EXCLUSIVE REPORT: Senior NSA Executive: NSA Started Spying On Journalists in 2002 … In Order to Make Sure They Didn’t Report On Mass Surveillance

The Story of NSA’s “First Fruits” Program Has Never Been Told

You may have heard about the government’s spying on the Associated Press. And high-level NSA whistleblower Bill Binney told Washington’s Blog that the government also spied on Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter James Risen, and chief Fox News Washington correspondent James Rosen.

But Senior NSA executive Thomas Drake tells Washington’s Blog that the spying on reporters started 12 years ago – in 2002 – and has been fairly systematic.

By way of background, Drake had championed the “ThinThread” program, which automatically encrypted Americans’ data (data could only be decrypted after a court found there was probable cause that the American was a bad guy).

But after 9/11, NSA instead adopted the competing “Stellar Wind” system, which didn’t protect Americans’ privacy, and was less effective and more expensive.

THOMAS DRAKE: Part of what I discovered is that part of the surveillance system, part of the Stellar Wind system – and that’s an umbrella term in itself – there were offshoots of that.

It metastasized. It grew like a cancer on the body politic.

One of the things that was done was [along the lines of]: “You know what? We’ve got to make sure” (because they were paranoid) “we’ve got to make sure that this stuff doesn’t get out … oh yeah, the press. Let’s violate the Fourth Amendment and just monitor the press.”

The whole story of that has not come out.

There was a program called “First Fruits”. They’ve no doubt changed the name of the program [since then.]

And that First Fruits program was a cutout which was designed from all of the domestic surveillance take. “Let’s just pipe off from all” that is involving designated [reporters] … or in some cases whole groups of reporters and journalists.

So you’re targeting actual newspapers. You’re targeting media outlets.

And you’re monitoring – on a persistent basis – their communications.

WASHINGTON’S BLOG: How early did that start?

THOMAS DRAKE: The preliminary version of that – as far as an active program – was in 2002.

Postscript: Sadly, journalists are treated like the like enemy in modern America.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.
  • Roger Williams

    In 2004, Dick Cheney had two publicly aired opportunities to broadly threaten Americans. He sat there, pointing his finger at the viewer, threatening and growling. No commentary by the TV networks broadcasting Cheney were made. No columns concerning the obvious First Amendment implications of Cheney’s threats were ever made. Cheney literally said that the administration would get anyone who criticized them. He made it crystal clear that criticism would be harshly dealt with. According to Cheney, free speech would not include any criticism of the Bush-Cheney administration, and then he glared at the TV audience. He openly menaced and threatened the public. I was amazed that no journalist said a peep about this.

  • deliaruhe

    No wonder only Charlie Rose took the US news media seriously on the Iraq war.
    Thank the gods that al Jazeera emerged just in time for the rest of us.

  • It goes farther back than just there when you read this from this blog! Spying on Americans before 9/11: NSA Built Back Door In All Windows Software by 1999 Government Spooks and Microsoft Inc Global Research, June 27, 2013


  • Tim Taylor

    This is very nice. Thank you for sharing. That said, honestly, are we really surprised? This has been going on since 1789 when the Articles of Confederation, based on enlightenment principles of pushing life’s decisions down to the people, were replaced by an authoritarian central state and the Constitution. The Constitution usurped individual rights by creating a powerful central state similar to that which we fought a Revolutionary War to rid ourselves of. Our nation is littered with mass corruption, spying and criminal behavior of the political class. The first started almost immediately with the importation of central state-created corporate capitalism from Europe as Hamilton did after we fought a war to rid ourselves of the king, his private bankers and his corporations. The second was to create a private bank of the United States that enslaved the commons to private interests just as existed in European central states. This country was hijacked in 1789 and technological progress has only led to greater and greater tyranny from the central state ever since.

    There is a good chance this nation will fracture into pieces soon enough. Or, see a return to state’s rights or an AoC type structure restoring empowerment and liberty to the people. There is a finite amount of power in this world. If the central state has it, you don’t. Btw, if the NSA is reading this you can eff-off!