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October 18, 2022 59 mins

Since the 1950s, the National Security Agency has been responsible for collecting, analyzing and verifying a vast amount of signals intelligence, ostensibly to protect the people of the United States. Over the decades the agency has grown to become one of the world's premiere repositories of intelligence -- everything from internet search histories to phone calls and texts, as well. In the final days of President Obama's administration the NSA was quietly allowed to share this information with every other US intelligence agency. So what happens next? They don’t want you to read our book.

They don't want you to read our book.: https://static.macmillan.com/static/fib/stuff-you-should-read/

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:00):
Well, well, well, uh, Matt, we're going back to the
the National Security Agency. Do you remember when when did
we do this one? This is early, early, and uh man,
we learned a lot about the n s A, what
they could do that we were unaware of, and then

(00:21):
we're made it was made known to us, and we
don't think about the n s A that often anymore,
I think in the zeitgeist of it all right, Yeah,
for a lot of people, in SA means no strings attached,
but the National Security Agency attaches a lot of strings,
as it turns out. So in this week's classic episode,

(00:44):
Matt and I are diving into the fact and the
fiction surrounding the n s A, as well as a
good dose of frightening conspiracy about them. I would say
I was. I was a little shook. Yeah, yeah, I
think we all should be. So get prepared for that.

(01:04):
Put on your thunder shirts if you've got them, and
let's jump in from UFOs to psychic powers and government conspiracies.
History is riddled with unexplained events. You can turn back
now or learn the stuff they don't want you to know. Hello,

(01:35):
and welcome back to the show. My name is My
name is Noel I'm Ben, and we want to start
this in a little bit of a different format today.
At the very top of the show, ladies and gentlemen,
we have a very important correction. Can you guess what
it is. It's a single vocabulary word. It is. It's

(01:56):
a very important one too, five syllables m. It is
not in fact pre lapse sarian. That means before the flood.
That's a different word. It's anti Deluvian. Pre lapse arian
means before the fall, and you know, in other words,
before the fall of Lucifer and the various rebellious angels

(02:16):
in biblical war. Thank you to everyone who wrote in.
This was on me. This is just on me, guys,
not on maternal and I'm grateful for everyone who wrote
in to help me out with this. Dufe I caught
it too late, as we were, as we were quean
and stuff and and we Matt Nolan. I often like
to point out that you, our listeners, not a general

(02:38):
you specifically, you are not just as much of a
part of this show as we are. You are the
most important part of the show, and we all of
us are incredibly lucky to have you here, specifically you
helping us make this show the best thing you can be,
just a little peek behind the curtain que a ng
as when we we all listened to the edit to
make sure that NOL didn't miss anything and any goofs.

(03:01):
So you know, there are layers of of of a
blame to go around, and I am first to admit
my part in this. Um. I was gonna say, if
you'll only knew how many things get through my watch,
uh Latin prize, that I let a lot of things
get through Matt. So well, yeah, that's what I'm saying
all the time. It's not your fault. Fault you have

(03:22):
to edit while you're recording. No, that's not true. Well okay,
it's always true. We're taking all this out. Oh, let's
keep it in. Uh the point the point being here
is that you keep us honest. We try our best,
and I personally rely on you to help us stay accurate.
We Matt, Noel and I and you are accountable to

(03:43):
each other. So thank you to everyone who wrote in.
We appreciate it immensely. And everybody was so like, very
supportive too, you know, and that even more so I
appreciate you. I love that they took that tone of
like you poor idiots less you're a little hearts mixing
up words. I thought y'all have the best words. It

(04:04):
turns out you did not. Every one of those emails
we read in that little Southern lady voice, just so
you all know that's how you sound to us, no
matter who you are. We have a list of words
we say to ourselves before we read the email to
help us getting that genteel southern approach. A delicious mint up,

(04:27):
oh good gravy you are? You are mixing up some
sense there. That's how I do it, though you have to.
You have to let them kind of combine together. We
like to have fun. Yeah, and you're an award winning
method actor, so you really live in the characters you know. Actually,
as it turns out, today we're talking about an entire
agency staffed with award winning method actors. And we're not

(04:48):
talking about the studio audience of inside the actor's studio, right,
So let's explore today we're talking about a much much
more powerful group, one that affects your life again and
specifically you, in profound, immense, and often invisible ways. It's
an organization that you support, that you pay for with

(05:08):
a percentage of every paycheck you receive if you are
an American citizen or heck, even a resident, a group
that may know almost everything about you, A group that
is not, unlike this show, accountable to you, even if
you're one of the people paying for it. And you've
probably heard the name of this group before, the n

(05:29):
s A or National Security Agency. It sounds so nice.
Who doesn't want to be secure today? Whether you live
in a foreign country or the good old US of A.
We guarantee this organization may know an immense amount of
stuff about you, and it probably has dirt on numerous
government officials as well. So how did we get here? Well,

(05:52):
let's take a look at the history. So while the
n s A was officially founded on November four, nineteen
fifty four, it's roots go much much further back, all
the way to nineteen seventeen, and that's when a man
named Herbert oh Yardley became the head of this newly
creative thing called the Cipher Bureau of Military Intelligence, which

(06:15):
it's just a wonderful name. I feel like we should
have stayed with that the entire way through. People get
cyber and cipher mixed up. Now, Oh yeah, I guess
it's true. But cipher bureau, cipher bureau. It's in a a
comic book. It does sound like a comic book. It's
very hell boy. So this was just three months or
so after the United States had declared war on Germany.

