ECHELON: the government’s been spying on us for a long time

Back in July of 2009, posted this article:

Operation Echelon: Will Obama resurrect Clinton’s spy program?

President Barack Obama’s security team is nothing more than Bill Clinton Administration retreads, so don’t be surprised if you discover nationwide spying on millions Americans. And don’t expect to see, hear or read any outrage emanating from the denizens of US newsrooms…

In arguably the most secretive and far reaching electronic surveillance program ever created, the Clinton Administration and the National Security Agency employed a global spy system, code named Echelon, which monitored just about every phone call, fax, email and telex message sent anywhere in the world.

The Echelon system was fairly simple in design: position intercept stations all over the world to capture all satellite, microwave, cellular and fiber-optic communications traffic, and then process this information through the massive computer capabilities of the NSA, including advanced voice recognition and optical character recognition programs. The system would look for code words or phrases (known as the Echelon Dictionary) that would prompt the computers to flag the message for recording and transcribing for future analysis.

…apart from directing their ears towards terrorists and rogue states, Echelon was also used for purposes well outside its original mission. This regular domestic surveillance targeted American civilians, according to intelligence expert Patrick Poole…

The program was controlled by the NSA and operated in cooperation with the Government Communications Headquarters of England, the Communications Security Establishment of Canada, the Australian Defense Security Directorate, and the General Communications Security Bureau of New Zealand. These organizations were bound together under a secret 1948 agreement, UKUSA, whose terms and text remain under wraps even today, according to Poole, an adjunct professor at Bannockburn College in Franklin, Tennessee.

In a May 27,1999 story in the New York Times, Americans first heard about Echelon. Two congressmen, Republicans Bob Barr and Porter Goss, who later served as Director of Central Intelligence, demanded information on the program. But, Democrats defended Clinton’s spying on Americans as a “necessary evil.” Barr and Porter’s demand for information on Echelon died when President George W. Bush replaced Clinton in the White House.

Politics is nasty business. Most politicians like to spy on others, but they sure don’t like it turned on themselves. Hypocrites. Notice how ECHELON is supposedly triggered by certain words? With the new NSA data storage facility in Utah, they can soon collect everything and sort through it as they wish.

You can find more technical information on ECHELON at Wikipedia. Here is part of the article:

wikipedia echelon

It further states, “The system has been reported in a number of public sources.” As the previous article mentioned, it first came to public attention in 1999. Wasn’t anyone (other than these governments) listening? Obviously not.

Of course, none of this spy stuff is new. The post-World War II Red Scare inspired all sorts of spy scenarios. According to the website, Tracked in America:

A federal employee loyalty program was instituted in 1947 to preclude the employment of “disloyal Americans.” Local governments, public institutions, and private companies, as well as universities and labor unions, quickly fell in line by instituting their own loyalty programs and dismissing employees suspected of having ties to communism.

The FBI played a crucial part by conducting surveillance, pressuring employers to hire or fire particular individuals, and by feeding information to the media to influence public opinion. J. Edgar Hoover created COINTELPRO, a program designed to neutralize political dissidents by sowing seeds of dissention [sic] within organizations and leaking derogatory information to the media and law enforcement. The FBI also disseminated damaging information on individuals to members of Congress to influence public opinion about the communist threat.

To everyone out there who thinks the government will only use the information to “keep America safe,” you just keep telling yourself that, if you must. However, history and human nature do not support that assumption. The fact is, spying is a tried and true method used to get an advantage over a competitor or enemy.

That’s why it’s ridiculous for the the political and media talking heads to be saying that Edward Snowden told China and Russia things they didn’t already know. They’re calling him a traitor because he is bringing it to the attention of “the common people,” the ones who hadn’t been paying attention.

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