Inside the Secret World of America’s Top Eavesdropping Spies

Officially, the Special Collection Service, a secret joint program with the CIA codenamed F6, doesn’t exist. Unofficially, its snoops travel the world intercepting private messages and cracking high-tech encryption. SCS is responsible for placing super-high-tech bugs in unbelievably hard-to-reach places. Data collected is then transmitted to the National Security Agency. The Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act, the legal framework for domestic espionage against external threats, doesn’t affect spy activities overseas, but the attention it is generating will shift scrutiny to the National Security Agency and its growing and astonishing capabilities. The NSA, the intelligence arm of the United States responsible for eavesdropping and code-breaking, has been criticized for the controversial methods it employs. John Pike of the Federation of American Scientists put it best: “When you think of NSA, you think satellites. When you think CIA, you think James Bond and microfilm. But you don’t really think of an agency whose sole purpose is to get up real close and use the best technology there is to listen and transmit. That’s SCS.”

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