By Travis Cartwright-Carroll
Nassau Guardian Staff Reporter
NASSAU, Bahamas -- Two months after allegations surfaced that the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States was recording and archiving every cell phone call in The Bahamas, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell said on Thursday the government is still awaiting a formal response from the Americans.
“I don’t have anything new to say about it at all,” he said. “It was where it was the last time I spoke.”
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell
Mitchell had said that the government was expected to receive a report from the US Department of State last month addressing the claims.
The allegations were first reported on May 19 and were based on documents leaked by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden.
The story was originally reported on The Intercept website.
According to the documents, the NSA was using a program called SOMALGET to store and collect full take audio of cell phone calls in The Bahamas and one other country, revealed to be Afghanistan by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
In the past several weeks, Mitchell has raised the matter with Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organization of American States (OAS).
Last Sunday, Mitchell told members of the foreign service and Bahamians in Miami that The Bahamas faces challenges to its independence “each year, each month, each day [and] every minute in that day”.
“Within the past year, you have heard about the allegations of the spying on Bahamian telephone conversations and you have seen the responses from Bahamians and their discomfort about it,” he said in Miami, Florida.
“Some would have us be silent in the face of an allegation that unlawful conduct by a foreign state is taking place in our country.”
But Mitchell said Bahamians must always speak up for the country.
“It does not always come in big battles like the ones you read about in the history books where armies and navies come and land and invade your shores and make you a captured people,” he said.
“These days there are more subtle and insidious incursions against which we have to guard, for which we have to teach our children and there are enemies without and within.
“It is not grandstanding to speak up for The Bahamas. Those who make such an assertion are in fact raising questions about their own patriotism and dedication to our country.”
Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian