ECHELON : Spying On The Spies

by Niall McKay

Wired.com, Oct. 27, 1998


A Washington DC civil liberties organization will send a
detailed report on the National Security Agency's top-secret
spying network to members of Congress later this week.

The report, Echelon: America's Spy in the Sky, details the
known history and workings of the agency's global electronic
surveillance system. The system is reportedly able to
intercept, record, and translate any electronic
communication -- such as telephone, data, cellular, fax,
email, telex -- sent throughout the world.

"There is a real and present threat to the security of the
US from its enemies," said Patrick Poole, author of the
report and deputy director of the Free Congress Foundation.
"But there needs to be some democratic and constitutional
oversight of how and against who the [Echelon] system is
being used."

The Free Congress Foundation is hoping that Congress will
scrutinize Echelon as carefully as the European Parliament
has. The parliament commissioned several reports on Echelon
earlier this year and the issue has been hotly debated ever
since.

The NSA neither confirms nor denies Echelon's existence, but
investigative journalists and civil liberties activists have
turned up a number of details in recent years.

Glyn Ford, a British member of the European Parliament, said
he sees the necessity of Echelon but, like Poole, he worries
about the NSA's apparent lack of accountability.

"If we are going to leave the electronic key under the
doormat, then we want an assurance that the people who pick
up that key are not going to steal the family silver," said
Ford.




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