News & Opinion | June 26, 2018 10:35 am

NSA Has Eight, Giant Spy Hubs Hidden in Plain Sight Across the U.S.

Windowless skyscrapers in major cities are monitoring billions of private communications.

New York City (Getty Images)
New York City (Getty Images)
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Across the United States, tall, nondescript windowless skyscrapers that thousands of people walk by every day without noticing are part of one of the world’s largest telecommunications networks and are also linked to a controversial National Security Agency surveillance program. The Intercept has identified an AT&T facility containing networking equipment that transports large quantities of Internet traffic across the United States and the world in eight cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

Evidence including classified NSA documents, public records, and interviews with several former AT&T employees found that these buildings are central to an NSA spying initiative that has been monitoring billions of emails, phone calls and online chats passing across U.S. territory for years. And this surveillance effort is not just limited to AT&T customers. According to the NSA’s documents, it values AT&T because it “has access to information that transits the nation,” but also because the company maintains unique relationships with other phone and Internet providers.