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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Some Truth About Project ECHELON

Environmental Graffiti

Your Conversations Are Being Intercepted: The Truth About Project ECHELON

Menwith Hill Aerial Photo: Yorkshire CND

Man has climbed the highest mountains; he has penetrated the densest forests, crossed the greatest deserts and descended miles below to the murky depths of the ocean floor. He has conquered the skies, the land and the sea, but there is one battle he has not won – yet – the battle to conquer the mind.

[Until Now...]

In a sleepy suburb on the outskirts of Las Vegas, Margaret Newsham is attempting to lead a normal life away from the days where she worked at a giant listening station at RAF base Menwith Hill in Yorkshire, England. Despite this, she is unable to escape her past.

She sleeps with a loaded gun under her bed and is protected by her 120-pound German shepherd, who is trained to guard and attack. At any time, certain factions in the NSA and the CIA may attempt to silence her for her role in the most extensive espionage network on earth, capable of tapping into millions of phone calls an hour: project ECHELON.

Las Vegas Photo: Donar Reiskoffer

Mrs. Newsham was an employee for Lockheed Martin, the largest munitions suppliers to the US military and intelligence agencies, the NSA and CIA. Newsham says:

“It is almost impossible to tell the difference between NSA agents and civilians employed by Lockheed Martin, Ford and IBM. The borderlines are very vague. I had one of the highest security classifications which required the approval of the CIA, the NSA, the Navy and the Air Force. The approval included both a lie detector test, and an expanded personal history test in which my family and acquaintances were discretely checked by the security agency.”

For her part, Newsham was regretful for the part she played in spying on politicians and ordinary people:

“On the day at Menwith Hill when I realized in earnest how utterly wrong it was, I was sitting with one of the many 'translators'. He was an expert in languages like Russian, Chinese and Japanese. Suddenly he asked me if I wanted to listen in on a conversation taking place in the US at an office in the US Senate Building. Then I clearly heard a southern American dialect I thought I had heard before.”

“Who is that?” I asked the translator who told me that it was Republican senator Strom Thurmond. ‘Oh my gosh!’ I thought. We’re not only spying on other countries, but also on our own citizens. That’s when I realized in earnest that what we were doing had nothing to do with national security interests of the US.”

And US Senator Thurmond is just the tip of the iceberg. In 1983, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher asked that government ministers who had challenged her on policy issues be placed under electronic surveillance, although it wasn’t until 2000 that former Canadian secret service insider Mike Frost blew the whistle: “[Thatcher] had two ministers that she said ‘…weren’t onside,’” says Frost. “[She] wanted to find out, not what these ministers were saying, but what they were thinking.”

President Ronald Reagan with Senator Strom Thurmond
Photo: Darth Kalwejt

Spy chief and spied upon: PM Margaret Thatcher meets Senator Strom Thurmond
Photo: White House Photographic Office

Ever since investigative journalist Duncan Campbell first exposed ECHELON’s existence in 1988, various other ex-intelligence service employees have broken their silence on the network’s activities. Former NSA man Wayne Madsen claimed his former employers held hundreds of pages of information on Princess Diana. The surveillance network was also involved in international economic espionage and could well spy on NGO’s like Amnesty International and Greenpeace.

All these informants seem to agree on one thing. This was electronic spying for the 21st Century, capable of listening in on the most confidential contents of people’s lives.


At least ten ECHELON stations operate around the world, and the network has the capacity to monitor huge volumes of international fax, phone and Internet communications. It operates on behalf of five states signed up to the UK-USA Security Agreement: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the US.

No phone call you’ve made or text message you’ve sent is ultimately safe from their electronic eavesdropping. ECHELON is able to intercept and inspect the contents of communications via a global network of satellite stations and monitoring centres that capture radio, satellite, microwave, cellular and fibre optic traffic. It can automatically sift out flagged keywords and flagged addresses from masses of sent information.

Spying centre: Menwith Hill communications and intelligence station

Photo 1: E Asterion Photo2: Imran

Says Margaret Newsham: “Even then, ECHELON was very big and sophisticated. As early as 1979 we could track a specific person and zoom in on his phone conversation while he was communicating. Since our satellites could in 1984 film a postage stamp lying on the ground, it is almost impossible to imagine how all-encompassing the system must be today.”

"I just think of ECHELON as a great vacuum cleaner in the sky which sucks everything up," says ex-Canadian intelligence insider Mike Frost. "We just get to look at the goodies."

Beneath the surface: Undersea cable tapping pod laid by US submarine
underseacabltappingpodPhoto: >
Photo via: Cyber Rights

Southern Cross Subsea Cable Route
Image: J.P.Lon, Mysid

Mass surveillance is nothing new. After the interception of short-wave radio communications from great distances during WWII came new opportunities afforded by satellite technology. Now, of course, we live in an age of fibre optics, with over 99 percent of voice and data traffic transmitted via this medium. Yet while fibre optics appear harder to access, they’re far from failsafe. Long-distance cables can be tapped even at submarine levels and intercept equipment placed where fibre optic communications are switched between networks, meaning emails could easily be hijacked.

