Story 1: Nationwide Protests In Iran Turn Increasingly Violent With More Than 22 Deaths — Videos

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Trump praises protesters for challenging Iran’s ‘brutal and corrupt’ regime after official warns demonstrators face the DEATH PENALTY as nine die overnight and 450 have been arrested

  • US President said Iranians are ‘finally acting against brutal and corrupt regime’
  • Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ‘has met senior officials for talks’
  • Notes from meeting say ‘God help us’ and reveal economic impact of unrest
  • Khamenei this morning said ‘enemies’ of the Islamic Republic had stirred unrest 
  • Nine more have been killed overnight while 450 have been arrested during riots

Donald Trump has praised protesters for challenging Iran‘s ‘brutal and corrupt’ regime after a Tehran official warned demonstrators face the death penalty.

After days of unrest that have seen 21 people killed and more than 450 arrested, the US President said Iranians were ‘finally acting’.

‘All of the money that President Obama so foolishly gave them went into terrorism and into their ‘pockets.’ The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights. The U.S. is watching!’ he wrote this morning.

Iran’s foreign ministry hit back saying Trump should focus on ‘homeless and hungry people’ in his own country rather than insulting Iranians.

It comes after nine people died in overnight clashes and the head of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court reportedly warned detained protesters could be executed.

The death toll from violent protests in Iran has risen to 21 after nine more people were killed in clashes overnight. New pictures have emerged showing some of the unrest on New Year's Eve with a building on fire in Dorud

Six of the most recent decent deaths happened when protesters clashed with security forces as they tried to storm a police station in Qahderijan, a town of 30,000 in the Isfahan region of central Iran. People stand near a burning car in Tuyserkan, Hamadan Province, Iran on December 31

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (pictured today) has blamed the country's 'enemies' for riots that have claimed nine more lives overnight
 Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (pictured today) has blamed the country’s ‘enemies’ for riots that have claimed nine more lives overnight
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (pictured) has dismissed the protests taking place across Iran on Monday as 'nothing', in a bid to downplay the significance of the increasingly violent demonstrationsIranian President Hassan Rouhani (pictured) has dismissed the protests taking place across Iran on Monday as ‘nothing’, in a bid to downplay the significance of the increasingly violent demonstrations

Donald Trump has praised protesters for challenging Iran's 'brutal and corrupt' regime after a Tehran official warned demonstrators face the death penalty. In a tweet, the US President said saluted Iranians for 'finally acting' after days of unrest that have seen 21 people killed and more than 450 arrested

Donald Trump has praised protesters for challenging Iran’s ‘brutal and corrupt’ regime after a Tehran official warned demonstrators face the death penalty. In a tweet, the US President said saluted Iranians for ‘finally acting’ after days of unrest that have seen 21 people killed and more than 450 arrested

Mousa Ghazanfarabadi said: ‘Obviously one of their charges can be Moharebeh,’ or waging war against God. That’s a death penalty offense in Iran. He was also quoted as saying some protesters will come to trial soon on charges of acting against national security and damaging public properties.

It comes after Iran‘s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed the country’s ‘enemies’ for the riots. Khamenei is said to have met with top political leaders and security chiefs to discuss a clamp down on protests.

A report of the meeting states: ‘God help us, this is a very complex situation and is different from previous occasions.’

The documents emerged as nine were killed in clashes overnight bringing to 21 the total number of those killed in the unrest so far. Six deaths happened when protesters clashed with security forces as they tried to storm a police station in Qahderijan, a town of 30,000 in the Isfahan region of central Iran.

A member of the Revolutionary Guards and a passer-by were killed in nearby Kahriz Sang. Around 100 people were arrested overnight in the same region, Iranian state television reported.

Khamenei this morning said enemies of the Islamic Republic had stirred unrest, using ‘different tools including cash, weapons, politics and intelligence apparatus to create troubles’.  

According to Fox News,  a leaked report of his meeting was given to the National Council of Resistance of Iran by senior government sources. It suggested the protests have hit the country’s economy and ‘threatens the regime’s security’.

‘The first step, therefore, is to find a way out of this situation,’ it added.

Twelve people have been reported dead during a fourth straight night of protests in Iran, including reports of three people killed in the city of Isfahan

Video purportedly taken in Isfahan on Sunday night shows dozens of people on the street before what sounds like gunshots are heard

Khamenei this morning said enemies of the Islamic Republic had stirred unrest, using 'different tools including cash, weapons, politics and intelligence apparatus to create troubles'

‘Religious leaders and the leadership must come to the scene as soon as possible and prevent the situation (from) deteriorating further. God help us, this is a very complex situation and is different from previous occasions.’

Despite the unrest, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani yesterday dismissed the protests as ‘nothing’

Earlier reports had already said a policeman was killed and three others injured in Najafabad after being shot with a hunting rifle.

That brings the estimated death toll to 21 in unrest linked to the protests, that began last Thursday in second city Mashhad and quickly spread across the country.

The unrest has remained focused on provincial towns and cities, with only sporadic protests reported in Tehran on Monday evening.

Some 450 people have been arrested in the Iranian capital, an official told local media on Tuesday.

‘200 people were arrested on Saturday, 150 on Sunday and around 100 on Monday,’ Ali-Asghar Naserbakht, a deputy in the Tehran city governor’s office, told the reformist-linked ILNA news agency.

IRAN BLOCKS SOCIAL MEDIA IN BID TO STOP SPREAD OF UNREST

Iran has shut down social media in an attempt to stop unrest from spreading widely as deadly anti-government protests continue across the country.

Authorities have blocked access to Instagram and the Telegram messaging app as part of a clamp down on its citizens’ internet communications.

Meanwhile, Google has faced calls to lift restrictions on its services for internet users in Iran so that millions of protesters can ‘connect and organise’.

President Hassan Rouhani has insisted people are ‘absolutely free’ to express their anger but ‘criticism is different to violence and destroying public property.’

But the demonstrations, which have claimed 21 lives and led to 450 arrests so far, were fanned in part by messages sent on social media platforms prompting a black out of some services on Sunday.

Iran has shut down social media in an attempt to stop unrest from spreading widely as deadly anti-government protests continue across the country. An iranian man is pictured showing how one of his apps is no longer functioning 

Iran has shut down social media in an attempt to stop unrest from spreading widely as deadly anti-government protests continue across the country. An iranian man is pictured showing how one of his apps is no longer functioning

Telegram in particular is very popular in Iran, with more than 50 per cent of the country’s 80m population said to be active on the app.

Iran state TV website reported the decision citing an anonymous source who said it was ‘in line with maintaining peace and security of the citizens.’

The source said: ‘With a decision by the Supreme National Security Council, activities of Telegram and Instagram are temporarily limited.’

Google meanwhile has been urged to lift internet restrictions in the country.

Dr Steven Murdoch, a security researcher in the Computer Science Department, University College London, told Sky News that Google blocks users from Iran from accessing many of its services because of US sanctions.

But as a result, people have encountered difficulties trying to use counter-censorship apps such as Signal, which was set up to bypass blocking by disguising itself amongst Google’s services.

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden later tweeted: ‘Many US politicians say they want to help Iranian protesters. If they’re serious, one phone call could get @Google to restore millions of protesters’ ability to connect and organize.’

Google has not yet responded to requests for comments, Sky said.

Iran’s reformist politicians on Tuesday condemned violence that has rocked the country in recent days, accusing the US of stirring unrest while still calling on their government to address economic grievances.

‘Without doubt the Iranian people are confronted with difficulties in their daily lives… and have the right to peacefully demand and protest,’ said a statement from the Association of Combattant Clerics, headed by reformist ex-president Mohammad Khatami.

‘But the events of recent days have shown that opportunists and trouble-makers have exploited the demonstrations to create problems, insecurity and destroy public buildings, while insulting sacred religious and national values.’

Khatami led the country from 1997 to 2005 but was later barred from public appearances for his role in leading mass demonstrations in 2009.

The group said the violence seen through five days of protests across the country would help Iran’s ‘enemies’.

‘The enemies of Iran, headed by the United States and their agents… have encouraged the trouble-makers and the violent actions.’

Protests have been relatively small in Tehran compared with many parts of the country since the unrest began last Thursday.

‘We feel the situation in Tehran is more calm than previous days. Already yesterday, it was calmer than before,’ said Naserbakht.

He added that no request had yet been put to the Revolutionary Guards to intervene in the capital.

Crowds continued to gather in Iran despite the government blacking out the Telegram messaging app and Instagram

Police have used water cannon to disperse protesters who had  gathered in Ferdowsi Square, Tehran

‘We will not permit insecurity to continue in any way in Tehran. If it continues, officials will take decisions to finish it,’ said Esmail Kowsari, a deputy commander for a local branch of the Revolutionary Guards, on state television.

Rouhani yesterday attempted to downplay the significance of the mass demonstrations.

In what has become the biggest threat to Iranian leaders since the presidential protests in 2009, Rouhani’s words have so far failed to quell the increasingly violent uprising.

‘Our great nation has witnessed a number of similar incidents in the past and has comfortably dealt with them. This is nothing,’ Rouhani said in a meeting with Iranian members of parliament on Monday, CNN reported.  

Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, described the unrest – the biggest challenge to the regime since mass protests in 2009 – as a ‘proxy war against the Iranian people’.

‘Hashtags and messages about the situation in Iran come from the United States, Britain and Saudi Arabia,’ he told local media.

Iran’s intelligence ministry released a statement saying ‘instigators’ have been identified ‘and will be dealt with seriously soon’.

Iranian police use water cannon to disperse protesters

Hassan Rouhani said people were ‘completely free to express their criticism’ of the government but violence would not be tolerated in his first public remarks on the crisis

Protests started in the north east city of Mashhad last week but have since spread around the country in the most serious challenge to the regime since 2009 

Protests started in the north east city of Mashhad last week but have since spread around the country in the most serious challenge to the regime since 2009

The Revolutionary Guards have yet to fully intervene against the protesters, but published photos on Monday of three wanted people and called on the public to report any ‘seditionist elements’.

Pro-regime rallies were held across several towns and cities – reflecting continued support among a large conservative section of society.

Reporting restrictions remained tight, but videos on social media continued to show widespread anti-government protests in many areas.

Rouhani came to power in 2013 promising to mend the economy and ease social tensions, but high living costs and a 12 percent unemployment rate have left many feeling that progress is too slow.

The young are most affected, with as many as 40 percent out of work according to analysts, and rural areas particularly hard-hit.

‘People have had enough, especially the young people. They have nothing to be happy about,’ said Sarita Mohammadi, a 35-year-old teacher in Tehran.

‘The situation is far worse in provinces. Agriculture has been destroyed. I know many who have left the north of the country to come to Tehran to work,’ she added.

Rouhani acknowledged there was ‘no problem bigger than unemployment’ in a speech on Sunday, and also vowed a more balanced media and more transparency.

President Trump continued his attacks on the Iranian regime via Twitter as Rouhani said he has 'no right to feel pity for the people of Iran'

President Trump continued his attacks on the Iranian regime via Twitter as Rouhani said he has ‘no right to feel pity for the people of Iran’

US President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly criticised Tehran over four days of demonstrations, said it was ‘time for a change’ and that Iran’s people were ‘hungry’ for freedom.

The European Union on Monday pushed Iran to guarantee the right to protest and separately British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said ‘the UK is watching events in Iran closely’.

‘We believe that there should be meaningful debate about the legitimate and important issues the protesters are raising and we look to the Iranian authorities to permit this,’ Johnson said in a statement.

In 2009, authorities ruthlessly put down protests against the re-election of hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. At least 36 people were killed in 2009, according to an official toll, while the opposition says 72 died. 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5227833/Death-toll-Iran-protests-climbs-21-9-die.html#ixzz534IMCTCI

 

e pro-Western foreign policy of the regime it overthrew. Since then, Iran has oscillated between the two opposing tendencies of revolutionary ardour (promoting the Islamic revolution and struggling against non-Muslim tendencies abroad) and moves towards pragmatism (economic development and normalization of foreign relations). Khomeini’s 1989 fatwa calling for the killing of British citizen Salman Rushdie for his allegedly blasphemous book, The Satanic Verses, demonstrated the willingness of the Islamic revolutionaries to sacrifice trade and other ties with western countries to threaten an individual citizen of a foreign country living thousands of miles away. On the other hand, Khomeini’s death in 1989 led more pragmatic policies, with Presidents Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami leading the charge for more stable relations with the west as well as its surrounding, non-Revolutionary-Islamic neighbors—i.e., Saudi Arabia. Following the 2005 election of President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, Iran has returned to more a more hardline stance, frequently antagonizing the west and its neighbors while battling for control over the region.

