Revisiting Echelon: The NSA’s Clandestine Data Mining Program

echelonA clandestine National Security Agency spy program code-named Echelon was likely one of the programs the Bush administration used to tap into the emails, telephone calls and facsimiles of thousands of average American citizens, according to half-a-dozen current and former intelligence officials from the NSA.

The existence of the program has been publicly known for years. Echelon was developed in the 1970s primarily as an American-British intelligence sharing system to monitor foreigners – specifically, during the Cold War, to catch Soviet spies. But sources said the spyware, operated by satellite, is the means by which the NSA eavesdropped on Americans when President Bush secretly authorized the agency to do so in 2002.

Another top-secret program code-named Tempest, also operated by satellite, is capable of reading computer monitors, cash registers and automatic teller machines from as far away as a half-mile and is being used to keep a close eye on an untold number of American citizens, the sources said, pointing to a little known declassified document that sheds light on the program.

Echelon has been shrouded in secrecy for years. A special report prepared by the European Parliament in the late 1990s disclosed explosive details about the covert program when it alleged that Echelon was being used to spy on two foreign defense contractors – the European companies Airbus Industrie and Thomson-CSF – as well as sifting through private emails, industrial files and cell phones of foreigners.

The program is part of a multinational spy effort that includes intelligence agencies in Canada, Britain, New Zealand and Australia, also known as the Echelon Alliance, which is responsible for monitoring different parts of the world.

The NSA has never publicly admitted that Echelon exists, but the program has been identified in declassified government documents. Republican and Democratic lawmakers have long criticized the program and have, in the past, engaged in fierce debate with the intelligence community over Echelon because of the ease with which it can spy on Americans without any oversight from the federal government.

Mike Frost, who spent 20 years as a spy for the CSE, the Canadian equivalent of the National Security Agency, told the news program 60 Minutes in February 2000 how Echelon routinely eavesdrops on many average people at any given moment and how, depending on what you say either in an email or over the telephone, you could end up on an NSA watch list.

“While I was at CSE, a classic example: A lady had been to a school play the night before, and her son was in the school play and she thought he did a – a lousy job. Next morning, she was talking on the telephone to her friend, and she said to her friend something like this, ‘Oh, Danny really bombed last night,’ just like that,” Frost said. “The computer spit that conversation out. The analyst that was looking at it was not too sure about what the conversation was referring to, so erring on the side of caution, he listed that lady and her phone number in the database as a possible terrorist.”

Ironically, during the first Bush administration, a woman named Margaret Newsham, who worked for Lockheed Martin and was stationed at the NSA’s Menwith Hill listening post in Yorkshire, England, told Congressional investigators that she had firsthand knowledge that the NSA was illegally spying on American citizens.

While a Congressional committee did look into Newsham’s allegations, it never published a report. However, a British investigative reporter named Duncan Campbell got hold of some committee documents and discovered that Newsham was telling the truth. One of the documents described a program called “Echelon” that would monitor and analyze “civilian communications into the 21st century.”

As of 2000, sources said, the NSA had Echelon listening posts located in: Menwith Hill, Britain; Morwenstow, Britain; Bad Aibling, Germany; Geraldton Station, Australia; Shoal Bay, Australia; Waihopai, New Zealand; Leitrim, Canada; Misawa, Japan; Yakima Firing Center, Seattle; Sugar Grove, Virginia.

A January 1, 2001, story in the magazine Popular Mechanics disclosed details of how Echelon works.

“The electronic signals that Echelon satellites and listening posts capture are separated into two streams, depending upon whether the communications are sent with or without encryption,” the magazine reported. “Scrambled signals are converted into their original language, and then, along with selected “clear” messages, are checked by a piece of software called Dictionary. There are actually several localized “dictionaries.” The UK version, for example, is packed with names and slang used by the Irish Republican Army. Messages with trigger words are dispatched to their respective agencies.”

Electronic signals are captured and analyzed through a series of supercomputers known as dictionaries, which are programmed to search through each communication for targeted addresses, words, phrases, and sometimes individual voices. The communication is then sent to the National Security Agency for review. Some of the more common sample key words that the NSA flags are: terrorism, plutonium, bomb, militia, gun, explosives, Iran, Iraq, sources said.

