Talk:ECHELON/Archive 1

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Accuracy concerns

Removed bogus fact about "The Farm" being the nickname of a Canadian signals intelligence facility. In the intelligence community, "The Farm" is first and foremost the nickname of a classified CIA training facility at Camp Peary, VA, though this is officially a Dept of Defense experimental training facility.

FYI, for those asking how satellites can sniff Fiber Optics, they can't and don't need to. The US navy has submarines that can tap undersea cables, namely the USS Jimmy Carter, which is part of yhe ECHELON network.

CSE's headquarters definitely is or at least was nicknamed "The Farm" by its employees. Maybe the CIA forgot to trademark it. :-) A former CSE employee personally told me about the nickname, and it is also reported in former CSE employee Mike Frost's book, Spyworld: Inside the Canadian and American Intelligence Establishments (p. 33).BillRobinsonCanada 02:51, 24 December 2006 (UTC)

In the article it is stated that The Netherlands is NOT a participant in ECHELON, but there is a facility at the town of Zoutkamp in The Netherlands. See and . I can not confirm that this facility is connected to ECHELON, but maybe you can.

The link to the PDF from the European Commission seems to be dead 21:09, 11 October 2005 (UTC)ste

I fixed the link. -- Marcika 14:20, 5 November 2005 (UTC)

What about Noreena Hertz, and all her claims in her book Italic textThe Silent TakeoverItalic text? (chapter four) Among other things, unfortunately not supported by named sources, she claims that an agent in 1996 should have claimed the existence of Echelon (for the first time officially).

I've removed the following text from the article: A search of CIA documents contained on the CIA website as a result of Freedom Of Information Act request returns many matches for the keyword "ECHELON", further confirming the existence of the system. The CIA search, I believe, is letter-by-letter, and results often do not contain the search term as a word. Either way, the evidence of a word in FOIA files is in no way a validation of Echelon's existence. --User:Prospero

This article contains what sounds to me like some very fantastical claims. How, exactly, is this supposed to work?

I don't doubt the existence of Echelon, mind you. I'm just questioning whether it is really possible for it to be intercepting everything in the way that is claimed. The sheer bandwidth required inside the system would be staggering.

And how, exactly, are these deep space satellites supposed to be sniffing fiber optic packets?

How much of this article is actually confirmed, and how much is just sheer slashdot-style fear mongering?

Note well! I am opposed to the existence of anything even remotely like this. I'm just asking in my role as an encyclopedist whether or not this information has been validated! I'm not advocating on behalf of echelon I just thought I'd say that. --Jimbo Wales

I know that the information seems controversial. Here are some links on the subject:

[1] [2]

WojPob (BTW: if you don't like it - delete it! you're the boss)

I'm only the boss in a very limited sense. This is wikipedia, everyone is the boss.  :-) I may do some research and tone it down a bit. The ACLU has a site about it, with more reserved claims. --Jimbo Wales

Satan's greatest achievement was to to make humanity believe that he doesn't exist -- WojPob*

I actually drove past GCHQ in Cheltenham (I'd got lost!) a few weeks back - this is the UK headquarters for this snooping - and I was amazed at the scale of new building work going on looks to be equal in size to all the existing buildings (so far as could been seen from the road) British Telecom is one of the contractors, according to the builders notice board, so it looks like they'll soon have a lot of extra bandwidth to feed to the extra gear in all that new space. After all, if you want to sniff fiber optic packets, it's simpler to just get the major telcoms provider to run their cables through a government installation than mess about with satellites....

  • is that quote originally from Bryan Singer's "The Usual Suspect", or d'ya have it from somewhere else?


I paraphrased it myself, but I think it sort of stuck in my head from somewhere, might have been the "Usual Suspects" - I dont know. WojPob.

Yes, that's The Usual Suspects: "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince the world he didn't exist." --KQ

Well, it was mentioned there, but I think the idea is much older...
Actually, it's from Charles Beaudelaire (in his personal diaries)

Apparently one major misunderstanding is the sentence with the deep space satellites. I didn't mind because there are more installations mentioned than te satellites in this sentence, so I arranged the means to the sniffed pathways myself. But it's true, this sentence probably needs to be written in two separate ones.

