The Intercept reported Monday the NSA is intercepting nearly all phone calls and storing the voice data for up to 30 days, and has been doing so without the knowledge of the Bahamian government.
The Intercept is a new, online publication co-edited by Glenn Greenwald, who won a 2014 Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the scope of NSA surveillance detailed in documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The NSA's activities in the Bahamas are far more intrusive than their known surveillance in the United States and other countries has been, according to the Intercept. Instead of merely collecting so-called "metadata" -- information such as the time and place a call is made -- in the Bahamas, the NSA is actually recording the content of phone conversations and storing it for up to a month. The NSA's capacity to record and subsequently retrieve voice data for an entire country was disclosed by the Washington Post in March.
According to The Intercept, the NSA is using its surveillance capacity to monitor criminal activity like narcotics trafficking, which is well outside the scope of the NSA's traditional role combating strictly military threats like terrorism.
The NSA employed techniques first used by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency, although the DEA's wiretapping was conducted with the knowledge and consent of Bahamian officials and was not nearly as broad in scope.
"It's surprising, the short-sightedness of the government," Michael German, a former FBI agent and now a fellow at New York University's Brennan Center for Justice, told The Intercept.
The spying harms America's "long-term national security interest," German added.