Stellar Wind (code name)
Stellar Wind is the open secret code name for certain information collection activities performed by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) and revealed by Thomas Tamm to The New York Times reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau. The operation was approved by President George W. Bush shortly after the September 11 attacks in 2001.
The program's activities involve data mining of a large database of the communications of American citizens, including e-mail communications, phone conversations, financial transactions, and Internet activity.
There were internal disputes within the Justice Department about the legality of the program, because data are collected for large numbers of people, not just the subjects of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants.
During the Bush Administration, the Stellar Wind cases were referred to by FBI agents as "pizza cases" because many seemingly suspicious cases turned out to be food takeout orders. According to Mueller, approximately 99 percent of the cases led nowhere, but "it's that other 1% that we've got to be concerned about". One of the known uses of these data were the creation of suspicious activity reports, or "SARS", about people suspected of terrorist activities. It was one of these reports that revealed former New York governor Eliot Spitzer's use of prostitutes, even though he was not suspected of terrorist activities.
In March 2012 Wired magazine published "The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)" talking about a vast new NSA facility in Utah and says "For the first time, a former NSA official has gone on the record to describe the program, codenamed Stellar Wind, in detail." Naming the official William Binney a former NSA code breaker. Binney goes on to say that the NSA has highly secured rooms that tap into major switches, and satellite communications at AT&T and Verizon both. The article suggests that the otherwise dispatched Stellar Wind is actually an active program.
See also 
- Hepting v. AT&T (warrantless wiretapping case)
- Jeffrey Alexander Sterling (prosecuted under Espionage Act for contacting reporter Risen)
- NSA call database
- Trailblazer Project (failed NSA domestic spying project)
- "The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)". Wired, April 2012.
- Poitras, Laura. The Program. Nytimes.com, Op-Docs, August 22, 2012.
- Isikoff, Michael (2008-12-13). "The Fed Who Blew the Whistle: Is he a hero or a criminal?". Newsweek. Archived from the original on 2008-12-15.
- "Is the FBI Up to the Job 10 Years After 9/11?" April 28, 2011
- Klaidman, Daniel (2008-12-13). "Now We Know What the Battle Was About". Newsweek. Archived from the original on 2010-11-13.
- Bamford, James (2012-03-15). "The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)". Wired. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
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