In the immediate aftermath of the revolution, the Islamic Republic went to war against Saddam Hussein‘s Iraq after the latter launched a military offensive in the 1980s. With most foreign aid going to Iraq, Iran was forced to accept a ceasefire by 1988. Tensions with Iraq remained long after the war; it was not until the death of Saddam himself that Iran and Iraq have started improving their relations.

The Islamic Republic founded and sponsored the Lebanese group known as Hezbollah; its leaders were followers of Khomeini. The creation of Hezbollah, and its funding from Iran, was in response to the Israeli occupation of Lebanon. Since then, Hezbollah has served as both an ally and a surrogate for Iran during its conflict with America and Israel. Author Olivier Roy describes the Islamic Republic’s as having “lost most of its allure among non-Iranian Shia’s,” giving as examples the 1995 house arrest in Qom of the two sons of Grand Ayatollah Shirazi, spiritual leader of the Bahraini Shia; and the close cooperation between the Afghan Shia party Wahdat and the U.S. Army after November 2001.[7]

The Islamic Republic strongly supports the Palestinian cause. Government aid goes to everything from Palestinian hospitals to arms supplies. There is vigorous media publicity, an official “Quds (Jerusalem) Day”, and squares and streets named after Palestine crisscross Iranian cities. Some question whether the issue has domestic grassroots support, arguing that Iranians “lack emotional and cultural ties to Palestinians,”[8] or has been too costly in terms of opportunity cost compared to peaceful coexistence.[9]

Human development

Net Iranian migration (1979–2008). A positive value represents more people entering Iran than leaving the country.

Despite stagnation in the economy, Iran’s Human Development Index rating (including life expectancy, literacy, education, and standard of living) improved significantly in the years after the revolution, climbing from 0.569 in 1980 to 0.759 in 2007/8.[10] It now ranks 94th out of 177 countries with data.[11] This is approximately the same rate, as neighbor Turkey which has a somewhat higher HDI rating (0.775).[12] One factor in the HDI rise has been literacy rates among Iranian women which “rose from 28% to 80% between 1976 and 1996.”[13]

Although the Shah’s regime had created a popular and successful Literacy Corps and also worked to raise literacy rates,[14] the Islamic Republic based its educational reforms on Islamic principles. The Literacy Movement Organization (LMO), replaced the Literacy Corps following the revolution[15] and is credited with much of Iran’s continued success in reducing illiteracy from 52.5 per cent in 1976 to just 24 per cent, at the last count in 2002.[16]The movement has established over 2,000 community learning centers across the country, employed some 55,000 instructors, distributed 300 easy-to-read books and manuals, and provided literacy classes to a million people, men as well as women.[17][18] The increase in literacy “meant that for the first time in history most of the population, including Azeris, Kurds, Gilakis, and Moazanderanis, could converse and read in Persian.”[19]

In the field of health, maternal and infant mortality rates have been cut significantly.[20] Infant mortality per 1000 dropped from 104 to 25.[19]

In particular conditions improved in the countryside. The Reconstruction Jihad “extended roads, electricity, piped water, and most important of all, health clinics into villages. … turning peasants into farmers. Soon most farmers had access not only to roads, schools, … but also … radios, refrigerators, telephones, televisions, motorbikes, even pickup trucks. …on the eve of the revolution, life expectancy at birth had been less than 56; by the end of the century, it was near 70.”[19]

Economy

Under the Islamic Republic, Iran’s economy has been dominated by oil and gas exports which constituted 70% of government revenue and 80% of export earnings as of 2008.[21] It has a large public sector, with an estimated 60% of the economy directly controlled and centrally planned by the state.[22] A unique feature of Iran‘s economy is the large size of the religious foundations, or Bonyads, whose combined budgets are said to make up as much as half that of the central government.[22][23]

Top oil-producing countries
(million barrels per day)

Economic problems include the shattering of the Iranian oil sector and consequent loss of output from the revolution and Iran–Iraq War (Iran sustained economic losses estimated at $500 billion[24]), a soaring population over the same period, inefficiency in the state sector, dependence on petroleum exports,[25] and corruption.[26][27]

The constitution of the Islamic Republic calls for the state sector “to include all large-scale and mother industries, foreign trade”, natural resources and communication; and calls on the private sector to “supplement the … state and cooperative sectors.”[28][29]

The International Monetary Fund reports that Iran’s gross national income per capita (PPP model) more than doubled since the revolution despite strong population growth—one year after the revolution it was $4,295 and grew to $11,396 by 2010.[30]

However, complaining about the economy is said to have become “a national pastime” among Iranians.[31] According to international economic consultant Jahangir Amuzegar, as of 2003:

Despite a 100 percent rise in average annual oil income since the revolution, most indicators of economic welfare have steadily deteriorated. … Average inflation in the years after the revolution has been at least twice as high as during the 1970s, unemployment has been three times higher, and economic growth is two-thirds lower. As a result, Iran’s per capita income has declined by at least 30 percent since 1979. By official admission, more than 15 percent of the population now lives below the absolute poverty line, and private estimates run as high as 40 percent.[32]

Per capita income declines when the price of oil declines (per capita income reportedly fell at one point (1995) to 1/4 of what it was prior to the revolution);[33][34] Accumulated assets of the Iranian middle class—carpets, gold, apartments—that were acquired in the four-year boom after the 1973 oil price rise and served to cushion the fall in standards of living, have now reportedly “largely been sold off.”[35][36]

The poor have also exhibited dissatisfaction. Absolute poverty rose by nearly 45% during the first 6 years of the Islamic revolution[37] and on several occasions the mustazafin have rioted, protesting the demolition of their shantytowns and rising food prices. Disabled war veterans have demonstrated against mismanagement of the Foundation of the Disinherited.[38] Hardship has compelled some children to take odd jobs rather than go to school.[39]

A 2002 study leaked from Iran’s Interior Ministry, reported nearly 90% of respondents dissatisfied with the present government according to Amuzegar. Of this total, 28% wanted “fundamental” changes, 66% “gradual reforms.” 10% expressed satisfaction with the status quo.

According to British-Iranian scholar, Ali M. Ansari, “Iranians joke” that with the world’s second or third largest reserves of oil and natural gas, extensive deposits of coppergolduranium, as well as an educated and cohesive workforce, “they are blessed with all the facilities to be the industrial engine of the region, except good governance.”[40]

Corruption

Sahabi family (Ezzatollah Sahabi, Yadollah and Haleh Sahabi), active members of National party were imprisoned and Haleh was killed for their peaceful activism.

Corruption is a problem in the Islamic Republic.[26][27] According to some observers, its level compares unfavorably with pre-revolutionary days. Foreign journalist Robin Wright quotes a bazaari as saying “The clergy tries to keep itself clean. But you can’t-do anything anymore without paying off this mullah’s son or that mullah’s brother-in-law – and these days usually both.”

Bribery in Iran was increasingly becoming the biggest part of business deals—and a lot of other transactions too. Iranians called it “oiling the mustache,” and it was commonly practiced before the revolution, but payoffs then were usually a one-time thing of a known amount. Two decades after the revolution, even the smallest service called for bribes to several different parties.[41]

Emigration

Journalists report complaints that, “these days, if a student is lucky enough to study in the West, he will rarely come home. There are so few good jobs that everyone, from students to middle-aged engineers, is looking for a way out.”[42] An estimated “two to four million entrepreneurs, professionals, technicians, and skilled craftspeople (and their capital)” emigrated to other countries following the revolution,[43] and continue to do so at a rate of more than 150,000 a year. This flight of intellectual capital is estimated to come to almost $6 billion a year in growth opportunities, based on the average Iranian professional contributing $40,000 per year to gross capital formation.[citation needed]

Emigration from Iran, starting with young males fleeing from the Iran–Iraq War draft, is thought by some to be the feature of the Islamic Republic most resented by Iranians. According to Shirin Ebadi, “If you ask most Iranians what keener, what grievance, they nurture most bitterly against the Islamic Republic, it is the tearing apart of their families … had the revolutionaries tempered their wild radicalism, had they not replaced the Shah with a regime that prompted mass flight, their families would still be whole.”[44]

Society

While the revolution brought about some re-Islamisation of Iran, particularly in terms of personal appearance—beards, hijab—it has not prompted a reversal of some modernizing trends or a return to traditional patterns of family life, (such as polygamy and the extended family with numerous children).

Despite the lowering of the legal age of marriage for women fell to 9,[45] and the Ayatollah Khomeini’s support for early marriage for females,

It is recommended that one hurries in giving the husband to a daughter who has attained puberty, meaning that she is of the age of religious accountability. His Holiness, Sadegh [the 6th Imam] salutations to him, bade that it is one of a man’s good fortunes that his daughter does not see menses in his own house.[46]

the actual average age of marriage for women rose to 22 by 1996. Thus the age difference between husbands and wives in Iran actually fell between 1980 and 2000, from 7 to 2.1 years.[47] (The man’s average age at marriage has remained around 24.4 over the past 20 years, which means greater educational equality between spouses.)

Nor has Islamisation of family law lead to an increase in the number of polygamous families or more frequent divorces. Polygamy has remained at about 2% of permanent marriages during the past 40 years and the divorce rate has decreased slightly since the 1970s.[48]

Population growth was encouraged for the first nine years of the revolution, but in 1988 youth unemployment concerns prompted the government to do “an amazing U-turn” and Iran now has “one of the world’s most effective” family planning programs.[49]

After the Iranian revolution, Iranian women have continued to occupy high positions in the political system. In the late 1990s, Iranians sent more women to Iranian parliament than Americans sent to U.S. senate.[50]

Gharbzadegi (“westoxification”) or western cultural influence stubbornly remains, entering via (illegal) music recordings, videos, and satellite dishes,[51] despite government efforts. Compulsory hijab (veiling) for women has been given extensive police enforcement,[52]Shorts, necklaces, “glamorous” hairstyles, and neckties (in government buildings) are forbidden for men.[53][54] Western music is banned even more thoroughly,[55] but observers note it is nonetheless popular and widespread.[56] One post-revolutionary opinion poll found 61% of students in Tehran chose “Western artists” as their role models with only 17% choosing “Iran’s officials.”[57]

Human Rights

In the first five years of the Islamic Republic, during its consolidation, approximately 8000 political opponents were executed. Thousands of political prisoners were also executed in 1988. Like other revolutions before it, the Iranian Revolution took a higher toll on those who had participated in the revolution than those in the regime it overthrew.[58]

In recent years the killing of dissidents has been much less frequent and reported abuses are more likely to include harsh penalties for crimes; punishment of fornication, homosexuality, apostasy, poor hijab (covering the head for women); restrictions on freedom of speech, and the press, including the imprisonment of journalists; unequal treatment according to religion and gender; torture to extract repudiations by prisoners of their cause and comrades on video for propaganda purposes,[59] and allowing prisoners to die by withholding medical treatment.[60]

Religion

The funeral of Grand Ayatollah Hosein-Ali Montazeri who challenged the regime for several decades.

Iran is governed by Sharia law. It is one of the few Muslim countries where hijab for women is required by law. At the same time, it has “the lowest mosque attendance of any Islamic country,” according to Zohreh Soleimani of the BBC.[61] Iranian clergy have complained that more than 70% of the population do not perform their daily prayers and that less than 2% attend Friday mosques.[62]

For religious minorities, life has been mixed under the Islamic Republic. Khomeini also called for unity between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims (Sunni Muslims are the largest religious minority in Iran).[63] Pre-revolutionary statements by Khomeini were antagonistic towards Jews, but shortly after his return from exile in 1979, he issued a fatwa ordering that Jews and other minorities (except Baha’is) be treated well.[64][65] Non-Muslim religious minorities do not have equal rights in the Islamic Republic (For example, senior government posts are reserved for Muslims and Jewish, Christian and Zoroastrian schools must be run by Muslim principals[66]) but four of the 270 seats in parliament are reserved for three non-Islamic minority religions.