This article presents Echelon as a secret spy network. Due to its nature, the information presented here cannot be confirmed by independent sources. It may be the result of a desinformation campaign. Echelon should be refered as an hipotetical network. As it is now, the article violates the NPOV.

Nonsense. When governments have spoken out loud their attempt to keep secrets or deceive, the NPOV shifts, and should reflect the view of those who aren't keeping secrets - in this case the dissidents who oppose and expose it. To demand the same degree of documentation for their position as for other work is to effectively censor it. That is clearly your intent. You are fooling no one, Echy baby. When did you grow a voice?
Okay, can I be the first to say that's the most absurd rebuttal I've seen in a very long time. The existence and nature of echelon is a disputed matter, therefore NPOV must apply and readers should be notified that they are only reading one side's version of the facts, or better yet, should be informed of the varying versions of what Echelon exactly is. Right now it's like me going and editing chemtrails to state that chemtrails are a fact, and that airlines are working with the government to oppress us all. Under your logic I could defend it as "reflecting the view of those who aren't keeping secrets" (me), thereby removing the need for me to prove my claims. In fact, the existing chemtrails article is a perfect example of what this article should say, with the claims being outlined, but presented as a theory, not as fact as long as they are still disputed. That's exactly what NPOV is all about. 06:52, 19 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Check out the report by the European Union's parliament that's linked at the bottom of the page. Eschelon is pretty much confirmed to exist now, the only details that are still uncertain are its exact capabilities and uses.

This is a controversial issue with no possible independent confirmation. European Union's parliament is not an independent source, bet an intereted part. Being a controversial and unverifieable issue, information must be atributed to sources. Joao

why is EU parliament not an independent source? the EU isn't a party to the program, itself
Some people believe that ECHELON is used to spy on European business negotiators. The EU member states have an interest in stopping such espionage. Anders Feder
See also Enercon, a german manufacturer of wind turbines whose most important technology data was stolen by agents working for the NSA. -- Imladros

Regarding the phrase "drugs and thugs" -- in the interest of neutrality, I'd recommend choosing a different word than "thugs." A nice rhyme, but it doesn't seem to fit the article. I'd suggest a substitute, but I'm not sure what would be the best fit based on reports (and please attribute!) regarding the intended subjects of surveillance. -- Rethunk

There are NSA patents on 'text analysis by topic'. They should be mentioned, as they were filed after some information about Echelon was released, seemingly as an attempt to prevent commercial enterprises from slowing down research, or developing similar technology for sale. It would seem to validate existence of Echelon. NSA never filed a patent before that...

1) Has anyone heard of something called "Carnivore" mentioned in connection with Echelon? What is it and does it belong in this article?

I believe Carnivore was/is an FBI project, while ECHELON is NSA. It could, theoretically, be used in conjunction with ECHELON, however. Carnivore (off the top of my head) scans emails for keywords and flags messages that contain words from their hotlist. --Jonathan Patt 17:24, Jul 5, 2004 (UTC)

2) Echelon is/was definitely real and not just a figment of some conspiracy theorist's imagination. In many (most) democratic countries, it is (or until recently was) illegal for a government to spy on its own citizens without probable cause. It would not, however, be illegal for say, the US government to monitor Canadian citizens, and then share some of that information with Canadian intelligence agencies, etc, etc. This is exactly what's been purported to happen with ECHELON - it provides (or provided - has it been dismantled?) a sort of "loophole" for governments to spy on their own citizens.

I agree, it's definately a fact. I removed the excessive "is believed to be" from the intro. Martin 22:00, 28 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Is ECHELON an acronym? If it is, it needs to be defined. --Rookkey 00:26, 29 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Unlikely, but possible. At least, I have never heard of it. Government project titles are often all-caps. --Jonathan Patt 17:24, Jul 5, 2004 (UTC)


Morwinstow is a small village with an interesting vicarage, there's certainly no international listening post there. You can see Goonhilly from there though, is that what's meant?

