By Travis Cartwright-Carroll
Nassau Guardian Staff Reporter
NASSAU, Bahamas -- The Bahamas government cannot stop the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States from listening to cell phone conversations in The Bahamas, Minister of Agriculture Alfred Gray said on Tuesday.
“We can’t stop them from listening because they listen to everything under the sun,” Gray said outside Cabinet.
“We are a clean government; there is nothing to hide.
“I don’t believe they should be listening. I really don’t believe they should have the right to listen to a government’s conversation, but I believe knowing how technologically savvy they are they can and that’s why we do the right thing, say the right thing.”
According to confidential documents leaked by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden, the NSA is recording and archiving every cell phone conversation in The Bahamas for a period of up to 30 days.
According to the documents, the NSA reported most on The Bahamas during the four-month period leading up to the May 7, 2012 general election when compared to other reporting periods.
The story was originally reported by US website The Intercept.
The NSA documents state that the secret program is “under the lawful intercept auspices via DEA access”.
Other than The Bahamas, Afghanistan is the only other country where every cell phone conversation is being recording and archived, according to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
On Sunday, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell said The Bahamas government was still awaiting a formal explanation from the United States on the allegations.
Former minister Loftus Roker told The Guardian that he is sure it is happening adding that we cannot respond as a nation.
“It’s easier now to record because of cell phones,” he said in a recent interview.
“That was going on long before cell phones. In the 80s we were getting our phones tapped in The Bahamas by the same people, and they were not using the method they were using now.
“I believe everybody who was in power knew what was happening. I believe all of them knew about what was happening. We would betray our country to protect ourselves.”
Former minister of foreign affairs Brent Symonette and former minister of national security Tommy Turnquest have denied knowing of any spying.
The leaked documents state that The Bahamas is a “test bed for system deployments, capabilities, and improvements”.
Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian