The DataGate began in Rome in May 2006, when George Bush ordered half the city to be intercepted by the NSA, which wanted to know every detail of Hugo Chávez's visit to Italy.
First Rome; later, the G-20 in 2009, with more refined techniques and technologies. Edward Snowden has revealed that the G-20 in 2009 was characterized by a complete system of espionage of the conversations of entire delegations and leaders attending the summit, through the installation of spyware in Internet cafes, and the capillary control of a Blackberry system used by the invited guests, among other acts.
What is not yet known – and what Globalist is able to inform, thanks to a qualified source which had a direct role in the story – is that the G-20's vast spying operation in Italy had a real testing ground, a massive NSA action which resulted in a huge leap in quality that would permit the intelligence agency to become Big Brother on the global scale which we are now discussing today.
Let's go back to May 2006, when Hugo Chávez, president of Venezuela, visited Italy for the second time. Chávez was in a position of confrontation with the United States, and in particular with George Bush, whom several months later (in September) he would call a devil who had left behind a scent of sulfur. Several years before, the United States had supported a failed coup against the Venezuelan president, and one of the CIA agents implicated in the plot had been later designated to the CIA base in Rome. Coincidences.
During those days, the NSA carried out an unprecedented signal intelligence (SIGNIT) operation of electronic espionage which marked the beginning of a new stage in its ability of control and infiltration.
May 7, 2006: In a quiet area of the Ciampino airport, a plane lands transporting certain "invisible" people, with no name or identity. The procedure is the same that would later be revealed to the public in stunning presentation, and which was standard procedure: top secret level, with the least number of possible tracks.
The occupants of the aircraft were part of an elite team of the NSA. Upon arriving to Ciampino they were taken directly to a wing of the U.S. Embasy on the Via Veneto street, where they remained confined in isolation for the duration of the mission: no hotels, no contact with the outside world, not even with the Embassy staff. After the mission, they were taken on the same route in reverse to Ciampino. The team carried latest-generation equipment (we're talking about 2006), capable of interacting with and guiding a satellite system and interacting with spy planes.
May 9, 2006: Two spy planes begin to fly over the skies of the capital, directly controlled by the NSA. They remain in flight over Rome 24 hours a day to avoid missing even a minute of supervision.
May 10, 2006: Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez arrives in Rome as part of a trip across Europe. In Rome, the most important meeting is scheduled for the morning of the 11th: a visit with Pope Benedict XVI. Also on the agenda is a visit and private interview with the president of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, Fausto Bertinotti. Chávez goes directly to a hotel on Via Veneto, which lies just a few tens of meters from the team that arrived in the capital to spy on him. But it's just a detail: the technology would have also guaranteed monitoring from a distance of kilometers.
The NSA operation begins in all of the following ways. It brings all radio frequencies under its control (including those of Italians), and also gains control of the internet in a similar way, in accordance with the possibilities of the time, as described by Snowden for China: through input nodes in communication networks providing access to the communications of hundreds of thousands of people without having to hack into each computer, in addition to telephones.
During the entire duration of his trip, Hugo Chávez is electronically stalked thanks to two instruments of extraordinary importance for the SIGNIT: radio bombardment and listening capacities from a great distance. In other words, only with the use of satellites and spy planes was the NSA capable of eavesdropping on Chávez's conversations, including those carried out in private and closed places and, of course, open places. There was no need to install microphones in the rooms or to send a spy with a microphone on his or her ankle. Everything circulated through powerful satellite technologies. Obviously overpriced.
Furthermore, when the Venezuelan president moved from one place to another, or when he was somewhere in which radio waves caused interferences, making it difficult to hear his conversations, the NSA was able to activate an emergency device which knocked out all radio wavelengths and frequencies within 500-600 meters. In practice, while the device was activated, remotes for television sets and doors ceased functioning, the telephone lines were interrupted, and the radio devices were reduced to silence. This lasted not for hours, but for a few tens of seconds. Nothing that couldn't be confused with normal malfunctioning, which therefore generated no suspicions. But it gave the NSA the necessary time to "clean" the signal.
The Chávez operation cost a fortune, but it was an explicit order from George Bush himself, who viewed the Venezuelan president as one of his principal enemies, of whom he wanted to know all the details: his strategies, and who were his international contacts and references.
After Chávez's departure, the two spy planes migrated to other skies. The NSA team remained at the Embassy one more day before being secretly returned to Ciampino; the NSA high command, which had following the operation from the control room (the same way that Obama had followed the death of Osama Bin Laden, and as we see in the movies), began to analyze the information.
What was the result of the operation? We'll find this information in a later episode. For now, we can be sure of one thing: the Chávez operation was a test. Without it, there wouldn't have been the G-20 operation, and who knows how many more. It was 2006. Since then, they have not halted.
Translated from Spanish by Venezuelanalysis.com. The original article, in Italian, can be found here.