversight, members of Congress were unaware of the existence of these NSA programs or the secret interpretation of the Patriot Act, and have consistently been denied access to basic information about them. Obama has also claimed that there are legal checks in place to prevent inappropriate access of data and that there have been no examples of abuse; however, the secret FISC court charged with regulating the NSA’s activities is, according to its chief judge, incapable of investigating or verifying how often the NSA breaks even its own secret rules. It has since been reported that the NSA violated its own rules on data access thousands of times a year, many of these violations involving large-scale data interceptions; and that NSA officers have even used data intercepts to spy on love interests. The NSA has “generally disregarded the special rules for disseminating United States person information” by illegally sharing its intercepts with other law enforcement agencies. A March 2009 opinion of the FISC court, released by court order, states that protocols restricting data queries had been “so frequently and systemically violated that it can be fairly said that this critical element of the overall … regime has never functioned effectively.” In 2011 the same court noted that the “volume and nature” of the NSA’s bulk foreign internet intercepts was “fundamentally different from what the court had been led to believe”. Email contact lists (including those of US citizens) are collected at numerous foreign locations to work around the illegality of doing so on US soil.
Legal opinions on the NSA’s bulk collection program have differed. In mid-December, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled that the “almost-Orwellian” program likely violates the Constitution, and wrote, “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval. Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the Founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment. Indeed, I have little doubt that the author of our Constitution, James Madison, who cautioned us to beware ‘the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power,’ would be aghast.”
Later that month, U.S. District Judge William Pauley ruled that the NSA’s collection of telephone records is legal and valuable in the fight against terrorism. In his opinion, he wrote, “a bulk telephony metadata collection program [is] a wide net that could find and isolate gossamer contacts among suspected terrorists in an ocean of seemingly disconnected data” and noted that a similar collection of data prior to 9/11 might have prevented the attack.
An October 2014 United Nations report condemned mass surveillance by the United States and other countries as violating multiple international treaties and conventions that guarantee core privacy rights.
On March 20, 2013 the Director of National Intelligence, Lieutenant General James Clapper, testified before Congress that the NSA does not wittingly collect any kind of data on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans, but he retracted this in June after details of the PRISM program were published, and stated instead that meta-data of phone and internet traffic are collected, but no actual message contents. This was corroborated by the NSA Director, General Keith Alexander, before it was revealed that the XKeyscore program collects the contents of millions of emails from US citizens without warrant, as well as “nearly everything a user does on the Internet”. Alexander later admitted that “content” is collected, but stated that it is simply stored and never analyzed or searched unless there is “a nexus to al-Qaida or other terrorist groups”.
Regarding the necessity of these NSA programs, Alexander stated on June 27 that the NSA’s bulk phone and Internet intercepts had been instrumental in preventing 54 terrorist “events”, including 13 in the US, and in all but one of these cases had provided the initial tip to “unravel the threat stream”. On July 31 NSA Deputy Director John Inglis conceded to the Senate that these intercepts had not been vital in stopping any terrorist attacks, but were “close” to vital in identifying and convicting four San Diego men for sending US$8,930 to Al-Shabaab, a militia that conducts terrorism in Somalia.
The U.S. government has aggressively sought to dismiss and challenge Fourth Amendment cases raised against it, and has granted retroactive immunity to ISPs and telecoms participating in domestic surveillance. The U.S. military has acknowledged blocking access to parts of The Guardian website for thousands of defense personnel across the country, and blocking the entire Guardian website for personnel stationed throughout Afghanistan, the Middle East, and South Asia.
The NSA is led by the Director of the National Security Agency (DIRNSA), who also serves as Chief of the Central Security Service (CHCSS) and Commander of the United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) and is the highest-ranking military official of these organizations. He is assisted by a Deputy Director, who is the highest-ranking civilian within the NSA/CSS.
NSA also has an Inspector General, head of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), a General Counsel, head of the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) and a Director of Compliance, who is head of the Office of the Director of Compliance (ODOC).
Unlike other intelligence organizations such as CIA or DIA, NSA has always been particularly reticent concerning its internal organizational structure.
As of the mid-1990s, the National Security Agency was organized into five Directorates:
- The Operations Directorate, which was responsible for SIGINT collection and processing.
- The Technology and Systems Directorate, which develops new technologies for SIGINT collection and processing.
- The Information Systems Security Directorate, which was responsible for NSA’s communications and information security missions.
- The Plans, Policy and Programs Directorate, which provided staff support and general direction for the Agency.
- The Support Services Directorate, which provided logistical and administrative support activities.
Each of these directorates consisted of several groups or elements, designated by a letter. There were for example the A Group, which was responsible for all SIGINT operations against the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and G Group, which was responsible for SIGINT related to all non-communist countries. These groups were divided in units designated by an additional number, like unit A5 for breaking Soviet codes, and G6, being the office for the Middle East, North Africa, Cuba, Central and South America.
As of 2013 NSA has about a dozen directorates, which are designated by a letter, although not all of them are publicly known. The directorates are divided in divisions and units starting with the letter of the parent directorate, followed by a number for the division, the sub-unit or a sub-sub-unit. New information about NSA units was revealed in top secret documents leaked byEdward Snowden since June 2013.
The main elements of the organizational structure of the NSA are:
- F – Directorate only known from unit F6, the Special Collection Service (SCS), which is a joint program created by CIA and NSA in 1978 to facilitate clandestine activities such as buggingcomputers throughout the world, using the expertise of both agencies.
- G – Directorate only known from unit G112, the office that manages the Senior Span platform, attached to the U2 spy planes.
- I – Information Assurance Directorate (IAD), which ensures availability, integrity, authentication, confidentiality, and non-repudiation of national security and telecommunications and information systems (national security systems).
- J – Directorate only known from unit J2, the Cryptologic Intelligence Unit
- L – Installation and Logistics
- M – Human Resources
- Q – Security and Counterintelligence
- R – Research Directorate, which conducts research on signals intelligence and on information assurance for the U.S. Government.
- S – Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID), which is responsible for the collection, analysis, production and dissemination of signals intelligence. This directorate is led by a director and a deputy director. The SID consists of the following divisions:
- S1 – Customer Relations
- S2 – Analysis and Production Centers, with the following so-called Product Lines:
- S2A: South Asia, S2B: China and Korea, S2C: International Security, S2E: Middle East/Asia, S2F: International Crime, S2G: Counter-proliferation, S2H: Russia, S2I: Counter-terrorism, S2J: Weapons and Space, S2T: Current Threats
- S3 – Data Acquisition, with these divisions for the main collection programs:
- S31 – Cryptanalysis and Exploitation Services (CES)
- S32 – Tailored Access Operations (TAO), which hacks into foreign computers to conduct cyber-espionage and reportedly is “the largest and arguably the most important component of the NSA’s huge Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) Directorate, consisting of over 1,000 military and civilian computer hackers, intelligence analysts, targeting specialists, computer hardware and software designers, and electrical engineers.”
- S33 – Global Access Operations (GAO), which is responsible for intercepts from satellites and other international SIGINT platforms. A tool which details and maps the information collected by this unit is code-named Boundless Informant.
- S34 – Collections Strategies and Requirements Center
- S35 – Special Source Operations (SSO), which is responsible for domestic and compartmented collection programs, like for example the PRISM program. Special Source Operations is also mentioned in connection to the FAIRVIEW collection program.
- T – Technical Directorate (TD)
- Directorate for Education and Training
- Directorate for Corporate Leadership
- Foreign Affairs Directorate, which acts as liaison with foreign intelligence services, counter-intelligence centers and the UKUSA-partners.
- Acquisitions and Procurement Directorate
In the year 2000, a leadership team was formed, consisting of the Director, the Deputy Director and the Directors of the Signals Intelligence (SID), the Information Assurance (IAD) and the Technical Directorate (TD). The chiefs of other main NSA divisions became associate directors of the senior leadership team.
