Special Report: Surveillance? – What Surveillance? (part 1)

"Big Gubmit" spooks are listening to all of us

intelligence gathering
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

By Ronnie Herne:

Ronnie Herne

Government spooks are listening to all of us…

Do you have any idea what these Sons of SeaBiscuits have been doing to you-to me-to all of us these past bunch of years?  Well, I’m going to lay it out for you in technicolor and wide screen.

The NSA (National Security Agency) does not have an open and transparent history.  The NSA was created in 1952 not by Congress, but by a pen stroke of Harry Truman in a 7-page document that remained classified for years.  Even its name was undisclosed.

Finally, in 1971, NSA analyst Perry Fellwock blew the whistle on NSA and their secret program Echelon with its vast information gathering technology even back then.  This led to the Church Committee hearings and some legislation.  Obviously, it wasn’t enough…..


Over the recent years, 6 additional patriotic whistleblowers have come forward at great sacrifice and risk to themselves.  These include Bill Binney, Edward Snowden, Russ Tice, Mark Kline, Thomas Tamm, and Thomas Drake.  Click the above “WhistleBlowers” link for more information on these men.


   Bigger: See Wired article from 2012.

   Bigger and Nastier“The NSA is more interested in the so-called invisible web, also known as the deep web or deepnet–data beyond the reach of the public.  This includes password-protected data, US and foreign government communications, and noncommercial file-sharing between trusted peers.  ‘The deep web contains government reports, databases, and other sources of information of high value to DOD and the intelligence community according to a 2010 report.’” (Quote from the Wired article.)

But don’t feel hurt or left out.  Oh NO!  They already have every keystroke, every conversation, every search (Yes, even those), every credit card purchase, every check, every rewards card purchase, every toll gate, every bill, every-everything about you.  What do you think is filling up those monstrous data center computers?  And they’re building another one in Fort Meade, Maryland that will be two and one-half times bigger than the monstrosity in Utah.

NSA Utah Data Center

These two blue links are enlightening wakeup articles from Bruce Schneier, a go-to guy on internet security, and author of Data and Goliath.

The Utah Data Center came online in 2014 and cost somewhere between one and one-half to two billion dollars for one million-plus square feet   Details are not readily shared.

100,000 square feet will be for data storage.  The remaining 900,000 square feet will be for administration and “technical support”…… ?   What, exactly, does that mean in spook-talk?  Data Mining?  More secret programs?  Mind Control with DOD’s DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency)?

It is widely believed that a large emphasis at the Utah Data Center will be put on cracking encryption.  You know, breaking the private codes.   Bank statements, medical records, intergovernmental transmissions, spy secrets, hardware/software encryption.  (Some kind of “tech” activities have to fill up that remaining 90% of space………)

Here Are A Handful of the Government Programs…  Blue links are provided.


Reportedly developed to monitor Russia and the Eastern Bloc, this one has been around since at least the 1970’s.  Click on this 1999 article.  Echelon’s focus is international intercepts.  Shrouded in secrecy, Echelon uses large golf-ball shaped facilities (called radomes) on earth, plus satellites, to listen in on, intercept, and copy any and all transmissions.  Echelon includes sites in England, Australia, and New Zealand – and likely others.  The satellites used are said to be stationary.

Several years back (+/- the year 2000) there was an international flapdoodle as allegations flew that U.S. companies were getting insider information based on intercepted commercial bids, and using them to secure lucrative contracts.  This was of course denied.

Echelon can be triggered by words. This blue link is a humorous look at a not-very-funny program.


This was an earlier FBI e-mail wiretap system that could be set up by the FBI, in conjunction with your ISP (Internet Service Provider), and operated remotely by the FBI.  It caused quite a ruckus as it was newer technology in the year 2000, unregulated (if you just forget the Fourth Amendment), and extremely prone to overreach without oversight.

Carnivore was eventually renamed DCS1000 but that didn’t improve its murky reputation nor lessen the FBI’s secrecy surrounding the eavesdropping which many believed expanded to intercepting and copying all e-mails.

Are we singing Kumbaya yet?


This isn’t a program but rather a means of creating surveillance.  Routers direct internet traffic noting destinations of the “packets” that go through the router.  “Packets” are parts of transmissions that have been reduced into these smaller portions to make transmissions flow efficiently.

A sniffer is an intercept monitor that can copy either limited, specific targets, or copy any and every thing that passes by.


