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  • Paddies join global spy network

    Ierland bij Echelon The Phoenix, May 5, 2000, Vol. 18 No. 9, Pgs 20-21

    THE ABOLITION of Ireland’s neutral status has been accelerated by a secret agreement with the American and British governments – without even a nod in the direction of the Oireachtas or the Irish public – to join a state-of-the-art, global telecommunications spying apparatus. This is revealed in a special European comission report on the Anglo- American integrated, world-wide network of electronic initelligence collection platforms (120 satellites and ground stations) code-named ECHELON. It produces military, political and economic intelligence by intercepting telecommunications and clandestinely plundering computer files.

    In June, Ireland will become part of a secret alliance, joining Canada, Australia and New Zealand to help America’s NSA (National Security Agency) and Britain’s GCHQ (Government Communications HQ) communications spy syste ms to snatch computer secrets from all over the world.

    Spy bosses in Washington and London sucked Ireland into ECHELON with fascinating ingenuity. First approaches came from the FBI in 1993 to Garda HQ and the Department of Justice to join a mysterious body called ILETS (Inte rnational Law Enforcement Telecommunications Seminar). So closely involved has Ireland become with ILETS that in 1997 Dublin Castle was chosen as the venue for a meeting of ILETS and ECHELON experts. Information about ILE TS is not made available on “security” grounds. So secret are the arrangements about ILETS that the European Parliament report describes it as “a previously unknown international organisation.”

    Ostensibly, ILETS is about co-ordinating international phone tapping by police agencies to comabt organised crime and drugs smuggling. Most people are against crime – the way they are against sin – and claiming that ECHEL ON is about controlling crime is a clever ploy. But ECHELON is not a police surveillance system – it is run by the US and British intelligence services for military, political and economic reasons – as the mission stateme nts of both the NSA and GCHQ make clear.

    ECHELON uses the same basic technology as the Internet, enhanced by gigantic computers, to trawl through millions of phone calls, e-mail and faxes searching for key characteristics. It has been compared by experts in Brus sels with a series of giant vacumm cleaners in space which suck up communications and re-transmit them to fixed points where they are monitored by super-computers and sifted for specific intelligence.

    The ECHELON spies on friend and foe alike (Robert Maxwell and Tiny Rowland where among its targets). While the CIA claims it is used for monitoring the Russian Mafia or mad Muslim Osama Bin Laden and his embassy-bombing c hums in Afghanistan the reality is that ECHELON is about keeping America great (and Britain hanging on its coat-tails) through stealing information from economic rivals by hidden electronic and non-traceable means.

    ECHELON is the 21st century grandchild of a wartime radio monitoring network spawned by the secret 1941 agreement – the UK-USA Communications Intelligence Pact. During the Cold War the UK-USA Pact incorporated Canada, Aus tralia and New Zealand using old technology to monitor multi- channel telegraph systems and short wave radio. But in a series of technological leaps, this scattered network used for spying on the Soviets and their allies metamorphosed into ECHELON.

    Two things have created this super-spy web – the development of ultra-fast, huge-capacity computer systems and the now common use of microwave radio links to carry burgeoning telecommunications traffic throughout the world. It was once a “passive” system which merely monitored target traffic. But ECHELON now has an “active” component which allows NSA or GCHQ analysts to covertly “hack” into information on the hard disks of computers linked into any telecommunications system, including the Internet.