Ascension Island

In 1996 Nicky Hager, in his book Secret Power, claimed that a remote location in the South Atlantic, Ascension Island, was the secret location for a station that represented a missing piece in the ECHELON puzzle. Installing a station on this volcanic outcrop would have completed the international intelligence 1990s network – a lucky seventh station to help intercept communications in the southern hemisphere, alongside newly added stations in New Zealand and Australia.

Satellite tracking station: Pine Gap, near Alice Springs, Australia
Photo: Unknown Photographer

Unlocated spying station: Ascension Island
Photo: startedrabbit III

Several ground stations are key to ECHELON’s global communications network, among them Menwith Hill, Sugar Hill government communications station in West Virginia, Pine Gap in Australia, and New Zealand’s communications bureau GCSB Waihopai. Canada, Japan, the UK, Australia and various states in the US are also known sites for other stations. Then of course there is less known likelihood of a station on Ascension Island. Perhaps it’s worth a mission to that far-flung outpost to find out what’s going on there. You only live twice.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13

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Classified defense information


Echelon is the name for a global surveillance network consisting of ground stations, satellites, and other listening posts, which collectively intercept and analyze worldwide electronic communications. The signals intelligence agencies of five nationsthe National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) of the United Kingdom, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) of Canada, the Defense Signals Directorate (DSD) of Australia, and the Government Communications and Security Bureau (GCSB) of New Zealandall participate, with NSA as the controlling agency. Beginning in 1998, the governments of the European continent expressed increasing outrage over Echelon. However, their efforts to monitor their own citizens' communications suggest that this anger is not so much because Echelon exists at all, but because it is not under European control.

In 1943, the United States and United Kingdom signed the Brusa (British-U.S.A.) Agreement, which established a framework for the exchange of signals intelligence (SIGINT) between the two nations. Three years later, with the war over, the two signed the UKUSA (U.K.-U.S.A.) agreement of March 5, 1946, which brought together then SIGINT efforts of British, American, Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand intelligence. Each UKUSA nation had its own geographic spheres of influence, matched with its listening posts in certain parts of the globe, but the most powerful of the five nationsthe United Statesremained the unquestioned first among equals. In later years, a

number of other countries, including Denmark, Germany, Norway, and Turkey, signed "third-party" agreements of participation in the UKUSA network.

Over the years, there emerged a network of listening posts and satellites intercepting cables, telephone communications, radio and microwave signals, wireless communications, e-mail, faxes, and other forms of communication traffic. Almost nothing was immune from the system that came to be known as Echelon, whether a telegram sending birthday greetings to a child in Great Britain, or walkie-talkie communications between East German guards on the Berlin Wall. UKUSA participants were forbidden by law from intercepting communications that originate and terminate in their own countries, but the exchange of information between intelligence services effectively rendered these prohibitions moot. Perhaps NSA, for instance, could not monitor communications within the United States, but GCHQ could with impunity, and it was a simple matter to pass this information on to NSA.

The Echelon system seems to have emerged in something like its present form, though at a much less advanced technological stage, during the early 1970s. In the late 1960s, as NSA and GCHQ geared up for the use of satellites on a grand scale, U.S. and British leadership began to recognize the need for interception and processing sites. The first ground station in what came to be known as Echelon was established at Morwenstow, Cornwall, in England, using two large dish antennae to intercept communications across the Atlantic and Indian oceans. Soon NSA built another such station at Yakima, Washington, to intercept communications across the Pacific. Other sites followed, among them Men with Hill in England, Stanley Bay in Hong Kong (dismantled and moved to Australia prior to the Chinese takeover in 1997), and Sugar Grove in West Virginia.

The technology of Echelon. Echelon has its own security compartments: SECRET SPOKE instead of CONFIDENTIAL, UMBRA GAMMA instead of SECRET, and TOP SECRET UMBRA instead of TOP SECRET, a compartment that it trumps for level of secrecy and security classification. Echelon also long ago developed its own wide-area network (WAN), much like the public Internet today, only this network is completely inaccessible to public traffic.

The Echelon wide-area network includes an intelligence news network known as Newsdealer, a TV conference system called Giggle, and other components. E-mail and Web pages have an appearance very much like those of their counterparts in the ordinary world, but again, the similarity ends at the superficial resemblance. Through a system known as Intelink, analysts can browse pages on NSA's server and select specific geographic areas from which to obtain products ranging from video clips and satellite photos to intelligence and status reports, as well as databases.

Dictionaries. As the targets of Echelon eavesdropping have evolvedfrom cable traffic and land-line telecommunications to cell-phone traffic and e-mailsso have its tools. These include not only satellites, but also computers for filtering traffic to extract relevant data.

Once this was a painstaking process, with analysts surveying reams of sheets by hand, marking them for specific items of intelligence. Today, computers do most of this work, thanks to systems known as dictionariesa computer programmed to scan data for specific terms and keywords.

