The top-secret ‘Q Group’ has been chasing Edward Snowden since he disappeared in May. Eli Lake on the intel community’s internal police—and why the agency is in ‘complete freakout mode.’
Even before last week’s revelations by The Guardian newspaper that the National Security Agency (NSA) was collecting call records from telecommunications companies and had the ability to mine user data from major U.S. Internet companies, the NSA was already on the trail of the leaker, according to two former U.S. intelligence officers with close ties to the agency.
On Sunday, The Guardian revealed its source—a 29-year-old former U.S. Army soldier and CIA employee named Edward Snowden. Snowden—who worked as a contract employee at an NSA station in Hawaii—said he agreed to have his identity revealed because he feared that the NSA would put pressure on his family and his friends for information about his whereabouts. From a hotel in Hong Kong, he toldThe Guardian he expected he would never be allowed to return home and that he could end up imprisoned or murdered because of his decision to leak.
The people who began chasing Snowden work for the Associate Directorate for Security and Counterintelligence, according to former U.S. intelligence officers who spoke on condition of anonymity. The directorate, sometimes known as “the Q Group,” and other agencies, including the Special Collection Service (SCS) or “F6,” is continuing to track Snowden now that he’s outed himself as The Guardian’s source.
NSA “Q Group” protecting sex scandals while plugging potential leaks
By Wayne Madsen
WMR’s intelligence sources report that the National Security Agency’s “Q Group,” the directorate responsible for overall security for NSA, is actively investigating and harassing NSA employees who have reported on senior officials at the sprawling intelligence agency, which now includes the new U.S. Cyber Command, of engaging in adulterous trysts with subordinates and possessing improper sexual material, including child pornography.
WMR has previously reported on the improper activities of the Q Group, which has become a virtual uncontrolled FBI within the NSA. Q continues to protect NSA senior officials who engage in and promote a culture of sexual exploitation of junior employees at the intelligence agency. Q Group has also misused NSA psychologists and psychiatrists to deem anyone who charges senior officials of the agency with sexual misconduct or harassment unfit to hold a security clearance for reasons of mental impairment.
On August 28, 2009, WMR reported: “NSA Security, headed up by Kemp Ensor III, and NSA medical worked in tandem to deny security access to employees determined to be mentally unfit to have access to classified information at NSA.
However, due to the attrition of highly-qualified personnel, the security-medical duo is now prescribing Prozac and Zoloft for NSA employees who refuse to fall into line. NSA is abuzz with the new requirement for employees to take what they call “happy pills.”
The sexual harassment scene has also reportedly changed at Fort Meade. In the past, sexual harassment at NSA involved older male managers preying on young female employees. That has now changed in what has become an environment of ‘do ask and do tell.’ WMR has been informed that there is an increase in complaints about sexual harassment from new young male hires about being forced into ‘kinky rendezvouses’ with older male managers.”
Q Group has also gone outside of its legal authority to harass the families and friends of former agency employees who have brought charges against NSA for sexual harassment and misconduct. WMR has learned of NSA personnel illegally masquerading as phone company technicians who entered the property of the family of one such ex-employee. In another case, Q Group personnel poisoned two pet dogs of the family of an ex-employee under NSA surveillance. Q Group personnel have also been used to harass the ex-spouses of senior NSA officials involved in child custody cases. WMR has also been informed that Q Group has harassed NSA employees who have married the ex-wives of NSA senior officials who have ongoing legal battles with their ex-husbands.
Q Group is able to conduct its harassment of civilians in the Fort Meade area with a “wink and a nod” from local law enforcement and other officials. NSA senior managers have dipped into NSA’s substantial slush fund to lavish money on community service projects and programs in cash-strapped local municipalities and counties. The concept of the “friendly NSA that provides funds and jobs” has bought loyalty and silence from local and state of Maryland officials. In addition, WMR has learned that NSA has placed agents within the congressional offices of local members of Congress in order to interdict and retaliate against NSA whistleblower congressional complaints. The NSA “embeds,” who work in concert with NSA’s Office of Legislative Affairs, are found within the offices of Maryland Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, and Maryland Representatives C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, Steny Hoyer, Elijah Cummings, Chris Van Hollen, and Paul Sarbanes, and is currently inserting an agent into the office of freshman Representative Andy Harris.
As discovered in a January 2005, Q Group Personnel Security organizational chart obtained by WMR, Q2 contains an office of counter-intelligence, which WMR has reported has been involved in illegal surveillance of individuals far beyond the NSA infrastructure.
On July 3, 2009, WMR reported: “The Obama administration, rather than lessen the pressure on the NSA personnel, has turned up the heat and is resorting to even more draconian methods to ensure silence. The word from inside NSA is that a state of fear exists and the mission of the agency, to conduct surveillance of foreign communications to provide threat indications and warnings to U.S. troops and policy makers and protect sensitive U.S. government communications from unauthorized eavesdropping is suffering as a result.” Our latest information is that the Obama administration is increasing pressure on NSA personnel to deter leaks.
Obama’s Justice Department is now actively retroactively pursuing U.S. intelligence community leakers from the time of the Bush administration. Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling has been arrested and indicted for revealing information to New York Timesreporter James Risen concerning Iran’s nuclear program. Former NSA official Thomas Drake has been indicted by the Obama administration for leaking details on NSA contract fraud to reporter Siobhan Gorman of The Wall Street Journal and formerly of theBaltimore Sun. Former State Department analyst Stephen Kim has been charged with leaking top secret information on North Korean nuclear testing to Fox News.
WMR has learned from informed sources that the indictments of Sterling and Drake are just the beginning of the Obama administration’s policy to crack down on leaks. With the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attack coming up this year, the U.S. Intelligence Community, working closely with Mossad, have made plans to stop any new revelations that would point to high-level U.S. and Israeli government involvement in the 9/11 attacks. The Wikileaks affair was partly concocted to draw out and identify as many potential leakers as possible, including US Army Private Bradley Manning, now imprisoned at Quantico, Virginia on suspicions that he leaked classified documents to Wikileaks.
WMR has learned from an NSA source that this editor continues to remain a top priority for NSA electronic surveillance, including phone tapping and e-mail interception. NSA is also monitoring all those who are in communications with this editor via electronic means. WMR has previously reported on this web site’s sources and contacts being major targets for NSA surveillance.
WMR’s foreign intelligence sources also report that there is an ongoing project by Israeli agents-of-influence in the United States to determine the sources of information on the 9/11 attacks. This project involves in-depth probes by the Israeli agents of retired Pentagon and FBI personnel believed to possess information about the U.S. and Israeli governments’ involvement in the attacks. WMR can report that radio show host Alex Jones’s information and funding sources are of particular interest to the Israeli cell.
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist, author and syndicated columnist. He has written for several
Madsen is a regular contributor on Russia Today. He has been a frequent political and national security commentator on Fox News and has also appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, and MS-NBC. Madsen has taken on Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity on their television shows. He has been invited to testifty as a witness before the US House of Representatives, the UN Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and an terrorism investigation panel of the French government.
As a U.S. Naval Officer, he managed one of the first computer security programs for the U.S. Navy. He subsequently worked for the National Security Agency, the Naval Data Automation Command, Department of State, RCA Corporation, and Computer Sciences Corporation.
Madsen is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), Association for Intelligence Officers (AFIO), and the National Press Club. He is a regular contributor toOpinion Maker.