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Project SHAMROCK

Project SHAMROCK, considered to be the sister project for Project MINARET, was an espionage exercise, started in August 1945[1] that involved the accumulation of all telegraphic data entering into or exiting from the United States. The Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA)[2] and its successor NSA were given direct access to daily microfilm copies of all incoming, outgoing, and transiting telegrams via the Western Union and its associates RCA and ITT. NSA did the operational interception, and, if information that would be of interest to other intelligence agencies was found, the material was passed to them.[3] "Intercepted messages were disseminated to the FBI, CIA, Secret Service, Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), and the Department of Defense." No court authorized the operation and there were no warrants.

At the height of Project SHAMROCK, 150,000 messages a month were printed and analyzed by NSA personnel. In May 1975 however, Congressional critics began to investigate and expose the program. As a result, NSA director Lew Allen terminated it, on his own authority rather than that of other intelligence agencies.

The testimony of both the representatives from the cable companies and of director Allen at the hearings prompted Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Sen. Frank Church to conclude that Project SHAMROCK was "probably the largest government interception program affecting Americans ever undertaken."

One result of these investigations was the 1978 creation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) which limited the powers of the NSA and put in place a process of warrants and judicial review. Another internal safeguard, was United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18 (USSID 18), an internal NSA and intelligence community set of procedures, originally issued in 1980[4] and updated in 1993.[5]

USSID 18 was the general guideline for handling signal intelligence unitary authority for warrantless surveillance. This assertion came under congressional investigation as an apparent violation of FISA's intent.

See also

References

  1. ^
  2. ^ The Origins of NSA (NSA.gov) at the Wayback Machine (archived March 18, 2004)
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^

External links

  • Recollections from the Church Committee's Investigation of NSA: Unlucky SHAMROCK, CIA Center for the Study of Intelligence
  • Unlucky SHAMROCK: The View From the Other Side, James G. Hudec, August 2000
  • ECHELON: America's Secret Global Surveillance Network
  • The NSA's Global Spying Network | by Patrick S. Poole
  • The National Security Agency: The Secret Unveiled
  • Development of Surveillance Technology & Risk of Abuse of Economic Information | PDF
  • Schneier on Security: Project Shamrock
  • House report on Project Minaret and Project Shamrock
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