After president George W. Bush initiated the President’s Surveillance Program (PSP) in 2001, the NSA created a 24-hour Metadata Analysis Center (MAC), followed in 2004 by the Advanced Analysis Division (AAD), with the mission of analyzing content, internet metadata and telephone metadata. Both units were part of the Signals Intelligence Directorate.
There’s also an office of Information Sharing Services (ISS), led by a chief and a deputy chief.
The NSA maintains at least two watch centers:
- National Security Operations Center (NSOC), which is the NSA’s current operations center and focal point for time-sensitive SIGINT reporting for the United States SIGINT System (USSS). This center was established in 1968 as the National SIGINT Watch Center (NSWC) and renamed into National SIGINT Operations Center (NSOC) in 1973. This “nerve center of the NSA” got its current name in 1996.
- NSA/CSS Threat Operations Center (NTOC), which is the primary NSA/CSS partner for Department of Homeland Security response to cyber incidents. The NTOC establishes real-time network awareness and threat characterization capabilities to forecast, alert, and attribute malicious activity and enable the coordination of Computer Network Operations. The NTOC was established in 2004 as a joint Information Assurance and Signals Intelligence project.
The number of NSA employees is officially classified but there are several sources providing estimates. In 1961, NSA had 59,000 military and civilian employees, which grew to 93,067 in 1969, of which 19,300 worked at the headquarters at Fort Meade. In the early 1980s NSA had roughly 50,000 military and civilian personnel. By 1989 this number had grown again to 75,000, of which 25,000 worked at the NSA headquarters. Between 1990 and 1995 the NSA’s budget and workforce were cut by one third, which led to a substantial loss of experience.
In 2012, the NSA said more than 30,000 employees worked at Ft. Meade and other facilities. In 2012, John C. Inglis, the deputy director, said that the total number of NSA employees is “somewhere between 37,000 and one billion” as a joke, and stated that the agency is “probably the biggest employer of introverts.” In 2013 Der Spiegel stated that the NSA had 40,000 employees. More widely, it has been described as the world’s largest single employer of mathematicians. Some NSA employees form part of the workforce of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the agency that provides the NSA with satellite signals intelligence.
The NSA received criticism early on in 1960 after two agents had defected to the Soviet Union. Investigations by the House Un-American Activities Committee and a special subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee revealed severe cases of ignorance in personnel security regulations, prompting the former personnel director and the director of security to step down and leading to the adoption of stricter security practices. Nonetheless, security breaches reoccurred only a year later when in an issue of Izvestia of July 23, 1963, a former NSA employee published several cryptologic secrets.
The very same day, an NSA clerk-messenger committed suicide as ongoing investigations disclosed that he had sold secret information to the Soviets on a regular basis. The reluctance of Congressional houses to look into these affairs had prompted a journalist to write “If a similar series of tragic blunders occurred in any ordinary agency of Government an aroused public would insist that those responsible be officially censured, demoted, or fired.” David Kahn criticized the NSA’s tactics of concealing its doings as smug and the Congress’ blind faith in the agency’s right-doing as shortsighted, and pointed out the necessity of surveillance by the Congress to prevent abuse of power.
Edward Snowden‘s leaking of PRISM in 2013 caused the NSA to institute a “two-man rule” where two system administrators are required to be present when one accesses certain sensitive information. Snowden claims he suggested such a rule in 2009.
The NSA conducts polygraph tests of employees. For new employees, the tests are meant to discover enemy spies who are applying to the NSA and to uncover any information that could make an applicant pliant to coercion. As part of the latter, historically EPQs or “embarrassing personal questions” about sexual behavior had been included in the NSA polygraph. The NSA also conducts five-year periodic reinvestigation polygraphs of employees, focusing on counterintelligence programs. In addition the NSA conducts aperiodic polygraph investigations in order to find spies and leakers; those who refuse to take them may receive “termination of employment”, according to a 1982 memorandum from the director of the NSA.
There are also “special access examination” polygraphs for employees who wish to work in highly sensitive areas, and those polygraphs cover counterintelligence questions and some questions about behavior. NSA’s brochure states that the average test length is between two and four hours. A 1983 report of the Office of Technology Assessment stated that “It appears that the NSA [National Security Agency] (and possibly CIA) use the polygraph not to determine deception or truthfulness per se, but as a technique of interrogation to encourage admissions.” Sometimes applicants in the polygraph process confess to committing felonies such as murder, rape, and selling of illegal drugs. Between 1974 and 1979, of the 20,511 job applicants who took polygraph tests, 695 (3.4%) confessed to previous felony crimes; almost all of those crimes had been undetected.
In 2010 the NSA produced a video explaining its polygraph process. The video, ten minutes long, is titled “The Truth About the Polygraph” and was posted to the website of the Defense Security Service. Jeff Stein of The Washington Post said that the video portrays “various applicants, or actors playing them — it’s not clear — describing everything bad they had heard about the test, the implication being that none of it is true.” AntiPolygraph.org argues that the NSA-produced video omits some information about the polygraph process; it produced a video responding to the NSA video. George Maschke, the founder of the website, accused the NSA polygraph video of being “Orwellian“.
The number of exemptions from legal requirements has been criticized. When in 1964 the Congress was hearing a bill giving the director of the NSA the power to fire at will any employee, the Washington Post wrote: “This is the very definition of arbitrariness. It means that an employee could be discharged and disgraced on the basis of anonymous allegations without the slightest opportunity to defend himself.” Yet, the bill was accepted by an overwhelming majority.
Insignia and memorials
The heraldic insignia of NSA consists of an eagle inside a circle, grasping a key in its talons. The eagle represents the agency’s national mission. Its breast features a shield with bands of red and white, taken from the Great Seal of the United States and representing Congress. The key is taken from the emblem of Saint Peter and represents security.
When the NSA was created, the agency had no emblem and used that of the Department of Defense. The agency adopted its first of two emblems in 1963. The current NSA insignia has been in use since 1965, when then-Director, LTG Marshall S. Carter (USA) ordered the creation of a device to represent the agency.
The NSA’s flag consists of the agency’s seal on a light blue background.
Crews associated with NSA missions have been involved in a number of dangerous and deadly situations. The USS Liberty incident in 1967 andUSS Pueblo incident in 1968 are examples of the losses endured during the Cold War.
The National Security Agency/Central Security Service Cryptologic Memorial honors and remembers the fallen personnel, both military and civilian, of these intelligence missions. It is made of black granite, and has 171 names (as of 2013) carved into it. It is located at NSA headquarters. A tradition of declassifying the stories of the fallen was begun in 2001.
Headquarters for the National Security Agency is located at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, although it is separate from other compounds and agencies that are based within this same military installation. Ft. Meade is about 20 mi (32 km) southwest of Baltimore, and 25 mi (40 km) northeast of Washington, DC. The NSA has its own exit off Maryland Route 295 South labeled “NSA Employees Only”. The exit may only be used by people with the proper clearances, and security vehicles parked along the road guard the entrance.in
NSA is the largest employer in the U.S. state of Maryland, and two-thirds of its personnel work at Ft. Meade. Built on 350 acres (140 ha; 0.55 sq mi) of Ft. Meade’s 5,000 acres (2,000 ha; 7.8 sq mi), the site has 1,300 buildings and an estimated 18,000 parking spaces.
The main NSA headquarters and operations building is what James Bamford, author of Body of Secrets, describes as “a modern boxy structure” that appears similar to “any stylish office building.” The building is covered with one-way dark glass, which is lined with copper shielding in order to prevent espionage by trapping in signals and sounds. It contains 3,000,000 square feet (280,000 m2), or more than 68 acres (28 ha), of floor space; Bamford said that the U.S. Capitol “could easily fit inside it four times over.”
