- The Washington Times - Monday, June 25, 2018

The NSA could be using an AT&T building in the District to spy on people’s digital communications, reported The Intercept earlier today.

The Intercept identified 8 AT&T buildings across the country which collect and sifts through communications for the NSA, based on information the news site gleaned from interviews with former AT&T workers, public records, and classified agency documents.”

One building is a concrete multi-story that sits at 30 E Street in Southwest, across the street from the Fairchild Building which houses an office for the Capitol Police.

The Southwest building acts as a “peering” hub for the NSA’s code-named surveillance program FAIRVIEW which processes calls, texts, emails, and other internet communications by tapping into AT&T’s cables, routers, and switches, according to the Intercept.

Internet traffic is often routed through the United States, where it is handled by companies like AT&T. The NSA ran a program code-named SAGUARO to surveil the data passing through AT&T main nodes, such as the building in Southwest. The company helped the agency flag important data and transmit it to a processing facility in New Jersey, all according to The Intercept.

Verizon owns the majority of the D.C. building, with AT&T occupying the fourth, fifth, and sixth floors, according to public records. Representatives from the company and the NSA did not confirm or deny the use of the building for surveillance to The Intercept and stressed their compliance with existing laws.

The Intercept first revealed AT&T buildings may be used for surveillance last year with an investigation into a windowless skyscraper in New York City. Other buildings since identified are located in Washington state, California, Texas, Illinois, and Georgia.

The NSA has legally been allowed to snoop on foreign communications that pass through the U.S. since 1981. In 2008 Congress authorized the NSA to also collect domestic communications if they were being exchanged with a foreigner under agency surveillance.

However, in 2011 the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court found the NSA had swept up “tens of thousands of wholly domestic communications” and ruled a portion of the collection program unlawful. At the time the NSA tried to adapt the program sanctioned by Congress to provide additional measures of privacy, but in 2017 the agency admitted ongoing compliance issues, and scrapped the program.

Information about NSA’s mass surveillance programs originally became public knowledge after former government contractor Edward Snowden leaked classified documents to The Guardian in 2013.

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