In an interview with the South China Morning Post, Edward Snowden claims the NSA is carrying out as many as 61,000 hacking operations globally, with hundreds of targets in in Hong Kong and on mainland China.
“We hack network backbones – like huge internet routers, basically – that give us access to the communications of hundreds of thousands of computers without having to hack every single one,” Snowden told Lana Lam of the South China Morning Post.
Snowden made the following points in the interview:
US National Security Agency’s controversial Prism programme extends to people and institutions in Hong Kong and mainland China;
The US is exerting “bullying’’ diplomatic pressure on Hong Kong to extradite him;
Hong Kong’s rule of law will protect him from the US;
He is in constant fear for his own safety and that of his family.
And here Edward Snowden’s made a point that is important. He says that “the hypocrisy of the US government when it claims that it does not target civilian infrastructure, unlike its adversaries”.
“Not only does it do so, but it is so afraid of this being known that it is willing to use any means, such as diplomatic intimidation, to prevent this information from becoming public.”
The government runs a network of Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities, and has been public information for some time. According to Wikipedia:
In United States security and intelligence parlance, a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF; pronounced “skiff”) is an enclosed area within a building that is used to process Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) types of classified information. SCI is classified information concerning or derived from intelligence sources, methods, or analytical processes, which is required to be handled within formal access control systems established by the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI). Some entire buildings are SCIFs where all but the front foyer is secure. Access to SCIFs is limited, and all of the activity and conversation inside is presumed restricted from public disclosure. A SCIF can also be located in an air, ground or maritime vehicle, or can be established on a temporary basis at a specific site.
Further this operation was used to track down the Times Square Bomber and was visited by Eric Holder when he was briefed on the work of catching the bomber. But while the SCIF is known, what’s not known, and where Edward Snowden’s filling in the blanks, is in what kind of information is gathered on a regular basis.