The facility has over 100 watchposts, one of them being the visitor control center, a two-story area that serves as the entrance. At the entrance, a white pentagonal structure, visitor badges are issued to visitors and security clearances of employees are checked. The visitor center includes a painting of the NSA seal.
The OPS2A building, the tallest building in the NSA complex and the location of much of the agency’s operations directorate, is accessible from the visitor center. Bamford described it as a “dark glass Rubik’s Cube“. The facility’s “red corridor” houses non-security operations such as concessions and the drug store. The name refers to the “red badge” which is worn by someone without a security clearance. The NSA headquarters includes a cafeteria, a credit union, ticket counters for airlines and entertainment, a barbershop, and a bank. NSA headquarters has its own post office, fire department, and police force.
The employees at the NSA headquarters reside in various places in the Baltimore-Washington area, including Annapolis, Baltimore, and Columbia in Maryland and the District of Columbia, including the Georgetown community.
Following a major power outage in 2000, in 2003 and in follow-ups through 2007, The Baltimore Sun reported that the NSA was at risk of electrical overload because of insufficient internal electrical infrastructure at Fort Meade to support the amount of equipment being installed. This problem was apparently recognized in the 1990s but not made a priority, and “now the agency’s ability to keep its operations going is threatened.”
Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE, now Constellation Energy) provided NSA with 65 to 75 megawatts at Ft. Meade in 2007, and expected that an increase of 10 to 15 megawatts would be needed later that year. In 2011, NSA at Ft. Meade was Maryland’s largest consumer of power. In 2007, as BGE’s largest customer, NSA bought as much electricity as Annapolis, the capital city of Maryland.
History of headquarters
When the agency was established, its headquarters and cryptographic center were in the Naval Security Station in Washington, D.C.. The COMINT functions were located in Arlington Hall in Northern Virginia, which served as the headquarters of the U.S. Army‘s cryptographic operations.Because the Soviet Union had detonated a nuclear bomb and because the facilities were crowded, the federal government wanted to move several agencies, including the AFSA/NSA. A planning committee considered Fort Knox, but Fort Meade, Maryland, was ultimately chosen as NSA headquarters because it was far enough away from Washington, D.C. in case of a nuclear strike and was close enough so its employees would not have to move their families.
Construction of additional buildings began after the agency occupied buildings at Ft. Meade in the late 1950s, which they soon outgrew. In 1963 the new headquarters building, nine stories tall, opened. NSA workers referred to the building as the “Headquarters Building” and since the NSA management occupied the top floor, workers used “Ninth Floor” to refer to their leaders. COMSEC remained in Washington, D.C., until its new building was completed in 1968. In September 1986, the Operations 2A and 2B buildings, both copper-shielded to prevent eavesdropping, opened with a dedication by President Ronald Reagan. The four NSA buildings became known as the “Big Four.” The NSA director moved to 2B when it opened.
NSA held a groundbreaking ceremony at Ft. Meade in May 2013 for its High Performance Computing Center 2, expected to open in 2016. Called Site M, the center has a 150 megawatt power substation, 14 administrative buildings and 10 parking garages. It cost $3.2 billion and covers 227 acres (92 ha; 0.355 sq mi). The center is 1,800,000 square feet (17 ha; 0.065 sq mi) and initially uses 60 megawatts of electricity.
Increments II and III are expected to be completed by 2030, and would quadruple the space, covering 5,800,000 square feet (54 ha; 0.21 sq mi) with 60 buildings and 40 parking garages. Defense contractors are also establishing or expanding cybersecurity facilities near the NSA and around the Washington metropolitan area.
Other U.S. facilities
As of 2012, NSA collected intelligence from four geostationary satellites. Satellite receivers were at Roaring Creek Station in Catawissa, Pennsylvania and Salt Creek Station in Arbuckle, California. It operated ten to twenty taps on U.S. telecom switches. NSA had installations in several U.S. states and from them observed intercepts from Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Latin America, and Asia.
NSA had facilities at Friendship Annex (FANX) in Linthicum, Maryland, which is a 20 to 25-minute drive from Ft. Meade; the Aerospace Data Facility at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora outside Denver, Colorado; NSA Texas in the Texas Cryptology Center at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas; NSA Georgia at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Georgia; NSA Hawaii in Honolulu; the Multiprogram Research Facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and elsewhere.
On January 6, 2011 a groundbreaking ceremony was held to begin construction on NSA’s first Comprehensive National Cyber-security Initiative (CNCI) Data Center, known as the “Utah Data Center” for short. The $1.5B data center is being built at Camp Williams, Utah, located 25 miles (40 km) south of Salt Lake City, and will help support the agency’s National Cyber-security Initiative. It is expected to be operational by September 2013.
In 2009, to protect its assets and to access more electricity, NSA sought to decentralize and expand its existing facilities in Ft. Meade and Menwith Hill, the latter expansion expected to be completed by 2015.
The Yakima Herald-Republic cited Bamford, saying that many of NSA’s bases for its Echelon program were a legacy system, using outdated, 1990s technology. In 2004, NSA closed its operations at Bad Aibling Station (Field Station 81) in Bad Aibling, Germany. In 2012, NSA began to move some of its operations at Yakima Research Station, Yakima Training Center, in Washington state to Colorado, planning to leave Yakima closed.As of 2013, NSA also intended to close operations at Sugar Grove, West Virginia.
Following the signing in 1946–1956 of the UKUSA Agreement between the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, who then cooperated on signals intelligence and Echelon, NSA stations were built at GCHQ Bude in Morwenstow, United Kingdom; Geraldton,Pine Gap and Shoal Bay, Australia; Leitrim and Ottawa, Canada; Misawa, Japan; and Waihopai and Tangimoana, New Zealand.
NSA operates RAF Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire, United Kingdom, which was, according to BBC News in 2007, the largest electronic monitoring station in the world. Planned in 1954, and opened in 1960, the base covered 562 acres (227 ha; 0.878 sq mi) in 1999.
The agency’s European Cryptologic Center (ECC), with 240 employees in 2011, is headquartered at a US military compound in Griesheim, nearFrankfurt in Germany. A 2011 NSA report indicates that the ECC is responsible for the “largest analysis and productivity in Europe” and focusses on various priorities, including Africa, Europe, the Middle East and counterterrorism operations.
In 2013, a new Consolidated Intelligence Center, also to be used by NSA, is being built at the headquarters of the United States Army Europe inWiesbaden, Germany. NSA’s partnership with Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the German foreign intelligence service, was confirmed by BND president Gerhard Schindler.
NSA’s eavesdropping mission includes radio broadcasting, both from various organizations and individuals, the Internet, telephone calls, and other intercepted forms of communication. Its secure communications mission includes military, diplomatic, and all other sensitive, confidential or secret government communications.
According to the Washington Post, “[e]very day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications. The NSA sorts a fraction of those into 70 separate databases.”
Because of its listening task, NSA/CSS has been heavily involved in cryptanalytic research, continuing the work of predecessor agencies which had broken many World War II codes andciphers (see, for instance, Purple, Venona project, and JN-25).
In 2004, NSA Central Security Service and the National Cyber Security Division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agreed to expand NSA Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education Program.
As part of the National Security Presidential Directive 54/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 23 (NSPD 54), signed on January 8, 2008 by President Bush, the NSA became the lead agency to monitor and protect all of the federal government’s computer networks from cyber-terrorism.
NSA/CSS, in combination with the equivalent agencies in the United Kingdom (Government Communications Headquarters), Canada (Communications Security Establishment), Australia (Defence Signals Directorate), and New Zealand (Government Communications Security Bureau), otherwise known as the UKUSA group, was reported to be in command of the operation of the so-called Echelon system. Its capabilities were suspected to include the ability to monitor a large proportion of the world’s transmitted civilian telephone, fax and data traffic.