Because Echelon can easily spy on Americans without any oversight or detection, and because Echelon covers such a wide spectrum of communication, many current and former NSA officials said that it’s likely the agency used its satellites to target Americans, Mark Levin, a former chief of staff to Edwin Meese during the Reagan administration, wrote last month in a blog post on the National Review Online.

“Under the ECHELON program, the NSA and certain foreign intelligence agencies throw an extremely wide net over virtually all electronic communications world-wide. There are no warrants. No probable cause requirements. No FISA court. And information is intercepted that is communicated solely between US citizens within the US, which may not be the purpose of the program but, nonetheless, is a consequence of the program.”

Report Critical of NSA Program

Last week, an unclassified report prepared by inspectors general of five federal agencies said George W. Bush justified his warrantless wiretapping by relying on Justice Department attorney John Yoo’s theories of unlimited presidential wartime powers, and started the spying operation even before Yoo issued a formal opinion, a government investigation discovered.

Essentially, President Bush took it upon himself to ignore the clear requirement of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that all domestic intelligence-related electronic spying must have a warrant from a secret federal court, not just presidential approval. Illegal wiretapping is a felony under federal law.

The July 10 report didn’t identify any specific terrorist attack that was thwarted by what was known as the President’s Surveillance Program (PSP), although Bush has claimed publicly that his warrantless wiretapping “helped detect and prevent terrorist attacks on our own country.”

The inspectors general ‘s report also makes clear that the full PSP was more expansive than the Terrorist Surveillance Program, the warrantless wiretapping that was revealed by the New York Times in December 2005. The TSP involved intercepting calls between the United States and overseas if one party was suspected of links to al-Qaeda or to an al-Qaeda-affiliated group.

Though the undisclosed elements of the PSP remain highly classified, the report gave some hints to its scope by noting that the program originated from a post-9/11 White House request to NSA Director Michael Hayden to consider “what he might do with more authority.”

Hayden then “put together information on what was operationally useful and technologically feasible,” the report said. “The information formed the basis for the PSP.”

In other words, the PSP stretched the limits of what the NSA could accomplish with its extraordinary capabilities to collect and analyze electronic communications around the world. Various journalistic accounts have suggested that Bush’s spying program crossed the line from zeroing in on specific surveillance targets to “data-mining” a broad spectrum of electronic communications.

Suggesting that the government gathered information on many innocent people, the inspectors general stated that “the collection activities pursued under the PSP … involved unprecedented collection activities. We believe the retention and use by IC [intelligence community] organizations of information collected under the PSP … should be carefully monitored.”

Article Tools:  Print   Email

14 Responses for “Revisiting Echelon: The NSA’s Clandestine Data Mining Program”

  1. mrreynolds says:

    I have documents pertaining to allegations of illegal electronic surveillance, obstruction of justice & making false statements in writing to Congress in regards to the documented “existence” of a federal internal affairs investigation which the U.S. Marshals Service denied existed when questioned by Congress. Please review the supporting information within my website. Thank you.

  2. Rodney Chalfant says:

    NSA Agent #10 called my home phone two weeks ago to reassure me that their organization hasn’t wiretapped my phones as well as been following me for the past several months. He left us with his personal number to call back with any concerns that we may have in the future. There is no doubt in my mind that this type of illegal activity has been taking place for over a decade.

    Yes pre-911. President Clinton, Tony Blair, the German Counselor, the Italian Prime Minister, and the Swedish President came together in a meeting back in 1999 in which they agreed to bring in a new type of Government called the “Third Way”. The Third Way is a Socialistic Government which allows its people to believe that they are at the helm of making all the decisions when in reality this is far from the truth. The ones making all the decisions are the ones behind the scenes able to see all that is taking place within their own new government as well as on the outside of those who oppose this new style of deception. Power, money, and control are the components needed in order to run this government effectively. A program called the ‘Think tank” founded back in 1972 with the Nixon Administration is at the helms this new government being implemented into the worlds political realms. In 1999, President Clinton, Tony Blair, and the other world leaders earlier mentioned refueled this organization which is found in Japan to later find ways to implement this type of government (3rd Way) into the worlds main line governmental, commercial, and corporate parts of society to bring about change at all cost.

