Evading the law: Is Great Britain proxy-collecting American phone conversations for the NSA?

Great Britain maintains a “listening post” at NSA HQ. The laws restricting live wiretaps do not apply to foreign countries  and thus this listening post  is not subject to  US law. 

Who else maintains a listening post at NSA HQ?

Also, Great Britain can collect all American phone conversations for its own archives. Perhaps the Queen and the British elite are far more powerful than people generally believe.

By Janet Phelan
Global Research, September 20, 2015
New Eastern Outlook 19 September 2015
Former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations rocked the world.  According to his detailed reports, the US had launched massive spying programs and was scrutinizing the communications of American citizens in a manner which could only be described as extreme and intense.

The US’s reaction was swift and to the point. “”Nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” President Obama said when asked about the NSA. As quoted in The Guardian,  Obama went on to say that surveillance programs were “fully overseen not just by Congress but by the Fisa court, a court specially put together to evaluate classified programs to make sure that the executive branch, or government generally, is not abusing them”.

However, it appears that Snowden may have missed a pivotal part of the US surveillance program. And in stating that the “nobody” is not listening to our calls, President Obama may have been fudging quite a bit.


In fact, Great Britain maintains a “listening post” at NSA HQ. The laws restricting live wiretaps do not apply to foreign countries  and thus this listening post  is not subject to  US law.  In other words, the restrictions upon wiretaps, etc. do not apply to the British listening post.  So when Great Britain hands over the recordings to the NSA, technically speaking, a law is not being broken and technically speaking, the US is not eavesdropping on our each and every call.

It is Great Britain which is doing the eavesdropping and turning over these records to US intelligence.

According to John Loftus, formerly an attorney with  the Department of Justice and author of a number of books concerning US intelligence activities, back in the late seventies  the USDOJ issued a memorandum proposing an amendment to FISA. Loftus, who recalls seeing  the memo, stated in conversation this week that the DOJ proposed inserting the words “by the NSA” into the FISA law  so the scope of the law would only restrict surveillance by the NSA, not by the British.  Any subsequent sharing of the data culled through the listening posts was strictly outside the arena of FISA.

Obama was less than forthcoming when he insisted that “What I can say unequivocally is that if you are a US person, the NSA cannot listen to your telephone calls, and the NSA cannot target your emails … and have not.”

According to Loftus, the NSA is indeed listening as Great Britain is turning over the surveillance records en masse to that agency. Loftus states that the arrangement is reciprocal, with the US maintaining a parallel listening post in Great Britain.

In an interview this past week, Loftus told this reporter that  he believes that Snowden simply did not know about the arrangement between Britain and the US. As a contractor, said Loftus, Snowden would not have had access to this information and thus his detailed reports on the extent of US spying, including such programs as XKeyscore, which analyzes internet data based on global demographics, and PRISM, under which the telecommunications companies, such as Google, Facebook, et al, are mandated to collect our communications, missed the critical issue of the FISA loophole.

Under PRISM, said Snowden, the US has “deputized” corporate telecoms to do its dirty work for them.  PRISM, declared Snowden was indeed about content, rather than metadata.

However, other reports indicated that PRISM was not collecting telephone conversations and was  only collecting targeted internet communications. The most detailed description of the PRISM program was released in a report from the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) on July 2, 2014. The report disclosed that “ these internet communications are not collected in bulk, but in a targeted way: only communications that are to or from specific selectors, like e-mail addresses, can be gathered. Under PRISM, there’s no collection based upon keywords or names.”( (Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, Report on the Surveillance Program Operated Pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, July 2, 2014).

U.S. government officials have defended the program by asserting it cannot be used on domestic targets without a warrant. But once again, the FISA courts and their super-secret warrants  do not apply to foreign government surveillance of US citizens. So all this sturm and drang about whether or not the US is eavesdropping on our communications is, in fact, irrelevant and diversionary.

Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, which authorized extensive surveillance capabilities, expired in June of 2015. Within one day,  it was  replaced by the misnamed USA Freedom Act.  In a widely disseminated tweet, President Obama stated “Glad the Senate finally passed the USA Freedom Act. It protects civil liberties and our national security.”

In fact, the USA Freedom Act reinstituted a number of the surveillance protocols of Section 215, including  authorization for  roving wiretaps  and tracking “lone wolf terrorists.”  While mainstream media heralded the passage of the bill as restoring privacy rights which were shredded under 215, privacy advocates have maintained that the bill will do little, if anything, to reverse the  surveillance situation in the US. The NSA went on the record as supporting the Freedom Act, stating it would end bulk collection of telephone metadata.

However, in light of the reciprocal agreement between the US and Great Britain, the entire hoopla over NSA surveillance, Section 215, FISA courts and the USA Freedom Act could be seen as a giant smokescreen. If Great Britain is collecting our real time phone conversations and turning them over to the NSA, outside the realm or reach of the above stated laws, then all this posturing over the privacy rights of US citizens and surveillance laws expiring and being resurrected doesn’t amount to a hill of CDs.

The NSA was contacted with a query about the GB listening post, as was British intelligence. A GCHQ  spokesperson  stated:Our response is that we do not comment on intelligence matters.” The NSA also declined to comment.

Janet C. Phelan, investigative journalist and human rights defender that has traveled pretty extensively over the Asian region, an author of a tell-all book EXILE, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.

Massive bust of Snowden installed on war monument

From ANIMAL, April 6, 2015


By  | April 6, 2015 – 11:03AM

While most people slept, a trio of artists and some helpers installed a bust of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in Brooklyn on Monday morning. The group, which allowed ANIMAL to exclusively document the installation on the condition that we hide their identities, hauled the 100-pound sculpture into Fort Greene Park and up its hilly terrain just before dawn. They fused it to part of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, a memorial to Revolutionary War soldiers. As of press time, the sculpture was still there. UPDATE: Parks Department put a tarp over the bust and removed it this afternoon.

