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thorough and up-to-date coverage of the Echelon network and other
institutional invasions of privacy, visit this collection, also on this
Part 1: Massive Domestic Spying via NSA ECHELON
---- - ------- -------- ------ --- --- -------
o The NSA Admits
o Secret Court
o Wild Conspiracy Theory
o Over the Top
o Australian ECHELON Spotted
o New Zealand: Unhappy Campers
People are correct in being paranoid of the
U.S. government being totally out of control.
The NSA/FBI even have a locked secret court located within the main
Justice Department building that only government employees can visit.
It has never turned down a request, and doesn't even need suspicion
of a crime to authorize a "black-bag job" burglary.
Question: Then why bother?
Answer: To give the illegal activity the imprimatur of constitutionality.
And presidents issue secret directives that obliterate constitutional rights.
Like the creation of the NSA.
NSA testimony to Congress: "There is no law that prevents our domestic spying".
Such is the unconstitutional power of the Presidential Magic Order.
It is even threatened to be used to wipe out Congressional legislation:
: However, President Clinton has threatened to veto ProCode.
: If Congress over-rides a VETO President Clinton signed an
: executive order (11/15/96) which states he can revoke any law
: passed on national security grounds:
: "Upon enactment of any legislation reauthorizing the
: administration of export controls, the Secretary of Defense,
: the Secretary of State, and the Attorney General shall
: reexamine whether adequate controls on encryption products can
: be maintained under the provisions of the new statute and
: advise the Secretary of Commerce of their conclusions as well
: as any recommendations for action. If adequate controls on
: encryption products cannot be maintained under a new statute,
: then such products shall, where consistent with law, be
: designated or redesignated as defense articles under 22 U.S.C.
: 2778(a)(1), to be placed on the United States Munitions List
: and controlled pursuant to the terms of the Arms Export
: Control Act and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.
: Any disputes regarding the decision to designate or
: redesignate shall be resolved by the President."
: WILLIAM J. CLINTON 11/15/96
: 1 if by land, 2 if by sea. Paul Revere - encryption 1775
: Charles R. Smith
The U.S. Constitution is in tatters, disappearing piece-by-piece,
emasculated by politicians constantly beating drums of War for
"Law & Order".
The NSA Admits
--- --- ------
Let's start out with what the NSA will admit. (extra capitalization is mine)
* Court Says U.S. Spy Agency Can Tap Overseas Messages
* By David Burnham, The New York Times, 1982
* Washington, Nov 6 --- A Federal appeals court has ruled that the National
* Security Agency may lawfully intercept messages between United States
* citizens and people overseas, even if there is no cause to believe they
* Americans are foreign agents, and then provide summaries of these messages
* to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
* Because the National Security Agency is among the largest and most
* secretive intelligence agencies and because MILLIONS of electronic messages
* enter and leave the United States each day, lawyers familiar with the
* intelligence agency consider the decision to mark a significant increase in
* the legal authority of the government to keep track of its citizens.
* The mission of the NSA is to eavesdrop on electronic messages of foreign
* governments and protect the electronic communications of the United States.
* To accomplish these goals, the agency has SEVERAL THOUSAND listening posts
* around the world and a HUGE bank of computers in its heavily guarded head-
* quarters at Fort George Meade, MD, near Washington.
* A Special Senate Intelligence Committee report in 1975 found that the
* computer system functioned like a "GIANT VACUUM CLEANER" capable of
* sweeping in ALL ELECTRONIC MESSAGES to and from the United States.
* Mr. Jabara is a lawyer who for many years has represented Arab-American
* citizens and alien residents in court. Some of his clients had been
* investigated by the FBI.
* The FBI's investigation of Mr. Jabara, who has not been formally accused
* or indicted for any crimes, began in August 1967. In November 1971, the
* Government acknowledged, the FBI asked the NSA "to supply any available
* information" about the lawyer that "might come into its possession during
* the course of its foreign intelligence activities".
* As a result, the NSA provided the FBI summaries
* of six overseas conversations of Mr. Jabara.
* In earlier court proceedings, the FBI acknowledged that it then
* disseminated the information to 17 other law-enforcement or intelligence
* agencies and three foreign governments.
* John Shattuck, Washington director of the ACLU, who represented Mr. Jabara
* said "It is difficult to imagine a more sweeping judicial approval of
* government action in violation of constitutional rights than the decision
* of the panel is this case. Taken to its logical conclusion, the decision
* authorizes the Federal Government to restructure its surveillance
* activities so that any Federal law-enforcement or intelligence
* investigation requiring the interception of private communications could
* be conducted WITHOUT A JUDICIAL WARRANT simply by turning to the NSA."
* Under current laws, if the FBI wants to eavesdrop legally on the conversation
* of a criminal it must obtain a warrant from a Federal judge. In those cases
* where the FBI wants to eavesdrop on a specific individual who it believes
* is an agent of a foreign government, it can apply for a warrant from a
* special SECRET PANEL of Federal judges established just for that purpose.
* The special missions and advanced technology of the NSA however, make its
* operations more difficult to control within the restrictions of the Federal
* wiretapping and surveillance laws.
* According to the 1975 report of the Special Senate Intelligence Committee,
* the agency has equipment that "sweeps up enormous numbers of communications,
* not all of which can be reviewed by intelligence analysts."
* Using "watch lists" --- lists of words and phrases designed to identify
* communications of intelligence interest --- NSA computers scan the mass of
* acquired communications to select those which may be of specific foreign
* intelligence interest", the report said.
* The court ruled Fourth Amendment rights were not violated.
* The Senate investigation in 1975 uncovered evidence the overseas
* communications of a number of individuals engaged in organizing
* political protests against the war in Vietnam were subjected to
* surveillance by the NSA equipment.
o The NSA can listen in on all American citizens' border-crossing
communications of any sort without a warrant or any other court
procedure, and effectively distribute that information to any and
all local law-enforcement agencies. And foreign governments.
Loss of Fourth Amendment rights.
Not even discussed with the American public.
Not even debated by our elected representatives.
o Domestic law enforcement agencies can request, receive, and widely
disseminate this information without any laws interfering. A major
blurring of the lines between Military and civilian control.
o Requests for political reasons are acceptable. (last paragraph)
o The NSA uses a huge number of computers to listen for "key words"
on "watch lists" for ALL border crossing traffic, including voice
conversations. That means in 1975 they could convert voice to text,
then do keyword searches against it. It's 1997 now.
Just how did United States citizens lose these Fourth Amendment rights,
granted by the Constitution? And why is the Military monitoring the
communications of Americans on U.S. soil and working with domestic law
Well, one day President Truman issued a secret order creating the NSA.
As testified by Library of Congress members on C-SPAN, the names of these
presidential findings change with administrations. They are called variously
Presidential Decision Directives, National Security Council Decision
Directives, Executive Orders, etc.
One might think these special override-the-constitution presidential
directives (which came out of nowhere) would be used for short-term
Wrong: the NSA is now a HUGE intelligence organization, eating billions
and billions and billions and billions of dollars in budgets each year,
and monitoring billions of messages a day.
* "Spying Budget Is Made Public By Mistake", By Tim Weiner
* The New York Times, November 5 1994
* By mistake, a Congressional subcommittee has published an unusually
* detailed breakdown of the highly classified "black budget" for United
* States intelligence agencies.
* In previously defeating a bill that would have made this information
* public, the White House, CIA and Pentagon argued that revealing the
* secret budget would cause GRAVE DAMAGE to the NATIONAL SECURITY of
* the United States.
* $3.1 billion for the CIA
* $10.4 billion for the Army, Navy, Air Force
* and Marines special-operations units
* $13.2 billion for the NSA/NRO/DIA
* The only damage done so far is to the
* credibility of those who opposed the measure.
There is no constitutional basis for this
massive loss of Fourth Amendment rights.
It sounds like some wild conspiracy theory, doesn't it?
Yet it exists.
: The Washington Post Magazine, June 23 1996
: Government surveillance, terrorism and the U.S. Constitution:
: The story of a Washington courtroom no tourist can visit.
: By Jim McGee and Brian Duffy [snipped article excerpts shown here]
: Adapted from the book "Main Justice", 1996, ISBN 0-684-81135-9.
* Last year, a secret court in the Justice Department authorized a record
* 697 'national security' wiretaps on American soil, outside normal
* constitutional procedures.
* The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, is a 1978 law that permits
* secret buggings and wiretaps of individuals suspected of being agents
* of a hostile foreign government or international terrorist organization
* EVEN WHEN THE TARGET IS NOT SUSPECTED OF COMMITTING ANY CRIME.