During the early 1970s, the first of what became more than eight large satellite communications dishes were installed at Menwith Hill. Investigative journalist Duncan Campbell reported in 1988 on the Echelon surveillance program, an extension of the UKUSA Agreement on global signals intelligence SIGINT, and detailed how the eavesdropping operations worked. In November 3, 1999 the BBC reported that they had confirmation from the Australian Government of the existence of a powerful “global spying network” code-named Echelon, that could “eavesdrop on every single phone call, fax or e-mail, anywhere on the planet” with Britain and the United States as the chief protagonists. They confirmed that Menwith Hill was “linked directly to the headquarters of the US National Security Agency (NSA) at Fort Meade in Maryland”.
NSA’s United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18 (USSID 18) strictly prohibited the interception or collection of information about “… U.S. persons, entities, corporations or organizations….” without explicit written legal permission from the United States Attorney General when the subject is located abroad, or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court when within U.S. borders. Alleged Echelon-related activities, including its use for motives other than national security, including political and industrial espionage, received criticism from countries outside the UKUSA alliance.
The Real Time Regional Gateway was a data collection program introduced in 2005 in Iraq by NSA during the Iraq War. It consisted of gathering all Iraqi electronic communication, storing it, then searching and otherwise analyzing it. It was effective in providing information about Iraqi insurgents who had eluded less comprehensive techniques. Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian believes that the “collect it all” strategy introduced by NSA director Alexander shows that “the NSA’s goal is to collect, monitor and store every telephone and internet communication” worldwide. The NSA is also involved in planning to blackmail people with “SEXINT“, intelligence gained about a potential target’s sexual activity and preferences. Those targeted had not committed any apparent crime nor were charged with one.
The NSA began the PRISM electronic surveillance and data mining program in 2007. PRISM gathers communications data on foreign targets from nine major U.S. internet-based communication service providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube andApple. Data gathered include email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, VoIP chats such as Skype, and file transfers. Another program, Boundless Informant, employs big data databases, cloud computing technology, and Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) to analyze data collected worldwide by the NSA, including that gathered by way of the PRISM program.
In 2013, reporters uncovered a secret memo that claims the NSA created and pushed for the adoption of encryption standards that contained built-in vulnerabilities in 2006 to the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the International Organization for Standardization (aka ISO). This memo appears to give credence to previous speculation by cryptographers at Microsoft Research. Edward Snowden claims that the NSA often bypasses encryption altogether by lifting information before it is encrypted or after it is decrypted.
XKeyscore rules (as specified in a file xkeyscorerules100.txt, sourced by German TV stations NDR and WDR, who claim to have excerpts from its source code) reveal that the NSA tracks users of privacy-enhancing software tools, including Tor, the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and readers of the Linux Journal.
NSA’s mission, as set forth in Executive Order 12333, is to collect information that constitutes “foreign intelligence or counterintelligence” while not “acquiring information concerning the domestic activities of United States persons”. NSA has declared that it relies on the FBI to collect information on foreign intelligence activities within the borders of the United States, while confining its own activities within the United States to the embassies and missions of foreign nations.
NSA’s domestic surveillance activities are limited by the requirements imposed by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for example held in October 2011, citing multiple Supreme Court precedents, that the Fourth Amendment prohibitions against unreasonable searches and seizures applies to the contents of all communications, whatever the means, because “a person’s private communications are akin to personal papers.” However, these protections do not apply to non-U.S. persons located outside of U.S. borders, so the NSA’s foreign surveillance efforts are subject to far fewer limitations under U.S. law. The specific requirements for domestic surveillance operations are contained in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA), which does not extend protection to non-U.S. citizens located outside of U.S. territory.
These activities, especially the publicly acknowledged domestic telephone tapping and call database programs, have prompted questions about the extent of the NSA’s activities and concerns about threats to privacy and the rule of law.
George W. Bush administration
On December 16, 2005, The New York Times reported that, under White House pressure and with an executive order from President George W. Bush, the National Security Agency, in an attempt to thwart terrorism, had been tapping phone calls made to persons outside the country, without obtaining warrants from the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a secret court created for that purpose under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
One such surveillance program, authorized by the U.S. Signals Intelligence Directive 18 of President George Bush, was the Highlander Project undertaken for the National Security Agency by the U.S. Army 513th Military Intelligence Brigade. NSA relayed telephone (including cell phone) conversations obtained from ground, airborne, and satellite monitoring stations to various U.S. Army Signal Intelligence Officers, including the 201st Military Intelligence Battalion. Conversations of citizens of the U.S. were intercepted, along with those of other nations.
Proponents of the surveillance program claim that the President has executive authority to order such action, arguing that laws such as FISA are overridden by the President’s Constitutional powers. In addition, some argued that FISA was implicitly overridden by a subsequent statute, the Authorization for Use of Military Force, although the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld deprecates this view. In the August 2006 case ACLU v. NSA, U.S. District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor concluded that NSA’s warrantless surveillance program was both illegal and unconstitutional. On July 6, 2007 the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the decision on the grounds that the ACLU lacked standing to bring the suit.
On January 17, 2006, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit, CCR v. Bush, against the George W. Bush Presidency. The lawsuit challenged the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) surveillance of people within the U.S., including the interception of CCR emails without securing a warrant first.
In September 2008, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a class action lawsuit against the NSA and several high-ranking officials of the Bush administration, charging an “illegal and unconstitutional program of dragnet communications surveillance,” based on documentation provided by former AT&T technician Mark Klein.
AT&T Internet monitoring
In May 2006, Mark Klein, a former AT&T employee, alleged that his company had cooperated with NSA in installing Narus hardware to replace the FBI Carnivore program, to monitor network communications including traffic between American citizens.
NSA was reported in 2008 to use its computing capability to analyze “transactional” data that it regularly acquires from other government agencies, which gather it under their own jurisdictional authorities. As part of this effort, NSA now monitors huge volumes of records of domestic email data, web addresses from Internet searches, bank transfers, credit-card transactions, travel records, and telephone data, according to current and former intelligence officials interviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The sender, recipient, and subject line of emails can be included, but the content of the messages or of phone calls are not.
A 2013 advisory group for the Obama administration, seeking to reform NSA spying programs following the revelations of documents released by Edward J. Snowden. mentioned in ‘Recommendation 30’ on page 37, “…that the National Security Council staff should manage an interagency process to review on a regular basis the activities of the US Government regarding attacks that exploit a previously unknown vulnerability in a computer application.” Retired cyber security expert Richard A. Clarke was a group member and stated on 11 April that NSA had no advance knowledge of Heartbleed.
Illegally obtained evidence
In August 2013 it was revealed that a 2005 IRS training document showed that NSA intelligence intercepts and wiretaps, both foreign and domestic, were being supplied to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and were illegally used to launch criminal investigations of US citizens. Law enforcement agents were directed to conceal how the investigations began and recreate an apparently legal investigative trail by re-obtaining the same evidence by other means.
Domestic surveillance under Barack Obama
In the months leading to April 2009, the NSA intercepted the communications of American citizens, including a Congressman, although the Justice Department believed that the interception was unintentional. The Justice Department then took action to correct the issues and bring the program into compliance with existing laws. United States Attorney General Eric Holderresumed the program according to his understanding of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act amendment of 2008, without explaining what had occurred.
On April 25, 2013, the NSA obtained a court order requiring Verizon‘s Business Network Services to provide metadata on all calls in its system to the NSA “on an ongoing daily basis” for a three-month period, as reported by The Guardian on June 6, 2013. This information includes “the numbers of both parties on a call … location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls” but not “[t]he contents of the conversation itself”. The order relies on the so-called “business records” provision of the Patriot Act.
In August 2013, following the Snowden leaks, new details about the NSA’s data mining activity were revealed. Reportedly, the majority of emails into or out of the United States are captured at “selected communications links” and automatically analyzed for keywords or other “selectors”. Emails that do not match are deleted.