The idea for the Snowden tribute was conceived about a year ago by two New York City-based artists with a history of pulling off notable public interventions. They linked up with a renowned sculptor on the West Coast who was sympathetic to their cause.

The artists admit that Snowden probably wouldn’t approve of the project, since he never wanted the leaks to be about him, but they hope he’d understand why they did it. In a statement about the project, which they have entitled, “Prison Ship Martyrs Monument 2.0,” they wrote:

Fort Greene’s Prison Ship Martyrs Monument is a memorial to American POWs who lost their lives during the Revolutionary War. We have updated this monument to highlight those who sacrifice their safety in the fight against modern-day tyrannies. It would be a dishonor to those memorialized here to not laud those who protect the ideals they fought for, as Edward Snowden has by bringing the NSA’s 4th-Amendment-violating surveillance programs to light. All too often, figures who strive to uphold these ideals have been cast as criminals rather than in bronze.

Our goal is to bring a renewed vitality to the space and prompt even more visitors to ponder the sacrifices made for their freedoms. We hope this inspires them to reflect upon the responsibility we all bear to ensure our liberties exist long into the future.

In 2013, the Snowden leaks exposed an expansive, covert surveillance program that spied on U.S. citizens, residents and even persons abroad, the likes of which the world had never before seen. While activists and a number of journalists have hailed Snowden as a hero, conservatives and politicians have called him a “coward” and a “traitor.” Snowden sought asylum in Moscow, where he remains in exile.

The artists said they’re dismayed that despite the trove of damning evidence the leaks exposed, the public has largely moved on from the story and no substantial actions have been taken against the NSA. “There’s a media landscape that has painted him as a criminal,” said one of the two New York artists. “You need something theatrical and large to counterbalance the Fox News-iness of the texture of the conversation out there.” At first, the pair thought about making a full-size statue of the former NSA contractor, but were later talked down from that idea by the sculptor. He recommended a bust.

Measuring 4-feet tall, Snowden’s head was placed atop one of the four columns that lie at the monument’s edge, above the eagles. The bust is made of hydrocal, a high quality sculpting material that’s commonly used in places like Las Vegas to create Roman-looking things, castles and other mega props casinos incorporate into their facades. Seeing it up close, you could never tell that you were looking at a plaster-like substance. In fact, over a dozen people walking their dogs passed by the new bust on Monday morning without noticing the unsanctioned piece. Both the color and design of the bust expertly matches the existing sculptures there, from its bronze patina finish to Snowden’s hair — which mimics the texture of the feather on the eagle. The artists also added letters spelling out Snowden’s name in an official-looking font befitting of a monument.

While it was very important that the piece be more than just a prop or paper mache effigy, the artists didn’t want to damage the surface that the bust would be bound to, either. After some debate, they decided on an adhesive that would firmly hold the head in place, yet could be removed without marring the monument.

The materials needed to create a bust of this type cost thousands of dollars, and the pair ponied up the cash. It then took a little over six months to sculpt, mold, cast and ship to New York. Had the sculptor charged market rates, he said it would have cost tens of thousands of dollars. “The amount of work that goes into this kind of stuff, it’s easily a 30 grand project,” said the 30-something sculptor. “If it were bronze, it could be a $100,000 piece of artwork, maybe more.”

The artists are fully aware of the bust’s inevitable destruction and have left themselves a few options, including one that involves deploying an army of mini-Snowden heads. “We have a full size mold that can be poured again and its been 3D rendered, so we have the ability to print smaller ones at scale,” they said.

(Video/Photos: Aymann Ismail/ANIMALNewYork)
Follow-up article
By Prachi Gupta
April 7, 2015

Inspired by the Edward Snowden bust that guerrilla artists erected atop a Brooklyn war monument on Monday morning, a different group of artists returned to the site hours after officials dismantled the illegal statue. They deployed the Illuminator to project an eerie blue image over the column where the 100-pound bust had stood earlier.

Fuck the Police (State): Artists Protest Removal of Edward Snowden Sculpture With Ghostly Projection

In a statement, the Illuminator’s Kyle Depew wrote via email:

Inspired by the actions of these anonymous artists, The Illuminator Art Collective recreated the intervention ephemerally by projecting an image of the sculpture into a cloud of smoke. Our feeling is that while the State may remove any material artifacts that speak in defiance against incumbent authoritarianism, the acts of resistance remain in the public consciousness. And it is in sharing that act of defiance that hope resides.

The Illuminator was borne out of Occupy Wall Street to shed a literal light on the issues that plague the 99%. The audio and video projection system sits in a van, along with a selection of informative reading materials. They recently collaborated with MoveOn.org in Washington D.C. to shed light on the U.S.’s nuclear discussions with Iran.

A group of activists and anonymous artists first set up the Snowden bust at Fort Greene Park’s Prison Ship Martyrs Monument on Monday to call attention to the NSA’s surveillance practices and to question what it means to be a hero in the 21st century. “We have updated this monument to highlight those who sacrifice their safety in the fight against modern-day tyrannies,” they wrote in a statement provided to ANIMAL. “It would be a dishonor to those memorialized here to not laud those who protect the ideals they fought for, as Edward Snowden has by bringing the NSA’s 4th-Amendment-violating surveillance programs to light. All too often, figures who strive to uphold these ideals have been cast as criminals rather than in bronze.”

Parks Department employees covered the bust with a tarp Monday morning, and by midday, it had been removed and taken to the 88th precinct. The NYPD is investigating the incident.