* The FISA court operates outside the normal constitutional standards for
* searches and seizures. Non-government personnel are not allowed.
* The courts files cannot be publicly reviewed.
* The average U.S. citizen might reasonably assume use of this court
* is at the least: unusual.
* It is not. In fact, in the United States today it is increasingly
* common. In 1994, federal courts authorized more wiretaps for
* intelligence-gathering and national security purposes than they
* did to investigate ordinary federal crimes.
* The review process to prevent legal and factual errors is virtually
* And the FISA system's courtroom advocacy is monumentally one-sided.
* The court has never formally rejected an application. Not once.
* For the first time in modern U.S. history, the Congress had
* institutionalized a process for physical searches outside of
* Fourth Amendment standards.
* Not even Congress' intelligence oversight committees review these
* special cases on a regular basis.
o Congress voted into existence a court that bypasses our normal
Fourth Amendment constitutional rights. Poof they're gone.
o Congressional oversite is weak.
Such a special court should be subject to the
highest standard of continual scrutiny: it is not.
! The New York Times, December 29, 19??, by David Burnham
! Because the National Security Agency is actively involved in the
! design [of Key Recovery cryptography], the agency will have the
! technical ability to decipher the messages.
! Walter G. Deeley, NSA deputy director for communications security
! said, "Another important safeguard to the privacy of communications
! was the continuous review of NSA's activities by the Senate and House
! intelligence committees."
Congressional oversite in real-time was non-existent.
Remember Ronald "I am a Contra" Reagan?
# U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, March 13, 1987
# Dear [Guy],
# Your letter of February 25th in which you inquired about the
# association between Mr. Frank Varelli and the FBI has been received.
# An internal FBI inquiry is currently ongoing into the activities of
# an Agent associated with Mr. Varelli who left the FBI following an earlier
# administrative inquiry. For that reason, it would be premature at this
# point to respond to any questions concerning the matter.
# William M. Baker
# Assistant Director
# Office of Congressional and Public Affairs
# Bicentennial of the United States Constitution (1787-1987)
* [NJ] The Star-Ledger, Friday, January 29, 1988
* The documents, released Wednesday, showed that the original target of the
* FBI probe was CISPES, but that the investigation broadened to include
* more than 100 other groups that opposed Reagan administration policy in
* Nicaragua and El Salvador.
* Despite the long investigation, no criminal charges were ever brought
* against any of the groups or their members.
* An FBI statement issued Wednesday said the agency only investigated
* suspected crimes, not political beliefs or constitutionally protected
* freedom of speech.
* Oliver Revell, the FBI's executive assistant director, said that the
* FBI did not investigate CISPES because of its political activities,
* but for a "wide range of possible crimes."
% The New York Times, Thursday, February 4, 1988
% "Reagan Backs FBI Over Surveillance"
% President Reagan is satisfied that the Federal Bureau of Investigation
% conducted a proper surveillance campaign against groups opposed to his
% policies in Central America, the White House said today.
% The new FBI Director William S. Sessions assured Reagan that there was
% a solid basis for the investigation: "We knew CISPES was established
% from funding by the Communist Party, U.S.A."
Well, Reagan didn't like a peaceful Texas based group called CISPES, which
was against the United States' support of the El Salvador government.
The El Salvador government was torturing and killing people.
* "Officers held in Salvador Abductions", By James LeMoyne, NYT, 4/25/86
* One of those arrested was accused of killing the head of the Salvadoran
* Land Reform Institute and two AMERICAN agrarian advisors.
So the FBI had one of their agents infiltrate CISPES using a Frank
Varelli, who was born in San Salvador and served in the U.S. Army.
# "How the FBI infiltrated CISPES and Assisted the Salvadoran Right Wing"
# By James Ridgeway, The Village Voice, NYC
# Varelli met with the Salvadoran National Guard, best known for its
# death squads. They gave him a "hit list" of people they wanted.
# When the INS stopped a Salvadoran immigrant, it would call the FBI and
# check the name against the list.
# If the detained person's name was on the list, the INS would institute
# deportation proceedings, opposing bail on "national security" grounds.
# Varelli would call the Salvadoran National Guard to let them know the
# individual was on his way home. In this way, the FBI assisted, over a
# three-year period, the work of the Salvadoran death squads.
That's right: the FBI murders people.
* "FBI Killed Unarmed Man, Inquiry Shows", The New York Times, 1/14/97
* A 21-year-old murder suspect who the FBI said they shot only after he
* opened fire on them, was unarmed when he was killed.
* A spokesman for the FBI, Ann Todd, declined to discuss the discrepancy
* between the FBI's initial report that Mr. Byrd had shot at members of
* the FBI task force and the subsequent discovery by the Union County
* Prosecutor that he was unarmed.
* The FBI shot Mr. Byrd to death as he hid under a bed from them.
The FBI had Varelli "plant" a gun.
Thus giving CISPES a terrorist organization designation.
Not only did the FBI hassle them big time, but also the FBI/NSA broke
nationwide into homes and offices that were associated with them and
many other groups, including lawyers offices and churches.
In almost every incident, documents and files were ransacked while office
equipment and other valuable items were left untouched.
# "Foes of Reagan Latin American Policies Fear They're Under Surveillance"
# By David Burnham, The New York Times, April 19, 198?
# Among those who have cited incidents Sara Murray, staff organizer with
# the Michigan Interfaith Committee on Central American Rights, said that
# her organization made three separate first-class mailings in the last
# few months but that only one out of about 100 letters was ever delivered.
# The Post Office denied any responsibility.
# Miss Murray also said someone had broken into her Detroit office and
# stolen a mailing list, several files and two books. [snip]
# A free-lance journalist has brought a suit in Federal District Court
# charging that when he returned from Nicaragua the Customs Bureau detained
# him until FBI agents came and seized his diary and address book.
# The FBI admitted to interviewing more than 100 people who visited
# Nicaragua, but said they were acting under Presidential Executive Order.
# Two women have come forward to complain the IRS audited them IMMEDIATELY
# AFTER RETURNING FROM NICARAGUA.
# The IRS denied it had anything to do with political views: "One woman has
# never earned more than 12,000 a year, and we found that suspicious."
FBI director Sessions ended up apologizing BIG TIME on C-SPAN,
saying that sort of thing would NEVER happen again. "We have put
procedures in place so that that will NEVER happen again".
But, after having been granted the special powers of the court by
Congress, noone was arrested and tried for this MASSIVE abuse of
power, which was granted by Congress in the good faith that the
government would not trade off the Bill of Rights in order to
pursue political objectives.
It was a worst-case disaster.
Even after investigating, Congress basically yawned: "The CISPES case was
an aberration, it was lower-level FBI employees who got carried away by
their national security mandate. It was not politically motivated"
--- The Senate Select Intelligence Committee.
* "Above the Law", by David Burnham, ISBN 0-684-80699-1, 1996
* ...something much more sinister was at work. In his carefully documented
* analysis of the CISPES matter, 'Break-ins, Death Threats and the FBI: the
* Covert War Against the Central American Movement', Boston writer Ross
* Gelbspan argues that a much more extensive conspiracy may have been at
* work. Far from being a low-level operation, Gelbspan reports, hundreds
* of documents in the CISPES file had been initialed by Oliver "Buck"
* Revell, then the number two official in the FBI. [Further evidence
* implicates the CIA]
Congress is unable to investigate the FBI, let alone the NSA.
# "U.S. Recruited Ex-Rebel Despite Links to Deaths, Report Says"
# By Tim Golden, The New York Times, January 21, 1997
# A former Salvadoran guerrilla commander was recruited by American officials
# as a paid informer and allowed to resettle in the United States despite
# intelligence information from half a dozen rebels that he had planned a
# 1985 attack in El Salvador in which SIX AMERICANS and seven others were
# killed, newly released Government reports show.
It doesn't matter to our government if Americans get killed.
Whatever the president wants, he gets.
FISA is yet another dagger shredding the U.S. Constitution.
: The Washington Post Magazine, June 23 1996
: "Government surveillance, terrorism and the U.S. Constitution"
: from Main Justice, by Jim McGee and Brian Duffy, 1996, ISBN 0-684-81135-9
: The internal Justice Department FISA watchdog was Mary Lawton: it took
: her two years before saying the investigations into CISPES & Co should
: be shut down.
: On the day after Thanksgiving in 1993, not quite a month after Mary Lawton
: died, Richard Scruggs decided it was time to go through her office on the
: sixth floor of Main Justice.
: The deeper Scruggs got into the FISA files, the more uneasy he grew.
