The National Security Agency’s director flatly denied a Washington Post report Wednesday that the NSA secretly broke into communications links to Google and Yahoo servers overseas.
Army Gen. Keith Alexander, the NSA director, pushed back against the report that cites leaked classified documents, saying the agency does not illegally access the servers of Internet companies.
“The servers and everything we do with those, those companies work with us. They are compelled to work with us. This isn’t something the court just said, ‘Would you please work with them and throw data over it.’ This is compelled. And this is specific requirements that come from a court order,” Alexander said at a cybersecurity conference in Washington.
“This is not NSA breaking into any databases. It would be illegal for us to do that. So, I don’t know what the report is. But I can tell you factually we do not have access to Google servers, Yahoo servers. We go through a court order.”
The Washington Post report is the latest in a series of allegations that stem from disclosures given to news organizations by Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who describes himself as a whistle-blower.
The operation is code named MUSCULAR, and it is operated jointly by the NSA and its UK counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters, The Washington Post reported, citing the documents.
According to The Post, the NSA and the Government Communications Headquarters are copying data flowing through fiber-optic network cables overseas, and the NSA sends millions of the records from Yahoo and Google to data warehouses at its headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland.
There is no oversight of the NSA operation because it is occurring overseas out of the reach of the court, according to the report.
But Alexander said that was not true, and that a court order must be issued to the Internet companies.
“We issue that court order to them through the FBI. And it’s not millions, it’s thousands that are done. And it’s almost all against terrorism and other things like that,” he said. “It has nothing to do with U.S. persons.”
Not having access to the servers does not mean much. They’d still have full access to the data if they tap the fiber feeding the servers. Alex Jones is where I first heard years before Snowden that Google was in a secret partnership with the NSA. Just as with AT&T there could be a secret place where the PRISM tap happens. Few at Google would even need to be aware of it. The fiber might run through some important person’s office and that’s where the tap might be.
Perhaps knowing what millions of you search for on google and type in gmail email is going to allow Obama–who says he is the ultimate consumer of US intelligence–to protect the US from terrorists… And other things like that. Things like terrorists. Which would be … what?