Here’s what the public is allowed to know:
- The NSA, a Defense Department agency created in 1952, falls under the category of a “black” program in the federal budget, a term applied to classified efforts. It’s assumed the annual budget is somewhere around 10 US billion dollars. (others say it could be closer to 30 billion)
- The NSA is responsible for global monitoring, collection, and processing of information and data for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes, specializing in a discipline known as signals intelligence (SIGINT).
- The NSA’s domestic spying program, known in official government documents as the “President’s Surveillance Program,” (“The Program”) was implemented by President George W. Bush shortly after the attacks on September 11, 2001.
- When the NSA’s spying program was first exposed by the New York Times in 2005, President Bush admitted to a small aspect of the program—what the administration labeled the “Terrorist Surveillance Program”—in which the NSA monitored, without warrants, the communications of between 500-1000 people inside the US with suspected connections to Al Qaeda. But other aspects of the Program were aimed not just at targeted individuals, but perhaps millions of innocent Americans never suspected of a crime.
- Telecommunications companies also allowed the NSA to install sophisticated communications surveillance equipment in secret rooms at key telecommunications facilities around the country. This equipment gave the NSA unfettered access to large streams of domestic and international communications in real time—what amounted to at least 1.7 billion emails a day, according to the Washington Post. The NSA could then data mine and analyze this traffic for suspicious keywords, patterns, and connections. Again, all of this was done without a warrant in violation of federal law and the Constitution.
- The Washington Post was the first journalist to report on Snowden’s documents. He said the U.S. government urged him not to specify by name which companies were involved, but Gellman decided that to name them “would make it real to Americans.” Reports also revealed details of Tempora, a British black-ops surveillance program run by the NSA’s British partner, GCHQ. The initial reports included details about the NSA call database, Boundless Informant, and of a secret court order requiring Verizon to hand the NSA millions of Americans’ phone records daily, the surveillance of French citizens’ phone and Internet records, and those of “high-profile individuals from the world of business or politics.” XKeyscore, an analytical tool that allows for collection of “almost anything done on the internet,” was described by The Guardian as a program that shed light on one of Snowden’s most controversial statements: “I, sitting at my desk [could] wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email.”
The NSA’s top-secret black budget, obtained from Snowden by The Washington Post, exposed the successes and failures of the 16 spy agencies comprising the U.S. intelligence community, and revealed that the NSA was paying U.S. private tech companies for clandestine access to their communications networks. The agencies were allotted $52 billion for the 2013 fiscal year.
The above information is from various sources on the internet and reveals the extent to which the United States of America will go to protect its citizens. Whether you agree or not, there are people who have made it their life-long work to keep America safe from harm. The author of the Code Raven Series believes that one of these people is a PATRIOT named Luke Raven. Real life is often stranger than fiction.
If you’re curious how this fictional character began his career, read Code Raven. It’s free for the US and the UK this week on Amazon. There are five novellas follow in the series and a sixth novel will be out fall of 2018.
Disclaimer: Of course, this author states emphatically that the entire Raven Group prequel and the ensuing series of novellas are works of fiction. Any resemblance to characters living or dead is entirely coincidental.