This was occasioned thanks to a flaw discovered in an update to the the SSL program.  SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer.  It has been supplanted by TLS, Transport Layer Security.  However, SSL is still widely used.

The SSL is used for security in roughly 2/3 of  “secure” Net transactions (think credit card purchases on secured sites). This allowed the NSA easier access to your passwords and personal information.  The NSA claims it did not know of the Heartbleed bug until 2014.  Sources say the NSA knew at least two years earlier…  You think?


TrapWire is a shadowy overreaching program originated by a corporation known as Abraxos, in Virginia.  Abraxos is filled with ex-CIA, ex-Intelligence Community spooks.  Its purpose is to film and study patterns of behavior, pre-assign likely guilt and call it terror assessmentTalk about guilty until proven innocent!

In 2005 an Abraxos officer stated that TrapWire could “collect information about people and vehicles that is more accurate than facial recognition, draw patterns, and do threat assessments of areas that may be under observation from terrorists.”  TrapWire was exposed in 2012 when a researcher went through a series of hacked e-mails from a company known as Stratfor.

It was revealed at that time that literally millions of cameras – public, red light, traffic,  bridge, commercial, casino, U.S. and international — were digitally recording people, encrypting the data, and sending it to places unknown for storage using face recognition to note “persons of interest” in “Suspicious Activity Surveillance”.


This is a program used by the government to reconstruct information data streams by capturing electromagnetic radiation from computers, printers, handheld devices and converting these radiations into their original transmissions.  Clever, No?


Created under George W Bush, PRISM is a secretive tool that co-opts the biggest internet service providers.  These include Google, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, Skype (now owned by Microsoft), Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, and YouTube.  It is believed information can be gleaned from the user equipment via back doors; from the internet backbone; or from the corporate cloud database.  This may include general data and/or verbatim copies.

Prism slides released by Edward Snowden.  How we learned of PRISM.

2013 – 2014 leaks from Edward Snowden.  All the leaks he provided.


This is a very developed query program.  You can search via MAC or Microsoft Office or pdf or phone number or e-mail address or type of document or extensions, and more.  This classified link is from 2008.   “The Unofficial XKS User Guide”.


This is a British program shared with NSA that collects – for later sorting – internet information carried on fiber optic cables.  It went operational in 2011.  The cable companies are aware.  I believe all the major cables are now tapped.  This matters because much of the international cable traffic flows through the US.


This is the division of NSA that collects data from telephone and cable sources.  These commercial companies have been coerced (?) into being willing partners with NSA.  It is loudly rumored that these companies – your carriers – are well paid for their cooperation.  Are you surprised?

Back in the day that worked just fine; they cooperated and no one was the wiser.  Then in 2013 Edward Snowden happened and the big Verizon-NSA link became front page news.

Well, it’s still going on and all the companies are in on it.

“SSO also cooperates with private telecommunication providers under the following four programs, which are collectively referred to as

Upstream Collection:

BLARNEY (collection under FISA authority, since 1978)
FAIRVIEW (cooperation with AT&T, since 1985)
STORMBREW (cooperation with Verizon, since 2001)
OAKSTAR (cooperation with 7 other telecoms, since 2004)”

More to come in Part Two.  These spooks never sleep, never rest, and their curiosity knows no bounds whatsoever.

© Copyright by Ronnie Herne USAF vet, 2017. All rights reserved.

Email Ronnie: auntronnie@sadiegoat.com

Read More Articles by Ronnie Herne

Ronnie Herne
About Ronnie Herne 7 Articles
Ronnie Herne is a veteran having served from 1969 to 1973 as a Captain in the Air Force. She was a Flight Nurse stationed in the Philippines with C-141 flights to DaNang, Ton Son Nhut, and Cam Rahn Bay, all destined for Japan. In addition she spent eight separate weeks on the ground in VietNam. She started her political activities in 1991 with NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement). She fought it but watched as Bush pushed it and Clinton completed it. She was a Perot Volunteer, active in United We Stand America, involved in the creation of the Reform Party of California. She retired to Oregon and put her attentions on county government. With Agenda 21, regionalism, socialism, taxes, county land giveaways and other ills all present at the local level, she and a friend constructed a county Home Rule Charter to push back. It included property rights, water rights, veteran service, lower fees, no unelected county administrator, no “Green” code requirements, etc. It was a marvelous charter but failed. Agenda 21 marches on. So does Ronnie.