Sooner or later, a country that spies on its neighbors will turn on its own people, violating their privacy, stealing their liberties.
President Bush’s grab for unchecked eavesdropping powers is the culmination of what the National Security Agency(NSA) has spent forty years doing unto others.
And if you’re upset by the idea of NSA tapping your phone, be advised NSA allegedly can also read your Windows software to access your computer. European investigative reporter Duncan Campbell claimed NSA had arranged with Microsoft to insert special “keys” in Windows software starting with versions from 95-OSR2 onwards.
And the intelligence arm of the French Defense Ministry also asserted NSA helped to install secret programs in Microsoft software. According to France's Strategic Affairs Delegation report, “it would seem that the creation of Microsoft was largely supported, not least financially, by NSA, and that IBM was made to accept the (Microsoft) MS-DOS operating system by the same administration.” That report was published in 1999.
The French reported a “strong suspicion of a lack of security fed by insistent rumours about the existence of spy programmes on Microsoft, and by the presence of NSA personnel in Bill Gates’ development teams.” It noted the Pentagon was Microsoft’s biggest global client.
In the U.S., Andrew Fernandez, chief computer scientist with Cryptonym, of Morrisville, N.C., found Microsoft developers had failed to remove debugging symbols used to test his software before they released it.
Inside the code Fernandez found labels for two keys, dubbed “KEY” and NSAKEY”. Fernandez, though, termed it NSA’s “back door” into the world’s most widely used operation system. He said this makes it “orders of magnitude easier for the US government to access your computer.” Microsoft called the report “completely false.”
Apparently, agenices of the military-industrial complex take on a life of their own. NSA, for example, has long engaged in commercial espionage eavesdropping on European businesses to benefit U.S. firms, according to William Blum, author of “Rogue State”(Common Courage Press). NSA achieves this through ECHELON(“E”) – an intelligence cartel dominated by the U.S. with Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada as junior partners. Launched in the 1970s to monitor Cold War data, “E” morphed into “a network of massive, highly automated interception stations covering the globe,” Blum said.
Using “E”, NSA has spied on German and French businesses which, as a result, have come off second best against their American competitors. Among companies targeted were Thomson S.A., of Paris, Airbus Industrie of Blagnac Cedex, France, and the German wind generator-manufacturer Enercon.
“We know this technology(“E”) is there and it is being used on us,” Josef Tarkowski, former head of counter-espionage for the German government told The London Sunday Times Internet Edition.
“Like a mammoth vacuum cleaner in the sky,” Blum documents, NSA’s continuously orbiting satellites “sucks it all up: home phone, office phone, cellular phone, email, fax, telex…satellite transmissions, fiber-optic communications traffic, microwave links…voice, text, images.”
These are then processed by high-powered computers at Ft. Meade, Md., NSA headquarters.Billions of messages are sucked up daily, Blum writes, including those by presidents, prime ministers, the UN Secretary-General, the pope, the Queen of England, transnational corporation executives, and foreign embassies.
It’s been estimated “E” sifts through 99.9999 percent of all global communications to get at the 0.0001 percent that is of interest to it.Each of the English-speaking partners, Blum asserts, “is breaking its own laws, those of other countries, and international law --- the absence of court-issued warrants permitting surveillance of specific individuals is but one example.”
“E” works by mining for key words that are extracted by computers and passed along to humans for evaluation. Some NSA activities came to light during the countdown to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
At the time, the U.S. listened in on the private conversations of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, UN weapons inspectors in Iraq, and on the deliberations about Iraq of all members of the UN Security Council. It also spied on organizations such as Christian Aid and Amnesty International. Earlier, it was said to have spied on U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond(R.-S.C.)
Less well known has been E’s spying on foreign firms. In 1998, German wind generator-maker Enercon developed a cheaper way to generate electricity from wind power, but its U.S. rival, Kenetech, said it had patented a near-identical process, and got a court order to ban Enercon sales in the U.S., reporter Blum writes. NSA’s role was exposed when one of its employees revealed he had stolen Enercon’s secrets by tapping telephone and computer links between its research and production units.