The N.S.A. documents taken by Mr. Snowden and shared with The Times, numbering in the thousands and mostly dating from 2007 to 2012, are part of a collection of about 50,000 items that focus mainly on its British counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters or G.C.H.Q.
While far from comprehensive, the documents give a sense of the agency’s reach and abilities, from the Navy ships snapping up radio transmissions as they cruise off the coast of China, to the satellite dishes at Fort Meade in Maryland ingesting worldwide banking transactions, to the rooftops of 80 American embassies and consulates around the world from which the agency’s Special Collection Service aims its antennas. (emphasis added)
~ from No Morsel Too Minuscule for All-Consuming N.S.A. by Scott Shane ~
Every time you or I use a debit or credit card, chances are great that this information is scooped up by the NSA and stored in a database somewhere. Write a check, make a deposit or transfer money and the same thing happens. If the NSA has its hands on all these types of transactions, then this should include all the similar types of transaction made by the titans of Wall Street.
So how is it that the US government was caught flat-footed about foreclosuregate? How is it that the UK government was caught off guard by the London Whale and Libor Rate-Rigging scandal? How is it that ANY of the financial shenanigans of the past decade took place and yet there have been few, if any, prosecutions?
This situation offers yet another telltale sign that these ubiquitous spying schemes really have little to do with protection and security. In 2007-08, Wall Street committed what could be termed financial terrorism against the world economy. The NSA and GCHQ could have thwarted these attacks or, at least, brought to justice those responsible for it. But they did neither. They allowed the attacks to commence and those responsible have, by and large, not been held responsible in any meaningful way.
Think about this long and hard. Wall Street is in the business OF banking transactions. They leave digital tracks and trails all along the way. The NSA is vacuuming up these financial transactions and yet no one in the US government shows much of any interest in following the tracks or trails laid out. They could easily nail these suckers by producing secretly gathered ironclad evidence in black and white, but they have chosen not to.
That fact -- in and of itself -- should tell the discerning individual all you need to know about what is REALLY going on here.