(06:36):
One of the major factors that brought the US into
the war was a thing called the Zimmerman Telegram. And
that's a situation where the Foreign Secretary of Germany tried
to get Mexico to enter into war against the United States,
but British codebreakers intercepted the message and they told their
friends in the US. You know, they said, oh, the

(06:57):
Yanks should probably hear of this, which is apparently how
they sound. Uh and uh. The government finally acknowledged the
US government acknowledged the value of what is called signals intelligences.
By the way, we're speaking about World War One there
when talking about going to where with Germany? Yes, yes,

(07:18):
so signals intelligence. We're we've all seem spy movies were
familiar with the idea of intelligence, which in some cases
may seem paradoxical. According to the Office of the Director
of National Intelligence, there's six types of intelligence sources, or
what they call collection disciplines. Now a list these off
along with their shorthand sort of an acronym I guess um,

(07:42):
not quite an acronym now, just shorthand, that's better. So
first we have imagery intelligence, which is I'm going to
pronounce it, I meant, but I think immant maybe I
don't know. Uh. Then we have measurement and signature intelligent
or massens. Next we have human source intelligence or human
Then we have open source intelligent O SENT and geo

(08:05):
spatial intelligence g O. And then the first two that
we mentioned communications intelligent comment uh no comment and electronic
intelligence ellent ellent perhaps. And then we have foreign instrumentation
signals intelligent my personal favorite fisent yes. And those those

(08:31):
three comment, ellent, and fificent are all under the umbrella
of SIGAN signals intelligence, and that essentially just means the
interception from signals, whether there would be electronic communication, maybe
short wave radio interceptions all around the world, foreign and domestic,

(08:51):
and SIGANT can be any of those three things on
their own, or a combination of any any of those three.
Is there communication occurring via a signal, we need to
hear it, right, And so these other things that these
other things were mentioning like human source intelligence is what
a lot of people think of when they think of
spy movies, you know what I mean, Like Noel goes

(09:16):
and sits on a park bench at twelve oh three,
someone sits with their back to them and says, you know,
the proper code phrase, which what would that mean? That
the cranberry sauce was quite fragrant last afternoon, it was, indeed,

(09:36):
and they like, yeah, they just agreed in that in
that kind of human environment, you know, who knows, they
may be just agreed to an arms deal. Sauce is
the target. Yeah, and the fragrancy, like the amount of
that's that's the state of the the condition that's like,

(09:56):
you know, conducive to doing the deal. That is the
affirmative of the target is prepped and ready for interception.
We're all just pulling this out of our ears. But
also pretty frequent. Yeah, totally, you guys. I actually had
the uh, the pleasure of UM going to the International

(10:16):
Spy Museum in Washington, d C. This past weekend. Yeah,
they had a whole section with UM all of these
amazing like iterations of various intelligence gathering devices. You know,
A main one being tape recorders. And it never never
really occurred to me that like the same companies that
make tape machines now still they use in the film

(10:40):
and you know that have now got versions that are
electronic digital. Rather are the ones who made the best
tape machines that they would use conceal and they got
progressively smaller and smaller. The first ones that would be
like these, you know, about the size of a laptop,
but obviously much thicker, and you would have to put
it inside a big giant suitcase to be that guy
on the park bench. And then they would have a

(11:01):
little wire that would run up a coat and through
your sleeve, and that would be the remote control, a
little clickie button to stop and start the recording, and
then the microphone would often be picked up into a wristwatch,
so the wrist watch would have the mic in it,
and the cord would have to go all the way
up from the suitcase through your coat, down around and
up your sleeve and then plug into your wristwatch. You know, obviously,

(11:23):
just consumer electronics nowadays are much more concealable and higher
quality than that um but it was fascinating to see
the way they progressed to these tiny, um little they
almost looked like microcassette recorders, but they still are ultimately
real to real um what's the name of Nagar. Nagra
was a company and they they're still around. In fact,

(11:44):
they make really really high end um field recording devices
that are used in film and television, um, you know recording.
So that was super cool, Uh, not to go too
far off track, but that they had a whole section
with like concealed weapons, one of which is like an
umbrella that you could shoot a poisoned dart out of
by like you know, doing the umbrella mechanism, and it

(12:06):
kind of had a cross section of it. But super
super fun. Uh you know. I was in d C
for another show that I work on, and I was
there the day of the inauguration and walked around the
National Mall by myself and actually posted some a couple
of good creepy picks on the stuff they don't want
you to know Instagram accounts if you want to check
those out. Conspiracy stuff show, conspiracy stuff show. Um. But

(12:29):
let's get back to uh intel. Ah, yes, and we
I'd love to go to that museum in person. It
was really really net I recommended anyone that's in the
DC area. It's right by the Gordon beersch so you
can go over there and get you a sausage platter
and then check out some some you know spycraft, and
also check out our interview with Robert Mazer where he
discusses his whole setup that yeah, similar that you're describing

(12:52):
with a big tape recorder inside a briefly previous audio podcast.
And while we're talking about his jury, let's go back
to in nineteen nineteen when the war ended, the cipher
bureau moved all the way up to New York City.
I've always am going to remember that salsa commercial whenever

(13:12):
I say New York City. Every time advertising is in cities,
New York City and they shift us very forceful. It's
much more of a New York City. Oh, I guess
you're right. I thought they got angry, like you got
more and more angry. It depends on which it was
a very successful act content. If you ever feel like

