15 March, 2008

Echelon SIGINT - angloamerican spy network

During WW2, a secret defence (military) pact was established between the core countries (the White countries) of the British Empire/Commonwealth, and the US. It still operates; it's called the UKUSA Pact. This Pact is a secret alliance that the public is not privy to!
That Pact operates Echelon as its Signals Intelligence network. Once again, it's unknown to the public. It was recently exposed in the European Parliament because, after the Cold War, Echelon had been used to give Anglo-American companies commerical advantage: http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,37411,00.html
Search for "Echelon" in Google: http://www.google.com/search?q=echelon
Also look for "UKUSA", "UKUSA Pact", "UKUSA Community" etc.:

U.S. Eyes Europe's Echelon Probe

Steve Kettmann 07.06.00 | 3:00 AM

American critics of the National Security Agency's so-called Echelon tech surveillance system are welcoming mounting European efforts to investigate the system and allegations that it has been used for industrial espionage.

That effort took a big step forward on Wednesday when the European Parliament appointed a 36-member committee that will spend a year investigating Echelon and plans to hold public hearings this fall. Critics hope the hearings won't be as limited in scope as were the U.S. House Intelligence Committee hearings earlier this year.

"It's a major step forward," said Barry Steinhardt, associate director of the New York office of the American Civil Liberties Union, which maintains the echelonwatch.org website. "We've gone past the point where Echelon is X Files material and can be dismissed as paranoia.

"It's been the intercession of the European Parliament that has forced the issue out into the open and forced the United States government to admit that Echelon exists and to begin to publicly account for their actions."

U.S. Representative Bob Barr (R-Georgia), an outspoken critic of U.S. intelligence, welcomed the European effort, and said he hopes it will help raise awareness about how ordinary citizens' privacy is also at stake.

"My goal in examining our intelligence surveillance activities continues to be protecting the privacy of American citizens," Barr said in a statement released through a spokesman. "While European nations are primarily concerned with protecting their commercial interests, I welcome any inquiry that helps further the debate about how intelligence activities should be conducted.

The European Parliament action came one day after French prosecutor Jean-Pierre Dintilhac ordered the French counter-intelligence agency, DST, to investigate whether the purported global surveillance system violated the rights of French citizens.

Two weeks ago, a Dutch parliamentary committee announced it planned to hold hearings on Echelon as well. The system can allegedly intercept email, faxes, and phone conversations.

As the ACLU site says:

"Echelon is perhaps the most powerful intelligence gathering organization in the world. Several credible reports suggest that this global electronic communications surveillance system presents an extreme threat to the privacy of people all over the world. According to these reports, Echelon attempts to capture staggering volumes of satellite, microwave, cellular, and fiber-optic traffic, including communications to and from North America. This vast quantity of voice and data communications are then processed through sophisticated filtering technologies. This massive surveillance system apparently operates with little oversight."

The Echelon system, discussed for years in shadowy, speculative terms, became a major topic in Europe when British analyst Duncan Campbell prepared a detailed report on Echelon for the European Parliament and delivered it last year.

Among the more controversial aspects of his findings was the contention that the U.S. government -- along with the U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand -- used its worldwide array of satellite-dish listening devices to conduct industrial espionage.

Carlos Coelho, the Portuguese Christian Democrat likely to be selected to head the European Parliament committee on Thursday, said that part of the work of investigating Echelon will be to quash some of the wider speculation on the system. He also said the committee would endeavor to glean more information about exactly what spying takes place and how it might be subjected to checks and balances.

"Some things were published that were not true, that are not technically possible," Coelho said in a phone interview. "But there are others we have to look into and find out if this can happen and in what way. We have to protect our citizens and our enterprises. That's our duty."

Coelho was at pains to assure Americans that the committee's expected year-long investigation springs from a groundswell of public concern in Europe. Since Campbell delivered his report on Echelon to the European Parliament last fall, he said, the topic of alleged U.S. spying on European businesses has been thrashed around in public at length.

"There was a huge debate in the countries of the European Union," he said. "Everybody is very worried that this system can work without being under the law, without being under judicial mandates, and it can be a kind of attack on privacy. They are worried that there are European enterprises in the situation of having unfair chances because of this system.

