Wikileaks says NSA recording all calls in Afghanistan


I don’t believe this.

The Intercept posted multiple documents have a redaction bar over country X, and “Afghanistan” clearly does not fit. Countries which (mostly) fit to an eyeball test are Pakistan, Somalia, and Jamaica. A font expert could tell which one of the three it most likely is.

Ars Technica reports that it is most likely Jamaica, based on other reporting as well, and the drug focus in the documents and the “small test” nature of these deployments.

Oh, well if it’s Jamaica, that’s fine then. Afghanistan is well-known for its low drug production numbers.


Honestly, who cares what country it is? (Except the people in it, obviously.) It’s easiest to assume the NSA and other such agencies are recording all phones and net traffic worldwide. A pilot trial today is a universal reality tomorrow.

Why the picture of Glenn Greenwald for a story that is about Wikileaks?


I think it’s because Wikileaks might have obtained the info via Greenwald (from Snowden), but no one knows:

It is unclear whether WikiLeaks has access to the documents leaked by
Edward Snowden to reporters at the Intercept and the Washington Post, or if another person with access to that information outed “Country X” to someone at WikiLeaks. Or, As the leak site Cryptome noted earlier, it may be that WikiLeaks simply believes that the mystery country is Afghanistan given the already-public information available.

Could be, but increasingly we see that web blogs and news aggregators are force fitting photos to stories rather than just going without a photo if they don’t have one that is appropriate. Raw Story is one of the more egregious examples of that practice, indiscriminately using real news photos or stock photos, with attribution at the end of the article, not in the photo caption, so you don’t know from above the fold whether the photo is of a person involved in the story or not.

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What? They have phones in Afghanistan???

I agree with you. It wasn’t clear to me either. When I answered you I was taking a stab at the decision process, not that I was advocating it.

I’m fine with this. It’s what the NSA is actually supposed to be doing.

Yes, I have to say I’m not really morally outraged that the NSA is doing warantless signals interception in Afghanistan. It’s what the NSA is supposed to do.

Am I being self-centered, provincial and nationalistic in this thinking? Clearly. Should i be outraged on behalf of innocent Afghans? Perhaps, but at the moment I’m just not there.

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No, not really. That there are people hostile to the US and to American citizens in Afghanistan, who are actively pursuing hostile actions against the US and American citizens, is an established fact. For better or for worse, we also have soldiers over there. The NSA’s job is to gather intelligence on the enemy. That they have the capability to surveil all communications in Afghanistan is a good thing in this case, and that is, clearly, what they are supposed to be doing.

The NSA surveilling Doctors Without Borders, or Angela Merkel, or the communication between, say Belgium and the Netherlands (let alone all of American citizens within the US borders which is outside of their jurisdiction), is a stupid and paranoid waste of time, money, energy and that merits scrutiny and criticism. Not Afghanistan though.

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By storing metadata and voice separately, they can claim that they only collect metadata.

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And… we should care about these legal niceties why, exactly?

Yep, that’s exactly what they are: legal niceties that allow them to lie. I assume that they are recording everyone everywhere.

News organizations including The Intercept and the Washington Post say they chose not to identify the unnamed country because concern that doing so would likely lead to violence and loss of lives.

The Intercept - i.e. Greenwald’s new NSA leak news project - released the documents with the country name redacted. Twitter handle @Wikileaks (thought to be controlled by Assange) threatened to revel the country after 72 hours, kicking off the arguments about ethics of redaction. I’m pleased to see he stuck to his word.

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