(13:34):
wasting your time on YouTube, go check those out, and
then also stay for that Egyptian panda commercial for cheese.
That's my favorite that has nothing to do with the
cipher Bureau because in nineteen twenty two, uh, they had
shifted from twenty two from military intelligence where the tanks

(13:54):
were the planes, to diplomatic intelligence. In twenty two they
prove their worth because they served they intercepted Japanese communications
that helped American diplomats negotiate with Japan on naval arms limitations.
But the thing was, even at this point, the Cipher
bureaus methods were always questionable, and if the public had

(14:17):
been more aware, they probably would have noticed that these
are technically illegal, or you know, everything the public knows
would indicate these are illegal. And we've heard a lot
of let me just paint this picture and tell me
if this sounds familiar. The Cipher Bureau, working for the
federal government, made a deal with private telegraph companies, you know,

(14:41):
Western Union and the like, and these companies gave the
Cipher Bureau unprecedented access the messages entering and exiting the
United States, all telegrams, and the Secretary of State Henry
Stimpson closed the agency and he thought he had some
moral issues with the increasing surveillance. But then also it's

(15:05):
pretty expensive at that time to pay off these companies, right,
even if they are making what they feel as a
patriotic decision, and to have the just the people power
to double or you know, copy every single message that
goes in or out of their systems, read every telegram. Ultimately,

(15:25):
the Hoover administration wouldn't see the need for peacetime surveillance,
like why do we have this if there's not a war,
why are we monitoring this and we don't have any
active enemies? Then why are we wasting all his money?
And it's seductive to have that much power, you know,
So we'd like to think they saw the danger of

(15:47):
this agency monitoring all citizens and peacetime. After the end
of the cyber Bureau, cipher bureauf every time, I'm just
gonna call the cyberman with cyber is tough cyber and stuff.
After after the end of that era, Yardly, the man

(16:10):
we mentioned at the beginning was not only out of
a job, he was very, very bitter and a nineteen
thirty one he published a book called The American Black Chamber,
and this was the first time that much of the
public knew the activities and exploits of the Bureau. The
Saturday Evening Post published an excerpt, and the thing is

(16:32):
not only was the public and Saturday Evening Post readership
astounded and no small part, uh terror terrified. The intelligence
community was also having a gigantic WTF moment. So the
founding father of American surveillance in many ways, you'll you'll

(16:56):
hear this quote around I was gonna say, around town,
you'll hear this quote around the topic. The founding father
of American surveillance also became its first trader. Now, by
the time you published this book, it was already out
of date on American spy programs. That's because five months
before the end of the Cipher Bureau, before they closed

(17:16):
it down back in May of nine, the United States
Army decided that it was going to start up its
own version of an agency of this sort, its own independent,
let's say, State Department spy agency. So, uh, it's own
military intelligence instead of diplomatic. Yes, And in nineteen thirty
William Friedman began building this thing called the Signal Intelligence

(17:40):
Service or SIS. SIS. It's a sweeter name, not quite
as you know comic bookie as the Cipher Bureau. But
it's okay, well, we'll we'll roll with it. So it's
unclear really to what extent the end of the Cipher Bureau. Um,
like how that when it into the birth of this

(18:01):
new agency, Like because it ended, was this one created
or was this one created? Uh? And that one killed
off simultaneously? Like was that the thinking? Well, you know,
every new beginning comes from some other beginnings. And man,
it's a window. A door was closed. The window was opened.
But in October nineteen twenty nine, Freedman did go to

(18:23):
New York and obtain all of the files of the
Cipher Bureau. So whether or not they were related bureaucratically
in terms of archives and contents, they were even more comprehensive. Wait,
so he was he sent or was he just like
unilaterally like I'm gonna have that give me those files.

(18:43):
I'm gonna do whatever I want to have to be sent.
I mean that the power of the Cipher Bureaus library
at that point is pretty significant. Think it makes so
much sense you you have to It's It's kind of
like in our Human Experimentation episodes, we discuss how it
is scary and terrible the way some of that information
is obtained and the way the experiments are carried out,

(19:06):
And in the same way with the Cipher Bureau it's
things that are looked down upon by the public and
perhaps even by some government agencies. But you have the information,
and do you just let it go away or do
you use it to build this new thing? Is that's
a that's a very good comparison. It's already sort of
a sunk cost at this point, and we're not even
the World War two. So CIS big SIS expanded rapidly

(19:30):
in the nineteen thirties, UH and open bases to help
it concentrate on the Pacific theater so Alaska, China, Australia.
And this was in response to the expansion of the
Japanese Empire during World War two. CIS played a crucial
role in helping to crack some of these Japanese codes.

(19:52):
After the war, President Truman reorganized the the entire American
pursuit of this sort of intelligence under something he called
the National Security Agency. In nine seven, the NSA moved
to Fort Meade in Maryland. It began as a secret organization.