    What I’m about to say is nothing more than a educated theory to what took place on that dark day back in September 11, of 2001. I believe with much conviction through evidence in hidden locations for authorities to investigate that we where attacked once again by Japan like that of Pearl Harbor for the very same reasons (Greed, Power, and Control). This time Japan stayed behind the scene as they allowed other Countries to take the blame for their plan of execution upon destroying, murdering, and disgracing America once again through the 911 attacks. Japan is the master mind behind what took place during not only the 911 attacks, but the attack on our Federal building in Oklahoma City, OK, and the many agency bombings around the world in the past two decades. They are the “think tank” for they are the minds behind all that has happened to America for the past twenty plus years. The Cover-up goes even deeper. America and the UK is ultimately responsible for all the attacks that have taken place for the past four decades.

    There is an EVENT planned in the next 18 months, November 9 thru November 11 of 2011 that will change the face of our world as we know it today if someone doesn’t step up to the plate and make a difference before its to late. All the cards are exposed. The next move needs to come from concern citizens of the world who will say enough is enough. We must take a stand against the real evils of this world and expose the truth for what it is. America is the home of the Free not of the Socialistic 3rd Way which wants to take all that we have fought for over 200 years away from us overnight to bring a government in to control our every move. Once and for all we the people must stand in the gap and protect that which is fair and just for future generations to come. The greedy must fall. The Controlling spirits must stand down to men and women who believe in freedom, justice, and liberty for All.

    American Soldier,
    United States Army,
    Active Duty,
    Wounded Warrior

  3. Jim says:

    The public must read John St. Clair Akwei’s lawsuit against the NSA which describes the NSA’s covert brain fingerprinting of the American people through what Akwei described as the NSA’s Signals Intelligence EMF Scanning Network.

    This is the scariest lawsuit in American history, and one which is so damaging to the National Security Agency that the U.S. Courts have refused to hear it for the past two decades.

    Powerful evidence that the NSA has electronically branded all American citizens as though we were nothing more than heads of cattle!

  4. Rev. (SPC/1LT) Rodney Chalfant says:

    Look Up the Time is Near. 10 & 9, 8, & 7, 6, 5, 4, call upon your Savior while you may. 3 & 2 coming through the clouds as bright away the count down is geting lower everyday.

    “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.”
    Hebrews 9:27

    “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

    “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Or through Christ Jesus our Lord.” 6:23

    The End is Near. The New Earth & New Heaven is on the Horizon.
    Let me ask you two of the most important questions you will ever hear.

    1. If you died right now do you know where you will spend eternity?

    2. Suppose you died right now or fifty years from now & the Lord asked you at the Gates of Heaven “Why should I let you spend Eternity in Heaven? What would you say to the Lord?

    a. I was a good person & I gave to the poor.

    b. I believed in God. I went to Church on Sundays. I was a good person.

    c. I will answer that I admitted that I was a sinner. I believed in what your Son
    did for me on the Cross over 2000 years ago. I confess with my mouth to my
    family, friends, and the world that Jesus Christ is Lord!
    “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been
    faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and
    share your master’s happiness!” Mathew 25:21



    I admit that I am a sinner. Thank you for taking my place on the Cross for my debt. I accept Your Gift, Your Son Jesus Christ into my heart, soul, and mind as my personal Savior.

    Quoted: Holy Bible
    New International Version

    United States Army
    Active Duty
    Wounded Warrior
    Fort Sam Houston

  5. Tang says:

    What I would like to know simply is why we have medical investigation units to dig up dirt on our Wounded Warriors? These men and women signed up for our country and yet they go fight, get injured and come back home as suspects….. I am sorry but this is simply not fair to our soldiers!!!! To be honest I am not sorry I am pissed because our babies deserve the honor and respect that comes with the uniform. What does it take? Our babies going over there getting blown up and dying before we understand that it is not fair to investigate our children as criminals. Are you serious??????

