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In April of 1998 I wrote here “Privacy has become an anachronism.”
I warned of “a massive system designed to intercept all your e-mail,
fax traffic and more.” I was writing about Echelon, the illegitimate
offspring of a UKUSA treaty signed by the United States, United Kingdom,
Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Its purpose was, and is, to have a
vast global intelligence monster, which allegedly shares common goals.
The system is so “efficient” that reportedly National Security Agency
folk from Fort Meade can work from Menwith Hill in England to intercept
local communications without either nation having to burden themselves
with the formality of seeking approval or disclosing the operation.
Back in early 1998 WorldNetDaily was in its infancy. More people
listened to my daily radio talk show than had ever heard of
WorldNetDaily. WorldNetDaily was more than a dream but less than a
fully formed embryo. When we exposed Echelon it was viewed skeptically
and cynically as “more right wing conspiracy stuff.” Well guess what?
The allegedly venerable CBS “60 Minutes” has placed their imprimatur on
chilling reality. Steve Kroft scored an interview with a
once-upon-a-time-spook, Mike Frost. Frost confirms, “Everywhere in the
world, every day, people’s phone calls, e-mails and faxes are monitored
by Echelon, a secret government surveillance network.” Where did we
hear that before?
It may have been easy for the masters of the game to rationalize and
justify the presumed necessity of the Echelon snooping as long as they
were merely trying to combat international terrorism. Data interdiction
and resource management sound “official” and … cool. However, when
the realities of the warts and blemishes are seen without the masking of
cheesecloth and soft focus, “Katie bar the door!”
Kathryn Graham, owner of the Washington Post, in November of 1988
reportedly told a group of CIA recruits, “There are some things the
general public does not need to know … and shouldn’t. I believe
democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to
keep it secret, and when the press can decide whether to print what it
knows.” Implied, but not stated in Madam Graham’s statement is the
“when” factor. If muckrakers and gadflies and the European press
could, and did, report about Echelon, why is “60 Minutes” only just now
“breaking” the story?
Electronic warfare countermeasures may be sold as necessary evils in
eavesdropping on drug lords, rogue nation-states and terrorists of
assorted stripes. However, there are problems with letting a genie out
of the bottle. Not the least of which are control, mitigation and
Historically governments can, and do, get away with doing bad stuff
because they treat the masses like mushrooms (keep them in the dark and
feed them fertilizer). However, now Matt Drudge and Steve Kroft have
confirmed what has been rumored for years: “Echelon Bombshell: NSA
Accused of Spying on U.S. Politicians”
According to Margaret Newsham (who reportedly worked at England’s
notorious Menwith Hill, which is allegedly the largest National Security
Agency spy data funnel), “American politicians have been eavesdropped
on.” Who says you can’t end a sentence with a preposition? Margaret
says she was shocked and amazed to hear the creaky, drawling
articulations of the very senior southern Senator Strom Thurmond on her
surveillance tape. Remember that political hack that was excoriated for
having taped a cellular phone conversation of Newt Gingrich? That was a
small yellow hole in a snow bank compared to this.
The European Parliament has had its panties in a bunch for years over
what is or isn’t happening under the covert mantel of Echelon. In fact,
they are now accusing us (as in the U.S.) of commercial/industrial
espionage. The U.S. State Department has assumed a Sergeant Schultz
position of “We know noooooooooothing!”
- They still don’t even acknowledge the existence of the
project despite over two years of reporting and commentary on the
- Yeah, and there is no Area 51, and
- There was no “controlling authority,” and
- “It depends on the definition of what ‘is’ is …”
- Vince Foster really did kill himself in Marcy Park, and
- Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin,
- Mad Albright wasn’t really upset with having been confused for a
cleaning lady, and
- The check is in the mail.
The chairman of the House Intelligence committee, Rep. Porter
Goss reminds me of the kid who says “I didn’t do it … and if I did,
I’m sorry, and I won’t do it again … not that I ever did. …” The
House Intelligence Committee is supposed to have oversight of the NSA.
