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Exposed: Massive New Spy Center Built to Track Your Emails and Phone Calls

An investigative reporter reveals that the NSA has established listening posts throughout the nation to collect and sift through billions of email messages and phone calls.

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AMY GOODMAN: That was a retired Army Sergeant Adrienne Kinne, who was here in the United States eavesdropping on the Palestine Hotel, which was later bombed. She said she saw a piece of paper that showed that the Palestine Hotel was going to be bombed and went to her superiors and said, "You’re bombing the hotel where I am listening to the people inside, and I can tell you that they are journalists." Jim Bamford, you quote Adrienne in your piece, as well, in your piece in Wired Magazine called "The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)." Jim?

JAMES BAMFORD: Yes, I first interviewed Adrienne for my book, The Shadow Factory, a number of years ago. And she’s extremely credible. And these are people, just like Bill Binney, that aren’t speaking to me confidentially; they’re speaking to me on the record, and they’re risking jail, basically, to tell the country what’s going on. So these people have a great deal of courage and a great deal of credibility, and that’s why I think that the NSA owes them and owes the country a duty to come out and say what they’re doing. I mean, this is a democracy, as your program often says, and I think the public should really have at least a fair insight into what the government is doing with their communications.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: One of the most extraordinary things about the eavesdropping program is the number of languages that people are—at the NSAare eavesdropping on. Can you say a little about what kind of linguistic ability the people who are listening in have?

JAMES BAMFORD: Well, the NSA was always very hurting for linguistic capabilities, especially in the lead-up to 9/11, so they had very few people that spoke [Pashto] or Dari, the languages in Afghanistan. They had very much an insufficient number of people who spoke Arabic. And Adrienne Kinne was telling me how they had an instructor down in Georgia, where she was working for NSA, trying to teach rudimentary [Pashto], I think it was, to some of the people, but they—it was very hard for them to pick it up. So, there’s 7,000 languages in the world. And NSA is—that’s one of the very difficult things NSA has. It’s trying to understand what people are saying. Picking up the information, intercepting it, is far less difficult than understanding what they’re saying.

AMY GOODMAN: In response to your article, Jim Bamford, Forbes Magazinepublished a  piece yesterday by Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute called "NSA’s Secret Data Center Is a Threat, But Only to America’s Enemies." The author writes, quote, "The real reason the intelligence community needs big cryptological and analytic complexes is that modern information technology has empowered hostile states and extremists of every stripe, giving them unprecedented access to the sources of American strength while enabling them to thoroughly obscure the authors and content of their communications." James Bamford, your comment?

JAMES BAMFORD: Well, listen, I mean, we’ve—I wrote another book called A Pretext for War about how we got into the Iraq War. And I’ve been hearing this fear mongering, fear mongering, fear mongering forever. We’re spending enormous amounts of money on NSA to pick up communications. And even though they lost all these—they had all these failures during the 1990s, you know, failure after failure—the World Trade Center One and World Trade Center Two, the attack on the Cole, the East African embassies bombings—and even after they started all this rebuilding and more and more money, they still missed the person flying over on the Christmas Day flight to Detroit with a bomb in his underwear. They missed the person in Times Square. So, you know, all this eavesdropping we’re doing and all this money we’re spending, I don’t see an awful lot of value coming out of that. But I do hear tremendous amounts of fear mongering, that sort of nonstop fear mongering from the people that are pushing this agenda.