  6. Rodney Chalfant says:

    Well said, Tang. Just as the Holy Scripture has been passed down from generation to generation to our children verbally for four thousand years before Christ. The Forefathers of our Country cut a deal with the England to look like we the colonialist pushed the Brits out of the New World to gain our Independence. The truth is in 1774 most of our Forefathers were sent over from England posing as Colonialist to take control of the this promise land from a distance. Most of our Leaders have been selected not elected since that time including most of our Presidents to preserve the power in which England has had upon this promise. It’s our responsibility as the people to see through this cloud of disception and expose the truth before the EV3NT. The government has been established in a certain fashion to keep the people away from really living out the American Dream of Independence in a Capitalistic Society. The Blue Print is all over the Internet in pieces like that of a puzzle. It only takes a little wisdom to put the puzzle together to realize that this secret government plans on beginning their strikes on the American people including other governments which stand for the freedoms my family has given their lives for in serving in all the Forces. This Secret Government has planned as I said earlier to Globalize the World in the name of Humanity. Anyone who is apposed to this type of New World Order will be arrested as a terriost, and put to death for opposing this New World Order. Plug in your SEARCH ENGINE: GOOGLE Global Governance 2025, and you will discover the plan in which this new world government is building its foundations. We the people must stand up for our freedoms in the Constitution and Bill of Rights by saying enough is enough. Our children and grandchildren deserve better. The greedy people in high level positions are making all the calls. This is the EV3NT that is about to take place right under our noses. You can make a difference. Don’t let anyone lie and tell you different.

    Your Vote Does Count. If we all go to the polls and put the Godly people into office verse the Godless than this Country and the World has a Chance. Pay close attention the time is near. Matthew 24 & 25. Holy Scripture

  7. Rodney Chalfant says:

    Google the following: NSA’s Signals Intelligence EMF Scanning Network.

    Then research.

    Fact or Fiction. You be the Judge . . .

  8. faith says:

    God correct program will prevail for Earth. With God all thigns are possible!

  9. anon says:

    You guys are nuts; the NSA is just another gov’t beaurocracy that can barely meet its goals of national security with its waning budget and bloated political infighting.

    They have neither the time nor the resources to track US citizens. You ever stop to think who they are? Let me help you: US Citizens. I’m sure they’re as attached to their privacy as the rest of us.

  10. Tanganika Chalfant says:

    anon, If we are so nuts then I challenge you to do one thing before you draw all your conclusions about our governments 22 established agencies merging as 1 back in 2002 right after 911.

    Type: backwards in your address bar illuminate as you will find this results in the web page directly going to the NSA official site which is the leading organization of these 22 established government agencies.

    At the forefront of this NSA government ran organization in which I agree with you that is a waste of our tax payers dollars is a well established group called the illuminate. You can read more about this group in the following paragraph:

    The Illuminati (plural of Latin illuminatus, “enlightened”) is a name given
    to several groups, both real (historical) and fictitious. Historically the name
    refers to the Bavarian Illuminati, an Enlightenment-era secret society
    founded on May 1, 1776. In more modern contexts the name refers to a
    purported conspiratorial organization which is alleged to mastermind
    events and control world affairs through governments and corporations to
    establish a New World Order. The movement was founded on May 1,
    1776, in Ingolstadt as the Order of the Illuminati, with an initial
    membership of five, by Jesuit-taught Adam Weishaupt” (Stauffer, 1918).

    This organization has several key players including the following:

    1. Holy Church Leader of 1.1 Billion (Known as the False Prophet)

    2. United Kingdom (Leader of UK = Rev. 20 1- Known as Anti-Christ)

    3. Masons (Known as the Temple Builders = Known in 2015 rebuild Holy Temple in Israel where Anti – Christ will rule for 3 1/2 before the Battle of Arm.)

    4. United States Government/Mafia (Mississippi Governor is a good illustration of exactly what is happening as Murders are being released to do the work of the devil for these secret organizations.

    5. World Corporations (Fuel the United Nations to declare World War III in 1919).

    6. United Nations – (Who will appoint a New World Order after U.K. & U.S economic system dollar has no value. A new world currency will be implemented through the UN by a New World Order coming out of the West in which the East (China, Russia, & Arab Nations won’t accept which leads 7 yrs later to World War III as the US is attacked from within through a number of means = N. B. , Riots, Crime, & World Government which will order people to apply the new currency which will be a Computer Chip to be placed inside each persons skin (On the hand or Forehead – Revelations 13: 1-18) to be able to buy or sale as each person is ordered to take the Mark of the Beast.

