Surveillance for the Common Man
We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark. The real tragedy
of life is when men are afraid of the light. - Plato
Today's news is made up in large part by media hysteria in which the
media can enhance their ratings or readership by choosing some random subject
with a plethora of potential "talking heads" without doing any substantive
research into newsworthy topics. An example of one of today's media subjects
is the mass hysteria generated by president (sic) Bush's admission that he authorized
illegal wiretaps of American citizens inside the United States. On the surface,
this appears to be a subject of concern; and certainly it is a subject of Constitutional
concern. However, this invasion of American privacy is certainly not a "first".
In fact, this spying on Americans is so common as to hardly be deserving of
special mention. The only thing unique about today's "news" is that
a whistleblower opened today's government's activities to public scrutiny.
But even the Rush Limbaugh's of the airwaves know virtually nothing
of the subject of global mass surveillance and certainly have no interest in
assigning their research "experts" to exploring a subject that would
jeopardize their propaganda role in the eyes of their "dear leader".
Even for the very few with the time, fortitude and interest in the subject of
legal and illegal surveillance of the global community by cooperating governments,
the subject has been made very, very difficult to penetrate by the cloak of
secrecy constructed by the consortium of governments involved.
The first part of this article will further explore and explain the alarming
characteristics of mass surveillance programs; the latter part of the article
will examine the "not so obvious dangers" the programs pose to the
civil rights of American and foreign citizens by further detailing the type
programs that have thus far been uncovered and the type information being collected
on the individual as well as the inherent abuses of this power.
This article by necessity will fall on the deaf ears of our Congress
(because Congress has no other type ears) and hopefully will be ignored by the
intelligence and Gestapo agencies of our government. The target of this information
would normally be the American people with their power to influence their political
representatives to demand increased civil rights oversight. But today, Americans
apparently have little desire to avoid the inevitable calamity that lack of
concern, apathy and a carefully nurtured ignorance foster. Americans are getting
the government they deserve. So, there is no target audience for this report.
It should be read exclusively for its entertainment value.
Changing Reasons for Spy Systems and Programs.
Present day spy systems were conceived during World War II. The end of the
war brought the danger of funding and personnel cuts to the various spy systems
that had been developed through the cooperation of the "allies" during
the war. The onset of the Cold War became the answer to the "spooks"
most fervent prayer. Not only were personnel and funding cuts avoided, but budgets
became inflated past the "spooks" wildest dreams; as budgets were
inflated, oversight by any outside agency dwindled according the their wildest
dreams. If there were accidental glimpses into the spy industry's workings and
half-hearted objections raised, agency goals were shifted to meet the challenge
of exposure. Military objectives were changed or were expanded to include "justified"
commercial targets. Spying for "commercial" reasons were rationalized
with many justifications. The results, in many cases, turned out to be oriented
for the benefit of corporations that, by coincidence, turned out to be contributors
to the "deaf and dumb" political entities who should have been overseeing
the "spook" transgressions against the Constitution and the Bill of
Rights. So, everyone one was happy - the American citizen because he was blissfully
ignorant of what was being done to his freedoms, the spook agencies because
their budgets and staffing were growing exponentially and the politicians were
happy because of the "corporate political contribution manna" falling
If the Cold War provided a steroid-type growth stimulus to the spy
industry, 9/11 brought about a further undreamed of growth pattern. Not
only could budgets and staffing be mestasized, but new surveillance program
contracts could be given to favored defense contractors; even the miniscule
oversight by Congress of pre 9/11 spy agency programs could be further curtailed
without a whimper from Congress. The hysteria created by the government created
vision of Bin Laden hiding in a cave with his "super magic" cell phone
directing a world-wide network of terrorists was enough to engender a Homeland
Security spy apparatus replete with an intelligence czar and virtually unlimited
powers, no oversight and a limitless budget. (Of course it has never occurred
to Joe Citizen or to our Congress to question how the "will-of-the-wisp
Bin Laden could direct such a network from a cave in Afghanistan even with a
"super magic" satellite cell phone. Even more to the point, the following
sections may cause the reader to question how any Bin Laden communications could
possibly escape the detection and locating capabilities of the ECHELON program.
