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Hardcover The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America Book

ISBN: 0385521324

ISBN13: 9780385521321

The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America

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Book Overview

James Bamford exposed the existence of the top-secret National Security Agency in the bestselling The Puzzle Palace and continued to probe into its workings in his follow-up bestseller, Body of... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Be very scared...

Of what? Of all sorts of stuff, James Bamford makes clear: * NSA incompetence; * NSA politicization * Telecoms' long history, well before 9/11, of willingness to illegally become NSA lackeys; * NSA data overload; * NSA privatization of ever-more functions; * A largely bipartisan sign-off on all this; * And, though not directly addressed by Bamford, the flip side of unifying all intelligence services under a DNI. Following uyp on his previous investigations of the National Security Agency, Bamford has two themes here -- the post-9/11 and Islamic-world threat NSA's growth and strategy, or lack thereof; and, the post-Internet rise attempts to not only gather communications, but process, crunch and analyze them. Beyond looking at the NSA's snooping, especialy when taking a look ahead to the future, Bamford asks what this means in possible further attacks on civil liberties; new NSA programs; NSA future demands for computing and electric power; and more. A must read.

Confirms worst fears

NSA can vacuum clean just about everything going over telcom, and indeed has been doing it. Bamford confirms this is not a paranoid nightmare, but an operational reality. He diligently details how and where NSA has spliced into telcom and internet centers, and whose technology they are using - prominently among them Israeli companies closely tied to that nation's intelligence agencies. Bamford strongly implies that these companies, including Narus and Verint, have a backdoor into everything NSA is vacuuming up. Bamford's book could well be used in preparing prosecution cases against NSA officials including former Director Michael Hayden, who pushed into warrantless wiretapping post-911. What Hayden et al did, prodded by Bush and Cheney, was to basically set up the facilities to mass suck virtually everything that went over telcom or internet. While this has been exposed, the current status of these operations is unclear. But it seems a pretty safe bet to assume that from somewhere, Big Ears are listening. Bamford is the great historian of NSA. His "Puzzle Palace" was the first extensive revelation of the agency. "Shadow Factory" is the best current telling of the NSA story. He underscores that the technology exists for total surveillance. The agency's greatest current difficulty, actually interpreting the information flow, is being addressed with super-fast computers and advanced software coming on line in the next few years. So if the ability of the big ears to actually track all conversations and messages for keywords is not quite here, it will be soon. And by the way, it appears that voiceprint programs will be able to pick out anyone's unique signature out of millions of calls. Yeah, it's "Enemy of the State," and it's real. My conclusion - Americans must make a choice between maintaining a global empire or restoring their personal privacy. It's that stark.

Bamford does it again

Bamford does an amazing job of taking very complicated issues and making them understandable. As a historian of intelligenc I can appreciate the work and dedication it took to bring this out. Every citizen of the US and the World should read this book, If you value freedom and the Constitution read it now.

criminals in charge

Bamford's latest book is certainly well researched, and comes to some alarming conclusions: Israel has virtually bugged the entire world, and our government colludes with them in handing over all of our most private information, contrary to all of our laws and safeguards against such things. It is patently illegal, but is done anyway. The scope of the illegal activity, and the disregard for our Constitution that permeates these actions induce more terror in me than anything "our enemies" may try to do to us. We are officially in a police state, no matter how they spin it.

Interesting and Revealing!

Bamford opens by telling us that by 2008 NSA had become the most intrusive spy organization, secretly filtering millions of phone calls and e-mails/hour, programmed to listen for thousands of names and phone numbers. The watch list once contained 20 names - now its 500,000. He then goes on to calmly describe how airport screening was easily evaded - true, a number of the 9/11 hijackers were given extra screening, but they had no explosives and their knives were less than 4" long. Pilots were ordered to place their aircraft on autopilot when the flights were taken over, and to move to the rear of the aircraft. The hijackers then turned off the airplanes' transponders, making them invisible to ground controllers. Ironically, just as the NSA was becoming alarmed over the realization that some terrorists (and hijackers) were in the U.S., several of them were amidst NSA employees in local shops and on local highways near the agency. Prior to 9/11, NSA head General Hayden had scaled back its intrusiveness out of fear of another Senator Church-type investigation. The NSA had been eavesdropping on them for years (without comprehension of what they were doing), and refused to pass information onto other agencies. After 9/11 a secret program within the agency began, using an estimated 80-90 outside civilians that ignored FISA warrant requirements. Some objected, claiming that FISA requirements would not impede terrorist surveillance (eg. the warrant could be obtained as late as 72-hours after the fact, and were rarely refused), while Hayden pointed out that the forms and processing took time, and Cheney's Addington was outraged that under Bush II it had become a bit less than a rubber stamp. Bamford goes on to reveal outcomes of these relaxed standards - considerable listening to private conversations between American military in Iraq and their families, etc. Also there is the strong possibility that those listening to conversations misjudge the intent (eg. An Iraqi says he's planning to deliver a load of melons - that may or may not be code for IEDs, and any erroneous decisions made on this limited information by those listening in (generally with limited Arabic fluency) bring harm or death to those involved. Even more frustrating is that it is impossible to determine what is legal vs. illegal since NSA conduct is now governed by secret rules. Regardless, millions (possibly billions) are wasted as career CIA and NSA employees are hired by private contractors and placed back at their old jobs (often doing very little of potential value), computer systems between the CIA and National Counter-Terrorism Center are incompatable, and the entire intelligence system lacks accountability. Frustrating NSA, on the other hand, was the fact that much international communications traffic to/from the U.S. is carried on fiber-optic cables - difficult/impossible to wiretap. This has led to NSA agreements with phone companies to divert cable traffic so tha
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