High-Level NSA Official: the NSA Has Become “J. Edgar Hoover On Super Steroids”

George Washington's picture

The newly-published revelations from Edward Snowden show that the NSA and FBI spied on an American citizen running for political office:

The NSA also surveilled a U.S. citizen while he ran for political office: https://t.co/UzFya8ltmjpic.twitter.com/3jZdsYxQRG

The Washington Post’s report last week also shows that the NSA also collected information on President Obama, both as president-elect and as president:

A “minimized U.S. president-elect” begins to appear in the files in early 2009, and references to the current “minimized U.S. president” appear 1,227 times in the following four years.

While the particular NSA reports discussed by the Washington Post don’t specifically mention Obama by name, the Post notes:

[These minimization attempts] border on the absurd, using titles that could apply to only one man.

Of course, the NSA has pretty much admitted to spying on Congress. And see this.

And even the raw data on American citizens collected by the NSA is shared with Israel.  This likely includes Congress members and other politicians, as well.

But these new reports add some weight to the allegations of high-level NSA whistleblower Bill Binney, who told Washington’s Blog that NSA surveillance allows the government to target:

  • “[CIA head] General Petraeus and General Allen and others like [New York State Attorney General] Elliot Spitzer”
  • “Supreme Court Judges, other judges, Senators, Representatives, law firms and lawyers, and just anybody you don’t like … reporters included”

Binney also told us on Monday:

Bulk collection of everything gives law enforcement all the data they need on every citizen in the country.  And, it gives NSA all that info on everyone too.  Makes them akin to a J. Edgar Hoover on super steroids.

FBI head Hoover was famous for blackmailing everyone ... including politicians.  The New York Times reports:

J. Edgar Hoover compiled secret dossiers on the sexual peccadillos and private misbehavior of those he labeled as enemies — really dangerous people like … President John F. Kennedy, for example.

Alfred McCoy – Professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison – provides details:

Upon taking office on Roosevelt’s death in early 1945, Harry Truman soon learned the extraordinary extent of FBI surveillance. “We want no Gestapo or Secret Police,” Truman wrotein his diary that May. “FBI is tending in that direction. They are dabbling in sex-life scandals and plain blackmail.”


After a quarter of a century of warrantless wiretaps, Hoover built up a veritable archive of sexual preferences among America’s powerful and used it to shape the direction of U.S. politics.  He distributed a dossier on Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson’s alleged homosexuality to assure his defeat in the 1952 presidential elections, circulated audio tapes of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s philandering, and monitored President Kennedy’s affair with mafia mistress Judith Exner. And these are just a small sampling of Hoover’s uses of scandal to keep the Washington power elite under his influence.


“The moment [Hoover] would get something on a senator,” recalled William Sullivan, the FBI’s chief of domestic intelligence during the 1960s, “he’d send one of the errand boys up and advise the senator that ‘we’re in the course of an investigation, and we by chance happened to come up with this data on your daughter…’ From that time on, the senator’s right in his pocket.”


After his death, an official tally found Hoover had 883 such files on senators and 722 more on congressmen.




With a few hundred cable probes and computerized decryption, the NSA can now capture the kind of gritty details of private life that J. Edgar Hoover so treasured and provide the sort of comprehensive coverage of populations once epitomized by secret police like East Germany’s Stasi. And yet, such comparisons only go so far.


After all, once FBI agents had tapped thousands of phones, stenographers had typed up countless transcripts, and clerks had stored this salacious paper harvest in floor-to-ceiling filing cabinets, J. Edgar Hoover still only knew about the inner-workings of the elite in one city: Washington, D.C.  To gain the same intimate detail for an entire country, the Stasi had to employ one police informer for every six East Germans — an unsustainable allocation of human resources. By contrast, the marriage of the NSA’s technology to the Internet’s data hubs now allows the agency’s 37,000 employees a similarly close coverage of the entire globe with just one operative for every 200,000 people on the planet.




In the Obama years, the first signs have appeared that NSA surveillance will use the information gathered to traffic in scandal, much as Hoover’s FBI once did. In September 2013, the New York Times reported that the NSA has, since 2010, applied sophisticated software to create “social network diagrams…, unlock as many secrets about individuals as possible…, and pick up sensitive information like regular calls to a psychiatrist’s office, late-night messages to an extramarital partner.”