Who says they want you to know it's there? I'm not a tinfoil hat type, and I still acknowledge that anyone involved could put something there and not make it visibly obvious. -Joseph (Talk) 18:41, 2004 Oct 1 (UTC)
The Composite Signals Organisation Station near Morwenstow, Cornwall run by Britain's GCHQ is quite visible (just google for pictures of the big satellite antennae... Marcika 15:46, 26 Nov 2004 (UTC)


The Total Information Awareness bit ought to be deleted. TIA has been torpedoed by Congress and is really no longer relevant, especially not to Echelon. --thames 19:42, 18 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Oh yes? The DoD is still pursuing the idea (see the recent Op-Ed from Pindexter about it in the New York Times), it just has renamed it to Terrorism Information Awareness. And a giant database collecting and connecting information and communication data from US citizens is actually fairly similar to what Echelon is trying to do outside the US. - Marcika 15:46, 26 Nov 2004 (UTC)
You're right, there have been no news about the resurrection of TIA since about a year ago... We should move the bit about TIA from the header to the end of the article... - Marcika 16:53, 26 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Done, at rather long last. Dan100 16:19, Mar 5, 2005 (UTC)

If TIA has been "torpedoed" then has Echelon, secret tapings/taps etc also been "torpedoed"? I suspect that the passion to gather every bit of info on ever person/cow/chicken/... has not subsided greatly in the last year or so. I also doubt that Congress knows or wants to know much about it or its details. 15:12, 17 May 2007 (UTC)

Western Australia

I believe that one of the OTC satellite stations in WA is or was ECHELON related. I know someone who used to work there, a few decades ago, and there were quite a few spooks running around from his account, using the commercial satellite communications going on as a cover.

Could you or him be refering to Pine Gap, NT? There was also the Woomera Prohibited Area in South Australia. Kanadier 13:47 24 Mar 2005 UTC

Removed for now...

Note that the US$3.6 billion number is very likely off by a several orders of magnitude, as those numbers would work out to US$94000 per employee per year: not enough to cover salary requirements.

Really? I would have thought that would have been quite enough to cover salary requirements; what's the average wage in the States? — Matt Crypto 17:36, 11 Mar 2005 (UTC)

"Total Information Awareness, Disguised And Alive"

The article currently says:

The proposed US-only "Total Information Awareness" program relied on technology similar to ECHELON, and was to integrate the extensive sources it is legally permitted to survey domestically, with the "taps" already compiled by ECHELON. It was cancelled by the U.S. Congress in 2004.

Apparently however, it wasn't "cancelled", after all; the essense of Total Information Awareness didn't die with that. According to the AP story (linked below):

"The work, however, did not die.
In killing Poindexter's office, Congress quietly agreed to continue paying to develop highly specialized software to gather foreign intelligence on terrorists.
In a classified section summarized publicly, Congress added money for this software research to the "National Foreign Intelligence Program," without identifying openly which intelligence agency would do the work."

...etc (my emphasis). See:

--Vinsci 15:49, 13 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Shoal Bay?

The article lists the "Shoal Bay" installation as being in New South Wales, is this corrent? along with many others (google: "shoal bay" echelon) mentions "Shoal Bay, near Darwin in Northern Australia"... Also lists shoal bay as in the NT.

I do not know who made this first entry, with question, or when. But, I have made further Googles about Shoal Bay, and all point to the proximity of Darwin. Many more than those listed above. Fact is that there _is_ a Shoal Bay in NSW, in the Port Stephen's/Nelson Bay area, wherupon there are rumours about military installations.. On the basis of this, I have still changed the location of Shoal Bay from 'New South Wales' to 'Northern Territory' in the article. The new (NT) location would be: S12.24'11 E130.53'54 The old (NSW) location would be: S32.43'15 E152.10'52 -Snorre/Antwelm 16:35, 18 December 2005 (UTC)

Be more specific

  • "ECHELON is thought to be the largest signals intelligence and analysis network"
  • "some critics claim the system is also being used for large-scale commercial theft"
  • etc.

Can you please add sources for these and other claims in the article? Thanks. Read also WP:AWT. --Eleassar my talk 13:48, 12 September 2005 (UTC)


Whilst this section is interesting, I think it should be modified to remove the implication that the whole echelon system is powered by the same hardware produced by the same company. This is highly unlikely. I would doubt that GCHQ (UK) would use much equipment produced in the US; likewise the other members of Echelon. I have knowledge of several electronics companies based in the UK that provide digital encryption hardware, DSP's and storage hardware to GCHQ.

