Title: Tasking of SCALAWAG
Release Date: 2014-03-18
Description: This extract from the NSA’s Special Source Operations division’s weekly memo describes the operation of SCALAWAG, the SIGAD (or collection address) associated with the MYSTIC collection of bulk telephony data: see the Washington Post article NSA surveillance program reaches ‘into the past’ to retrieve, replay phone calls, 18 March 2014.
Document: (U) Tasking of SCALAWAG
(TS//SI//REL TO USA, FVEY) SCALAWAG/US-3310BG has long since
reached the point where it was collecting and sending home far more
than the bandwidth could handle. Over collecting has significantly
increased the latency of pri 1-2 content data. Because SCALAWAG is
NSA's #1 provider of actionable SIGINT on [REDACTED COUNTRY
NAME], measures had to be taken to alleviate pressure on the
bandwidth and decrease latency of priority 1-2 data. In the summer of
2011, in an effort decrease the amount of voice content brought home,
SSO deleted a large quantity of priority 4 and below tasking that was
bringing content and according to the DOUBLEARROW database had
not been "touched". Additionally, a change of priority 4 tasking to
priority 6 was effected, again based on DOUBLEARROW results. As a
result, the latency for primarily pri 1-2 had dropped considerably.
However, these actions were still falling short because the volume of
collection was increasing .
(S//SI//REL TO USA, FVEY) On 15 December 2011, SSO collection
and program management implemented a rule for SCALAWAG UTT
tasking, that basically does not allow any "Effective Collection Priority"
(ECP) pri 4 and below tasking. It must be understood that the priority
of tasking in UTT IS NOT the same and straight forward as OCTAVE.
Analysts must choose fields whose net result is priority 1-3.
Additionally, all UTT ECP pri 4 and below tasking was deleted. Since
implementation, some TOPIS may have noted a decrease total volume
in their SCALAWAG collection delivered to their NUCLEON accounts.
Many SCALAWAG users are familiar with and have access to the
RETROSPECTIVE retrieval tool (RETRO TOOL). The RETRO tool is
a unique one-off capability that exists only at SCALAWAG. It allows
analysts to go nominally 30-days into the past and retrieve audio of
interest that was not tasked at the time of the original call. Analyst
retrievals should be based on metadata, SRI found in FASCIA, that'll
indicate there's a target of interest that's been detected in
SCALAWAG's environment. Once the audio is identified, retrieved, and
forwarded to your NUCLEON account, analysts would then consider
tasking the number in UTT at ECP 1-3, based on the critical need for
(S//SI//REL TO USA, FVEY) Retrieval and forwarding via the RETRO
TOOL will significantly reduce bandwidth and latency issues. It will also
likely result in getting the audio data back to your NUCLEON account
more quickly than if tasked at ECP 4 and below. We strongly request
that TOPIs do not artificially inflate the priority of their tasking just to
get numbers tasked. SIGDEV/Target development should be
accomplished using the RETRO TOOL and subsequent tasking occur
based on SIGDEV. TOPIs should make use of the RETRO TOOL
whenever possible to retrieve the desired audio content. We do not
have the luxury of task and forget.