Monday, July 08, 2013

Corporate Cooperation

(Editorial cartoon by Jack Ohman and published 7/1/13 in the Sacramento Bee.  Click on image to enlarge so that you can see the amazing details.  Then please return.)

The emphasis on the story of domestic and international spying by our government has once again turned to the messenger rather than the message.  We are learning all sorts of details about Edward Snowden, about what a flake, what a narcissist, what a jerk he is.  The propaganda is a handy diversion from the fact that our government has not denied doing what Snowden said it is doing.  Even some perfectly respectable liberal bloggers have begun to drink the kool-aid and are concentrating on Snowden's flaws rather than on the real story:  our government is spying on us.

I did find one article in the Washington Post which provided some additional information on the program.

The U.S. government had a problem: Spying in the digital age required access to the fiber-optic cables traversing the world’s oceans, carrying torrents of data at the speed of light. And one of the biggest operators of those cables was being sold to an Asian firm, potentially complicating American surveillance efforts.

Enter “Team Telecom.”

In months of private talks, the team of lawyers from the FBI and the departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security demanded that the company maintain what amounted to an internal corporate cell of American citizens with government clearances. Among their jobs, documents show, was ensuring that surveillance requests got fulfilled quickly and confidentially.

This “Network Security Agreement,” signed in September 2003 by Global Crossing, became a model for other deals over the past decade as foreign investors increasingly acquired pieces of the world’s telecommunications infrastructure. ...

The security agreement for Global Crossing, whose fiber-optic network connected 27 nations and four continents, required the company to have a “Network Operations Center” on U.S. soil that could be visited by government officials with 30 minutes of warning. Surveillance requests, meanwhile, had to be handled by U.S. citizens screened by the government and sworn to secrecy — in many cases prohibiting information from being shared even with the company’s executives and directors.   [Emphasis added]

Unlike Booz Allen, which was only too happy to sell its services to the NSA, Global Crossing and the subsequent foreign investors were roped into the deal by making it a condition of ownership of the chunks of fiber optic touching the US. In other words, it was a forced cooperation, one that completed the international network the NSA wanted.

No wonder our international allies are a little miffed with us.

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