by Patrick S. Poole
recovered through WayBackMachine Website
ECHELON is controlled by the NSA and is operated in conjunction with,
organizations are bound together under a secret 1948 agreement,
UKUSA, whose terms and text remain under wraps even today.
Intelligence analysts at each of the respective “listening
stations” maintain separate keyword lists for them to analyze any
conversation or document flagged by the system, which is then
forwarded to the respective intelligence agency headquarters that
requested the intercept.
The regular discovery of domestic surveillance targeted at American civilians for reasons of “unpopular” political affiliation or for no probable cause at all in violation of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution - are consistently impeded by very elaborate and complex legal arguments and privilege claims by the intelligence agencies and the US government.
The guardians and caretakers of our liberties, our duly elected political representatives, give scarce attention to these activities, let alone the abuses that occur under their watch.
Among the activities that the ECHELON targets are:
While signals intelligence technology was helpful in containing and eventually defeating the Soviet Empire during the Cold War, what was once designed to target a select list of communist countries and terrorist states is now indiscriminately directed against virtually every citizen in the world.
Parliament is now asking whether the ECHELON communications
interceptions violate the sovereignty and privacy of citizens in
other countries. In some cases, such as the NSA’s Menwith Hill
station in England, surveillance is conducted against citizens on
their own soil and with the full knowledge and cooperation of their
Congressional hearings ought to be held, similar to the Church and Rockefeller Committee hearings held in the mid-1970s, to find out to what extent the ECHELON system targets the personal, political, religious, and commercial communications of American citizens. The late Senator Frank Church warned that the technology and capability embodied in the ECHELON system represented a direct threat to the liberties of the American people.
Left unchecked, ECHELON could be used by either the political elite or the intelligence agencies themselves as a tool to subvert the civil protections of Constitution and to destroy representative government in the United States.
World War II Allied political and military alliances had quickly
become intelligence alliances in the shadow of the Iron Curtain that
descended upon Eastern Europe after the war.
Despite the disintegration of Communism in the former Soviet Union and throughout Eastern Europe, the secretive NSA continues to grow at an exponential rate in terms of budget, manpower and spying abilities.
Other countries have
noticed the rapid growth of NSA resources and facilities around the
world, and have decried the extensive spying upon their citizens by
Titled “An Appraisal of Technologies of Political Control,” <1> this report, issued by the Scientific and Technological Options Assessment (STOA) committee of the European Parliament, caused a tremendous stir in the establishment press in Europe.
At least one
major US media outlet, The New York Times,<2> covered the issuance
of the report as well.
These signals are fed through
the massive supercomputers of the NSA to look for certain keywords
called the ECHELON “dictionaries.”
publication of New Zealand journalist Nicky Hager’s book, Secret
Power: New Zealand’s Role in the International Spy Network,<3>
provided the most detailed look at the system and inflamed interest
in ECHELON as well as the debate regarding its propriety.
The existence and expansion of ECHELON is a foreboding omen regarding the future of our Constitutional liberties.
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
addition, the Allied forces were able to create codes and encryption
devices that effectively concealed sensitive information from prying Axis Power eyes. These coordinated
signal intelligence (SIGINT)
programs kept Allied information secure and left the enemies
The Commonwealth SIGINT Organization formed in 1946-47 brought together the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand post-war intelligence agencies.<5>
Forged in 1947 between the US and
UK, the still-secret UKUSA agreement defined the relations between
the SIGINT departments of those various governments. Direct
agreements between the US and these agencies also define the
intricate relationship that these organizations engage in.
The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) signed the UKUSA agreement on behalf of the UK and its Commonwealth SIGINT partners.
This brought Australia’s Defense Signals Directorate (DSD), the Canadian Communications Security Establishment (CSE) and New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) into the arrangement. While these agencies are bound by additional direct agreements with the US and each other, these four countries are considered the “Second Parties to the (UKUSA) Treaty.”
Third Party members include
Japan, Norway, South Korea and
Turkey. There are sources that
indicate China may be included in this group on a limited basis as
The majority of funds for joint projects and facilities (discussed below) as well as the direction for intelligence gathering operations are issued primarily through the NSA.
