In the greatest surveillance effort ever established, the US National Security Agency (NSA) has created a global spy system, codenamed ECHELON, which captures and analyzes virtually every phone call, fax, email and telex message sent anywhere in the world.
ECHELON is controlled by the NSA and is operated in conjunction with the Government Communications Head Quarters (GCHQ) of England, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) of Canada, the Australian Defense Security Directorate (DSD), and the General Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) of New Zealand.
These organizations are bound together under a secret 1948 agreement, UKUSA, whose terms and text remain under wraps even today.
-NSA facilities in the US cover the communications signals of both American continents
-GCHQ in Britain is responsible for Europe, Africa and Russia west of the Ural Mountains
-DSD in Australia assists in SIGINT collection in Southeastern Asia and the Southwest Pacific and Eastern Indian Ocean areas
-GSCB in New Zealand is responsible for Southern Pacific Ocean collections, particularly the South Pacific island nations group
-CSE in Canada handles interception of additional northern Russian, northern European and American communications
The ECHELON system is fairly simple in design: position intercept stations all over the world to capture all satellite, microwave, cellular and fiber-optic communications traffic, and then process this information through the massive computer capabilities of the NSA, including advanced voice recognition and optical character recognition (OCR) programs, and look for code words or phrases (known as the ECHELON "Dictionary") that will prompt the computers to flag the message for recording and transcribing for future analysis.
Intelligence analysts at each of the respective "listening stations" maintain separate keyword lists for them to analyze any conversation or document flagged by the system, which is then forwarded to the respective intelligence agency headquarters that requested the intercept.
But apart from directing their ears towards terrorists and rogue states, ECHELON is also being used for purposes well outside its original mission. The regular discovery of domestic surveillance targeted at American civilians for reasons of "unpopular" political affiliation or for no probable cause at all in violation of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution -- are consistently impeded by very elaborate and complex legal arguments and privilege claims by the intelligence agencies and the US government.
Among the activities that the ECHELON targets are political spying and Commercial espionage.
Since the demise of Communism in Eastern Europe, the intelligence agencies have searched for a new justification for their surveillance capability in order to protect their prominence and their bloated budgets. Their solution was to redefine the notion of national security to include economic, commercial and corporate concerns. An office was created within the Department of Commerce, the Office of Intelligence Liaison, to forward intercepted materials to major US corporations.
In many cases, the beneficiaries of this commercial espionage effort are the very companies that helped the NSA develop the systems that power the ECHELON network. This incestuous relationship is so strong that sometimes this intelligence information is used to push other American manufacturers out of deals in favor of these mammoth US defense and intelligence contractors, who frequently are the source of major cash contributions to both political parties.
ECHELON locations from 2009:
RAF Menwith Hill (North Yorkshire, UK - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfHRA...)
GCHQ Bude (Cornwall, UK)
Sugar Grove (West Virginia, US)
Naval Security Group Activity Sabana Seca (Puerto Rico, US) (*decommissioned)
Yakima Training Center (Washington, US)
GCSB Waihopai (Marlborough, NZ)
Pine Gap (Northern Territory, AU)
Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station (Western Australia, AU)
Chung Hom Kok (Hong Kong, HK)(*decommissioned)
Misawa Air Base (Aomori, JP)
Ayios Nikolaos Station (Cyprus, UK)
Bad Aibling Station (Bavaria, DE)
Griesheim Site (Hesse, DE)
Canadian Forces Station Leitrim (Ontario, CA)
NSA Headquarters, Fort Meade (Maryland, US)
Gordon Regional Security Operations Center (Georgia, US)
Medina Regional Security Operations Center (Texas, US)
Buckley Air Force Base (Colorado, US)
Kunia Regional Security Operations Center (Hawaii, US)
Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station Guam (Guam, US)
Shoal Bay Receiving Station (Northern Territory, AU)