Around September 2001, the NSA was looking at downsizing its operation by roughly a third - it lacked a coherent purpose nor relevant mission. In a
matter of days that all changed.
Look, as far as the NSA goes, I've never really considered it much to worry about - just another 'alphabet' government agency awaiting its time to
be represented in a prime-time TV series.
However, I've just learnt that this book has come out in recent days (through another ATS thread authored by wingman77).
The Shadow Factory - The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America, by John Bamford
As the title suggests, it traces the recent history of the NSA and its preparations for the future.
We've all seen the movie 'The Lives of Others' or read Anna Funder's 'Stasiland'. If you haven't, then please take the time. What struck me -
after visiting the link provided below - was that the NSA is purely a more efficient digital version of the previously analogue Stasi. Albeit without
the nasty prison camps and people whom disappear mysteriously.
But it's becoming more intusive. Such is its ability to eavesdrop on all of our phone and email conversations.
A reading can be heard:
A few gems gleaned from the book commentary:
- The NSA employ over 4000 civilian and voice interceptors and other specialists.
- As well as regualary listening to Al Queda operatives in the Middle East and North Africa, they also listen to American business people,
journalists, and Red Cross workers
- They own the worlds largest collection of data eating super - computers, it's newest, codenamed Black Widow, is a collossal $17.5 million machine
made up of 16 tall cabinets crammed with thousands of processors capable of achieving speeds of hundreds of teraflops, hundreds of trillions of
operations a seconds. The NSA predicts that it will soon break the petaflop barrier, plowing through phone calls, emails, and other data at more than
a quadrillion operations a second.
- The agency has a city-sized headquarters which consumes so much energy that it is now in real danger of running out of power and going dark - it's
already run out of space to store all of its data - it is now drowning in it's own data according to the Congessional Research Service.
- Some of its 'information sources' grow at four petabytes per month - and the rate of growth is increasing. In a year at that rate, the NSA's
massive database will hold at least 48 petabytes - the equivilent of nearly one billion four door filing cabinets full of documents. It would also be
equal to about 24 trillion pages of text
200 petabytes is the equivelent of all printed material. Google processes about 20 petabytes of data a day. The 4 experiments in the Large Hadron
Collider are expected to produce about 15 petabytes of data per year.
- Unable to easily store all its intercepted phone calls and information, it has built itself a new data warehouse in San Antonio, Texas, costing
around $130 million.
The 470,000 foot facility will almost be the size of the Alamo Dome. The writer figures that considering the amount of information you can now hold on
a simple flash drive, he figures that the building has the capability to hold all the information in the world.
And the purpose of all this? The watch list - half a million.