This might keep you up at night, assuming that the National Security Agency's unprecedented levels of spying bother you: new documents obtained by the Washington Post and presented in this in-depth report details a system capable of capturing an entire country's calls and storing them for thirty days. The system, codenamed "MYSTIC," has already been deployed in at least one country that the NSA wants to keep tabs on. Officials asked the Washington Post to withhold the details of this program's deployment in the name of "national security."
According to leaked documents obtained by The Washington Post, the NSA currently has the capability to record 100 percent of a country's phone calls. In turn an NSA analyst has the ability to playback individual calls from that country within a thirty day rolling window. MYSTIC was launched in 2009 and became fully operational in 2011, according to the documents – which we assume came from Edward Snowden's cache of classified documents that he obtained while working as a contractor for the agency.
One wonders if the NSA has ever considered using it domestically…
Spokespeople for the NSA and the National Security Council (responding separately) told the Washington Post that having such tools is highly valuable.
In a statement, Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the National Security Council, declined to comment on specifics, but speaking generally, she said "new or emerging threats" are "often hidden within the large and complex system of modern global communications, and the United States must consequently collect signals intelligence in bulk in certain circumstances in order to identify these threats."
NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines, in an e-mailed statement to the Washington Post, said that "continuous and selective reporting of specific techniques and tools used for legitimate U.S. foreign intelligence activities is highly detrimental to the national security of the United States and of our allies, and places at risk those we are sworn to protect."
This story is developing. We will have more information on it when it becomes available. The United States government has yet to cite any examples where this bulk data collection activity has thwarted a terrorist attack in the United States…
Source: Washington Post