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View Diary: NSA Surveillance: How It Puts You in Danger (151 comments)

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  •  Echelon (none)
    In 1995, Echelon was perhaps the most powerful intelligence gathering tool in the world. It picked up certain words and phrases, such as "bomb" or "terror" and recorded the conversations, whether from cell phones, landlines, or computer e-mails.  We all knew this;  we even made jokes on the telephone (Say the word "bomb" for Clinton, OK?).  This is not new.

    Where was your outrage in 1995?  Or is your outrage "selective outrage"?

    •  yeah right (none)
      Echelon complied with FISA.  As George Tenet said in 2000:

      I'm here today to discuss specific issues about and allegations regarding Signals Intelligence activities and the so-called Echelon Program of the National Security Agency...

      There is a rigorous regime of checks and balances which we, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the FBI scrupulously adhere to whenever conversations of U.S. persons are involved, whether directly or indirectly. We do not collect against U.S. persons unless they are agents of a foreign power as that term is defined in the law. We do not target their conversations for collection in the United States unless a FISA warrant has been obtained from the FISA court by the Justice Department.

      The outrage over Bush's program is that it is not monitored by FISA.  Clinton was not above the law and neither is Bush.    

      Just because you're self-righteous doesn't mean you're not a hypocrite.

      by AMcG826 on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 11:45:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  From the CBS transcript (none)
        KROFT: (Voiceover) But even members of Congress have trouble getting information about Echelon. Last year, the NSA refused to provide internal memoranda on the program to Porter Goss, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
        What exactly was it that you requested?
        Representative PORTER GOSS (Chairman, House Intelligence Committee): Well, I can't get too specific about it, but there was some information about procedures in how the NSA people would employ some safeguards, and I wanted to see all the correspondence on that to make sure that those safeguards were being completely honored. At that point, one of the counsels of the NSA said, 'Well, we don't think we need to share this information with the Oversight Committee.' And we said, 'Well, we're sorry about that. We do have the oversight, and you will share the information with us,' and they did.
        •  Like briefing congress? (none)
          KROFT: (Voiceover) But only after Goss threatened to cut the NSA's budget. He still believes, though, that the NSA does not eavesdrop on innocent American citizens.
          If the NSA has capabilities to screen enormous numbers of telephone calls, faxes, e-mails, whatnot, how do you filter out the American conversations, and how do you--how can you be sure that no one is listening to those conversations?
          Rep. GOSS: We do have methods for that, and I am relatively sure that those procedures are working very well.
          (Footage of Madsen; epic.org Web site; Amnesty International gathering; Greenpeace members in a boat; Princess Diana)
          KROFT: (Voiceover) Others aren't so sure. Wayne Madsen works with a group called the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which is suing the NSA to get a copy of the documents that were finally turned over to Congressman Goss. Madsen, a former naval officer who used to work for the NSA, is concerned about reports that Echelon has listened in on groups like Amnesty International and Greenpeace. Last year, the NSA was forced to acknowledge that it had more than 1,000 pages of information on the late Princess Diana.
          •  So are you saying... (none)
            that you want to maintain warrentless spying or stop it?

            -- What really makes America, America?

            by mike101 on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 12:02:04 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Disinformation Linking Echelon To Clinton (none)
            Echeleon was around long before. When a conservative is relying on Wayne Madsen to make their case you know they are really reaching. A blogger at the Detroit News has recently dissected the latest right wing bilge you are spreading.

            The second misconception comes from Norm in Ecorse. Norm countered Bush critics, as all good GOP'ers do, with a Clinton story. He said, "At the time Rep. Bob Barr was raising cane about the secret Clinton program code named `Echelon'" If this practice wasn't so misguided it would be comical. Echelon was not a secret Clinton program. Echelon was a secret US program used by Clinton, the presidents that came before Clinton, and the presidents that came after Clinton. This is important to understand because if your argument falsely stresses the fact that Echelon was a secret Clinton program the rest of your arguments will rightfully be suspect.

            I have access to Lexis-Nexis and read the complete 60 Minutes interview. That transcript, coupled with a few other resources, suggests some interesting things. Echelon can be traced back to WWII. The US used technology that was the forerunner to Echelon to intercepted thousands of Japanese and German communications. The US then used electronic eavesdropping to combat the USSR. Next came US spying on Americans such as Martin Luther King Jr., Jane Fonda, and Malcolm X. My short list of US spying ends with UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher using US intel against other UK political adversaries. All of these instances, it shouldn't have to be pointed out, came before President Clinton held the Oval Office.

            Back to that 60 Minutes transcript...Nowhere in the interview did Democrats offer their support of electronic spying. So when Norm suggests, "Blah, Blah, Blah. Seems like the Demos are prone to forget history. Clinton had his NSA people intercept millions of calls, e-mails, etc. as part of a secret program in the 90's. Now that Bush has done the same thing to protect us, its a big deal. Blah, Blah, Blah," he is wrong. Democrats and Republicans both expressed concern about Echelon during the 60 Minutes interview. Porter Goss said:

                Well, I can't get too specific about it, but there was some information about procedures in how the NSA people would employ some safeguards, and I wanted to see all the correspondence on that to make sure that those safeguards were being completely honored.

            EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) also expressed concerns about Echelon. Peruse EPIC's list of advisory board members. It would be safe to say that this group might lean just a tad left. 60 Minutes said:

                [EPIC worker Wayne] Madsen, a former naval officer who used to work for the NSA, is concerned about reports that Echelon has listened in on groups like Amnesty International and Greenpeace. Last year, the NSA was forced to acknowledge that it had more than 1,000 pages of information on the late Princess Diana.

            Princess Diana, Greenpeace, and Amnesty International were not interviewed for this piece, but it would be a good bet to assume that each group/individual would object to this spying activity. So, yea, Norm was wrong when he suggested Democrats didn't think Echelon was a big deal back in 2000.

            What we are seeing today is just the opposite of what Norm suggests. Republicans, including Porter Goss, used to have reservations about US spying programs such as Echelon. Today those same Republicans will tell America that a new double-secret US spy programs will be administered by the US in a fair and equitable way that will not infringe upon anyone's rights - rights that so many Americans have died to protect. Somehow, based on the Bush administration's track record, these reassurances don't feel so reassuring.

            Let's end this already too-lengthy post with a quick and easy review. The US has spied on its own citizens before, during, and after the Clinton administration. Americans have expressed concerns about US domestic spying before, during, and after the Clinton administration. Echelon was not a secret Clinton program. And trying to bring up Clinton into every debate about Bush's performance weakens, not strengthens, the GOP argument. If Clinton is evil, but Bush's actions are justified because Clinton did the same thing, then isn't Bush just as evil? It can't get any clearer than that.

    •  Previous presidents "abused" ECHELON? (none)
      Patrick S. Poole's study of Echelon chronicles "political" uses of Echelon by Reagan and cites an Insight Magazine report that commercial conversations obtained by Clinton Administrationspying at the 1993 Asian/Pacific Economic Conference "were passed on to big Democrat corporate donors to use against their competitors."

      The web-page is worth a look just for the links.

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