As a rule, I don't get involved in politics.
I view it the same way Don Corleone
saw the drug business in The Godfather
("It doesn't make any difference to me
what a man does for a living, you
understand....But that's a dirty business.")
Yet even if I refuse to offer blind allegiance
to any party or officeholder, I believe we
are all obliged to speak out on issues of
principle, especially those dealing with
human rights, democracy, and civil liberties.
With that purpose, I share this summary
list of what we've learned about the
surveillance activities of the NSA in recent
198 Things We've Learned About the NSA
(Updated: May 22, 2015)
FBI admits Patriot Act didn’t help solve any major terrorist cases.
This Week, May 22, 2015
New NSA documents reveal plans to deliver malware through the Google
First Look, May 21, 2015
Former NSA Inspector General: US companies have lost more than $100
billion in business because of NSA mass surveillance.
Associated Press, May 15, 2015
NSA converting phone call conversations into searchable text.
First Look, May 5, 2015
Former NSA official claims the agency “is so overwhelmed with data,
it is no longer effective.”
ZDNet. April 30, 2105
Documents reveal official misled Congress about NSA spying.
Bloomberg, April 25, 2015
Experts struggle to find a single instance in which warrantless spying
thwarted a terrorist attack.
New York Times, April 24, 2015
NSA wants tech companies to give it 'front door' access to encrypted
The Verge, April 12, 2015
NSA has set aside a special room for watching porn.
Gizmodo, April 6, 2015
iPhone encryption ‘petrified’ NSA.
CNBC, March 18, 2015
American and British spies hack largest manufacturer of SIM cards to
steal encryption codes.
First Look, February 19, 2015
Hacker claims FBI charged him with 44 felonies when he refused to become a
Wired, February 18, 2015
NSA planted spyware on disk drives in 30 different countries.
CNET, February 17, 2015
One year after the President proposed halting bulk collection of data, it
NPR, February 4, 2015
No one knows what happened to NSA staffers who snooped on their lovers
Ars Technica, February 2, 2015
NSA has capability to capture all Skype traffic
Ars Technica, December 30, 2014
NSA waits until Christmas Eve to release 12 years of reports documenting
abusive and improper practices.
First Look, December 26, 2014
40 federal government agencies now spy on citizens, with agents posting
as doctors, ministers, accountants, etc.
New York Times, November 15, 2014
Pew Research finds that 80% of Americans are concerned about
government monitoring of email and phone calls.
Pew Research, November 12, 2014
NSA head invested in tech company that had a ‘sweetheart deal’ with
one of the spy agencies leading sources of information.
The Daily Beast, November 3, 2014
Congress still has not idea how much the NSA spies on US citizens.
The Atlantic, October 30, 2014
Congress investigating deal between NSA official and a controversial
private company run by ex-NSA chief.
Reuters, October 20, 2014
Social media app Whisper promises anonymity but share info with the
US government and stores user data indefinitely in a searchable
The Guardian, October 16, 2014
NSA agents may have infiltrated the global communications industry.
First Look, October 10, 2014
NSA plans to launch summer camps in all 50 states to influence and
enlist the help of teenagers.
First Look, October 9, 2014
Google chairman warns government surveillance will break the Internet
National Journal, October 8, 2014
Germany handed law-protected private data over to the NSA for years.
RT, October 4, 2014
NSA documents include Orwellian demands that employees change the
definition of familiar words.
ACLU, September 29, 2014
School sets up surveillance program to spy on students after getting a call
form the NSA.
WHNT News, September 24, 2014
Does the NSA have the right to impose a $117 trillion fine—more than the
value of all the assets on planet Earth—on companies that won’t spy? The
US Dept of Justice thinks so.
Washington Post, September 15, 2014
US government threatened secret fine of $250,000 per day on Yahoo if it didn't
supply private user data to NSA spies.