: Reading the FISA applications in Lawton's files, Scruggs began finding
: errors. The volume of FISA cases was so heavy that the lawyers could spend
: only so much time on each one.
: "The review process to prevent factual and legal errors was virtually
: nonexistent," Scruggs recalled.
: In high school, Mary Lawton had won a debate about the meaning of the
: U.S. Constitution.
Nor was it an aberration: the 1980s joined the 1960s and 1970s with yet
another massive use of this Orwellian technology for political purposes.
And these are when they were caught.
It's currently used for the "Drug War", a highly political endeavor.
Of course, once CISPES was designated as a terrorist organization...
: The Washington Post Magazine, June 23 1996
* The CISPES investigation expanded. The FBI conducted a MASSIVE NATIONWIDE
* investigation that put under surveillance ONE THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED THIRTY
* liberal groups, many of them religious or political organizations.
By definition, ECHELON surveillance of 1,330 groups is NOT an "aberration".
The state of Congressional oversight (and punishment of FISA violations)
Not only did the NSA/FBI use FISA in a criminal manner, they then cross-
referenced through everyone ever connecting to CISPES - no matter how
distant - to achieve massive domestic spying for political purposes.
To crush peaceful lawful political protest.
For the President.
And they did it WITHOUT getting 1,330 FISA warrants.
Question: How do you spy on 1,330 domestic groups?
Answer: Electronically, using an existing domestic surveillance network.
Just push the button marked 'monitor'.
Your phone calls, bank transactions, credit card usage, health/
credit/utility/law-enforcement/TRW/IRS records, your whole life.
One big evil eye of Mordor.
The Russian State we were told to fear.
No wonder there are militias.
It gets worse.
Wild Conspiracy Theory
---- ---------- ------
This is an expanded version of a posting I made promoting unregulated
(free from government-has-the-key) cryptography.
Attorney John Loftus is the author of four histories of intelligence
operations. As a former prosecutor with the U.S. Justice Department's
Nazi-hunting unit, he had unprecedented access to top-secret CIA and
NATO archives. Mark Aarons is an investigative reporter and author of
several books on intelligence related issues.
One day I was flipping channels, and came across "The Leon Charney Show".
Attorney Charney was interviewing Attorney Loftus, who has many many
connections in the intelligence world.
Mr. Loftus described a room in NSA's Fort Meade that was actually British
soil (diplomatic territory), with a British guard posted outside...
: From: email@example.com [updated here 5/25/97]
: Subject: Re: Threaten U.S. Domestic ECHELON
: Newsgroups: alt.cypherpunks,talk.politics.crypto,comp.org.eff.talk
: Organization: NYC, Third Planet From the Sun
: This is a heavily annotated book.
: Massive domestic spying by the NSA.
: Including our phone calls.
: * "The Secret War Against the Jews"
: * Authors: John Loftus and Mark Aarons
: * ISBN 0-312-11057-X, 1994
: * In 1943 this resulted in the Britain-USA (Brusa) agreement to merge
: * the Communications Intelligence (COMINT) agencies of both governments.
: * One of the little-known features of Brusa was that President Roosevelt
: * agreed that the two governments could spy on each others' citizens,
: * without search warrants, by establishing "listening posts" on each
: * others' territory.
: * According to several of the "old spies" who worked in Communications
: * Intelligence, the NSA headquarters is also the chief British espionage
: * base in the United States. The presence of British wiretappers at the
: * keyboards of American eavesdropping computers is a closely guarded
: * secret, one that very few people in the intelligence community have
: * been aware of, but it is true.
: * An American historian, David Kahn, first stumbled onto a corner of
: * the British connection in 1966, while writing his book The Codebreakers.
: * One indication of just how sensitive this information is considered on
: * both sides of the Atlantic is the fact that Kahn's publishers in New
: * York and London were put under enormous pressure to censor a great deal
: * of the book. In the main, Kahn simply revealed the existence of the
: * liaison relationship, but when he wrote that the NSA and its British
: * equivalent, the Government Communications Headquarters, "exchange
: * personnel on a temporary basis", he had come too close to revealing
: * the truth.
: * The U.S. government told Kahn to hide the existence of British
: * electronic spies from the American public. Kahn eventually agreed
: * to delete a few of the most sensitive paragraphs describing the
: * exchange of codes, techniques, and personnel with the British
: * government
: * His innocuous few sentences threatened to disclose a larger truth.
: * By the 1960s the "temporary" British personnel at Fort Meade had
: * become a permanent fixture. The British enjoyed continued access
: * to the greatest listening post in the world.
: * The NSA is a giant vacuum cleaner. It sucks in every form of
: * electronic communication. from telephone calls to telegrams,
: * across the United States. The presence of British personnel
: * is essential for the American wiretappers to claim plausible
: * deniability.
: * Here is how the game is played. The British liaison officer at
: * Fort Meade types the target list of "suspects" into the American
: * computer. The NSA sorts through its wiretaps and gives the
: * British officer the recording of any American citizen he wants.
: * Since it is technically a *British* target of surveillance, no
: * *American* search warrant is necessary. The British officer then
: * simply hands the results over to his American liaison officer.
: * Of course, the Americans provide the same service to the British
: * in return. All international and domestic telephone calls in Great
: * Britain are run through the NSA's station in the British Government
: * Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) at Menwith Hill, which allows
: * the American liaison officer to spy on any British citizen without
: * a warrant.
: * According to our sources, this duplicitous, reciprocal arrangement
: * disguises the most massive, and illegal, domestic espionage apparatus
: * in the world. Not even the Soviets could touch the U.K.-U.S. intercept
: * technology.
: * Through this charade, the intelligence services of each country can
: * claim they are not targeting their own citizens. This targeting is
: * done by an authorized foreign agent, the intelligence liaison
: * resident in Britain or the United States.
: * Thus, in 1977, during an investigation by the House Government
: * Operations Committee, Admiral Inman could claim, with a straight face,
: * that "there are no U.S. Citizens now targeted by the NSA in the United
: * States or abroad, none."
: * Since the targeting was done not by NSA but by employees of British
: * GCHQ, he was literally telling the truth.
: * According to a former special agent of the FBI, the you-spy-on-mine,
: * I'll-spy-on-yours deal has been extended to other Western partners,
: * particularly Canada and Australia. The British, with the help of
: * sophisticated NSA computers, can bug just about anyone anywhere. The
: * electronic search for subversives continues, particularly in the U.S.
: * The NSA conceded precisely that point when the U.S. Justice Department
: * investigated its wiretapping of American protesters during the Vietnam
: * War.
: * The NSA assured the Justice Department that the information was
: * acquired only *incidentally* as part of a British GCHQ collection
: * program.
: * The "incidental" British exception has become the rule.
: * To this day Congress does not realize that the British liaison officers
: * at the NSA are still free to use American equipment to spy on American
: * citizens. And, in fact, they are doing just that. Congress has been kept
: * in the dark deliberately.
: * This is a fact, not a matter of conjecture
: * or a conclusion based on anonymous sources.
: * In the early 1980s, during the Reagan administration, one of the authors
: * of this book submitted to the intelligence community a draft of a
: * manuscript that briefly described the wiretap shell game and mentioned
: * the secrecy provisions concerning British liaison relationships with
: * the NSA have escaped congressional knowledge.
: * The result was an uproar.
: * The intelligence community insisted that all passages explaining the
: * British wiretap program had to be censored and provided a list of
: * specific deletions.
o The countries sharing intelligence: US, UK, Canada, Australia
o Massive domestic spying by the NSA, using an Orwellian "1984"
technology to search all communications using computers, including
domestic phone calls.
o Circumvention of domestic spy laws via friendly "foreign" agents.
But could that be true?
Could such a massive disregard for the Constitution have taken place under
the cheesy logic said to be used by the Military? NSA is Military, headed
by a uniformed officer.
Could it possibly be true?
It's some over-the-top conspiracy theory, right?
Over the Top
---- --- ---
I haven't received the "Spyworld: Inside the Canadian and American
Intelligence Establishments" book by Mike Frost yet.
So for now I'll quote from his article in CAQ, an issue entitled "The New
Age of Surveillance".
Covert Action Quarterly, Winter 1996-97, Number 59
1500 Massachusetts Ave. NW #732
Washington, DC 20005
202/331-9763, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://mediafilter.org/caq
Article: "Second Thoughts from the Second Oldest Profession.
Inside the US-Canada Spyworld."
