Latest NSA revelations show global reach of U.S. surveillance

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The latest revelation to come from the documents obtained by Edward Snowden may not be the kind that gets average Americans angry, but it shows the true breadth of the U.S. government’s electronic spying apparatus, a web of surveillance that covers the entire globe. In today’s Post, Ellen Nakashima and Barton Gellman explain how the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has given the National Security Agency permission to spy on almost every country in the world:

The United States has long had broad no-spying arrangements with those four countries — Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand —in a group known collectively with the United States as the Five Eyes. But a classified 2010 legal certification and other documents indicate the NSA has been given a far more elastic authority than previously known, one that allows it to intercept through U.S. companies not just the communications of its overseas targets but any communications about its targets as well.

The certification — approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and included among a set of documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowdenl ists 193 countries that would be of valid interest for U.S. intelligence. The certification also permitted the agency to gather intelligence about entities including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

These documents offer yet another demonstration that although the explosive growth of the government’s intelligence apparatus after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was justified largely on the grounds of stopping terrorism, much of what that apparatus..

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