Foreign and Defense Policy, Terrorism

Yet another NSA leak

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Want to see how NSA disclosures are harming national security? Case in point is this morning’s Wall Street Journal story, which contains yet another new disclosure on the NSA’s terrorist surveillance activities. The story, entitled, “Foreign Stakes Shield Firms from NSA Sweep,” reports:

The National Security Agency’s controversial data program, which seeks to stockpile records on all calls made in the U.S., doesn’t collect information directly from T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless, in part because of their foreign ownership ties, people familiar with the matter said….

T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless don’t participate in their own collection programs because of legal complications stemming, in part, from their foreign ownership. Germany’s Deutsche Telekom AG owns 74% of T-Mobile. Verizon Wireless is a joint-venture of Verizon Communications Inc.  with the U.K.’s Vodafone Group PLC, which owns a 45% stake.

Japan’s SoftBank Corp. is pushing to complete an acquisition of Sprint by July. In order for the company to engage in other classified activities with the U.S., it is expected to create a separate U.S. subsidiary. It would also create a new board-level position of security director, set to be filled by retired Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The exclusion of T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless from the sprawling domestic surveillance program underscores the deep ties the U.S. telecom industry maintains with the U.S. intelligence world.

Note to self, the terrorists are saying this morning, use Verizon and T-Mobile.

The story explains that Verizon Business Network Services, the subject of the recently disclosed FISA court order, does participate because it is a US subsidiary of the foreign-owned Verizon Communications. And the story also notes that not all Verizon and T-Mobile calls can avert US surveillance because they often share networks with US-owned carriers, who do cooperate with the NSA. As the Journal puts it:

The blind spot for U.S. intelligence is relatively small, according to a U.S. official. Officials believe they can still capture information, or metadata, on 99% of U.S. phone traffic because nearly all calls eventually travel over networks owned by U.S. companies that work with the NSA.

But the point is the terrorists should not know any of this. They now know more about how US surveillance works, the fact that foreign-owned carriers are not subject to NSA surveillance, and the fact that the NSA circumvents these restrictions by capturing phone calls of foreign carriers that are routed through foreign networks. All this information is classified for a reason.

As information about NSA activities is leaked, it is resulting in the disclosure of still more information as US officials try to explain the classified program to the American people.

This entire discussion is being followed and studied by terrorists in Yemen, Pakistan, and East Africa — allowing them to go to school on our activities and better avoid detection.

10 thoughts on “Yet another NSA leak

  1. re: ” This entire discussion is being followed and studied by terrorists in Yemen, Pakistan, and East Africa — allowing them to go to school on our activities and better avoid detection.”

    which is the reason the NSA gave for why the leak was so damaging.

    but the other thing is that voice and text encryption is fairly widey available and one would think that your average terrorist would shield themselves with it and that the folks the NSA are targeting that don’t use encryption – probably are not terrorists or at least not very smart terrorists.

  2. If the NSA cared about terrorism instead of just trying to compile data on citizens, they’d save a lot of money by just watching what the CIA and the president do/say and to whom the do/say it.

    • I agree. It looks to me as if most attacks against US interests abroad as well as domestically have been carried out by people who have had connections to the CIA.

      Terrorism is not a game played by most of the ordinary people that the NSA spies on. It is a game directed by the type of people who love power and see nothing wrong with limiting liberty or with collateral damage as long as political goals are being met.

      • re: ” Terrorism is not a game played by most of the ordinary people that the NSA spies on. It is a game directed by the type of people who love power and see nothing wrong with limiting liberty or with collateral damage as long as political goals are being met.”

        off the deep end there guy. Not much “power” hiding out in caves to avoid drones.

        the polls show that the American people are so petrified of terrorists that a majority of them SUPPORT the NSA!

  3. How can *ANY* Conservative accept the NSA’s unconstitutional Big Brother domestic surveillance as reasonable under any circumstances? Next to this, Obamacare is a triviality.

    Look, we are either concerned about dangerously intrusive Big Government, or we aren’t. To give the Alphabet Spooks a pass on this one under some farcical ‘national security’ excuse is just selling out everything we stand for.

    • National Security is no farce. Big Government is government that meddles in the market and domestic policy for the sake of meddling – indeed, the NSA issue is not leaking but Obama’s allowing leftwing whack jobs access to go after political enemies.

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