A Modern-Day Stasi State

Tim Shorrock | The Nation | June 11, 2013

Thanks to whistleblower Edward Snowden, we now know that an army of private contractors can monitor anyone’s phone calls and e-mails.

When I first heard that the source for Glenn Greenwald’s blockbuster stories on the National Security Agency was a contractor working for Booz Allen Hamilton, I felt a surge of vindication. After all, I’ve been writing about the murky world of intelligence contracting for a decade, and here was finally a sign of how extensively the government has outsourced its most secretive operations. Plus at the center of the scandal was a company that I have long identified as one of the most important companies in the intelligence-industrial complex.

Edward Snowden, who is only 29, worked for Booz Allen at the NSA as an infrastructure analyst and telecommunications systems officer. His time there and at other private contractors included stints at NSA listening posts in Hawaii and Japan, and his job gave him access to some of the NSA’s most classified operations. They included a massive surveillance program called PRISM that monitors virtually all global Internet traffic on a real-time basis, and a telephone-monitoring program that gives the NSA access to millions of phone records of calls, including domestic ones, routed through telecom provider Verizon.