Echelon dictionary computers around the world scan the traffic under their purview, not only for their own keywords, but also for those of other agencies. In time, keyword searches may be replaced by the more efficient method of topic analysis, which employs principles similar to those of "fuzzy logic" in an effort to better replicate the selection process that the human itself undergoes, albeit at a much slower rate.

Outrage over Echelon. It has been estimated that for a million inputs (a single phone call being an example of an input), Echelon's dictionaries eliminate all but 6,500 as unimportant. Of these, only 1,000 meet the criteria for forwarding them to analysts, who typically select only 10 for closer study. From these 10, only one warrants the production of an intelligence report. These statistics tend to suggest that, though civil libertarians and others may be outraged over the existence of a system such as Echelon, NSA is really not interested in listening in on most people's phone conversations. It simply sifts through 99.9999 percent of the communication taking place in the world at any given time so as to winnow out the 0.0001 percent that warrants its attention.

Still, concerns about Echelon motivated Margaret "Peg" Newsham, a former computer systems analyst, to release the first reports about the system in 1988. During the early 1990s, New Zealand journalist Nicky Hager painstakingly researched the system to produce his 1996 book Secret Power, and in the late 1990s, respected U.S. intelligence writer Jeff Richelson studied Echelon. The European Union also published a report on Echelon in 2001, in which it called on European citizens to encrypt their emails as a means of protecting them from snooping by the intelligence services of the English-speaking countries. At the same time, the European Union was considering proposals to require Internet service providers and telecommunications companies to record all their customers' communications and archive them for at least a yeara measure that suggests the UKUSA countries do not have the monopoly on snooping in the liberal democratic world, much less in the world as a whole.



Bennett, Richard M. Espionage: An Encyclopedia of Spies and Secrets. London: Virgin Books, 2002.

Best, Richard A. Project Echelon: U.S. Electronic Surveillance Efforts. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service, 2000.

Hager, Nicky. Secret Power. Nelson, New Zealand: Craig Potton, 1996.

Richelson, Jeffrey T. The U.S. Intelligence Community, fourth edition. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1999.


Auer, Catherine. "EU Knocks Echelon, Wants Own Super Spy." Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 57, no. 5 (September/October 2001): 11.

Evers, Joris. "U.S. Spy Technology Failed to Signal Attack Planning." InfoWorld 23, no. 38 (September 17, 2001): 28.

Melloan, George. "Civil Liberties Give Way to the Search for Terrorists." Wall Street Journal. (October 23, 2001): A27.

Poole, Patrick. "'Echelon' Spells Trouble for Global Communications." Privacy Journal 25, no. 11 (September 1999): 34.


Campbell, Duncan. Inside Echelon. <http://www.heise.de/tp/english/inhalt/te/6929/1.html> (March 24, 2003).

Easton, Gary. British Broadcasting Corporation News. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/h1/world/americas/1577313.stm> (March 24, 2003).


COMINT (Communications Intelligence)
Information Warfare
NSA (United States National Security Agency) Satellites, Spy
Security Clearance Investigations
SIGINT (Signals Intelligence)
Special Relationship: Technology Sharing Between the Intelligence Agencies of the United States and United Kingdom
United Kingdom, Intelligence and Security

Keep on Searching

See also: Crystal Rectangle, Project Gleam, etc.

There is 30% new information and some of it covers the intriguing nature and history of the so-called Crystal Rectangle or Energy Device (ED). The device is of ET origin and was apparently retrieved from a crashed Eben craft. A similar device is also referred to in operation on the planet Serpo in the ANONYMOUS 'Serpo' logs released in early 2006.

Part of this new information comes from my own research through which I informed Capt. Collins of the fact that the 'ED' is documented as having been taken on board the doomed space-shuttle disaster - STS-107. Although this link has been established, it should not be seen as a 'cause' for the terrible disaster. It was taken on board to undertake some scientific experiments and power some equipment, but there is no question that the device was faulty in any way. Capt Collins agrees that in all probability the device mentioned in the DIA's SIR Nr: 1010/01/TI-3 (reproduced in EfD) was lost.

Hal Puthof ( leading physicist at SRI and ex-CIA contractor ) - allegedly 'Owl' in The Aviary - engaged in lengthy dialog with an anonymous source from LANL (Los Alamos National Laboratory) in order to research the disclosures from Anonymous regarding the device and ET propulsion systems regarding 'Eben Craft Number 2'. It describes an external e-plasma effect, electromagnetic effects and a reported 3Ghz 'signature' which "Eben1" used to control the craft. The resulting dialogue between anonymous LANL source - Mr C and Hal is an elaboration and analysis of the original report ( LANLZAlpha Team) and a discussion on H5 isotope 'fuel' used in their (Eben) electrical systems. Then the 'Crystal Rectangle' - the energy device (ED) referred to in the ANONYMOUS serpo releases comes in for analysis. And there is documented evidence that the ED went up on the doomed STS space-shuttle disaster.

1 comment:

"Bear" said...

Compare Carl Sagan's book CONTACT to the Zeta Reticuli Exchange Program reported on Serpo.org and elsewhere. It is said that Sagan signed off on the original report and based his book on that program. The similarities are incredible.