More likely is that Echelon is a framework for tying together the work of each organisation - not a technological framework for homogenising the hardware used. Rob cowie 19:26, 24 September 2005 (UTC)

Invasion of privacy

The first paragraph in hte history section says it is now also used for the invasion of privacy. But none of the other things can be done without invasion of privacy. So what is meant here? Non-political invasion of pivacy? DirkvdM 12:54, 8 November 2005 (UTC)

I imagine something like "invasion of privacy without good reason", where a "good reason" would obviously vary from critic to critic, but would likely include strong suspicion of serious criminal/terrorist activity, or even plain-old espionage against other governments. — Matt Crypto 14:27, 8 November 2005 (UTC)
If that is how it's meant then it's a POV statement (as you already indicated with the variation from critic to critic). What I was getting at is whether espionage is also an invasion of privacy, something you also bring up. I've asked this at talk:privacy too. DirkvdM 12:54, 9 November 2005 (UTC)

Verification and sourcing

As mentioned in previous comments on this talk page, there are some interesting claims made for which no specific documentation is referenced. Obviously, it's difficult to know what the real truth of the matter is for a classified program, so verification here is only going to go so far. The secretive nature of the topic just makes it all the more important to cite specific sources, since it's easy for any one source (or all available sources, for that matter) to get the facts wrong. -- Beland 12:03, 19 December 2005 (UTC)

Agreed. This is the sort of article where you need to footnote every other sentence, IMO. — Matt Crypto 12:46, 19 December 2005 (UTC)

I removed the Clinton sentence in history which had no citations. - elemming

Style/accuracy Issue

Introduction states:

"ECHELON is thought to be the largest signals intelligence and analysis network ... Run by the UKUSA Community, ECHELON can capture radio and satellite communications, ..."

On the one hand, ECHELON is thought to be something. On the other, its capabilities are stated as fact. I don't think we can have it both ways...?

Soundbyte 20:34, 20 December 2005 (UTC)

cited in Washington Post G Clark 01:14, 26 December 2005 (UTC)

Explosions on the Moon

Cryptome refers to a declassified National Security Council document dated June 30, 1958 that states "Naval Radio Research Observatory (NRRO)... to be erected at Sugar Grove, West Virginia for exploiting lunar reflective techniques for the purposes of intelligence collection, radio astronomy, and communications-electronics research... will provide for reception and analyzing emissions from areas of the world not now accessible by any other known method..."[3] Are they still using this "moonbounce" technique? Could recent lunar explosions[4] possibly be connected to recent revelations about the Bush administrations illegal spying? 20:41, 30 December 2005 (UTC)

No, we have detection methods millions of times better now. WAS 4.250 20:49, 30 December 2005 (UTC)

it was a simple meteoroid impact there. has nothing to do with echelon. satellites have replaced air planes, baloons and moon-bouncing technique. it is used by radio amateurs, see under EME. Redecke 22:59, 2 January 2006 (UTC)


It seems to be confirmed that ECHELON does indeed exist, however nobody knows exactly what it is. This should be clear in the article, and isn't. As far as I can tell, all that's confirmed is that it is a method for analysing and sorting data to find criminals or information about a specific word or whatnot. The conspiracy theorists charge that ECHELON is used to intercept all of our data, phone and fax traffic in north america, and produce a database of it, and some of this attitude bleeds into the article with little qualification. IMO this article needs to be researched and rewritten with confirmed fact separated from speculation. --Ktims 05:07, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

Unfortunately that will never happen. To present this information in an objective, honest manner would require rewriting the whole thing, then you'll have all the conspiracy nutter know-nothings change everything back. I read quite a bit at Wikipedia, but articles like this should just be shit-canned. Scott McMasters the preceding unsigned comment is by (talk • contribs) 04:01, 23 January 2006 (UTC)}
Or, alternatively, they can cite their sources carefully, preferably with Wikipedia:Inline citations. — Matt Crypto 08:38, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

History: Origin of the program?

