New Document Shows NSA Wanted More, More, More Power

A 2012 strategy paper says U.S. laws inadequate to meet agency's needs

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A leaked National Security Agency document reveals a four-year mission strategy that underscores the agency’s scope of power and desire to broaden surveillance efforts in the “golden age of Signit,” or signals intelligence.

The five-page, February 2012 document, leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, said that the agency needed to keep pace with the vast amount of data available, overcome cybersecurity blocks in order to acquire data from “anyone, anytime, anywhere” and eventually acquire all digital information available in the world, the New York Times reports.

“NSA’s Sigint strategy is designed to guide investments in future capabilities and close gaps in current capabilities,” the NSA said in a statement. “In an ever-changing technology and telecommunications environment, NSA tries to get in front of issues to better fulfill the foreign-intelligence requirements of the U.S. government.”

The document, “Sigint Strategy 2012-2016,”outlined the agency’s desire to overcome legal roadblocks and for more flexibility to spy on terrorism suspects. Currently, if a suspect being monitored abroad comes to the United States, the NSA has to cease surveillance until it acquires a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. It also discussed using human intelligence, or spies, to develop relationships with companies abroad to decode decryption tools.

Another document describes Treasure Map, a program outlined as “a near real-time, interactive map of the global Internet.” The tool pulls Wi-Fi and geolocation data from up to 50 million unique internet provider addresses, but only maps foreign and Defense Department networks, according to intelligence officials. Treasure Map is not used for surveillance but to better understand computer networks, they said.

In light of recent NSA revelations, Congress and critics have been advocating more limits on the agency’s scope of power.

[The New York Times]