The 300,000 members of the Bahá’í Faith, are actively harassed. “Some 200 of whom have been executed and the rest forced to convert or subjected to the most horrendous disabilities.”[67] Starting in late 1979 the new government systematically targeted the leadership of the Bahá’í community by focusing on the Bahá’í leadership.[68]

Natural disasters

The 6.6 Mw Bam earthquake shook southeastern Iran with a maximum Mercalli intensity of IX (Violent), leaving more than 26,000 dead and 30,000 injured. The 7.4 Mw Manjil–Rudbar earthquake struck northern Iran with a maximum Mercalli intensity of X (Extreme), killing 35,000–50,000, and injuring 60,000–105,000.

Scientific development

Iran’s scientific progress is subject to many problems including funding, international sanctions, and management. However, in some areas such as medicinesurgerypharmacologystem cell research and theoretical physics (e.g. string theory),[69] Iranian scientists have found international reputation since the Iranian revolution. Nuclear technology and stem cell research were the two fields that have enjoyed special support from the central government and Iranian leadership since the revolution.

In 2005 Iran’s national science budget was less than $1 billion and had not been subject to any significant increase since 15 years ago.[70] But according to Science-Metrix, since 1990 Iran’s scientific production has had a rapid buildup, and Iran currently has the fastest growth rate in science and technology worldwide.[71]

Iran is among the international leaders of stem cell technology[72] and was the 10th country to produce embryonic human stem cells,[73] although in terms of articles per capita basis, it reportedly ranked 16th in the world.[74][75]

Khomeini’s reign

Ayatollah Khomeini was the ruler of (or at least dominant figure in) Iran for a decade, from the founding of the Islamic Republic in April 1979 until his death in mid-1989. During that time the revolution was being consolidated as a theocratic republic under Khomeini, and Iran was fighting a costly and bloody war with Iraq.

Islamic Revolution

The Islamic Republic of Iran began with the Iranian Revolution. The first major demonstrations to overthrow Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi began in January 1978.[76] The new theocratic Constitution — whereby Khomeini became Supreme Leader of the country — was approved in December 1979. In between, the Shah fled Iran in January 1979 after strikes and demonstrations paralyzed the country, and on February 1, 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Tehran to a greeting by several million Iranians.[77] The final collapse of the Pahlavi dynasty occurred shortly after on February 11 when Iran’s military declared itself “neutral” after guerrillas and rebel troops overwhelmed troops loyal to the Shah in armed street fighting. Iran officially became the Islamic Republic on April 1, 1979, when Iranians overwhelmingly approved a national referendum to make it so.[78]

Initial international impact

The initial impact of the Islamic revolution around the world was tremendous. In the non-Muslim world it has changed the image of Islam, generating much interest in the politics and spirituality of Islam,[79] along with “fear and distrust towards Islam” and particularly the Islamic Republic and its founder.[80] In the Mideast and Muslim world, particularly in its early years, it triggered enormous enthusiasm and redoubled opposition to western intervention and influence. Islamist insurgents rose in Saudi Arabia (the 1979 week-long takeover of the Grand Mosque), Egypt (the 1981 machine-gunning of the Egyptian President Sadat), Syria (the Muslim Brotherhood rebellion in Hama), and Lebanon (the 1983 bombing of the American Embassy and French and American peace-keeping troops).[81]

Consolidation of the Revolution

Instability in Iran did not end with the creation of the Islamic Republic and remained high for a few years. The country’s economy and apparatus of government had collapsed. Military and security forces were in disarray. But by 1982[82] (or 1983)[83] Khomeini and his supporters had crushed the rival factions and consolidated power.

Constitution

The first draft of the constitution for the Islamic Republic contained a conventional president and parliament but its only theocratic element was a Guardian Council to veto unIslamic legislation.[84] However, in the summer of 1979 an Assembly of Experts for Constitution, dominated by Khomeini supporters, was elected. Their new draft gave the guardians much more power and added a powerful post of guardian jurist ruler intended for Khomeini.[85] The new constitution was opposed by non-theocratic groups, both secular and Islamic, and set for approval by referendum in December 1979.

Hostage crisis

US hostages were released after 444 days of detention in Tehran.

An event that helped pass the constitution, radicalize the revolution and strengthen its anti-American stance, was the Iran hostage crisis. On November 4, 1979, Iranian students seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran holding 52 embassy employees hostage for 444 days. The Carter administration severed diplomatic relations and imposed economic sanctions on April 7, 1980, and later that month unsuccessfully attempted a rescue that further enhanced Khomeini’s prestige in Iran. On May 24 the International Court of Justice called for the hostages to be released. Finally, the hostages were released 20 January 1981, by agreement of the Carter Administration, see Algiers Accords Jan. 19, 1981. The crisis also marked the beginning of American legal action, or sanctions, that economically separated Iran from America. Sanctions blocked all property within US jurisdiction owned by the Central Bank and Government of Iran.[86]

Suppression of opposition

Revolutionary factions disagreed on the shape of the new Iran. Those who thought the Shah would be replaced by a democratic government soon found Khomeini disagreed. In early March 1979, he announced, “do not use this term, ‘democratic.’ That is the Western style.”[87]

In succession the National Democratic Front was banned in August 1979, the provisional government was disempowered in November, the Muslim People’s Republican Party banned in January 1980, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran guerrillas came under attack in February 1980, a purge of universities was begun in March 1980, and leftist President Abolhassan Banisadr was impeached in June 1981.

Explanations for why Khomeini supporters were successful in crushing the opposition include lack of unity in the opposition. According to Asghar Schirazi, the moderates lacked ambition and were not well organized, while the radicals (such People’s Mujahedin of Iranor PMOI) were “unrealistic” about the conservatism of the Iranian masses and unprepared to work with moderates to fight against theocracy. Moderate Islamists, such as Banisadr, were “credulous and submissive” towards Khomeini.[88]

Terrorist attacks

The ouster of President Banisadr did not put an immediate end to the opposition but moved it to terror. Hundreds of PMOI supporters and members were killed from 1979 to 1981, and some 3,000 were arrested,[89] but unlike other opposition is driven underground by the regime, the PMOI was able to retaliate.

On 28 June 1981, bombs were detonated at the headquarters of the since-dissolved Islamic Republic Party. Around 70 high-ranking officials, including Chief Justice Mohammad Beheshti (who was the second most powerful figure in the revolution after Ayatollah Khomeini at the time), cabinet members, and members of parliament, were killed. The PMOI never publicly confirmed or denied any responsibility for the deed, but only stated the attack was `a natural and necessary reaction to the regime’s atrocities.` Khomeini did accuse them of responsibility and, according to BBC journalist Baqer Moin, the PMOI were “generally perceived as the culprits” for it in Iran.[90] Two months later on August 30, another bomb was detonated killing President Rajai and Premier Mohammad Javad Bahonar. A member of the PMOI, Mas’ud Kashmiri, was announced as the perpetrator, and according to regime reports came close to killing the entire government including Khomeini.[91] The reaction following both bombings was intense with thousands of arrests and hundreds of executions of PMOI and other leftist groups,[92] but “assassinations of leading officials and active supporters of the regime by the PMOI were to continue for the next year or two.”[93]

Iran–Iraq War

The eight-year-long Iran–Iraq War (September 1980 – August 1988) was the most important international event for the first decade of the Islamic Republic and possibly for its history so far. It helped to strengthen the revolution although it cost Iran much in lives and treasure.

Shortly after the success of the revolution, revolutionary leader Ruhollah Khomeini began calling for Islamic revolutions across the Muslim world, including Iran’s Arab neighbor Iraq,[94] the one large state besides Iran in the Gulf with a Shia Muslim majority population. The leadership in Tehran believed that they would launch a massive Shiite uprising across the Middle East and after Iraq’s defeat, march on Israel and destroy it.

The war began with Iraq‘s invasion of Iran, in an attempt by Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein to take advantage of the perceived post-revolutionary military weakness in Iran and the Revolution’s unpopularity with Western governments. Much of the top leadership of Iran’s once-strong Iranian military had been executed. Saddam sought to expand Iraq’s access to the Persian Gulf and the oil reserves in Khuzestan (which also only has a substantial Arab population), and to undermine Iranian Islamic revolutionary attempts to incite the Shi’a majority of his country. The Iraqis used the WMDs against Iranian soldiers. Iranians also believe Saddam invaded with the encouragement of the United StatesSaudi Arabia and other countries.

A combination of fierce resistance by Iranians and military incompetence by Iraqi forces soon stalled the Iraqi advance and by early 1982 Iran regained almost all the territory lost to the invasion. The invasion rallied Iranians behind the new regime, enhancing Khomeini’s stature and allowed him to consolidate and stabilize his leadership. After this reversal, Khomeini refused an Iraqi offer of a truce, declaring “the regime in Baghdad must fall and must be replaced by the Islamic Republic.”[95][96]

The war continued for another six years under the slogans `War, War until Victory,` and `The Road to Jerusalem Goes through Baghdad,`[97] but other countries, particularly the Soviet Union gave crucial aid to Iraq. As the costs mounted and Iranian morale waned, Khomeini finally accepted a truce called for by UN Security Council Resolution 598. By 1988, Iran was nearly bankrupted by the ruinous costs of the war and its manpower pool also exhausted. The Iranian Army in desperation began resorting to using boys as young as 14 in human wave attacks against Iraqi machine gun emplacements. Khomeini remarked that agreeing to peace with Iraq was “like drinking hemlock”, but there was no other choice.[98] Although neither borders nor regimes were changed[99] the war helped to `awaken the people and to fight the problems that threaten the revolution,` according to future president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.[100] An estimated 200,000 Iranians were killed[101] and the war is estimated to have cost Iran $627 billion in total direct and indirect charges (in 1990 dollars).[102]

Early laws of the Islamic Republic

The new regime undid the Shah’s old Family Protection Law, lowering the marriage age for girls back to nine and allowed husbands to divorce wives with the Triple talaq, without court permission. It purged women from the judiciary and secular teachers from the educational system. It removed Baha’is from government positions, closed down Baha’i Centers, and arrested and even executed their leaders. A strict “Islamic code of public appearance” was enforced—men were discouraged from wearing ties, women were obliged to wear either scarf and long coats or preferably the full chador.[103]

Economy

Iran’s economy suffered during the first decade following the revolution. Its currency, the rial, fell from 7 to the dollar before the revolution, to 1749 to the dollar in 1989.[104] The revolution also is said to have put an end to the influence of “the notables”, and created a very large public sector of the economy, when the government “nationalizing their enterprises in order to keep their employees working… the state ended up with more than 2000 factories many of them operating in the red.”[105]

Human Rights

In its early years, the revolutionary regime was especially criticized for its human rights record.[106] In the first 28 months of the Islamic Republic, between February 1979 and June 1981, revolutionary courts executed 497 political opponents as “counterrevolutionaries”, and “sowers of corruption on earth” (Mofsed-e-filarz). In the next four years from June 1981 until June 1985, the courts sentenced more than 8000 opponents to death.[107] After a relative lull, thousands of political prisoners were executed in 1988. Like other revolutions before it, the Iranian Revolution took a higher toll on those who had participated in the revolution than those in the regime it overthrew.[58]

Rafsanjani administration

Ideological changes by fatwa and constitution

Two major changes in the ideological underpinnings of the Islamic Republic occurred toward the end of Khomeini’s reign. In January 1988, he issued an edict declaring that the Islamic “Government is among the most important divine injunctions and has priority over all peripheral divine orders … even prayers, fasting and the Hajj.”[108] In April of the next year he decreed a task force to revise the country’s constitution to separate the post of Supreme Leader of Iran from that of Shia marja, (the `highest source of religious emulation`), since he found none of Marja to be suitable successors as none had given strong support for his policies.[109] The amendments were drafted and approved by the public about one month after Khomeini’s death (1989 July 9). They paved the way for Ali Khamenei – a long time lieutenant of Khomeini, but a relatively low ranking cleric – to be Khomeini’s successor as Supreme Leader,[110] but to critics they undermined the “intellectual foundations” of the Islamic Republic theocracy,[111][112] breaking “the charismatic bond between leader and followers.”[113]

