The NSA Built a Secret, Warrantless, Shadow “Social Network” and You’re Already On It

nsaBy Matt Agorist

For roughly the last decade and a half, the NSA has been caught in lie after unscrupulous lie. Every time they are caught spying on Americans, the secret agency first denies it — then justifies it. The NSA has now been caught again. And, again, they denied it and are now justifying it.

This time, their unscrupulous spying involves a shadow “social network” that combs data from all social networks and your online data to create a graph of everyone and everyone they know. If you’re wondering where your invite to join this shadow network came from, you never got it. However, you’ve already joined.

NSA even has a website for this network on which they gladly display all the information they collect. It’s called GETPRSM and it’s scary. While it looks like an Orwellian satire gone wrong, the site is very real and the NSA has no problem admitting it.

While they originally claimed this information was only being collected on foreigners, a shift in their policy showed that this was not the case.

According to a scathing report in the NY Times, the NSA no longer cares if the data they collect is foreign as they no longer check for these constraints.

The spy agency began allowing the analysis of phone call and e-mail logs in November 2010 to examine Americans’ networks of associations for foreign intelligence purposes after N.S.A. officials lifted restrictions on the practice, according to documents provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor.

The policy shift was intended to help the agency “discover and track” connections between intelligence targets overseas and people in the United States, according to an N.S.A. memorandum from January 2011. The agency was authorized to conduct of every “large-scale graph analysis on very large sets of communications metadata without having to check foreignness” e-mail address, phone number or other identifier, the document said. Because of concerns about infringing on the privacy of American citizens, the computer analysis of such data had previously been permitted only for foreigners.

The agency can augment the communications data with material from public, commercial and other sources, including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as property records and unspecified tax data, according to the documents. They do not indicate any restrictions on the use of such “enrichment” data, and several former senior Obama administration officials said the agency drew on it for both Americans and foreigners.

All this data of both foreigners and American citizens is then entered into a graph as seen below.


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As Techdirt explains, if all of this sounds familiar, it’s almost exactly what the feds tried to setup in 2002 with the Orwellian name Total Information Awareness. Except that time (right after 9/11, when you’d think the public would be at its most receptive to such programs), as word got out about the program, the public rightly flipped out, and we were told the program was shuttered. Except, as some have been arguing for years, it was never shuttered, it was just rebuilt in secret.

Again, after they first denied it, they are now justifying it.

An agency spokeswoman, asked about the analyses of Americans’ data, said, “All data queries must include a foreign intelligence justification, period.”

“All of N.S.A.’s work has a foreign intelligence purpose,” the spokeswoman added. “Our activities are centered on counterterrorism, counterproliferation and cybersecurity.”

Notice how the spokeswoman did not deny the warrantless spying on Americans. She simply noted that all spying has to have ‘foreign intelligence justification.’ With the recent attacks inside the US, this ‘foreign intelligence justification’ can easily be abused domestically — because ISIS.

As Techdirt explains, that’s no limitation at all. In fact, such a rule is meaningless. We already know that the NSA gets every telephone record handed over because they claim it’s “necessary” to “connect the dots” on foreign terror plots. And, similarly, now they’re arguing that they can look at anything else so long as they claim that there’s a “foreign intelligence justification.” That means they have no limits. They just have to come up with some wacky reason to claim that so-and-so might have foreign connections that are important to know about, and voila, their life is open for the NSA to dig in, all without any oversight or a warrant.

Prior to 9/11, when I was an intelligence operator reporting to NSA, if we intercepted friendly chatter, i.e. Americans, we were to scroll on immediately. If we were caught listening to that chatter, we faced a prison sentence under United States Signals Intelligence Directives. An act that was once illegal — has now ominously become the norm.

Feel safe yet?

As the war on terror continues, so does the erosion of our rights and privacy. As the old adage goes, those who would trade their freedom for security will get neither — and as the warrantless state spying machine grows unchecked, Americans are quickly fulfilling that prophecy and finding themselves without freedom or security.

Matt Agorist is the co-founder of, where this article first appeared. He is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world.

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11 Comments on "The NSA Built a Secret, Warrantless, Shadow “Social Network” and You’re Already On It"

  1. Regaining our freedom and liberty will not be easy, nor is there any guarantee we shall succeed.

  2. The Patriot Act is grossly misnamed, on purpose I might add. It violates many laws, including the most important, the Constitution. Lawmakers, also a misnamed lot, used the 9-11 crisis to fool Americans into believing that their safety depends on violating their basic rights, and if they are not terrorists they have nothing to worry about.
    Its very rare that laws are repealed, and since the Patriot Act we all have become suspects, in our own homes. George Orwell wrote a ficticous book titled 1984, about the surviellance state. It all came true, and more. There is no escaping government surviellance state, you enter their world the day you are born, and remain there forever, death not a reason for removal.
    We, the voters are responsible for the lawmakers we elect. And so we are responsible for surveillance state. We havent done a very good job unserstanding the people we elect, or what they are doing after we put them in office. History prooves this out.

  3. so what!!! What do you have to fear? What do you have to lose? I’m sure most of you have nothing interesting on your social media besides the garbage that use to be stored in a storage unit. Who cares? You really have nothing else to worry about?

    Its only when you fear, that they have gain power over you.

    this is just fearmongering at its worst, with no way to confirm the BS article content.

    • @eunsuh:disqus, the fallacy of surveillance only being a ‘problem’ if those being observed have something to fear… is the real BS here. A person’s right to privacy isn’t contingent upon them having something to hide. That right is a standard acknowledgment that we’re human beings, not lab rats.

      Learn to think before you comment, lest you risk looking like an idiot. Or don’t — totally your choice.

      • you boys need a history lesson. There is no privacy when you accept the contracts (voluntary or involuntary) that you have with the corporate “government”. Just as there is no privacy at your place of employment, or in your case, residing in your parent’s basement because they OWN you whilst on their property and under their reign. Because you accept the corporate american matrix through the banking system, the voting system, the social security system, the educational system, the welfare system, etc. and you are “proud” of being a U.S. citizen, you have enrolled in the largest human trafficking operation (i.e., slavery) ever.

        I suggest you smug boys read Merciers (1974) Invisible Contracts and get back to me. It took me well over 4 months to interpret it precisely, so I’m sure you’ll have a clue when all too late.

        Your owned. George Carlin told you that over 20 years ago. You have no rights besides what they allow you to have. And because of your simple thinking and ignorance of history and law, I believe that makes you the idiot. Back in the early 1900s there was a test given to be allowed to vote. As you see today, we are ruled by tyrants and elites because the ignorant are allowed to vote for things they will never understand.

        The simpletons are “men of words” and no more. They want all their rights that are supposedly being taken away, but they never seem to exercise those rights. Perhaps fear pervades your life to be reactive rather than proactive.

        Yes you are a lab rat of sorts, but more precisely, you are nothing more than cattle because you see rats are quite intelligent….more so than a cow. Thus you will continue to be herded like cattle in your thinking and in you very way of life because of the beliefs instilled in you via their fear mongering and propaganda.

        Sleep tight…even though they’re watching you.

    • Average Joe American | August 20, 2016 at 11:20 am |

      Time for your biannual brain cell audit, Eunsuh. Under the Patriot Act and the NDAA the signers of the Declaration of Independence would all be in jail, dead, or “disappeared” by now.

      “Who cares?”

      Americans still possessed of brain cells.

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