Looks like a cozy island getaway on the beaches of he Bahamas isn’t even enough to hide you from the all-seeing eyes of the near-omnipotent entity that is the National Security Agency.
According to official documents scrounged by Snowden and reported by Glenn Greenwald, the surveillance is all in an effort to track and locate “international narcotics traffickers and special-interest alien smugglers”, however some analysts taking a closer look believe this may not be the entire story.
The new reports from The Intercept add that not just metadata was recorded in these operations but “full-take audio” of calls, making for easy playback and listening.
Originally roped in under the umbrella of the MYSTIC program, SOMALGET is reportedly a new effort on behalf of the agency to collect information on drug smugglers and international criminals looking for a safe place to hide.
Unfortunately for the NSA however, that rhetoric doesn’t exactly line up with the politics or the reality of the situation down on the islands themselves, who over the past several years have made serious efforts and major sweeps to root out the South and Latin American drug lords who previously relied on the remote nature of the Bahamas to act as a relay point between their own countries and the southern tip of the US in Miami, Florida.
“The Bahamas is a stable democracy that shares democratic principles, personal freedoms, and rule of law with the United States,” the State Department concluded in a crime and safety report published last year. “There is little to no threat facing Americans from domestic (Bahamian) terrorism, war, or civil unrest.”
Both the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands are known throughout the world for their zero percent corporate tax rate, which makes them a highly sought after source of revenue relief for multinational conglomerates and the billionaires who make the big decisions at the top on a day-to-day basis.
Because of this, especially within the past ten years, the companies that make the world go round and sell the grease to keep it running smoothly have been opening up accounts in the region in droves, swelling their already bloated banking sector nearly 1200 percent in just the past half decade alone.
This then raises the $1 billion question: is the NSA working with high-level officials at US companies to provide economic surveillance data to give them a leg up in the hyper-competitive global market?
Conjecture based on speculation, of course, but the broadly collected, highly-funded nature of the operation in the Bahamas does suggest the agency is keeping a close eye on what’s going on down there, and it’s easy to put the pieces together and suspect that terrorists aren’t the only thing they’re looking for in the bank accounts of half the world’s major industries.
MYSTIC has proved itself to be a thorn in the side of the NSA ever since it was first revealed several months ago in a report originally posted by journalists working at The Intercept. Now SOMALGET has fleshed out the full picture of what’s really going on, revealing a much more detailed picture of just how far the NSA is willing to go in the name of keeping the citizens of the United States ‘safe from any and all terrorists’ who would seek to do them harm.