The Guardian, September 11, 2014
How third-party companies you’ve never heard of—such as Neustar,
Subsentio, and Yaana—make profits seizing your private data for the NSA.
ZDNet, September 5, 2014
The NSA can brand you as a terrorist based on a Facebook post.
The Guardian, August 30, 2014
NSA workers believe executive order 12333 authorizes them to “own
the internet”—even in violation of federal statues.
Ars Technica, August 27, 2014
The NSA built its own secret Google so government employees in two
dozen agencies can search your phone calls and emails.
First Look, August 25, 2014
NSA spies trying to hack the Syrian Internet accidentally knocked the
Wired, August 12, 2014
Nearly half of the 680,000 individuals on the government’s terrorist watch
list have no terrorist affiliation.
The Intercept, August 5, 2014
1.5 million people added to the Terrorism Watch List in the last 5 years—and
have no legal recourse or way of challenging their status.
Associated Press, July 18, 2014
China blocks government purchases of Apple, Microsoft and Symantec
products because of concerns that they are infected with US spy tools.
Bloomberg, August 6, 2014
US dramatically expands definition of terrorist—new guidelines state
that “concrete facts are not necessary” and profiling is acceptable.
First Look, July 23, 2014
Snowden: Dropbox is a NSA surveillance target.
Boing Boing, July 18, 2014
NSA spies routinely share nude photos collected during surveillance.
The Guardian, July 17, 2014
Spies hack online polls, censor videos and manipulate the web to
influence public opinion.
First Look, July 14, 2014
At least 80% of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and
stored in the US.
The Guardian, July 10, 2014
Germany expels CIA bureau chief over NSA spying
RT, July 10, 2014
NSA spied on prominent Muslim-American citizens without any cause
other than their exercise of First Amendment freedom of speech rights.
First Look, July 9, 2014
90% of NSA surveillance targets are innocent citizens, not terrorists.
Washington Post, July 5, 2014
Secret Court renews (again) NSA phone surveillance program that
privacy advocates argue is unconsitutional.
Politico, June 20, 2014
NSA uses video-game style ‘reward points’ to encourage employees to
do more spying.
Washington Post, June 18, 2014
NSA operates at least a dozen espionage sites in Germany.
Der Speigel, June 18, 2014
Governments use secret cables to tap phones.
The Telegraph, June 6, 2014
NSA use of face recongition software to track US citizens is
perfectly legal…according to the NSA.
Bloomberg, June 3, 2014
NSA is collection millions of faces from web images.
New York Times, May 31, 2014
NSA put on notice over encryption standards.
Pacific Standard, May 30, 2014
FBI, DEA and other agencies now relying on NSA for spy data
on US citizens.
Electronic Frontier Foundation, May 20, 2014
The NSA is recording every cell phone call in the Bahamas.
First Look, May 19, 2014
Cisco Systems CEO outraged at photo of NSA spies
opening packages of his company’s equipement in order
to install surveillance software.
CBC, May 18, 2014
How the NSA tampers with web routers to spy on people
—incorporating the same backdoor surveillance functionality
that the US complains about in Chinese tech.
The Guardian, May 12, 2014
"We kill people based on metadata."
New York Review of Books, May 10, 2014
US government spies prohibits news coverage that cites leaked
material—so authors of all the articles cited on this page must
go to jail!
New York Times, May 8, 2014
Edward Snowden: NSA spies more on Americans than on other
National Journal, April 30, 2014
Surveillance Court rejects Verizon's challenge to NSA spy data
collection on "virtually every citizen."
CBS, April 29, 2014
Pulitzer cites government intimidation and "inappropriate use of
terrorism laws" in giving award for reporting on NSA spying abuses.
CNN, April 14, 2014
NSA has presidential authorization to exploit internet security
flaws to conduct spying.
New York Times, April 12, 2014
NSA denies knowing about Heartbleed exploit, but it bears
an uncanny resemblance to the agency’s Bullrun program to
circumvent web encryption.
