NSA tapping undersea fibers?

Steven M. Bellovin smb at research.att.com
Tue Jun 5 12:57:53 EDT 2001

In message <B7427985.68DF%peter.fairbrother at ntlworld.com>, Peter Fairbrother wr

>Wholesale consensual tapping of these cables by the NSA could not reasonably
>be expected to be kept secret from eg European Parliamentary Investigators,
>at least to the extent of a quiet word in someone's ear, if senior staff in
>these companies were aware of it. I have a hard time believing it could be
>kept secret from US "cyberwarriors" and freedom of speech / privacy
>campaigners, USC 18;798 or no. I have an even harder time believing the NSA
>might think it could be kept secret, it's just not in their nature to trust
>anyone outside the Agency.
>I could not find "the law that allows the NSA to tap cables wholesale",
>though I looked at several.  Can anyone help? If they tap offshore does the
>take becomes "Foreign Intelligence"?

Until the Church Committee investigation in 1975, the NSA did this 
routinely.  They had arrangements with the various cable companies to 
give NSA copies of all international telegrams; the project was
code-named SHAMROCK.  (Source:  Bamford's new book "Body of Secrets"; 
there's also a lot out there on the Web that Google can find for you.)  
Bamford's conclusion (I think; I'm not all the way through the book 
yet) is that NSA stopped doing that after the Church Committee's report.

		--Steve Bellovin, http://www.research.att.com/~smb

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