More Dangerous Than The NSA? The Massive Spy Agency You Haven't Heard Of

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Alice Salles via,

If you’re one of the countless Americans who was distraught to learn of the revelations made by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, the mere idea that there might be yet another agency out there - perhaps just as powerful and much more intrusive -  should give you goosebumps.

Foreign Policy reports that the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, or NGA, is an obscure spy agency former President Barack Obama had a hard time wrapping his mind around back in 2009. But as the president grew fond of drone warfare, finding a way to launch wars without having to go through Congress for the proper authorization, the NGA also became more relevant. Now, President Donald Trump is expected to further explore the multibillion-dollar surveillance network.

Like the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA), the NGA is an intelligence agency, but it also serves as a combat support institution that functions under the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).

With headquarters bigger than the CIA’s, the building cost $1.4 billion to be completed in 2011. In 2016, the NGA bought an extra 99 acres in St. Louis, building additional structures that cost taxpayers an extra $1.75 billion.

Enjoying the extra budget Obama threw at them, the NGA became one of the most obscure intelligence agencies precisely because it relies on the work of drones.

As a body of government that has only one task — to analyze images and videos captured by drones in the Middle East — the NGA is mighty powerful. So why haven’t we heard of it before?

The Shadow Agency That Sees It All

Prior to Trump’s inauguration, the NGA only targeted the Middle East or whatever spy satellites orbiting the globe captured. As far as most of us knew, the agency refrained from pointing its ultra-high-resolution cameras toward the United States. That alone may be why the NGA has been able to stay out of scandals for the most part.

But under Trump, things may look much worse — as if spying on countless people abroad weren’t enough.

Recently, for instance, he gave the CIA the power to wage covert drone warfare, shielding important information on such operations simply by allowing the agency to carry out missions without first seeking authorization from the Pentagon.

Now, Trump might as well move on to NGA, hoping to boost “national security” by turning the agency’s all seeing eyes toward American soil.

As the president hopes to get more money for defense, many have speculated whether he will start to use drones at home, especially since he has already suggested he supports agencies like the NSA based on his desire to target “terrorists.” There’s nothing that implies he wants to slow down the surveillance state.  The White House has expressed its desire to renew Obama-era spying powers — even as the president battles critics who deny his claims that his conversations were intercepted at the same time foreign nationals were under surveillance in 2016.

A partially redacted March 2016 report released by the Pentagon revealed that drones had already been used domestically on about 20 or fewer occasions between 2006 and 2015. Though some of these operations mostly involved natural disasters, National Guard training, and search and rescue missions, quotes from an Air Force law review article found their way into the report. In it, Dawn M. K. Zoldi wrote that technology designed to spy on targets abroad could soon be used against American citizens.

As the nation winds down these wars,” the report explains, and ”assets become available to support other combatant command (COCOM) or U.S. agencies, the appetite to use them in the domestic environment to collect airborne imagery continues to grow.

Up until 2015, oversight was so loose that the capabilities provided by the DOD’s unmanned aircraft system weren’t under scrutiny by any other agency. Without statutes that specify the rules such federal government agencies should follow, watchdogs find it hard to keep track. But would it be any better if there were an agency or a branch of the same government overseeing what the government itself is doing?

The short answer is no.

NGA Has A Precedent, And Trump May Want To Explore It

As fears grow that Trump will revamp the NGA, domestic stories of police departments using drones to spy on locals are also resurfacing.

Some of the most highly publicized instances involved Baltimore and Compton, where police departments deployed aerial surveillance technology without issuing a warrant or seeking authorization from local or state lawmakers.

With a precedent already set, the president might as well ignite a new fight in his continued efforts to fight a war against an imaginary, impossible-to-target enemy. After all, he’s not a stranger to scandals and likely wouldn’t feel overwhelmed one bit if he decided to turn the country’s ultra-high definition cameras toward its citizens.

What could help to put an end to his plans might be exactly what helped halt President George W. Bush’s attempts at setting up spy satellites domestically. In 2007, Bush’s Department of Homeland Security set up an agency known as the National Applications Office with the goal of establishing direct spy satellite stakeouts in America. Thankfully, Congress stepped in and cut off the agency’s funding.

But with Americans seldom showing any interest for important violations of privacy or even basic human rights here and abroad, it’s easy to see how this massive spying agency could end up getting a carte blanche to do whatever it wants once Trump realizes he has the power to order it done. After all, who will pressure Congress to stop him?

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Smedley's picture

"If yore not doin' anything wrong, what are ya worried about"?


LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD's picture
LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD (not verified) Smedley Mar 31, 2017 2:52 PM

The Google knows.

wren's picture

Anyone know what McCain's kickback is on this agency?

Muddy1's picture

"Without statutes that specify the rules such federal government agencies should follow", RRRRRRRRRRRRRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHTTTTTTTTTTTTTT

Nevermind the statutes, or the pesky 4th Ammendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.  Those are mere details.

