Reports Bring Puerto Rico into Snowden Case


As a follow-up to our recent post Puerto Rico Involved in Espionage Reported by Snowden, here are excerpts from a Caribbean Business article on the same topic. The article states that information released by Edward Snowden positions Puerto Rico as a hub for U.S. intelligence agencies to intercept phone calls, emails, and text messages in various Latin American countries, but also offers more details on the Naval Security Group Activity base in Sábana Seca:

Venezuela’s El Universal, a major newspaper based in the capital Caracas, reported that some of the leaked documents pointed to Puerto Rico as an espionage base for several Latin American countries. Reports published by Brazil’s O Globo, Spain’s El Pais and the United Kingdom’s The Guardian point to a joint operation between the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency to coordinate from Puerto Rico with other snooping outposts in Brasilia, Mexico City, Bogota, Caracas, Mexico City and Panama City.

Reports said that the joint operation was run out of the shuttered Sabana Seca Naval Base in Toa Baja, a north coast town at the western edge of the San Juan metropolitan area. The Naval Security Group Activity base was closed in 2003 but is still owned by the Navy pending potential redevelopment. Limited maintenance activities are being provided on site by Department of Defense (DOD) security personnel and private contractors.

The Puerto Rico Air National Guard still operates a radar station at the nearby Punta Salinas installation in Toa Baja.

NSGA Sábana Seca’s estimated 2,250 acres are divided into north and south tracts. The north track comprises 918 acres and housed support facilities, such as administration, supply, healthcare, recreational, housing, and retail services. The remaining south tract 1,332 acres accommodated the U.S. naval radar station, for U.S. Navy and other DOD communication services.

NSGA Sábana Seca procured the land during World War II to establish a naval ammunition depot. After the war, the depot was deactivated and the property transferred to the Army, and reassigned to the Navy in 1949. According to the Navy, the reason for closing the base is the fact that advances in technology have made it obsolete.

Snowden’s disclosures indicate that the NSA widely collects phone and Internet “metadata” — logs of message times, addresses and other information rather than the content of the messages. The documents have indicated that the NSA has been collecting the phone records of millions of U.S. phone customers, and has gathered data on phone and Internet usage outside the U.S., including those people who use any of nine U.S.-based internet providers such as Google.

For full article, see

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