"For us, America is a friend. We know how important the United States is for security. If you want the ideological point of view, we are not communists. We want the market economy and the free society like the Americans want. This is not a fight about that. What we have on our hands is a problem about how far can the systems of interception of telecommunications go."

Others might find such assurances less than persuasive, given the general belief that every government spies on every other government -- friend, foe, or otherwise.

The German webzine Telepolis reported that the Dutch minister of Justice, Benk Korthals, recently said that even without definitive proof of spying, steps should be taken against it. He added that Germany and France "are not innocent little children either," a suggestion many interpreted as an indirect accusation that those countries also use tech listening devices to intercept the communications of other countries' citizens.

Telepolis reported in March that former Central Intelligence Agency Director James Woolsey had confirmed that at least some of the European concerns were valid and that the United States does intercept communications in Europe to keep abreast of potential economic bribery.

"We have spied on that in the past," Woolsey said. "I hope ... that the United States government continues to spy on bribery."

Telepolis reported that the United States steals economic secrets "with espionage, with communications (intelligence), with reconnaissance satellites," and there was now "some increased emphasis" on economic intelligence.

Some U.S. experts on tech surveillance are skeptical that the European effort will amount to much.

"I don't believe for a moment the Parliament will do anything more than cloak this," said John Young, a New York privacy activist who operates an online database that has publicized the Echelon system.

"Watch for hearings that don't go anywhere, just like the hearings in the United States earlier this year. It's interesting that the U.S. still won't own up, except Woolsey or someone like that," Young said. "So far as I know, no official of the U.S. government has admitted this damn thing exists. That's interesting to me.

"It doesn't seem to be grabbing Americans very much, which I guess makes sense since they think it doesn't apply to them. But the sleeper issue is what other forms of Echelon are there for surveying Americans. I think the intelligence agencies are looking for new victims and it looks like they're coming after their own citizens."

But some said the controversy kicked up by the European Parliament investigations -- and parallel efforts in France and elsewhere -- could at least have an inhibiting effect on aggressive data-collection.

"It can only help to have the European Parliament use its weight and its investigatory power to further call the Echelon partners to account," said Steinhard, the ACLU official. "If nothing else, it will mean that the NSA and its partners will be more careful about their practices."


The UKUSA Community

Canadian SIGINT activities take place, and can only be understood, in the wider context of the UKUSA SIGINT community, a secret SIGINT alliance that traces its origins to the Second World War.[1] The post-war continuation of this intelligence alliance was formalized in 1948 with the completion of the still-secret UKUSA SIGINT co-operation and information-sharing agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

The member agencies of the UKUSA community include the United States' National Security Agency (NSA), the United Kingdom's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Canada's Communications Security Establishment (CSE), Australia's Defence Signals Directorate (DSD), and New Zealand's Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB). A number of other countries' SIGINT agencies also participate in the UKUSA community, including those of Germany, Japan, Norway, South Korea, and Turkey. These countries are sometimes described as "Third Party" members of the agreement.[2] In addition, some countries, such as China, host UKUSA SIGINT stations or share SIGINT on a more limited basis.

Canada's membership in the SIGINT community began during the Second World War. Recognizing the intelligence benefits that Canada derived from that membership, the Canadian government decided early in 1946 that Canada should remain a member of the post-war intelligence community. On 28 March 1946, the Canadian Chiefs of Staff Committee "approved the continuation of Service intercept stations in peacetime"[3] and, on 13 April 1946, cabinet ministers Louis St. Laurent, C.D. Howe, and Douglas Abbott authorized the establishment of CBNRC.[4]

From the outset, it was understood that Canada's SIGINT activities would not operate independently, but would be integrated with and contribute to the activities of the wider community - "to ensure a fair contribution to the general pool of wireless intelligence set up between Canada and the other Empire countries and the United States" and "to cover the gaps in coverage by the Empire and US positions".[5]

In 1946-1947, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (represented by Australia) reportedly created the Commonwealth SIGINT Organization, under the leadership of GCHQ.[6] Shortly thereafter, probably in 1947, the United Kingdom and the United States signed the UKUSA agreement. Canada, Australia, and New Zealand probably joined in 1948. [7] These developments marked the formal creation of the post-war UKUSA SIGINT community.

