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View Diary: Oops! Spying Program Snared U.S. Calls (69 comments)

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  •  I think its Echelon (none)
    I really should put together a diary about this, but i think that this wiretapping program we're all just finding out about is the use of eschelon on the american public. The existence of the program has been confirmed by the New Zealand government, but never by the NSA. The specific capabilities of the project are unknown, but basically it works by searching through the worlds telecommunications looking for certain keywords. Sort of like google to the world's phone calls. There was a brief inquiry in the EU into whether the US was using the program for industrial sabotage. I think the current wiretapping program might be eschelon because, as has been discussed at TPM, Sen. Roberts letter indicates that the briefing he had was beyond his technical capacity.

    The idea that the wiretapping scandal is about a more zoomed out monitoring based on keywords doesn't change the fact that Bush ignored clearly established law and precendent, but it might change how we talk about it. A tool such as eschelon is a possible legitimate tool in the fight against extremists, but only if governed by proper oversight, and transparancy. In any event, the unilateral use of the program by the administration would have circumvented public debate over the destruction of the 4th amendment. I don't know if people would be more or less frightened by the scandal if they knew about eschelon, but the government has been doing this type shit for a long, long time.

    The revolution will not be commodified

    by Ozymandias on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 05:05:12 AM PST

    •  Yes (none)
      Or something very similar. It's hard to imagine they would use the word "capture" if they weren't talking about a massive dragnet of intercepted data. I mean, how do you accidentally capture data if your only going after specific phone numbers, people, etc...
    •  Key phrases by Bush, Condi lead to Echelon (none)
      Both Bush and CondiCondi let slip something which I think is key in all of this. This is not about MONITORING known terrorists. This is about DETECTING possible terrorists.

      i.e. a broad, probably global, fishing expedition. That's why they can't wait for FISA approval for wiretaps. I don't think this is about traditional wiretaps.

      And it is only incidentally about terrorists.

      From the NYTimes article..."up to 500 people in the United States at any given time. The list changes as some names are added and others dropped, so the number monitored in this country may have reached into the thousands over the past three years, several officials said. Overseas, about 5,000 to 7,000 people suspected of terrorist ties are monitored at one time, according to those officials."

      Key phrase - IMHO - "at any given time".

      Bush in his press conference said:

      "We looked at the possible scenarios. And the people responsible for helping us protect and defend came forth with the current program, because it enables us to move faster and quicker, and that's important. We've got to be fast on our feet, quick to detect and prevent."

      "We use FISA still. You're referring to the FISA accord in your question. Of course we use FISAs."

      "But FISAs is for long-term monitoring. What is needed in order to protect the American people is the ability to move quickly to detect."
      -- --

      Now we know he could have gotten FISA approval for any known terrorists, and could have even begun the wiretaps and gotten permission later.

      So the "ability to move quickly" doesn't make sense if we are talking about normal wiretaps.

      But what if "at any given time" means seconds or microseconds or nanoseconds?

      And what if "terrorist" and "terrorism" have the same meaning as in the USA PATRIOT act - including "domestic terrorism":

      ...domestic terrorism means activities that (A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the U.S. or of any state, that (B) appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping, and (C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.
      -- -- -- --

      If so, this program could have been used to spy on MILLIONS, not thousands, of Americans, and the "ability to move quickly" phrase makes more sense.

      Bush: "This is an enemy which is quick and it's lethal. And sometimes we have to move very, very quickly. But if there is a need based upon evidence, we will take that evidence to a court in order to be able to monitor calls within the United States."

      So - we are talking about VERY, VERY QUICKLY, and about spying NOT based upon evidence - because if they had evidence they would take it to court.

      I conclude this program is about VERY VERY QUICK spying on large groups of people... like ALL OF US.

      AND - I think it is a PRIVATE company doing the spying.

      "the people responsible for HELPING us protect and defend came forth with the current program"

      This isn't a program generated by the NSA I don't think. This is some outside agency.. I'll betcha.

      Could this be the company doing the spying? From Texas of course. Note the date of the revelation - Oct. 2004. Could that be when the NYTimes got the story... and then sat on it for a year [until after the election].

      Want to know the hardware behind Echelon?
      15 October 2004

      You've probably heard about Echelon, the vast listening system run by the US, UK, Canada and Australia that scans the world's voice traffic looking for key words and phrases.

      ASIDE from using the system for industrial espionage and bypassing international and national laws to listen in on people, it is ALSO used to listen out for people like Osama bin Laden and assorted terrorists in the hope of preventing attacks.
      -- -- --

      The company is Texas Memory Systems - TMS. From the above link:
      "TMS has had 40 percent year on year growth for three years. It has no debt and is privately-owned. Hutsell said: "This year [2004] is the healthiest year ever." Half the company's revenue comes from the government sector. Fast, very fast, database and recorded signal access is the name of this game. The US government wants to know what you and I are talking about... more...

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