The NSA and the Country’s Biggest Spy Center

on March 20 | in Blog, Books, Culture, News, Technology | by | with 1 Comment

Big Brother 1984 Nineteen Eighty-four Orwellian

and listening to you, too...

WAR IS PEACE

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

1984, George Orwell

WIRED magazine’s April 2012 cover story, “Inside the Matrix,” is the stuff of George Orwell’s nightmares after he had written 1984. A facility under construction in a remote location in the Utah desert coupled with data centers already planned for Oak Ridge Labs outside Knoxville, TN, will give the National Security Agency eyes and ears for nearly incomprehensible amounts of data surveying, storage and analyzation.

Essentially the United States government will be able to accumulate and study annually, as estimated by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, more information than has been produced by combined human knowledge since the dawn of time.

According to WIRED’s James Bamford, author of The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America, “The NSA has become the largest, most covert, and potentially most intrusive intelligence agency ever.”

What is being built in Bluffdale, Utah? A 1 million square foot, heavily fortified, two-billion dollar nerve center that will, at full capacity it will be able to house a yottabyte of information. That’s the digital equivalent of 500 quintillion pages of text.

500,000,000,000,000,000,000. Pages. You’d better start reading now.

The energy estimates alone for the plain vanilla named “Utah Data Center” run to $40 million a year.

Why should this matter?

But “this is more than just a data center,” says one senior intelligence official who until recently was involved with the program. The mammoth Bluffdale center will have another important and far more secret role that until now has gone unrevealed. It is also critical, he says, for breaking codes. And code-breaking is crucial, because much of the data that the center will handle—financial information, stock transactions, business deals, foreign military and diplomatic secrets, legal documents, confidential personal communications—will be heavily encrypted. According to another top official also involved with the program, the NSA made an enormous breakthrough several years ago in its ability to cryptanalyze, or break, unfathomably complex encryption systems employed by not only governments around the world but also many average computer users in the US. The upshot, according to this official: “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.”

Why should you care? Because your phone calls, emails, text messages and all financial accounts will be able to be viewed by the NSA at any time, for any reason, and without a duly executed legal warrant.

The eavesdropping on Americans doesn’t stop at the telecom switches. To capture satellite communications in and out of the US, the agency also monitors AT&T’s powerful earth stations, satellite receivers in locations that include Roaring Creek and Salt Creek. Tucked away on a back road in rural Catawissa, Pennsylvania, Roaring Creek’s three 105-foot dishes handle much of the country’s communications to and from Europe and the Middle East. And on an isolated stretch of land in remote Arbuckle, California, three similar dishes at the company’s Salt Creek station service the Pacific Rim and Asia.

[Former senior NSA crypto-mathematician, William] Binney left the NSA in late 2001, shortly after the agency launched its warrantless-wiretapping program. “They violated the Constitution setting it up,” he says bluntly. “But they didn’t care. They were going to do it anyway, and they were going to crucify anyone who stood in the way. When they started violating the Constitution, I couldn’t stay.” Binney says Stellar Wind was far larger than has been publicly disclosed and included not just eavesdropping on domestic phone calls but the inspection of domestic email. At the outset the program recorded 320 million calls a day, he says, which represented about 73 to 80 percent of the total volume of the agency’s worldwide intercepts. The haul only grew from there. According to Binney—who has maintained close contact with agency employees until a few years ago—the taps in the secret rooms dotting the country are actually powered by highly sophisticated software programs that conduct “deep packet inspection,” examining Internet traffic as it passes through the 10-gigabit-per-second cables at the speed of light.

Please read the entire article at WIRED.com. It is lengthy, but well worth the read, and I did not even have the time to write in depth about Oak Ridge and the NSA’s capability of breaking encrypted banking codes.

For further reading about the NSA check out the books below. You pay the same low Amazon price while I make a small commission.

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