Silver Lining

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NSA develops Boundless Informant to track global intelligence: Report

Press TV

The United States National Security Agency has developed a powerful tool for recording and categorizing intelligence it secretly collects from countries across the globe.

Top-secret documents about the spy agency’s global surveillance, a copy of which was obtained by The Guardian, reveals that the tool, called “Boundless Informant,” details and even maps by country the information the NSA collects from computer and telephone networks.

“The tool allows users to select a country on a map and view the metadata volume and select details about the collections against that country,” an NSA factsheet on the program explained, the newspaper reported on Saturday.

The documents showed that the NSA, over a period of 30 days in March, collected a whooping trove of 97 billion pieces of intelligence from computer networks around the world. Of those, 3 billion came from the United States itself.

The top countries in terms of intelligence gathered from are Iran with more than 14 billion pieces of data collected; Pakistan with 13.5 billion; Jordan with 12.7 billion; Egypt with 7.6 billion and India with 6.3 billion.

According to one document, the spying tool is designed to give NSA officials answers to such questions as, “What type of coverage do we have on country X” in “near real-time by asking the SIGINT [signals intelligence] infrastructure.”

Other documents cited by The Guardian allegedly show that the NSA breaks down the collected data, and even collects IP addresses. The NSA denied the claims.

“NSA has consistently reported –- including to Congress –- that we do not have the ability to determine with certainty the identity or location of all communicants within a given communication. That remains the case,” the NSA said in a statement.

The revelation about the NSA’s global surveillance program comes on the heels of two other major leaks about the spy agency’s data mining of phone call and Internet records of millions of American citizens.

On Friday, President Barrack Obama defended the government’s vast data gathering program, describing it as a necessary tool to ward off terrorist attacks.

Obama said that while U.S. citizens are free to complain about the “big brother”-style surveillance, providing security is worth the “modest encroachments on privacy.”

Meanwhile, the new revelations have caused the White House and Congress to blame each other over how much responsibility each has for the data mining program.

While the Obama administration seeks to shift part of the blame on Congress for the surveillance program, lawmakers are not eager to accept it. Several quickly denied they had been kept apprised of the NSA’s intrusive measures.

The Justice Department and the FBI are likely to open a criminal investigation into the latest leaks of classified documents, law enforcement and security officials said.

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