- WND - http://www.wnd.com -
The darker side of Echelon
Posted By Joseph Farah On 08/19/1998 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled
Your e-mail communications and phone calls overseas are being
intercepted by a global government surveillance system.
Your cellular phone calls to your elected government officials are
being monitored by the same mysterious Echelon program controlled by the
U.S. National Security Agency.
Your international faxes are also being copied and analyzed by this
50-year-old international civilian espionage organization.
“Wow,” you say. “This is scary stuff. How could our government get
away with this? Whatever happened to our right of privacy?”
Well, friends, it gets worse. Much worse.
Most of what we know about Echelon we owe to the investigative
reporting of New Zealander Nicky Hager, who spent 12 years digging into
the system — work that resulted in the 1996 book “Secret Power: New
Zealand’s Role in the International Spy Network.”
Here’s how Echelon works: First, it targets all international phone
company telecommunications satellites from five ground intercept
stations in Yakima, Wash.; Sugar Cove, West Virginia; Morwenstow in
Cornwall, England; Waihopal, New Zealand; and Geraldton, Australia.
Second, the system targets other civilian communications satellites. And
third, another group of facilities monitors international communications
as they are relayed from undersea cables to microwave transmitters.
Sounds like an impossible task, doesn’t it? But just think of how
easy it is for your own personal computer to search the Internet for
keywords. That’s the same concept employed by Echelon. Each country
involved in the program selects categories of intercept interest and
corresponding keywords and phrases. Through this method, Echelon has the
potential to intercept millions of communications.
For many of us, the civil rights implications of such spying by our
own government was chilling enough. But, that’s pretty much old hat. The
late CIA Director William Colby testified to Congress more than 20 years
ago that the NSA monitored every overseas call made from the United
States. Some Americans and citizens of the United Kingdom have even
taken comfort in the fact that their governments have such a
sophisticated system at their disposal — protecting us all from
terrorists and foreign enemies.
But here’s the kicker. There is compelling evidence to suggest that
the totalitarian government in China, and probably the Russians, now
have access to all this data as well.
You see, all U.S. satellites have at least two extra printed circuit
boards. One provides the military with the ability to take control of
the satellite in the event of war or national emergency. The other routs
all public and private communication signals to NSA computers for
After the crash of the much discussed Loral launch rocket in China,
the Beijing government was, according to sources, able to acquire at
least one of these circuit boards. Recent reports, including some by
WorldNetDaily’s Charles Smith, indicate that NSA changed its codes in
response to this unreported breach of security. But that did not
necessarily protect the data from Chinese intercepts.
While uplink and downlink encryption codes are rather difficult to
break, the codes used to relay information between satellites is not
very complicated. The program to decipher this information is actually
hardwired into the circuit boards obtained by China in the crash. Thus,
changing the uplink and downlink encryption codes is really a moot
China and Russia have signed a formal agreement to share such
information. So, if China has it, Russia has it — or will very soon.
Instead of six nations having the ability to spy on their own citizens
and those of other nations, now two more representing grave national
security threats for the foreseeable future also have it.
If that isn’t alarming enough, consider the fact that China and
Russia have willingly shared and sold extremely sensitive technology and
secrets with rogue terror states such as North Korea, Syria, Iran and
During a recent congressional hearing on Echelon circuitry in which
NSA officials were being grilled, when the sensitive issue of what the
Chinese got came up, the committee quickly went into a closed executive
session. It seems, the only people really being kept in the dark on all
this spying activity by government agencies are the American taxpayers
who make it all possible.
Article printed from WND: http://www.wnd.com
URL to article: http://www.wnd.com/1998/08/1188/
© Copyright 1997-2013. All Rights Reserved. WND.com.