The participating agencies frequently exchange personnel,
divide up intelligence collection tasks and establish common
guidelines for classifying and protecting shared information.
However, the NSA utilizes its role as the largest spy agency in the
world to have its international intelligence partners do its
Reagan added the tasks of information systems security and
operations security training in 1984 and 1988 respectively. A 1986
law charged the NSA with supporting combat operations for the
Department of Defense.<7>
The latter’s job is
to crack the encryption codes of foreign and domestic electronic
communications, forwarding the revealed messages to their enormous
team of skilled linguists to review and analyze the messages in over
100 languages. The NSA is also responsible for creating the
encryption codes that protect the US government’s communications.
By possessing what
is arguably the most technologically advanced communications,
computer and codebreaking equipment of any government agency in the
world, the NSA serves as a competent and capable taskmaster for
Land-based intercept stations,
intelligence ships sailing the seven seas and top-secret satellites
whirling twenty thousand miles overhead all combine to empower the
NSA and its UKUSA allies with access to the entire global
communications network. Very few signals escape its electronic
The twenty Intelsat satellites follow a geo-stationary orbit locked onto a particular point on the Equator.<9>
These satellites carry
primarily civilian traffic, but they do additionally carry
diplomatic and governmental communications that are of particular
interest to the UKUSA parties.
Another NSA facility at Sugar Grove, West Virginia, covers traffic for the whole of North and South America.
A DSD station at Geraldton, Australia, and the
Waihopai, New Zealand
GCSB facility cover Asia, the South Pacific countries and the
Pacific Ocean. An additional station on Ascension Island in the
Atlantic Ocean between Brazil and Angola is suspected of covering
the Atlantic Intelsat’s Southern Hemisphere communications.<11>
It is known that the Shoal Bay facility targets a series of
Indonesian satellites and that the Leitrim station intercepts
communications from Latin American satellites, including the Mexican
telephone company’s Morelos satellite.<13>
Particularly in the high-frequency (HF) range, radio communications continue to serve an important purpose despite the widespread use of satellite technology because their signals can be transmitted to military ships and aircraft across the globe. Shorter range very high-frequencies (VHF) and ultra high-frequencies (UHF) are also used for tactical military communications within national borders.
Major radio facilities in the UKUSA network include,
The Canadian CSE figures prominently in the HFDF UKUSA network, codenamed CLASSIC BULLSEYE and hosting a major portion of the Atlantic and Pacific stations that monitored Soviet ship and submarine movements during the Cold War.
Stations from Kingston and Leitrim (Ontario) to Gander (Newfoundland) on the Atlantic side, to Alert (Northwest Territories) located at the northernmost tip of Canada on the Arctic Ocean that listens to the Russian submarine bases at Petropavlovsk and Vladivostok, and finally to Masset (British Columbia) in the Pacific - monitor shipping and flight lanes under the direction of the NSA.<15>
The CSE also maintains a
small contingent at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas,
which probably monitors Latin American communications targets.
They were launched by the NSA in cooperation with its sister spy agencies, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
...have given way to the new and improved Mercury, Mentor and Trumpet satellites during the 1990s.
Table I. US Spy Satellites in Current Use
The downlink stations that control the operations and targeting of these satellites are under the exclusive control of the United States, despite their location on foreign military bases.
The two primary downlink facilities are at Menwith
Hill, England, and
Pine Gap, Australia.
The important role that Menwith Hill plays in the ECHELON system was recognized by the recent European Parliament STOA report:
The existence and importance of the facility was first brought to light by British journalist and researcher Duncan Campbell in 1980.<18>
Today, it is the largest spy station in the world, with over twenty-five satellite receiving stations and 1,400 American NSA personnel working with 350 UK Ministry of Defense staff on site.
After revelations that the facility was coordinating surveillance for the vast majority of the European continent, the base has become a target for regular protests organized by local peace activists. It has also become the target of intense criticism by European government officials who are concerned about the vast network of civilian surveillance and economic espionage conducted from the station by the US.<19>
The NSA took over the lease of the base in 1966, and they have continued to build up the facility ever since. Up until the mid-1970s, Menwith Hill was used for intercepting International Leased Carrier (ILC) and Non-Diplomatic Communications (NDC).
