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But “this is more than just a data center,” says one senior intelligence official who until recently was involved with the program. The mammoth Bluffdale center will have another important and far more secret role that until now has gone unrevealed. It is also critical, he says, for breaking codes. And code-breaking is crucial, because much of the data that the center will handle—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 also involved with the program, 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. The upshot, according to this official: “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.”
In the process—and for the first time since Watergate and the other scandals of the Nixon administration—the NSA has turned its surveillance apparatus on the US and its citizens. It has established listening posts throughout the nation to collect and sift through billions of email messages and phone calls, whether they originate within the country or overseas. It has created a supercomputer of almost unimaginable speed to look for patterns and unscramble codes. Finally, the agency has begun building a place to store all the trillions of words and thoughts and whispers captured in its electronic net. And, of course, it’s all being done in secret. To those on the inside, the old adage that NSA stands for Never Say Anything applies more than ever.
Overseas, Menwith Hill, the NSA’s giant satellite listening post in Yorkshire, England that sports 33 giant dome-covered eavesdropping dishes, is also undergoing a multi-million-dollar expansion, with $68 million alone being spent on a generator plant to provide power for new supercomputers.
What goes on behind the razor wire is so secret that far less is known about it than the workings of MI5 or MI6. British ministers in successive governments have persistently dodged the subject when challenged about why the base continues to expand.
John Reid, the armed forces minister, refused to give any information when asked recently why the base has taken on 200 extra staff. "I am not prepared to comment in detail on the operations of RAF Menwith Hill," he said.
That name is itself misleading - it is not a British airbase. Opened in the late 1950s on land purchased by the crown, it was taken over directly by the NSA in 1966 and became its Field Station F83. It is now the NSA's largest listening post in the world. Sprawling across 560 acres, it has an operation centre and on-site town, including houses, shops, a chapel and a sports centre. It also has its own uninterruptible electricity supply.
Originally posted by trustnothing
reply to post by Bedlam
They may believe they need them but what do they need them for? We are all allies after all and we have had peace in most of Europe for over 60 years... perhaps this is how the US have stayed as technological leaders for so long?
...there will be an outcry if this bill is passed by parliament. I for one would be quite happy to see a million or 2 march on Menwith Hill to stage a protest. Regardless of how Americans view their "National Security"
I have read somewhere that much of the spying was on behalf of US businesses (national security again in some warped way) but assuming every single person is a pedo or a terrorist is a disgusting way to treat your voters quite frankly.
Who actually oversees these guys anyway? We know from past history if a President doesnt like what these agencies are doing he gets his head blown off in Dallas, or whatever.