(20:14):
UH in many ways, I mean they're keepers of intelligence,
right uh. And it was half jokingly referred to by
a lot of people as uh, not national security agency,
but no such agency, no agency here and growing up,
my father had a had a running joke with within

(20:36):
his his field where it's such a bad joke, do
you guys want to hear it? I do want to
hear it. I live for your bad jokes. Ben. Well,
let's uh just the joke. So so, the the old
joke that people would tell all around these various circles,
right was, how can you tell the extrovert at the

(20:59):
N s A. It's one in the elevator looking at
someone else's shoes. It's that bad in those circles. Hold on,
I'm trying to get it though, okay, because they're also controverted,
that they're little introverted, that they're all staring at their
own shoes. That is their form of reaching out, like

(21:21):
to look at the other shoes. I said it was
a bad no, But I think I think I think
it's appropriate. Yeah, it works. I guess you have to
be in those circles to go ha ha. Yes, you
gotta be in an elevator with a bunch of N
s A agents. Oh man, I know, don't put me
in there, you know, I would like to avoid that.
So this made the U the N s A grew

(21:43):
to a peak of more than nine employees and sixty
nine This made it the largest intelligence organization in the
US and possibly in the world. People known oh good call.
So the n s A did contribute valuable intelligence to
help the US anticipate UH several things, especially during the

(22:06):
Cold War, like the foundation, the Berlin Wall, the Cuban
Missile crisis, but they weren't always successful. In nineteen sixty four,
the n ESSAY was considered largely responsible for the Gulf
of Tonkin incident, which drew the US into the Vietnam War.
They say it was faulty intelligence, They say, you know what,

(22:27):
not everybody gets everything right all the time. But the
big question here is whether or not it was truly
faulty the intelligence they had or was it something else?
And what are they up to today? Left feel as
though these things are all right for exploration. But first
a word from our sponsor. So the n s A today,

(23:00):
what are its goals? What is its purpose? What is
it doing with all that stuff it has? On you? Again,
specifically you that's here? You ask fan, aren't those the
fellas what listen to my phone calls? Yes, asked, and
you shall receive the answer. Uh. They are the people
who run the computers that listen to the phone calls,

(23:22):
and if the certain conditions are met, yeah, there will
be a person on there. I do declare if I
have nothing to hide, I have nothing to hide, and
you can riffle through my phone calls. Hivot e Phivot
is sea ladies and gentleman. We told you Bett, it's
gotta crack it up here. Part of it's the costume.

(23:44):
Part of it's also the nerve gas that's slowly filling
up this chamber. Um that THEA is clearly employ Yes,
so before they cut us off, before we pass out. Officially,
the National Security Agency slash Central Security Service leads the
US government in cryptology that encompasses signals, intelligence, and information

(24:05):
assurance products and services, and it enables computer network operations
UH to gain what they call a decision advantage for
the nation and its allies under all circumstances. That gobbledegook
in English means that they're both receiving intelligence and they're
making sure that it's real so it's not incorrect or

(24:29):
purposefully misleading, and then their their networking computers together so
that the US and the US as friends and the
rest of five eyes or whatever, will all have the
best information going into any sort of any sort of
geopolitical situation, ultimately to gain a decision advantage, right right,

(24:54):
And did you notice that part about the UH air
quotes Central Security Service. That's a tricky thing that a
lot of like I missed as well. The Central Security
Service affiliated here includes elements of the Armed forces that
that perform code making and code breaking work with the

(25:15):
n s A. This was established in two and the
n s A directors also the chief of the CSS.
So members of the c s S work side by
side with the n s A around the world and
we do mean literally around the world, so that there's
not as much of a barrier between civilian code cracking

(25:37):
and military code cracking. Sort of an efficient way to
UH to streamline efforts and get the most bang for
your cryptographic buck. Essentially, think of these folks almost as
intelligence agencies embedded in the armed forces. Yeah, well, okay,
so that's the official goal decision advantage. So if it's

(26:00):
just collecting information making sure that information, whatever it is,
is accurate, how do they use it? Use it for
multiple purposes? From assisting in trade negotiations, you know, So
let's say Matt is an ambassador gets a hot tip
from the n s A right before he goes into
negotiate some sort of deal about tea in China or whatever.

(26:22):
Then he knows essentially insider information or something that got
Leverage's got leverage exactly. But then it also can go
down to what to blow up when it's a dirty job.
But it would be disingenuous to not admit it's one
of the prime reasons that the US achieved hedge, became

(26:43):
a hedgemony, you know, the most powerful of the nation's
currently for for for the moment, for the moments. Oh boy,
did you guys feel that chill that went through the room?
I really did. I noticed that Are we dripping? Is
there something dripping here? Because oh I feel like we
have been invaded by some kind of foreign uh intelligence

(27:07):
here with this water that doth dripped down? Oh my goodness. Yeah,
all right, you guys, this isn't good. The n s
A is a floor above us, and it's poisoning the
roof of our building. It's right around the valve for
the fire um system. Yeah, sprinkler system. Was that that

(27:29):
siren that was going off? Do anybody else here that
I just just well, I'm usually actively hallucinating, so I
didn't know. I don't I still don't know the best
way to check. Put your arms up and go just
spin a top and if it stays spinning, then you
know you're hallucinating. If it falls down, then but if
the camera cuts away before it falls, then you don't know.

(27:52):
You'll never know what I do without you guys. Well,
before we drown or die from nerve gas, we should
mention that the n s A is full of controversies,
a little bit historical controversies. We mentioned the Gulf of
Tonkin already. It's commonly it's it's commonly acknowledged outside of

(28:12):
the US by various organizations as a false flag operation.
And that would be someone purposely pretending to be an
enemy to create the circumstances for their own aggression. Right,
so then something becomes a war of defense or retaliation
rather than an invasion. It helps to make the populace

(28:36):
agree with the reason for going to war. Another one
would be U the U. S. Senate when they formed
the Church Committee to investigate possible abuses by the n
s A as well as the CIA, FBI, I R.
S UH. This went on for nine months. UH. The
committee chair, Frank Church, who was a military intelligence officer

(29:00):
time in his life, got kind of freaked out by
their tremendous surveillance ability. And he has a great quotation
here from The New York Times in nineteen that capability
at any time could be turned around on the American people,
and no American would have any privacy left, such as