BennyBoy's picture


"There's a jaywalker. Drone him! Drone him!!"


The Military Industrial Complex enforcing traffic laws.

techies-r-us's picture
techies-r-us (not verified) BennyBoy Mar 31, 2017 6:34 PM

The MI Complex is too busy warmongering for IsraHell.

kavlar's picture
kavlar (not verified) techies-r-us Mar 31, 2017 6:36 PM

Wait until they get us into World War 3 for that shitty country.

Mano-A-Mano's picture
Mano-A-Mano (not verified) kavlar Mar 31, 2017 6:38 PM

Why aren't all these spy agencies taking down all these IsraHell-first neocons that driving America to disaster?

kavlar's picture
kavlar (not verified) Mano-A-Mano Mar 31, 2017 6:41 PM

The bribed and corrupt politicians keep them in line.

bob_bichen's picture
bob_bichen (not verified) kavlar Mar 31, 2017 8:42 PM

RE: chronic SPAMMER  kavlar, techies-r-us, lexxus, stizazz, mano-a-mano, etc.   (ALL THE SAME PERSON REPLYING TO HIS OWN COMMENTS)

You have NO IDEA how troubled this individual, the Spammer With One Hundred Log-ons, really is.  He has trolled and spammed his website crap on here forever, always with the same macabre conversations with a long series of "imaginary playmates." It really is quite perverse and whoever "he" is, he seems to really get his rocks off voting himself up arrows and replying to his own comments, and also appears to have no life beyond making off-topic comments with his link to the SPAM-, TROJAN-, VIRUS-INFESTED  "biblicisminstitute,wordpress,com"  (sometimes disguised as a short-URL  )


<<Tonight's little commentary on another story is classic --- one Invisible Friend (Mano-a-Mano) "lives" in Mexico and another Invisible Friend (stizazz) "wants to be his roommate."    Such a fantasy life -- do all of the "Invisible Friends" wear fishnets and makeup as well??  >>

He shares this pathology with "Audio Feeline " "blue fin" AKA "TrollAndDump" (formerly known as XYTHRAS - since banned) whose "dailywesterner,com" is, if anything WORSE than the biblicism fetishist, also SPAM-, TROJAN-, VIRUS-INFESTED.

Other ZHers  may wish to take one minute to send an email to requesting that all of the "imaginary friends" (in the list below; copy and paste)   be permanently banned for spamming.

As you do that, use your imagination to try to conceive of what type of whackadoo would spend their life in pajamas, fake eyelashes and high heels, eating stale chips and drinking cheap soda from the dollar store, popping zits, and spamming zerohedge. 

Many of the following have been banned but, like crabs and cockroaches, they just seem to come back.  The "short list of imaginary playmates" includes:

Audio Feeline
blue fin

Son of Loki






Aristotle of Greece





Yippee Kiyay


SumTing Wong

King Tut



Holy hand grenade of Antioch,

etc. etc. etc.

Omni Consumer Product's picture

I think that Mr. Biblicism is just a Turing Machine AI that got away from his masters, and is now crazy.

Tarzan's picture

Don't drone me dude....

"There’s nothing that implies he wants to slow down the surveillance state"

I don't hold much hope, but I suspect, tweeting to the world that the previouse administration wire tapped him, slows the surveillance state slightly.  All this talk of spying can't help these secretive agencies.

But any little hope Trump gives, he takes away when he supports the patriot act, and when he refuses to acknowledge that Snowden is a PATRIOT!

If Trump wants to give us real hope, if he really wants to rally the people behind him, and prove he's on the People's side, that he's not going to turn on us, PARDON EDWARD SNOWDEN and BRADLEY MANNING already, dammit!

pgroup's picture

Haven't you heard? Bradley Manning died in prison. His maleness got amputated.

Tarzan's picture

No, he never amputated anything, They gave HIM a wig for the court room...

wildbad's picture

if these agencies are not killed, they will kill everyone on earth.

stop them or die trying.

they cause wars, they incite wars, they enable wars.

stop these fucking murderous wars.

Trump! If you do ANYTHING positive with this time in office STOP ALL OF THE FUCKING UNDECLARED AND ILLEGAL MURDEROUS WARS that are being pushed in the name of Americans who want nothing to do with them and are complicit in their forced silence.


Chris Dakota's picture
Chris Dakota (not verified) kavlar Apr 1, 2017 12:40 AM

Let me tell you, I hold a lot of stuff back from your guys, but Pluto in Capricorn is scarcity, water, food, air and oil.

If you keep letting people into this country your children are going to starve to death, because this is where we are now with 7.50 billion people worldwide.

We have the chance to close the borders and save ourselves and those citizens of all stripes.

ZERO immigration!

sgt_doom's picture

And seriously, though, there are now several police forces around America who have armed drones in the planning stages.

Skateboarder's picture

Aint no such thing left as the 4th. I just saw on the teevee an advertisement for a movie about the fake Boston marathon incident, of course starring Marky Mark since he's the best seller to the masses.