By collecting knowledge — routine, intimate, or scandalous — about foreign leaders, imperial proconsuls from ancient Rome to modern America have gained both the intelligence and aura of authority necessary for dominion over alien societies. The importance, and challenge, of controlling these local elites cannot be overstated. During its pacification of the Philippines after 1898, for instance, the U.S. colonial regime subdued contentious Filipino leaders via pervasive policing that swept up both political intelligence and personal scandal. And that, of course, was just what J. Edgar Hoover was doing in Washington during the 1950s and 1960s.




According to James Bamford, author of two authoritative books on the agency, “The NSA’s operation is eerily similar to the FBI’s operations under J. Edgar Hoover in the 1960s where the bureau used wiretapping to discover vulnerabilities, such as sexual activity, to ‘neutralize’ their targets.”


The ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer has warned that a president might “ask the NSA to use the fruits of surveillance to discredit a political opponent, journalist, or human rights activist. The NSA has used its power that way in the past and it would be naïve to think it couldn’t use its power that way in the future.” Even President Obama’s recently convened executive review of the NSA admitted: “[I]n light of the lessons of our own history… at some point in the future, high-level government officials will decide that this massive database of extraordinarily sensitive private information is there for the plucking.”


Indeed, whistleblower Edward Snowden has accused the NSA of actually conducting such surveillance.  In a December 2013 letter to the Brazilian people, he wrote, “They even keep track of who is having an affair or looking at pornography, in case they need to damage their target’s reputation.” If Snowden is right, then one key goal of NSA surveillance of world leaders is not U.S. national security but political blackmail — as it has been since 1898.

Postscript:   NSA whistleblower Russell Tice (a key source in the 2005 New York Times report that blew the lid off the Bush administration’s use of warrantless wiretapping), also says:

  • The NSA is spying on and blackmailing its overseers in Washington, as well as Supreme Court judges, generals and others
  • The agency started spying on Barack Obama when he was just a candidate for the Senate

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
RaceToTheBottom's picture

"In September 2013, the New York Times reported that the NSA has, since 2010, applied sophisticated software to create “social network diagrams…, unlock as many secrets about individuals as possible"

This is naive.  

It was being done way before that.  I was with a Business Intelligence start-up and they hit us up for knowledge and product design thoughts on just those things including how to search through big data when you don't know what you are looking for.  

And that was in 2002.  I would guess things accelerated after 9/11 but their goals probably paralleled every major advance in the computer age.

Reaper's picture

The worse is the gullible believe whatever is reported by the NSA. The NSA might expose dirt, but the NSA even more probably could create false dirt. http://www.trotsky.net/trotsky_year/moscow_trials.html

The NSA is another lying head of the government Hydra, which speaks out of both sides of its mouth.

VWAndy's picture

With no real oversite it has gone feral. What bugs me most is its most likely being used to subvert any corruption investigations. Every now and then some small time nobody gets popped but bigtime crooks no.

Notsobadwlad's picture

The question to ask is: "Who or what is directing the efforts of the NSA?"

One has to consider that the power behind the NSA AND the CIA is most likely the same power that worked through the bankers to fund Hitler's Nazis. After all. it was elements of the German SS that originally formed the US security state after WWII.

alexcojones's picture

NSA has or can get dirt on everyone. You, me and Jason Bourne and George Washington too.

NSA could dig up dirt on its own employees, and probably does from day one.

NSA is an equal opportunity dirt shoveler, with shovel ready projects worldwide.

Embrace your inner dirt. They do.

Pee Wee's picture

Tyler, I'm telling you, run for office with only one plank. 

Unplug the NSA and blacklist every employee past and present from ever doing business, collecting cheese or even getting a PO box from the Fascist Federal government.

You will be president.

Hoover was a traitor and fag.  His legacy is an agency with thousands of other fags - a fag factory.   Anyone who has any sort of respect for the clown show FBI is a fool (also most likely a fag).

The best revelations are yet to come.  Data is routinely shared with well connected investment banks and other white shoe Fascists.  Do not underestimate how pervasive this payola is. The connection is Israel; nothing more than the money laundering epicenter for the USA- "national security" and all.  I've seen it personally.

lindaamick's picture

Within the Elite groups that run the world there is constant infighting.  NSA is a tool for one elite group to use against other elite groups.  The objective of all is money and power. 

besnook's picture

the nsa has the best porno film collection in the world. they should open a pay per view web site to raise some revenue for operations.