Polls conducted in June 2013 found divided results among Americans regarding NSA’s secret data collection. Rasmussen Reports found that 59% of Americans disapprove, Gallupfound that 53% disapprove, and Pew found that 56% are in favor of NSA data collection.
Terrorist Attacks prevented by Domestic Surveillance
2009 New York City Subway bomb plot
According to General Keith Alexander, the director of the NSA, in September 2009 the NSA prevented Najibullah Zazi and his friends from carrying out a terrorist attack. The NSA tagged Zazi as a possible threat because he was contacting people affiliated with terrorist activity through emails, which the NSA was able to obtain through one of PRISM’s dragnets. The NSA tipped off the FBI, which began a program called Operation High-Rise. Operation High-Rise discovered that Zazi was planning to suicide bomb the New York City subway. Zazi called off the attacks after receiving a tip about law-enforcement inquiries and was later arrested.
Edward Snowden revealed in June 2013 that between 8 February and 8 March 2013 NSA collected about 124.8 billion telephone data items and 97.1 billion computer data items throughout the world, including in Germany, United Kingdom and France. NSA made 70.3 million recordings of French citizens’ telephone data from 10 December 2012 to 8 January 2013.
Linus Torvalds, the founder of Linux kernel, joked during a LinuxCon keynote on 18 September 2013 that the NSA, who are the founder of SELinux, wanted a backdoor in the kernel.However later, Linus’ father, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), revealed that the NSA actually did this.
When my oldest son [Linus Torvalds] was asked the same question: “Has he been approached by the NSA about backdoors?” he said “No”, but at the same time he nodded. Then he was sort of in the legal free. He had given the right answer, [but] everybody understood that the NSA had approached him.
_NSAKEY was a variable name discovered in Microsoft‘s Windows NT 4 Service Pack 5 (which had been released unstripped of its symbolic debugging data) in August 1999 by Andrew D. Fernandes of Cryptonym Corporation. That variable contained a 1024-bit public key.
IBM Notes was the first widely adopted software product to use public key cryptography for client–server and server–server authentication and for encryption of data. Until US laws regulating encryption were changed in 2000, IBM and Lotus were prohibited from exporting versions of Notes that supported symmetric encryption keys that were longer than 40 bits. In 1997, Lotus negotiated an agreement with the NSA that allowed export of a version that supported stronger keys with 64 bits, but 24 of the bits were encrypted with a special key and included in the message to provide a “workload reduction factor” for the NSA. This strengthened the protection for users of Notes outside the US against private-sector industrial espionage, but not against spying by the US government.
While it is assumed that foreign transmissions terminating in the U.S. (such as a non-U.S. citizen accessing a U.S. website) subject non-U.S. citizens to NSA surveillance, recent research into boomerang routing has raised new concerns about the NSA’s ability to surveil the domestic internet traffic of foreign countries. Boomerang routing occurs when an internet transmission that originates and terminates in a single country transits another. Research at the University of Toronto has suggested that approximately 25% of Canadian domestic traffic may be subject to NSA surveillance activities as a result of the boomerang routing of Canadian internet service providers.
A document included in NSA files released with Glenn Greenwald’s book No Place to Hide details how the agency’sTailored Access Operations (TAO) and other NSA units gain access to hardware. They intercept routers, servers and other network hardware being shipped to organizations targeted for surveillance and install covert implant firmware onto them before they are delivered. This was described by an NSA manager as “some of the most productive operations in TAO because they preposition access points into hard target networks around the world.”
Role in scientific research and development
NSA has been involved in debates about public policy, both indirectly as a behind-the-scenes adviser to other departments, and directly during and after Vice Admiral Bobby Ray Inman‘s directorship. NSA was a major player in the debates of the 1990s regarding the export of cryptography in the United States. Restrictions on export were reduced but not eliminated in 1996.
Its secure government communications work has involved the NSA in numerous technology areas, including the design of specialized communications hardware and software, production of dedicated semiconductors (at the Ft. Meade chip fabrication plant), and advanced cryptography research. For 50 years, NSA designed and built most of its computer equipment in-house, but from the 1990s until about 2003 (when the U.S. Congress curtailed the practice), the agency contracted with the private sector in the fields of research and equipment.
Data Encryption Standard
NSA was embroiled in some minor controversy concerning its involvement in the creation of the Data Encryption Standard (DES), a standard and publicblock cipher algorithm used by the U.S. government and banking community. During the development of DES by IBM in the 1970s, NSA recommended changes to some details of the design. There was suspicion that these changes had weakened the algorithm sufficiently to enable the agency to eavesdrop if required, including speculation that a critical component—the so-called S-boxes—had been altered to insert a “backdoor” and that the reduction in key length might have made it feasible for NSA to discover DES keys using massive computing power. It has since been observed that the S-boxes in DES are particularly resilient against differential cryptanalysis, a technique which was not publicly discovered until the late 1980s, but which was known to the IBM DES team.
The United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reviewed NSA’s involvement, and concluded that while the agency had provided some assistance, it had not tampered with the design. In late 2009 NSA declassified information stating that “NSA worked closely with IBM to strengthen the algorithm against all except brute force attacks and to strengthen substitution tables, called S-boxes. Conversely, NSA tried to convince IBM to reduce the length of the key from 64 to 48 bits. Ultimately they compromised on a 56-bit key.”
Advanced Encryption Standard
The involvement of NSA in the selection of a successor to DES, the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), was limited to hardware performance testing (see AES competition). NSA has subsequently certified AES for protection of classified information (for at most two levels, e.g. SECRET information in an unclassified environment[clarification needed]) when used in NSA-approved systems.
NSA encryption systems
The NSA is responsible for the encryption-related components in these legacy systems:
- FNBDT Future Narrow Band Digital Terminal
- KL-7 ADONIS off-line rotor encryption machine (post-WWII – 1980s)
- KW-26 ROMULUS electronic in-line teletypewriter encryptor (1960s–1980s)
- KW-37 JASON fleet broadcast encryptor (1960s–1990s)
- KY-57 VINSON tactical radio voice encryptor
- KG-84 Dedicated Data Encryption/Decryption
- STU-III secure telephone unit, phased out by the STE
The NSA oversees encyption in following systems which are in use today:
- EKMS Electronic Key Management System
- Fortezza encryption based on portable crypto token in PC Card format
- SINCGARS tactical radio with cryptographically controlled frequency hopping
- STE secure terminal equipment
- TACLANE product line by General Dynamics C4 Systems
The NSA has specified Suite A and Suite B cryptographic algorithm suites to be used in U.S. government systems; the Suite B algorithms are a subset of those previously specified by NISTand are expected to serve for most information protection purposes, while the Suite A algorithms are secret and are intended for especially high levels of protection.
The widely used SHA-1 and SHA-2 hash functions were designed by NSA. SHA-1 is a slight modification of the weaker SHA-0 algorithm, also designed by NSA in 1993. This small modification was suggested by NSA two years later, with no justification other than the fact that it provides additional security. An attack for SHA-0 that does not apply to the revised algorithm was indeed found between 1998 and 2005 by academic cryptographers. Because of weaknesses and key length restrictions in SHA-1, NIST deprecates its use for digital signatures, and approves only the newer SHA-2 algorithms for such applications from 2013 on.
A new hash standard, SHA-3, has recently been selected through the competition concluded October 2, 2012 with the selection of Keccak as the algorithm. The process to select SHA-3 was similar to the one held in choosing the AES, but some doubts have been cast over it, since fundamental modifications have been made to Keccak in order to turn it into a standard. These changes potentially undermine the cryptanalysis performed during the competition and reduce the security levels of the algorithm.
Dual_EC_DRBG random number generator
NSA promoted the inclusion of a random number generator called Dual_EC_DRBG in the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology‘s 2007 guidelines. This led to speculation of abackdoor which would allow NSA access to data encrypted by systems using that pseudo random number generator.
