ECHELON Today: The Evolution of an NSA Black Program
July 13, 2013
People are shocked by the scope of secret state spying on their private communications, especially in light of documentary evidence leaked to media outlets by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
While the public is rightly angered by the illegal, unconstitutional nature of NSA programs which seize and store data for retrospective harvesting by intelligence and law enforcement officials, including the content of phone calls, emails, geolocational information, bank records, credit card purchases, travel itineraries, even medical records–in secret, and with little in the way of effective oversight–the historical context of how, and why, this vast spying apparatus came to be is often given short shrift.
Revelations about NSA spying didn’t begin June 5, 2013 however, the day when The Guardian published a top secret FISA Court Order to Verizon, ordering the firm turn over the telephone records on millions of its customers “on an ongoing daily basis.”
Before PRISM there was ECHELON: the top secret surveillance program whose all-encompassing “dictionaries” (high-speed computers powered by complex algorithms) ingest and sort key words and text scooped-up by a global network of satellites, from undersea cables and land-based microwave towers.
Past as Prologue