Political struggle

The first post-war decade in Iran has been described as a time of pragmatism, and an `economy-first` policy.[114] According to Shirin Ebadi, “about two years into the postwar period, the Islamic Republic quietly changed course. … It was fairly clear by then that the Shiarevolution would not be sweeping the region.”[115]

Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was elected president shortly after Khomeini’s death, and has been described as less revolutionary and “isolationist” than his rivals — “economically liberal, politically authoritarian, and philosophically traditional.”[116] (He served from August 17, 1989, to August 1997.) While Leader Khamenei and the Council of Guardians generally supported these policies, in the parliament radical deputies initially had control, outnumbered Rafsanjani’s “pragmatic-conservative camp” 90 to 160.[117]

The two groups differed strongly over economic and foreign policy, with radicals tending to support mass political participation and state control of the economy, and oppose normalization of relations with the West.[118] Conservatives used the power to disqualification candidates from running for office to deal with this problem. “The Council of Guardians disqualified nearly all radical candidates from the fall 1990 Assembly of Experts elections because they had failed to pass written and oral tests in Islamic jurisprudence.”[119] In the winter and spring of 1992 nearly one-third of the 3150 candidates for the 1992 election for the parliament were rejected, including 39 incumbents. Leading radicals such as Khalkhali, Nabvi, Bayat, and Hajjat al-Islam Hadi Ghaffari were sent packing because they lacked the “proper Islamic credentials.”[120]

In late 1992 Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Seyed Mohammad Khatami and director of the Voice and Vision Broadcasting company Mohammad Hashemi Rafsanjani (brother of the president) were both forced out. By 1994 “hundreds of intellectuals and supposed dissidents were in prison and some had been executed.” These purges cleared the regime of opponents but are thought to have set the stage for the reform movement, as exiled radicals warmed to the “liberal” values of freedom of speech, assembly, due process, etc.[120]

Persian Gulf War

Iraq invaded and overran Kuwait on August 2, 1990, causing a multinational coalition of UN forces to be assembled in response. Although Iran criticized the invasion and supported sanctions against its neighbor, it refused any active participation in the war, not surprising given the country’s anti-Western attitudes and state of exhaustion from the recent conflict with its neighbor. As a result of the war and its aftermath, more than one million Kurds crossed the Iraqi border into Iran as refugees.

Economy

Iran’s total debt service as percent of exports of goods services and income increased sixfold between 1990 and 1997.

Despite the “economy first” focus, Iran suffered serious economic problems during the Rafsanjani era. According to economist Bijan Khajehpour, economic growth in Iran between 1989 and 1994 was “mainly financed through the accumulation of some $30 billion in foreign debt. In 1993, the ratio of Iran’s foreign debt to the country’s GDP reached 38%, which was alarming.”[121] A lack of foreign investment along with a fall in oil prices from $20 to $12 per barrel added to this external debt, and triggered an economic recession. The Iranian rial plummeted from 1749 to 6400 to the dollar in 1995. Unemployment reached 30%. The price of sugar, rice, and butter rose threefold, and that of bread sixfold.[104]

In part this economic downturn came from American economic sanctions leveled in 1995, when America suspended all trade with Iran, accusing Iran of supporting terrorist groups and attempting to develop nuclear weapons. The sanctions, in turn, may be traceable to the earlier hostage crisis and the enmity of the US government which continued to see Iran as a major regional threat both to America and Israel.[104]

Birth control

A new policy regarded as a success of the new government was its promotion of birth control. In 1989, the government, “having previously encouraged population growth, reversed gears and declared that Islam favored families with only two children”. Birth control clinics were opened – especially for women. Condoms and pills were distributed. Subsidies to large families were cut. Sex education was introduced into the school curriculum, mandatory classes for newlyweds were held.[122])

Khatami administration

Between March 2001 and April 2003, the TSE index (Topix) bucked the trend by going up nearly 80%.[123]

The eight years of Mohammad Khatami‘s two terms as president in 1997–2005 are sometimes called Iran’s Reform Era.[124]

Khatami based his campaign on a reform program promising a more democratic and tolerant society, promotion of civil society, the rule of law and improvement of social rights.[125][126] This included city council elections, adherence to Iran’s constitution, freedom to criticize high ranking authorities – including the supreme leader, permission to operate newspapers of a wide range of political views, reopening the embassies of all European countries, reorganizing the Ministry of Intelligence of Iran after the Iran’s Chain Murders of Intellectuals, initiating a dialogue between people of different faith inside and outside Iran, also called “Dialogue Among Civilizations.”

Iran’s large youth demographic (by 1995, about half of the country’s 60.5 million people had not been born after the Islamic Revolution) is one of Khatami’s bases of support.

Political and cultural changes

At first, the new era saw significant liberalization. The number of daily newspapers published in Iran increased from five to twenty-six. Journal and book publishing also soared. Iran’s film industry boomed under the Khatami regime and Iranian films won prizes at Cannes, and Venice.[127] Local elections promised in the Islamic Republic’s constitution but delayed for over a decade were held for towns, villages, and hamlets and the number of elected officials in Iran increased from 400 to almost 200,000.[128]

Conservative reaction

After taking office, Khatami faced fierce opposition from his powerful opponents within the unelected institutions of the state which he had no legal power over, and this led to repeated clashes between his government and these institutions (including the Guardian Council, the state radio, and television, the police, the armed forces, the judiciary, the prisons, etc.).

In 1999, new curbs were put on the press. Courts banned more than 60 newspapers.[127] Important allies of President Khatami were arrested, tried and imprisoned on what outside observers considered “trumped up”[129] or ideological grounds. Tehran mayorGholamhossein Karbaschi was tried on corruption charges and Interior Minister Abdollah Nouri for “sacrilege” – despite their credentials as activists in the Islamic revolution.[citation needed] In 2002 history professor and reformist activist Hashem Aghajari was sentenced to death for apostasy for calling for “Islamic Protestantism” and reform in Islam.[130]

In July 1999 conservatives closed the reformist newspaper, Salam, and attacked a Tehran University student dormitory after students protested the closing. Prodemocracy student demonstrations erupted at Tehran University and other urban campuses. These were followed by a wave of counter-demonstrations by conservative factions.

Reformers won a substantial victory in Feb. 2000, parliamentary elections, capturing about two-thirds of the seats, but conservative elements in the government forced the closure of the reformist press. Attempts by parliament to repeal restrictive press laws were forbidden by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Despite these conditions, President Khatami was overwhelming re-elected in June 2001. Tensions between reformers in parliament and conservatives in the judiciary and the Guardian Council, over both social and economic changes, increased after Khatami’s reelection.

Foreign policy

Military expenditures (% GDP)

Khatami worked to improve relations with other countries visiting many other countries and holding a dialogue between civilizations and encouraged foreigners to invest in Iran. He announced Iran would accept a two-state solution for Palestine if Palestinians agreed to one, relaxed restrictions on the Bahais, and assured Britain Iran would not implement the fatwa against Salman Rushdie.[131] Several European Union countries began renewing economic ties with Iran in the late 1990s, and trade and investment increased. In 1998, Britain re-established diplomatic relations with Iran, broken since the 1979 revolution. The United States loosened its economic embargo, but it continued to block more normalized relations, arguing that the country had been implicated in international terrorism and was developing a nuclear weapons capacity. In his State of the Union Address, United States President George W. Bush labeled Iran, along with Iraq and North Korea, as an “Axis of evil.”

Tensions with the United States increased after the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in March 2003, as U.S. officials increasingly denounced Iran for pursuing the alleged development of nuclear weapons.

The reform era ended with the conservatives defeat of Iranian reformists in the elections of 2003, 2004 and 2005 – the local, parliamentary, and presidential elections. According to at least one observer, the reformists were defeated not so much by a growth of support for conservative Islamist policies as by division within the reformist movement and the banning of many reform candidates which discouraged pro-reform voters from voting.[5]

Ahmadinejad’s administration

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected to the presidency twice, in 2005 and 2009. Ahmadinejad ran for office as a conservative populist pledging to fight corruption, defend the interests of the poor, and strengthen Iran’s national security.[132] In 2005 he defeated former president Rafsanjani by a wide margin in the runoff, his victory credited to the popularity of his economic promises and a very low reformist voter turnout compared to the 1997 and 2001 elections.[132] This victory gave conservatives control of all branches of Iran’s government.

His administration has been marked by controversy over his outspoken pronouncements against American “arrogance” and “imperialism,” and description of the state of Israel as a “fabricated entity … doomed to go,”[133] and over high unemployment and inflation opponents blamed on his populist economic policies of cheap loans for small businesses, and generous subsidies on petrol and food.[134]

In 2009 Ahmadinejad’s victory was hotly disputed and marred by large protests that formed the “greatest domestic challenge” to the leadership of the Islamic Republic “in 30 years”,[135] as well as clashes with parliament.[136] Despite high turnout and large enthusiastic crowds for reformist opponent Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Ahmadinejad was officially declared to have won by a 2–1 margin against three opponents. Allegations of voting irregularities and protest by Mousavi his supporters were immediate and continued off and on into 2011. Some 36–72 were killed and 4000 arrested.[137][138][138] Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei declared Ahmadinejad’s victory a “divine assessment”[139] and called for unity. He and others Islamic officials blamed foreign powers for fomenting the protest.[140]

However, by late 2010 several sources detected a “growing rift” between Ahmadinejad, and Khamenei and his supporters,[141] with talk of impeachment of Ahmadinejad.[142] The dispute centered on Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, a top adviser and close confidant of Ahmadinejad,[143] and accused leader of a “deviant current”[144] opposing greater involvement of clerics in politics.[145]

Foreign relations

Although functions such as the appointment of the commanders of the armed forces and the members of national security councils are handled by the Supreme Leader and not by Iran’s president, Ahmadinejad gained considerable international attention for his foreign policy. Under Ahmadinejad, Iran’s strong ties with the Republic of Syria and Hezbollah of Lebanon continued, and new relationships with predominantly Shia neighbor Iraq and fellow opponent of U.S. foreign policy Hugo Chavez of Venezuela were developed.

Ahmadinejad’s outspoken pronouncements in foreign affairs included personal letters to a number of world leaders including one to American president George W. Bush inviting him to “monotheism and justice”,[146] an open letter to the American people,[147] the declaration that there were no homosexuals in Iran,[148] an expression of happiness at the 2008 global economic crisis which would “put an end to liberal economy”.[149]

Hezbollah’s dependence on Iran for military and financial aid is not universally supported in Iran. The 2006 Israel–Hezbollah War exposed the world to a number of weapons in Hezbollah possession said to be Iranian imports.[citation needed]

Controversy concerning remarks about Israel

President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad also made several controversial statements about the Holocaust and Israel, and was quoted in foreign media sources as saying “Israel should be wiped off the map.”[150] Iran’s foreign minister denied that Tehran wanted to see Israel“wiped off the map,” saying “Ahmadinejad had been misunderstood.” It was asserted that the correct translation of Ahmadinejad’s remark was, “the regime currently occupying Jerusalem will be erased from the pages of time.” Reviewing the controversy over the translation, New York Times deputy foreign editor Ethan Bronner observed that “all official translations” of the comments, including the foreign ministry and president’s office, “refer to wiping Israel away”.[151] His comments were strongly criticized by a number of foreign leaders.[152][153]

Iran’s stated policy on Israel is to urge a one-state solution through a countrywide referendum in which a government would be elected that all Palestinians and all Israelis would jointly vote for; which would normally be an end to the “Zionist state”. Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei, rejecting any attack on Israel, called for a referendum in Palestine. Ahmadinejad himself has also repeatedly called for such solution.[154][155][156][157] Moreover, Khamenei’s main advisor in foreign policy, Ali Akbar Velayati, said that Holocaust was a genocide and a historical reality.[158] Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other prominent officials have however on other occasion called for the destruction of Israel.[159]

Controversy about Iran’s nuclear program

After, in August 2005, Iran resumed converting raw uranium into gas, a necessary step for enrichment, the IAEA passed a resolution that accused Iran of failing to comply with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and called for the agency to report Iran to the UN Security Council. The timetable for the reporting, however, was left undetermined. Iran’s stated position is that it is in full compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, that it has allowed the IAEA inspections beyond what is required, and that it has no ambitions to build atomic weapons.

