virus: [CTRL] Echelon--Rights Violation in the Information Age (fwd)

Zombie Cow (
Tue, 22 Jun 1999 01:28:21 +0300 (EEST)

Especially the end part of the article below provides some NEW and very interesting information to the American citizens.

Notice how these systems effect the global meme spreading.

If your meme is very effective, the govt. will likely catch it as well. Especially science-memes, which are effectively targetted benefit from this. Also, I think the information warfare-concept that I planted got very well through, seeing just how much lying NATO did. This system will result much faster in a global meme-culture than would be possible if nobody spied.

Those who control the memes, control the world. :-) Laissez Faire City Times

Laissez FaireCity Times
June 21, 1999 - Volume 3, Issue 25
Editor & Chief: Emile Zola

Echelon--Rights Violation in the Information Age

by Don Lobo Tiggre

The spooks call it "signals intelligence", or SIGINT, in spook-speak. Now that the cold war is over, covert agencies around the world are increasingly turning their SIGINT assets, most notably a vast global electronic spy system known as ECHELON, against civilian targets. It’s enough to give any decent rights-respecting individual nightmares.

What is Echelon? It’s a highly automated computer system for intercepting and sorting through electronic communications for key words, numbers, and phrases. This includes voice telephone calls, faxes, e-mail, and other broadcast and wire-borne signals—up to two million calls intercepted per hour, according to one source. The system uses
"dictionary" computers to search intercepted communications for
information specified by member SIGINT agencies and sends copies of flagged messages back to those agencies. This is accomplished by means of satellite tracking and surveillance ground stations, underwater cable monitoring pods, and internet taps, among other means.

The U.S. government has yet to admit that "Echelon" even exists, but the evidence has been around for years. The European Parliament's Science and Technology Options Assessment Panel (STOA) accepted a report last month, entitled Interception Capabilities 2000 (a copy of which can be found at, on the so-called UKUSA SIGINT alliance and the Echelon system. This is just the most official of a rash of exposés that have been published over the last decade, though the UKUSA alliance goes back to World War II and early elements of Echelon itself are said to be 20 or more years old.

The UKUSA alliance principals are reported to be the National Security Agency (NSA) in the U.S., the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Britain, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) in Canada, the Defense Signals Directorate (DSD) in Australia, and the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) in New Zealand.

The main reason the UKUSA alliance and the Echelon system are getting mainstream press appears to be economic insecurity on the part of members of the European Union. EU countries are concerned, Britain’s membership in the alliance notwithstanding, that the system is being used to conduct industrial espionage and otherwise thwart their economic interests—hence their commissioning of the Interception Capabilities 2000 report.

Are You a Target?

Jim Bronskill of The Ottawa Citizen, quotes from the the Interception Capabilities 2000 report that: "There is wide-ranging evidence indicating that major governments are routinely utilizing communications intelligence to provide commercial advantage to companies and trade." Bronskill goes on to say:

"The findings come as no surprise to Fred Stock, who says he was forced
out of CSE [Communications Security Establishment] in 1993 after objecting to the agency's new emphasis on economic intelligence and civilian targets. Mr. Stock, who worked in CSE's Communications Centre in Ottawa, recalls incoming message traffic on dealings with Mexico, France, Germany, Japan and South Korea. The intercepted information covered negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement, Chinese grain purchases, French arms sales and Canada's boundary dispute with France over the islands of St-Pierre-Miquelon off Newfoundland's south coast. ‘To me, we shouldn't have been doing that.’ Mr. Stock also maintains the agency routinely received intelligence about environmental protest actions mounted by Greenpeace vessels on the high seas. Other former CSE employees have told similar stories of economic and political spying."

Now that the word is out, many people are becoming concerned about the implications of Echelon for civil liberties. Particularly of concern to peaceful activist groups are comments like Mr. Stock’s about the monitoring of Greenpeace. (You may not care for Greenpeace, but your group may be next.) The Interception Capabilities 2000 report casts doubt on the ability of the system to actually monitor the majority of calls worldwide, as it was once feared to be able to do, but says that the system is being used to monitor traffic around the world relating to target governments, organizations, and individuals. Whom do you suppose qualifies for that honor? Who could stop any abuses of such power?

Be the answer what it may, the monitoring of calls is being done as a matter of course—it’s automated, in fact—without any court orders for wiretaps and scarcely any other legal constraints. Even the laws preventing agencies such as NSA from spying on American citizens can be circumvented by the international nature of the beast.

Wired magazine’s Niall McKay observes that:

"[John] Pike, of the Federation of American Scientists, believes the
intelligence agencies operate in a gray area of international law. For example, there is no law prohibiting the NSA from intercepting telecommunications and data traffic in the United Kingdom and no law prohibiting GCHQ from doing the same thing in the United States."

What this means is that all the agencies involved can get around restrictions against spying on their own people by having the other agencies in the alliance do it for them. And that’s assuming that they even care about such restrictions, given how little oversight outfits like the NSA receive.

However, apart from a few watchdog groups and privacy advocates, this is not the major concern of the EU officials who are upset about Echelon. McKay also quotes a British Labor Party member of parliament and a committee member of STOA, Glyn Ford, as saying:

"I have no objection to these systems monitoring serious criminals and
terrorists. But what is missing here is accountability, clear guidelines as to who they can listen to, and in what circumstances these laws apply."

Don’t Rely on the Fools in Congress

That may be the extent of the concerns of a bureaucrat, but the concerns of freedom-loving people everywhere should go far deeper. Even if NSA did have serious congressional oversight, I wouldn’t sleep any better at night; Congress is the same pack of bloated, self-serving fools (except for Ron Paul) that is leading the charge against human rights and toward socialism in the United States. And, of course, the fact that it’s all being done automatically by machines working in an international legal vacuum just underscores how little regard those operating the system have for the rights of those they monitor.

