Skip to main content

In this morning’s Washington Post, reporters Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani write about the latest Snowden/National Security Agency document leaks concerning the “Mystic” and “Retro” programs,  the NSA’s tools for “interception” and “retrospective retrieval” of 30 days’ worth of content of virtually ALL/ANY given nation’s phone calls.

Of course, the story makes specific points to the effect that this type of program is only implemented outside of the United States. But, as we've known for more than two months, the intelligence community’s definition of, “metadata,” right here in the U.S., is that it is (actually) content. (SEE: Fmr. CIA Deputy Dir. Morell In Sen. Judiciary Cmte. Testimony: NSA's “Metadata” Is “Content”)

From today’s WaPo

NSA surveillance program reaches ‘into the past’ to retrieve, replay phone calls
By Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani
Washington Post
Tuesday, March 18, 8:37 AM

The National Security Agency has built a surveillance system capable of recording “100 percent” of a foreign country’s telephone calls, enabling the agency to rewind and review conversations as long as a month after they take place, according to people with direct knowledge of the effort and documents supplied by former contractor Edward Snowden.
A senior manager for the program compares it to a time machine — one that can replay the voices from any call without requiring that a person be identified in advance for surveillance.

The voice interception program, called MYSTIC, began in 2009. Its RETRO tool, short for “retrospective retrieval,” and related projects reached full capacity against the first target nation in 2011. Planning documents two years later anticipated similar operations elsewhere.

In the initial deployment, collection systems are recording “every single” conversation nationwide, storing billions of them in a 30-day rolling buffer that clears the oldest calls as new ones arrive, according to a classified summary.

The call buffer opens a door “into the past,” the summary says, enabling users to “retrieve audio of interest that was not tasked at the time of the original call.” Analysts listen to only a fraction of 1 percent of the calls, but the absolute numbers are high. Each month, they send millions of voice clippings, or “cuts,” for processing and long-term storage.
At the request of U.S. officials, The Washington Post is withholding details that could be used to identify the country where the system is being employed or other countries where its use was envisioned.

No other NSA program disclosed to date has swallowed a nation’s telephone network whole. Outside experts have sometimes described that prospect as disquieting but remote, with notable implications for a growing debate over the NSA’s practice of “bulk collection” abroad…

The story continues on to note: “The RETRO tool was built three years ago as a 'unique one-off capability,' but last year’s secret intelligence budget named five more countries for which the MYSTIC program provides 'comprehensive metadata access and content,' with a sixth expected to be in place by last October.”

While the NSA will neither confirm nor deny that it is, indeed, capturing all of a given nation’s calls, the reality brought to us via the information contained in these latest, leaked documents, as reported in this story, is that the NSA is fully capable of doing just that, as it carries out its over-arching directive to “Collect it all.

#            #            #

HERE and HERE are the links to the WaPo's latest files.

And, here's the link to Executive Order ("EO") 12333: EO12333.

#            #            #

Be sure to checkout Kossack Joan McCarter's report on this breaking news, and more info related to it, linked here: "NSA's bulk collection bonanza."

#            #            #

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Meteor Blades, bink, JekyllnHyde, Alumbrados, Mogolori, deben, glitterscale, Liberal Thinking, Detlef, native, emal, karlpk, Shockwave, genethefiend, OLinda, RFK Lives, Caneel, hubcap, niemann, Creosote, TheMomCat, Justina, Babsnc, TracieLynn, cskendrick, Einsteinia, whenwego, Agathena, Dburn, chimpy, taonow, Nate Roberts, ctsteve, k9disc, kharma, roseeriter, gerrilea, RuralLiberal, riverlover, walkshills, sb, davidincleveland, Simian, marina, Tinfoil Hat, NoMoreLies, jrooth, unclejohn, corvo, Militarytracy, run around, basquebob, dewtx, ChemBob, YucatanMan, Laurence Lewis, eru, Sun Tzu, where4art, LABobsterofAnaheim, Burned, stevemb, Sandino, Tunk, WisePiper, Shotput8, Pluto, Indiana Bob, CJnyc, Jim P, berko, martini, Knucklehead, K S LaVida, Medium Head Boy, cybersaur, cardboardurinal, cookseytalbott, koNko, Catesby, KenBee, sailmaker, kck, DarkestHour, triv33, MJ via Chicago, StrayCat, philipmerrill, gooderservice, JVolvo, joe shikspack, el cid, onionjim, Cassiodorus, blueoregon, AllanTBG, markthshark, Little, One Pissed Off Liberal, pgm 01, Jarrayy, SpecialKinFlag, Debs2, devis1, Dartagnan, ColoTim, EdSF, psychodrew, yoduuuh do or do not, terabytes, dclawyer06, suejazz, aliasalias, Kentucky Kid, jnhobbs, JML9999, Don midwest, kdnla, CroneWit, also mom of 5, kimoconnor, zerone, poligirl, Involuntary Exile, salamanderanagram, bythesea, Buckeye Nut Schell, No Exit, temptxan, petulans, LaEscapee, Executive Odor, Rhysling, cybrestrike, lostinamerica, maryabein, JesseCW, Words In Action, The Jester, The Free Agent, LOrion, Lost and Found, Lady Libertine, Jaimas, 4kedtongue, Publius2008, Nada Lemming, Colorado is the Shiznit, allenjo, annominous, slowbutsure, stone clearing, FarWestGirl, Teiresias70, Lusty, thomask, Wolf10, tardis10, Faroutman, PhilJD, bakeneko, dradams, jadt65, DRo, SouthernLiberalinMD, T100R, No one gets out alive, quill, Whimsical Rapscallion, anodnhajo, DeadHead, greenbastard, MsLillian, 420 forever, lunachickie, wxorknot, dotdash2u, George3, jbob, gypsytoo, aresea, GreenMother, Kombema, CenPhx, Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees, Pablo Bocanegra, wilywascal, benamery21

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site