Re: virus: NSA and Congress at odds over Echelon (fwd)

James Veverka (
Sat, 5 Jun 1999 16:19:54 -0400 (EDT)

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Bob Barr is usually the epitome of the fundamental wackjob, but you have to admit he occasionally has a useful thought....jim

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And they said what China does to its citizens is evil.

From: Putrefied Cow <>
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Sent: Saturday, June 05, 1999 12:05 PM
Subject: virus: NSA and Congress at odds over Echelon (fwd)

> Some facts before I present my theory...
> New York Times
> May 27, 1999
> Lawmakers Raise Questions About International Spy Network
> n international surveillance network established by the National Security
> Agency and British intelligence services has come under scrutiny in recent
> weeks, as lawmakers in the United States question whether the network,
> as Echelon, could be used to monitor American citizens.
> Last week, the House Committee on Intelligence requested that the National
> Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency provide a detailed
> report to Congress explaining what legal standards they use to monitor the
> conversations, transmissions and activities of American citizens.
> The request is part of an amendment to the annual intelligence budget
> the Intelligence Reauthorization Act. It was proposed by Bob Barr, a
> Republican and was supported by the chairman of the House Intelligence
> Committee, Porter Goss, a Florida Republican. The amendment was passed by
> the House on May 13 and will now go before the Senate.
> Barr, a former CIA analyst, is part of a growing contingent in the United
> States, Europe and Australia alarmed by the existence of Echelon, a
> system that monitors millions of e-mail, fax, telex and phone messages
> over satellite-based communications systems as well as terrestrial-based
> data communications. The system was established under what is known as the
> "UKUSA Agreement" after World War II and includes the security agencies of
> the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
> Although Echelon was originally set up as an international spy network,
> lawmakers are concerned that it could be used to eavesdrop on American
> citizens.
> "I am concerned there are not sufficient legal mechanisms in place to
> protect our private information from unauthorized government eavesdropping
> through such mechanisms as Project Echelon," Barr said in an interview on
> Tuesday.
> The finished report will outline the legal bases and other criteria used
> United States intelligence agencies when assessing potential wiretap
> targets. It will be submitted to the House and made available to the
> "If the agencies feel unable to provide a full account to the public, then
> second classified report will be provided to the House Committee on
> Intelligence," Barr said. "This is to stop the agencies hiding behind a
> cloak of secrecy."
> Judith Emmel, chief of public affairs for the NSA, declined to comment
> the UKUSA Agreement but said the agency was committed to responding to all
> information requests covered by Barr's amendment. "The NSA's Office of
> General Counsel works hard to ensure that all Agency activities are
> conducted in accordance with the highest constitutional, legal and ethical
> standards," she said.
> Until last Sunday, no government or intelligence agency from the member
> states had openly admitted to the existence of the UKUSA Agreement or
> Echelon. However, on a television program broadcast on Sunday in
> the director of Australia's Defence Signals Directorate acknowledged the
> existence of the agreement. The official, Martin Brady, declined to be
> interviewed for the "Sunday Program," but provided a statement for its
> special on Echelon. "DSD does cooperate with counterpart signals
> intelligence organizations overseas under the UKUSA relationship," the
> statement said.
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------


> ----
> Related Articles
> European Parliament Debates Wiretap Proposal
> (May 7, 1999)
> Dutch Law Goes Beyond Enabling Wiretapping to Make It a Requirement
> (April 14, 1998)
> European Study Paints a Chilling Portrait of Technology's Uses
> (February 24, 1998)
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> ----
> Meanwhile, European Parliament officials have also expressed concern about
> the use of Echelon to gather economic intelligence for participating
> nations. Last October, the spying system came to the attention of the
> Parliament during a debate on Europe's intelligence relationship with the
> United States. At that time, the Parliament decided it needed more
> information about Echelon and asked its Science and Technology Options
> Assessment Panel to commission a report.
> The report, entitled "Development of Surveillance Technology and Risk of
> Abuse of Economic Information", was published on May 10 and provides a
> detailed account of Echelon and other intelligence monitoring systems.
> According to the report, Echelon is just one of the many code names for
> monitoring system, which consists of satellite interception stations in
> participating countries. The stations collectively monitor millions of
> and data messages each day. These messages are then scanned and checked
> against certain key criteria held in a computer system called the
> "Dictionary." In the case of voice communications, the criteria could
> include a suspected criminal's telephone number; with respect to data
> communications, the messages might be scanned for certain keywords, like
> "bomb" or "drugs." The report also alleges that Echelon is capable of
> monitoring terrestrial Internet traffic through interception nodes placed
> deep-sea communications cables.
> While few dispute the necessity of a system like Echelon to apprehend
> foreign spies, drug traffickers and terrorists, many are concerned that
> system could be abused to collect economic and political information.
> "The recent revelations about China's spying activities in the U.S.
> demonstrates that there is a clear need for electronic monitoring
> capabilities," said Patrick Poole, a lecturer in government and economics
> Bannock Burn College in Franklin, Tenn., who compiled a report on Echelon
> for the Free Congress Foundation. "But those capabilities can be abused
> political or economic purposes so we need to ensure that there is some
> of legislative control over these systems."
> On the "Sunday Program" special on Echelon, Mike Frost, a former employee
> Canada's Communications Security Establishment, said that Britain's
> intelligence agency requested that the CSE monitor the communications of
> British government officials in the late 1980s. Under British law, the
> intelligence agency is prohibited from monitoring its own government.
> also said that since the cold war is over, the "the focus now is towards
> economic intelligence."
> Still, Echelon has been shrouded in such secrecy that its very existence
> been difficult to prove. Barr's amendment aims to change that.
> "If this report reveals that information about American citizens is being
> collected without legal authorization, the intelligence community will
> some serious explaining to do," Barr said.