(29:21):
the capability to monitor everything, telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter.
There would be no place to hide. And boy, was
it ever turned around on the American people. I feel
like we're living in a time where, because of various
leaks Mr. Snowden and the like, we are painfully aware

(29:43):
that this technology is impact and has been used on us.
And at the same time, as as outraged as many
of us are, a whole lot of us also very
willingly participate, uh in feed being this beast by giving
our own personal information out higgody pigody, as Matt would say,

(30:07):
via various social media networks. I mean, it's it's like
turning on location services, Like we are exchanging the convenience
of being able to know that there's a Burger King
nearby for basically seven monitoring. And you know, again, as
Matt said earlier in his delightful voice, uh, we many

(30:30):
people feel like they have nothing to hide, so who cares?
And honestly, I'm one of those people. Do You guys
are not so much? You guys both have the tape
over your phone. I'm I'm I'm just like, what am I?
What are you gonna do? What are you gonna see
me doing? I'm I'm very boring. I know that's not
the point, but it is kind of how I justify
it because I like all the tech with technologies. Yeah,

(30:50):
and there's a larger conversation the concept of privacies. We
understand it is fairly recent in the span of human civilization.
And I've had you been before say that you feel like,
further down the line, privacy will be not a right
at all. It will be a luxury afforded only to
the super rich. Yes, I do believe what I won't

(31:13):
get on a soapbox quite yet. Well, okay, you know what, No,
we're halfway there. Let's just walk up the box. So
what we are facing as a country and as a
species is not so much the end of privacy or
the erosion of privacy, but the rise of an inequality
in privacy. This means that, just as Noel said, the

(31:37):
one of the most precious resources of the future, maybe
the ability to have an unmonitored thought. Will that happen
within our lifetimes. That's a tough call to make. But
do you want to live in a world where, based
on your income or your family, you may or may

(31:59):
not have of the privilege of holding your thoughts to yourself.
It's a it's a scary question, and some of these
past controversies have just been have been escalating to the
point where that's less and less of a matter of
science fiction. Now. I know that sounds alarmist, and to
a degree it is, but it is not as impossible

(32:23):
as it was just a few decades ago. Well again,
let me read this quote again one more time. That
capability at any time could be turned around on the
American people, and no American would have any privacy left.
Such is the capability to monitor everything. It doesn't matter.
There would be no place to hide. Yeah, I mean,
that's that about some style. Unless you can encrypt things really,

(32:45):
really efficiently, which great point. That's another controversy. The Data
Encryption Standard or d e s It's an algorithm developed
by IBM in the early nineteen seventies to encrypt sensitive
electronic By the late nineteen seventies it had become the
worldwide standard. Everybody was into this. It was the new

(33:07):
It was like when Pokemon Go first came out, but
with a encryption that didn't work. I think it's fairly
obvious they don't play Pokemon God, right. So what happened
is some civilians who were affiliated with this movement alleged
that the n s A had really become involved in

(33:29):
the development of the algorithm, and they convinced IBM to
change some things to shorten the key, to make it
possible for the n ESSAY to decipher every message, and
it keeps going. In the BBC reported a story that
they said sounded like science fiction. They claimed that the
n s A, along with partner agencies in the UK, Canada,

(33:51):
New Zealand and Australia, operated a worldwide surveillance network capable
of intercepting every international phone call, facts an email. This
was called Project Echelon. The US, Canada and the UK
still deny it officially, but Australia and New Zealand officials

(34:12):
there say that it is a real thing, and warrantless
surveillance went mainstream under some previous presidential administrations, believe Bush.
But it's existed since the days of the Black Chamber.
And then, of course the bomb that dropped which Noel mentioned,

(34:33):
was when Edward Snowden revealed prism. That was a crazy day. Yes,
you remember, we were in the office. That was a
crazy day. We're not going to we of all people
are not going to judge you, ladies and gentlemen, but
we would say that at this point, I think very

(34:59):
careful you before sending inappropriate pictures to your friends, or
even taking inappropriate pictures with something that's connected to the internet,
even taking appropriate pictures to be careful. Oh boy, Yeah,
some things can come back to haunt you. So here's
where it gets crazy. Though. Legislation passed quite recently in

(35:22):
the final days of President Obama's administration um and also
passed relatively quietly. Uh you may not have heard of
it because it was sort of slipped in under the radar.
But here's here's how it went down and why it's important.
From the New York Times, the n s A can
now quote share globally intercepted personal communications with the government's

(35:46):
sixteen other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections. Yeah, so
the way it used to work until now, The way
it used to work is that the n s A
would do some things to tech American citizens privacy so
they could share intelligence about something happening, but not you know,

(36:07):
necessarily attached it to Matt Frederick, who is just a
guy who happened to be on the conference call and
didn't do anything. Has no idea, you know of, has
no nefarious plans because you'd be dealing with IP addresses
and numbers. And so now what's happened again, very very recently,

(36:28):
is that these new rules significantly relax those limits. Now
the surveillance operations are beyond wire tapping regulations, and they're
shipping out raw data, so they're shipping out the data
with your personal information. And again, of course there's the

(36:48):
old idea of you know, well, why should I be worried.
I'm not I'm not moving, you know, I'm not illegally
smuggling iguanas in and out of the o's arks. I
don't know much about the iguana smuggling tree. Nobody does.
It's a racket. It's a racket. Uh. So there's not

