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'Must-read' magazine article draws scrutiny to NSA's information-gathering on Americans

Published: Tuesday, May 17 2011 11:14 a.m. MDT

The National Security Agency — the organization building a $1.5 billion data center in Utah — is the target of increasing media scrutiny in the wake of a New Yorker article by Jane Mayer which details the NSA's pervasive electronic monitoring of American citizens that arose in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

"(Former NSA crytpo-mathematician Bill) Binney, for his part, believes that the agency now stores copies of all e-mails transmitted in America, in case the government wants to retrieve the details later. In the past few years, the NSA has built enormous electronic-storage facilities in Texas and now Utah. Binney says an NSA e-mail database can be searched with "dictionary selection," in the manner of Google."

Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com praises the New Yorker piece as "what I'd describe as the must-read magazine article of the month, and I encourage everyone to read it in its entirety."

Kim Zetter at Wired writes, "New details about the NSA's post–Sept. 11 domestic surveillance programs have emerged in a stunning New Yorker article. … The article provides new insight into the warrantless surveillance program exposed by The New York Times in December 2005."

More intriguing NSA factoids from Mayer's New Yorker article: "Even in an age in which computerized feats are commonplace, the NSA's capabilities are breathtaking. The agency reportedly has the capacity to intercept and download, every six hours, electronic communications equivalent to the contents of the Library of Congress. Three times the size of the CIA, and with a third of the U.S.'s entire intelligence budget, the NSA has a 5,000-acre campus at Fort Meade protected by iris scanners and facial-recognition devices. The electric bill there is said to surpass $70 million a year."

EMAIL: jaskar@desnews.com, twitter: askargo

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