Having received one of the
first sophisticated IBM computers in the early 1960s, Menwith Hill
was also used to sort through the voluminous unenciphered telex
communications, which consisted of international messages, telegrams
and telephone calls from the government, business and civilian
sectors looking for anything of political, military or economic
Several satellite-gathering systems now dot the facility:<21>
One shocking revelation about Menwith Hill came to light in 1997 during the trial of two women peace campaigners appealing their convictions for trespassing at the facility.
In documents and testimony submitted by British Telecomm in the case, R.G. Morris, head of Emergency Planning for British Telecomm, revealed that at least three major domestic fiber-optic telephone trunk lines - each capable of carrying 100,000 calls simultaneously - were wired through Menwith Hill.<22>
This allows the NSA to tap into the very heart of the British Telecomm network.
Judge Jonathan Crabtree rebuked British Telecomm for his revelations and prohibited Mr. Morris from giving any further testimony in the case for “national security” reasons.
According to Duncan Campbell,
the secret spying alliance between Menwith Hill and
began in 1975 with a coaxial connection to the British Telecomm
microwave facility at Hunter’s Stone, four miles away from Menwith
Hill - a connection maintained even today.<23>
Directing its electronic vacuum cleaners towards
unsuspecting communications satellites in the skies, receiving
signals gathered by satellites that scoop up the most minute signals
on the ground, listening in on the radio communications throughout
the air, or plugging into the ground-based telecommunications
network, Menwith Hill, alongside its sister stations at
Australia, and Bad Aibling, Germany, represents the comprehensive
effort of the NSA and its UKUSA allies to make sure that no
communications signal escapes its electronic net.
And yet the power of ECHELON resides in its ability to decrypt, filter, examine and codify these messages into selective categories for further analysis by intelligence agents from the various UKUSA agencies.
As the electronic signals are brought into the station,
they are fed through the massive computer systems, such as Menwith
Hill’s SILKWORTH, where voice recognition,
recognition (OCR) and data information engines get to work on the
One tool used to sort through the text of messages, PATHFINDER (manufactured by the UK company, Memex),<** Be sure to read footnote for update 25 **> sifts through large databases of text-based documents and messages looking for keywords and phrases based on complex algorithmic criteria. Voice recognition programs convert conversations into text messages for further analysis.
One highly advanced system, VOICECAST, can target
an individual’s voice pattern, so that every call that person makes
is transcribed for future analysis.
The vast majority
are filtered out after they are read or listened to by the system.
Only those messages that produce keyword “hits” are tagged for
future analysis. Again, it is not just the ability to collect the
electronic signals that gives ECHELON its power; it is the tools and
technology that are able to whittle down the messages to only those
that are important to the intelligence agencies.
these station dictionaries are given codewords, such as COWBOY for
the Yakima facility and FLINTLOCK for the Waihopai facility.<27>
These codewords play a crucial identification role for the analysts
who eventually look at the intercepted messages.
Also included in the message headers are the codenames for the intended agency: ALPHA-ALPHA (GCHQ), ECHO-ECHO (DSD), INDIA-INDIA (GCSB), UNIFORM-UNIFORM (CSE), and OSCAR-OSCAR (NSA).
These messages are then transmitted to each agency’s headquarters
via a global computer system, PLATFORM,<29> that acts as the
information nervous system for the UKUSA stations and agencies.
These are then given classifications: MORAY (secret), SPOKE (more secret than MORAY), UMBRA (top secret), GAMMA (Russian intercepts) and DRUID (intelligence forwarded to non-UKUSA parties).
This analysis product
is the raison d’être of the entire ECHELON system. It is also the
lifeblood of the UKUSA alliance.
Vicious cycles of mistrust and paranoia between the
United States and the Soviet Empire fed the intelligence agencies to
the point that, with the fall of communism throughout Eastern
Europe, the intelligence establishment began to grasp for a mission
that justified its bloated existence.
The vulnerability of Americans
abroad, as recently seen in the bombing of the American embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, emphasizes the
necessity of monitoring those forces around the world that would use
senseless violence and terror as political weapons against the US
and its allies.
