The Stellar Wind is Blowing

Kaye Beach

March 18, 2012


Wired just published a whopper of an article by James Bamford on his favorite topic-the NSA.


Clencher quote;

The former NSA official held his thumb and forefinger close together: “We are that far from a turnkey totalitarian state.”

We are in so much trouble people.

The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)


Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks.

The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.

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.

. . .

For the first time, a former NSA official has gone on the record to describe the program, codenamed Stellar Wind, in detail. William Binney was a senior NSA crypto-mathematician largely responsible for automating the agency’s worldwide eavesdropping network. A tall man with strands of black hair across the front of his scalp and dark, determined eyes behind thick-rimmed glasses, the 68-year-old spent nearly four decades breaking codes and finding new ways to channel billions of private phone calls and email messages from around the world into the NSA’s bulging databases. As chief and one of the two cofounders of the agency’s Signals Intelligence Automation Research Center, Binney and his team designed much of the infrastructure that’s still likely used to intercept international and foreign communications.

He explains that the agency could have installed its tapping gear at the nation’s cable landing stations—the more than two dozen sites on the periphery of the US where fiber-optic cables come ashore. If it had taken that route, the NSA would have been able to limit its eavesdropping to just international communications, which at the time was all that was allowed under US law. Instead it chose to put the wiretapping rooms at key junction points throughout the country—large, windowless buildings known as switches—thus gaining access to not just international communications but also to most of the domestic traffic flowing through the US. The network of intercept stations goes far beyond the single room in an AT&T building in San Francisco exposed by a whistle-blower in 2006. “I think there’s 10 to 20 of them,” Binney says. “That’s not just San Francisco; they have them in the middle of the country and also on the East Coast.”

Read on

3 responses to “The Stellar Wind is Blowing

  1. What a bunch of hooey! Let’s see “Binney” appear in person on TV and make these statements—what? He refuses? Fancy that!

  2. The Government is us. Our remedy is to elect a new mentality. Not an easy task… just look at the GOP Caucus process. They don’t even attempt to hide their corruption any longer.

  3. Have you all taken a look at “smart meters” ??? We’re all going to have an
    Obama spy meterd and spy meter appliances ..whether we like it or not…Obama is using our tax dollars to force smart meters on us. Maybe that wouldn’t be so horrible after all we’ve got nothing to hide.
    The cost ? Well I guess more of us will be homeless.
    The really dispicable thing about Obama’s smart meters is they cause cancer, diabetes and heart disease…and cause accelerated aging and dementia.

    Privacy: Visual explanation of your detailed in-home data that is collected & will probably be sold

    Health: Via court order, Utility Companies admits smart meters emit 14,000 bursts per day on average – or every 6 seconds – and up to 190,000 / day. (This does not even include the planned 2.4gHz in-home transmissions via the “zigbee” chip in appliances.)

    Health: Single smart meter radiation is 50x to 450x more full-body radiation exposure than an active cell-phone

    Health: Single smart meter radiation is approx 100x higher than level internationally recognized as “extreme concern”

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