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Echelon and Now


Under the ECHELON program, the NSA and certain foreign intelligence agencies throw an extremely wide net over virtually all electronic communications world-wide. There are no warrants. No probable cause requirements. No FISA court. And information is intercepted that is communicated solely between U.S. citizens within the U.S., which may not be the purpose of the program but, nonetheless, is a consequence of the program. ECHELON has been around for some time. The media and members of Congress didn’t accuse Bill Clinton, under whose administration the program apparently moved into full swing, of “domestic spying” or violating the Constitution. Is ECHELON constitutional? Congress hasn’t defunded it. So, it seems to me this entire current debate, unleashed by the New York Times last week, about expanding the NSA’s eavesdropping authority (exactly what is expanded and how, we still aren’t certain) is, well, disconnected from reality.


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