Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 2

Sunday 30th June, 2013 Uphold human rights, diving for data The submarine USS Jimmy Carter

is on a secret mission since 2005. It can tap fib er optic lines at the bottom of the oceans By Thomas Gutschker For Jimmy Carter August 12th 2005 was a special day. It was the day on which the former President of the United States adopted a new submarine in service. Not j ust any submarina, but a very special one. "This is the best ship of our Navy, a ny Navy," Carter enthused at the pier in front of hundreds of guests of honor. H e was wearing a yellow windbreaker and a baseball cap. Everyone could feel how p roud the man was who had been expelled as president after one term in office of the White House and who had to suffer so much ridicule. "USS Jimmy Carter" - the mighty submarine was now bearing his name. After the Second World War, Carter was a submarine sailor for a few years, which had earned him this special honor. In his speech he marveled at how big the wha le shaped now ships are, even if it does not serve the comfort of the crew. Abou t the special abilities of the USS Jimmy Carter, he said little. Only this: The submarine will play a role which "will benefit the security of the United States and the free world in a unique way." He didn't promise too much, at least with respect to his country. Because the USS Carter can do something no other ship can do: she can secretly t ap fiber optic cables in the oceans and transmit data on to the NSA. Of course t he Americans would never admit this openly. Why should they? The USS Jimmy Carte r is the secret weapon of the United States for those cases in which network ope rators and friendly clandestine services don't allow the NSA technicians in thei r data centers. The plans for the ship to go back to the last years of the Cold War. At that tim e, the United States operated a global monitoring system for radio and satellite data. Through this system, named "Echelon", the NSA could intercept phone calls , faxes and Internet data; a huge monitoring station was located in the Bavarian town of Bad Aibling. Of course, the NSA was also able to tap into copper lines, even those in the oceans. There were special submarines. In 1971, one succeeded to tap into a submarine cable that connected the Soviet naval base on the Kamch atka Peninsula with the Pacific Fleet Command in Novosibirsk. Another one tapped into a line of the Soviet Atlantic Fleet in the Barents Sea in 1979. These huge successes, however, were threatened because of the advent of a new te chnology in the late eighties, spread by the success of the Internet: fiber opti c cable. You can transport larger amounts of data faster, split into data packet s that are reassembled by the addressee only. This alone provided the NSA with g reat challenges. Above all, they had to explore how fiber connections could be t apped at all. Since 1989, a project team in the NSA headquarters at Fort Meade w orked to accomplish this task. Tapping a copper cable is relatively simple. It transmits electrical impulses, w hich in turn generate electromagnetic fields, which can be recorded without inte rrupting the line. But fiber optic cables carry light waves. The light must be a t amplified at least every three thousand kilometers. This was done initially wi th electric amplifiers, but later purely optical methods were used which left no externally measurable traces. The easiest way to siphon off a fiber optic cable is to splice it and to direct the light waves from one to two or more fibers. How it's done routinely in branc hes. However, while the data stream is interrupted - and the breaking point can be determined accurately in the shortest possible time. Not a good idea for some one who wants to remain undetected. However, light signals can not be read in an

other way. Therefore you have so far to expose and turn that a small part of the light waves emerging from the fiber, the individual glass fibers. If you immedi ately reinforce these waves again and transported via another cable, it has dive rted the data. This sounds simple, but is infinitely complicated. An optical fiber is thinner t han a hair; submarine cable bundle 8, 16 or even 192 fibers. They also carry a p ower cord with 10 000 volts. In laser are supplied amplify the light waves. No U -boat commander will voluntarily pick up a power line on board. Also can not par k easily on the seabed a submarine. The solution: a mobile underwater vehicle. T he USS Jimmy Carter has a special pressure equalization chamber for such vehicle s. You can also dive about 300 meters deep. To this depth cables are plowed into the seabed or reinforced with steel to protect against trawling and anchoring. Beyond 300 meters the cables dangle freely in the ocean, however, where their on ly natural enemies are sharks. That the USS Carter was built for spying on fiber optic cables, first came out i n 2001 by a report of the "Wall Street Journal". The reporter learned from previ ous NSA employees that the new technology was tested in the mid nineties. It sho uld be able to tap into a fiber line unnoticed, but the technicians were overwhe lmed by the sheer amount of data. They understood that it would never be possibl e to store this data on board a submarine - as had been the custom in the tapped copper cables. Therefore decided NSA and Navy, to expand already-commissioned USS Jimmy Carter to a thirty meter long centerpiece that can also accommodate installation cable. At the Congress, additional funds were requested for "advanced technology for s pecial naval warfare and tactical surveillance." In this context, deputies were privy to details. At the end they gave $ 3.2 billion for the largest free U-boat ever built by the United States. The reporter of the "Wall Street Journal" interviewed that time also the NSA Dir ector Michael Hayden. As he read him his research, Hayden replied smiling, he wo uld "not be deterred from his views," the journalists. He then observed that the storage of data is a bigger challenge than the access to them. This could be se en as indirect confirmation. The development of the USS Jimmy Carter proves that the NSA has a pretty good no se for technological trends. In 1988, the first fiber optic cable has been pulle d through the Atlantic - from the East Coast to the UK. Today, hundreds of these cables are located in the world's oceans. This includes the Transatlantic cable TAT-14, about the German Telekom settles a third of their traffic with North Am erica. This cable runs from New Jersey in about Bude South West England and othe r points in France and the Netherlands in the East Frisian coastal town north. A bout this data stream, the NSA should be pretty good in the picture - the Britis h intelligence they can about its extension in Bude participate. At least, it ha s revealed the former NSA employee Edward Snowden. When Americans wiretap undersea cable directly, then the connections that they c an not reach by land, approximately from Africa or Asia to Europe. Even Jimmy Ca rter had given the commander of "his" submarine 2005 global order. He knew, he s aid, to the "extraordinary ability" of the ship, many of which are "top secret". They would serve to "keep the peace, to protect our country and uphold the bann er of human rights around the world."