New York Times, April 11, 2014
Sources say NSA knew about Heartbleed web security flaw
for at least two years, and used it regularly for spying.
Bloomberg, April 11, 2014
NSA refuses Angela Merkel’s request to see her NSA file.
The Guardian, April 10, 2014
Director of National Intelligence admits NSA performed
warrantless searches of US citizens' email and phone calls.
The Guardian, April 1, 2014
NSA spied on 122 world leaders.
RT, March 29, 2014
Jimmy Carter believes the NSA is reading his emails.
Time, March 23, 2013
NSA tracks down the private email and Facebook accounts of
system administrators to get access to their networks.
First Look, March 20, 2014
NSA has developed capability to record 100% of the phone
calls in a foreign country, and keep them in storage.
Washington Post, March 18, 2014
How the NSA plans to infect ‘millions’ of computers with malware.
First Look, March 12, 2014
NSA views encryption as evidence of suspicion and will target those
who use it.
Venture Beat, March 10, 2014
Snowden raised concerns over NSA abuses internally to more
than ten different officials, none of whom took action, before
going to the press.
Washington Post, March 7, 2014
British spies, with help from NSA, collect 4 million private webcam
photos of people in their homes.
The Guardian, February 27, 2014
Snowden biographer claims his text would ‘self-delete’ when he wrote
BetaBeat, February 25, 2014
American Bar Association issues formal complaint over NSA violating attorney-
The Hill, February 24, 2014
As a favor to German leader Merkel, the NSA no longer spies on
her—but has switched to spying on her aides and ministers.
Deutsche Welle, February 23, 2014
AT&T’s surveillance transparency report neglects to mention that it
hands over information on 80 million customers to the NSA.
Wired, February 21, 2014
Within hours of The Guardian publishing Snowden’s first revelations,
‘diggers’ showed up outside both its NY and Washington office, as
well as outside the home of its US editor.
The Guardian, February 20, 2014
NSA partnered with other countries in spying on US lawyers, possibly
as a way of bypassing US laws protecting attorney-client communications.
New York Times, February 16, 2014
Finally someone is forced to resign from the NSA because of the
Snowden scandal—but only a person who might have accidentally
Washington Post, February 13, 2014
The NSA's secret role in the US assassination program.
First Look Media, February 10, 2014
More than 4,000 groups sign up to protest NSA surveillance.
PC World, February 6, 2014
Dept. of Justice admits NSA probably spies on Congress.
National Journal, February 4, 2014
How many criminals have NSA's phone records busted?
Maybe one, according to the Dept. of Justice.
PC World, February 4, 2014
NSA spying may have violated attorney-client privilege.
The Nation, February 4, 2014
Head spy James Clapper says journalists who report on NSA
abuses are accomplices to crime.
The Guardian, January 29, 2014
NSA sweeping up private information from phone apps, including
info on the phone owner’s sexual orientation.
The Guardian, January 27, 2014
More than 50 leading experts in cryptography sign petition asserting
NSA actions "threaten the technological infrastructure of society."
Washington Post, January 24, 2014
Bipartisan government advisory panel says NSA bulk data collection
is illegal and should be halted.
NBC News, January 23, 2014
Top German prosecutor considers NSA investigation.
Der Spiegel, January 20, 2014
NSA collects 200 million text messages per day – sweeping up
"pretty much everything it can find."
The Guardian, January 16, 2014
NSA secret spy court opposes reforms and transparency.
Los Angeles Times, January 14, 2014
NSA uses radio waves to insert secret software on 100,000 computers
— both for surveillance and to launch cyberattacks on enemies.
New York Times, January 14, 2014
NSA won’t say whether it spies on Congress.
CNN, January 4, 2013
Secret court authorizes more phone surveillance even though Federal
judge has ruled it "probably unconstitutional."
Reuters, January 3, 2014
NSA investing $80 million on computer system that will break every kind of
encryption used to secure banking, medical, business and government data.
