The NSA has conducted a targeted but massive surveillance operation against certain journalists who have routinely exposed NSA's illegal domestic communication surveillance program, code named STELLAR WIND.
NSA has, for some time, kept tabs on journalists who wrote about the communication spying agency. In its embryonic stage, the journalist surveillance system, originally code-named FIRSTFRUITS, was basically a clipping service that provided NSA and CIA analysts with copies of newspaper, magazine, and Internet articles that mentioned one or both of the two agencies.
Shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney's legal counsel, David Addington, visited NSA headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland with a list of individuals he wanted NSA to spy on and provide Cheney's office with transcripts of phone calls and e-mails.
In March 2004, Attorney General John Ashcroft ruled STELLAR WIND illegal but the next day he became critically ill with pancreatitis. When White House chief of staff Andrew Card and White House counsel Alberto Gonzales visited Ashcroft in his hospital room to demand he sign off on the program, Ashcroft deferred to his deputy James Comey and FBI director Robert Mueller who both refused to authorize the program.
Although STELLAR WIND continues to generally target journalists who write about intelligence and national security matters, NSA has cncentrated its efforts on three journalists, in particular.
NSA sources report: Wayne Madsen's e-mails and phone conversations back to 2002 are in the possession of the NSA.
The same level of detailed data is maintained on Risen and Bamford.
Personal observation: It is very clear that a number of individuals who contacted this editor over the past several years to pass on information were stymied at the last minute from maintaining contact.
- the movement and temporary "loss" of nuclear weapons from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana in 2007 coupled with the murder of Air Force special operation Captain John Frueh in Washington state
- documents proving Canadian military involvement in torture of detainees in Afghanistan
- information on the 2000 attack on theUSS Cole in Aden harbor being a "false flag" attack
- evidence that there were no human remains found at the crash shite of United flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania
- evidence showing that Harvard virologist Dr. Don Wiley, who was investigating the initial anthrax attacks, was murdered in Memphis in November 2001.
In all these cases, individuals who contacted this editor and were willing to provide information ceased contact after their initial phone calls, letters, and email.
NSA also maintains mail covers on addresses of certain individuals in the event that contact is made via the U.S. Postal Service or private companies such as FedEx or DHL.
FIRSTFRUITS, which is now known by a different cover name, contains, in addition to articles, complete transcripts of phone calls, e-mails, faxes, and letters, in addition to the numbers and names of all individuals who have been in contact with targeted journalists.
So far, the Obama administration has brought Espionage Act charges against six individuals for contact with the media. They are charged with providing classified information to journalists and "aiding the enemy."
However, the Justice Department may take an even more draconian turn.
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