All phone call conversations from and within the Bahamas are being intercepted, recorded and archived by the US National Security Agency, according to documents leaked by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden to The Intercept. The surveillance of all phone conversations is part of an operation dubbed SOMALGET.
The surveillance op has been implemented without the consent or knowledge of any official of the Bahamas.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Photo Credit: The Intercept
“SOMALGET is part of a broader NSA program called MYSTIC, which The Intercept has learned is being used to secretly monitor the telecommunications systems of the Bahamas and several other countries, including Mexico, the Philippines, and Kenya,” the article said.
“But while MYSTIC scrapes mobile networks for so-called â€œmetadataâ€ â€“ information that reveals the time, source, and destination of calls â€“ SOMALGET is a cutting-edge tool that enables the NSA to vacuum up and store the actual content of every conversation in an entire country.”
It appears that MYSTIC is gathering metadata from more than 250 million people and the Agency is looking to export the surveillance capability elsewhere.
The surveillance program for the Bahamas seems to have been motivated by the need to locate “international narcotics traffickers and special-interest alien smugglers,” rather than terrorists or weapons of mass destruction.
The surveillance is unjustified since last year the US State Department concluded that the democratic regime in the Bahamas democratic is a stable one that shares certain values with the US democracy. Also, the risks were described as follows: “There is little to no threat facing Americans from domestic (Bahamian) terrorism, war, or civil unrest.â€
Yesterday, the Intercept said that the Bahamian government reached out to the US for an explanation and the Bahamian minister of national security said it would investigate the NSA surveillance op.
Also the US embassy to the Bahamas would not comment on â€œevery specific alleged intelligence activityâ€ and â€œthe US values its relationship with the Bahamas.â€