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12 August 2014

NSA Medina Regional Security Operations Center SIGINT Conversion

This shows the conversion of MRSOC from antenna-served to other unknown SIGINT technology serving the nearby Texas Cryptology Center (TCC). Long-lived external antenna have been removed by January 2010. Alternate SIGINT technology may be cable-internet as revealed by Edward Snowden. Microsoft constructed and expanded a data center not far from the TCC. Rationale for both facilities was claimed to be low-cost electricity.

San Antonio got another leg up with the end of the Cold War in 1991 when then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney directed the NSA to close more than 30 listening posts overseas and move the missions to the Medina Annex in San Antonio, Fort Gordon in Savannah, Ga., and Kunia, in Hawaii.

The Medina Regional SIGINT Operations Center (MRSOC) took responsibility for processing incoming communications from Latin America, countries in Eastern Europe, Western Europe and North Africa that were covered by the U.S. European Command.

The shift boosted the local workforce from barely 500 to more than 2,000, Aid said.

Surveillance techniques shifted again with the advent of fiber-optic signal transmission, and with the growth of the Internet.

As incoming communications volumes continued to grow, the secretive agency leased Sony Corp.'s abandoned San Antonio computer microchip plant to build a data storage and processing complex.

The breadth of U.S. communications surveillance processed there continues to stir concern across Latin America, where countries remain alert to any slight to sovereignty.

“There's tension with the United States because these countries want the information that the Americans may have obtained from electronic surveillance, but they fear how that information could be used,” said Andrew Selee, founding director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. “They think if NSA can intercept phone calls and emails on organized crime, the agency can also intercept the communications of Mexican politicians and business leaders.”

The United States, for example, privately relayed warnings to newly elected Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto that Mexican Gen. Moises Garcia Ochoa had suspected links to drug traffickers and had skimmed from multimillion-dollar defense contracts.

The information scuttled Ochoa's chances of becoming Mexico's new defense minister, the New York Times reported in February.

Similarly, Bolivian President Evo Morales alluded to suspected U.S. interference in May when he abruptly expelled the U.S. Agency for International Development after five decades.

The agency had conspired “against our people and especially the national government,” Morales claimed. He kicked out the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in 2008, claiming agents had “worked to conduct political espionage.”

Several Latin American countries already carry out surreptitious surveillance of their own citizens, which sometimes also is made available to the United States.

In 2006, for example, President George W. Bush's administration struck a little-noticed deal with the administration of Mexican President Felipe Calderón to provide a $3 million phone and Internet eavesdropping center “that would reach into every town and village in the country,” James Bamford wrote in his book, “The Shadow Factory.”

The agreement stipulated that the United States would “get full access to the data,” raising the possibility that communications from Mexico into the United States might be intercepted in Mexico and relayed to NSA without NSA having to satisfy any of the legal requirements the agency would have to legally intercept those communications within the United States, Bamford wrote.

Experts foresee a bright future for NSA surveillance operations based in San Antonio.

“I think we'll see the intelligence community refocusing on Latin America,” said Joseph Fitsanakis, an intelligence expert at King University in Bristol, Tenn., and author of “National Security Agency: The Historiography of Concealment.”

Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador all are challenging the United States. U.S. relations with Mexico are in transition, as well, after six years of deepening military and intelligence cooperation to combat drug cartels and detect any signs of collaboration between cartels and terrorists.

“The United States cannot pretend to be a world power if it cannot overcome challenges in its immediate surroundings,” Fitsanakis said. “A lot of countries are looking at Ecuador to see how America reacts.”

7 February 2014. Eleven external antenna, three nearby buildings and two fuel tanks have been removed.


21 December 2006. Eleven external antenna, three nearby buildings and two fuel tanks have been removed.


7 February 2014


16 February 2013


5 November 2012


21 April 2012


28 January 2010. External antenna have been removed.


30 October 2008


25 December 2006


30 December 2004


30 December 2003


16 July 2002


6 January 1995