(INTELLIHUB) — This past week, several articles came out which stated that the Obama Administration was going to give the NSA more inter-agency leeway in sharing the communications of innocent American citizens without adhering to time-honored established constitutional and privacy act stipulations which regulate the exchange and dissemination of said data.
In the past I have suggested that when news about “recently-developed technology” has been leaked or published, that it has already been in operation for at least two or three decades. The same scenario applies to statements regarding surveillance, data interception and intelligence sharing.
Before delving into the NSA’s soon-to-expand role in “securing the nation” let us examine another incident in the world of intelligence and information-exchange.
As an illusionist waves his right hand in the air, capturing the attention of nearly all in the audience, his left hand performs the sleight-of-hand. Is Edward Snowden an illusionist? Could he be a master of deception?
Snowden’s information release may indeed be the equivalent of an illusionist waving his right hand around while loudly yelling “Hocus-Pocus.” So what was the left hand doing under cover of darkness?
The goal of Snowden’s revelation could have been to get John Q. Public fixated on metadata, the “Holy of Holies,” since so much can be learned about the “rest” of the email from the metadata.
But wait a minute. Is metadata the coup-de-grace in the world of Communications Intelligence (COMINT)? No.
Is it possible that metadata is being portrayed as a coup-de-grace in order to detract attention from “Full Take” programs?
The NSA has raked up all of the communications, of all Americans, and those of eighty percent of the rest of the world’s population, for at least a decade and a half.
This is referred to as a “Full Take.” Metadata collection is superficial — it skims the surface, while full take equates to “deep trawling,” where everything is up for grabs. Everything. Tapped under-sea cables, agreements with the world’s largest telecoms, parallel trunks, intercepted/recorded cell-phone conversations, SMS, etc..
Full Take programs, and the technology behind them are classified. So even though they are illegal and unconstitutional without a warrant, most judges and courts are not even aware of their existence until after they have been in operation for a long time. Judges and the courts do not have the need-to-know in the world of classified operations. Most all of them lack security clearance and are thus conveniently kept in the dark. Convenient to whom I do not know.
This means that the deployment of these technologies, and the Intel groups that run operations utilizing these technologies have no oversight whatsoever — which in turn leads to abusive practices.
While Snowden pointed out that both New Zealand’s intelligence service and that of the United Kingdom were involved in “Full Take Data Trawling” operations, did he ever indicate that the NSA was the primary progenitor of these illegal programs, or were his allegations tangential to the real issues at hand in respect to the full extent of what American citizenry was being subject to as far as data theft and warrantless, intrusive surveillance?
The United States has had “data sharing” agreements or “intelligence partnership agreements” with the other members of the “Five Eyes” community for many decades. The Five Eyes members include Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the U.S..
These “partnership programs” conveniently allow for plausible deniability on the part of the NSA. While the NSA is not supposed to access the communications of innocent Americans without a warrant, it can always ask the Canadians or Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) to focus on the data stream from a specific American IP address, or for an innocent American citizen living in Podunk, USA.
In 1999 the BBC ran an article about a “secret” program called “Echelon,” which had “just been launched” by the NSA, with the cooperation of GCHQ.
Now what does this imply? This means that not only has the NSA been scooping up all of the communications of all Americans since 1999 or earlier via Echelon, but that it has been involved in Full Take information-exchanges with a foreign government for more than 17 years: Great Britain.
So Echelon and several of its shadowy and unnamed predecessor programs, allowed for a full data take compared to the relatively innocuous metadata collection.
If news of the Echelon program was leaked in the late ‘90’s, the question becomes: So how long was this program really in operation before the public became aware of it? My guess is that it was launched as soon as the general population had access to the internet. Echelon was the ultimate Trojan horse.
While the internet allowed John Q. Public to access unprecedented levels of information and communication, Echelon provided select intelligence agencies the capacity to monitor everyone’s communications and browsing history. So the internet, saddled with Echelon, was the ultimate double-edged sword.
Now let’s go back to recent statements from the administration. The NSA will soon be sharing enhanced information and communications with domestic intelligence agencies, regarding American citizens, who obviously have no reasonable expectation of privacy.
Does that mean that a foreign government had access to the communications of innocent Americans before say the Central Intelligence Agency, or the Drug Enforcement Agency?
But wait. On a domestic level, Regional Data Fusion Centers have been sharing Personally Identifiable Information (PII) or Sensitive Personal Information (SPI) with local and state law enforcement (and private security contractors who work with federal agencies) since 9/11; and much of the information originates at the federal level – especially from the “King of SIGINT,” the NSA.
So in actuality, the recent NSA data-sharing announcement is more than fifteen years late.
While both PII and SPI are supposed to be protected by the Privacy Act, Regional Data Fusion Centers serve as a clearinghouse for personal information among federal, state, and local authorities, often without any judicial oversight whatsoever.
Remember it’s classified. So news that the administration will be giving the NSA more power in order to allow more information exchange between agencies is deceitful. After all, they have been involved in Full Take information exchange with the Brits since 1999 or before, and full take information dissemination with domestic intelligence agencies since the birth of the Patriot Act.
These announcements are just lip-service to the American public to let them know that once again their liberties are being intentionally eroded in the halls of power.
About the Author:
The author of this article, who prefers to use the nom de plume “XKeyscore” in order to maintain his anonymity, is a Doctoral Candidate and multiglot with two Master’s Degrees and a Baccalaureate specializing in Middle Eastern Studies. He holds one Master’s Degree specializing in Intelligence and Counter-intelligence operations, and a second Master’s Degree in Security Studies. XKeyscore has studied under a United States intelligence agency analyst and now-retired, high ranking, American military officers.