Washington Post, January 2, 2014
NSA spyware gives agency full access to the iPhone.
CNET, December 31, 2013
NSA can spy on computers even if they aren't connected to
CBS News, December 30, 2013
The NSA intercepts computers mid-shipment and installs spyware
Der Spiegel, December 29, 2013
NSA division called ANT has burrowed its way into nearly all the
security architecture made by the major players in the industry —
probably without the knowledge of these companies.
Der Spiegel, December 29, 2013
Former CIA boss on NSA review panel wants to expand data collection.
Nation Journal, December 22, 2013
Leading supplier of computer security software had secret deal with
NSA to put security flaws in software tools it sold.
Reuters, December 20, 2013
US journalist with ties to Snowden claims his Berlin apartment was
RT, December 21, 2013
NSA program stopped no terror attacks, says White House panel.
NBC News, December 20, 2013
New documents reveal massive scope of NSA spying in 60 countries,
targeting regulators, aid organizations and many others with no
connection to terrorist or illegal activities.
Washington Post, December 20, 2013
Lawyer who won NSA ruling claims spy agency put him under
surveillance and hacked his email account.
The Examiner, December 18, 2013
New evidence that NSA head misled in statements about oversight of spy
The Atlantic, December 16, 2013
NSA mass collection of phone data is unconstitutional, federal judge rules.
But the surveillance continues pending government appeal.
CNN, December 16, 2013
By cracking cellphone code, NSA has capacity for decoding private
Washington Post, December 13, 2013
NSA Director tells Senate committee he needs everybody’s phone records to
maintain national security.
The Guardian, December 11, 2013
NSA uses Google cookies to determine targets for hacking.
Washington Post, December 10, 2013
NSA snoops online video games.
Time, December 9, 2013
Local police now want access to massive data dumps of cell phone
info comparable to what the NSA routinely acquires.
Washington Post, December 8, 2013
NSA keeps track of most of the world’s cell phones, collecting
billions of records every day.
Washington Post, December 5, 2013
NSA explored ways of spying on citizens and communication systems
of Canada, Australia and New Zealand without the knowledge or
consent of those nations.
The Guardian, December 4, 2013
NSA spied on foreign leaders at the G20 summit in Canada.
CBC, November 27, 2013
NSA collected details of online sexual activity of radicals — none
connected to terror plots—to find ways of discrediting them.
The Guardian, November 27, 2013
NSA put malware on more than 50,000 computer networks worldwide.
CNET, November 23, 2013
NSA created a secret 4-year strategy plan to increase its powers and
expand its surveillance.
New York Times, November 22, 2013
US and UK struck secret deal allowing NSA to track personal data of
The Guardian, November 20, 2013
NSA shared email and web date with other government agencies, in
violation of court-ordered procedures.
The Guardian, November 19, 2013
NSA refuses to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests from
citizens asking if the agency is spying on them.
USA Today, November 18, 2013
Senate committee passes bill strengthening NSA’s ability to make
The Guardian, November 15, 2103
The FBI is helping the NSA spy, but senators don’t want to know about it.
Foreign Policy, November 14, 2013
US software and computer companies see a sudden chill in sales to China
due to NSA concerns.
Wall Street Journal, November 14, 2013
NSA wants to block sales of T-shirt that ridicules government spies.
Voice of America, November 14, 2013
NSA spied on OPEC.
Der Speigel, November 11, 2013
Editor of The Guardian will be interrogated by Parliament over NSA
The Guardian, November 9, 2013
NSA codebreaker who protested government surveillance abuses in
2007 was raided by the FBI.
CBS, November 5, 2013
After reviewing Snowden documents, NY Times declares that the “N.S.A.
seems to be listening everywhere in the world, gathering every stray electron.”
New York Times, November 3, 2013
National Security Agency secretly broke into the main communications links
that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world.