AdvancingTime's picture

Many Americans have come to view Snowden as more  of a whistle-blower rather then as a traitor as the White House tried to paint him. Interestingly a gender gap emerges on how people see the government’s anti-terrorism programs with men being more inclined to think the government has gone to far, it also seems that younger voters, those in their twenties are appalled by the intrusions into our privacy.

Will terrorists kill innocent civilians in the years to come? Of course. They did so more than 100 years ago, when they were called anarchists—and a responsible nation-state must take reasonable measures to protect its citizens. But there is no way to completely eliminate terrorism.The challenge that confronts us is how we will live with that threat. We have created an economy of fear, an industry of fear, a national psychology of fear. Al Qaeda could never have achieved that on its own. We have inflicted it on ourselves. More on this subject in the article below.



RaceToTheBottom's picture

"it also seems that younger voters, those in their twenties are appalled by the intrusions into our privacy."


Probably cause they know exactly what they have posted on FB and where their selfies are.....

I would bet that much of that stuff will follow them around professionally for years....

kurt's picture

I for one don't think the NSA is reading this or your posts. They have better things to watch, record, and categorise in a relentless search for evil-doers. I'm sure each and every feed into the database, foreign and domestic, goverment or private are secure and there is no need for concern. If you have concern, perhaps you a disgrundled? That is a very short hop to "disaffected" or capable of malfeasance or even terr? So before you say anything bad ever again, or respond innappropiately to my post, I, I mean, they, are not like normal humans who might have had a bad day or developed an itch they can't scratch, or maybe they just don't like you, or your kind, or maybe they just want to hurt, um, somebody, or as many people as they can before they get caught because they can't get those pictures out of their heads, and ALL THE dirty DIRTY little secrets, like cockroaches that crawl into their brain at night and you can feel them under the cover, IS THAT A SPIDER! So be assured everything is under control.

Pee Wee's picture

And Kurt would be wrong. Not only are the fags reading your posts they know your credentials because ZH refuses to pay $100 for a digital cert.  This means every other site you log into with the same creds.

Perhaps England is a better place for you.

kurt's picture

Thy electric rod and trident staff comforteth me.

AdvancingTime's picture

One of my biggest concerns about the NSA spying on Americans centered on how much was being spent, because if we are spending a lot of money on this consider it a big red flag. It recently came out thanks to information leaked by  Edward Snowden that the "black budget" last year was a massive 52 billion dollars.

This is the money used in "secret" spy operations, and it is enough to send shivers down the back of those that have read about the totalitarian society of Oceania described in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. In Orwell's novel, all citizens of Oceania are monitored by cameras and are fed fabricated news stories by the government. More on this subject in the article below.


shovelhead's picture

52 billion?

The US/Afgan heroin operation easily doubles that figure alone.

Not all funding comes from Congress.

It's sort of a tax on the 47%. 

Tax dollar recovery.

VWAndy's picture

I will give Snowden credit for one thing. The first thing he said was it is used to blackmail officials. That matters!

VWAndy's picture

Its a crazy world when a call for accountability gets a down vote.

VWAndy's picture

This is one of those deals the government cannot resolve. They have created a beast they cant control. So this trend of more illegal and immoral actions will keep on increasing.

 It can only be cured by allowing an honest evaluation of all of the data and how its used by a group outside of the power structure.

 Thats why I like the idea of a civilian grand jury. Because they always were to answer to the people. Not some power hungry technocrat.

sethstorm's picture

If it's from Snowden, it's safe to dismiss it as baseless accusation until he faces a US court - with no special favors.

TheMerryPrankster's picture

How's that NSA job Seth? Fat salary and all you do is harangue zerohedge and other websites.

Our tax dollars at work defending the indefensible, shouldn't you be napalming babies or something?

Captain Willard's picture

At the rate the US is pissing off ostensible Allies - Germany, France, Brazil - with our spying, he will be inundated with good visa offers when his Russian permit expires this month.

In any case, he is not coming back anytime soon. It would be too inconvenient for the Authorities. So long as he is in Russia, he is tainted with the suspicion of being under Putin's control. It is better for the Authorities to have him stay there.

It's too bad, because it would be the trial of the Century. Of course, his legal defense fund would have to be all cash and bitcoins!

AdvancingTime's picture

Snowden would become a French Fry! I mean the kind that is burned beyond recognition.