Next time you're in the Bahamas, be safe and hire a pigeon carrier or something: according to a new report from Glenn Greenwald's The Intercept, the NSA is secretly recording and storing every single cell phone call made on the islands.
That information is the latest to trickle out from the trove of NSA documents handed to Greenwald and Laura Poitras by Edward Snowden, and it comes on the heels of a Washington Post report from March that stated that the NSA was recording and archiving all of the phone calls made in an unnamed country. The Intercept does not state whether the Bahamas is the same nation that the Washington Post was referring to, but this story goes even deeper:
The Intercept has confirmed that as of 2013, the NSA was actively using MYSTIC to gather cell-phone metadata in five countries, and was intercepting voice data in two of them. Documents show that the NSA has been generating intelligence reports from MYSTIC surveillance in the Bahamas, Mexico, Kenya, the Philippines, and one other country, which The Intercept is not naming in response to specific, credible concerns that doing so could lead to increased violence. The more expansive full-take recording capability has been deployed in both the Bahamas and the unnamed country.
The Bahamas and the country that The Intercept is choosing not to name are part of an American government program called SOMALGET, which is a subset of MYSTIC reserved for the two countries (that we know of) that are having entire phone calls stored for up to 30 days. Bahamian cell phone traffic was breached without the country's knowledge by the NSA in conjunction with the DEA.
Though it's not yet known why the Bahamas have been targeted by the United States (ease, perhaps?), the scope of SOMALGET means that Americans who have visited the country—like, say, the Miami Heat, who practiced in the Bahamas for a week last year—have been covertly recorded by their own government. As The Intercept points out, a number of well-known Americans keep homes in the Bahamas, including Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey and Tom Harkin, a Democratic senator from Iowa. (If you were about to feel bad for Bill Gates, note that Microsoft granted the NSA access to snoop through Outlook and Skype.)
It's also unknown whether SOMALGET is technically illegal—the DEA seems to be involved because it has an arrangement with the Bahamas that would provide cover for the NSA's surveillance—but, nonetheless, the American government is once again proving to be highly efficient at making unnecessary enemies simply for acting like dicks.
[image via Getty]