(37:10):
going to be any warrant necessary, there's not any privacy
baked into it, and perhaps more importantly, there's no real oversight. Uh. This,
this raw intelligence it shares is derived from mass surveillance
under Executive Order twelve three three three, and that's been

(37:30):
in effect since it's raw intelligence would be stuff like emails,
phone calls, not just the metadata of the phone calls,
not just null called this number at three two PM
or something chas we know, can be very very useful
in and of itself, but taking it to the next level,
you know, it's pretty much godlike. Yeah, they're not minimized,

(37:51):
they're not redacted to mask identifying information. Previously, the n
s A filtered this stuff before they shared it with
you know, the CIA, or they f b I or
the d e A, and the analyst at the n
s A, who are very very intelligent people, uh, passed
on information only if they deemed it pertinent and they
could tell if someone's innocent. Usually But because the way

(38:16):
so this is supposed to be foreign communication, right, But
here's the scary thing. Because of the way the internet works,
you might be surprised at how much of your personal
communication activity accounts as foreign communication. Like, let's let's think
about it this way, all right, If you imagine our office, Matt,
you and Knowls sit relatively close to each other. Yeah,

(38:37):
just just across the room. Yeah, you'll literally maybe twelve
feet from each other, fifteen ft And that's really busy
on something. So he sends Nolan email. By the time
the email travels to Noll's inbox, it might have gone
to a server across the country or even outside of
the country before landing with him. So that young Pope

(39:00):
meme that you just sent became foreign communication, which makes
it fair game for the n s A and I
thought you would appreciate a young Pope shot up. Thanks,
but it yet, but I'm still excited to still haven't
seen it yet. I like the concept of it though, Matt, Well, yeah,
it's we don't have to get into more young pope stuff.
This is not a young popecast young popecast. Yeah, that's

(39:23):
pretty good. Yes, but I've watched it. I watched some
of it. Well, since we've derailed the conversation yet again,
should we go ahead and break for a sponsor you
approve sounds great good. So there we are. There we

(39:49):
are an innocent meme has traveled around the world between
two innocent people, and because it's traveled around, it now
counts as foreign communication, which means that now the FBI,
the c I A, the whole Uncle Sam Alphabet can
check it out. If Matt has accidentally or purposefully included
certain words and phrases, or if he has already been

(40:09):
flagged as someone to keep an eye on, then the
US may also and share it with the other five
eyes countries the echelons. And years later on vacation, Matt
might just land at the airport in Australia to be
refused entry and he might never know exactly why I
got put on a no fly list and nobody even
told me about it. We're not saying this will happen,

(40:31):
but we are saying that right now. The scary thing
is there's not a solid way for someone to tell
if abuse occurs, and the definition of foreign communication is
even more deceptive. Check out this, this great quote from Slate.
Foreign intelligence is really a catch all that can include

(40:53):
most anything happening abroad. Executive Order twelve three three three
defines it as information relating to the capabilities, intentions, and
activities of foreign powers, organizations or persons. Don't let the
quote organizations or persons part of that definition hide behind
the more important seeming term foreign powers. Exactly. This definition

(41:17):
means that quote unquote for an intelligence includes speech about
political and human rights activities. So if you send an
email as part of a nonprofit thing to free political prisoner, uh,
it can include stuff impacting the economy. One of the
great examples that Slate has is what about an email

(41:40):
that talks about a business trip to Europe to get
the finest French chocolate for your cookies? Then that would
qualify technically. And there's one last note here. William Benny,
who we have mentioned on the show before, is one
of the highest level whistleblowers to ever come from the
n Essay. He was a leading code bre aker against

(42:00):
the Soviet Union in the Cold War, but after the
events of September eleven he resigned. He saw that, in
his opinion, Washington was moving toward mass surveillance and it
disgusted him on a profound level of its own people.
Right on en he spoke in London at the Center
for Investigative Journalism and revealed that people in general had

(42:26):
no idea about the scope of these programs under their
growth under the President Bush and President Obama administrations. In
his quote, he says, at least of fiber optic cables
globally go via the US. This is no accident and
allows the US to view all communication coming in. At
least of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded

(42:50):
and stored in the US. The n S A Ben,
he said, lies about what it stores, and he said
that the ultimate goal of the In essay we talked
about the official goals, all understandable said the ultimate goal
is about total population control. And it's disturbing. Yeah, it's
disturbing because it means the information gathered on people could

(43:11):
be used to theoretically suppress the scent. Let's say you're
a senator and you're gunning to stop programs like these.
You got elected on this is your main platform, and
all of a sudden you receive notice, subtle notice that
you're pasted in discretions, perhaps ideological or sexual, or financial
or something else will be made painfully public if you

(43:35):
persist in this mission, if you pursue this line of investigation,
what would you do, Ladies and gentlemen, So blackmail, huh, Yeah,
it seems like a good way to use this information. Well,
it looks like we're going to find out how people
answer that question, perhaps sooner than we all would like

(43:55):
to think. We are to be completely clear in no
way saying that we have proof this has occurred. We don't.
The three of us have not found an example of
a senator who was out gunning for the n s
A and then got some weird, you know, compromising photos

(44:16):
and then turned off the search or anything. But we're
saying with this increasing move, with this move, it's increasingly possible.
It'll be interesting to see how Donald Trump's seeming animosity
um that between himself and the intelligence community. There's no animosity.
There's definitely animosity. Now, did you not see his speech? Yeah,

(44:38):
that doesn't existing. I maybe let's say between the intelligence
agencies and the president. I kid you guys. I mean,
he clearly had a little bit of a Twitter feud
with the CIA and the n s A. I mean
about he accused them of having shoddy intelligence when finding
weapons of mass destruction and things like that. You know,