By Mike Frost
[ Pictured is him on two of his Canadian security IDs ]
I was a spy. For almost two decades, I spied for Canada's Communications
Security Establishment (CSE), the most secret and least known branch of
National Defense. But although my paycheck came from the Canadian government,
more often than not, my orders, assignments, and much of my training ---
like those of many other CSE operators --- came from the National Security
Agency (NSA) in Fort Meade, Maryland.
Over the twelve years I spied for CSE, it became increasingly to resemble
the NSA. Both specialize in providing secure communications and signals
intelligence (SIGINT); both operated for years with little public knowledge
or legislative oversight until they were exposed by the media.
Despite the similarities, CSE is treated more like a subsidiary than an
equal partner. US military and economic clout, as well as NSA's vastly
superior technical capabilities and near unlimited funds, allow Washington
And while CSE has only a $200-300 million dollar budget, NSA has an
estimated annual budget of almost $4 billion.
But the relationship is not without mutual benefits. CSE, NSA, and Britain's
Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) use each other's facilities
and personnel to spy on friend and foe alike and, more alarmingly, to
circumvent domestic laws and spy on their own populations.
I either participated in or had direct knowledge of operations in which
CSE operated alone or joined with NSA or GCHQ to:
o intercept communications in other countries from the confines of
Canadian embassies around the world with the knowledge of the
o aid politicians, political parties, or factions in an allied country
to gain partisan advantage
o spy on its allies
o spy on its own citizens; and
o perform "favors" that helped its allies evade domestic laws against
Although I visited NSA headquarters at Fort Meade dozens of times, it was
at the Special Collection Services (SCS) at College Park, Maryland, that
I received my covert operation training and assignments.
This facility, set in suburban Washington, DC, dealt exclusively with
covert operations. [The facility was relocated closer to Fort Meade in
the early 1990s]
The first time I was driven there in 1978, I entered through a strip mall
and then through a door in the back of a restaurant; the second time, via
a dry cleaners.
These dinky businesses in a fake shopping center were all owned, operated,
and staffed by US espionage agencies. From the street, the installation's
high-tech capacity, its antennae and satellite receptors, were camouflaged
and it is unlikely that neighbors suspected anything out of the ordinary.
But the inside was anything but ordinary. There were scores of rooms crammed
with administrative functions, equipment, wires, jury-rigged gizmos, a
currency bank, and computers.
Every electronic intercept capability NSA denied having was right there.
In a small black box, not much bigger than a briefcase, was "Oratory."
This portable key-word selection computer could be taken almost anywhere
and set to pick out pre-selected words and automatically monitor and
record fax, voice, or teletype messages that contained them.
Developed by NSA, "Oratory" was "tempest-proof" (i.e. shielded to
prevent emmisions that could lead to detection), small, virtually
indestructible, and easy to repair: all you had to do was open the
lid and replace the self-diagnosed defective component.
In pursuit of plausible deniability, CSE, GCHQ, and NSA have used each
others' personnel and resources to evade laws against domestic spying.
[ an example given in which the NSA wanted to spy on someone within
the US, even though they had no authorization for such an operation ]
...So, two Canadians were sent to conduct a counter-espionage operation
on US soil at US taxpayer expense so that NSA could maintain deniability.
In every way that counts, NSA broke US law and spied on its own citizens.
[ A UK operation by CSE described next. Margaret Thatcher (then Prime
Minister) thinks two of the ministers in her cabinet are not 'on side'
...so she wants to find out if they are... So GCHQ asked CSE operators
to come to London to bug the ministers ]
Increasingly though, both because it's possible and because it's desired,
individuals are caught in the broad net of electronic surveillance.
The experts can record and analyze all your communications at will.
SIGINT organizations in Canada, US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand use
supercomputers such as the Cray to select items of interest. The list
is very fluid and is adapted rapidly to monitor people and policy areas.
At any time, it is likely to contain names of all world leaders, terrorists,
drug lords, mafia dons, members of radical groups, labor union activists
and leaders, types of weaponry, explosives, financial dealings, money
transfers, airline destinations, stock information, international
conferences, demonstrations, and politically suspect groups and individuals.
As is the case with operations, countries maintain deniability by getting
information gathered on their domestic situations by allies.
Under development is even more sophisticated "topic recognition" which
can home in on guarded conversations that avoid potential trigger words.
Nothing and no one is exempt.
For example, you are talking on the telephone to a friend discussing
your son's school play. "Boy," you say sadly, "Bobby really bombed last
night," or perhaps you use the word "assassination" or "sabotage" or any
one of the key words the computer has been told to flag.
A hard copy of your conversation is produced, passed to the appropriate
section (in this case terrorism), and probably ends up in the garbage.
But perhaps the conversation is not so clear-cut or the analyst has poor
judgement. Then your name is permanently filed under "possible terrorist".
Weeks or even years later, you have a similar conversation and use the
same words; the computer filters it out again. Since this is your second
time, your name moves from the "possible" to the "probable" file.
Sound absurd? Not at all; it actually happened while I was at CSE.
SIGINT specialists are honing their skills at monitoring digital
information. SIGINT agencies everywhere are increasingly throwing
their surveillance web over the Internet and other data networks
o The countries sharing intelligence: US, UK, Canada, Australia,
o Massive domestic spying by the NSA, using an Orwellian "1984"
technology to search all communications using computers, including
domestic phone calls, via keyword searches.
o Circumvention of domestic spy laws via friendly "foreign" agents
How chilling to think the military has set up
a real-life domestic Orwellian spy apparatus.
Used repeatedly for political purposes.
ECHELON has almost no Military purpose left:
Russia is practically part of NATO now.
We must start dismantling ECHELON before it is too late.
6/3/97: Barnes & Noble informs me his book is no longer
available, and that my order is cancelled.
--- --- ---
Let's pause to take a look back at the first and still classic expose of NSA.
: The Puzzle Palace
: Inside the National Security Agency,
: America's most secret intelligence organization
: Author James Bamford, 1983 revision, ISBN 0-14-00.6748-5
Page numbers are from the above 1983 release.
P171-172: David Kahn, in a transatlantic phone call, reluctantly agreed to
delete a handful of paragraphs dealing with the most sensitive subject of
all: NSA's relationship with its supersecret British partner, GCHQ. "The
two agencies exchange personnel on a temporary basis... A similar but much
smaller liaison program is maintained with Canada and Australia."
P399: After two years of compromising and negotiating, the BRUSA Agreement
was supplemented in 1947 by the five-power UKUSA Agreement, which,
according to one report, established the United States as a first party
to the treaty, and Britain, Canada, and Australia-New Zealand as second
P391: ...quite likely the most secret agreement ever entered into by the
English-speaking world. Signed in 1947 and known as the UKUSA Agreement,
it brought together under a single umbrella the SIGINT organizations of
the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The UKUSA
Agreement's existence has never been officially acknowledged by any country
P271: Sharing seats alongside the NSA operators, at least in some areas,
are SIGINT specialists from Britain's Government Communications Headquarters
(GCHQ). According to a former Menwith Hill official, the two groups work
very closely together.
P229: David Watters, a telecommunications engineer once attached to the
CIA's communications research and development branch, pulls out a microwave
routing map of the greater Washington area and jabs his index finger at a
small circle with several lines entering it and the letters NSA. "There's
your smoking pistol right here." Watters says it is tied into the local
telephone company circuits, which are interconnected with the national
microwave telephone system owned by AT&T. Other specialists testified to
the same thing: purely domestic intercepts.
P223: "Technical know-how" for microwave communications intercept was
aided by William Baker, head of AT&T's Bell Laboratories and at the
same time an important member of the very secret NSA Scientific Advisory
Board. After all, it was Bell Labs under Baker that, to a great extent,
developed and perfected the very system that the NSA hoped to penetrate.
"The Rise of the Computer State", David Burnham, 1984, ISBN 0-394-72375-9
"A Chilling Account of the Computer's Threat to Society"
FYI note: this document's opening quote is from this book.
P122: For the last three decades the NSA has been a frequent and secret
participant in regulatory matters before the Federal Communications
Commission, where important decisions are made that directly affect
the structure of the telephone company, the use of radio airwaves and
the operation of communication satellites.
P317: 1962. Now, for the first time, NSA had begun turning its massive ear
inward toward its own citizens. With no laws or legislative charter to
block its path, the ear continued to turn.
P319: The Secret Service, the CIA, the FBI and the DIA submitted entries
for the NSA's watch list.
The names on the various watch lists ranged from members of radical political
groups to celebrities to ordinary citizens involved in protest against their
Included were such well-known figures as Jane Fonda, Joan Baez, Dr. Benjamin
Spock, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Reverand Ralph Abernathy, Black
Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver, and Chicago Seven defendants Abbie Hoffman
and David T. Dellinger.