The only dates in the article body mentioned are on or after 2001. This program is older than that. There should be a better outline of the origins of this program. This omission gives the impression to a casual reader that the program only began sometime around 2001. I can only guess at the reasons for giving such an impression, but regardless, it is a misimpression and should be clarified. The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk • contribs) 12:20, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

I don't think there's any sinister, or even conscious, decision to give such an impression: see Hanlon's Razor. I suspect that reliable public sources on the origins and age of ECHELON are thin on the ground, and likely speculative at best. Still, there's no reason to omit them. Do you know of any we could use? — Matt Crypto 11:34, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
Oh, great, reliable sources are thin and likely speculative, but there's no reason not to have them. One would think thin, speculative information wouldn't belong in a factual article. Scott McMasters the preceding unsigned comment is by (talk • contribs) 04:01, 23 January 2006 (UTC)}
Why not? There's nothing unfactual about asserting, say, as a made up example, "Although the origin of the program is publicly unknown, Johnson (2001) suggests that ECHELON may have been active since the early 1970s." — Matt Crypto 08:38, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

Here is a link I found on the Echelon project before 2001 Here also is an article by NY Times James Risen in 1999:December 5, 1999, Sunday, Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section 4; Page 5; Column 1; Week in Review Desk

LENGTH: 859 words

HEADLINE: The Nation: Don't Read This; If You Do, They May Have to Kill You



BODY: NO government organization has been better insulated from public scrutiny than the National Security Agency. Its very existence as America's premier eavesdropper and code-breaker was classified for decades, and the N.S.A. -- also known as "No Such Agency" -- has been able to keep the press and Congress largely at bay even as the Central Intelligence Agency has come under increased scrutiny in the wake of its cold war excesses and failures.

But the N.S.A.'s isolation may be finally coming to an end. Critics on one side are now complaining that the N.S.A. has become obsolete in the Internet age, while critics on the other flank are attacking the agency for emerging from the cold war as a Big Brother without a cause, listening to everything around the globe for no good reason.

"N.S.A.'s problems are people and management problems," said one agency consultant. "They just haven't been willing to change the way they have always done things."

Some of its failings were on display last week, when the government announced that a Navy code expert had been charged with passing secrets to Russia five years ago while working at the N.S.A.

But N.S.A.'s problems go far deeper. In effect, the agency is under attack today both for incompetence and omnipotence. Its predicament suggests that its own obsession with secrecy has left it prey to conspiracy theorists, while at the same time making it difficult for the agency to seek the help it needs to fix its real problems.

Some current and former American intelligence officials argue that the agency has become overly bureaucratic and outdated, a cold war relic that is no longer able to lure the best young computer wizards to its headquarters at Fort Meade, Md. They warn that the N.S.A. is struggling to keep up in an era in which the daily volume of e-mail messages and cell phone calls threatens to overwhelm it.

At the same time, sophisticated, commercially available encryption technology is making it much tougher for the agency to sift through that mountain of intercepted communications and decipher the few messages that are actually important to the nation's security.

Still other critics complain that a decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall the agency is still vacuuming telephone, fax, e-mail and other Internet traffic as if the Soviet Union had never collapsed. To them, the agency is not a cold war relic but a cold war beast in need of taming.

Created in 1952 to consolidate the nation's far-flung communications intelligence and code-breaking operations into one agency within the Defense Department, the N.S.A. quickly became the crown jewel of the intelligence community. Its code breakers enabled American presidents to regularly read the mail of America's enemies -- and its friends. The agency's high-tech collection efforts were so highly prized that it grew into the country's biggest intelligence agency.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Congress and the White House have reduced the N.S.A.'s budget. But those cutbacks have come just as the Internet has exploded, revolutionizing communications technology. The use of telephone and computer encryption is also certain to expand sharply over the coming years, as Washington moves to open up the export of advanced encryption software.

As Seymour M. Hersh wrote in the Dec. 6 New Yorker, the spread of such technology has already crippled the agency's collection efforts. In a speech last year, John Millis, the staff director of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, warned that while the N.S.A. had traditionally been at the cutting edge of technology, "in the last four or five years technology has moved from being the friend to being the enemy" of the agency.

But the N.S.A. has also been attacked for accumulating far more power than it needs. Its huge international communications collection and monitoring operation, called Echelon, which is conducted jointly with the agency's counterparts in Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, is criticized both in this country and overseas as an excessive intrusion into the private communications of Americans and their allies. As James Bamford, the author of the classic study of the agency, "The Puzzle Palace" (Houghton Mifflin, 1982), recently noted in The Washington Post, the Echelon system relies on satellites and ground stations to intercept and then sort global communications, searching for specific names, words or phrases. The N.S.A.'s computers can then sort out intercepted communications that include names of drug dealers or political leaders or references to espionage or terrorist actions. The agency is prohibited from intercepting strictly domestic communications unless it gets a special court order.