They do begrudgingly admit, “the U.S. has the capability to pick
up any phone call.” Goss claims they have methods to prevent abuse of
data and that although they cannot “stop dust in the ether,” he asserts,
“I can make sure … the capability is not abused.” Kinda like the
Privacy Act prevents FBI files from being abused by political opposition
In 1998 I said, “The real threat to the republic has, and will, come
from international treaties.” Echelon is arguably more of a threat than
NAFTA, GATT’s WTO, and gifting the communist Red Chinese with
The NSA runs Echelon with four Anglo cousins standing on the other
corners of this pentagon communications net. However, in order to
discover what the presumed dark side is conspiring, it is first
“necessary” to suck up all electronic communications data before
any triage. That means all data. Allegedly there are filters
that are supposed to analyze “key words.” However, some cyberwags are
intentionally crafting key word-riddled transmissions intended to get
sucked into the Echelon analysis labyrinth.
You can see some examples submitted by my radio listeners to an
Echelon Writing contest at my
Meanwhile, here is my favorite. Forest wrote,
- My mother finally airmailed that bomb to my brother, the Senator.
She said that it is like an automatic weapon against those bugs in the
basement and will kill them all within three or four days. Anything that
flies will get “bombed,” she said, which will probably leave little
bodies all over the basement. I know the bureaucrats are against using
these silent chemical attacks, even on bugs, but the position of the
stupid Justice Department bureaucrats in the Federal Government is way
out of line on this matter. We still have some liberty in this country,
and I am sure the Constitution will allow us to kill all of those creepy
critters we can.
One-time spy Mike Frost was uncomfortable speaking with Kroft.
“My concern is no accountability and nothing, no safety net in place for
the innocent people who fall through the cracks.” By way of example of
those innocent people, Frost tells of a woman whose name and telephone
number went into the Echelon database as a possible terrorist. Why?
Because she told a friend on the phone that her son had “bombed” in a
The privacy the founding fathers so cherished is becoming a footnote
in history (that is, in those classes where pre-20th century history is
even taught). Many are aware of the unbridled abuse of the alleged
single-purpose Social Security number. We have legislators who have
sworn a sacred oath to preserve and protect the Constitution against all
enemies foreign and domestic — who have in fact become domestic
It is illegal for the United States to spy on its citizens … kinda.
The laws have been circumvented by a mutual pact among five nations.
Under the terms of UKUSA agreement, Britain spies on Americans and
America spies on British citizens, and then the two conspirators trade
data. A classic technical finesse. It is legal, but the intent to evade
the spirit of the law is inescapable. This system is called Echelon, and
has been kicking around in some form longer than I have.
The London Telegraph reported in December of 1997 that the Civil
liberties Committee of the European Parliament had officially confirmed
the existence and purpose of Echelon. “A global electronic spy network
that can eavesdrop on every telephone, e-mail and telex communication
around the world will be officially acknowledged for the first time in a
European Commission report. …” The report noted, “Within Europe all
e-mail, telephone and fax communications are routinely intercepted by
the United States National Security Agency, transferring all target
information from the European mainland via the strategic hub of London,
then by satellite to Fort Meade in Maryland via the crucial hub at
Menwith Hill, in the North York moors in the UK.
“The ECHELON system forms part of the UKUSA system but unlike many of
the electronic spy systems developed during the Cold War, ECHELON is
designed primarily for non-military targets: governments, organizations
and businesses in virtually every country.”
Technology’s ability to collect and analyze data has made privacy a
quaint, albeit interesting, dinosaur.
Long ago and far away, Adolf Hitler was talking to Hermann Rauschning
and said, “The people about us are unaware of what is really happening
to them: They gaze fascinated at one or two familiar superficialities,
such as possession and income and rank and other outworn conceptions. As
long as these are kept intact, they are quite satisfied. But in the
meantime they have entered a new relation: a powerful social force has
caught them up. They themselves are changed. What are ownership and
income to that? Why need we trouble to socialize banks and factories? We
socialize human beings.”