Originally posted by seifera003
So if ECHELON tracks keywords typed into a search engine, which I've heard it does, why haven't any of us had any issues?
I'm sure some of us who are heavy into researching, would've triggered a bunch of alarms by now.
I haven't had any visits from anybody, or cars trailing me (which I do occassionally check for). Has anybody else had anything weird like that happen
There's several reasons why.
It isn't used to do routine surveillance of US citizens. Usually.
When you get a directory hit, you get a transcript of so many seconds around the hit. It's more than just matching a word, the system has some
smarts. There are guys that sit around and read the transcript fragments all day long (can't imagine how boring that must be) and if it looks
innocuous, they just wipe it.
Also they are generally after targeted individuals. So they're not willy-nilly scanning your home phones or email traffic. They look for traffic from
certain people and known associates, that's where some of the new software for building relationship trees from other data comes in. Also pay phones,
phones used near airports, in-flight phones, there's a list of "always monitored" stuff because that's the sort of thing you use when you're up
to no good.
The system can also identify individuals given a good enough sample of their voice. So where they're listening to a wide input they're generally
using vorec to weed out people with distinctive voices.
As to "have you ever heard of anyone being caught by it", yes indeed. Generally you don't because they don't use it as information in a court of
law, they find out what you're going to do and stick some cop there to "catch you", that way they don't have to introduce it as evidence, which
they generally won't do.
However, I've seen it in action, up close and personal. Which was sort of funny. To set the stage, first, everyone in my family but Mom has some sort
of clearance either in military or civilian life or both. So you got five kids and Dad. That's another group that generally is monitored, btw. Only
in that case, you agreed to it. Take the way-back machine to 1982, when Dad was still active, the oldest O'Bedlam brother is ETS'd from a Navy
Crypto post, the next two oldest are in RIP and AIT respectively, and the two youngest are home.
Ok. Youngest brother William is "Mr Action Sports" and is always screwing up his knee or some other body part, so he is a Tylenol junkie. He's off
on a trip somewhere to break another bone. The word flashes across the TV that some Tylenol has been poisoned.
Dad is off somewhere. He gets on a pay phone at the base and calls next youngest Todd and says in the middle of a somewhat cryptic conversation "Tell
William to dump the Tylenol".
Now, the truth is, Dad can't say where he's at or going, and only has about 30 seconds before he has to go. So he's making these really terse
statements like "We're ok, the plane's going to be touching down in Camp S (Fort Sherman) at 2AM, the last of the weapons are loaded so we're
about to roll, Have you heard the news? Tell William to dump the Tylenol
. I'm ok, will be in touch later when we get in from the field." So,
in retrospect, it sounds really weird if you don't know what is going on.
What adds to the festivity is that apparently one of the suspects was named "Williams".
A few days pass. *knock knock knock* Hello, we're the FBI. Are you Todd O'Bedlam? Come with us. On go the handcuffs, and off goes the Todd to the
local FBI stronghold.
So they strap his big ass to the chair, put the light in his eyes, and sit there looking at him, smacking their fists into their palms, reading out of
a file, and giving him mean looks. I think he was maybe 20, so he's somewhat intimidated as you might imagine.
"Well, son, what do you know about these Tylenol murders?"
"Uh, someone's putting poison in Tylenol and they haven't caught him?"
"No, son, I think YOU had something to do with it"
"ME? Dude, this is Georgia. That's in Chicago or something. I've never been to Chicago. You're nuts"
"We have it on good authority you have some connection to these people"
"Well, son, what do you have to say to THIS!!!"
At this point, the FBI guy whups out a transcript printed with a line printer on greenbar. It is the entire phone conversation from one end to
another. Only, it got the name William as "Williams".
Todd starts laughing. The FBI guy looks pissed.
"Do you find something funny about this?"
"Yes. That's Dad, he's calling from Fort Stewart. He's about to get on a plane for somewhere. He's telling me to pass the word on to my brother
William to dump that big bottle of Tylenol he just bought. Dad didn't have William's phone number there and didn't have time to get it before his
plane rolled out"
"Who's your Dad?"
"Go call Colonel -- at Fort Stewart. It's MSgt Casey O'Bedlam, he might tell you where he's going, he might not"
FBI guy goes off, calls, comes back, turns off the light, unshackles Todd.
"Sorry about that, we'll take you home"
"Hey, where did you get that transcript? I didn't know our phone was bugged. What's up with that?"
"We don't have to say"
"Well, you will when I call the Colonel and tell him that you're monitoring our phone line. Dad's got clearance. This will cause a stink if you
don't have an order. YOU will get the visit by G2. And I bet they outrank you."
So, Todd sets about causing a little payback for Mr FBI. And when he gets back, Dad explains about Echelon.
In this case, the words "William(s)" and "Tylenol", probably with "dump" and/or "news" caused the initial hit, but that conversation would
have been more than enough to get it a further look.