Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "National Security Agency" ...

  • Inside the NSA

    When the National Security Agency’s most secretive programs were first leaked in June by the former contractor Edward Snowden, the Agency was the target of countless reports and at the center of an unprecedented international response. No other U.S. agency had experienced any-thing nearing this level of criticism in recent times. As we constructed it, the N.S.A. was a story about a debate, not a villain, and we added to that debate with important information. We wanted to provide clarity on the technical capabilities of the NSA and to do that we knew we needed to get inside the Agency to see how it operates.
  • NSA and the Snowden files

    For six months, The Washington Post was on the leading edge of reporting on the National Security Agency and the documents leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden. It began by becoming the first news outlet to disclose PRISM, a massive program to vacuum up e-mails, documents and other electronic records from the largest U.S. Internet companies. Later, The Post revealed the NSA’s repeated violations of its own privacy rules; examined the workings of the secretive federal court overseeing surveillance activities; exposed the NSA’s clandestine collection of millions of e-mail address books globally; and broke the news that the agency was gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world. The Post shattered the decades-long secrecy surround the intelligence community’s “black budget,” publishing an in-depth story based on the budget summary for fiscal 2013 and disclosing unprecedented details about spending levels in graphics in print and online. At the end of the year, reporter Bart Gellman conducted the first in-person interview with Snowden in Russia.
  • The NSA Files

    In a series of investigative stories based on top-secret National Security Agency (NSA) documents leaked by former intelligence analyst Edward Snowden, the Guardian US revealed the vast scale and scope of domestic and international surveillance programs, the close relationship between technology companies and intelligence agencies, and how technology is leading to widespread, indiscriminate and routine mass collection of telephone and internet data of millions of Americans. Guardian US reporting has shed unprecedented light on inadequate oversight over surveillance activities and how secretive and outdated laws have failed to keep up with changing technology. On June 5, 2013, the Guardian US was the first to reveal a FISA court order showing how “under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk.” On June 9, in an exclusive video interview and Q&A published at theguardian.com, the source of the leaks revealed himself as Edward Snowden. The Verizon story would be the first of a series of extensive revelations (enclosed for consideration with this entry) that exposed the scale and sophistication of surveillance programs and the secret laws that govern them. The Guardian’s reporting prompted vigorous debate in the US and around the world. The stories have dominated headlines and driven news agendas worldwide. The disclosures exposed misleading statements by senior US administration officials and elicited responses from the highest levels of government -- including The White House, the Office of Director of National Intelligence, Congress and the courts. They prompted numerous legal challenges, Congressional hearings and legislation calling for reform, increased oversight and transparency for NSA programs.
  • Police Cell Phone Surveillance

    The National Security Agency isn't the only government entity secretly collecting data from people's cellphones. The joint USA TODAY Network investigation found that local police are increasingly scooping it up, too. Armed with new technologies, including mobile devices that tap into cellphone data in real time, dozens of local and state police agencies are capturing information about thousands of cellphone users at a time, whether they are targets of an investigation or not, according to public records obtained by USA TODAY and Gannett newspapers and TV stations across the U.S. The records, from more than 125 police agencies in 33 states, reveal about one in four law-enforcement agencies have used a tactic known as a "tower dump," which gives police data about the identity, activity and location of any phone that connects to the targeted cellphone towers over a set span of time, usually an hour or two. A typical dump covers multiple towers, and wireless providers, and can net information from thousands of phones. We also found that at least 25 police departments own a Stingray, a suitcase-size device that costs as much as $400,000 and acts as a fake cell tower. The system, typically installed in a vehicle so it can be moved into any neighborhood, tricks all nearby phones into connecting to it and feeding data to police. In some states, the devices are available to any local police department via state surveillance units. The federal government funds most of the purchases, via anti-terror grants. Police mostly didn’t want to talk about the tactics, though privacy advocates and state and federal lawmakers expressed serious concerns about the ability of local police to scoop up large amounts of data on people who weren’t under investigation and typically without the same protections, and checks and balances, afforded by a search warrant.
  • Inside the Matrix

    The National Security Agency is America’s largest, most costly, and by far most secret intelligence agency. Because its mandate is to eavesdrop on all forms of communications, from email messages to cell phones calls to Google searches to Tweets, it is also the agency that poses the greatest potential harm to the privacy of American citizens. What few outside the intelligence community knew, until Wired’s April cover story, was just how much private data the agency was collecting, where they would store it all, how they would analyze it, and how much of a threat this capability posed to Americans. In the article I describe the agency’s hidden growth over the past decade, spending tens of billions of dollars on new eavesdropping centers around the county, in Georgia, Texas, Colorado and Hawaii. Most importantly, I focused on the final piece in that complex technological puzzle, a gargantuan and highly secret facility where all of that intercepted communications would be stored and analyzed. At a million square feet, the Bluffdale, Utah center could potentially hold up to a yottabyte of data, somewhere around 500 quintillion (500,000,000,000,000,000,000) pages of text, much of that communications to and from American citizens. I also revealed for the first time the NSA’s highly secret new supercomputer complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. To analyze the mountains of data in the Bluffdale center, much of it encrypted, the agency’s Oak Ridge scientists are working on a computer designed to operate at zetaflop speeds – a billion billion operations a second. Thus, the article outlines for the first time the NSA's growing -- and increasingly dangerous -- eavesdropping capabilities.
  • The Fed Who Blew the Whistle

    Justice Department official Tom Tamm leaked information during the Bush administration and its secret domestic surveillance program.
  • The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America

    This book is Bamford's latest expose' of the National Security Agency. Among his findings, Bamford reveals that the agency had been targeting the Yemeni home that served as Osama bin Laden's operations center prior to 9/11 but had never told the FBI that the al-Qaida terrorists were there. Bamford's book demonstrates an unparalleled ability to penetrate the most secretive of institutions.
  • System Error

    The Sun used a FOIA request to obtain a declassified version of a 2003 NSA report on Trailblazer, the program designed to "fix the holes" in NSA's information filter. In the report the agency's inspector general found "'inadequate management and oversight' of private contractors and overpayment for the work done." A govenment official told The Sun, "The government has been standing by while the agency has been gradually 'going deaf' as unimportant communications drown out key pieces of information."
  • State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration

    The Bush Administration has pushed many policies that allow for more intrusive law enforcement and investigation during its War on Terror. Author James Risen examines the National Security Agency's wireless wiretaps, a CIA report that showed that Iraq's WMD program had ceased, but which was buried; politics' heavy involvement of post-invasion intelligence in Iraq, as well as snafus involving relations with Iran.
  • Information War

    This group of stories from The New York Times focuses on how the United States government, in the name of a war on terror, has quietly been changing long-held information practices.