According to one line of speculation, Canada (and Australia and New Zealand) became part of the UKUSA community through its direct SIGINT relationships with the United Kingdom and, later, the United States, rather than through membership in the actual UKUSA agreement (which, according to one source, "actually consists of a series of agreements, exchanges of letters and memoranda of common understandings").[8]

A number of subsidiary agreements govern the nuts and bolts of the community's activities in areas such as the division of effort for SIGINT collection, security standards, and so on. The division of effort is reportedly specified in a protocol called the SIGINT Combined Operating List (SCOL).[9] According to Jeffrey Richelson and Desmond Ball, "the current division of responsibility allocates coverage of the eastern Indian Ocean and parts of South East Asia and the South-west Pacific to the DSD; Africa and the Soviet Union east of the Urals to the GCHQ; the northern USSR and parts of Europe to the Canadian CSE; a small portion of the South-west Pacific to the New Zealand GCSB; and all the remaining areas of interest to the NSA and its component service agencies." As Richelson and Ball have noted, "the geographical division of the world is, in practice, of course not as clear cut as this."[10] NSA dominates the job of SIGINT collection on the former Soviet Union, for example. Nonetheless, CSE's contribution to the collection and analysis of SIGINT concerning the former Soviet Union remains important.

Security standards and procedures reportedly are specified "by a series of 'International Regulations on SIGINT,' generally referred to as IRSIGs, and a series of 'COMINT Security Regulations,' which together prescribe security procedures, including methods of personnel indoctrination, to which the participating governments have agreed. Both the IRSIGs and the COMINT Security Regulations are quite voluminous; they are regularly updated and are usually kept in large loose-leaf binders."[11]

Among these security procedures are standardized codewords for the designation and protection of SIGINT products. "UMBRA is the successor to DINAR and TRINE as the compartment with the most sensitive SI [Special Intelligence, i.e., signals intelligence] material. Less sensitive is the SPOKE compartment, which might contain information from intercepts of PLO communications. Least sensitive is the information in the MORAY compartment." There are also SIGINT subcategories with their own codeword designators. The general category for SIGINT concerning the Soviet Union, for example, was GAMMA. There are also subcategories within the subcategories: "Thus, a document might bear the classification TOP SECRET UMBRA GAMMA GYRO."[12] Special security clearances are required to gain access to this material.

In Canada, general access to SIGINT information or material requires a Top Secret-Special Access clearance. CSE is responsible for "approving the allocation of positions requiring special access (SA) to signals intelligence information and material, and maintaining the inventory of personnel cleared for access to such information and material".[13]

CANUSA Agreement

In addition to the general UKUSA community SIGINT agreements, Canada has bilateral SIGINT agreements with the United Kingdom and the United States. Negotiations for a direct Canada-United States SIGINT agreement (the CANUSA or CANUS agreement) took place during 1948. According to a US Air Force memorandum that describes a draft version of the agreement, the CANUSA agreement is modelled at least in part on the UK-US BRUSA agreement and governs Canada-US co-operation on Communications Intelligence, which, for the agreement's purposes, is "understood to comprise all processes involved in the collection, production and dissemination of information derived from the communications of countries other than the U.S.A., the British Empire, and the British Commonwealth of Nations." According to the memorandum, the agreement provides for the exchange of COMINT information "on the request of each authority to meet the requirements of the COMINT centers for assistance in the efficient discharge of their mutually agreed-upon COMINT activities and undertakings" and "on a 'need to know' basis as determined by the originating authority." It also provides for the exchange of COMINT liaison officers between Canada and the United States.[14] The signing of the final version of the CANUSA agreement probably took place in 1949.[15] By mid-1949 or early 1950, Robert S. McLaren, one of Canada's original cryptanalysts, had become CBNRC's first SIGINT liaison officer to the United States.

Another Canada-United States SIGINT agreement was signed in 1950, establishing the joint Royal Canadian Navy-United States Navy high- frequency direction-finding net.[16] It is likely that dozens of lesser bilateral agreements and memoranda of understanding also exist.