However it should be noted that, asking such questions could well earn one the
label of terrorist sympathizer).
Programs of Mass Surveillance and Their Characteristics.
1. The ECHELON Program.
"The existence and expansion of ECHELON is a foreboding omen regarding
the future of our Constitutional liberties. If a government agency can willingly
violate the most basic components of the Bill of Rights without so much as Congressional
oversight and approval, we have reverted from a republican form of government
to tyranny."  The breeding ground for ECHELON was laid
in 1947 between the US and four partners - the United Kingdom, Australia, New
Zealand and Canada. Since then additional partners have been drawn into the
system so that at present, within Europe, all email, telephone and fax communications
are routinely intercepted by the United States National Security Agency, transferring
all target information from the European mainland . . . to Fort Meade in Maryland
. . . Additionally, space-based electronic communications "vacuum cleaners"
pick up radio, microwave and cell phone traffic on the ground.
The program is administered by the National Security Agency (NSA) and boasts
the most enviable array of intelligence equipment and personnel in the world.
"The NSA is the largest global employer of mathematicians, featuring the
best teams of codemakers and codebreakers ever assembled."
With this "land-based system of intercept stations, intelligence ships
sailing the seven seas and top-secret satellites . . . very few signals escape
the system's electronic grasp. Having divided the world up among the UKUSA parties,
each agency directs its electronic "vacuum-cleaner" equipment towards
the heavens and the ground to search for the most minute communications signals
that traverse the system's immense path".  Additionally,
at least three major domestic fiber-optic telephone trunk lines - each capable
of carrying 100,000 calls simultaneously - were discovered (in 1997) to be wired
through the British equivalent of Fort Mead -Menwith Hill. This allows the NSA
to tap into the very heart of the British Telecomm network. This scope of surveillance
capability and sophistication is duplicated with each of the other NSA spying
partners so there is virtually no communication signal generated on the planet
that is not within the grasp of these giant signal "vacuum cleaners".
Even this technical sophistication does not fully explain the power of this
program. The true power comes through the combination of the mechanical and
electronic components allowing the interception of global communication signals
with the software that allows the intercepted communications to be properly
separated by category, origination/destination, subject matter, priority, etc.
for most effective analysis in terms of tracking trends and "hot spots".
This surveillance program is an extremely powerful tool in the hands of any
government or agency and is very, very effective as a political tool/weapon
or as commercial espionage weapon. The program is capable of intercepting an
individual cell phone signal and, through voice recognition programs, recognize
and categorize the call for trend analysis or individual content.
In short, "the extraordinary ability of ECHELON to intercept most of the
communications traffic in the world is breathtaking in its scope. These programs
and computers transcend state-of-the-art; in many cases, they are well into
the future. Processing millions of messages every hour, the ECHELON systems
churn away 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, looking for targeted keyword series,
phone and fax numbers, and specified voiceprints". 
1. Resistance to "Snooping on the Snoops".
There is concerted resistance by intelligence heads, law enforcement agencies
and political representatives for oversight and control of surveillance activities
such as those of ECHELON. All sorts of convoluted, complex legal arguments are
raised to defend the activities of ECHELON, protect power kingdoms and avoid
shining the light of public scrutiny and oversight on these and all other spying
activities. The Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11 and the embassy bombings in Kenya
and Tanzania are all persuasive arguments presented to justify the status quo
and further unrestricted growth of the programs. The argument for "security"
always triumphs over common sense and concerns for civil rights violations.
Additionally those in government who attempt to pry too closely into the workings
of ECHELON with civil rights concerns have frequently been warned off after
finding themselves targeted for investigation by the intelligence "system".
. . . "But despite the real threats and dangers to the peace and protection
of American citizens at home and abroad, our Constitution is quite explicit
in limiting the scope and powers of government. A fundamental foundation of
free societies is that when controversies arise over the assumption of power
by the state, power never defaults to the government, nor are powers granted
without an extraordinary, explicit and compelling public interest".
As the late Supreme Court Justice William Brennan pointed out: The concept
of military necessity is seductively broad, and has a dangerous plasticity.