Washington Post, October 30, 2013
NSA eavesdropped on Vatican phone calls, possibly spying on conclave
that selected Pope Francis.
Chicago Tribune, October 30, 2013
White House signed off on spying of foreign leaders, according to
intelligence agency officials.
Los Angeles Times, October 28, 2013
Administration source claims the President never approved NSA tapping
phones of foreign leaders because “the NSA has so many eavesdropping
programs, it would not have listed all of them for the president.”
CNN, October 28, 2013
NSA recently tracked over 60 million calls in Spain in the space of a month.
Reuters, October 28, 2013
NSA monitored phone calls of 35 world leaders.
The Guardian, October 24, 2013
German government claims it has information that the US may have
monitored cell phone conversations of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Reuters, October 23, 2013
NSA spent $652 million to implant spyware on tens of millions of computers.
BBC, October 22, 2013
NSA collected more than 70 million French phone records in a single month.
Washington Post, October 21, 2013
NSA hacked Mexican President Felipe Calderon's email account.
Der Spiegel, October 20, 2013
Documents reveal NSA’s extensive involvement in killer drone program.
Washington Post, October 16, 2013
NSA collects contacts from an estimated 500,000 buddy lists on live chat
services each day.
Washington Post, October 14, 2013
NSA Director defends the organizations mass surveillance programs, but
believes the spies need to do a better job of explaining them to the public.
New York Times, October 12, 2013
Despite increasing controversy and criticism, secret court renews NSA’s
authorization to continue sweeping phone data.
Office of the Director of Natational Intelligence press release, October 11, 2013
NSA’s computer HQ, bigger than Google’s largest data center, has
experienced 10 electricity meltdowns and repeated loss of equipment
in the last year.
Wall Street Journal, October 7, 2013
NSA targeted Tor network, relied upon by dissidents and activists for
The Guardian, October 4, 2013
Newly unsealed document reveal that email provider used by Edward
Snowden ordered to hand over encryption codes for Snowden’s messages
(and those of all 400,000 other users) or pay $5,000 per day fine.
Wired, October 2, 2013
NSA chief admits misleading the public with figures on terror plots foiled
Washington Times, October 2, 2013
In 2010 and 2011 the NSA conducted a secret test of a program to collect
bulk data about the cellphone locations of Americans.
New York Times, October 2, 2013
Privacy activist who initiated protest letter to NSA refused entry to the US
—and officials refuse to tell him why.
The Guardian, October 1, 2013
NSA ‘Marina’ project tracks users browser activity and contact info for the
last year, and can be used to create lifestyle profiles of millions of people —
including US citizens who aren't suspects.
The Guardian, September 30, 2013
CEO imprisoned after he wouldn't spy for NSA wasn't allowed to mention
this during his trial, or to present evidence that his prosecution may have
been in retaliation for his refusal.
Washington Post, September 30, 2013
Since 2010, the NSA has tracked the social network connections of US
New York Times, September 28, 2013l
NSA employee made unauthorized intercepts of the phone calls of
numerous women over a period of six years without it being detected.
The Guardian, September 27, 2013
Director of NSA tells the Senate Intelligence Committee that there is no
legal limit to how much phone date the government can collect.
Wall Street Journal, September 26, 2013
Senator Feinstein admits NSA is collecting Internet data upstream through
secret agreements with telco companies — in direct contradiction to NSA
C-Span, September 26, 2013
Newly released documents show the NSA spied on Muhammad Ali, Martin
Luther King, Frank Church, Howard Baker and others.
The Guardian, September 26, 2013
NSA spy center in Utah has an estimated data capacity of 5 zettabytes —
the equivalent of 1.25 trillion DVDs.
NPR, September 23, 2013
NSA gathers 13.5 billion pieces of information on India over the course of
just 30 days.
The Hindu, September 23, 2013
NSA pays around $300 million dollars to AT&T, Verizon and other
telecom companies in exchange for access to phone calls.
Forbes, September 23, 2013
Secret court that authorized NSA spying contradicted the US Supreme
Court on constitutional rights.
The Guardian, September 22, 2013
Justice Department internal ethics watchdog never probed judges’ concerns
about NSA surveillance.
USA Today, September 19, 2013
Department of Justice tried to stop USA Today from running the above
Cryptome.org, September 19, 2013
USA telecommunications companies have never challenged NSA demands
to hand over bulk metadata.
Wired. September 17, 2103
NSA monitors banks and credit card transactions -- sometimes in apparent
violation of national laws and global regulations.
Der Spiegel, September 16, 2013
NSA spent taxpayer dollars to build a war room modeled to look like the
USS Enterprise from Star Trek.
PBS, September 13, 2013
NSA disguised itself as Google to spy.
CNET, September 12, 2013
NSA shares raw intelligence, including private information of American
citizens with Israel. Secret deal places no limits on how Israel uses this data.
The Guardian, September 11, 2013
Yahoo CEO announces that she would face prison if she told the truth
about her company’s participation in NSA spying.
The Guardian, September 11, 2013
NSA violated laws on phone spying for years and misled the secret court
that oversaw its operations.
Bloomberg News, September 11, 2013
NSA violations led judge to consider viability of surveillance program.
The Guardian, September 10, 2013
NSA used its influence to undermine vital web security standards.
Boing Boing, September 8, 2013
NSA can access private data on iPhones, BlackBerry and Android devices.
Washington Post, September 8, 2013
The NSA invested billions of dollars in a program code-named Bullrun to
hack the encryption that protects banking data, medical records, etc.
New York Times September 5, 2013
NSA hacks “tens of thousands” of private computers every year.
Wired, September 4, 2013
NSA spied on private emails of the Presidents of Brazil and Mexico.
CBS News, September 2, 2013
NSA spied on news broadcaster Al Jazeera.
Der Spiegel, August 31, 2013
NSA believes it has the right to turn any private business into mass
USA Today, August 27, 2013
NSA bugged the United Nations.
The Atlantic, August 25, 2013
NSA employees used surveillance technology to spy on their lovers.
Washington Post, August 24, 2103
NSA paid millions to Google, Yahoo, Facebook and other companies to
fund their help in surveillance.
The Guardian, August 22, 2013
NSA program traced more than email metadata, but also included
online communications—covering 75% of all web traffic.
Wall Street Journal, August 20, 2013
NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times per year.
Washington Post, August 15, 2013
Members of Congress denied acces to basic information about the NSA.
The Guardian, August 4, 2013
NSA tool collects “nearly everything a user does on the internet”
The Guardian, July 31, 2013
Low-level NSA analysts could access information on private citizens with
little or no supervision or court oversight.
ABC News, July 28, 2013
Microsoft gave NSA tools to unlock Outlook encryption even before
The Guardian, July 12, 2013
NSA head James Clapper lied to Congress under oath.
Washington Post, June 30, 2013
Misleading NSA fact sheet on surveillance program pulled from
web after senators’ criticism.
Washington Post, June 25, 2013
Secret court has authorized broad orders allowing NSA to use information
"inadvertently" collected from US citizens.
The Guardian, June 20, 2013
NSA swaps data with thousands of firms.
Bloomberg, June 14, 2013
NSA program code-named Boundless Informant gathered 3 billion pieces
of intelligence in a single 30-day period.
The Guardian, June 11, 2013
Secret court authorizes 99.9% of surveillance requests from the NSA.
Mother Jones, June 10, 2013
NSA’s new Utah spy center will cover 1.5 million square feet and use
enough electricity to power 65,000 homes.
NPR, June 10, 2013
AT&T, Sprint also provide user information to the NSA.
Wall Street Journal, June 7, 2013
NSA Prism program taps into user data of Apple, Google, Facebook
The Guardian June 6, 2013
NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily.
The Guardian, June 5, 2013