    Christian’s will deny to take this Mark as they understand exactly what the Holy Bible says if they accept it as their souls will join the Anti-Christ and False Prophet in 1919 for a 1000 years as they will be judged by God’s son Jesus Christ who comes out of the sky for one last battle in which 180,000,000 soldiers will die in the last battle before Christ establishes His Kingdom on Earth and in Heaven. Please Read Revelations in the Holy Bible to verify this information above. All references to above are below.

    John 3:16 paraphrase says that God so Loved the World that He gave His only Son that who so ever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

    Tim Tebow put under his eye’s 3:16 which represents John 3:16 in which he throw for 316 years last week in Denver’s win over the #1 Rated defense in the NFL. Tim throwing this exact amount of years including overtime was no accident as it was a warning to many to Repent as the days grow short. The Lord says, in scripture (Matthew 24) That no man will know the day or the hour of his return, but it doesn’t translate the month or year. Please heed to my husband’s word’s in which I’m writing this for him which he says that Christ will come according to the Math in Scripture before the End of this year. He even believes it will be in the month of July that Millions of Christians will disappear in a blink of an eye as stated in the Pauline latter written to the Thes. The Rapture will take place as the World will be confused as many loved ones will including most of the children of the World will immediately disappear. Be comforted and don’t panic as we will be caught up in the clouds to be with the Lord in Heaven. This will be the beginning of the 7 year period in which Satan will do his best to imitate Christ and His original ministry on Earth. He will go as far as having the Anti-Christ be executed in 2015 in the Holy City of Israel at the newly built Temple or what we American’s think at that time as the New White House. The Anti-Christ will rise from the dead and gain much more power from the people left on earth. He will at this time order the execution of all people’s who haven’t taken the Mark of the Beast which is the Mark of the New World Order in which this group is behind. This group even thinks that Satan will be forgiven for his past sins and be given a new beginning. Read John 10:10 as Satan will come to kill, steal, and destroy all of mankind verse save.

    Romans 6:23 Read it and Repent before its to late.

    “The Illuminati’s members took a vow of secrecy and pledged obedience to their superiors. Members were divided into three main classes, each with several degrees, and many Illuminati chapters drew membership from existing Masonic lodges” (Melanson, 2010).

    Stauffer, Vernon (1918). New England and the Bavarian Illuminati. NY:

    Columbia University Press. pp. 129–134. Retrieved 27 January 2011.

    Melanson, Terry (5 August 2005). “Illuminati Conspiracy Part One: A Precise

    Exegesis on the Available Evidence”. Conspiracy Archive. Archived from

    the original on 28 January 2010. Retrieved 28 January 2010.

  11. Quinton Miller says:

    Dear Maam,

    Can people which are part of this system of government which ultimately supports Lucifer the devil’s plan be saved from the Lake of Fire in which your husband and God’s Word speaks of in chapter 20 of Revelations?

    How do I become saved as a believer in God and what he has done for mankind?

    Is every person involved in these government agencies which have been recently put into power aware of what is really happening behind the scenes spiritually? or are they unaware of the secret government in which your husband mentioned called the illuminate?

  12. American Soldier says:

    They LISTEN to your conversations through your Cell Phones. They see all that you DO through your cable box’s, home security electronics, medical alert systems, etc. They WATCH every step you make from the outside of your house through their satellite, street camera’s, vehicles that follow in teams of mostly retiree’s working for a 2nd Pension or Criminals which were made either into DoD soldiers or went directly to work for these federal agencies. In 2007 when I came back into the DoD as a soldier the reality was made known to myself and others who joined as volunteers realized that 1/3 of all soldiers which we had been retraining with were brought into the Military after being sentenced for a Crime in which they had committed. The Military along with our court systems joined forces to put these men and women convicted criminals into U.S Army as well as all the other DoD uniforms to be trained with a deadly weapon to defend our Country.
    10 minutes ago · Like

