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And, yes, I DO take it personally: How the NSA spying is done - Echelon redux
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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

How the NSA spying is done - Echelon redux

i've posted previously on echelon, here and here... the description of nsa spying activities, provided by tice, the recently-identified nsa whistleblower, fits echelon to a "t..."
Russell Tice, a longtime insider at the National Security Agency, is now a whistleblower the agency would like to keep quiet.


Tice tells ABC News that some of those secret "black world" operations run by the NSA were operated in ways that he believes violated the law.


Tice says the technology exists to track and sort through every domestic and international phone call as they are switched through centers, such as one in New York, and to search for key words or phrases that a terrorist might use.

"If you picked the word 'jihad' out of a conversation," Tice said, "the technology exists that you focus in on that conversation, and you pull it out of the system for processing."

According to Tice, intelligence analysts use the information to develop graphs that resemble spiderwebs linking one suspect's phone number to hundreds or even thousands more.

compare that to this description of echelon...
Echelon is perhaps the most powerful intelligence gathering organization in the world. Several credible reports suggest that this global electronic communications surveillance system presents an extreme threat to the privacy of people all over the world. According to these reports, ECHELON attempts to capture staggering volumes of satellite, microwave, cellular and fiber-optic traffic, including communications to and from North America. This vast quantity of voice and data communications are then processed through sophisticated filtering technologies.

This massive surveillance system apparently operates with little oversight. Moreover, the agencies that purportedly run ECHELON have provided few details as to the legal guidelines for the project. Because of this, there is no way of knowing if ECHELON is being used illegally to spy on private citizens.

the aclu called for an investigation in 2001 and has been strangely silent since...
"It's high time that the government disclose just how far it's gone in the name of national security," said Barry Steinhardt, Associate Director of the American Civil Liberties Union. "If, in fact, this system operates as has been reported, the American intelligence community has brashly ignored congressionally mandated privacy protections."


"It appears that the NSA is engaged in a surveillance system of epic proportions," Steinhardt said. "If these reports are true, ECHELON dwarfs the extensive surveillance of Americans already conducted by the FBI and other domestic law enforcement agencies."

echelon pre-dates george bush, bill clinton, bush I and, in fact, extends all the way back to truman... echelon is a joint venture of shared information (pdf file) among the united states, the uk, canada, new zealand and australia... it came out of an effort begun in the late 40's and has been gathering steam ever since, incorporating the latest in signal intelligence technology to monitor communications world-wide...

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