A frightening side effect of the watch list program was the tendency of most
lists to grow, expanding far beyond their original intent. This multiplier
effect was caused by the inclusion of names of people who came in contact
with those persons and organizations already on the lists.
Because of the NSA's vacuum cleaner approach to intelligence collection ---
whereby it sucks into its system the maximum amount of telecommunications and
then filters it through an enormous screen of "trigger words" --- analysts end
up reviewing telephone calls, telegrams, and telex messages to and from
thousands of innocent persons having little or nothing to do with the actual
focus of the effort.
And when a person made the
watch list, any conversations
that person are scooped up.
P333: By now, the names of U.S. citizens on NSA's many watch lists for
fighting the drug war had grown from the hundreds into the thousands.
Even when Noel Gayler took over as Director of the NSA in August 1969,
NSA personnel waited a year or so before briefing even him on the NSA
watch list program.
P381-382: NSA Director General Allen testified to Congress that there is no
statute that prevents the NSA from interception of domestic communications.
Asked whether he was concerned about the legality of expanding greatly its
targeting of American citizens, the NSA replied: "Legality? That particular
aspect didn't enter into the discussions."
P459: Innocent Americans - people neither targeted nor watch-listed - are
scooped up into the NSA's giant vacuum cleaner. This happens with
considerable frequency because of the way in which names and phrases are
jam-packed into the computers. Even though NSA's specialized supercomputers
have enormous storage capacities, the tremendous number of targets forces
the Agency to squeeze the watch lists together as tightly as possible.
P462-465: Its power to eavesdrop, the NSA had always insisted, came under no
earthly laws but rather emanated from some celestial "inherent presidential
authority" reposed in the chief executive by the Constitution.
Senator Edward M. Kennedy tried year after year to pass legislation to
require the NSA to submit to judicial review.
Finally, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [FISA] was signed into
law by president Carter on October 25, 1978.
The key to the legislation could only have been dreamed up by Franz Kafka:
the establishment of a supersecret federal court.
The legislation established a complex authorization procedure and added a
strict "minimization" requirement to prohibit the use and distribution of
communications involving Americans inadvertently picked up during the
These requirements constitute the most important parts of the FISA law, and
were included to prevent the watch-listing of American citizens, which took
place during the 1960s and 1970s.
The Supreme Court Chief Justice picks which federal judges serve in the
P466-467: The FISA court judge rules that black-bag jobs of "nonresidential
premises under the direction or control of a foreign power" need no court
approval. The FISA legislation also exempts from judicial review communica-
tions of these sites, including embassies. P464: A final judicial review
exception authorized the Agency to distribute the communication if it relates
to criminal activity.
* * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
* * * * * * * * * *
P468-469: Within the United States, FISA still leaves the NSA free to pull
into its massive vacuum cleaner every telephone call and message entering,
leaving, OR TRANSITING the country.
By carefully inserting the words "by the National Security Agency" into the
FISA legislation, the NSA has skillfully excluded from the coverage of the
FISA statute as well as the surveillance court all interceptions received
from the British GCHQ or any other non-NSA source.
Thus it is possible for GCHQ to monitor the necessary domestic circuits
and pass them on to the NSA through the UKUSA Agreement, giving them
impunity to target and watch-list Americans.
* * * * * * * * * *
*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * *
P475: Three decades after its creation, the NSA is still without a formal
charter. Instead, there is a super hush-hush surveillance court that is
virtually impotent; the FISA, which has enough loopholes and exceptions to
render it nearly useless; and an executive order that was designed more to
protect the intelligence community from citizens than citizens from the
agencies. In addition, because it is an executive order, it can be changed
at any time at the whim of a President, without so much as a nod toward
P471: On January 24, 1978, President Jimmy Carter issued an executive order
imposing detailed restrictions on the nation's intelligence community. The
order was designed to prevent the long list of abuses of the 1960s and 1970s.
But four years later President Ronald Reagan scrapped the Carter order and
broadened considerably the power of the spy agencies to operate domestically.
P473: Under the Reagan executive order, the NSA can now, apparently, be
authorized to lend its full support - analysts as well as computers - to
"any department or agency" in the federal government and, "when lives are
endangered," even to local police departments.
[ Yea billions of dollars a year military SIGINT support technology...
oh so invisible in its great mass.
A total blurring of the lines between Military
and civilian control of the domestic population.
P475-477: Like an ever-widening sinkhole, the NSA's surveillance technology
will continue to expand, quietly pulling in more and more communications and
gradually eliminating more and more privacy.
If there are defenses to such technotyranny, it would appear, at least from
past experience, that they will not come from Congress.
Rather, they will most likely come from academe and industry in the form of
secure cryptographic applications to private and commercial telecommunications
The same technology that is used against free speech can be used
to protect it, for without protection the future may be grim.
Senator Frank Church, chairman of the Senate Intelligence committee, referring
to the NSA's SIGINT technology:
At the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around
on the American people and no American would have any privacy left,
such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations,
telegrams, it doesn't matter.
There would be no place to hide.
If the government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge
in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence commun-
ity 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...
I don't want to see this country ever go across the bridge.
I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and
we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this
technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that
we never cross over that abyss.
That is the abyss from which there is no return.
*** end of 'Puzzle Palace' excerpts.
No recap necessary.
I'm feeling a bit sick at this point, how about you?
Those of you who supported any version of the FBI/NSA Digital Telephony Act
sold us down the river, making use of this Orwellian Military technology
fully legal domestically for the first time.
The descent into the abyss, from which there is no return.
: * "Above the Law", by David Burnham, ISBN 0-684-80699-1, 1996
: * [ Al Bayse was assistant director of the FBI's Technical Services
: * Division, in charge of spending more than half a billion dollars
: * for research, development and computer operations. ]
: * "Sure", said Al Bayse of the FBI, "I believe there is an absolute
: * right to privacy. But that doesn't mean you have the right to break
: * the law in a serious way. Any private conversation that doesn't
: * involve criminality should be private"
: * In other words, as the debate was framed by Bayse, the right to
: * privacy is at least partly contingent on a determination by an FBI
: * agent or clerk that the conversations they already intercepted and
: * understood do not involve a crime.
Do you want to live in a real live Big Brother world?
It is not at all about trying to keep up with technology in order to wiretap.
The phone companies are already able and authorized to listen in on any
line at any time, to check the integrity of the network.
I've heard some funny stories by old Bell System employees about a bunch of
people listening into private conversations, and having a hoot.
Question: How can the FBI use computers to monitor thousands and thousands
and thousands and thousands of phone calls simultaneously, as they
said they would do with the bill, when we Americans speak so many
different accents and languages?
Answer: Thirty years of fine tuning by the NSA, y'all.
The Digital Telephony Act will allow them to legally - at full
wiretapping capacity - dragnet-monitor the telephone network.
Each line monitored will not require a warrant.
And how did they get this CALEA legislation?
* "Government Access", by Jim Warren
* At the administration's pleading, the [Democrat-controlled] Congress
* rammed it through in less than two months, with no substantive hearings.
* Literally in the dark of night, without debate, it passed in the house
* by voice vote and two nights later by unanimous consent in the Senate,
* only minutes before adjourning to rush home for their important work:
* campaigning for re-election.
The NSA domestic watch-list is probably already stuffed
full enough to use the complete CALEA capacity.
You can select many more lines for monitoring than actually end up active
at the same time. The effect is indistinguishable from a MUCH larger
Even greater when the software programmatically decides (at the FBI end) which
conversations to continue listening to.
I'm sure law-enforcement will be able to dynamically configure their
connection to the phone companies' networks.
And probably cheat to use ECHELON to direct this programmatic control,
yielding no effective monitoring limit for domestic law-enforcement, and
domestic political control.
Law enforcement has absolutely no need for the Digital Telephony Act except
to give them their own access terminals and PRETEND there is a firewall
between what the Military is doing versus what the FBI is doing.
Of course, to monitor phone calls at full capacity,
the FBI will need to use Military surveillance software.
We've come a long way from requiring a person to listen to the first minute
of conversation to even decide whether the person could continue to monitor.
It's a brave new world now.
Australian ECHELON Spotted
---------- ------- -------
* http://www.texemarrs.com, Living Truth Ministries 800/234-9673
Texe Marrs and his organization are big on the "Anti-Christ" aspects of all
the technology the UKUSA governments have deployed to monitor people.
I am just glad he knows the Beast when he sees it, that it is Evil (without
the people involved necessarily being evil in intent: agreed!) and that
unless we do something soon, it will be too late: Earth will become Hell.