In February 2004, elections, conservatives won control of parliament, securing some two-thirds of the seats. Many Iranians, however, were unhappy with the failure of the current parliament to achieve any significant reforms or diminish the influence of the hardliners. In mid-2004 Iran began resuming the processing of nuclear fuel as part of its plan to achieve self-sufficiency in civilian nuclear power production, stating that the negotiations with European Union nations had failed to bring access to the advanced nuclear technologythat was promised. The action was denounced by the United States as one which would give Iran the capability to develop nuclear weapons. The IAEA said that there was no evidence that Iran was seeking to develop such arms. However, the IAEA also called for Iran to abandon its plans to produce enriched uranium. In November 2004, Iran agreed to suspend uranium enrichment but subsequently indicated that it would not be held to the suspension if the negotiations the EU nations failed.

During an October 2013 meeting, however, Iran agreed, in negotiations with several Western European nations, to toughen international inspections of its nuclear installations.[160] Nonetheless, the international community continued to express concerns over Iran’s nuclear program. At least five Iranian nuclear scientists during 2010 and 2011 had been killed, by unknown attackers.[161]

Economy

Ahmadinejad’s populist economic policies of cheap loans for small businesses, and generous subsidies on petrol and food were helped by soaring petroleum export revenues until the Global financial crisis of 2008.[134]

Corruption

President Ahmadinejad has vouched to fight “economic Mafia” at all echelons of government.[162] President Ahmadinejad has also proposed that lawmakers consider a bill, based on which the wealth and property of all officials who have held high governmental posts since 1979 could be investigated.[163]

According to Farda newspaper, the difference between President Ahmadinejad administration’s revenues and the amount deposited with the Central Bank of Iran exceeds $66 billion.[164] This is a large number as it is equal one-tenth of Iran’s total oil revenuessince the 1979 revolution. This amount is broken down as follows:

  • $35 billion in imported goods (2005–2009),
  • $25 billion in oil revenues (2005–2008),[165]
  • $2.6 billion in non-oil export revenues,
  • $3 billion in foreign exchange reserves.

Vice President for Executive Affairs Ali Saeedlou said in 2008 that “mafia groups” in Iran are trying to divert public opinion away from the government’s determination to fight economic corruption by creating impediments, spreading rumors and promoting despair in the society.[166][167]

In 2010, more than 230 lawmakers in a letter to Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani said it is the duty of his organization to start from the top echelons of power in the drive against corruption. The letter added,

“It is the duty of the judiciary to start from higher echelons of power in this challenging but sacred drive. It does not make a difference whether the suspect is a high-ranking official or kith and kin of the officialdom. The legislators assure the people that they will endorse this Jihad of the judiciary alongside the Leader and people.”[168][169]

Controversies over economic policy

In June 2006, 50 Iranian economists wrote a letter to Ahmadinejad that criticized his price interventions to stabilize prices of goods, cement, government services, and his decree issued by the High Labor Council and the Ministry of Labor that proposed an increase of workers’ salaries by 40 percent. Ahmadinejad publicly responded harshly to the letter and denounced the accusations.[170][171]

In July 2007, Ahmadinejad ordered the dissolution of the Management and Planning Organisation of Iran, a relatively independent planning body with a supervisory role in addition to its responsibility to allocate the national budget,[172] and replaced it with a new budget planning body directly under his control, a move that may give him a freer hand to implement populist policies.[173][174]

In November 2008, a group of 60 Iranian economists condemned Ahmadinejad’s economic policies, saying Iran faces deep economic problems, including stunted growth, double-digit inflation, and widespread unemployment, and must drastically change course. It also criticized Ahmadinejad’s foreign policy calling it “tension-creating” and saying it has “scared off foreign investment and inflicted heavy damage” on the economy. Ahmadinejad replied that Iran has been “least affected by this international financial crisis.”[175]

2007 Gas Rationing Plan in Iran

In 2007, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad‘s cabinet launched the Gas Rationing Plan to reduce the country’s fuel consumption. Although Iran is one of the world’s largest producers of petroleummismanagementkleptocracy, rapid increases in demand and limited refining capacity has forced the country to import about 40% of its gasoline, at an annual cost of up to $7 billion.[176][177]

Domestic policy

Human Rights

According to the group Human Rights Watch, Iran’s human rights record “has deteriorated markedly” under the administration of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Beginning in 2005, the number of offenders executed increased from 86 in 2005 to 317 in 2007. Months-long arbitrary detentions of “peaceful activists, journalists, students, and human rights defenders” and often charged with “acting against national security,” has intensified.[178]

Population, cultural and women’s issues

In April 2007, the Tehran police began the most fierce crackdown on “bad hijab” in more than a decade. In the capital Tehran thousands of Iranian women were cautioned over their poor Islamic dress and several hundred arrested.[52] In 2011, an estimated 70,000 police in Tehran alone, patrolled for clothing and hair infractions.[179] As of 2011, men are barred from wearing necklaces, “glamorous” hairstyles, ponytails, and shorts.[53] Neckties are forbidden in the holy city of Qom.[53] After a leading cleric (Hojatoleslam Gholamreza Hassani) issued a fatwa against keeping dogs as pets, a crackdown on dog ownership commenced.[180]

Several controversial proposals by President Ahmadinejad and conservatives have not come to fruition. Plans to encourage larger families,[181] to encourage polygamy by permitting it despite the opposition of a husband’s first wife; and to put a tax on Mahriyeh—a stipulated sum that a groom agrees to give or owe to his bride which is seen by many women “as a financial safety net in the event a husband leaves the marriage and is not forced to pay alimony”[182][183]—have not gone anywhere.

2009 election controversy

Ahmadinejad’s 2009 election victory was hotly disputed and marred by large protests that formed the “greatest domestic challenge” to the leadership of the Islamic Republic “in 30 years”.[135] Despite high turnout and large enthusiastic crowds for reformist opponent Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Ahmadinejad was officially declared to have won by a 2–1 margin against three opponents. Allegations of voting irregularities and protest by Mousavi his supporters were immediate and by 1 July 2009 1000 people had been arrested and 20 killed in street demonstrations.[184] Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and others Islamic officials blamed foreign powers for fomenting the protest.[140] However, according to World Public Opinion (a United States poll), the protest does not mean Iran is in a “pre-revolutionary” situation as a WPO poll of Iranians taken in early September 2009 found high levels of satisfaction with the regime. 80% of the Iranians respondents said President Ahmadinejad was honest, 64% expressed a lot of confidence in him, and nine in ten said they were satisfied with Iran’s system of government.[185]

Public opinion

According to the (U.S.) International Peace Institute‘s 2010-poll conducted in Persian by a representative sample of the Iranian people:[186]

  • Iranians are divided on the government‘s performance.
  • Dissatisfied with the economy.
  • Worry over sanctions and isolation.
  • Want to focus on domestic affairs.
  • Favor closer ties to the West.
  • Rising tensions sparked hostility toward the US, Europe, and U.N.
  • Favor nuclear arms and do not want to back deals to halt enrichment.
  • Independent polls do not contradict official turnout of 2009 election, which gave around 60% of the vote to Ahmadinejad.

Post election of Rouhani in 2013

Hassan Rouhani was elected as President of Iran on 12 June 2013 and took office on 3 August. He is known as a moderate left-leaner, supported by reformists in the election. He has open ideas in the area of economics and a high-level foreign policy, as he served as a diplomat before his election. He has moved quickly to engage in diplomatic negotiations with Western countries, seeking the lifting of crippling economic sanctions on oil exports in exchange for Iran’s cooperation with UN treaties regarding the development of nuclear weapons.

See also

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Islamic_Republic_of_Iran

 

 

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National Security Agency Is Spying On All American Who Use The Internet and Telephone System and They Collect and Store All Your Communications — Includes Trump and Associates — No Warrant Required If President Obama Designates You A Target — Congress Is Enabling The Turnkey Two Party Tyranny — Warrentless Searches — Congress Does Nothing To Stop It! — Videos

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Published on Jul 8, 2013

The NSA warrantless surveillance controversy (AKA “Warrantless Wiretapping”) concerns surveillance of persons within the United States during the collection of foreign intelligence by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) as part of the war on terror. Under this program, referred to by the Bush administration as the “terrorist surveillance program”, part of the broader President’s Surveillance Program, the NSA was authorized by executive order to monitor, without search warrants, the phone calls, Internet activity (Web, e-mail, etc.), text messaging, and other communication involving any party believed by the NSA to be outside the U.S., even if the other end of the communication lies within the U.S. Critics, however, claimed that it was in an effort to attempt to silence critics of the Bush Administration and their handling of several hot button issues during its tenure. Under public pressure, the Bush administration ceased the warrantless wiretapping program in January 2007 and returned review of surveillance to the FISA court. Subsequently, in 2008 Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which relaxed some of the original FISA court requirements.

During the Obama Administration, the NSA has officially continued operating under the new FISA guidelines. However, in April 2009 officials at the United States Department of Justice acknowledged that the NSA had engaged in “overcollection” of domestic communications in excess of the FISA court’s authority, but claimed that the acts were unintentional and had since been rectified.

All wiretapping of American citizens by the National Security Agency requires a warrant from a three-judge court set up under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. After the 9/11 attacks, Congress passed the Patriot Act, which granted the President broad powers to fight a war against terrorism. The George W. Bush administration used these powers to bypass the FISA court and directed the NSA to spy directly on al Qaeda in a new NSA electronic surveillance program. Reports at the time indicate that an “apparently accidental” “glitch” resulted in the interception of communications that were purely domestic in nature.[5] This action was challenged by a number of groups, including Congress, as unconstitutional.

The exact scope of the program is not known, but the NSA is or was provided total, unsupervised access to all fiber-optic communications going between some of the nation’s largest telecommunication companies’ major interconnected locations, including phone conversations, email, web browsing, and corporate private network traffic.[6] Critics said that such “domestic” intercepts required FISC authorization under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.[7] The Bush administration maintained that the authorized intercepts are not domestic but rather foreign intelligence integral to the conduct of war and that the warrant requirements of FISA were implicitly superseded by the subsequent passage of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF).[8] FISA makes it illegal to intentionally engage in electronic surveillance under appearance of an official act or to disclose or use information obtained by electronic surveillance under appearance of an official act knowing that it was not authorized by statute; this is punishable with a fine of up to $10,000 or up to five years in prison, or both.[9] In addition, the Wiretap Act prohibits any person from illegally intercepting, disclosing, using or divulging phone calls or electronic communications; this is punishable with a fine or up to five years in prison, or both.[10]

After an article about the program, (which had been code-named Stellar Wind), was published in The New York Times on December 16, 2005, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales confirmed its existence.[11][12][13] The Times had posted the exclusive story on their website the night before, after learning that the Bush administration was considering seeking a Pentagon-Papers-style court injunction to block its publication.[14] Critics of The Times have alleged that executive editor Bill Keller had withheld the story from publication since before the 2004 Presidential election, and that the story that was ultimately published by The Times was essentially the same as reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau had submitted in 2004.[15] In a December 2008 interview with Newsweek, former Justice Department employee Thomas Tamm revealed himself to be the initial whistle-blower to The Times. The FBI began investigating leaks about the program in 2005, with 25 agents and 5 prosecutors on the case.