Because they invariably have the visage of overriding importance, there is always
a temptation to invoke security "necessities" to justify an encroachment
upon civil liberties. For that reason, the military-security argument must be
approached with a healthy skepticism: Its very gravity counsels that courts
be cautious when military necessity is invoked by the Government to justify
a trespass on [Constitutional] rights". 
2. Abuses of our System of Government by the System(s) of Surveillance.
The systems of espionage, in all their forms, beg for abuse by those wishing
to maintain their positions of power and influence. The mushrooming range of
espionage used by the surveillance system(s) oversteps the threshold of abuse
by a wide margin. The systems have been used to spy on political opponents and
label as subversives those who expose the excesses of corrupt government activity,
disregard for human rights, corporate pollution and even the promoters of the
gospel of Christ. That the intelligence powers of the United States should be
arrayed against peaceful organizations both within and without the country in
the name of "security" is blasphemy against our Constitution and demonstrative
of our government's desire not to monitor, but to control.
Although economic spying is probably one of the least offensive parts of the
government's surveillance programs, it bears mentioning because its exposure
shows the versatility of the programs and the "tailoring" efforts
of monitored information to uses other than strictly interpreted national "security"
matters. Economic spying has reached such a level that there have even been
departments created within the government whose mandate is that of passing ECHELON
gathered information to various US companies for exploitation against foreign
industrial competitors. While this may be interpreted as a beneficial by-product
of the system, its use is a double-edged sword because foreign partner governments
and economic competitors can use the same information in the same manner against
the United States.
The incestuous relationship between the companies producing the ECHELON technology
and the intelligence agencies is one that may not meet the strict interpretation
of "conflict of interest", but at the very least represents an improper
use of taxpayer funds.
It should be noted that: "while the UKUSA is a product of Cold War political
and military tensions, ECHELON is purely a product of the 20th Century - the
century of statism. The modern drive toward the assumption of state power has
turned legitimate national security agencies and apparati into relationship
pawns in a manipulative game where the stakes are no less than the survival
of the Constitution. The systems developed prior to ECHELON were designed to
confront the expansionist goals of the Soviet Empire - something the West was
forced out of necessity to do. But as Glyn Ford, European Parliament representative
for Manchester, England, and the driving force behind the European investigation
of ECHELON, has pointed out: "The difficulty is that the technology has
now become so elaborate that what was originally a small client list has become
the whole world."
It must be remembered that although the sophistication and capabilities of
ECHELON is futuristic and would seem to be all encompassing, it is only one
of many similar programs in use and on the drawing boards of our government.
The total spy and surveillance capability of the United States and its allies
is truly beyond comprehension - and apparently beyond control. Journalists have
been working for 40 years to penetrate even the fringes of ECHELON capabilities.
There are unknown numbers of programs in their infancy that are just as powerful
in their own ways as ECHELON. Put together and working against Americans, other
nations and the "global" individual with no oversight from the American
government or any other government, the possibilities of a New World Order are
terrifyingly close to the grasp of our more unscrupulous politicians. If one
considers the evolution of the automobile since the end of World War II and
compares that evolution to that of the spy and surveillance programs our government
has constructed, then we may get a "feel" for the present state of
the black art of espionage as it exists today. If we consider the history of
the totalitarian governments of Russia and Germany since 1930, we can see the
absolute dedication of tyranny to its own survival and growth at any cost. Today,
if we can tear our attention away from the latest "Survivor" epic,
we can see face to face the evil that is being prepared for those who adhere
to the tenants of our Constitution. The gulags of today hold an assortment
of Muslims and Arabs that our government says wishes to do us harm. Tomorrow
they may hold an assortment of Americans who our government "says"
wishes to do "it" harm.
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from ECHELON: America's Secret Global Surveillance Network Copyright 1999/2000
Patrick S. Poole
Nolan K. Anderson is a retired engineer and a veteran of Korea
who was once a "conservative" until he found there was nothing left
to conserve and as a veteran hates to see a tour in Korea go to waste. (He may
be reached at email@example.com
See also http://home.hiwaay.net/~pspoole/echres.html
Read from Looking Glass News
A Global Infrastructure for Mass Surveillance - Parts One and Two