Sunday, June 9, 2013

Current USG Spy Activities Are the Reincarnation of Project SHAMROCK

A friend familiar with intelligence activities informs me that the type of spy activity revealed by Edward Snowden was supposed to be killed during the Nixon/Ford era. He pointed me to Project SHAMROCK.

This is what Wikipedia says about Project SHAMROCK:
Project SHAMROCK, considered to be the sister project for Project MINARET, was an espionage exercise, started in August 1945 [1] that involved the accumulation of all telegraphic data entering into or exiting from the United States. The Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA)[2] and its successor NSA were given direct access to daily microfilm copies of all incoming, outgoing, and transiting telegraphs via the Western Union and its associates RCA and ITT. NSA did the operational interception, and, if information that would be of interest to other intelligence agencies was found, the material was passed to them.[3] "Intercepted messages were disseminated to the FBICIASecret ServiceBureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), and the Department of Defense." No court authorized the operation and there were no warrants.
At the height of Project SHAMROCK, 150,000 messages a month were printed and analyzed by NSA personnel. In May 1975 however, Congressional critics began to investigate and expose the program. As a result, NSA director Lew Allen terminated it, on his own authority rather than that of other intelligence agencies.
The testimony of both the representatives from the cable companies and of director Allen at the hearings prompted Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Sen. Frank Church to conclude that Project SHAMROCK was "probably the largest government interception program affecting Americans ever undertaken."[citation needed]
One result of these investigations was the 1978 creation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) which limited the powers of the NSA and put in place a process of warrants and judicial review. Another internal safeguard, was U.S. Signals Intelligence Directive 18, an internal NSA and intelligence community set of procedures, originally issued in 1980[4] and updated in 1993.[5]
USSID 18 was the general guideline for handling signal intelligence SIGINT inadvertently collected on US citizens, without a warrant, prior to the George W. Bush Administration. Interpretations of FISA and the principles of USSID 18, by the Bush administration assume the Executive Branch has unitary authority for warrantless surveillance, which is under Congressional investigation as an apparent violation of the intent of FISA.

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