FBI’s Patriot Act Abuse of National Security Letters and illegal NSA spying

If you think you can handle the truth, well here it is folks

National Security Agency

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“NSA” redirects here. For other uses, see NSA (disambiguation) and National Security Agency (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with NASA or National Security Council.
National Security Agency
Seal of the U.S. National Security Agency.svg

Seal of the National Security Agency
Flag of the U.S. National Security Agency.svg

Flag of the National Security Agency
National Security Agency headquarters, Fort Meade, Maryland.jpg
NSA Headquarters, Fort Meade, Maryland
Agency overview
Formed November 4, 1952; 64 years ago[1]
Preceding agency
  • Armed Forces Security Agency
Headquarters Fort Meade, Maryland, U.S.
39°6′32″N 76°46′17″WCoordinates: 39°6′32″N 76°46′17″W
Motto “Defending Our Nation. Securing The Future.”
Employees Classified (30,000–40,000 estimate)[2][3][4][5]
Annual budget Classified (estimated $10.8 billion, 2013)[6][7]
Agency executives
Parent agency United States Department of Defense
Website www.nsa.gov

The National Security Agency (NSA) is an intelligence organization of the United States federal government responsible for global monitoring, collection, and processing of information and data for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes, a discipline known as signals intelligence (SIGINT). NSA is concurrently charged with protection of U.S. government communications and information systems against penetration and network warfare.[8][9] Although many of NSA’s programs rely on “passive” electronic collection, the agency is authorized to accomplish its mission through active clandestine means,[10] among which are physically bugging electronic systems[11] and allegedly engaging in sabotage through subversive software.[12][13] Moreover, NSA maintains physical presence in a large number of countries across the globe, where its Special Collection Service (SCS) inserts eavesdropping devices in difficult-to-reach places. SCS collection tactics allegedly encompass “close surveillance, burglary, wiretapping, breaking and entering”.[14][15]

Unlike the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), both of which specialize primarily in foreign human espionage, NSA does not unilaterally conduct human-source intelligence gathering, despite often being portrayed so in popular culture. Instead, NSA is entrusted with assistance to and coordination of SIGINT elements at other government organizations, which are prevented by law from engaging in such activities without the approval of the NSA via the Defense Secretary.[16] 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.

Originating as a unit to decipher coded communications in World War II, it was officially formed as the NSA by President Harry S. Truman in 1952. Since then, it has become one of the largest U.S. intelligence organizations in terms of personnel and budget,[6][17] operating as part of the Department of Defense and simultaneously reporting to the Director of National Intelligence.

NSA surveillance has been a matter of political controversy on several occasions, such as its spying on anti-Vietnam-war leaders or economic espionage. In 2013, the extent of some 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, many of whom are United States citizens, and tracks the movement of hundreds of millions of people using cellphones. Internationally, research has pointed to the NSA’s ability to surveil the domestic Internet traffic of foreign countries through “boomerang routing”.[18]

Contents

 [show] 

History

Army predecessor

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 cipher decryption unit was established as the Cable and Telegraph Section which was also known as the Cipher Bureau. 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.[19][20]

Black Chamber

Western Union allowed MI-8 to monitor telegraphic communications passing through the company’s wires until 1929.[21]

MI-8 also operated the so-called “Black Chamber“.[22] 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 persuaded Western Union, the largest U.S. telegram company, to allow government officials to monitor private communications passing through the company’s wires.[23]

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.[24]

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”.[21]

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.[25] 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.[25]

On May 20, 1949, all cryptologic activities were centralized under a national organization called the Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA).[25]This organization was originally established within the U.S. Department of Defense under the command of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[26] The AFSA was tasked to direct Department of Defense communications and electronic intelligence activities, except those of U.S. military intelligence units.[26] 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).[26] In December 1951, President Harry S. Truman ordered 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.[27]

The agency was formally established by Truman in a memorandum of October 24, 1952, that revised National Security Council Intelligence Directive (NSCID) 9.[28] Since President Truman’s memo was a classified document,[28] 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”.[29]

Vietnam War

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 destroyer USS Maddox during the Gulf of Tonkin incident.[30]

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 Martin Luther King, Jr., and prominent U.S. journalists and athletes who criticized the Vietnam War.[31] 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”.[31]

The NSA mounted a major effort to secure tactical communications among U.S. forces during the war with mixed success. The NESTOR family of compatible secure voice systems it developed was widely deployed during the Vietnam War, with about 30,000 NESTOR sets produced. However a variety of technical and operational problems limited their use, allowing the North Vietnamese to exploit intercepted U.S. communications.[32]:Vol I, p.79

Church Committee hearings

Further information: Watergate scandal and Church Committee

In the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, a congressional hearing in 1975 led by Sen. Frank Church[33] revealed that the NSA, in collaboration with Britain’s SIGINT intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), had routinely intercepted the international communications of prominent anti-Vietnam war leaders such as Jane Fonda and Dr. Benjamin Spock.[34] Following the resignation of President Richard Nixon, there were several investigations of suspected misuse of FBI, CIA and NSA facilities.[35] Senator Frank Church uncovered previously unknown activity,[35]such as a CIA plot (ordered by the administration of President John F. Kennedy) to assassinate Fidel Castro.[36] The investigation also uncovered NSA’s wiretaps on targeted American citizens.[37]

After the Church Committee hearings, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 was passed into law. This was designed to limit the practice of mass surveillance in the United States.[35]

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.[38][39]

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’.[40] That year, the NSA founded the NSA Hall of Honor, a memorial at the National Cryptologic Museum in Fort Meade, Maryland.[41] The memorial is a, “tribute to the pioneers and heroes who have made significant and long-lasting contributions to American cryptology”.[41] NSA employees must be retired for more than fifteen years to qualify for the memorial.[41]

NSA’s infrastructure deteriorated in the 1990s as defense budget cuts resulted in maintenance deferrals. On January 24, 2000, NSA headquarters suffered a total network outage for three days caused by an overloaded network. Incoming traffic was successfully stored on agency servers, but it could not be directed and processed. The agency carried out emergency repairs at a cost of $3 million to get the system running again. (Some incoming traffic was also directed instead to Britain’s GCHQ for the time being.) Director Michael Hayden called the outage a “wake-up call” for the need to invest in the agency’s infrastructure.[42]

War on Terror

After Osama bin Laden moved to Afghanistan in the 1980s, the NSA recorded all of his phone calls via satellite, logging over 2,000 minutes of conversation[43]

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.[44]

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. Several whistleblowers were later arrested and charged with violating federal espionage laws.

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.[45] It was to be a realization of information processing at higher speeds in cyberspace.[46]

Global surveillance disclosures

The massive extent of the NSA’s spying, both foreign and domestic, was revealed to the public in a series of detailed disclosures of internal NSA documents beginning in June 2013. Most of the disclosures were leaked by former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden.

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[47] and “commercial secrets”.[48] 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.[49][50][51] Eleven percent of these monitored phone lines met the agency’s legal standard for “reasonably articulable suspicion” (RAS).[49][52]

A dedicated unit of the NSA locates targets for the CIA for extrajudicial assassination in the Middle East.[53] 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.[54][55]

The NSA tracks the locations of hundreds of millions of cellphones per day, allowing it to map people’s movements and relationships in detail.[56]It reportedly has access to all communications made via Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, YouTube, AOL, Skype, Apple and Paltalk,[57] and collects hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal email and instant messaging accounts each year.[58] 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.[59][60]

Domestically, the NSA collects and stores metadata records of phone calls,[61] including over 120 million US Verizon subscribers,[62] as well as Internet communications,[57] 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.[63] 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.[64]

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.[65]

Although NSA’s surveillance activities are controversial, government agencies and private enterprises have common needs, and sometimes cooperate at subtle and complex technical levels. Big data is becoming more advantageous, justifying the cost of required computer hardware, and social media lead the trend. The interests of NSA and Silicon Valley began to converge as advances in computer storage technology drastically reduced the costs of storing enormous amounts of data and at the same time the value of the data for use in consumer marketing began to rise. On the other hand, social media sites are growing as voluntary data mining operations on a scale that rivals or exceeds anything the government could attempt on its own.[66]

According to a report in The Washington Post in July 2014, relying on information provided 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, text messages, and online accounts that support the claim.[67]

Legal accountability

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.[68] 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;[69] 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.[70] 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;[71] and that NSA officers have even used data intercepts to spy on love interests.[72] The NSA has “generally disregarded the special rules for disseminating United States person information” by illegally sharing its intercepts with other law enforcement agencies.[73] 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.”[74][75] 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”.[73] 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.[58]

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.”[76]

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.[77]

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.[78]

Official responses

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.[79] 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”.[69]

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”.[80] 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.[81][82][83]

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.[84][85] The U.S. military has acknowledged blocking access to parts of The Guardian website for thousands of defense personnel across the country,[86][87] and blocking the entire Guardian website for personnel stationed throughout Afghanistan, the Middle East, and South Asia.[88]

Organizational structure

Michael S. Rogers, the director of the NSA.

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).[89]

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.[90]

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.[91][92]

Structure

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.

The main elements of the organizational structure of the NSA are:[93]

  • 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 bugging computers throughout the world, using the expertise of both agencies.[94]
  • G – Directorate only known from unit G112, the office that manages the Senior Span platform, attached to the U2 spy planes.[95]
  • 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.[96]
  • 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.”[97]
      • S33 – Global Access Operations (GAO), which is responsible for intercepts from satellites and other international SIGINT platforms.[98] 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.[98] Special Source Operations is also mentioned in connection to the FAIRVIEW collection program.[99]
  • 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
  • Information Sharing Services (ISS), led by a chief and a deputy chief.[100]

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.[101]

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.[102]

A 2016 proposal would combine the Signals Intelligence Directorate with the Information Assurance Directorate into a Directorate of Operations.[103]

Watch centers

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.[104]
  • 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.[105]

Employees

The number of NSA employees is officially classified[4] 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.[106]

In 2012, the NSA said more than 30,000 employees worked at Fort Meade and other facilities.[2] 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,[4] and stated that the agency is “probably the biggest employer of introverts.”[4] In 2013 Der Spiegel stated that the NSA had 40,000 employees.[5] More widely, it has been described as the world’s largest single employer of mathematicians.[107] Some NSA employees form part of the workforce of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the agency that provides the NSA with satellite signals intelligence.

As of 2013 about 1,000 system administrators work for the NSA.[108]

Security issues

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 United States House Committee on Armed Services 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.[109] 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.[109]

Edward Snowden‘s leaking of the existence 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.[108] Snowden claims he suggested such a rule in 2009.[110]

Polygraphin

Defense Security Service (DSS) polygraph brochure given to NSA applicants

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.[111] As part of the latter, historically EPQs or “embarrassing personal questions” about sexual behavior had been included in the NSA polygraph.[111] The NSA also conducts five-year periodic reinvestigation polygraphs of employees, focusing on counterintelligence programs. In addition the NSA conducts periodic 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.[112]

File:NSApolygraphvideo.webm

NSA-produced video on the polygraph process

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.[112] NSA’s brochure states that the average test length is between two and four hours.[113] 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.”[114]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.[111]

In 2010 the NSA produced a video explaining its polygraph process.[115] The video, ten minutes long, is titled “The Truth About the Polygraph” and was posted to the Web site 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.”[116] AntiPolygraph.org argues that the NSA-produced video omits some information about the polygraph process; it produced a video responding to the NSA video.[115] George Maschke, the founder of the Web site, accused the NSA polygraph video of being “Orwellian“.[116]

After Edward Snowden revealed his identity in 2013, the NSA began requiring polygraphing of employees once per quarter.[117]

Arbitrary firing

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.[109]

Insignia and memorials

Seal of the U.S. National Security Agency.svg

The heraldic insignia of NSA consists of an eagle inside a circle, grasping a key in its talons.[118] The eagle represents the agency’s national mission.[118] Its breast features a shield with bands of red and white, taken from the Great Seal of the United States and representing Congress.[118] The key is taken from the emblem of Saint Peter and represents security.[118]

When the NSA was created, the agency had no emblem and used that of the Department of Defense.[119] The agency adopted its first of two emblems in 1963.[119] 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.[120]

The NSA’s flag consists of the agency’s seal on a light blue background.

