Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Did Echelon Overlook Terrorist Threat?


The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) engaged the so-called Echelon communications monitoring network, following on warnings of possible terrorist attacks, as long as three months ago, a German publication has reported.

Western and Middle East intelligence services received warnings more than six months ago that terrorists were planning attacks using hijacked airplanes against "prominent symbols of American and Israeli culture" in the United States and elsewhere, Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) says in its Wednesday edition, citing "information available to this newspaper."

Warnings had circulated among U.S., Israeli, and apparently also U.K. secret services, the report says. It cites sources in German security agencies. Israeli authorities also were following indications that Arab extremists planned to hijack Western planes within Europe and divert them toward Tel Aviv and other coastal cities, the reports say.

Vast resource on Echelon

Q — If everyone else is doing it then why isn’t Australia using its SigInt facilities to spy on her neighbours to obtain useful commercial intelligence for Australian companies?

Australia’s intelligence gathering is still committed to servicing the needs of government, not business.

Instituted in 1947 under the Truman administration, Echelon was part of a Cold War strategy to keep track of various aspects of international skullduggery. Echelon is described as a global surveillance network that intercepts and processes the world's communications and distributes it to the US primary partners, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

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