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

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  •  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.

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