Classified documents provided by former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden, seen here in a videoconference in June with European lawmakers, reveal that the NSA has built a “Google-like” search engine to share intelligence records with nearly two dozen U.S. agencies.(Photo: Frederick Florin, AFP/Getty Images)


The National Security Agency built its own search engine and shares hundreds of billions of digital records with federal law enforcement and several other U.S. government agencies, The Intercept investigative site reported Monday.

Citing classified documents provided by former NSA insider Edward Snowden, The Intercept wrote that the revelation of the “Google-like” search engine is “the first definitive evidence that the NSA has for years made massive amounts of surveillance data directly accessible to domestic law enforcement agencies,” particularly the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration.

The search engine, known as ICREACH, is aimed at “worldwide intelligence targets” but also appears to provide access to “millions of records on American citizens who have not been accused of any wrongdoing,” according to The Intercept. The engine apparently does not have a “direct relationship” to a previously disclosed NSA database that stores information on phone calls by millions of Americans, which is allowed under the USA Patriot Act.

The documents show that in all, ICREACH can access more than 850 billion records on phone calls, e-mails, cellphone locations and Internet chats. A 2010 NSA memo states that more than 1,000 analysts at 23 U.S. agencies engaged in intelligence work have access to the search engine.

Responding to the revelations, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence confirmed to The Intercept that ICREACH shares data collected under that authorization of Executive Order 12333. The Intercept described it as “a controversial Reagan-era presidential directive that underpins several NSA bulk surveillance operations that target foreign communications networks. The 12333 surveillance takes place with no court oversight and has received minimal congressional scrutiny because it is targeted at foreign, not domestic, communication networks.”

A spokesman for the DNI described the sharing of information as “a pillar of the post-9/11 intelligence community.”

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