National Cryptologic Memorial

Crews associated with NSA missions have been involved in a number of dangerous and deadly situations.[121] The USS Liberty incident in 1967 and USS Pueblo incident in 1968 are examples of the losses endured during the Cold War.[121]

The National Security Agency/Central Security Service Cryptologic Memorial honors and remembers the fallen personnel, both military and civilian, of these intelligence missions.[122] It is made of black granite, and has 171 names carved into it, as of 2013 .[122] It is located at NSA headquarters. A tradition of declassifying the stories of the fallen was begun in 2001.[122]

NSANet (NSA’s intranet)

Behind the Green Door – Secure communications room with separate computer terminals for access to SIPRNET, GWAN, NSANET, and JWICS

NSANet stands for National Security Agency Network and is the official NSA intranet.[123] It is a classified network,[124] for information up to the level of TS/SCI[125] 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).[126]

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.[127]

In 1998, NSANet, along with NIPRNET and SIPRNET, had “significant problems with poor search capabilities, unorganized data and old information”.[128] In 2004, the network was reported to have used over twenty commercial off-the-shelf operating systems.[129] Some universities that do highly sensitive research are allowed to connect to it.[130]

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.[131]

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.[132] NCSC was part of NSA,[133] and during the late 1980s and the 1990s, NSA and NCSC published Trusted Computer System Evaluation Criteria in a six-foot high Rainbow Series of books that detailed trusted computing and network platform specifications.[134] The Rainbow books were replaced by the Common Criteria, however, in the early 2000s.[134]

Facilities

Headquarters

National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, 2013

Headquarters for the National Security Agency is located at 39°6′32″N 76°46′17″W in 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,[135] and 25 mi (40 km) northeast of Washington, DC.[136] The NSA has its own exit off Maryland Route 295 South labeled “NSA Employees Only”.[137][138] The exit may only be used by people with the proper clearances, and security vehicles parked along the road guard the entrance.[139]

NSA is the largest employer in the U.S. state of Maryland, and two-thirds of its personnel work at Ft. Meade.[140] Built on 350 acres (140 ha; 0.55 sq mi)[141] of Ft. Meade’s 5,000 acres (2,000 ha; 7.8 sq mi),[142] the site has 1,300 buildings and an estimated 18,000 parking spaces.[136][143]

NSA headquarters building in Fort Meade (left), NSOC (right)

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.”[144] 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.[144] 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.”[144]

The facility has over 100 watchposts,[145] one of them being the visitor control center, a two-story area that serves as the entrance.[144] At the entrance, a white pentagonal structure,[146] visitor badges are issued to visitors and security clearances of employees are checked.[147] The visitor center includes a painting of the NSA seal.[146]

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“.[148] 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.[146] NSA headquarters has its own post office, fire department, and police force.[149][150][151]

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.[152]

Power consumption

Due to massive amounts of data processing, NSA is the largest electricity consumer in Maryland.[140]

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.”[153]

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.[154] In 2011, NSA at Ft. Meade was Maryland’s largest consumer of power.[140] In 2007, as BGE’s largest customer, NSA bought as much electricity as Annapolis, the capital city of Maryland.[153]

One estimate put the potential for power consumption by the new Utah Data Center at US$40 million per year.[155]

History of headquarters

Headquarters at Fort Meade circa 1950s

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.[156]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.[157]

Construction of additional buildings began after the agency occupied buildings at Ft. Meade in the late 1950s, which they soon outgrew.[157] 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.[158] COMSEC remained in Washington, D.C., until its new building was completed in 1968.[157] In September 1986, the Operations 2A and 2B buildings, both copper-shielded to prevent eavesdropping, opened with a dedication by President Ronald Reagan.[159] The four NSA buildings became known as the “Big Four.”[159] The NSA director moved to 2B when it opened.[159]

Fort Meade shooting[edit]

On March 30, 2015, shortly before 9 am, a stolen sports utility vehicle approached an NSA police vehicle blocking the road near the gate of Fort Meade, after it was told to leave the area. NSA officers fired on the SUV, killing the 27-year-old driver, Ricky Hall (a transgender person also known as Mya), and seriously injuring his 20-year-old male passenger. An NSA officer’s arm was injured when Hall subsequently crashed into his vehicle.[160][161]

The two, dressed in women’s clothing after a night of partying at a motel with the man they’d stolen the SUV from that morning, “attempted to drive a vehicle into the National Security Agency portion of the installation without authorization”, according to an NSA statement.[162] FBI spokeswoman Amy Thoreson said the incident is not believed to be related to terrorism.[163]In June 2015 the FBI closed its investigation into the incident and federal prosecutors have declined to bring charges against anyone involved.[164]

An anonymous police official told The Washington Post, “This was not a deliberate attempt to breach the security of NSA. This was not a planned attack.” The two are believed to have made a wrong turn off the highway, while fleeing from the motel after stealing the vehicle. A small amount of cocaine was found in the SUV. A local CBS reporter initially said a gun was found,[165]but her later revision does not.[166] Dozens of journalists were corralled into a parking lot blocks away from the scene, and were barred from photographing the area.[167]

Computing[edit]

In 1995, The Baltimore Sun reported that the NSA is the owner of the single largest group of supercomputers.[168]

NSA held a groundbreaking ceremony at Ft. Meade in May 2013 for its High Performance Computing Center 2, expected to open in 2016.[169] Called Site M, the center has a 150 megawatt power substation, 14 administrative buildings and 10 parking garages.[149] It cost $3.2 billion and covers 227 acres (92 ha; 0.355 sq mi).[149] The center is 1,800,000 square feet (17 ha; 0.065 sq mi)[149] and initially uses 60 megawatts of electricity.[170]

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.[149] Defense contractors are also establishing or expanding cybersecurity facilities near the NSA and around the Washington metropolitan area.[149]

Other U.S. facilities

Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado

Utah Data Center

As of 2012, NSA collected intelligence from four geostationary satellites.[155] Satellite receivers were at Roaring Creek Station in Catawissa, Pennsylvania and Salt Creek Station in Arbuckle, California.[155] 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.[155]

NSA had facilities at Friendship Annex (FANX) in Linthicum, Maryland, which is a 20 to 25-minute drive from Ft. Meade;[171] 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.[152][155]

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.[172] It is expected to be operational by September 2013.[155]

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,[173] the latter expansion expected to be completed by 2015.[174]

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.[175] In 2004, NSA closed its operations at Bad Aibling Station (Field Station 81) in Bad Aibling, Germany.[176] 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.[177] As of 2013, NSA also intended to close operations at Sugar Grove, West Virginia.[175]

International stations

RAF Menwith Hill has the largest NSA presence in the United Kingdom.[174]

Following the signing in 1946–1956[178] of the UKUSA Agreement between the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, who then cooperated on signals intelligence and ECHELON,[179] 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,[180] New Zealand.[181]

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.[182] Planned in 1954, and opened in 1960, the base covered 562 acres (227 ha; 0.878 sq mi) in 1999.[183]

The agency’s European Cryptologic Center (ECC), with 240 employees in 2011, is headquartered at a US military compound in Griesheim, near Frankfurt 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.[184]

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 in Wiesbaden, Germany.[185] NSA’s partnership with Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the German foreign intelligence service, was confirmed by BND president Gerhard Schindler.[185]

Thailand

Thailand is a “3rd party partner” of the NSA along with nine other nations.[186] These are non-English-speaking countries that have made security agreements for the exchange of SIGINT raw material and end product reports.

Thailand is the site of at least two US SIGINT collection stations. One is at the US Embassy in Bangkok, a joint NSA-CIA Special Collection Service (SCS) unit. It presumably eavesdrops on foreign embassies, governmental communications, and other targets of opportunity.[187]

The second installation is a FORNSAT (foreign satellite interception) station in the Thai city of Khon Kaen. It is codenamed INDRA, but has also been referred to as LEMONWOOD.[187] The station is approximately 40 ha (100 acres) in size and consists of a large 3,700–4,600 m2 (40,000–50,000 ft2) operations building on the west side of the ops compound and four radome-enclosed parabolic antennas. Possibly two of the radome-enclosed antennas are used for SATCOM intercept and two antennas used for relaying the intercepted material back to NSA. There is also a PUSHER-type circularly-disposed antenna array (CDAA) array just north of the ops compound.[188][189]

NSA activated Khon Kaen in October 1979. Its mission was to eavesdrop on the radio traffic of Chinese army and air force units in southern China, especially in and around the city of Kunming in Yunnan Province. Back in the late 1970s the base consisted only of a small CDAA antenna array that was remote-controlled via satellite from the NSA listening post at Kunia, Hawaii, and a small force of civilian contractors from Bendix Field Engineering Corp. whose job it was to keep the antenna array and satellite relay facilities up and running 24/7.[188]

According to the papers of the late General William Odom, the INDRA facility was upgraded in 1986 with a new British-made PUSHER CDAA antenna as part of an overall upgrade of NSA and Thai SIGINT facilities whose objective was to spy on the neighboring communist nations of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.[188]

The base apparently fell into disrepair in the 1990s as China and Vietnam became more friendly towards the US, and by 2002 archived satellite imagery showed that the PUSHER CDAA antenna had been torn down, perhaps indicating that the base had been closed. At some point in the period since 9/11, the Khon Kaen base was reactivated and expanded to include a sizeable SATCOM intercept mission. It is likely that the NSA presence at Khon Kaen is relatively small, and that most of the work is done by civilian contractors.[188]

Mission

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.[190]

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.”[191]

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 and ciphers (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.[192]

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.[9]

Operations

Operations by the National Security Agency can be divided in three types:

  • Collection overseas, which falls under the responsibility of the Global Access Operations (GAO) division.
  • Domestic collection, which falls under the responsibility of the Special Source Operations (SSO) division.
  • Hacking operations, which falls under the responsibility of the Tailored Access Operations (TAO) division.

Collection overseas

Echelon

Main article: ECHELON

Echelon was created in the incubator of the Cold War.[193] Today it is a legacy system, and several NSA stations are closing.[175]

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,[194] 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.[195]

During the early 1970s, the first of what became more than eight large satellite communications dishes were installed at Menwith Hill.[196] 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.[197] 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”.[198]

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.[199][200]

Protesters against NSA data mining in Berlin wearing Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden masks.

Other SIGINT operations overseas

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.[201]

In order to support its facial recognition program, the NSA is intercepting “millions of images per day”.[202]

The Real Time Regional Gateway is a data collection program introduced in 2005 in Iraq by NSA during the Iraq War that consisted of gathering all 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.[203] This “collect it all” strategy introduced by NSA director, Keith B. Alexander, is believed by Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian to be the model for the comprehensive worldwide mass archiving of communications which NSA is engaged in as of 2013.[204]

BoundlessInformant

Edward Snowden revealed in June 2013 that between February 8 and March 8, 2013, the NSA collected about 124.8 billion telephone data items and 97.1 billion computer data items throughout the world, as was displayed in charts from an internal NSA tool codenamed Boundless Informant. It was reported that some of these data reflected eavesdropping on citizens in countries like Germany, Spain and France.[205]

BoundlessInformant employs big data databases, cloud computing technology, and Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) to analyze data collected worldwide by the NSA.[206]

Bypassing encryption

In 2013, reporters uncovered a secret memo that claims the NSA created and pushed for the adoption of the Dual_EC_DRBG encryption standard 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).[207][208] This memo appears to give credence to previous speculation by cryptographers at Microsoft Research.[209] Edward Snowden claims that the NSA often bypasses encryption altogether by lifting information before it is encrypted or after it is decrypted.[208]

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; an anonymous email service provided by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in Cambridge, Massachusetts; and readers of the Linux Journal.[210][211]

Domestic activity

NSA’s mission, as set forth in Executive Order 12333 in 1981, 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.[212] The appearance of a ‘Domestic Surveillance Directorate’ of the NSA was soon exposed as a hoax in 2013.[213][214]

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.”[215] 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.[216] 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.[216]

George W. Bush administration

George W. Bush, president during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, approved the Patriot Act shortly after the attacks to take anti-terrorist security measures. Title 1, 2, and 9 specifically authorized measures that would be taken by the NSA. These titles granted enhanced domestic security against terrorism, surveillance procedures, and improved intelligence, respectively. On March 10, 2004, there was a debate between President Bush and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and Acting Attorney General James Comey. The Attorney Generals were unsure if the NSA’s programs could be considered constitutional. They threatened to resign over the matter, but ultimately the NSA’s programs continued.[217] On March 11, 2004, President Bush signed a new authorization for mass surveillance of Internet records, in addition to the surveillance of phone records.This allowed the president to be able to override laws such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which protected civilians from mass surveillance. In addition to this, President Bush also signed that the measures of mass surveillance were also retroactively in place.[218]

Warrantless wiretaps

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).[219]

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.[220]

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.[221]

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.[222][223]

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,[224] charging an “illegal and unconstitutional program of dragnet communications surveillance,”[225] based on documentation provided by former AT&T technician Mark Klein.[226]

As a result of the USA Freedom Act passed by Congress in June 2015, the NSA had to shut down its bulk phone surveillance program on November 29 of the same year. The USA Freedom Act forbids the NSA to collect metadata and content of phone calls unless it has a warrant for terrorism investigation. In that case the agency has to ask the telecom companies for the record, which will only be kept for six months.