The N.S.A., in a prepared statement, said that its new director, Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden, is trying to address the technological and management problems facing the agency by launching a restructuring program this winter that he calls "100 days of change." The program is designed to "provide the momentum for the workforce to shape the agency, so that it can thrive in the years to come."

What does it mean?

What does ECHELON stand for? - unsigned

If you need the meaning of the word "echelon", you could check out an online dictionary .. try

Note that it is "ECHELON" and not "E.C.H.E.L.O.N.". It is a code-name for a very very secretive multi-government operation that has come to light because of its huge scale and its implicatins for possible industrial spying by English language nations against others (especially in Europe). Secret code names are chosen more or less at random and do not mean anything. WAS 4.250 17:57, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Especially in Europe? Let's bring some perspective to this. Nobody in Europe has been killed by ECHELON. However, there are many Muslim extremists who have died because of it. —Joseph/N328KF (Talk) 18:05, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
Came to light. Not "is important because". Look at the article SOURCES. Any "Muslim extremist" sources? No. None. The European commission on ECHELON is one of the few hard sources that turn this whole thing from conjecture to known fact. WAS 4.250 18:37, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
Some Muslim Extremists are European, as there are a great many people who are both European and Muslim. It is unknown whether any of them have died because of it, although it seems not unlikely. Just a salutary note.

Ambiguity re: 'this country'

The article says '"The United States will occasionally have the United Kingdom keep an eye on individuals in this country, with the understanding that if Britain turns up any interesting tidbits, it will slide them across the table." - from the book, CHATTER: Dispatches from the Secret World of Global Eavesdropping'. While this is no doubt a direct quote from a source, it is not clear what 'this country' is - I assume the US? -- Mithent 20:00, 22 April 2006 (UTC)

There is no law against the US gov't keeping an eye on everybody outside the US; it is only inside the US that there is a legal issue. So "this country" refers to the US, as any other interpretation makes no sense whatever. This is precisely the issuse with Bush illegally wiretapping millions of Americans, then claiming it was legal because he is "commander-in-chief" of the military and we are "at war" (even after his "declaration of victory"). I would rather this alledged relationship of spying on each others citizens did not exist, but it is at least better than Republicans watergating the Democrats again - the political implications are far more sinister and remind us of the Republican owned companies supplying computer controlled voting devices that lack the basic fraud-prevention measures of ATMs. WAS 4.250 22:54, 22 April 2006 (UTC)

Apparently we don't even need the Brits for this anymore. Since 9-11 Bush has decided the law doesn't apply to him: "The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY. The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans - most of whom aren't suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews." [5] WAS 4.250 16:11, 11 May 2006 (UTC)

Good article?

Just curious, but how can an article that is classified under the categories "Wikipedia articles needing factual verification" and "Articles with unsourced statements" also be cited as a good article? To me these seem mutually exclusive. Is it considered a good article because of the writing style or structure? --Careax 19:43, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

The sources do verify the article even if they are not all linked up to the exact sentences that they support (they SHOULD be of course). Linking them up might uncover something that should be changed which is why every article should be as completely linked to sources as possible. Articles that consist of nothing but quotes from sources would be maximally verified, but no one wants that but me. WAS 4.250 20:16, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

Source for Margaret Newsham

The insert about Margaret Newsham's involvement with Lockhead and the project names SILKWORTH and SIRE come from the website of the Blacktown Branch Communist Party of Australia. After reading the interview with Margaret Newsham I find it highly incredulous and would like others to read the article at [6] and see for themselfs if the report seems accurate.—The preceding unsigned comment was added by Imladros (talkcontribs) 08:55, 17 May 2006.

