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NSA records all telephone conversations in the Bahamas

It was known that the NSA records all mobile phone calls in at least one country. According to new Snowden revelations, this will also be the case in the Bahamas.

According to new Snowden revelations, the NSA is recording all mobile phone calls in the Bahamas. The recordings would then be kept for up to a month, the website “The Intercept” reported late Monday. The system, code-named SOMALGET, was installed without the knowledge of the Bahamian government, according to documents from informant Edward Snowden. According to the documents, the surveillance was set up in the fight against drug trafficking.

With SOMALGET, the entire mobile phone calls of another country would also be recorded, it was said. However, “The Intercept” did not mention the name of the nation concerned because this could trigger outbreaks of violence. This decision brought harsh criticism to the website of the Wikileaks disclosure website. “The Intercept” was thus guilty of censorship, according to Wikileaks’ Twitter profile, behind which Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is personally suspected.

“If a nation wants to start an uprising because the US government is recording all its phone calls, it has every right to do so.

The SOMALGET wiretapping project is part of the MYSTIC program, which collects information about phone calls in Mexico, the Philippines and Kenya, it said. A room with a total of 250 million inhabitants is affected. This does not involve the contents of the conversations, but so-called metadata – for example, who called whom at which location for how long and how.

Complete monitoring

The “Washington Post” had already reported in March that the US Secret Service could record all telephone calls in a country, but did not mention it. The Intercept said that SOMALGET handles over 100 million “call events” per day. The NSA has its own department to fight crime and drug trafficking. According to the documents, a representative of the department expressed his satisfaction with the possibility of evaluating calls afterwards.

NSA may have secretly obtained access to the telecom networks through American drug investigators, who have such access as part of the international cooperation of investigating authorities, according to “The Intercept”. The NSA papers also contained indications that the arms company General Dynamics was involved in the processing of the SOMALGET data.

About The Bahamas

The Bahamas (The Commonwealth of the Bahamas), which belong to the West Indian Islands, consist of about 30 larger and 700 smaller islands and reefs (Cays) in the Atlantic Ocean, which form an approximately 1,000 km long arc from the southeast coast of Florida along the Cuban north coast to Haiti. The total area of the Bahamas is 13 939 km², including the water area it is about 240 000 km².

The name of the country derives from Spanish: “baja mar” means “shallow sea”. The largest islands are Andros (4 100 km²), Great Inagua (1 551 km²), Grand Bahama (1 372 km²), Great Abaco (1 023 km²), Eleuthera (518 km²), Long Island (448 km²) and Cat Island (388 km²). The capital Nassau lies on the island New Providence (207 km²).

The Bahamas are the peaks of a plateau mountain range rising only a few metres out of the water from a depth of over 5,000 metres from the Atlantic Ocean. Between Great Abaco and Eleuthera is the deepest underwater canyon ever discovered. Its depth is estimated to be just under 4,300 m. The highest elevation above sea level is Mount Alvernia on Cat Island, at 63 m.

Large parts of the islands, which consist of coral limestone and limestone, are karstified. On the Bahamas there are no bigger rivers, because the limestone lets rain and spring water seep away. On some islands like Andros (Blue Holes) there are smaller lakes, here clay layers in the ground prevent the seepage. Andros, the biggest island of the Bahamas, is strongly divided by bays and lakes and rich in swamps and lagoons.

Political System

The Bahamas have been independent under the British Commonwealth since 1973, and there is a parliamentary-democratic monarchy. The constitution also dates from 1973. Head of state is Queen Elizabeth II of England (since February 1952), who is represented on the islands by a governor general (Marguerite Pindling, since July 2014). The head of government is the Prime Minister (Perry Christie, since May 2012), who is the representative of the majority party in parliament.

The Parliament consists of a Senate (16 members appointed for five years by the Governor General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition party) and a House of Deputies (38 seats, members elected directly by the people for five years).


The economy of the affluent islands lives essentially from tourism, which has replaced fishing and agriculture as the main economic factor since the middle of the 20th century. About 60% of the gross domestic product (GDP) is generated in this sector, and about half of the working population works directly or indirectly in tourism. The Bahamas are a popular holiday destination for Americans (around 80% of tourists). The decline in tourism that accompanied the global financial crisis in 2009 hit the country hard.

Tax breaks (income and profits are not taxed here) and banking secrecy led to over 400 banks and many insurance companies settling in Nassau and the capital of the Bahamas becoming an international financial centre. In 2001, under pressure from the USA, the laws were tightened, and since then many institutions have been closed.

Only 1% of the land can be used for agriculture, the soils are not very productive and there are hardly any resources. 80% of the food has to be imported. In very small farms, vegetables, fruit and sugar cane are cultivated to cover their own needs. Fishing contributes fish and crustaceans (lobsters) as export goods.

The industrial centre of the Bahamas is Freeport on the island of Grand Bahama. There are pharmaceutical and electrotechnical companies, a cement factory and an oil refinery. The main trading partners of the Bahamas are the USA. The main export goods are fish and seafood, sea salt and rum. The main imports are food, consumer and basic necessities, machinery and raw materials (e.g. oil).

Drug trafficking is a major problem in the Bahamas. Due to its favourable location, the country is considered the most important stopover for drug smuggling between Colombia and the USA. The large ports in Nassau, Freeport and Matthew Town make the Bahamas a stopover point for international shipping. There are international airports in Nassau and Freeport. Currency is the Bahamas dollar (= 100 cents).