For all its management and security shortcomings, the National Security Agency remains the world’s most important spy service. Its signals intelligence reach is truly global, and its highly classified SIGINT, year in and year out, accounts for something like 80 percent of the actionable intelligence in our Intelligence Community. NSA, which recently celebrated its 65th birthday, remains the backbone of Western security, our top-secret shield against spies and terrorists.
No small part of that success can be attributed to NSA’s effective leveraging of foreign partnerships. Its spy links with the Anglosphere date to World War II and are termed Five Eyes (for the USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom). Inside NSA, this alliance is called Second Party. This partnership is so close that it’s best to view the Five Eyes SIGINT arrangement as really one integrated espionage effort that covers the globe.
However, those are hardly NSA’s only foreign partnerships. The agency enjoys intelligence-sharing links with spy services all over the world. Some of these relationships, termed Third Party inside the SIGINT system, date to NSA’s founding in 1952, and all are shrouded in strict secrecy. They are seldom mentioned in the media, as some of these top-secret links are highly sensitive politically.
Read the rest at The Observer …