Congressman in 1999: “NSA [Has Been] Conducting a Broad ‘Dragnet’ of Communications, and ‘Invading the Privacy of American Citizens’”

Top American Officials Have Warned for Decades that Mass Surveillance by the NSA Would Lead to Tyranny

We’ve repeatedly pointed out that massive surveillance of the American people started before 9/11 .

That includes tapping undersea cables providing telephone and Internet service to the United States.

As the BBC reported in 1999, it went much deeper than that :

Imagine a global spying network that can eavesdrop on every single phone call, fax or e-mail, anywhere on the planet.

It sounds like science fiction, but it’s true.

Two of the chief protagonists – Britain and America – officially deny its existence. But the BBC has confirmation from the Australian Government that such a network really does exist and politicians on both sides of the Atlantic are calling for an inquiry.

On the North Yorkshire moors above Harrogate … is the world’s most sophisticated eavesdropping technology, capable of listening-in to satellites high above the earth.

The base is linked directly to the headquarters of the US National Security Agency (NSA) at Fort Mead in Maryland, and it is also linked to a series of other listening posts scattered across the world, like Britain’s own GCHQ.

The power of the network, codenamed Echelon, is astounding.

Every international telephone call, fax, e-mail, or radio transmission can be listened to by powerful computers capable of voice recognition. They home in on a long list of key words, or patterns of messages. They are looking for evidence of international crime, like terrorism.


The man who oversees Australia’s security services, Inspector General of Intelligence and Security Bill Blick, has confirmed to the BBC that their Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) does form part of the network.


Journalist Duncan Campbell has spent much of his life investigating Echelon. In a report commissioned by the European Parliament he produced evidence that the NSA snooped on phone calls from a French firm bidding for a contract in Brazil. They passed the information on to an American competitor, which won the contract.

“There’s no safeguards, no remedies, ” he said, “There’s nowhere you can go to say that they’ve been snooping on your international communications. Its a totally lawless world.”


Republican Congressman Bob Barr has persuaded congress to open hearings into these and other allegations.

In December he is coming to Britain to raise awareness of the issue. In an interview with the BBC he accused the NSA of conducting a broad “dragnet” of communications, and “invading the privacy of American citizens.”

Sound familiar?

Remember, the NSA and FBI spied on the 9/11 hijackers before 9/11, and top counter-terrorism experts say that mass surveillance doesn’t keep us safe.

But, hey … it is good for certain things.

Indeed, top American officials have been warning for 40 years that mass surveillance by the NSA would lead to tyranny.

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