NSA records all phone calls in Bahamas, according to Snowden

Go Lean Commentary

Phone tap 1So wait, according to the below news article, the US National Security Agency is gathering and analyzing mobile phone calls on Bahamians talking to Bahamians. This article raises so many questions for a Caribbean consideration:

  • Is this OK with the political/social leaders of the Bahamas?
  • Is this OK with the people of the Bahamas?
  • Why is this effort exerted by the US and not the Bahamas?
  • Could the local obstacle be the costs of the ICT investment?
  • Is there any value to this intelligence gathering? Have crimes and terroristic attacks been mitigated?

The book Go Lean…Caribbean identifies that intelligence gathering & analysis can be advantageous for the security of the member-states in the Caribbean region. Whatever your politics, you want a measure of peace-and-security in the region. Based on the foregoing article, there is some value to a cross-border, regional intelligence/security apparatus.

This book Go Lean… Caribbean, serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). This Go Lean roadmap has 3 prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines.

This book posits that “bad actors” will always emerge to exploit successful economic models.  Early in the book, the pressing need to streamline security efforts is pronounced in the Declaration of Interdependence (Page 12), with these opening statements:

x. Whereas we are surrounded and allied to nations of larger proportions in land mass, populations, and treasuries, elements in their societies may have ill-intent in their pursuits, at the expense of the safety and security of our citizens. We must therefore appoint “new guards” to ensure our public safety and threats against our society, both domestic and foreign.

xvi. Whereas security of our homeland is inextricably linked to prosperity of the homeland, the economic and security interest of the region needs to be aligned under the same governance. Since economic crimes, including … forms of terrorism, can imperil the functioning of the wheels of commerce for all the citizenry, the accedence of this Federation must equip the security apparatus with the tools and techniques for predictive and proactive interdictions.

The curative measures for the Caribbean security requires a regional security pact. This is why the Go Lean roadmap advocates a Homeland Security Department at the cabinet level. The result is that the Caribbean can then take the lead for Caribbean problems. The CU is a proxy of that leadership.

By: Travis Cartwright-Carroll, Nassau Guardian Staff

NASSAU, Bahamas — The Bahamas government has sought an explanation from the United States government over claims the National Security Agency (NSA) is collecting, recording and archiving every cell phone conversation in The Bahamas, Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell said.

The allegation stems from documents allegedly leaked by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden.

According to documents, the NSA is using a surveillance system called SOMALGET to collect and store “full-take audio” of every mobile call made in The Bahamas and storing it for up to 30 days.

The documents also list Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines and another country, whose name was redacted, as countries where the program exists.

Minister of National Security Dr Bernard Nottage would not comment on the matter on Monday, but promised to make inquiries into the allegations.

Snowden’s latest disclosures were published on The Intercept website and claim that the NSA used “access legally obtained in cooperation with the US Drug Enforcement Administration to open a backdoor to the country’s cellular telephone network”.

According to The Intercept’s website, it “provides a platform to report on the documents previously provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden”.

The documents state that SOMALGET’s access to the “Bahamian GSM communications” has led to the discovery of international narcotics traffickers and special-interest alien smugglers.

The documents also list SOMALGET as part of a bigger program called MYSTIC, which is described as a program for “the collection and processing of wireless/mobile communication networks”.

“The overt purpose is for legitimate commercial services for the telcos themselves; our covert mission is the provision of SIGINT,” the document reads.

According to the NSA’s website, “SIGINT is intelligence derived from electronic signals and systems used by foreign targets, such as communications systems, radars and weapons systems.

“SIGINT provides a vital window for our nation (USA) into foreign adversaries’ capabilities, actions, and intentions.”

The document notes that MYSTIC’s use in The Bahamas is “being used as a test bed for system deployments, capabilities and improvements”.

The Washington Post explored the program MYSTIC back in March 2014, but at the request of US government officials, withheld details that could be used to identify the country where the system is being employed.

That story said the NSA had “built a surveillance system capable of recording 100 percent of a foreign country’s telephone calls”.

Contacted by The Nassau Guardian on Monday, the US Embassy in Nassau said it will not comment on “every specific alleged intelligence activity”.