His book-jacket bio: Texe Marrs was a career U.S. Air Force officer (retired).
He commanded communications-electronics and engineering units around the globe.
* "Project L.U.C.I.D.", by Texe Marrs, 1996, ISBN 1-884302-02-5
* Appendix 2: World Surveillance Headquarters
* The report that follows, originally entitled "National Surveillance", was
* written by Australia's Peter Sawer and published in Inside News (P.O. Box
* 311, Maleny, Queensland 4552, Australia). It first came to my attention
* when it was printed in the U.S. by LtCol Archibald E. Robert's Bulletin,
* the newsletter of the highly respected Committee to Restore the Constitu-
* tion (P.O. Box 986, Fort Collins, Colorado 80522).
* The article caused a flurry of activity and a round of vigorous denials,
* admissions, coverups, and more denials by Australian political leaders.
* The article contends that (1) America's National Security Agency (NSA)
* is the world surveillance headquarters, and (2) Australia has it's own
* secret "computer center", linked with the NSA via satellite, which
* illegally watches over Australia's citizenry.
Article snippets... capitalization by the original authors...
* On a fateful fall day in America, on November 4th, 1952, a new United
* States government agency quietly was brought into existence through
* presidential decree.
* The birth of the National Security Agency on that day so long ago
* heralded the beginning of the world's most sophisticated and all
* encompassing surveillance system, and the beginnings of the greatest
* threat to individual liberty and freedom not only in Australia, but
* the entire planet will ever see.
* The NSA grew out of the post war "Signals Intelligence" section of the
* U.S. War Department. It is unique amongst government organizations in
* America, and indeed most other countries, in that there are NO specified
* or defined limits to its powers.
* The NSA can (and does) do just about whatever it wants, whenever, and
* wherever it wants. Although little known in both the U.S. and elsewhere,
* the NSA is quite literally the most powerful organization in the world.
* Not limited by any law, and answerable only to the U.S. National Security
* Council through COMSEC, the NSA now controls an information and
* surveillance network around the globe that even Orwell, in his novel
* "1984", could not have imagined.
* Most people believe that the current "computer age" grew out of either
* the space program or the nuclear weapons race; it did not.
* ALL significant advances in computer technology over the last thirty
* years, from the very beginnings of IBM, through to the super computers
* of today, have been for the NSA. In fact, the world's very first super
* computer, the awe-inspiring CRAY, was built to specification for the
* NSA, and installed in their headquarters in 1976.
* The entire twentieth century of development of computer technology has
* been the result of the NSA's unquenchable thirst for ever bigger, ever
* faster machines on which to collect, collate, and cross-reference data
* on hundreds of millions of honest, law-abiding, and totally unsuspecting
* individuals. And not only in America, but in many other countries as
* well. Including, as we shall see, Australia.
"The Rise of the Computer State", David Burnham, 1984
p134: ...the technical advances that were occurring did so not entirely
by chance. The computers' ability to acquire, organize, store and
retrieve huge amounts of data was an essential factor leading to the
broad definition of intelligence that was fostered by the National
Security Agency and its godfather, the National Security Council.
Computer research was supported by NSA in a major way by secret research
dollars. Thomas C. Reed, Director of the Pentagon's Telecommunications,
Command and Control System, referring to domestic intercity telephone
microwave radio trunks, said in 1975, "Modern computer techniques make
it possible to sort through that traffic and find target conversations
p126-127: Since the wiretap law barred the Bureau of Narcotics and
Dangerous Drugs from installing a tap on New York City's Grand Central
Station pay phones, bureau head John Ingersoll asked the NSA for help.
Within a few months the spy agency was sorting through all the
conversations it was already acquiring for general intelligence
Of course, the technicians were required to acquire, monitor, and
discard a large number of calls made by people with no connection
with the cocaine business in South American cities.
But so pleased was Mr. Ingersoll with the tips he was getting from the
dragnet monitoring that he ultimately persuaded the NSA to monitor
simultaneously nineteen other U.S. communication hubs.
* "Project L.U.C.I.D.", continued...
* Fort Meade is the hub of an information gathering octopus whose tentacles
* reach out to the four corners of the earth.
* The principal means of communicating this information is by the National
* Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) satellite communications
* system, which most people erroneously think exists primarily for the
* space program.
* It does not.
* The satellites, indeed NASA and the entire American Space Program, exist
* largely to supply the NSA with its telecommunications system. That is why
* the bulk of its operations are officially declared 'secret'. This
* ultimate 'Big Brother' machine even has an official name 'Project
"The Puzzle Palace": all these computer systems are linked together
under Project Platform. The first Cray went to the NSA. p138
* Although the NSA was officially formed in 1952, it grew out of an
* International Agreement signed in 1947. Officially termed the "UKUSA
* PACT," this was an agreement between Britain, the U.S.A., Canada, New
* Zealand, Australia and the NATO countries.
* The UKUSA PACT was, quite simply and bluntly, an agreement between these
* countries to collect and collate information on their respective citizens
* and to share this information with each other and pass on to Fort Meade.
* On March 9th 1977, the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Bill Hayden, asked
* "questions on notice" on the subject. On April 19, Prime Minister Malcom
* Fraser, declined to answer the questions, "in the interests of national
* The first clue of the Australian Headquarters of PROJECT PLATFORM appeared
* in 1975. Then, as today, government undertakings involving expenditure
* over a certain amount must be presented to a Senate body, the Joint
* Parliamentary Accounts Committee (JPAC). In 1975 JPAC was asked to
* examine and approve finance for the construction of a new building in
* Deakin, a leafy suburb of Canberra.
* This quite massive building was to be constructed behind an existing, much
* smaller one, which, until then, had been known to the public only as the
* "Deakin Telephone Exchange."
* That it was not, and never had been, simply a "telephone exchange" finally
* came to light in the 1975 JPAC Approval Report, when it admitted that the
* existing building had a comprehensive basement which housed NASA's micro-
* wave communications headquarters in Australia. Part of the justification
* of the "need" for the new, much larger building, was that by 1980, it was
* expected that NASA would run out of room in their existing home.
* Apart from NASA, it is now admitted that Deakin houses the National
* Computer Headquarters for, amongst others, the Australian Defense
* Department, the Australian Taxation Office, the Department of Social
* Security, the Commonwealth Department of Education, and the Department
* of Transport and Communications.
* Both Tax and Social Security are, in turn, directly linked to Medicare.
* In fact, the Department of Health used Social Security's computer
* facilities there until their own were completed.
* A small, but highly significant, part of the building is, in fact,
* occupied by Telecom. This is the part that contains the networking
* junctions for the optical-fiber lines leased by the banks for their
* "Electronic Funds Transfer System" (EFTS). ALL financial transactions
* for the banks pass through there via subsidiary company, "Funds
* Transfers Services Pty Ltd." (FTS)
* The New York Times INTERNATIONAL Wednesday, May 21, 1997
* by Clyde H. Farnsworth, Woomera, Australia.
* As Darth Vader's Death Star is blown to bits in the newly remastered "Star
* Wars" at the local theater, the audience of Australian and American Air
* Force personnel, and squadrons of their children, lets out a whoop. As the
* lights go on, everyone is beaming.
* Pine Gap employs nearly 1,000 people, mainly from the CIA and the U.S.
* National Reconnaissance Office.
* It is the ground station for a U.S. satellite network that intercepts
* telephone, radio, data links and other communications around the world.
Worldwide telephone interception.
New Zealand: Unhappy Campers
--- ------- ------- -------
You'd be unhappy too if French terrorists - er - French intelligence agency
operatives sank a ship (GreenPeace!) on the shores of your country, and the
USA controlled ECHELON system failed to warn you.
Here comes the usual - GROAN: "the usual" -
PLUS a description of the basic mechanisms.
Spy tools, come 'n' get yer spy tools...a comprehensive look at ECHELON
DICTIONARY. A look at the Beast in your phone. This is the big one.
In the section after this, 'On Monitoring', I give detailed examples of
the capability of ECHELON DICTIONARY to seek out information from noise.
To pick out conversations from a massive dragnet. I even give the keyword
monitoring logic for spotting conversations of people actively searching
to leave their current job for another employer. First read this section.
*** "Secret Power" by Nicky Hager, 1996, ISBN 0-908802-35-8
GCSB is New Zealand's Government Communications Security Bureau.
It was with some apprehension that I learned Nicky Hager was researching the
activity of our intelligence community. He has long been a pain in the
There are many things in the book with which I am familiar. I couldn't tell
him which was which. Nor can I tell you.
