Does anyone remember Echelon?
We really do hate to keep having to repeat ourselves and with the NSA story
it's a total bore. This time I am going to put it in large capital letters to
try and get the point across.
THE NSA HAS BEEN RECORDING PHONE CONVERSATIONS FOR
OVER A DECADE. THE PROGRAM IS CALLED ECHELON. THE USA TODAY STORY ABOUT THE
NSA STORING PHONE NUMBERS IS NOT NEWS.
Why should it worry you unless you have something to hide?
These were the arguments sampled by the Associated
Press, who told us once again that the nation was "split" on NSA
record collecting. This is another example of 'forced balance' in journalism,
to the point where it misses out the truth completely. A Computer
World survey found that 71% of respondents said that government wiretaps
were "never acceptable" and 76% believed that anonymity is important
and that surveillance methods should not store any personal information.
The early morning Fox and Friends show, always first to run defense for the
government on whatever scandal is breaking that particular day, assured us that
the NSA only keeps records of phone numbers, not details of conversations.
The Echelon program, run by the NSA, has been recording phone calls and storing
numbers for over two decades.
The joint NSA / Government Communications Head Quarters of England (GCHQ) Project
Echelon was first exposed in the mid nineties and then again most prominently
James Bamford in his 1999 book Body of Secrets. Bamford comments, "The
cooperation between the Echelon countries is worrying. For decades, these organizations
have worked closely together, monitoring communications and sharing the information
gathered. Now, through Echelon, they are pooling their resources and targets,
maximizing the collection and analysis of intercepted information."
In the greatest surveillance effort ever established, the NSA global spy system
captures and analyzes virtually every phone call, fax, email and telex message
sent anywhere in the world. Quite obviously they cannot listen to everyone anywhere
ALL the time, but they have the capability to choose when to listen and who to
listen to, wherever they may be.
James Bamford famously recalled how the NSA successfully intercepted satellite
calls from Osama Bin Laden in the late nineties as he was talking to his mother.
"I don't want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the
capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to
it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within
the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss.
That is the abyss from which there is no return." - Senator Frank Church,
quoted in ECHELON: America's
Secret Global Surveillance Network
Under the Clinton
Administration Echelon certainly turned its attention to citizens of countries
everywhere and monitored millions of calls and other communications.
Echelon expert Mike Frost, who spent 20 years as a spy for the Canadian equivalent
of the National Security Agency, told CBS's "60 Minutes" that the
agency was monitoring "everything from data transfers to cell phones to
portable phones to baby monitors to ATMs."
Domestic spying is nothing new, there has been at least half a century of such
activity in America. The naïveté of the public is at an all time
high as they would rather switch off than engage in the mess that is modern
day politics in America. The general public will believe that government spying
on them is new, and secondly, they will just accept it because they are being
told in a very unsophisticated fashion, that it is keeping them safe.