“As a matter of policy, we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations,” said Neda Brown, US Embassy spokesperson.

“We value our cooperation with all countries on issues of mutual concern.

“The United States values its relationship with The Bahamas.

“The United States and The Bahamas share a long history of trade partnership and security cooperation.

“Our cooperation advances civilian security, promotes social equity and spurs economic development.”

The issue of spying has been in the public consciousness over the last two weeks.

But it was connected to claims that The Bahamas government may be spying on Bahamians.

Opposition Free National Movement (FNM) deputy leader Loretta Butler-Turner charged that the Bahamian government is using the National Intelligence Agency (NIA)  to “engage in domestic spying on the Bahamian people”.

Nottage has dismissed the claim as “foolish” and said the government is not spying on Bahamians.

Source: Caribbean News Now / Nassau Guardian Newspaper; posted and retrieved 05-20-2014 from: http://www.caribbeannewsnow.com/topstory-NSA-records-all-phone-calls-in-Bahamas%2C-according-to-Snowden-leak-21203.html

Phone tap 3The foregoing article also highlights the value of efficient and effective information & communications technology (ICT) deployments. This Go Lean roadmap posits that technological innovations are necessary for advancement of societal protections. This point is pronounced in the same Declaration of Interdependence (Page 14), with these statements:

xxvii. Whereas the region has endured a spectator status during the Industrial Revolution, we cannot stand on the sidelines of this new economy, the Information Revolution. Rather, the Federation must embrace all the tenets of Internet Communications Technology (ICT) to serve as an equalizing element in competition with the rest of the world. The Federation must bridge the digital divide and promote the community ethos that research/development is valuable and must be promoted and incentivized for adoption.

xxviii. Whereas intellectual property can easily traverse national borders, the rights and privileges of intellectual property must be respected at home and abroad. The Federation must install protections to ensure that no abuse of these rights go with impunity, and to ensure that foreign authorities enforce the rights of the intellectual property registered in our region.

The Go Lean roadmap rises above the petty politics that nationalistic purists will surely project. For these ones, national sovereignty is more important than national security. This attitude has resulted in the status quo of lax security provisions throughout the region, and a high rate of societal abandonment.  Go Lean pursues the Greater Good ahead of any claim for independence. This is defined as a community ethos for the region to adopt. Change has now come to the Caribbean.

The book details other ethos to adopt, plus the executions of the following strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to impact the CU security assurances:

Community Ethos – Privacy versus Public Protection Page 23
Community Ethos – Intelligence Gathering Page 23
Community Ethos – Light Up the Dark Places Page 23
Community Ethos – Lean Operations Page 24
Community Ethos – Cooperatives Page 25
Community Ethos – Ways to Bridge the Digital Divide Page 31
Community Ethos – Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Separation of Powers – Homeland Security Department Page 75
Separation of Powers – Cari-Pol Page 77
Implementation – Security Initiatives at Start-up Page 103
Implementation – Ways to Promote Independence Page 120
Advocacy – Ways to Manage the Social Contract Page 170
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Justice Page 177
Advocacy – Ways to Remediate and Mitigate Crime Page 178
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Homeland Security Page 180
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Intelligence Gathering/Analysis Page 182

Phone tap 2The foregoing news article does remind us of the need to take the lead for our own community security. Go Lean advocates taking this lead for economic security as well. It is true that the objectives of the US may not align with the priorities of the Caribbean. Also, no Caribbean member-state has voting powers in the US Capitol, so rather than being “brothers” with the US, we must accept that our relationship with the US, at best, can only be as “good” neighbors. Yes, “blood is thicker than water”, so the Caribbean must create Caribbean solutions – this is interdependence, more so than independence.

The motives of the Go lean/CU roadmapis not to voice complaint regarding an intrusive American privacy violation, (though a valid criticism), but rather to simply make our homeland safer – a better place to live, work and play.

Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


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  • Edgar says:

    The DEA, NSA, what ever A, has a hold on our Tourism Industry, They STOP good investors from comming to The Bahamas, “The Government of The Bahamas are so STUPID they don’t know what is happening, “They are bussy chassing Pussy, Bongy and small Money.

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