Is Government Using Spy-Hubs In 8 AT&T Buildings Across The Country To Intercept Emails, Calls, And Texts?

Authored by Michael Snyder via The American Dream blog,

It is supposed to be illegal for the NSA to spy on communications that are completely domestic, but that appears to be precisely what is happening.

According to a brand new report from Ryan Gallagher and Henrik Moltke of the Intercept, NSA documents indicate that the NSA is systematically capturing our emails, our phone calls and our text messages at certain key strategic points on AT&T’s immensely powerful Internet network. There are only eight facilities that allow for direct access into AT&T’s “common backbone”, and thanks to leaked documents the Intercept was able to identify the exact location of each of those facilities

Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. In each of these cities, The Intercept has identified an AT&T facility containing networking equipment that transports large quantities of internet traffic across the United States and the world. A body of evidence – including classified NSA documents, public records, and interviews with several former AT&T employees – indicates that the buildings are central to an NSA spying initiative that has for years monitored billions of emails, phone calls, and online chats passing across U.S. territory.

Apparently the relationship between AT&T and the NSA has been ongoing “for decades”, and it isn’t just data from AT&T customers that is being collected.

In fact, according to an AT&T technician that worked for the company for 22 years, the NSA is able to capture “all the data that’s interchanged between AT&T’s network and other companies”, and because of the nature of how the network functions, AT&T is “liable to carry everybody’s traffic at one point or another during the day, or the week, or the year”…

The data exchange between AT&T and other networks initially takes place outside AT&T’s control, sources said, at third-party data centers that are owned and operated by companies such as California’s Equinix. But the data is then routed – in whole or in part – through the eight AT&T buildings, where the NSA taps into it. By monitoring what it calls the “peering circuits” at the eight sites, the spy agency can collect “not only AT&T’s data, they get all the data that’s interchanged between AT&T’s network and other companies,” according to Mark Klein, a former AT&T technician who worked with the company for 22 years. It is an efficient point to conduct internet surveillance, Klein said, “because the peering links, by the nature of the connections, are liable to carry everybody’s traffic at one point or another during the day, or the week, or the year.”

The NSA appears to be engaged in a data collection program that is far beyond anything that we have ever seen before in human history.

These are the maps that The Intercept used to identify the internet surveillance hubs. Maps: NSA/AT&T

Even as far back as 2003, the agency was collecting “some 400 billion records about people’s internet communications and activity” within just a few months…

The eight locations are featured on a top-secret NSA map, which depicts U.S. facilities that the agency relies upon for one of its largest surveillance programs, code-named FAIRVIEW. AT&T is the only company involved in FAIRVIEW, which was first established in 1985, according to NSA documents, and involves tapping into international telecommunications cables, routers, and switches.

In 2003, the NSA launched new internet mass surveillance methods, which were pioneered under the FAIRVIEW program. The methods were used by the agency to collect – within a few months – some 400 billion records about people’s internet communications and activity, the New York Times previously reported. FAIRVIEW was also forwarding more than 1 million emails every day to a “keyword selection system” at the NSA’s Fort Meade headquarters.

Needless to say, the numbers would be much higher today.

And thanks to the leaked documents, the Intercept is able to tell us a great deal about these AT&T “spy hubs”

Among the pinpointed buildings, there is a nuclear blast-resistant, windowless facility in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood; in Washington, D.C., a fortress-like, concrete structure less than half a mile south of the U.S. Capitol; in Chicago, an earthquake-resistant skyscraper in the West Loop Gate area; in Atlanta, a 429-foot art deco structure in the heart of the city’s downtown district; and in Dallas, a cube-like building with narrow windows and large vents on its exterior, located in the Old East district.

Elsewhere, on the west coast of the U.S., there are three more facilities: in downtown Los Angeles, a striking concrete tower near the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Staples Center, two blocks from the most important internet exchange in the region; in Seattle, a 15-story building with blacked-out windows and reinforced concrete foundations, near the city’s waterfront; and in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood, a building where it was previously claimed that the NSA was monitoring internet traffic from a secure room on the sixth floor.

Of course details about NSA spying have been revealed before, and the American people have not responded with outrage.

In the end, if we do not demand change they will just keep on expanding their spying operations.

Today, AT&T’s enormous network handles approximately 197 petabytes of dataevery business day…

The company claims it has one of the world’s most powerful networks, the largest of its kind in the U.S. AT&T routinely handles masses of emails, phone calls, and internet chats. As of March 2018, some 197 petabytes of data – the equivalent of more than 49 trillion pages of text, or 60 billion average-sized mp3 files – traveled across its networks every business day.

The NSA has direct access to all of that data, and once data has been collected it is forwarded to a “centralized processing facility” and from there it is sent to NSA headquarters in Fort Meade

NSA diagrams reveal that after it collects data from AT&T’s “access links” and “peering partners,” it is sent to a “centralized processing facility” code-named PINECONE, located somewhere in New Jersey. Inside the PINECONE facility, there is a secure space in which there is both NSA-controlled and AT&T-controlled equipment. Internet traffic passes through an AT&T “distribution box” to two NSA systems. From there, the data is then transferred about 200 miles southwest to its final destination: NSA headquarters at Fort Meade in Maryland.

At the Maryland compound, the communications collected from AT&T’s networks are integrated into powerful systems called MAINWAY and MARINA, which the NSA uses to analyze metadata – such as the “to” and “from” parts of emails, and the times and dates they were sent. The communications obtained from AT&T are also made accessible through a tool named XKEYSCORE, which NSA employees use to search through the full contents of emails, instant messenger chats, web-browsing histories, webcam photos, information about downloads from online services, and Skype sessions.

I greatly applaud the Intercept for having the courage to run this remarkable story.

But what happens next depends on the American people.

Are you going to do something to stop the systematic collection of our emails, our phone calls and our text messages?

If not, government surveillance will continue to grow even more intrusive, and the Big Brother control grid that is being constructed all around us will become even more pervasive.


Automatic Choke Croesus Tue, 06/26/2018 - 13:09 Permalink

I worked at a fusion lab in Moscow in the late '80s...when it was still the old USSR.

One of the guys there said that there was a meme:   (they didn't call it that then)

    Don't think.

    If you think, don't talk.

    If you think and talk, don't write.

    If you think and talk and write, don't be surprised.


In reply to by Croesus

Tony 12-Letters tmosley Tue, 06/26/2018 - 12:50 Permalink

> few years ago at least

Try ~20. I remember reading about the off-limits communications closets/offices in AT&T buildings in the early '00's. And, before that, you better believe your landlines were snooped. It's been going on the whole time. What's different now is that the lies are coming undone - or they're just giving us the limited hangout. Nothing will be done about this 'revelation' just like nothing was done about any of the hangout that Snowden dropped. Suck it up and enjoy the panopticon, goy.

In reply to by tmosley

rejected tmosley Tue, 06/26/2018 - 13:28 Permalink

" giant windowless buildings in cities all over the country a few years ago at least."

These are CO's. Do you know what a CO is. They usually have no windows and are filled with equipment that keeps everyone 'connected'. 

A CO is a Central Office. I have worked in many central offices and many have no windows. This is where all the switch gear, Toll, Muxes, and routers are located. There are many of them in a city. Even some in the country that look like ordinary houses. 

Are they helping the NSA,,, I don't know. Never privy to that. 

Can they split off fiber communications,,, Absolutely, by using light muxes,,,active and passive. You'd never know. A Fujitsu RoadM could do that as could a DMX or a Alcatel Splitter/Amp. 

Never heard of these things? They are what makes your cute little phones work. Cell Phone to Cell Tower to Central Office to website or the person/company your calling. 

In reply to by tmosley

east of eden Deep Snorkeler Tue, 06/26/2018 - 14:31 Permalink

So. You are a fucking liar, a fucking coward, a fucking psychopath, who is obviously working for the CIA/NSA.

You are going to burn, baby. You will scream, and scream and scream as they roast your worthless fucking body over the coals.

To prove this, I point you to your ill advised comment (lower in the section) where you claim to 'love Asian food'. You are fucking done, fuckwad.

