Upper Echelon - Lower Tempest

Echelon satellites can eavesdrop on your telephone calls, faxes and e-mail. Tempest looks through walls to see what is on your TV and PC.
BY JIM WILSON [From: Spy News]

The secret is out.

Two powerful intelligence gathering tools that the United States created to eavesdrop on Soviet leaders and to track KGB spies are now being used to monitor Americans. One system, known as Echelon, intercepts and analyzes telephone calls, faxes and e-mail sent to and from the United States. The other system, Tempest, can secretly read the displays on personal computers, cash registers and automatic teller machines, from as far as a half mile away. Although the inner workings of both systems remain classified, fueling exaggerated claims about their capabilities on Internet sites, credible detail has at last begun to emerge=.It comes chiefly from foreign governments that began investigating American surveillance activities after discovering that the Echelon system had been used to spy on their defense contractors. From those documents it is possible to obtain the first accurate view of the threats high-tech spying poses to our right to privacy. We think you will agree it also creat=es a real and present threat to our freedom.

No Such Agency

Echelon is perhaps the best known and least understood spy tool. Although it is run by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), and paid for almost entirely by American taxpayers, it is a multinational spying effort that involves the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and, to a lesser degree, Italy and Turkey. It wasn"t until 1957, five years after NSA was created, that the federal government would admit that it even existed.

Simply put, the agency's job is to eavesdrop and share its notes. On a day-to-day basis, this means intercepting radio signals, unscrambling encrypted messages, and distributing the resulting information to a host of espionage organizations. Its chief "customer" is the Central Intelligence Agency.

The intelligence gathering network that captures theelectronic signals that NSA needs to do its work ispopularly called Echelon. NSA does not use thisterm, and it is generally believed the word Echelonis part of a two-word code name for the space-basedpart of the system. Whatever the terminology,Echelon, like NSA itself, is the outgrowth of aWorld War II British-American intelligence sharing agreement. During the Cold War the United States and its allies began to eavesdrop on overseas phone calls in an effort to catch Soviet spies. This was done by intercepting the signals from the microwave relay stations that formed the backbone of long-distance telephone systems.

When the telecommunications satellite industry took off, NSA followed it into space by building ground-based and orbiting listening posts, hence the need for participation by Australia, New Zealand, Italy and Turkey. Based on what isknown about the location of Echelon bases and satellites, it is estimated that there is a 90 percent chance that NSA is listening when you pick up the phone to place or answer an overseas call. In theory, but obviously not in practice, Echelon's supercomputers are so fast, they can identify Saddam Hussein by the sound of his voice the moment he begins speaking on the phone.

The power to eavesdrop on specific individuals nearly proved to be NSA's undoing. A commission organized by President Gerald Ford discovered that Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon were unable to resist the temptation of using NSA to amass files on more than 7000 U.S. citizens and 1000 organizations, mostly those opposed to the Vietnam War. In 1975, Congress decided it had had enough, and created the Select Intelligence Committee to keep watch over NSA activities.

With the Cold War over, and fearful of being embarrassed by revelations about Echelon's espionage excesses, high-ranking officials in Australia and New Zealand began going public with details.

How Echelon Works

Slowly the pieces of the Echelon puzzle began to fall into place. The operation proved to be more extensive than anyone had thought. From foreign governments, Americans learned that NSA not only had listening posts in West Virginia, Colorado and the state of Washington, but that its headquarters in Fort George Meade, Md., was that state's largest employer. NSA won"t say how many people it currently employs, but hints that if it were an industrial company it would be on the Fortune 500 list.

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. 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 U.K. 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.


As leaks about Echelon began to spout like water around the little Dutch boy, the European Parliament started a high-profile investigation. It found the U.S. government had used Echelon to spy on two European companies, Airbus Industrie and Thomson-CSF. The U.S. State Department, a longtime NSA "customer," threw in the towel. Last year, it authorized Washington lawyer and former CIA director James Woolsey to answer reporters" questions about the charges. Woolsey acknowledged the episodes, explaining they were aimed at discouraging bribery. A week later, in an opinion page article in The Wall Street Journal, he at long la=st identified Echelon by name.

In the past, the acknowledgement of an intelligence asset has usually meant it had become obsolete. Security experts tell POPULAR MECHANICS that the unanticipated growth of Internet traffic may be more than Echelon can handle. And, NSA has in fact confirmed its computers were shut down for three days last year.

Some believe the recent candor is because NSA is shifting to a new, more tightly focused espionage strategy, using a ground-based technology code-named Tempest. The underlying theory is that electronic circuits create "compromising emanations." Not to be confused with interference, these are subtle but measurable changes in surrounding systems=97comparable to the dip in line voltage that occurs when the light in your refrigerator goes on as you open the door.

NSA is said to have perfected Tempest to the point at which it can reconstruct the images that appear on a video display or TV screen. We have posted the declassified NSA report on Tempest at www.popularmechanics.com//popmech/sci/0104STMIBP.html

Take care when you read it. You never know who might be looking over your shoulder, from a half mile away.

Mario Profaca, independent journalist, SPY NEWS eGroup list owner, editor & moderator, is a member of of the Committee of Concerned Journalists, an initiative administered through the offices of the Project for Excellence in Journalism in Washington, D.C.

From: Jerry E. Smith, author of "HAARP: The Ultimate Weapon of the Conspiracy"

Jerry E. Smith website

Haarp : The Ultimate Weapon of the Conspiracy

(The Mind-Control Conspiracy Series)

by Jerry E. Smith

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