(44:59):
I'm I'm interested to see how that relationship plays out.
It goes to it goes to a larger conversation, of course,
about what the deep state is, you know, who holds
the reins of power and who functions more in a
figurehead uh manner. And I'm not, of course, seeing that
the president or any president is necessarily a figurehead. I

(45:23):
am saying that there are groups of unelected people who
wield tremendous amounts of power. And also, in defense of
the n essay, to be absolutely fair, the n s
A has done immense amounts of work and successfully accomplished

(45:43):
intelligence goals for the United States. And I just want
to put this out there. This maybe an obvious thing
to too many listeners, but a big difference between the
n s A and the c i A is that
the n s A they don't have field operatives. You're yeah,
you're not. You're not gonna see an n s A
age or an s A squad, you know, like kicking
down the door or something. And we are, as Matt said,

(46:08):
and we're in a very fascinating and unpredictable time. It's
quite possible that within a few months this podcast could
need an update, at which case we will endeavor to
do so. But for now, as always, whether or not
an organization like this exist, whether or not you are

(46:32):
concerned or unconcerned about the state of surveillance. I think
very carefully about what you put out there. It's not
just a black box. The stuff does not disappear. And
if you have information that you would like to share,

(46:54):
if you're affiliated with the n s A. Remember how
he's always joke about if the n ess A was
monitoring us, it had to be some poor, unfortunate intern.
I'm painfully familiar with the intern that poor guy. Oh buddy,
I hope if you're listening, I hope things are all right.
He's seen me at the worst. Uh joking joking aside um,

(47:16):
the stuff they don't want you to know here is
perhaps the extent of the monitoring that is occurring. And
it is not a theory. It is happening. So let
us know what you think. We would I would like
to hear your opinions on the n s A. We'd
like to hear if it's um a bunch of you know,
alarmists ado about nothing hegety piggoty, if you will or

(47:44):
should people be concerned And speaking of listener mail shut
at Corners two days. First shout out goes to Miguel.
Miguel says, you guys should make a video on Seth
rich a person who worked for the d n C
who was randomly murdered when someone tried to rob him

(48:05):
but took nothing. At the end, Wiki leaks said someone
leaked the information of the d n C and it
wasn't Russian hackers, but the news went with Russian hack
just the same. Uh. The guy who ran against Debbie
Wasserman Schultz, Tim Canova, made a video talking about the situation,
and he didn't seem convinced it was a robbery gone
wrong or either of you fellas familiar with this incident. Yes,

(48:28):
very familiar with Seth Rich. Um. You know there's an
interview with Juliana Sang where he discussed it. He doesn't
say Seth Rich was or wasn't the source of the
leaks from the d n C, but I would say
if you watch it very closely, it seems perhaps that

(48:49):
he's leaning in that way without saying it. Yeah, it's interesting.
I read about this story when it first emerged. But sadly,
there are apparently a lot of explained murders that have
been happening or deaths that have been happening in the
past decade or so. I always remember the British intelligence
officer who apparently committed suicide by what shooting himself and

(49:14):
zipping himself into a bag that was locked on the outside.
That's what I would do. We talked about that. But yeah,
I'm gonna dig into this and and thank you so
much for writing. Our next message comes from Eric says, Hey, guys,
I was listening to your podcast about Grimois and I
was surprised that you didn't mention the malius maleficarum. Is

(49:37):
that how you say that? The witches hammer? That's how
I know it, which is hammer. It was a text
published in four six on how to identify and interrogate witches.
That is good information to know. Always have that information
with you. I went to school at California State University,
Long Beach, and they have the They have an original
edition from that year when it was published. Uh In

(49:59):
there's Special Collections archive. Anyone can go to the Special
Collections and actually sit down with the text and look
through it. It makes your skin crawl just looking at it.
Does it have a big bald green lady witch? Face
that pops out of the spine. I don't know about that,
but there are sections that are underlined with notes in
the margins that could have been made by interrogators. I

(50:23):
just thought if there were listeners in southern California, they
might wanted the chance to go and see something like
that in person. Thanks keep up the good work, Eric,
Thanks for Ryan. Eric, it seems like we're off to California. Yeah, Noel,
you and I had talked a little bit about some
of these different grim wis off air, when we were
kind of talking about what makes something a grim one,

(50:43):
and and we we went back and forth on some
of this because one of the one of the questions
would be is it just a collection of perhaps lore, yeah,
pagan text or something more of um a comp Asian
or is it anything related to magical signs? And if

(51:06):
this was written for the purposes of witch hunts, still
counted as a grimoire. And I was after we were
off the arrow is reading intensely in that. And I
appreciate you writing in, Eric, because I want us to
travel to southern California. What do you think, guys, I'm
all about some travels. Hey, what a science textbook be

(51:30):
considered a grimoire in the future perhaps where maybe we've
lost some of what some of these scientific experiments that
are now we would consider normal and regular. Now something
as simple as using baking soda to make a volcano.
But then it's magic again if we've lost that knowledge

(51:53):
that there's a book that tells you it's a spell
of how to do it. And that was the thing
that I was saying, is like, what constitutes a grimoire
is largely determined by what you considered to be magic. Right,
that's a very good I mean, I don't know, maybe
I'm reaching there, but it just feels to me like
you could be absolutely right. It could be a collection
of procedural, you know, steps to create a battery. Oh