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.[227]

Data mining

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.[228]

A 2013 advisory group for the Obama administration, seeking to reform NSA spying programs following the revelations of documents released by Edward J. Snowden.[229] 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 April 11 that NSA had no advance knowledge of Heartbleed.[230]

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.[231][232]

Barack Obama administration

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.[233] United States Attorney General Eric Holder resumed the program according to his understanding of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act amendment of 2008, without explaining what had occurred.[234]

Polls conducted in June 2013 found divided results among Americans regarding NSA’s secret data collection.[235] Rasmussen Reports found that 59% of Americans disapprove,[236] Gallup found that 53% disapprove,[237] and Pew found that 56% are in favor of NSA data collection.[238]

Section 215 metadata collection

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.[239][240]

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.[241]

The utility of such a massive metadata collection in preventing terrorist attacks is disputed. Many studies reveal the dragnet like system to be ineffective. One such report, released by the New America Foundation concluded that after an analysis of 225 terrorism cases, the NSA “had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism.”[242]

Defenders of the program say that while metadata alone can’t provide all the information necessary to prevent an attack, it assures the ability to “connect the dots”[243] between suspect foreign numbers and domestic numbers with a speed only the NSA’s software is capable of. One benefit of this is quickly being able to determine the difference between suspicious activity and real threats.[citation needed] As an example, NSA director General Keith Alexander mentioned at the annual Cybersecurity Summit in 2013, that metadata analysis of domestic phone call records after the Boston Marathon bombing helped determine that[clarification needed] another attack in New York was baseless.[243]

In addition to doubts about its effectiveness, many people argue that the collection of metadata is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy. As of 2015, the collection process remains legal and grounded in the ruling from Smith v. Maryland (1979). A prominent opponent of the data collection and its legality is U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon, who issued a report in 2013[244] in which he stated: “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”.

The PRISM program[edit]

PRISM: a clandestine surveillance program under which the NSA collects user data from companies like Microsoft and Facebook.

Under the PRISM program, which started in 2007,[245][246] NSA gathers Internet communications from foreign targets from nine major U.S. Internet-based communication service providers: Microsoft,[247] Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple. Data gathered include email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, VoIP chats such as Skype, and file transfers.

June 2015 – WikiLeaks: Industrial espionage

In June 2015, Wikileaks published documents, which showed that NSA spied on French companies.[248]

July 2015 – WikiLeaks: Espionage against German federal ministries[edit]

In July 2015, WikiLeaks published documents, which showed that NSA spied on federal German ministries since 1990s.[249][250] Even Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s cellphones and phone of her predecessors had been intercepted.[251]

Claims of prevented terrorist attacks

Former NSA director General Keith Alexander claimed that in September 2009 the NSA prevented Najibullah Zazi and his friends from carrying out a terrorist attack.[252] However, this claim has been debunked and no evidence has been presented demonstrating that the NSA has ever been instrumental in preventing a terrorist attack.[253][254][255][256]

Hacking operations

Besides the more traditional ways of eavesdropping in order to collect signals intelligence, NSA is also engaged in hacking computers, smartphones and their networks. These operations are conducted by the Tailored Access Operations (TAO) division.

NSA’s China hacking group

According to the Foreign Policy magazine, “… the Office of Tailored Access Operations, or TAO, has successfully penetrated Chinese computer and telecommunications systems for almost 15 years, generating some of the best and most reliable intelligence information about what is going on inside the People’s Republic of China.”[257][258]

Syrian internet blackout

In an interview with Wired magazine, Edward Snowden said the Tailored Access Operations division accidentally caused Syria‘s internet blackout in 2012.[259]

Suspected responsibility for hacking operations by the Equation Group[edit]

The espionage group named the Equation Group, described by discoverers Kaspersky Labs as one of the most advanced (if not the most advanced) in the world as of 2015,[260]:31 and connected to over 500 malware infections in at least 42 countries over many years, is suspected of being a part of NSA.[261][262] The group’s known espionage methods have been documented to include interdiction (interception of legitimate CDs sent by a scientific conference organizer by mail),[260]:15 and the “unprecedented” ability to infect and be transmitted through the hard drive firmware of several of the major hard drive manufacturers, and create and use hidden disk areas and virtual disk systems for its purposes, a feat demanding access to the manufacturer’s source code of each to achieve.[260]:16–18 The methods used to deploy the tools demonstrated “surgical precision”, going so far as to exclude specific countries by IP and allow targeting of specific usernames on discussion forums.[260]:23–26 The techniques and knowledge used by the Equation Group are considered in summary to be “out of the reach of most advanced threat groups in the world except [this group].[260]:31

Software backdoors

Linux kerne

Linus Torvalds, the founder of Linux kernel, joked during a LinuxCon keynote on September 18, 2013 that the NSA, who are the founder of SELinux, wanted a backdoor in the kernel.[263]However, later, Linus’ father, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), revealed that the NSA actually did this.[264]

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.

— Nils Torvalds, LIBE Committee Inquiry on Electronic Mass Surveillance of EU Citizens – 11th Hearing, 11 November 2013[265]
Microsoft Windows
Main article: _NSAKEY

_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

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.[266][267]

Boomerang routing

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.[18] 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.[18]

Hardware implanting

Intercepted packages are opened carefully by NSA employees
A “load station” implanting a beacon

A document included in NSA files released with Glenn Greenwald‘s book No Place to Hide details how the agency’s Tailored 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.”[268]

Computers seized by the NSA due to interdiction are often modified with a physical device known as Cottonmouth.[269]Cottonmouth is a device that can be inserted in the USB port of a computer in order to establish remote access to the targeted machine. According to NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) group implant catalog, after implanting Cottonmouth, the NSA can establish Bridging (networking) “that allows the NSA to load exploit software onto modified computers as well as allowing the NSA to relay commands and data between hardware and software implants.”[270]

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.[271]

Data Encryption Standard

FROSTBURG was the NSA’s first supercomputer, used from 1991 to 1997

NSA was embroiled in some minor controversy concerning its involvement in the creation of the Data Encryption Standard (DES), a standard and public block 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.[272][273] 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.”[274][275]

Advanced Encryption Standard

The involvement of NSA in the selection of a successor to Data Encryption Standard (DES), the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), was limited to hardware performance testing (see AES competition).[276] 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.[277]

NSA encryption systems

STU-III secure telephones on display at the National Cryptologic Museum

The NSA is responsible for the encryption-related components in these legacy systems:

  • FNBDT Future Narrow Band Digital Terminal[278]
  • KL-7 ADONIS off-line rotor encryption machine (post-WWII – 1980s)[279][280]
  • KW-26 ROMULUS electronic in-line teletypewriter encryptor (1960s–1980s)[281]
  • KW-37 JASON fleet broadcast encryptor (1960s–1990s)[280]
  • KY-57 VINSON tactical radio voice encryptor[281]
  • KG-84 Dedicated Data Encryption/Decryption[281]
  • STU-III secure telephone unit,[281] phased out by the STE[282]

The NSA oversees encryption in following systems which are in use today:

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 NIST and 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.[277]

SHA

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.[287]

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,[288][289] since fundamental modifications have been made to Keccak in order to turn it into a standard.[290] These changes potentially undermine the cryptanalysis performed during the competition and reduce the security levels of the algorithm.[288]

Dual_EC_DRBG random number generator

Main article: Dual_EC_DRBG

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 a backdoor which would allow NSA access to data encrypted by systems using that pseudo random number generator.[291]

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.[292][293] Both NIST and RSA are now officially recommending against the use of this PRNG.[294][295]

Clipper chip

Main article: Clipper chip

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.[296] The proposal was strongly opposed and key escrow requirements ultimately went nowhere.[297] 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.[298][299]

Perfect Citizen

Main article: Perfect Citizen

Perfect Citizen is a program to perform vulnerability assessment by the NSA on U.S. critical infrastructure.[300][301] 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.[302][303] It is funded by the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative and thus far Raytheon has received a contract for up to $100 million for the initial stage.

Academic research

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,[304] ” written and compiled by NSA employees to assist other NSA workers in searching for information of interest to the agency on the public Internet.[305]

Patents

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.[306]

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.[307] 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.[308]

Legality

File:Ron Wyden and James Clapper - 12 March 2013.webm

Excerpt of James Clapper‘s false testimony to Congress on NSA surveillance programs

In the United States, at least since 2001,[309] there has been legal controversy over what signal intelligence can be used for and how much freedom the National Security Agency has to use signal intelligence.[310] The government has made, in 2015, slight changes in how it uses and collects certain types of data,[311] specifically phone records. President Barack Obama has asked lawyers and his national security team to look at the tactics that are being used by the NSA. President Obama made a speech on January 17, 2014 where he defended the national security measures, including the NSA, and their intentions for keeping the country safe through surveillance. He said that it is difficult to determine where the line should be drawn between what is too much surveillance and how much is needed for national security because technology is ever changing and evolving. Therefore, the laws cannot keep up with the rapid advancements.

President Obama did make some changes to national security regulations and how much data can be collected and surveyed.[citation needed] The first thing he added, was more presidential directive and oversight so that privacy and basic rights are not violated. The president would look over requests on behalf of American citizens to make sure that their personal privacy is not violated by the data that is being requested. Secondly, surveillance tactics and procedures are becoming more public, including over 40 rulings of the FISC that have been declassified.[citation needed] Thirdly, further protections are being placed on activities that are justified under Section 702, such as the ability to retain, search and use data collected in investigations, which allows the NSA to monitor and intercept interaction of targets overseas. Finally, national security letters, which are secret requests for information that the FBI uses in their investigations, are becoming less secretive. The secrecy of the information requested will not be indefinite and will terminate after a set time if future secrecy is not required.[citation needed] Concerning the bulk surveillance of American’s phone records, President Obama also ordered a transition from bulk surveillance under Section 215 to a new policy that will eliminate unnecessary bulk collection of metadata.

As of May 7, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act was wrong and that the NSA program that has been collecting Americans’ phone records in bulk is illegal.[312] It stated that Section 215 cannot be clearly interpreted to allow government to collect national phone data and, as a result, expired on June 1, 2015. This ruling “is the first time a higher-level court in the regular judicial system has reviewed the N.S.A. phone records program.” [313] The new bill getting passed later in May taking its place is known as the U.S.A. Freedom Act, which will enable the NSA to continue hunting for terrorists by analyzing telephone links between callers but “keep the bulk phone records in the hands of phone companies.”[313] This would give phone companies the freedom to dispose the records in an 18-month period. The White House argued that this new ruling validated President Obama’s support of the government being extracted from bulk data collection and giving power to the telecommunications companies.

Previously, the NSA paid billions of dollars to telecommunications companies in order to collect data from them.[314] While companies such as Google and Yahoo! claim that they do not provide “direct access” from their servers to the NSA unless under a court order,[315] the NSA had access to emails, phone calls and cellular data users.[316] With this new ruling, telecommunications companies would not provide the NSA with bulk information. The companies would allow the disposal of data in every 18 months,[313] which is arguably putting the telecommunications companies at a higher advantage.

This ruling made the collecting of phone records illegal, but it did not rule on Section 215’s constitutionality. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already put forth a new bill to re-authorize the Patriot Act.[317] Defenders of this surveillance program are claiming that judges who sit on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) had ruled 37 times that this kind of collection of data is, in fact, lawful.[317] The FISC is the court specifically mandated to grant surveillance orders in the name of foreign intelligence. The new ruling made by the Second District Court of Appeals now retroactively dismisses the findings of the FISC on this program.

See also

Notes

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Security_Agency

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