But it is an outrage that I and other ministers were told so little [yea NSA]
and this raises the question of to whom those concerned saw themselves
Prime Minister of New Zealand 1984-89
Another aspect of the Second World War that carried over into the Cold War
era was the close co-operation between five countries - the United States,
the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand - formalized with the
UKUSA Security Agreement of 1948.
Although the treaty has never been made public, it has become clear that it
provided not only for a division of collecting tasks and sharing of the
product, but for common guidelines for the classification and protection
of the intelligence collected as well as for personnel security.
New Zealand Prime Minister Robert Muldoon, on June 12 1984, admitted the GCSB
liaised closely with Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United
States - the closest the government has ever come to talking about the secret
five-nation signals intelligence alliance of which the GCSB is part.
The New Zealand analysts have a high level of contact with the overseas
agencies, including overseas staff training, postings and exchanges. In
the early 1990s the GCSB began conducting its own training courses, teaching
them the special procedures and regulations governing the production of
signals intelligence reports for the UKUSA network.
It is at these courses where the analysts are told about the UKUSA agreement,
which is described by senior staff as the 'foundation stone' of all the
arrangements with the 'partner' agencies.
P110 The GCSB introduces the new trainees to the world of codebreaking by
advising them to read two of the greatest exposes of signals intelligence:
James Bamford's 'The Puzzle Palace' and David Kahn's 'The Code Breakers'.
In 1984, Glen Singleton of the NSA was formally appointed GCSB's Deputy
Director of Policy and Plans. Having an American inside the GCSB serving as
a foreign liaison officer would be one thing: allowing an officer from another
country to direct policy and planning seems extraordinary.
[ Unless you think of the NSA as the New World Order. ]
Intelsat 7s can carry 90,000 individual phone or fax circuits at once. All
'written' messages are currently exploited by the GCSB. The other UKUSA
agencies monitor phone calls as well.
The key to interception of satellite communications is powerful computers that
search through these masses of messages for ones of interest.
The intercept stations take in millions of messages intended for the
legitimate earth stations served by the satellite and then use computers
to search for pre-programmed addresses and keywords.
In this way they select out manageable numbers (hundreds or thousands) of
messages to be searched through and read by the intelligence analysis staff.
Many people are vaguely aware that a lot of spying occurs, maybe even on them,
but how do we judge if it is ubiquitous or not a worry at all? Is someone
listening every time we pick up the telephone? Are all Internet or fax
messages being pored over continuously by shadowy figures somewhere in a
windowless building? There is almost never any solid information with which
to judge what is realistic concern and what is silly paranoia.
What follows explains as precisely as possible - and for the first time in
public - how the worldwide system works, just how immense and powerful it is
and what it can and cannot do. The electronic spies are not ubiquitous, but
the paranoia is not unfounded.
The global system has a highly secret codename - ECHELON.
The intelligence agencies will be shocked to see it named and described for
the first time in print.
Each station in the ECHELON network has computers that automatically search
through millions of intercepted messages for ones containing pre-programmed
keywords or fax, telex and email addresses. Every word of every message is
automatically searched: they do not need your specific telephone number or
Internet address on the list.
All the different computers in the network are known, within the UKUSA
agencies, as the ECHELON Dictionaries.
Computers that can search for keywords have existed since at least the 1970s,
but the ECHELON system has been designed to interconnect all these computers
and allow the stations to function as components of an integrated whole.
Under the ECHELON system, a particular station's Dictionary computers contain
not only its parent agency's chosen keywords, but also a list for each of the
other four agencies. For example, each New Zealand site has separate search
lists for the NSA, GCHQ [British], DSD [Australia], and CSE [Canada] in
addition to its own.
So each station collects all the telephone calls, faxes, telexes, Internet
messages and other electronic communications that its computers have been
pre-programmed to select for all the allies and automatically send this
intelligence to them.
This means that New Zealand stations are being used by the overseas agencies
for their automatic collecting - while New Zealand does not even know what
is being intercepted from the New Zealand sites for the allies. In return,
New Zealand gets tightly controlled access to a few parts of the system.
The GCSB computers, the stations, the headquarter operations and, indeed,
GCSB itself function almost entirely as components of this integrated system.
Each station in the network - not just the satellite stations - has Dictionary
computers that report to the ECHELON system
United States spy satellites, designed to intercept communications from orbit
above the earth, are also likely to be connected into the ECHELON system.
These satellites either move in orbits that criss-cross the earth or, like
the Intelsats, sit above the Equator in geostationary orbit.
They have antennae that can scoop up very large quantities of radio
communications from the areas below.
A final element of the ECHELON system are facilities that tap directly into
land-based telecommunications systems, completing a near total coverage of
the world's communications.
The microwave networks are made up of chains of microwave towers relaying
messages from hilltop to hilltop (always within line of sight) across the
countryside. These networks shunt large quantities of communications across
a country. Intercepting them gives access to international underseas
communications (once they surface) and to international communication trunk
lines across continents.
They are also an obvious target for large-scale interception of domestic
communications. Of course, when the microwave route is across one of the
UKUSA countries' territory it is much easier to arrange interception.
The ECHELON system has created an awesome spying capacity for the United
States, allowing it to monitor continuously most of the world's communications.
It is an important component of its power and influence in the post-Cold War
world order, and advances in computer processing technology continue to
increase this capacity.
The NSA pushed for the creation of this system and has the supreme position
within it. It has subsidized the allies by providing the sophisticated
computer programs used in the system, it undertakes the bulk of the
interception operations and, in return, it can be assumed to have full
access to the allies' capabilities.
On December 2 1987, when Prime Minister David Lange announced plans to build
a new spy station, he issued a press statement explaining that the station
would provide greater independence in intelligence matters: "For years there
has been concern about our dependence on others and all that implies. This
government is committed to standing on its own two feet."
Lange believed the statement. Even as Prime Minister, no one had told him
about the ECHELON Dictionary system and the way the new station would fit in.
His first experience of the UKUSA alliance was its security 'indoctrination'
(they really use this word). The indoctrination was done by GCSB security
officer Don Allan, and consisted of a strict lecture about never, for the
rest of his life, talking about his job with anyone except other indoctrinated
people. GCSB workers are forbidden to say anything about their work, even to
The indoctrination concluded with Holmes signing the two page indoctrination
form, which refers to New Zealand laws for punishing infringements (in the
Crimes Act) but which originates primarily in UKUSA regulations. Equivalent
forms must be signed by staff throughout the UKUSA alliance.
In the middle of 1994 Holmes got his first overseas posting - and a
prestigious one at that. He is on a three-year posting to the center of
the UKUSA alliance, the enormous NSA headquarters at Fort George G. Meade.
This posting was the first ever by a GCSB analyst to the NSA. Before he
left New Zealand his daily work, like that of all analysts, revolved entirely
around that most striking manifestation of GCSB's links with the NSA: the
ECHELON Dictionary system.
Each morning the signals intelligence analysts in New Zealand log on at their
computer terminals and enter the Dictionary system, just as their equivalents
do in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.
What follows is a precise description of how the system works, the first time
it has been publicly described. [Buy the book for full details]
After entering their security passwords, the analysts reach a directory that
lists the different categories of intercept available, each with a four digit
code; 4066, for instance, might be Russian fishing trawlers, 5535 Japanese
diplomatic traffic in the South Pacific, 4959 communications from South
Pacific countries and so on.
They type in the code for the category they want to use first that day.
As soon as they make a selection, a 'search result' appears, stating the
number of documents which have been found fitting that category.
The day's work begins, reading through screen after screen of intercepted
If a message appears worth reporting on, the analyst can select it from the
rest and work on it out of the Dictionary system.
He or she then translates the message - either in its entirety or as a
summary called a 'gist' - and writes it into the standard format of all
intelligence reports produced anywhere within the UKUSA network.
This is the 'front end' of the Dictionary system, using a commercially
available program (called BRS Search). It extracts the different categories
of intercepted messages (known just as 'intercept') from the large GCSB
computer database of intercept from the New Zealand stations and overseas
[ I interrupt this book excerpt to bring you retrieval results for
"BRS Search" from the www.altavista.digital.com search engine:
BRS/Search is designed to manage large collections
of unstructured information, allowing multiple
users to quickly and efficiently search, retrieve
and analyze stored documents simply by entering a
word, concept, phrase, or combination of phrases,
in any length. The product offers the most
powerful indexing structure available today, with
users able to pinpoint critical information in
seconds, even across millions of documents in
Hmmm. Sounds like the search engine I just used.
