If there’s an underground cable transmitting data, the NSA wants it bugged. If there’s a computer shipped out from Dell, the NSA wants the package intercepted, the system carefully opened, bugged, and sent onward.
The NSA has grown by leaps and bounds since 9/11, on the pretext of terrorism, and opens new buildings, new fronts in a global surveillance war with new targets so often it’s impossible to know how big it is.
A Sony chip fabrication plant in San Antonio closed, and within a few short years became home to thousands of NSA employees. Leased from a holding company, the NSA’s announcement of its intent to take the site was public, but once it moved in the whole program became surrounded in secrecy.
That’s because despite the “terrorism” excuse, the NSA’s targets are overwhelmingly close allies, with the San Antonio site hitting Latin America, and particularly Mexico.
Much of the NSA’s interest seems to be centered around financial rivals, nations like Mexico, Brazil and Germany, and its largest sites reflect those interests. That doesn’t mean they’re not targeting anyone and everyone else, however.
Growth is never a problem for the NSA, or at least it wasn’t until it became public knowledge. Since the dotcom bubble burst, the NSA has been scooping up math and comp sci majors en masse, and putting them in secret programs to collect ever more data from ever more targets.
With a secret budget and a classified employee list, getting the NSA under control looks to be a major task for Congress, particularly with several of the top leaders in both the House and Senate totally ambivalent about the issue. Still, with the NSA’s actions now public knowledge, it will be hard for them to keep everything in the dark.