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The NSA (Probably) Has a Base in This Creepy NYC Building

The Intercept reports that the AT&T Building is a key surveillance site
By Daniel Kay,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 17, 2016 1:48 PM CST
The NSA (Probably) Has a Base in This Creepy NYC Building
The AT&T Long Lines Building in New York.   (Wikimedia Commons)

For decades, the NSA has operated a sophisticated intelligence-gathering operation out of the ominous AT&T Building in Manhattan, the Intercept reports. The windowless building, located at 33 Thomas St. in lower Manhattan, has long attracted attention from New Yorkers curious about its purpose. When the New York Times reported in 1994 that the building had no windows in order to protect the telecommunications equipment inside, no mention was made of a connection to national security. But documents from Edward Snowden tell a more complete story, reports the Intercept. They don't "explicitly name" the building as a surveillance site, but "taken together with architectural plans, public records, and interviews with former AT&T employees," they offer "compelling evidence" it is exactly that, one code-named TITANPOINT.

In fact, the building "appears to be one of the most important National Security Agency surveillance sites on U.S. soil—a covert monitoring hub that is used to tap into phone calls, faxes, and internet data," write Ryan Gallagher and Henrik Moltke. The article makes the case that the NSA uses its part of the building for a surveillance program known as BLARNEY that has intercepted communications from foreign nations, allies included. (The NSA didn't comment, and an AT&T spokesperson says the company does not “allow any government agency to connect directly to or otherwise control our network to obtain our customers’ information.") The NSA documents also detail the great lengths employees entering the building must use to avoid tipping off who their real employer is, including wearing clothes so they "blend in to the environment" of AT&T. Read the full article. (More NSA stories.)

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