Actually, they don't; you've just come across one re-publication from the original Danish newspaper, Ekstra Bladet, the Echelon articles from which were consolidated at
Also, please only add discussions to the bottom of talk pages, and sign your commentsLeflymanTalk 18:25, 17 May 2006 (UTC)
Apart from which, who really cares what clunky systems they used back then? More relevant material is out there on the present computing capabilities of the NSA, much of which is believed to be denoted to Echelon if I recall correctly. For example, the yearly electricity bill of the NSA headquarters is reputedly $21 million, from which one could make ballpark estimates of their computing power. I might try and dig it up more of this info and include it. --Russell E 02:36, 19 May 2006 (UTC)
I understand. But wikipedia doesn't do original research. Find someone else that adds up the data. Since it is all secret; that is the best sourcing and is allowed. But original research is not allowed. Even if it is just drawing a connection between computing power and electricity useage. WAS 4.250 22:51, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

Content deleted from article

ECHELON is estimated to intercept up to 3 billion communications every day was deleted from the article by someone else. The number in probably too low. The number whatever it is is classified so we need to know who is doing the guessing - i.e. a source is mandatory. And the number undoubtedly grows every year so when the guess was made is very important. WAS 4.250 17:27, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

Ireland joins ECHELON?

Does anyone know whether Ireland is a full member of this organization now?

These articles suggest this to be the case:,1000000091,2079849,00.htm


quote is too long

quotes are supposed to be selective. it should be cut down. how did this get to be a "good article"?

Critique of article

I believe the ECHELON article as currently written is substandard and misleading. It appears to be mostly a collection of rumors, half truths and factoids collected under the rubric of ECHELON.

It is no secret that the U.S. National Security Agency collects signal intelligence (SIGINT). They say so on their web site, [[7]]: "The National Security Agency collects, processes and disseminates foreign Signals Intelligence (SIGINT)." On their SIGINT FAQ they say:

"NSA/CSS’s Signal Intelligence mission is to intercept and analyze foreign adversaries' communications signals, many of which are protected by codes and other complex countermeasures. We collect, process, and disseminate intelligence reports on foreign intelligence targets in response to intelligence requirements set at the highest levels of government. ... Foreign intelligence means information relating to the capabilities, intentions, and activities of foreign powers, organizations or persons."

NSA has been doing this since its inception and its predecessors within the U.S. government have been collecting signals intelligence to some degree since the invention of telegraphy.

While there is a controversy ongoing in the U.S over whether NSA is complying with the law limiting surveillance of U.S. persons, no one doubts NSA's goals for non-U.S. traffic are omnivorous and limited only by their budget, which is likely large.

The ECHLON story begins to diverge from reality when it gets to details, however.

  • The name ECHLON itself. NSA uses many code names. It may once have had a project named ECHELON. It's highly unlikely that they still use it, if for no other reason then the fact it has become public.
  • The focus on sites with big antennas. There is no particular reason to associate big antennas with current SIGINT activities. Through the 1960s, high frequency radio was a major mode of international and military communications and thus a prime target of SIGINT. The long wavelengths of these signals (10 to 100 meters) required large antennas. Large dish antennas are also useful in monitoring satellites. However the bulk of international communications these days is by fiber optic cable. Large antennas play no role in monitoring such traffic. And, of course, big antennas have other uses, such as communication. SIGINT satellites do require ground stations, of course, but likely only a few world-wide are needed for this purpose. No doubt may of the sites listed in the article have or had an NSA listening station, however so in all likelihood do most locations where the US and it allies have any control, such as embassies, consulates, etc. Nowadays, an intercept station does not have to be very big, an office or even a cabinet should do. Roof antennas need not be very conspicuous.
  • The emphasis on the "UKUSA Community." It is no secret that the U.S and the UK have had a close working relationship on SIGINT since World War II, when they cooperated on breaking Axis codes. However the challenges presented by modern communications systems, such as fiber optic lines, digital switches and cell phone technology limit what those countries can do on their own. While undersea cables can be tapped and satellites may be able to monitor cell phones on a spot basis, successful interception of these modern methods, particularly for in-country traffic, is best done with the cooperation of local authorities. There is reason to believe the the US and UK have such cooperative relations with many other nations. Most major countries have a signal intelligence organizations and today these have a strong interest in combatting terrorism.
  • Speculation on hardware. NSA has long been associated with the use of advanced computing equipment. Today they probably use large amounts of best-of-breed, commercially developed computer servers and may also have specialized hardware they develop in house. No doubt they once used VAXs, but is would be most surprising (and alarming to their supporters) if they still do. Recent revelations on NSA monitoring in the US gives some indication of their current practice (see Room 641A), but the Hardware section of this article as of this date is unlikely to have any relation to current reality.

