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NSA denies eavesdropping on Americans

Published time: March 22, 2012 17:53
Edited time: March 22, 2012 21:53
Reuters / Jason Reed

Reuters / Jason Reed

A recent article regarding the National Security Agency’s new secret eavesdropping facility in Bluffdale, Utah has caught the attention of members of the House.

The article which was published last week by Wired explains how the NSA “will be secretly capturing, storing, and analyzing vast quantities of words and images hurtling through the world’s telecommunications networks.

The article goes on to explain how the “Utah Data Center” which is a project surrounded by “immense secrecy is the final piece of a complex puzzle assembled in the past decade.

The heavily fortified $2 billion building is said to have the capabilities “to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks,” the article added.

For Rep. Hank Johnson it’s the domestic party that is kind of tricky.

During the apparent pressing of Cyber Command Commander of the National Security Agency, Chief General Keith Alexander on Tuesday regarding the true capabilities on the National Security Agency, many skeptics doubt the alleged truth by the notorious agency.

Alexander denied all the questions regarding the NSA spying on Americans, and during the meeting Johnson asked, “Does the NSA have the capacity to find out who the parties are by the content of their email?

Johnson was referring to a made up scenario he created regarding Dick Cheney’s shotgun incident in Texas.

If Dick Cheney were elected president and wanted to detain and incessantly waterboard every American who send an email making fun of his well-known hunting mishaps…what I want to know does the NSA have the technological capacity to identify those Cheney bashers based upon the content of their emails,” the representative asked.

Alexander denied the NSA could do that but acknowledge the NSA would have to go through the FBI process and obtain a warrant to get the information and “serve it.

Again Johnson pressed, “but you do have the capacity to do that?

Alexander claimed their power is useless “in the US” and claimed the NSA doesn’t have the “technical insights” and added they are not authorized to collect from the sea of data nor does the NSA have the “equipment.

The article written by James Bamford alleges the facility shrouded in mystery will store in a bottomless database, “the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital ‘pocket litter.’ It is, in some measure, the realization of the ‘total information awareness’ program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.

The information which brings chills to anyone who reads the alleged capacities of the new compound say it is “more than just a data center.

One senior intelligence official revealed to Bramford, who was recently involved with the program, the center will have another important and far more secret role that until now has gone unrevealed.

The anonymous official also added the new system will be critical for breaking codes which has become vital for “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 with the program said, "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. Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.

Although it isn’t confirmed how far the center’s tentacles can reach many believe this paired with the NDAA could spell trouble for Americans.

The recent report rekindled fears about rumors of the NSA doing warrantless wiretapping as well as collaborations with major Telecom providers to allow the agency to directly link up to their networks to mine data.

Whether the claims are true or false Alexander as of yet denies them all, but that hasn’t stopped public interest groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Electronic Privacy Information Center from trying to find out the extent of NSA’s eavesdropping program on Americans.