Canada continues to maintain SIGINT liaison officers at NSA and GCHQ. There are also a number of other direct contacts between the organizations. CSE members often take SIGINT courses offered by NSA and GCHQ, for example, and some CSE members spend time working at NSA and GCHQ as "integrated members". Similar arrangements exist with other members of the SIGINT community. Recently, for example, members of New Zealand's GCSB have begun serving postings at CSE.

ECHELON surveillance system

Since the 1970s, many of the intercept activities of the UKUSA partners have been coordinated by installation of the ECHELON system at UKUSA satellite intercept stations. Although this system remains highly secret (its existence has never been officially acknowledged), its basic workings have been described in some detail.

The following are some of the best sources of information on ECHELON:

  • Somebody's listening, Duncan Campbell, New Statesman, 12 August 1988. The first public information about ECHELON. Also contains links to other information.
  • Interception Capabilities 2000, Report to the Director General for Research of the European Parliament (Scientific and Technical Options Assessment programme office) on the development of surveillance technology and risk of abuse of economic information, Duncan Campbell, 6 May 1999. A detailed and convincing look at what ECHELON can and cannot do.
  • Exposing the Global Surveillance System, Nicky Hager, Covert Action Quarterly, Winter 1997.
  • Chapter Two of Nicky Hager's 1996 book, Secret Power. Another highly detailed description of the ECHELON system.
  • The National Security Agency Declassified: A National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book, Jeffrey Richelson, National Security Archive, January 2000. Richelson comments that ECHELON "has been described as a global surveillance network that intercepts and processes the world's communications and distributes it among the primary partners in the decades-old UKUSA alliance -- the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. In reality, ECHELON is a more limited program, allowing the UKUSA allies to specify intelligence requirements and automatically receive relevant intercepts obtained by the UKUSA facilities which intercept satellite communications (but not the U.S. facilities that receive data from SIGINT satellites). It is also limited by both technological barriers (the inability to develop word-spotting software so as to allow for the automatic processing of intercepted conversations) and the limitations imposed on collection activities by the UKUSA allies -- at least as regards the citizens of those countries."
  • Listening in, Jason Vest, Village Voice, 12-18 August 1998.


[1] UK-US SIGINT co-operation began in 1940 and was formalized on 17 May 1943 with the conclusion of the still-secret, and possibly still-active, BRUSA COMINT agreement (Desmond Ball and Jeffrey Richelson, The Ties That Bind: Intelligence Cooperation Between the UKUSA Countries, Allen & Unwin, 1985, pp. 137-8.).

[2] Jeffrey Richelson, The U.S. Intelligence Community (second edition), Ballinger, 1989, p. 283.

[3] Kevin O'Neill, ed., History of CBNRC, 1987, Chapter 2, p. 3, released in severed form under Access to Information Act. The same source states that the Chiefs of Staff Committee had already approved the continuation of "SIGINT activities in peacetime" once before, in September 1945. The War Diaries of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals Special Wireless Stations also provide evidence that at least some preliminary approval of post-war activities had taken place before March 1946. For example, a new "Alford cage" antenna system was constructed and put into service at Grande Prairie in February 1946 (War Diary: No. 2 Special Wireless Station, entry for 14 February 1946, Canadian Forces Communications and Electronics Museum collection).

[4] History of CBNRC, Chapter 1, p. 1.

[5] Wesley Wark, "Cryptographic Innocence: The Origins of Signals Intelligence in Canada in the Second World War," Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 22 (1987), p. 659.

[6] The Ties That Bind, pp. 142-143; J.L. Granatstein and David Stafford, Spy Wars: Espionage and Canada from Gouzenko to Glasnost, Key Porter, 1990, p. 45; Christopher Andrew, "The Growth of the Australian Intelligence Community and the Anglo-American Connection," Intelligence and National Security, April 1989, pp. 221-255.

