With all of the commotion stirred up lately by whistle blower Edward Snowden, this is a good time to review documents released by the US government concerning programs used to spy on the public. While Mr.Snowden did reveal the PRISM program, the US has had programs and facilities for decades that are used to collect private information. As times passes, the programs grow and become ever more invasive. Because of the lack of repercussions, the government is even more emboldened to peer into our secrets and store them for future use against us.
The first document I looked at is entitled "Legal Standards for the Intelligence Community in Conducting Electronic Surveillance." This is a report submitted to Congress in February, 2000. The opening paragraph states " Electronic surveillance is conducted by elements of the Intelligence Community for foreign intelligence and foreign counterintelligence purposes. Because of its potential intrusiveness and the implications for the privacy of United States persons, such surveillance is subject to strict regulation by statute, and Executive Order, and close scrutiny. The applicable legal standards for the collection, retention, or dissemination of information concerning U.S. persons reflect a careful balancing between the needs of the government for such intelligence and the protection of the rights of U.S. persons, consistent with the reasonableness standard of the Fourth Amendment, as determined by factual circumstance." Well now, that makes me feel better. The reader should keep in mind that the fourth amendment protects us from UNREASONABLE searches. The surveillance being strictly regulated by statute, Executive Order, and close scrutiny makes me feel great too. The document goes on to discuss the statutes and regulations governing information collected , and that Intelligence Agencies may request assistance from foreign governments in the collection of that information.
ESCHELON is a project and system that originates in 1971. This system is operated by five nations: Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and New Zealand. These countries work together in accordance with an agreement between the US and the UK in 1947. ESCHELON sifts through the majority of information passed through the internet and phone lines. Once information is gathered, it is sent to processing centers in Denver, Colorado(US), Menwith Hill, England, Australia, and Germany. There is a computer system that information is filtered through called DICTIONARY that searches for keywords. While the United States has refused to comment on the program, two reports have been released which were commissioned by the European Parliament about it.
The first of these reports, entitled "An Appraisal of Technologies of Political Control," stated that ESCHELON is designed for primarily non-military targets, and gleans information from virtually every country. It is divided into seven sections. Here are direct quotes from the report about the section topics.
(i) The role and function of the technology of political control;
(ii) Recent trends and innovations (including the implications of globalization, militarization of police equipment, convergence of control systems deployed worldwide and the implications of increasing technology and decision drift);
(iii) Developments in surveillance technology (including the emergence of new forms of local, national and international communications interceptions networks and the creation of human recognition and tracking devices);
(iv) Innovations in crowd control weapons (including the evolution of a 2nd. generation of so called 'less-lethal weapons' from nuclear labs in the USA).
(v) The emergence of prisoner control as a privatized industry, whilst state prisons face increasing pressure to substitute technology for staff in cost cutting exercises and the social and political implications of replacing policies of rehabilitation with strategies of human warehousing.
(v) The use of science and technology to devise new efficient mark-free interrogation and torture technologies and their proliferation from the US & Europe.
(vi) The implications of vertical and horizontal proliferation of this technology and the need for an adequate political response by the EU, to ensure it neither threatens civil liberties in Europe, nor reaches the hands of tyrants.
The second report, "Interception Capabilities 2000" reveals that Comint organizations have intercepted communication internationally for more than 80 years. Comint is also known as ESCHELON. The program intercepts satellite communications, long distance communications from space, undersea communications using submarines, and the internet. Over 120 satellites are used to collect intelligence. It has been widely known that technology companies are required to install "back doors" for the intelligence community. The report affirms this, saying "This report identifies a previously unknown international organization - "ILETS" - which has, without parliamentary or public discussion or awareness, put in place contentious plans to require manufacturers and operators of new communications systems to build in monitoring capacity for use by national security or law enforcement organizations (section 5).
The implications of this information should frighten every reader to their core. Before Edward Snowden revealed PRISM, there were already massive programs in place violating humanity. We are being invaded, spied upon, categorized, herded, tortured, and imprisoned. All the while the average citizen is kept occupied by sensational stories and distractions of the media. I will continue to write about these topics. It is up to you, the reader to spread the information. Until next time...