(52:18):
right there. I don't know. I think it's interesting the
way we interpret the contents and the intent. Yeah, that's great.
So in that case, if there was someone who considered
themselves a practicing magician or someone who would consider themselves
a dept at witchcraft, and they were using this book

(52:39):
by which hunters to you know, enact some kind of
magical process, then wouldn't the fact it would become a
groom ware. Well that was the thing too. That book
that I brought up, the name Escapes Me, where it
was one of the early collections of witchcraft lore, and
it was kind of meant by the writer to um
make it appear foolish and frivolous in some way and

(52:59):
to not lend any weight to it, and to kind
of degrade the Catholic Church for the part that it
played and killing so many of of what the writer
considered to be innocent victims potentially practicing witchcraft, which was
completely harmless. What ended up being the use of this
book was much more in the witchcraft community, people trying

(53:19):
to find remnants of spells and different things. So again,
I think it's also the intent of the user that
determines whether or not sagramore since how it seems to
me and a lot of magical working is about ultimately intent.
There you go, it's pretty interesting. We have one more
We have one more shout out today and that is

(53:40):
from Michael. Michael says, hey, guys, love the podcast. Listened
to it every week, downloaded all the episodes from iTunes.
Thank you. Michael. Have you ever thought about doing a
video episode, as in just having a camera in the
studio set up and we can see what happens when
you're doing the podcast. Can I please have a shout out?
If you guys are ever embrid Spain, Australia, I can

(54:01):
be your tour guide and you've always got a free
room to stay in nice Michael, I would say, I
kind of don't want to do that because I'd have
to put a shirt on. I guess I don't know.
You know, only podcast in the nude, the nude in
the nude with the mint, with a mint julip, a

(54:22):
cold mental julip in my hand. I do declare it's
a bit hot for Lennen's. Somebody's gonna get so offended
by us doing this, and we're totally just having fun
with it because we're in Atlanta, we're Southern boys. I
don't think it's offensive. Somebody's gonna be upset. Please don't
be upset. If someone is offended by that, by that

(54:43):
character that we're hatching up, then please send us an
audio version of your complaint and tell us how we
should do the voice. Thank you to Michael, thank you
to Eric, and thank you to Miguel. This concludes this
week's edition of Gosh and Before we get out of here.

(55:05):
Holy cow, you guys. We got some plugs to plug.
I want to get pluggy. We have one huge plug.
We're doing it. We're doing it so big. We're going
to New York City, New York City. That's what I
said past for content TM. We're going April eight, New
York City as part of the Podfest. We are going

(55:28):
to be doing a live show with a cavalcade of
other podcasters and we would love it if you're in
the area and want to come by and say, Hi,
we're we're I was gonna say, we're normal people, We're
fun to hang out with. Yes, it's a fun thing though.
It's a three day festival. Um Ticket info is available

(55:51):
online at the Bellhouse in y dot com um and
the events are from the I will leave the sixth,
no the seventh, which is a Friday through the ninth Sunday,
and we are on Saturday, April eight with The Majority
Report with Sam Seter. Really looking forward to hanging out
with Sam. Yeah, another great podcast that has pretty ancient

(56:15):
roots in the podcasting in radio world. So check you're
definitely gonna want to listen to that and watch that,
and then you know, we'll be there too, and Michael
iam Black's podcast is going to be there there, Yeah,
Lore and Kevin McDonald, Kevin McDonald and smattering of other
podcast Illuminaire, the Book of Ya if you're into Kanye West.

(56:37):
So we're really excited to we're really excited to be
a part of this and we would I would love
to see you there. And if you can't make this one,
right in and let us know where we should travel next,
because apparently we've got a budget now for this kind
of jazz, watch out just sign out here. It's twelve
dollars in advance if you buy your tickets now. If

(56:58):
you want to wait till you get to the door,
it's going to be an extra three perfect but I
believe we get a solid hour so you will get
a live podcast from us, and you also get to
see the majority Report. And I think they let you
drink during the show, pretty sure if anyone's on the
fence about that. Also unlimited high fives from that from that. Yes,

(57:21):
So that's our that's our show for this week. We've
gotta show coming up in April. And if you want
to take a page from your fellow listeners, book right
to us. And let us know what you think we
should cover in the future, what you think about the
state of MAS surveillance, where you think we should go
on tour, or any of the other questions that we
asked throughout this podcast. You can write to us directly

(57:43):
on Facebook and Twitter, where we are conspiracy stuff. Check
out some of those awesome and somewhat frightening pictures that
Noel has from Washington, d C on our Instagram. It
was weird. Man. I'm not gonna I'm not gonna wax
to poetic about it, but it was just like walking
around in a weird, foggy, gray dream. Uh. And I

(58:05):
hope that the pictures reflect that, so let me know. Hey,
and guys, also, if you're interested, I've really I've started
getting into glitch art. I've been glitching out videos and
making weird music to it. Uh. They're kind of weird
and reflective and meditative in a sort of disturbing way.
So if you're interested in seeing any of that, hit
us up and well maybe we'll post some you had.
You should post them right now, the one you just
showed me. Yeah. Well, and that's the end of this

(58:27):
classic episode. If you have any thoughts or questions about
this episode. You can get into contact with us in
a number of different ways. One of the best is
to give us a call. Our number is one eight
three three st d w y t K. If you
don't want to do that, you can send us a
good old fashioned email. We are conspiracy at i heart

(58:48):
radio dot com. Stuff they don't want you to know
is a production of I heart Radio. For more podcasts
from my heart Radio, visit the i heart radio app,
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