This is now deemed to be plausible based on the fact that the output of the next iterations of the PRNG can provably be determined if the relation between two internal elliptic curve points is known. Both NIST and RSA are now officially recommending against the use of this PRNG.
Because of concerns that widespread use of strong cryptography would hamper government use of wiretaps, NSA proposed the concept of key escrow in 1993 and introduced the Clipper chip that would offer stronger protection than DES but would allow access to encrypted data by authorized law enforcement officials. The proposal was strongly opposed and key escrow requirements ultimately went nowhere. However, NSA’s Fortezza hardware-based encryption cards, created for the Clipper project, are still used within government, and NSA ultimately declassified and published the design of the Skipjack cipher used on the cards.
Perfect Citizen is a program to perform vulnerability assessment by the NSA on U.S. critical infrastructure. It was originally reported to be a program to develop a system of sensors to detect cyber attacks on critical infrastructure computer networks in both the private and public sector through a network monitoring system named Einstein. It is funded by theComprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative and thus far Raytheon has received a contract for up to $100 million for the initial stage.
NSA has invested many millions of dollars in academic research under grant code prefix MDA904, resulting in over 3,000 papers (as of 2007-10-11). NSA/CSS has, at times, attempted to restrict the publication of academic research into cryptography; for example, the Khufu and Khafre block ciphers were voluntarily withheld in response to an NSA request to do so. In response to a FOIA lawsuit, in 2013 the NSA released the 643-page research paper titled, “Untangling the Web: A Guide to Internet Research, ” written and compiled by NSA employees to assist other NSA workers in searching for information of interest to the agency on the public Internet.
NSA has the ability to file for a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office under gag order. Unlike normal patents, these are not revealed to the public and do not expire. However, if the Patent Office receives an application for an identical patent from a third party, they will reveal NSA’s patent and officially grant it to NSA for the full term on that date.
One of NSA’s published patents describes a method of geographically locating an individual computer site in an Internet-like network, based on the latency of multiple network connections. Although no public patent exists, NSA is reported to have used a similar locating technology called trilateralization that allows real-time tracking of an individual’s location, including altitude from ground level, using data obtained from cellphone towers.
NSANet (NSA’s Intranet)
NSANet stands for National Security Agency Network and is the official NSA intranet. It is a classified network, for information up to the level ofTS/SCI to support the use and sharing of intelligence data between NSA and the signals intelligence agencies of the four other nations of the Five Eyes partnership. The management of NSANet has been delegated to the Central Security Service Texas (CSSTEXAS).
NSANet is a highly secured computer network consisting of fiber-optic and satellite communication channels which are almost completely separated from the public internet. The network allows NSA personnel and civilian and military intelligence analysts anywhere in the world to have access to the agency’s systems and databases. This access is tightly controlled and monitored. For example, every keystroke is logged, activities are audited at random and downloading and printing of documents from NSANet are recorded.
In 1998, NSANet, along with NIPRNET and SIPRNET, had “significant problems with poor search capabilities, unorganized data and old information”. In 2004, the network was reported to have used over twenty commercial off-the-shelf operating systems. Some universities that do highly sensitive research are allowed to connect to it.
The thousands of Top Secret internal NSA documents that were taken by Edward Snowden in 2013 were stored in “a file-sharing location on the NSA’s intranet site” so they could easily be read online by NSA personnel. Everyone with a TS/SCI-clearance had access to these documents and as a system administrator, Snowden was responsible for moving accidentally misplaced highly sensitive documents to more secure storage locations.
National Computer Security Center
The DoD Computer Security Center was founded in 1981 and renamed the National Computer Security Center (NCSC) in 1985. NCSC was responsible for computer security throughout the federal government. NCSC was part of NSA, and during the late 1980s and the 1990s, NSA and NCSC published Trusted Computer System Evaluation Criteria in a six-foot highRainbow Series of books that detailed trusted computing and network platform specifications. The Rainbow books were replaced by the Common Criteria, however, in the early 2000s.
On July 18, 2013, Greenwald said that Snowden held “detailed blueprints of how the NSA does what they do”, thereby sparking fresh controversy.
- Five Eyes Canadian – American – Australian – British – New Zealander intelligence sharing agreement
- Australian Signals Directorate or ASD – Australia
- Communications Security Establishment Canada or CSE – Canada
- Ministry of State Security (China) or MSS – China
- Ministry of State Security or Stasi – former German Democratic Republic
- National Counter Terrorism Centre or NCTS – India (proposed)
- Garda National Surveillance Unit or NSU – Ireland
- Government Communications Security Bureau or GCSB – New Zealand
- Special Communications Service of Russia or Spetssvyaz – Russia
- Internal Security Department (Singapore) or ISD – Singapore
- Government Communications Headquarters or GCHQ – United Kingdom
- Gulf of Tonkin incident
- Korean Air Lines Flight 007
- Operation Ivy Bells
- Edward Snowden
- National Intelligence Priorities Framework
- Bamford, James. Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency, Random House Digital, Inc., December 18, 2007. ISBN 0307425053. Previously published as: Doubleday, 2001, ISBN 0-385-49907-8.
- Bauer, Craig P. Secret History: The Story of Cryptology (Volume 76 of Discrete Mathematics and Its Applications). CRC Press, 2013. ISBN 1466561866.
- Weiland, Matt and Sean Wilsey. State by State. HarperCollins, October 19, 2010. ISBN 0062043579.
- Thomas L. Burns, The Origins of the National Security Agency, p. 97
- “60 Years of Defending Our Nation” (PDF). National Security Agency. 2012. p. 3. Retrieved July 6, 2013. “On November 4, 2012, the National Security Agency (NSA) celebrates its 60th anniversary of providing critical information to U.S. decision makers and Armed Forces personnel in defense of our Nation. NSA has evolved from a staff of approximately 7,600 military and civilian employees housed in 1952 in a vacated school in Arlington, VA, into a workforce of more than 30,000 demographically diverse men and women located at NSA headquarters in Ft. Meade, MD, in four national Cryptologic Centers, and at sites throughout the world.”
- Priest, Dana (July 21, 2013). “NSA growth fueled by need to target terrorists”. The Washington Post. Retrieved July 22, 2013. “Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, its civilian and military workforce has grown by one-third, to about 33,000, according to the NSA. Its budget has roughly doubled.”
- “Introverted? Then NSA wants you.” FCW. April 2012. Retrieved July 1, 2013.
- “Prism Exposed: Data Surveillance with Global Implications”. Spiegel Online International. June 10, 2013. p. 2. “How can an intelligence agency, even one as large and well-staffed as the NSA with its 40,000 employees, work meaningfully with such a flood of information?”
- Gellman, Barton; Greg Miller (August 29, 2013). “U.S. spy network’s successes, failures and objectives detailed in ‘black budget’ summary”. The Washington Post. p. 3. RetrievedAugust 29, 2013.
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- Executive Order 13470 —  2008 Amendments to Executive Order 12333], United States Intelligence Activities, July 30, 2008 (PDF)
- Malkin, Bonnie. NSA surveillance: US bugged EU offices. The Daily Telegraph, June 30, 2013
- Ngak, Chenda. NSA leaker Snowden claimed U.S. and Israel co-wrote Stuxnet virus, CBS, July 9, 2013
- Bamford, James. The Secret War, Wired Magazine, June 12, 2013.
- Bamford, James. Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency,Random House Digital, Inc., December 18, 2007
- Executive Order 13470 — 2008 Amendments to Executive Order 12333, United States Intelligence Activities, Section C.2, July 30, 2008
- Obar, Jonathan A.; Clement, Andrew (2013). “Internet Surveillance and Boomerang Routing: A Call for Canadian Network Sovereignty”. TEM 2013: Proceedings of the Technology & Emerging Media Track – Annual Conference of the Canadian Communication Association (Victoria, June 5–7, 2012). Retrieved 3 June 2014.
