MISSION CREEP: HOW THE NSA’S GAME-CHANGING TARGETING SYSTEM BUILT FOR IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN ENDED UP ON THE MEXICAN BORDER | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

MISSION CREEP: HOW THE NSA’S GAME-CHANGING TARGETING SYSTEM BUILT FOR IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN ENDED UP ON THE MEXICAN BORDER

IN NOVEMBER 2005, two terminals for a new secure communications platform arrived at the U.S. military base at Bagram Airfield, outside Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul. The first of its kind, the system would enable the U.S.’s electronic eavesdropping organization, the National Security Agency, to instantaneously share select classified information with America’s closest allies in the fight against the Taliban, speeding the delivery of critical information to soldiers. Previously, the only way to pass intelligence at Bagram between the U.S. and partner nations was to hand it over as hard copy. These two first nodes in what would eventually become a larger network, known as CENTER ICE, would end the paper shuffling, ultimately saving the lives of troops in combat.

The NSA was to set up one of the two initial systems at Bagram for its own use, and the other for its counterpart from Norway, the Norwegian Intelligence Service, or NIS. The Norwegians were perfect guinea pigs. A “gregarious, friendly bunch” who threw good barbecue parties, they had “almost no collection capability” to eavesdrop independently and were thus “heavily dependent on the U.S.,” an NSA staffer at Bagram later wrote on an internal agency news site, SIDtoday. (The article and the other intelligence documents in this story were provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.) One of the new terminals failed when the NSA attempted to turn it on, but after the provision of some “necessary spares,” both were operational.

Comments

SHARE THIS ARTICLE WITH YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA