they. are. listening.

Hey folks, thought you’d like to see this update from Rob Douglas, who writes exclusively for the Self Reliance Institute.  I found it fascinating and thought you would too:


For many years, there were always rumors and educated guesses about what the National Security Agency (NSA) might or might not be doing when it came to monitoring foreign and domestic communications.

For those of us who were paying close attention, the first big breakthrough came with the 1982 publication of James Bamford’s first book about the NSA, “The Puzzle Palace: A Report On America’s Most Secret Agency.”

Bamford went on to publish: “The Puzzle Palace: Inside the National Security Agency, America’s Most Secret Intelligence Organization” (2001); “Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency” (2002); “A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America’s Intelligence Agencies” (2005); and, “The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America” (2008).

These are all excellent books and I highly recommend them.

For me, having the government monitor my life and communications became personal in September 1987 when I was appointed by a federal judge in Washington, D.C., to be the criminal defense investigator for Fawaz Younis.

Younis was the first ever international terrorist captured overseas and brought back to the United States where he was convicted by a trial jury of air piracy and hostage-taking for an attack against U.S. citizens on foreign soil. As the Associated Press reported:

“Fawaz Younis, a member of the Amal Militia in Lebanon, led the 1985 hijacking of Royal Jordanian Airlines Flight 402 in Beirut. Younis and four gunmen unsuccessfully tried to fly to Cyprus before returning to Beirut, where they blew up the plane after releasing the passengers unharmed. Two of the hostages were U.S. citizens.”

At the first court hearing after my appointment, U.S. District Judge Barrington D. Parker called the defense attorney and me up to the bench for an off-the-record discussion about a number of procedural matters.

At the end of that discussion, Judge Parker leaned in especially close and whispered, “I can’t officially tell you this, but I hope you realize you will be under constant physical and electronic surveillance for as long as this case lasts.”

I had already been investigated and cleared by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) so that I could see the intelligence the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and other assorted alphabet agencies had gathered on Younis in order to track him for years and eventually capture him during a sting operation off the coast of Cyprus.

Additionally, I had already signed non-disclosure agreements with the federal government acknowledging that if I ever revealed any of that secret information (agreements I would later repeat numerous times in other cases involving international terrorism and high level public corruption), I would be subjected to prison for many years.

Still, even though I was aware I was being allowed to see a small piece of the intelligence world few ever see, I’ll admit Judge Parker’s warning sent a cold chill down my spine.

As it turned out, the case lasted almost two years and I got used to taking steps to protect my privacy from constant federal surveillance.

During that time, my family and friends eventually got used to the fact that I wouldn’t discuss anything of substance on the phone. They never knew why for sure. But since the case was all over the news and they knew I was involved, I suspect they figured out why I wasn’t very conversational on certain topics.

[Someday I’ll share the story of the terrorism case where my client was being held at a secret government safe house and how I would be picked up in vehicles with heavily armed escorts and blacked out windows (often changing vehicles in underground garages as helicopters monitored our progress overhead) so I wouldn’t know where I was meeting with the client.]

Yet, while I’ve had a taste of how a few of our intelligence agencies work, and the Bamford books were available for the general public to read (few did), it wasn’t until the revelations by former NSA employee/contractor Edward Snowden began in 2013 that Americans really sat up and took notice of the fact that they are under 24/7/365 surveillance by their government.

This week, a trusted business associate pointed out to me that Ars Technica published “Photos of an NSA ‘upgrade’ factory show Cisco router getting implant.” The subtitle is, “Servers, routers get ‘beacons’ implanted at secret locations by NSA’s TAO team.”

The piece contains photographs of “NSA techs perform(ing) an unauthorized field upgrade to Cisco hardware.”

The article states:

A document included in the trove of National Security Agency files released with Glenn Greenwald’s book “No Place to Hide” details how the agency’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) unit and other NSA employees intercept servers, routers, and other network gear being shipped to organizations targeted for surveillance and install covert implant firmware onto them before they’re delivered.

These Trojan horse systems were described by an NSA manager as being ‘some of the most productive operations in TAO because they pre-position access points into hard target networks around the world.’”

The article quotes an NSA manager as saying:

Here’s how it works: shipments of computer network devices (servers, routers, etc,) being delivered to our targets throughout the world are intercepted. Next, they are redirected to a secret location where Tailored Access Operations/Access Operations (AO-S326) employees, with the support of the Remote Operations Center (S321), enable the installation of beacon implants directly into our targets’ electronic devices. These devices are then re-packaged and placed back into transit to the original destination. All of this happens with the support of Intelligence Community partners and the technical wizards in TAO.”

I encourage you to read the entire article by clicking –> HERE.

So yes my friends, in the post 9/11 world we are all under surveillance in ways many Americans would have never imagined and, I suspect, many find unconstitutional and horrifying.

I’ll close by letting you know I am currently reading Glenn Greenwald’s “No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State.” It’s a book that every American should read along with “Top Secret America” by Dana Priest and William Arkin.

In the coming weeks, I’ll share some of the insights from “No Place to Hide” and put them in the context of a number of the investigations I was involved in over the years as a Washington, D.C., private detective.

I’ll also share more of my updated thoughts on what you can do to protect your privacy and security from an increasingly oppressive government.

Be safe and secure,

Rob Douglas

Freedom Writers Publishing
1815 Central Park Dr. #358
Steamboat Springs, CO  80487

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