- “The National Archives, Records of the National Security Agency”. Retrieved November 22,2013.
- “The Many Lives of Herbert O. Yardley”. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
- Hastedt, Glenn P.; Guerrier, Steven W. (2009). Spies, wiretaps, and secret operations: An encyclopedia of American espionage. ABC-CLIO. p. 32. ISBN 1851098070.
- Yardley, Herbert O. (1931). The American black chamber. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press.ISBN 1591149894.
- James Bamford. “Building America’s secret surveillance state”. Reuters. RetrievedNovember 9, 2013.
- “Roman Empire to the NSA: A world history of government spying”. BBC. November 1, 2013. Retrieved November 9, 2013.
Across Europe, they established departments called “black chambers” (from the French, cabinet noir) to read the letters of targeted individuals.
- “Army Security Agency Established, 15 September 1945”. United States Army. RetrievedNovember 9, 2013.
- Burns, Thomas L. “The Origins of the National Security Agency 1940–1952 (U)” (PDF). National Security Agency. p. 60. Retrieved August 11, 2010.
- “The Creation of NSA – Part 2 of 3: The Brownell Committee” (PDF). National Security Agency. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
- Truman, Harry S. (October 24, 1952). “Memorandum” (PDF). National Security Agency. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
- Anne Gearan (June 7, 2013). “‘No Such Agency’ spies on the communications of the world”.The Washington Post. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- SCOTT SHANE (October 31, 2005). “Vietnam Study, Casting Doubts, Remains Secret”. The New York Times.
The National Security Agency has kept secret since 2001 a finding by an agency historian that during the Tonkin Gulf episode, which helped precipitate the Vietnam War
- “Declassified NSA Files Show Agency Spied on Muhammad Ali and MLK Operation Minaret Set Up in 1960s to Monitor Anti-Vietnam Critics, Branded ‘Disreputable If Not Outright Illegal’ by NSA Itself” The Guardian, 26 Sept. 2013
- Pre-Emption – The Nsa And The Telecoms | Spying On The Home Front | FRONTLINE | PBS
- Cohen, Martin. No Holiday: 80 Places You Don’t Want to Visit. New York: Disinformation Company Ltd. ISBN 978-1-932857-29-0. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
- Bill Moyers Journal (October 26, 2007). “The Church Committee and FISA”. Public Affairs Television. Retrieved June 28, 2013.
- “Book IV, Supplementary Detailed Staff Reports on Foreign and Military Intelligence (94th Congress, Senate report 94-755)” (PDF). United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. April 23, 1976. p. 67 (72). Retrieved June 28, 2013.
- “Book II, Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans (94th Congress, Senate report 94-755)” (PDF). United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. April 26, 1976. p. 124 (108). Retrieved June 28, 2013.
- Seymour M. Hersh (February 22, 1987). “TARGET QADDAFI”. The New York Times. Retrieved January 12, 2014.
- David Wise (May 18, 1986). “Espionage Case Pits CIA Against News Media”. The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 12, 2014.
the President took an unprecedented step in discussing the content of the Libyan cables. He was, by implication, revealing that NSA had broken the Libyan code.
- Peggy Becker (October 1999). DEVELOPMENT OF SURVEILLANCE TECHNOLOGY AND RISK OF ABUSE OF ECONOMIC INFORMATION (Report). STOA, European Parliament. p. 12. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
- Staff (June 13, 2003). “NSA honors 4 in the science of codes”. The Baltimore Sun(Tribune Company). Retrieved June 11, 2013.
- Tom Carver (8 June 2002). “America’s most powerful spy agency”. BBC.
When Osama bin Laden first moved to Afghanistan, the NSA listened in to every phone call he made on his satellite phone. Over the course of two years it is believed they logged more than 2,000 minutes of conversation.
- Gorman, Siobhan (May 17, 2006). “NSA killed system that sifted phone data legally”.Baltimore Sun (Tribune Company (Chicago, IL)). Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved March 7, 2008.
The privacy protections offered by ThinThread were also abandoned in the post–September 11 push by the president for a faster response to terrorism.
- See refs of Thomas Andrews Drake article
- Bamford, Shadow Factory, pp. 325–340.
- Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark. “Ally and Target: US Intelligence Watches Germany Closely”. Der Spiegel. Retrieved August 13, 2013.
- DeYoung, Karen (August 12, 2013). “Colombia asks Kerry to explain NSA spying”. The Washington Post. Retrieved August 13, 2013.
- Memorandum of the United States in Response to the Court’s Order Dated January 28, 2009. Washington DC: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Washington DC. January 28, 2009. p. 11.
- Greenberg, Andy. “NSA Secretly Admitted Illegally Tracking Thousands Of ‘Alert List’ Phone Numbers For Years”. Forbes. Retrieved February 25, 2014.
- Brandon, Russel. “NSA illegally searched 15,000 suspects’ phone records, according to declassified report”. The Verge. Retrieved February 25, 2014.
- Timm, Trevor. “Government Releases NSA Surveillance Docs and Previously Secret FISA Court Opinions In Response to EFF Lawsuit”. Electronic Frontier Foundation. Retrieved February 25,2014.
- Greg Miller and Julie Tate, October 17, 2013, “Documents reveal NSA’s extensive involvement in targeted killing program“, The Washington Post. Retrieved October 18, 2013.
- Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach, Fidelius Schmid und Holger Stark. “Geheimdokumente: NSA horcht EU-Vertretungen mit Wanzen aus“. Der Spiegel (in German). Retrieved June 29, 2013.
- “US-Geheimdienst hörte Zentrale der Vereinten Nationen ab“. Der Spiegel (in German). Retrieved August 25, 2013.
- Barton Gellman and Ashton Solanti, December 5, 2013, “NSA tracking cellphone locations worldwide, Snowden documents show”, The Washington Post. Retrieved December 7, 2013.
- Greenwald, Glenn; MacAskill, Ewen (6 June 2013). “NSA Prism program taps in to user data of Apple, Google and others“. The Guardian. Retrieved June 15, 2013.
- Gellman and Soltani, October 15, 2013 “NSA collects millions of e-mail address books globally“, The Washington Post. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
- Perlroth, Larson and Shane, “N.S.A. Able to Foil Basic Safeguards of Privacy on Web“, The New York Times September 5, 2013. Retrieved September 23, 2013.
- Arthur, Charles “Academics criticise NSA and GCHQ for weakening online encryption“, The Guardian September 16, 2013. Retrieved September 23, 2013.
- “Senators: Limit NSA snooping into US phone records”. Associated Press. RetrievedOctober 15, 2013.
“Is it the goal of the NSA to collect the phone records of all Americans?” Udall asked at Thursday’s hearing. “Yes, I believe it is in the nation’s best interest to put all the phone records into a lockbox that we could search when the nation needs to do it. Yes,” Alexander replied.
- Glenn Greenwald (6 June 2013). “NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily“. The Guardian. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
- Court Reveals ‘Secret Interpretation’ Of The Patriot Act, Allowing NSA To Collect All Phone Call Data, September 17, 2013. Retrieved September 19, 2013.
- “Exclusive: U.S. directs agents to cover up program used to investigate Americans”. Reuters. August 5, 2013. Retrieved August 14, 2013.
- Glenn Greenwald, Ryan Gallagher & Ryan Grim, November 26, 2013, “Top-Secret Document Reveals NSA Spied On Porn Habits As Part Of Plan To Discredit ‘Radicalizers’“, Huffington Post. Retrieved November 28, 2013.
- “Vast majority of NSA spy targets are mistakenly monitored”. Philadelphia News.Net. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
- Greenwald, Glen, “Members of Congress denied access to basic information about NSA“,The Guardian, August 4, 2013. Retrieved September 23, 2013.
