NSA: The finder and keeper of countless US secretsSubmitted by meekandmild on Sun, 06/09/2013 - 09:49
WASHINGTON (AP) — An email, a telephone call or even the murmur of a conversation captured by the vibration of a window — they're all part of the data that can be swept up by the sophisticated machinery of the National Security Agency.
Its job is to use the world's most cutting edge supercomputers and arguably the largest database storage sites to crunch and sift through immense amounts of data. The information analyzed might be stolen from a foreign official's laptop by a CIA officer overseas, intercepted by a Navy spy plane flying off the Chinese coast, or, as Americans found out this past week, gathered from U.S. phone records.
Code-breakers at the Fort Meade, Md.-based NSA use software to search for keywords in the emails or patterns in the phone numbers that might link known terrorist targets with possible new suspects. They farm out that information to the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies and to law enforcement, depending on who has the right to access which type of information, acting as gatekeeper, and they say, guardian of the nation's civil liberties as well as its security.