If you make a call in the Bahamas there will be an NSA spook listening in, according to new documents released from the Snowden cache. The National Security Agency is secretly intercepting, recording, and archiving the audio of every cell phone conversation on the island nation of the Bahamas under a a top-secret system – code-named SOMALGET.
It was started without the knowledge or consent of the Bahamian government and was legally obtained in cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to open a backdoor to the country’s mobile telephone network.
The system allows the NSA to covertly record and store the “full-take audio” of every mobile call made to, from and within the Bahamas and to replay those calls for up to a month. This means all that phone sex you did on holiday will probably be played at the NSA Christmas party.
A similar programme is being used in Mexico, the Philippines, and Kenya but that is not as elaborate or pervasive.
All told, the NSA is using MYSTIC to gather personal data on mobile calls placed in countries with a combined population of more than 250 million people. And according to classified documents, the agency is seeking funding to export the sweeping surveillance capability elsewhere.
Of course by targeting the Bahamas’ entire mobile network, the NSA is intentionally collecting and retaining intelligence on millions of people who have not been accused of any crime or terrorist activity. This includes Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Bill Gates, and Oprah Winfrey who visit the island a lot.
Of course the Bahamas could withdraw support for the US’s war on drugs to stop the snooping and that would mean that it would be a brilliant place to ship drugs and launder the cash. But hey, it is better to spy on innocent people than have a decent crime strategy.