- Eddlem, T. The NSA Domestic Surveillance Lie, September 22, 2013. Retrieved September 23, 2013.
- Loennig, C., “Court: Ability to police U.S. spying program limited“, Washington Post, August 16, 2013. Retrieved September 23, 2013.
- Gellman, B. NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times per year, audit finds, Washington Post, August 15, 2013. Retrieved September 23, 2013.
- Gorman, S. NSA Officers Spy on Love Interests, Wall St Journal, August 23, 2013. Retrieved September 23, 2013.
- Spencer Ackerman, November 19, 2013, “Fisa court documents reveal extent of NSA disregard for privacy restrictions“, The Guardian. Retrieved November 21, 2013.
- John D Bates (3 October 2011). “[redacted] “. p. 16.
- Ellen Nakashima, Julie Tate and Carol Leonnig (10 September 2013). “Declassified court documents highlight NSA violations in data collection for surveillance“. The Washington Post. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
- Richard Leon, December 16, 2013, Memorandum Opinion, Klayman vs. Obama. U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Reproduced on The Guardian website. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
- Bazzle, Steph (27 December 2013). “Judge Says NSA’s Data Collection Is Legal”. Indyposted. Retrieved December 28, 2013.
- Greenwald, Glenn (16 October 2014). “UN Report Finds Mass Surveillance Violates International Treaties and Privacy Rights”. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
- Kessler, Glen, James Clapper’s ‘least untruthful’ statement to the Senate, June 12, 2013. Retrieved September 23, 2013.
- Kube, C., June 27, 2013, “NSA chief says surveillance programs helped foil 54 plots”, US News on nbcnews.com. Retrieved September 27, 2013.
- “NSA Confirms Dragnet Phone Records Collection, But Admits It Was Key in Stopping Just 1 Terror Plot”, Democracy Now August 1, 2013. Retrieved September 27, 2013.
- “Indictment: USA vs Basaaly Saeed Moalin, Mohamed Mohamed Mohamud and Issa Doreh”. Southern District of California July 2010 Grand Jury. Retrieved September 30, 2013.
- “54 Attacks in 20 Countries Thwarted By NSA Collection” (Press release). The Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. 2013-07-23. Archived from the original on 2013-10-23. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
- “Senate caves, votes to give telecoms retroactive immunity”. Ars Technica. 13 February 2008. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
- “Forget Retroactive Immunity, FISA Bill is also about Prospective Immunity”. The Progressive. 10 July 2008. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
- “Restricted Web access to the Guardian is Armywide, say officials”, Philipp Molnar, Monterey Herald, June 27, 2013. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
- Ackerman, Spencer; Roberts, Dan (June 28, 2013). “US Army Blocks Access to Guardian Website to Preserve ‘Network Hygiene’ – Military Admits to Filtering Reports and Content Relating to Government Surveillance Programs for Thousands of Personnel”. The Guardian. Retrieved June 30, 2013.
- Ackerman, Spencer (July 1, 2013). “US military blocks entire Guardian website for troops stationed abroad”. The Guardian.
- These offices are for example mentioned in a FISA court order from 2011.
- “National Security Agency”. fas.org. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
- Matthew M. Aid, The Secret Sentry, New York, 2009, p. 130, 138, 156-158.
- See also the information about the historical structure of NSA that is archived at FAS.org
- TheWeek.com: The NSA’s secret org chart, September 15, 2013
- D.B. Grady. “Inside the secret world of America’s top eavesdropping spies”.
- Marc Ambinder, Solving the mystery of PRISM, June 7, 2013
- National Intelligence – a consumer’s guide (PDF) 2009, p. 34.
- Aid, Matthew M. (10 June 2013). “Inside the NSA’s Ultra-Secret China Hacking Group”.Foreign Policy. Retrieved June 11, 2013.
- Marc Ambinder, How a single IT tech could spy on the world, June 10, 2013
- The Special Source Operations logo can be seen on slides about the FAIRVIEW program.
- National Security Agency – 60 Years of Defending Our Nation, Anniversary booklet, 2012, p. 96.
- Marc Ambinder, 3008 Selectors, June 27, 2013.
- This is mentioned in a FISA court order from 2011.
- Top Level Telecommunications: Pictures at the NSA’s 60th anniversary
- National Security Agency – 60 Years of Defending Our Nation, Anniversary booklet, 2012, p. 102.
- Matthew M. Aid, The Secret Sentry, New York, 2009, pp. 128, 148, 190 and 198.
- Harvey A. Davis (March 12, 2002). Statement for the Record (Speech). 342 Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. Retrieved November 24, 2009.
- Drew, Christopher and Somini Sengupta (June 24, 2013). “N.S.A. Leak Puts Focus on System Administrators”. The New York Times. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
- David Kahn, The Codebreakers, Scribner Press, 1967, chapter 19, pp. 672–733.
- Barton Gellman (December 25, 2013). “Edward Snowden, after months of NSA revelations, says his mission’s accomplished”. The Washington Post.
- Bauer, Craig P. (2013). Secret History: The Story of Cryptology. CRC Press. p. 359.ISBN 9781466561861.
- Bamford. Body of Secrets. p. 538.
- “Your Polygraph Examination: An Important Appointment to Keep” (PDF). National Security Agency. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
- McCarthy, Susan. “The truth about the polygraph”. Salon. Retrieved July 5, 2013.
- Nagesh, Gautham (June 14, 2010). “NSA video tries to dispel fear about polygraph use during job interviews”. The Hill. Retrieved June 15, 2013.
- Stein, Jeff. “NSA lie detectors no sweat, video says.” Washington Post. June 14, 2010. Retrieved July 5, 2013.
- Drezner, Daniel. “Tone-Deaf at the Listening Post.” Foreign Policy. December 16, 2013. Retrieved March 1, 2014. “Snowden has also changed the way the NSA is doing business. Analysts have gone from being polygraphed once every five years to once every quarter.”
- “Frequently Asked Questions About NSA: 9. Can you explain the NSA and CSS seals?”. National Security Agency. Retrieved July 18, 2013.
- “History of The Insignia”. National Security Agency. Retrieved July 18, 2013.
- “The National Security Agency Insignia”. National Security Agency via Internet Archive. Archived from the original on 2008-04-13. Retrieved July 18, 2013.
- “A Dangerous Business: The U.S. Navy and National Reconnaissance During the Cold War” (PDF). National Security Agency. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
- “National Cryptologic Memorial (List of Names) – NSA/CSS”. NSA.gov. RetrievedJune 13, 2013.
- “Marine Cryptologic Support Battalion: Intelligence Department: Fort Meade, MD: New Joins”. United States Marine Corps. Retrieved June 11, 2013.
- “Just off the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, about 25 miles northeast of Washington, is a secret city. Fort Meade, in suburban Maryland, is home to the National Security Agency – the NSA, sometimes wryly referred to as No Such Agency or Never Say Anything.” and “It contains almost 70 miles of roads, 1,300 buildings, each identified by a number, and 18,000 parking spaces as well as a shopping centre, golf courses, chain restaurants and every other accoutrement of Anywhere, USA.” in “Free introduction to: Who’s reading your emails?”. The Sunday Times. June 9, 2013. Retrieved June 11, 2013.(subscription required)
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Collect it all, tag it, store it. . . . And whatever it is you want, you go searching for it.
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This story has been reported in partnership between The New York Times, the Guardian and ProPublica based on documents obtained by The Guardian. For the Guardian: James Ball, Julian Borger, Glenn Greenwald; For the New York Times: Nicole Perlroth, Scott Shane; For ProPublica: Jeff Larson
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to National Security Agency, United States.|
- Official website
- National Security Agency – 60 Years of Defending Our Nation
- Records of the National Security Agency/Central Security Service
- The National Security Archive at George Washington University
- “United States Intelligence Community: Who We Are / NSA section”. Archived from the original on September 25, 2006.
- The NSA’s secret org chart