August 25, 2013
A short article in today’s Der Spiegel, published in Hamburg, Germany, confirms previous reporting, including my own in a recent article in foreignpolicy.com, that the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) currently operates somewhere between 76 and 80 covert signals intelligence (SIGINT) listening posts inside U.S. embassies and consulates aroud the world under the supieces of a secretive joint NSA-CIA unit called the Special Collection Service (SCS).
Documents in my possession indicate 65 SCS sites around the world. Der Spiegel, citing documents they have seen from the collection provided by Edward J. Snowden, says that the SCS operates about 80 intercept sites. Oh well! There’s plenty of room to differ on this score.
The significance is that according to the latest head count, the U.S. Department of State has 294 embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions to various international organizations overseas. In other words, NSA and the CIA have covert listening posts in more than 25% of these diplomatic establishments.