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Context of 'Mid-1970s-Late 1980s and After: NSA Monitors European Companies Providing Pakistan with Nuclear Technology'

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The National Security Agency (NSA) is founded. It is the successor to the State Department’s “Black Chamber” and other military code-breaking and eavesdropping operations dating back to the earliest days of telegraph and telephone communications. It will eventually become the largest of all US intelligence agencies, with over 30,000 employees at its Fort Meade, Maryland, headquarters. It focuses on electronic surveillance, operating a large network of satellites and listening devices around the globe. More even than the CIA, the NSA is the most secretive of US intelligence organizations, (New York Times 12/16/2005) The agency will remain little known by the general public until the release of the 1998 film Enemy of the State, which will portray the NSA as an evil “Big Brother” agency spying on Americans as a matter of course. (Ensor 3/31/2001) After it is disclosed during the 1970s that the NSA spied on political dissenters and civil rights protesters, the NSA will be restricted to operating strictly overseas, and will be prohibited from monitoring US citizens within US borders without special court orders. (New York Times 12/16/2005)

The NSA maintains a watch list of high-tech companies based in Germany and Switzerland that are suspected of helping Pakistan with its nuclear weapons program. The companies’ telexes and faxes are “routinely intercepted and translated for signs of nuclear trafficking with Pakistan.” (Hersh 3/29/1993)

The National Security Agency (NSA) monitors telephone traffic passing through the Umm Haraz satellite ground station, which handles international traffic coming to and from Intelsat or Arabsat satellites. It identifies and monitors phones used by Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants, providing some intelligence about their organization and their activities. (Aid 2003, pp. 82-83 pdf file)


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