The discovery of missile sites
in Cuba in 1962, the capture of the Achille Lauro terrorists in
1995, the discovery of Libyan involvement in the bombing of a Berlin
discotheque that killed one American (resulting in the 1996 bombing
of Tripoli) and countless other incidents that have been averted
(which are now covered by the silence of indoctrination vows and
top-secret classifications) all point to the need for comprehensive
signals intelligence gathering for the national security of the
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:
Despite the necessity of confronting terrorism and the many benefits that are provided by the massive surveillance efforts embodied by ECHELON, there is a dark and dangerous side of these activities that is concealed by the cloak of secrecy surrounding the intelligence operations of the United States.
The guardians and
caretakers of our liberties - our duly elected political
representatives - give scarce attention to the activities, let alone
the abuses, that occur under their watch. As pointed out below, our
elected officials frequently become targets of ECHELON themselves,
chilling any effort to check this unbridled power.
This quiet collusion between political and
private interests typically involves the very same companies that
are involved in developing the technology that empowers ECHELON and
the intelligence agencies.
Since the creation of the NSA by
its spying capability has frequently been used to monitor the
activities of an unsuspecting public.
With the full cooperation of RCA, ITT and Western Union (representing almost all of the telegraphic traffic in the US at the time), the NSA’s predecessor and later the NSA itself were provided with daily microfilm copies of all incoming, outgoing and transiting telegraphs.
This system changed dramatically when the cable
companies began providing magnetic computer tapes to the agency that
enabled the agency to run all the messages through its HARVEST
computer to look for particular keywords, locations, senders or
the height of Project SHAMROCK, 150,000 messages a month were
printed and analyzed by NSA agents.<33>
The testimony of both the representatives from the cable companies and of Director Allen at the hearings prompted Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Sen. Frank Church to conclude that Project SHAMROCK was,
watch lists included such notables as Martin Luther King, Malcolm X,
Jane Fonda, Joan Baez and Dr. Benjamin Spock.
Attorney General Elliot Petersen shut down Project MINARET as soon as its activities
were revealed to the Justice Department, despite the fact that the
FBI (an agency under the Justice Department’s authority) was
actively involved with the NSA and other intelligence agencies in
creating the watch lists.
Despite extensive efforts to conceal the NSA’s involvement in Project MINARET, NSA Director Lew Allen testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in 1975 that the NSA had issued over 3,900 reports on the watch-listed Americans.<37>
Additionally, the NSA Office of Security Services maintained reports on at least 75,000 Americans between 1952 and 1974.
included the names of anyone that was mentioned in a NSA message
President Lyndon Johnson authorized the creation of the CIA’s Domestic Operations Division (DOD), whose purpose was to,
When Johnson ordered CIA Director John McCone to use the DOD to analyze the growing college student protests of the Administration’s policy towards Vietnam, two new units were set up to target anti-war protestors and organizations:
The CIA then began monitoring student activists and
infiltrating anti-war organizations by working with local police
departments to pull off burglaries, illegal entries (black bag
jobs), interrogations and electronic surveillance.<38>
After the revelation of two former CIA agents’ involvement in the Watergate break-in, the publication of an article about CHAOS in the New York Times<39> and the growing concern about distancing itself from illegal domestic spying activities, the CIA shut down Operation CHAOS.
But during the life of the project, the Church Committee and the Commission on CIA Activities Within the United States (the Rockefeller Commission) revealed that the CIA had compiled files on over 13,000 individuals, including 7,000 US citizens and 1,000 domestic organizations.<40>
In 1995, Congress
granted the court additional power to authorize surreptitious
entries. In all of these actions, Congressional intent was to
provide a check on the domestic surveillance abuses mentioned above.
With over 10,000 applications submitted to the FISC during
the past twenty years, the court has only rejected one application
(and that rejection was at the request of the Reagan Administration,
which had submitted the application).
Surveillance requests that would never receive a hearing in a state or federal court are routinely approved by the FISC. This has allowed the FBI to use the process to conduct surveillance to obtain evidence in circumvention of the US Constitution, and the evidence is then used in subsequent criminal trials.
But the process established by Congress and the courts ensures that information regarding the cause or extent of the surveillance order is withheld from defense attorneys because of the classified nature of the court.<42>
Despite Congress’s initial intent for the FISC, it is
doubtful that domestic surveillance by means of ECHELON comes under
any scrutiny by the court.