    Now please help me with this concept a criminal having a choice of either serving several years for their crime in Prison or serving as a soldier (American Hero) as an American Soldier. This sounds so backwards, but this is exactly how our government is bringing new men and women into our Armed Forces. This is a disgrace to all those who served in the Uniform & our Country. We must put an end to what is happening with the injustices which is taking place within High Levels of this Countries Leadership. Justice must be served. Now it has been told. It is your job to write everyone of our law makers & Congressmen and women to make sure this doesn’t continue to be a pattern which is practiced within the realm of the DoD. I’m once again an eye witness to this & will testify in any court in the immoralities which I’ve witnessed within the DoD and our government agencies. This is just one truth of several which will be told in the future. If anything happens to I or my family or friends believe me CNN News will be a small comparison to where these truths will go.

  13. Quinton Miller says:

    The last century has been the known best when talking about energy the Age of Oil. Times are changing as different types of energy resources are being discovered even as this is being written which will be replacing Oil. This has caused a great deal of turmoil especially when speaking of world government as Oil has been the number one resource of the 20st Century as Gold & Steal was to the 19th Century. Natural Gas is what some economist would say to be the Gold and Oil of the 21st Century.

    There are hundreds of different types of energy sources which have been discovered mostly over this past decade which could take the place of Oil. The world government if they had it their way would keep Oil at the top of the list for another century. Power is to be lost the moment Oil declines from the top and becomes second place to another type of resource such as natural gas. No matter what the energy resource change is needed as the world’s isn’t yielding Oil fast enough to keep up with the demand. The solutions are many, but the massive solution to the world’s power resources is few as it takes a plan with trillions of dollars of investments in order to readjust the world’s power grid. So far only a few people have decided to turn away from Oil and invest in other types of resources which will provide the same types of energies needed for generations to come.

    The problem isn’t in the alternatives as there are many such as sun and wind alternatives that both yield a great deal of power that could bring Energy for Centuries as new inventions are made to capture or harness the powers in which only Oil used to yield. The problem once again isn’t in the alternatives, but in the original (Oil). Those who have power don’t want to give it up to the new comers so they will gamble upon investing their billions of dollars in the old systems knowing that it will only be a matter of time before enough Oil won’t be available for world usage that cities will shut down and turmoil will occur were millions of people will lose their lives. This doesn’t have to happen if these people will only invest in the new products which have come on the market that are proven not just in replacing Oil, but proven to be a cleaner energy source which protects against diseases.

    These same people in powerful positions in government, corporate world, etc. are the same people who are responsible for millions of women and children not having the proper water resources for consumption. The majority within the world population need to be educated and learn of these decisions in which these men and women in power are making for the majority and remove them from either their government position by voting them out or overthrowing their government or not supporting the corporations which fight against change. When people in government or the business world don’t want to conform to that which will save billions of lives in the long run than something must happen. We the people must voice our options and if needed impose our Wills upon society so change will go forward for the sake of billions of lives in our near future.
    The U.S government for example, just paid off a 15 Trillion dollar debt to other nations in which we owed through private investors. Presently, the U.S of America isn’t broke or in debt in fact the U.S. has over 3 Trillion in our Gold Reserves alone. Its the Wizard of Oz Oops! I mean those who control U.S government officials in the Corporate World who want their CONTROL/Oops! I mean money so they can continue to run our government, the people of the US and the world in exactly the ways in which they have planned for Centuries.
    I agree with Rodney and Tang as they say the truth about these government agencies being not selected by the people constitutionally, but appointed by these private corporations unconstitutionally to be the BODY GUARDS of these EVIL persons which stay out of the lime light in order to continue their reign upon the Earth and the earth’s resources. They decide which company is going to bankrupt that day and which person is going to be out of a job, home, and family. We as American’s must wake up to this reality. What is it going to take before we realize that we have been LIED to by these men not women in places in that are closer than you think. Yes, some even live next door to us. Pay close attention to ones resources and how fast this person changes as well as moves. Its not that hard in pointing out these people who really control the world’s resources from amongst us as they hide within the middle class not to be noticed.

  14. Joan of Ark says:

    The NSA… missed nine11, shut it down, it is useless.

Leave a Reply

Article Tools:  Print   Email
Copyright © 2008 The Public Record. All rights reserved. Branding services provided by Quantcast