December 19, 2005

Remembering Echelon

In all the brouhaha over the exposure of the secret NSA intercept program for those connected to Al Queda, one thing strikes me as utterly separated from reality. Nobody, pro or contra, is recognizing that all these conversations were likely intercepted already. The ECHELON program is a longstanding effort to, essentially, hoover up every international conversation, everywhere and run them through computer threat analysis, forwarding a tiny percentage of them for human analysis.

Essentially, what the executive order did was change the rules for which intercepted conversations were subject to human scrutiny. It's absurd to think that already intercepted conversations cannot be listened to by agents of the executive absent a warrant. What is going on is not a new search but rather analysis of an already ongoing search, a search that's been continually conducted in the world for decades.

So if this search was OK during the Clinton administration (ECHELON far predates it) during peacetime, the exigencies of wartime mean we should blind our existing eyes? What kind of nonsense is this?

Welcome Instapundit readers:

I have a followup to this article here on how this could have been derailed responsibly if, in fact, the program were actually unconstitutional.

Posted by TMLutas at December 19, 2005 07:11 AM