Via Kevin Drum, here is a new report:
According to a top secret accounting dated Jan. 9, 2013, NSA’s acquisitions directorate sends millions of records every day from Yahoo and Google internal networks to data warehouses at the agency’s Fort Meade headquarters. In the preceding 30 days, the report said, field collectors had processed and sent back 181,280,466 new records — ranging from “metadata,” which would indicate who sent or received e-mails and when, to content such as text, audio and video.
….The MUSCULAR project appears to be an unusually aggressive use of NSA tradecraft against flagship American companies. The agency is built for high-tech spying, with a wide range of digital tools, but it has not been known to use them routinely against U.S. companies.
This is apparently all done overseas in order to evade rules that govern domestic data collection. According to the story, “Two engineers with close ties to Google exploded in profanity when they saw the drawing.”
The full WaPo story is here. The program hacks into internal networks and collects documents before they are encrypted. At least on the surface, it appears Google and Yahoo were unaware of this snooping.
Update: Here are 65 things we have learned about the NSA.