When Edward Snowden went public, he alleged that as a low-level analyst, he could see you type your emails in real time:
“I, sitting at my desk . . .” could . . . “wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email”.”
Snowden was repeatedly called a liar by Washington DC insiders like Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who denied that Americans’ emails are being collected or examined by the NSA. Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald charges that Rogers, whose political campaigns receive contributions from security-linked firms, is simply lying through his teeth to the American people.
” training materials for XKeyscore detail how analysts can use it and other systems to mine enormous agency databases by filling in a simple on-screen form giving only a broad justification for the search. The request is not reviewed by a court or any NSA personnel before it is processed.
XKeyscore, the documents boast, is the NSA’s “widest reaching” system developing intelligence from computer networks – what the agency calls Digital Network Intelligence (DNI). One presentation claims the program covers “nearly everything a typical user does on the internet”, including the content of emails, websites visited and searches, as well as their metadata.
Analysts can also use XKeyscore and other NSA systems to obtain ongoing “real-time” interception of an individual’s internet activity.”
This explosive revelation produced a frenzy on the television channels that obsess for weeks over small town murder mysteries (1 of 16,000 a year in the US), right? The ones that interview Mike Rogers and Peter King for hours on end?
Not so much.
I did a Lexis search under broadcast news for XKeyscore and got 7 hits, including CNN and PBS. Of course, some broadcasts may have described the program rather than naming it, as ABC did. All the more kudos to George Stephanopoulos, Chris Hayes and other television journalists willing to headline the story.
That Snowden was right in general became clear when The Guardian revealed the Tempora program, run by the British electronic spying agency GCHQ in partnership with the US National Security Agency. They have attached sniffers to the fiber optic cables that carry telephone and email traffic across the Atlantic and are collecting petabytes of data. Since your email doesn’t just go straight between you and your correspondent, but rather can bounce around servers all over the world, Tempora is certainly scooping up most of our emails and many of our telephone calls. There are 250 NSA analysts assigned to going through this data.