You give the search engine keywords to search for, and can specify
exclusion logic keywords. e.g. "digital AND NOT watch"
Before anything goes into the database, the actual searching and selection of
intercepted messages has already occurred - in the Dictionary computers at
the New Zealand and overseas stations.
This is an enormous mass of material - literally all the business, government
and personal messages that the station catches.
The computers automatically search through everything as it arrives at the
This is the work of the Dictionary program.
It reads every word and number in every single incoming message and picks out
all the ones containing target keywords and numbers.
Thousands of simultaneous messages are read in 'real time' as they pour into
the station, hour after hour, day after day, as the computer finds
intelligence needles in the telecommunications haystack.
Telephone calls containing keywords are automatically extracted from the
masses of other calls and digitally recorded to be listened to by analysts
back in the agency headquarters.
The implications of this capability are immense.
The UKUSA agencies can use machines to search through all the telephone calls
in the world, just as they do for written messages.
It has nothing to do with whether someone is deliberately tapping your phone,
simply whether you say a keyword or combination of keywords that is of
interest to one of the UKUSA agencies.
The keywords include such things as names of people, ships, organizations,
countries and subjects. They also include the known telex and phone numbers
and Internet addresses of the individuals, businesses, organizations and
government offices they may want to target.
The agencies also specify combinations of these keywords to help sift out
communications of interest.
For example, they might search for diplomatic cables containing both the
words 'Suva' and 'aid', or cables containing the word 'Suva' but NOT the
word 'consul' (to avoid the masses of routine consular communications).
It is these sets of words and numbers (and combinations of them), under a
particular category, that are placed in the Dictionary computers.
The whole system was developed by the NSA.
The only known public reference to the ECHELON system was made in relation to
the Menwith Hill station. In July 1988, a United States newspaper, the
Cleveland Plain Dealer, published a story about electronic monitoring of
phone calls of a Republican senator, Strom Thurmond. The alleged monitoring
occurred at Menwith Hill.
Margaret Newsham worked at Menwith Hill as a contract employee of Lockheed
Space and Missiles Corporation. She is said to have told congress staff that,
while at Menwith, she was able to listen through earphones to telephone calls
When investigators subpoenaed witnesses and sought access to plans and manuals
for the ECHELON system, they found there were no formal controls over who
could be targeted; junior staff were able to feed in target names to be
searched for by the computers without any check of their authorization to
None of this is surprising and it is likely to be insignificant compared with
official abuse of the system.
The capabilities of the ECHELON system are so great, and the secrecy
surrounding it makes it so impervious to democratic oversite, that the
temptation to use it for questionable projects seems irresistible.
In June 1992 a group of current 'highly placed intelligence operatives' from
the British GCHQ spoke to the paper Observer: 'We feel we can no longer remain
silent regarding that which we regard to be gross malpractice and negligence
within the establishment in which we operate.'
They gave as examples GCHQ interception of three charitable organizations,
including Amnesty International and Christian Aid. As the Observer reported:
"At any time GCHQ is able to home in on their communications for a
routine target request," the GCHQ source said. In this case of phone
taps the procedure is known as Mantis. With the telexes this is
called Mayfly. By keying in a code relating to Third World aid, the
source was able to demonstrate telex 'fixes' on the three organizations.
We can then sift through those communications further by selecting
keywords to search for.
Without actually naming it, this was a fairly precise description of how
the ECHELON Dictionary system works.
Note that it was being used for telephone calls.
Again, what was not revealed in the publicity was that this is a UKUSA-wide
system. The design of the ECHELON system means that the interception of
these organizations could have occurred anywhere in the network, at any
station where the GCHQ had requested that the four digit code covering the
necessary keywords and exclusion logic for Third World aid be placed.
In a further misuse of ECHELON, a former intelligence employee revealed that
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had personally ordered interception of the
Lonrho company, owners of the Observer newspaper, after that newspaper
published a series of articles in 1989 exposing events surrounding a multi-
billion dollar British arms deal with Saudi Arabia.
The newspaper said the deal had been pushed strongly by Mrs. Thatcher, and
it was alleged that massive bribes were made to middlemen, including her
son, Mark, who was said to have received a 10 million Pound commission.
The former employee of the British Joint Intelligence Committee, Robin
Robison, broke his indoctrination oaths and told the Observer that, as
part of his job, which involved sorting intelligence reports from the
British intelligence agencies, he personally forwarded GCHQ transcripts
of intercepted communications about Lonrho to Mrs. Thatcher's office.
Intelligence is not just neutral information; it can be powerful and
dangerous. Intelligence gathering and military force are two sides of
the same coin. Both are used by countries and groups within countries to
advance their interests, often at the expense of others. To influence or
defeat an opponent, knowledge can be more useful than military force.
The type of intelligence described in this book, signals intelligence
(SIGINT), is the largest, most secret and most expensive source of secret
intelligence in the world today.
Like the British examples, and Mike Frost's Canadian examples, these stories
will only be the tip of the iceberg.
There is no evidence of a UKUSA code of ethics or a tradition of respect
for Parliament or civil liberties in their home countries.
The opposite seems to be true: that anything goes as long as you do not
get caught. Secrecy not only permits but encourages questionable operations.
Three observations need to be made about the immense spying capability
provided by the ECHELON system.
The first is that the magnitude of the global network is a product of
decades of intense Cold War activity. Yet with the end of the Cold War
it has not been demobilized and budgets have not been significantly cut.
Indeed the network has grown in power and reach. Yet the public
justifications, for example that 'economic intelligence is now more
important', do not even begin to explain why this huge spy system
should be maintained. In the early 1980s the Cold War rhetoric was
extreme and global war was seriously discussed and planned for.
In the 1990s, the threat of global war has all but disappeared and
none of the allies faces the remotest serious military threat.
The second point about the ECHELON capabilities is that large parts of the
system, while hiding behind the Cold War for their justification, were
never primarily about the Cold War at all.
The UKUSA alliance did mount massive operations against the Soviet Union
and other 'communists', but other elements of the worldwide system, such
as the interception of Intelsat communications, microwave networks and
many regional satellites, were not aimed primarily at the Russians, the
Iraqis or the North Koreans.
Then, and now, they are targeting groups which do not pose any physical
threat to the UKUSA allies at all.
But they are ideal to use against political opponents, economic competitors,
countries where the allies may want to gain some advantage (especially
access to cheap resources) and administrations (like Nicaragua's Sandinista
government) which do not fit an American-dominated world order.
The third observation is that telecommunications organizations - including
the telephone companies - are not blameless in all of this.
These companies, to which people pay their monthly bills believing that
the phone calls they make and the faxes they send are secure, should well
be aware of the wholesale interception of 'private' communications that
has been occurring for decades.
Yet they neither invest in encryption technology nor insist that organizations
such as the Washington-based Intelsat Corporation provide encryption.
They do not let their customers know that their international communications
are open to continuous interception. Wittingly or unwittingly, this lack of
action assists large-scale spying against the individuals, businesses and
government and private organizations that innocently entrust their
communications to these companies.
ECHELON is a staggeringly comprehensive and highly secret global spying
system. Around the world there are networks of spy stations and spy
satellites which can intercept communications anywhere on the planet.
Over the last 10 years a lot has been heard in New Zealand about the dangers
of 'bureaucratic capture', about senior officials controlling their ministers
rather than the other way around. The area of government activity described
in this book is the ultimate example of bureaucratic capture.
Politicians, whom the public has presumed will be monitoring the intelligence
organizations on their behalf, have been systematically denied the information
required to do that job.
If a democratic society wants to control its secret agencies, it is essential
that the public and politicians have the information and the will to do so.
Good encryption systems, such as PGP, developed privately by American Phil
Zimmerman, are publicly available, although they are still used only by
relatively few people in the know.
The UKUSA agencies have been attempting to curb the spread of this technology,
which is a major threat to their influence, so far without enough success to
It remains to be seen how much the public can find a technological answer to
maintaining privacy in a world with systems like ECHELON.
*** end of 'Secret Power' excerpt
Throughout the Cold War, the United States government pounded into us again
and again how Russia and China were evil because they monitored and controlled
the political expression of their people, had sham laws and sham courts, all
dedicated to maintaining the power of the all-important State.
How the philosophy of communism was the rights of the individual were
subservient to the needs of the State, as determined by the State.
i.e. the antithesis of constitutional democracy
Ironically, it was the United States that built
the ultimate Orwellian surveillance mechanism.
There was no public discussion about it.
And used sham laws: Executive Orders and Congressional legislation.
To create a secret agency and a secret sham court.
Used repeatedly to control lawful domestic political protest.
The Soviet Union and China we were told to fear.