In reply to by Deep Snorkeler

pods hedgeless_horseman Tue, 06/26/2018 - 12:22 Permalink

They are going to hamstring themselves.  The amount of data they are collecting might seem like a wet dream to them.
But in reality, it is like most people's garages. Shit piling up everywhere and nothing can be located without a drawn out search of the whole place.

This might scare most people, but it will mainly be used to go after ex wives and political enemies.

We all need to send out the random text that triggers their algos to fuck them up.

Like, that party was the BOMB.  

Drown them in data.


In reply to by hedgeless_horseman

Cautiously Pes… pods Tue, 06/26/2018 - 12:35 Permalink

Please don't do that Pods.  These guys are overworked as it is and if we start throwing terms like BOMB or ALLAHU AKBAR or DIRTY BOMB or SUICIDE VEST or HIJACK around, then they have to work all the harder to keep Murica safe.  So, to reiterate, try not to use these terms or phrases:







Thanks in advance for your cooperation!

In reply to by pods

Rothbardian in… pods Tue, 06/26/2018 - 12:42 Permalink

I think 5 years ago I'd have agreed with you.  With the advancement of unsupervised learning capabilities on unstructured data such as Extreme Gradient Boosting and CNN (not the news station) on distributed computational platforms the data overload is not the problem it once was.  The ability to pull signal from noise in unstructured data has caught up.

In reply to by pods

SomeAreMoreEqual Rothbardian in… Tue, 06/26/2018 - 14:44 Permalink

You are correct. And furthermore, with advancement of automated responses to the unstructured data mining will come social engineering like you have never seen before.

The goal is not for some greasy new NSA recruit to read your email. The goal is to have a machine read your email and automate an action that is seemingly unrelated, but helps "re-direct" your thinking and behaviors to the desired state.

For example, if the NSA bots see you are leaning toward getting involved in a political campaign they do not support, an identity theft incident might occur, causing you to redirect your time into putting out that fire and away from getting involved in the cause. Or maybe an email is delayed in getting sent, or any number of seemingly unrelated redirects occur.

The point of mass data collection was never to listen in. The point is to allow machines to figure out ways to direct behaviors in society. Think Facebook does social engineering? This is way worse.

In reply to by Rothbardian in…

Thought Processor SomeAreMoreEqual Tue, 06/26/2018 - 17:04 Permalink


"The goal is not for some greasy new NSA recruit to read your email. The goal is to have a machine read your email and automate an action that is seemingly unrelated, but helps "re-direct" your thinking and behaviors to the desired state."


Major 1st world Governments are doing this right now.  They've been refining it for years.  Now add in shadow banning, tailored access, and gang bot stalking and it begins to get far scarier than simply big brother watching over you.  It has become one big psy-op.

Throw in SSRI's (fluoride?!?) along with suggestive programming via whatever 'feed' people are accessing and well, I would imagine it would not be too hard to spark almost anything (ME / Rising Spring?).

Special access level computer science related activity is rumored to be 'decades' ahead of anything commercially available.  Reason?  The government never had the cpu restriction that most private users had and they've never really had a cost ceiling.  They went parallel processing a long time ago.  Quantum computers are in use at this level now.  Both nextgen software and hardware are in operation.  Think about all the Government computer science labs in operation since WWII.  Now use your imagination a little.

Keep in mind that this is all NATSEC level stuff.  This realm is GOV. R&D level above the Tier 1 U.S. GOV. suppliers.  Tier 1 U.S. GOV. suppliers / products can be easily restricted for sale / use outside the U.S. and can be considered classified, government use only until cleared or released for commercial use.  The R&D level stuff can be considered custom applications for special access programs.  CIA / NSA / MIL INTEL + DARPA funds most of this shit (in U.S. that is).  Nothing new here.  This is the real arms race though, and Governments around the globe are worried that they'll fall behind and become 'at risk' security wise because of it.  Many already are. 


We're all living in a Brave New World.

In reply to by SomeAreMoreEqual

HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 pods Tue, 06/26/2018 - 16:00 Permalink

Love it! Make them dig. Find that one pepper flake on a 100-mile white sand beach.

In reality this is more about parallel construction where they go back, dig up what they need, for prosecution.

Interesting that they seem unable to dig up what Hilliary sent back and forth on her closet server. Or find those Russian tape between Trump and Russia!

In reply to by pods