- The National Security Agency may be using the Echelon
network to eavesdrop on US politicians, says a shock report set for broadcast
- Everywhere in the world, everyday, peoples phone calls,
emails and faxes are monitored by Echelon, a secret government surveillance
network. Former spy Mike Frost cracks Echelon wide open, in an interview
with Steve Kroft on CBS' 60 MINUTES.
- American politicians have been eavesdropped on, says
Margaret Newsham, a woman who worked at Menwith Hill in England, the NSA's
largest spy station. She says she was shocked to hear the voice of Senator
Strom Thurmond (Rep. S.C.) on a surveillance headset.
- The exposing of such possible abuses of Echelon will
surely add to the growing firestorm in Europe over the system. Earlier
this week the European Parliament issued a report accusing the U.S. of
using Echelon for commercial spying to help American companies win lucrative
contracts over European competitors on two separate occasions. The U.S.
State Department denies such spying took place and will not even acknowledge
the existence of the top secret Echelon project.
- Rep. Porter Goss (Rep.- Fla), chairman of the House Intelligence
Committee, which has oversight of the NSA, does acknowledge that the U.S.
has the capability to pick up any phone call and that even his own conversations
could have been monitored. But Goss says there are methods to prevent the
abuse of that information. I cannot stop the dust in the ether but what
I can make sure, is that the capability is not abused, he tells Kroft.
- The NSA runs Echelon with Canada, Britain, Australia
and New Zealand as a series of listening posts around the world that eavesdrop
on terrorists, drug lords and hostile foreign governments. But to find
out what the bad guys are up to, all electronic communications, including
those of the good guys, must be captured and analyzed for key words by
super computers, a fact that makes Former spy Mike Frost uncomfortable.
- "My concern is no accountability and nothing, no
safety net in place for the innocent people who fall through the cracks,"
he tells Kroft.
- As an example of those innocent people, Frost cites a
woman whose name and telephone number went into the Echelon database as
a possible terrorist simply because she told a friend on the phone that
her son had bombed in a school play.
- "The computer spit that conversation out. The analystwas
not too sure what the conversation was referring to, so, erring on the
side of caution, he listed that lady," Frost recalls.
- Democracies usually have laws against spying on citizens,
but Frost says Echelon members could ask another member to spy for them
in an end run around those laws. Frost tells Kroft that his Canadian intelligence
boss spied on British government officials for Prime Minister Margaret
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