But wait, it gets worse. According to the Interception Capabilities 2000 report,

Lotus built in an NSA "help information" trapdoor to its Notes system, as the Swedish government discovered to its embarrassment in 1997. By then, the system was in daily use for confidential mail by Swedish MPs, 15,000 tax agency staff and 400,000 to 500,000 citizens. (section 43)

The report goes on to describe a feature called a "workfactor reduction field" that is built into Notes and incorporated into all email sent by non-US users of the system. The feature "broadcasts 24 of the 64 bits of the key used for each communication", and relies on a public key system that can only be read by the NSA.

This should come as no surprise to anyone who’s been following the National ID debacle, or any of the many other attacks against civil liberties by the U.S. government that show with increasing certainty the attitude among those in power toward the rest of the people: they are cattle, to be numbered, cataloged, labeled, monitored, and completely controlled, in all ways possible.

Is this an exaggerated fear? Surely the rule of law still applies in the United States and, based on the principle that people are innocent until proven guilty, the state would not so trample on the rights of the people?

A Battlefield Report

Maybe the fears are valid. Consider the following incident reported by an Internet activist who shall remain anonymous:

In late '96 I was the president of a small (and relatively new) flying school in the Pacific Northwest. Things being slow in that business during the winter, I had taken some time off to visit relatives in the Mid-west, and was keeping up with things at the office via email.

One day an FAA inspector left a phone message at the school, asking to speak to our head mechanic. Our maintenance officer promptly fired off an email to me when he heard this message, in which he said, roughly (I have unfortunately lost the original):

"We got a call from XXX XXXXXX today asking for our chief mechanic. You
know what this means—we can expect a raid from the feds any day now. Maybe we should make some airplanes disappear."

To put this message in perspective, its sender and I were friends who had been around aviation a long time, and had done a lot of flying together, both in the hanger and out. In our everyday lingo, a friendly FAA inspector was a "fed", a helpful visit by an FAA inspection team to ensure that our paperwork was all in order was typically refer to as a
"raid". The line about making "airplanes disappear" was a joking
reference to a defunct flying club that the two of us had once belonged to, where, when they had a problem getting all the paperwork on an aircraft straight, they had been known to remove all reference to the offending aircraft from their clubhouse, and even to fly it elsewhere in preparation for the FAA's friendly inspection.

My friend's ISP got its connectivity to the Internet via satellite connection, so to get from his computer to mine his message was beamed to a satellite, came to ground somewhere in California, then probably traveled via land lines to get back to my ISP which was located in Seattle. To check my mail, I was logging into my ISP from the Mid-west via telnet--so this message did a lot of traveling.

When I read my friend's message, I sent a reply saying something like:

"Do you really think we have any problems? It would probably be a good
idea to have an AI [authorized inspector] double-check the logbooks to make sure everything is in order. See if XXXX XXXXXXXX is available to do this."

When the predicted raid came, a couple of weeks later, it was rather unusual in character. Typically, an FAA inspection team for a small flying school would consist of two men—this time half a dozen showed up. And they seemed even more anal and confrontational than usual, going over the logbooks and the aircraft with a fine-toothed comb, demanding to inspect things that they normally didn't bother with, etc. When they finally had to admit, several grueling hours later, that they could find no major violations in our operation, the head of the inspection team walked up to our maintenance officer, pulled a piece of paper from his briefcase, and presented it angrily to my friend, saying: "Well, what is this all about then?"

It was a transcript of my email reply to my friend (in which I had quoted his original message in full). The names mentioned of mechanics and FAA inspectors had been replaced with XXXs, as in my reconstruction above. When my friend demanded to know where they had gotten the transcript, the FAA inspector grabbed it back, and refused to talk about it further.

At the time this seemed rather incredible, but since the revelations about the ECHELON system started being spread around the Internet, it has become easier to understand. The message had lots of keywords that are sure to be on someone’s hot list: "raid", "feds", etc.

Since then, I've got a lot of friends set up with PGP...

Now, it is entirely possible that this encounter with the Federal Aviation Administration and the intercepted e-mail had nothing to do with Echelon. It almost seems unlike the spooks at Fort Meade to share such small-time intel with the FAA, which isn’t into "serious" business like catching international terrorists. On the other hand, it seems entirely like the U.S. government of late to intercept the private communications of an individual who hadn’t even been accused of a crime and use such information to try to "catch" him in some kind of wrong-doing.

The Fouth Amendment

How long ago was it now that Congress weakened the Fourth Amendment?

It doesn’t matter—the Fourth Amendment never stopped J. Edgar Hoover from conducting massive, systematic rights violations of U.S. citizens through the FBI’s COINTELPRO program. (Poor old J. Edgar—the files he and Joe McCarthy collected on Americans in the name of investigating
"un-American" activities couldn’t hold a candle to what the NSA has in
its databanks today!)

What matters is that the United States’ metamorphosis into a police state is accelerating at an alarming rate. History may be non-linear and have some surprises in store for us in the near future, but we can’t count on any such stopping this accelerating trend before we cross the
"Death Horizon" (the point beyond which unalloyed despotism is
inevitable). Freedom-loving people simply cannot afford to sit by and let the "radicals" protest. People of integrity everywhere should take action of their own, NOW.

Before it’s too late.

"[A] lot of friends set up with PGP" indeed. Let us hope that PGP and
MailVault are all they are cracked up to be!

Don Lobo Tiggre is the author of Y2K: The Millennium Bug, a suspenseful thriller. Tiggre can be found at the Liberty Round Table.


from The Laissez Faire City Times, Vol 3, No 25, June 21, 1999

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