Wikileaks announced via Twitter that it would be revealing the name of a second country, along with the Bahamas, where the NSA has been secretly making recordings of all the mobile calls taking place there. The announcement followed a release by Glenn Greenwald in which the Bahamas was named and the name of another country was redacted. Greenwald claimed the name of the country was redacted because making it known “could cause deaths”. Shortly after the release of the documents Wikileaks took to Twitter to announce that they would release the name of the country.
On Tuesday morning WikiLeaks posted a tweet that stated: “@GGreenwald @johnjcook We will reveal the name of the censored country whose population is being mass recorded in 72 hours.”
In addition to the revelations about the Bahamas and the mystery country, The Intercept said the NSA was using a separate program, MYSTIC, to scoop up metadata – raw data that does not include actual conversations – from phone calls in the Bahamas, Mexico, Kenya and the Philippines.
It is SOMALGET, however, that is sure to cause the biggest controversy, as actual conversations are stored for up to 30 days before the agency wipes them.
The Washington Post previously reported that although only a small fraction of calls are actually listened to by human analysts, millions of voice clips are still kept and sent to long-term storage.
Documents published on The Intercept website reveal the agency’s enthusiasm for SOMALGET, saying that it can “buffer full-take audio collection” as a means to “make possible remarkable new ways of performing both target development and target discovery”.
The use of SOMALGET in the Bahamas and the mystery country whose name is redacted, the document’s authors claim, “has led to the discovery of international narcotics traffickers and special-interest alien smugglers”.
And in a worrying statement, the document goes on to recommend the use of the surveillance system in other locations. “With proper engineering and coordination there is little reason this capability cannot expand to other accesses,” it states.
h/t SCMP World