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28 February 2000. Thanks to anonymous.
Translation by Cryptome. More information on Special Collection Service invited: cryptome[at]earthlink.net
Le Monde, February 23, 2000
Updated Tuesday February 22, 2000
In the United States, the NSA and the CIA have created a common agency, named Special Collection Service (SCS), whose activities are highly secret and whose role is to give to Americans, in all clandestinity, information on new means to overcome the difficulties encountered by interception operations caused by progress in encryption for protection of world communications.
The existence of the SCS is not officially recognized. It is known only that this new federal agency brings together CIA and NSA teams expert in decrypting of transmissions especially protected against any intrusion which comes from the outside.
Indeed, the NSA usually carries out its remote interceptions relatively "passively:" it intercepts what it is asked to oversee. However, the encryption of communications by the same parties which transmit them has become increasingly effective. It requires time - and money - to access these communications, and it becomes difficult "to crack" without reliable and easy access to suspected equipment.
It is thus necessary to find processes which allow authentic - but secret - intrusions into the targeted systems, i.e., "active" electronic and data-processing mechanisms, like, for example, the possibility of introducing viruses, of collecting key words which will facilitate their locations with impunity, and of infiltrating computers or communication networks. Only the CIA, thanks to its agents specialized in "covert actions" - in other words clandestine operations on the ground - is able to intervene. This is the reason of this alliance between the CIA and the NSA, through joint teams which work to the benefit of the SCS.
Le Monde, February 23, 2000
Mis à jour le mardi 22 février 2000
AUX ÉTATS-UNIS, la NSA et la CIA ont créé une agence commune, dénommée Special Collection Service (SCS), dont les activités sont très secrètes et qui a pour rôle de donner au renseignement américain des moyens nouveaux lui permettant de s'affranchir, en toute clandestinité, des difficultés rencontrées par les interceptions, liées aux progrès dans le cryptage et la protection des communications dans le monde.
L'existence de la SCS n'est pas officiellement reconnue. On sait seulement que cette nouvelle agence fédérale réunit des équipes de la CIA et de la NSA expertes dans le décodage de transmissions particulièrement préservées contre toute intrusion qui viendrait de l'extérieur.
En effet, la NSA effectue habituellement ses écoutes à distance, et de façon relativement « passive » : elle intercepte ce qu'on lui demande de surveiller. Or, le cryptage des communications (lire page 3), par ceux-là mêmes qui les émettent, se fait de plus en plus efficace. Il requiert du temps - et de l'argent - pour en venir à bout, et il devient difficile à « casser » sans une véritable effraction volontaire dans les équipements incriminés.
Il faut donc trouver des procédés qui permettent des intrusions authentiques - mais secrètes - dans les systèmes adverses, c'est-à-dire des mécanismes électroniques et informatiques « actifs », comme, par exemple, la possibilité d'introduire des virus, de collecter des mots-clés qui faciliteront les repérages en toute impunité, et de s'infiltrer dans les ordinateurs ou dans les réseaux de communication. Seule la CIA, grâce à ses agents spécialisés dans les « coverts actions », autrement dit les opérations clandestines sur le terrain, est en mesure d'intervenir. C'est la raison de cette alliance entre la CIA et la NSA, au travers d'équipes conjointes qui travaillent au profit du SCS.
Le Monde daté du mercredi 23 février 2000
The Village Voice, February 24-March 2, 1999
Jason Vest and Wayne Madsen
When probing the world of espionage, rarely does a clear picture emerge. But according to a handful of published sources, as well as assessments by independent experts and interviews with current and former intelligence officers, the U.S. government's prime mover in Iraqi electronic surveillance was most likely a super-secret organization run jointly by the the CIA and the NSA the spy agency charged with gathering signals intelligence (known as SIGINT) called the Special Collection Service. Further, there is evidence to suggest that the Baghdad operation was an example of the deployment of a highly classified, multinational SIGINT agreement one that may have used Australians to help the U.S. listen in months after the CIA failed to realize the U.S. objective of overthrowing Saddam Hussein through covert action.
According to former UNSCOM chief inspector Scott Ritter, when the U.S. took over the group's intelligence last year, a caveat was added regarding staffing: only international personnel with U.S. clearances could participate. "This requirement," says Ritter, "really shows the kind of perversion of mission that went on. The U.S. was in control, but the way it operated from day one was, U.S. runs it, but it had to be a foreigner [with a clearance] operating the equipment."
Under the still-classified 1948 UKUSA signals intelligence treaty, eavesdropping agencies of the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand share the same clearances. According to Federation of American Scientists intelligence analyst John Pike, this gives the U.S. proxies for electronic espionage: "In the context of UKUSA, think of NSA as one office with five branches," he says. As UNSCOM demonstrates, though, sometimes the partnership gets prickly; the British, according to Ritter, withdrew their personnel following the U.S.'s refusal to explain "how the data was going to be used." (According to a longtime British intelligence officer, there was another reason: lingering bad feelings over the NSA's cracking a secret UN code used by British and French peacekeepers during a Bosnian UN mission.) At this point, says Ritter, he was instructed to ask the Australian government for a "collection" specialist. "We deployed him to Baghdad in July of 1998," recalls Ritter. "In early August, when I went to Baghdad, he pulled me aside and told me he had concerns about what was transpiring.
He said there was a very high volume of data, and that he was getting no feedback about whether it was good, bad, or useful. He said that it was his experience that this was a massive intelligence collection operation one that was not in accordance with what UNSCOM was supposed to be doing."
Frontline, PBS, April 27, 1999
Barton Gelman, Washington Post reporter:
Now what the CIA did not tell UNSCOM is that the people that they sent to install these radio relays were also covert operatives. And they rigged this equipment to have a second purpose. It's actually a joint operation of the CIA and the National Security Agency. They operate a service called the Special Collection Service, and it's quite skilled at building hidden antennae and covert listening devices. And these are quite large mass, these antennas, and they're spaced throughout the Iraqi countryside and they beam signals. They're like repeater stations used in commercial radio transmissions.
But they built into these a hidden antenna capable of detecting microwave communications. This is not their open purpose. And they stationed some of these antennae near critical nodes of Iraqi microwave communications. Now what do the Iraqis use these microwaves for? These are very high band width, high capacity communications links that operate from hilltop to hilltop, in line of sight. They beam a very tight, narrowly focused beam from one point to the other, which makes them relatively harder to intercept. They can't be intercepted, usually, from space or from aircraft, because the angle's too oblique and the signal gets dissipated. If you want to get at their signals, you need someone nearby on the ground to do it. So they essentially built a Trojan horse with these radio masts that they built for UNSCOM that was also feeding other Iraqi traffic back to the CIA. So you learned a lot about Iraq's military from that. Most of it was not related to special weapons or to UNSCOM's mission.