The latest bombshell revelation from Edward Snowden via the Guardian newspaper is a program called XKEYSCORE. In a previous article, the Free Press released a drop down menu that allowed NSA analysts to simply fill in the blank defining how an internet user is foreign.

Meanwhile, the redacted 32-page XKEYSCORE document proves that not metadata but content is viewed and stored. The document was created in early 2008 and claimed the NSA kept a rolling buffer for 3 days of content. The NSA has built up its storage capacity massively since then, including bringing online a huge new facility in Utah. It is not clear if XKEYSCORE now has a rolling buffer of months or years. [View Here]

Listed amongst the reasons to read someone's email is a line item that appears to be labeled “The person is a user of storage media served outside the United States.” This means offshore cloud computing. It also means downloading files from any storage media located on an offshore server. Thus almost everyone who reads news from overseas, or peer to peer shares, or uses cloud services is valid to be selected for examination without functional oversight.

If you are one of those rare people who never crosses the invisible internet borders, but still uses cloud based computing systems, the NSA has tricks to get around its drop down oversight that substitutes itself for a court order. If a person or organization uses Google Cloud Storage the NSA can use its backdoor access to Google's infrastructure to temporarily relocate the users data to a Google server in the EU, fill out the drop down box, and then move the user's data back to the US.

Another interesting revelation in the leaked XKEYSCORE document is the foreign cooperation involved in the program itself. The security classification of the document reads “TOP SECRET // COMINT // REL TO USA, AUS, CAN, GBR, NZL” referring to the Five Eyes. This 60 year signals intelligence sharing agreement is not a geographic convenience or cold war relic but also a tactical maneuver around the constraints placed on domestic spying in each nation.

The Five Eyes arrangement allows Britain's spy agency, the GCHQ, to spy on Americans and then send the data back to the NSA. Similarly, the United States can spy on foreign persons with impunity and then send information back to their own governments spy agencies. This arrangement additionally allows all nations to share in the commercial and industrial espionage that takes place, such as the massive penetration of Brazil's telecommunications network.

This vast capability is supposedly regulated the FISA courts and Congressional oversight. In reality it is subject to less regulation and oversight than a traffic stop in the rural South. Any analyst can do as they please, and their supervisor checking their use of a menu is the only real regulation. Congress is not permitted to even know how many people are being spied on in the United States or any other country.

Indeed, the NSA claims to be unable to even search its own email systems. Thus there are no actual records for the FISA court to examine if it was so inclined. Under these circumstances, Senate Democrats calling for transparency in these programs, as opposed to their cessation, is laughable. It is a secret system, set up by a secret memo, backed by a secret court, and overseen in secret hearings. Post-constitutional America has no check or balance on this global system.

These spy agencies, by the nature of their long standing cooperation, equipment interoperability, near total operational integration and unifying arrogance constitute a force that is not just post-constitutional, it is extra-constitutional, transnational and extra-parliamentary. It is a spy agency that has transcended the nation state. It is extraterritorial superpower of the information age. It is defined by a common language, and a totalitarian ideology. It has appropriated for itself the right to spy, kidnap, torture and murder without consequence. It considers discussing its existence to be an attack. Let the world be warned.