Secret Information: The Currency Of Power

Independent German financial journalist Lars Schall talked with former senior NSA executive Thomas Drake. In particular they’ve discussed the Snowden affair; the financial dimension of the activities of NSA & Co.; informed trading / banking; the technical abilities at the disposal of intelligence agencies; and the F-word: Fascism.

By Lars Schall

For the podcast of the interview with Thomas Drake go to „Die Metallwoche“ here.

A transcript exclusively for ASIA TIMES ONLINE in Hong Kong is in preparation.

Thomas Drake, born 1957, holds a Bachelor’s and two Master’s degrees as well as numerous graduate certificates. He is a former airborne crypto-linguist and electronic warfare mission crew supervisor. From 1991-1998 he worked at Booz Allen Hamilton as a management, strategy and technology consultant and software quality engineer. Furthermore, he is a former senior executive at the US National Security Agency who blew the whistle on multi-billion dollar program fraud and cover up as well as the secret unlawful surveillance program. The US Department of Justice launched a criminal national security “leak” investigation of Mr. Drake in 2006, then prosecuted and indicted him under the WWI-era Espionage Act in April of 2010 as reprisal and retaliation with ten felony counts facing up to 35 years in prison. However, the case against him ultimately collapsed. In 2011 he became the recipient of the Ridenhour Truth-Telling Prize and co-recipient of the Sam Adams Award.

Some of the questions that Lars Schall asked Thomas Drake were:

Why did you a) join the Signal Intelligence Directorate of the US National Security Agency (NSA) in late summer of 2001, and b) left the NSA in 2008?

What’s the attitude of the national intelligence community towards whistle-blowing in general? 

We have currently the whistle-blowing case of Edward Snowden. Has Mr. Snowden done in your view the right thing?

Are you satisfied with regards to the coverage of that on-going story in western mainstream media? 

Related to the recent revelations regarding the global surveillance programs of the NSA, have you seen any credible piece of evidence so far that these programs are doing any good in the so called War on Terror?

As you have suggested, the nexus 9/11 – War on Terror is also an excuse to expand programs that were existing pre-9/11, for example Echelon. (1) What has been the development of Echelon post-9/11? 

I have a couple of questions regarding the use of the legendary software PROMIS (Prosecutor’s Management Information System), which was developed by my friend William A. Hamilton, the founder of the U.S. information technology company INSLAW Inc. Do you know anything about NSA’s use of unauthorized, copyright-infringing copies of INSLAW’s PROMIS software for at least 25 years as the software it sold to banks in support of its Follow the Money SIGINT mission?

Once NSA controlled the software used by banks to process wire transfers of money and letters of credit, it could in theory add, delete, and/or modify the amounts of funds in accounts because the funds are just data like any other kinds of data. Had you ever heard that NSA or other intelligence agencies exploited the bank surveillance version of PROMIS toward such an end? 

Does the NSA provide the other 15 U.S. intelligence agencies, that are working in other areas, the possibilities of information gathering? The background of my question: it may be true that the NSA does not engage in economic espionage directly. However, if the possibility of information gathering is provided to other agencies, which then take care of the economic espionage field, the statement of the NSA is true, but the information is still ultimately wrong.

How is NSA intelligence provided to, integrated and/or coordinated with the banking operations that are managing government accounts and interventions in the currency, commodities and financial markets, such as the US Exchange Stabilization Fund? 

Is PRISM & Co. just the tip of the iceberg – for example in comparison to the DARPA project Total Information Awareness (TIA) respectively Trusted Information Environment (TIE)?

The population around the world is more or less completely left in the dark when it comes to espionage by means of electromagnetic radiation and “seeing through walls“ from the outside by means of mobile, stationary, and air- or space-based systems. Are such things not only technically possible, but a rather common practice nowadays? 

Whose interests are ultimately served by secret intelligence agencies in the west?

What would you recommend what countries outside the Anglo-American sphere should do in order to cope with the problems existing through the activities by NSA & Co.?


(1) Regarding the Echelon Interception System see for example this report of the European Parliament that was published on July 11, 2001 – here:

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to RSS Feed Lars Schall auf Twitter folgen

Bei weiterer Nutzung dieser Webseite, stimmen Sie der Verwendung von Cookies zu. Mehr Infos

Die Cookie-Einstellungen auf dieser Website sind auf "Cookies zulassen" eingestellt, um das beste Surferlebnis zu ermöglichen. Wenn du diese Website ohne Änderung der Cookie-Einstellungen verwendest oder auf "Akzeptieren" klickst, erklärst du sich damit einverstanden.