Alarm and Disappointment in the Surveillance-for-Thee-But-Not-for-Me-State

James Bamford in Foreign Policy wrote a rather lengthy article that details our current "surveillance state": "Every Move You Make: Over eight years, President Barack Obama has created the most intrusive surveillance apparatus in the world. To what end?"

Here's just one anecdote in the story:

For the Obama administration, the next frontier in spying was being able to eavesdrop on every single person in a country by obtaining “full-take audio” of all cell-phone conversations. For this new program, code-named SOMALGET, it needed a testing ground. The Bahamas — small, contained, peaceful, 50 miles from the Florida coast — fit the bill.

In 2009, not long after Obama had taken office, the NSA gained access to Bahamian communications networks by subterfuge. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration got legal permission to plant monitoring equipment in the nation’s telecom systems by convincing the islands’ government that the operation would help catch drug dealers. Really, though, it opened a backdoor for the NSA so that it could tap, record, and store cellular data. “[O]ur covert mission is the provision of SIGINT [signals intelligence],” a document leaked by Snowden stated. The host country was “not aware.”

Within two years, SOMALGET would achieve its goal of 100 percent surveillance in the Bahamas — all without legal warrants. This included spying on the cell phones of some 6 million U.S. citizens who visit or reside in the country each year; notable celebrities with homes there are Bill Gates, John Travolta, and Tiger Woods.

I always liked Colin Powell through the Bush administration years, so the Daily Mail's report that he really did advise Hillary about how to avoid State Department servers and open records laws is disappointing.

Update: I just noticed that Grim had already posted on the FP article.

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