In short, while a large international effort to collect communications intelligence undoubtedly exists, large enough, arguably, to raise privacy concerns, and while there is undoubtedly a widespread belief in the ECHELON story, little of the information in this article is likely to be accurate or relevant to current practice. For this reason, I have added a disputed tag to the article.--agr 17:01, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

The article is well sourced. (You can start by reading this) Wikipedia does not do "truth" (we do "verifyable") or original research (your arguments are original research) and we are not a newspaper so we don't delete stuff just because it may not be current. If you read the sources you will see that the article accurately reflects the contents of the sources. We don't label such articles as somehow wrong or inaccuuate on the basis of original research. Find good verifyable sources that make your points and then those points can be added to the article. WAS 4.250 17:04, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

I think it is appropriate to raise concerns about an article's veracity on the talk page. While I understand that verifiability is the ultimate test on Wikipedia, that does not mean we should simply repeat whatever has appeared somewhere in print. See Wikipedia:Reliable sources. I do not agree that this article is well sourced or that it "accurately reflects the contents of the sources." There are numerous citation needed tags in the current version, including on the breathtakingly sweeping "Various sources claim that these states have positioned electronic-intercept stations and space satellites to capture most radio, satellite, microwave, cellular and fiber-optic communications traffic." Note that the EU report you cite comes to a different conclusion: "the analysis carried out in the report has revealed that the technical capabilities of the system are probably not nearly as extensive as some sections of the media had assumed" and "...the surveillance system depends, in particular, upon worldwide interception of satellite communications, although in areas characterised by a high volume of communications only a very small proportion of those communications are transmitted by satellite; ... this means that the majority of communications cannot be intercepted by earth stations, but only by tapping cables and intercepting radio signals, something which - as the investigations carried out in connection with the report have shown - is possible only to a limited extent" (page 11).

Then there is the long list of "Ground stations" with no citations. At best these should be move to a separate article, tilled something like "List of alleged SIGINT ground stations," assuming we can find some basis for the list. Comments like "well-attested" are POV and should go. I could go on. I believe the article requires a lot of work. I think the EU report is a good source for balance, but it will take me a while to get through it. In the mean time, a disputed tag is warranted.--agr 16:10, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

I have no problem with the tag so long as the point is that someone is working to improve the article rather than that the tag is a substitute for someone working on the article. You say "it will take me a while" so I believe you intend to improve the article. Go for it! WAS 4.250 20:58, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

I made a number of changes, and while I think there is more to be done, I've now removed the disputed tag.--agr 20:38, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
There was a GA dispute entry listed for this article which I was about to archive and end as no consensus, but since something seems to of happened here, what state is the article in now? Homestarmy 14:31, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
I've made a number of edits to this article since I posted the GA dispute. I think it is better now. I'm still concerned about parts of it, particular the Ground Stations section which is largely unsourced. (There are some 19 sites listed in the EP report, p.54 ff. I haven't collated them with the article yet.) I wouldn't vote for it as a good article, but I have no problem with your archiving the discussion as no consensus.--agr 10:40, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

Sources for section 5: Organization

As for the source of the 1600+ staff, see

The press kit ( gives 2004 numbers at 1200 people, budget of almost $200CAD, almost double the $110CAD stated.

Lactam 14:21, 22 November 2006 (UTC)


How can this be considered a good article? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Wildman7856 (talkcontribs) 22:45, 16 December 2006 (UTC).

Pictures of Military Instalations

I could be wrong about this, but isn't it illegal to photograph military instalations. The article includes a picture taken at a Royal Air Force Base. Techlotl 21:16, 21 January 2007 (UTC)

I'd be very surprised if taking the photograph was illegal -- I haven't been prosecuted for it yet, at least... — Matt Crypto 21:32, 21 January 2007 (UTC)
Only in the odd totalitarian state.ALR 18:52, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

New entries

Added entry on Guardian (database), and expanded entry on TALON (database). Please feel free to view these entries. Oh, and you can edit them too, in case you didn't know. :-) Thanks. --Steve, Sm8900 13:14, 22 August 2007 (UTC)