For fuck's sake... these fake reality - fake movie - fake reinforcement motifs are so lame.

Lore's picture

For what it's worth, I attended a luncheon with a bunch of Canadian cops in attendance shortly after that incident, and they all agreed that it was a sham.  We had an interesting time picking it apart. 

The Gun Is Good's picture

I saw that preview followed by one for a knob-slobbing film about the Obamas... and was both suitably nauseas and enraged.

logicalman's picture

Fake reinfocement motifs do seem to work, though.

s2man's picture

After that paragraph of fiction he said,  No.

old naughty's picture

please explain, Sir,

why you have more "I"s then RGHT?

Was  t my grown ng weary eyes ghts (oops, all i are gone) !




My bad.

Tarzan's picture

wait, you counted the I's, for symmetry? 

OCD much?

aloha_snakbar's picture

Hard to tell... he probably gets direct deposit...

Lorca&#039;s Novena's picture

Teh Goggle Overlords know i used to search for "Sarah Palins titties".... am I in trouble?


Any POS coward NSA type person monitoring this website for $$ should kill themselves. You contribute zero and are a zero.

SilverRhino's picture

Google Shadow ... Goldman-Sachs


It's a GODDAMN conspiracy!!!! 

NoDebt's picture

"Prior to Trump’s inauguration, the NGA only targeted the Middle East or whatever spy satellites orbiting the globe captured. As far as most of us knew, the agency refrained from pointing its ultra-high-resolution cameras toward the United States."

No, no, no.  Doesn't work like that.  The NGA can ABSOLUTELY point their cameras at the US if given authorization.  It's not exactly the rubber stamp authorization that, say, a FISA Court warrant is, but it's in the same ballpark.  It all happens in a similar "black box of justice" mode.  You will have NO IDEA if you are under surveillance, or why.  And you have ABSOLUTELY NO WAY OF DEFENDING YOURSELF AGAINST IT LEGALLY OR IN ANY OTHER WAY IF YOU DID.

I know wherefrom I speak on this one.


MsCreant's picture

I always feel like, somebody's watchin' mee...

Paper Mache's picture

... and I have no privacy

Cloud9.5's picture

Poor bastards, I am sorry that when they look at me they see the real impact of time and gravity.

Secret Weapon's picture

Who watches the watchers????

Apparently no one.

Lumberjack's picture

Who really hates us for out freedoms? It's really been an interesting yet devastating last 30 years. They've made careers (and trillions) successfully out of hating our freedoms and constitution and even send us the bill. 'Too big to fail' committed crimes (and crimes against humanity) that in days past would have resulted in prison or even capital punishment. That behavior is now rewarded and yes, they even sent you the bill for that too. IMHO and sadly, this cancer is unstoppable now.



J Jason Djfmam's picture

You got it wrong.

They hate us for our fear-dumbs.

Excursionist's picture

Russia turns on Trump and nearly simultaneously this re-blog appears on ZH?  That's some coincidence.

Chupacabra-322's picture

@ NoDebt,


I've been harping it for weeks.

These Crime Syndicate Intel Agencies will collapse under a barrage of Molotov Cocktails & GunFire.

Vault 7 CIA, NSA, NGA, ABC, DEF whatever.


DonaldWashington's picture

They have been mapping out "threats" domestically since at least 2008

Tarzan's picture

Well, I know for a fact, I am under surveillance, as are we all!

The alleged, masked hay stack of the surveillance State, has been analyzed, categorized, sifted, and shuffled.  We're all classified by our threat to the State.

And frankly, I don't give a shit anymore.  I'll be at the number one tee box, at Fleming Island golf course at 7:42 this morning.  Let the bastards come and drag me away!


The real Tarzan,

Bobby McKay

Vilfredo Pareto's picture

You should already assume satellite monitoring, but the nice thing is like with all government capabilities they get greedy, expand its use exponentially, then get chopped off at the knees at some point.


They won't be able to stop themselves from using it too much once they have it lol.   Then it leaks or gets discovered in some other way.

Donald J. Trump's picture

Besides the fact that invasion of privacy is just creepy, they say that the average person commits what, 2 felonies a day?  Whether that stat is true or not, I don't know, but with the amount of laws on the books, I suppose it's possible.  You never know when you might become an innocent criminal and it will suck when big brother catches every little thing you do.

August's picture

It's best to commit felonies that you can be proud of.

Mr.Danglemeat's picture

Ummm, no. It's best to commit those you can't be...ummm..never mind. 

Billy the Poet's picture


“Did you really think we want those laws observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them to be broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against... We're after power and we mean it... There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Reardon, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with.” -- Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged

GoinFawr's picture

We're all Efrafrans now Billy.

"Following the rights movement you clamped down with your Iron Fist; (illegal) drugs became conveniently available to all the kids..."-SOAD

Lenses can be focused both ways:


Billy the Poet's picture

Anthem is a wonderful introduction to the philosophy of Rand.