[7] Although most sources date the UKUSA agreement to 1947, more recent sources state that it actually dates from 1948. See, for example, Nicky Hager, Secret Power, Craig Potton Publishing, 1996, p. 61, "The Growth of the Australian Intelligence Community and the Anglo-American Connection," pp. 223-224, and Peter Wright, Spycatcher: The Candid Autobiography of a Senior Intelligence Officer, Stoddart, 1987. Hager suggests that "The two dates may be explained by the United States and Britain having signed the agreement in 1947 but it not covering all five countries until 1948 when, after negotiation, the three junior allies signed the protocols."

[8] The Ties That Bind, p. 142. Some sources list Canada as a "Second Party" to the agreement (see, for example, The U.S. Intelligence Community, p. 267.). This does note denote lesser status, however. The practice in the UKUSA community is to refer to all material from other UKUSA partners as "Second Party" material. CSE would describe intercepts received from NSA as "Second Party" material, for example. Material received from countries that are not UKUSA members is called "Third Party" material. Although Canada is a member of the UKUSA community, it apparently is not a signatory of the UKUSA agreement itself. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau stated this explicitly in 1974 (House of Commons Debates, 10 January 1974, p. 9227.). Former CSE Chief Kevin O'Neill told author James Littleton that "the UKUSA agreements directly link the United Kingdom and the United States. Canada is involved in a less formal way. The agreements to which Canada is a party do not exist on paper. There is no one document spelling out their terms. But they do nonetheless exist as an understanding among the SIGINT organizations of the five English-speaking nations." (James Littleton, Target Nation: Canada and the Western Intelligence Network, Lester and Orpen Dennys, 1986, p. 95.) Canadian participation in the broader UKUSA alliance was confirmed by the Hon. C.M. (Bud) Drury in 1975 (C.M. Drury, testimony, Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence of the Standing Committee on Miscellaneous Estimates, 24 March 1975, p. 18:20.). In addition, in 1995, the Deputy Clerk, Security and Intelligence, formally confirmed that "Canada collaborates with some of its closest and long-standing allies in the exchange of foreign intelligence... These countries and the responsible agencies in each are the U.S. (National Security Agency), the U.K. (Government Communications Headquarters), Australia (Defence Signals Directorate), and New Zealand (Government Communications Security Branch [sic])." (Statement by Deputy Clerk, Security and Intelligence, to Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs, 2 May 1995.)

[9] Seymour Hersh, "The Target Is Destroyed": What Really Happened to Flight 007 and What America Knew About It, Vintage, 1987, originally published by Random House (1986), p. 67n.

[10] The Ties That Bind, p. 143. CSE's role has been confirmed by former SRS member Larry Clark: "We monitor all Communist bloc nations but we are primarily tasked with monitoring the U.S.S.R. -- and within that we focus on the northern part" (quoted in "Our electronic spying hides behind cover stories," Bob Gilmour, Edmonton Journal, 26 October 1982, p. A2.). See also "The Target is Destroyed", p. 67n, and John Sawatsky, Men in the Shadows: The RCMP Security Service, Doubleday Canada, 1980, p. 9n.

[11] The Ties That Bind, p. 144.

[12] The U.S. Intelligence Community , p. 417.

[13] Security (Canada Communication Group - Publishing cat. no. BT52-6/3), Treasury Board, 1991, pp. 5-6.

[14] Brig. Gen. Walter Agee, USAF, Acting Deputy Director of Intelligence, "Memorandum for the Coordinator of Joint Operations: Proposed U.S.-Canadian Agreement," 7 June 1948. It seems likely that these elements were not significantly changed in the final version of the agreement.

[15] David J. Bercuson and J.L. Granatstein, The Dictionary of Canadian Military History, Oxford University Press, 1992, p. 43. A letter from the Chairman, US Communications Intelligence Board, to the Chairman, Communications Research Committee, dated 29 June 1949, may represent US acceptance of the terms of the agreement. A "Security Agreement between Canada and the United States of America", signed 15 September 1950, may have been related to the CANUSA agreement or to arrangements arising from it, however (see The U.S. Intelligence Community, p. 273.).

[16] CWO D. Cox, "Gander, Newfoundland, and Canadian Forces Station Gander," Communications and Electronics Newsletter, Canadian Forces Communication Command, 1975, p. 14.

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posted by u2r2h at Saturday, March 15, 2008


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