What these brief
glimpses inside the intelligence world reveal is that, despite the
best of intentions by elected representatives, presidents and prime
ministers, the temptation to use ECHELON as a tool of political
advancement and repression proves too strong.
In an effort to avoid the legal difficulties involved with domestic spying on high governmental officials, the GCHQ liaison in Ottawa made a request to CSE for them to conduct the three-week-long surveillance mission at British taxpayer expense. Frost’s CSE boss, Frank Bowman, traveled to London to do the job himself.
After the mission was over, Bowman was instructed to hand over the tapes to a GCHQ official at their headquarters.<43> Using the UKUSA alliance as legal cover is seductively easy.
As Spyworld co-author Michel Gratton puts it,
Frost also told of how he was asked in 1975 to spy on an unlikely target - Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s wife, Margaret Trudeau.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s (RCMP) Security Service division was concerned that the Prime Minister’s wife was buying and using marijuana, so they contacted the CSE to do the dirty work. Months of surveillance in cooperation with the Security Service turned up nothing of note.
Frost was concerned that there were political motivations behind the RCMP’s request:
The NSA frequently gets into the political spying act as well.
Nixon presidential aide John Ehrlichman revealed in his published memoirs, Witness to Power: The Nixon Years, that Henry Kissinger used the NSA to intercept the messages of then-Secretary of State William P. Rogers, which Kissinger used to convince President Nixon of Rogers’ incompetence.
Kissinger also found himself on the receiving end of the NSA’s global net. Word of Kissinger’s secret diplomatic dealings with foreign governments would reach the ears of other Nixon administration officials, incensing Kissinger.
As former NSA Deputy Director William Colby pointed out,
However, elected representatives have also become targets of spying by the intelligence agencies.
In 1988, a former Lockheed software manager who was responsible for a dozen VAX computers that powered the ECHELON computers at Menwith Hill, Margaret Newsham, came forth with the stunning revelation that she had actually heard the NSA’s real time interception of phone conversations involving South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond.
Newsham was fired from Lockheed after she filed a whistleblower lawsuit alleging that the company was engaged in flagrant waste and abuse. After a top secret meeting in April 1988 with then-chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Louis Stokes, Capitol Hill staffers familiar with the meeting leaked the story to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.<47>
While Sen. Thurmond was reluctant to pressure for a thorough investigation into the matter, his office revealed at the time that the office had previously received reports that the Senator was a target of the NSA.<48>
After the news reports an
investigation into the matter discovered that there were no controls
or questioning over who could enter target names into the Menwith
Barnes found out about the NSA’s spying after White House officials leaked transcripts of his conversations to reporters.
CIA Director William Casey, later implicated in the Iran-Contra affair, showed Barnes a Nicaraguan embassy cable that reported a meeting between embassy staff and one of Barnes’ aides.
The aide had been there on a
professional call regarding an international affairs issue, and
Casey asked for Barnes to fire the aide. Barnes replied that it was
perfectly legal and legitimate for his staff to meet with foreign
Another former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee has also expressed his concerns about the NSA’s domestic targeting.
Seemingly non-controversial organizations have ended up in the fixed gaze of ECHELON, as several former GCHQ officials confidentially told the London Observer in June 1992.
Among the targeted
organizations they named were Amnesty International,
Christian Aid, an American missions organization that works with
indigenous pastors engaged in ministry work in countries closed to
Western, Christian workers.<52>
Despite facing severe penalties for
violating his indoctrination vows, Robison admitted that he had
personally delivered intercepted Lonrho messages to Mrs. Thatcher’s
But what is most frightening is the targeting of such “subversives” as those who expose corrupt government activity, protect human rights from government encroachments, challenge corporate polluters, or promote the gospel of Christ.
That the vast intelligence powers of the United States should be arrayed against legitimate and peaceful
organizations is demonstrative not of the desire to monitor, but of
the desire to control.
Some of the agencies’ closest corporate friends quickly gave them an option - commercial espionage.
By redefining the term “national security”
to include spying on foreign competitors of prominent US
corporations, the signals intelligence game has gotten ugly. And it
very well may have prompted the recent scrutiny by the European
Union that ECHELON has endured.
