Report: NSA's MUSCULAR program taps Yahoo, Google data centers

Thursday, October 31, 2013


The latest revelations from NSA leaker Edward Snowden about the agency's surveillance practices involve a program called MUSCULAR. By tapping into the data centers that connect Yahoo and Google to users around the world, the program gave the NSA secret access to millions of digital records about who sent or received emails and when. 

A spokesperson from Yahoo said the company had not given access to its data centers to the NSA or any other government agency. David Drummond, Chief Legal Officer at Google, said the company has "long been concerned about the possibility of this kind of snooping," adding, "We are outraged at the lengths to which the government seems to have gone to intercept data from our private fiber networks, and it underscores the need for urgent reform."

Should ordinary Americans be outraged too? 

Stewart Baker, former general counsel to the NSA, says that in fact, American citizens should be relieved by how closely the agency is tracking potential threats in order to maintain security. 


Stewart A. Baker

Produced by:

Tyler Adams and Mythili Rao


Gianna Palmer

Comments [7]

Nick from Houston

The NSA has been apt to stopping cyber-bullying. There are more than 23 cases of a child being cyber-bullied and the NSA stepping in and stopping the bullying by informing local authorities of the prosecutor and letting them handle it from there.

Nov. 08 2013 10:59 PM
Glenn from Washington state

The Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution explicitly denies authority to the Federal government to spy on anybody for any reason, unless they have a warrant, issued on "probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." This makes no distinction between spying on the "evil empire" and monitoring middle school students for crimes like "cyber-bullying". Both are equally unconstitutional.

The larger issue here is, when is it appropriate for the government to ignore the rule of law? The NSA argument that spying enables the prevention of attacks assumes that expediency trumps the rule of law. The school argument that by spying they can prevent cyber-bullying assumes that expediency trumps the rule of law. There are other historical precedents going back at least as far as President Jackson, circa 1830.

Perhaps we need a show that carefully examines the question "when is it appropriate for the government to ignore the rule of law?" Clearly, there is no simple answer to this.

Oct. 31 2013 04:21 PM
tom LI

The notion that we the people should be happy with this invasion of our privacy - is so absurd that its hard to find the right words to counter such a ridiculous system of thinking.

Should I/we be happy that the cops be allowed to barge in on me every night, just to make sure I'm not doing anything even minutely suspicious - suspicious to them. Should I be be happy that in my pursuit of knowledge my Amazon purchases might be scrutinized when they might include some texts that put me on a list of suspicious readers of a certain Religions holy text, or a certain manifesto of a certain maniacal ruler of a Germanic country in the 30' and 40's...?

Happy is not the term I would ever use to describe my feelings in these and many other matters of privacy invasion. Appalled is one I would use.

Oct. 31 2013 03:49 PM
tom LI

"We the people" will either do something of substance about these ongoing intrusions into our Privacy, and BE FOR SOMETHING of Value as a Generation (that crosses the age lines) - or we will remain complacent ostriches with our heads buried in our Leisure pursuits over all else.

Apathy seems to be the main mind-set theme of the US citizenry over the last two decades. We appeared to be inured to most nearly all of the bad, sometimes vile behaviors of our elected officials as well as law enforcement - and while we can certainly blame it on 9-11 - I think its about time we put down that faux-hysteria and pay more attention to the details of our Modern World and how it impacts all our Lives.

Oct. 31 2013 03:42 PM
Tony C from Pacific NorthWest

Once again the Take Away provides the perspective of only of the NSA or UK officials responsible for spying on the American Public and World Leaders without a counterpoint from a Civil Libertarian. The Take Away again proves itself consistent in being an apologist for the NSA

Oct. 31 2013 03:23 PM
adam from Vancouver

You can't host discussions about NSA spying with *only* line-toeing ex-NSA employees as guests!

Oct. 31 2013 03:19 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

The job of Security is to be secretive. I grew up on James Bond and secret agents. I hate all this blabbering...
I'd love the NSA to monitor my phone calls and e-mails. I just ask that they give me kudos whenever I crack them up.
I realize that all I can say to everyone is, "Stop smoking that newfangled weed, it makes everybody way too paranoid."

Oct. 31 2013 10:22 AM

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