Gerald Burke, who served as Executive Director of President Nixon’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, notes commercial espionage was endorsed by the US government as early as 1970:
To accommodate the need for information regarding international commercial deals, the intelligence agencies set up a small, unpublicized department within the Department of Commerce, the Office of Intelligence Liaison.
This office receives intelligence reports from the US intelligence agencies about pending international deals that it discreetly forwards to companies that request it or may have an interest in the information. Immediately after coming to office in January 1993, President Clinton added to the corporate espionage machine by creating the National Economic Council, which feeds intelligence to “select” companies to enhance US competitiveness.
The capabilities of ECHELON to spy on foreign companies is nothing new, but the Clinton administration has raised its use to an art:
In September 1993, President Clinton asked the CIA to spy on Japanese auto manufacturers that were designing zero-emission cars and to forward that information to the Big Three US car manufacturers: Ford, General Motors and Chrysler.<56>
In 1995, the New York Times reported that the NSA and the CIA’s Tokyo station were involved in providing detailed information to US Trade Representative Mickey Kantor’s team of negotiators in Geneva facing Japanese car companies in a trade dispute.<57>
Recently, a Japanese newspaper, Mainichi, accused the NSA of continuing to monitor the communications of Japanese companies on behalf of American companies.<58>
One intelligence source for the story related that over 300 hotel rooms had been bugged for the event, which was designed to obtain information regarding oil and hydro-electric deals pending in Vietnam that were passed on to high level Democratic Party contributors competing for the contracts.<59>
But foreign companies were not the only losers: when Vietnam expressed interest in purchasing two used 737 freighter aircraft from an American businessman, the deal was scuttled after Commerce Secretary Ron Brown arranged favorable financing for two new 737s from Boeing.<60>
Former CSE linguist and analyst Jane Shorten claimed that she had seen intercepts from Mexican trade representatives during the 1992-1993 NAFTA trade negotiations, as well as 1991 South Korean Foreign Ministry intercepts dealing with the construction of three Canadian CANDU nuclear reactors for the Koreans in a $6 billion deal.<62>
Shorten’s revelation prompted Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Sheila Copps to launch a probe into the allegations after the Mexicans lodged a protest.
The information was
used to outbid the US, resulting in a three year, $2.5 billion
contract for the Canadian Wheat Board. CSE out-spooked the
a year later when Canada snagged a $50 million wheat sale to
Many of the companies that receive the most important commercial intercepts - Lockheed, Boeing, Loral, TRW and Raytheon - are actively involved in the manufacturing and operation of many of the spy systems that comprise ECHELON.
The collusion between intelligence agencies and their contractors is frightening in the chilling effect it has on creating any foreign or even domestic competition.
But just as important is that it is a
gross misuse of taxpayer-financed resources and an abuse of the
intelligence agencies’ capabilities.
The modern drive toward the assumption of state power has turned legitimate national security agencies and apparati into 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:
What began as a noble alliance to contain and defeat the forces of communism has turned into a carte blanche to disregard the rights and liberties of the American people and the population of the free world.
As has been demonstrated time and again, the NSA has been
persistent in subverting not just the intent of the law in regards
to the prohibition of domestic spying, but the letter as well. The
laws that were created to constrain the intelligence agencies from
infringing on our liberties are frequently flaunted, re-interpreted
and revised according to the bidding and wishes of political
spymasters in Washington D.C. Old habits die hard, it seems.
But defenders of
ECHELON argue that the rare intelligence victories over these forces
of darkness and death give wholesale justification to indiscriminate
surveillance of the entire world and every member of it. But more
complicated issues than that remain.
But the fact that the ECHELON apparatus can be quickly turned around
on those same officials in order to maintain some advantage for the
intelligence agencies indicates that these agencies are not
presently under the control of our elected representatives.
The European Parliament has begun the debate over what ECHELON is, how it is being used and how free countries should use such a system. Congress should join that same debate with the understanding that consequences of ignoring or failing to address these issues could foster the demise of our republican form of government.
Such is the threat, as Senator Frank Church warned the
American people over twenty years ago.
There would be no place to hide. If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know.
Such is the capability of this technology…
That is the abyss from which
there is no return.<65>