More Than Just Opinion, Osborne Has Information

Bill Osborne’s comment about Edward Snowden’s amazing interview says what needed to be said:

The abuse of Julian Assange and Bradley Manning was designed to intimidate whistle blowers like Edward Snowden. It is good to see that at least in this case it has not worked.

We should soon expect a campaign of character assassination against Snowden similar to the ones conducted against Assange and Manning.

The most interesting thing about Bill’s comment is that he offers more than just a probing opinion. Typically, he gives striking information. For which my thanks. Yours, too, I hope. A clarification is needed, however, for this:

It’s telling that the exposé and interviews appeared in a foreign paper. We can no longer count on our own media to report the revelations of whistle blowers.

Yes, the American press alone cannot be relied upon to give us undiluted or unbiased news of U.S. gummint surveillance, intimidation, and so forth — partly because too many reporters simply repeat official “talking points” without challenging them, as Glenn Greenwald has often noted, but in larger part because corporate media have a craven, vested interest in maintaining good relations with the gummint. But credit where due: The Washington Post has been on the Snowden story from the beginning. See this, too. The fact that Snowden’s information was leaked to The Guardian first and foremost is because Snowden trusted Greenwald, and The Guardian is where Greenwald’s column appears. It must be said, of course, that no mainstream American newspaper would likely carry Greenwald’s column, especially given the unfettered editorial authority he demands (and deserves).

As to Osborne’s information, here ‘tiz:

This sort of massive and detailed surveillance is not new. From 1982 to 1990, I lived near a large US army base near Bad Aibling, Germany called ESHELON Field Station 81 that had about 1000 staff members. It was part of a worldwide network of stations whose mission was to intercept commercial satellite trunk communications, fiber optic switching stations, microwave communications, etc. They used massive software programs to sort, categorize, and store this information similar to Carnivore, which were later replaced by programs like NarusInsight run on super computers.

These bases were initially created to monitor military and diplomatic communications of the Soviet Union, but their principle function eventually became industrial espionage against America’s allies. Narus, which owns NarusInsight, is a subsidiary of Boeing. Ironically, Airbus has been one of the best known targets of this industrial espionage.

The European Union has conducted parliamentary investigations of ECHELON, but to little avail. As part of the reorganization of the intelligence services after 9/11, the base at Bad Aibling was closed in 2004 and its work transferred to Griesheim, Germany. The base at Griesheim was closed in 2008 and the work transferred to another location, but I do not know where.

The surveillance of Americans, of course, is not new. I doubt these latest revelations will trigger much resistance. This is unfortunate because surveillance and secrecy are ultimately measures of totalitarianism.

Update: June 11 — In today’s NYT: “Guardian Makes Waves, and Is Ready for More.”

Mr. Greenwald said that his source, who on Sunday identified himself as Edward J. Snowden, “knew the views that I had” and “knew that in order for someone to do this story the way it had to be done” he had to be “in an adversarial posture vis-à-vis the U.S. government.”

Barton Gellman, an investigative reporter who had a long career at The Washington Post, said Mr. Snowden also discussed the documents with him. But he balked when Mr. Gellman and The Post would not agree to Mr. Snowden’s timetable for releasing the documents or his request that the paper print all the slides in a PowerPoint presentation about Prism, the government’s extensive online surveillance system.

Laura Poitras, a documentary filmmaker who shared a byline with Mr. Greenwald in The Guardian and Mr. Gellman in The Post in the coverage of the N.S.A. leaks, said in an interview with Salon that Mr. Snowden “had a suspicion of mainstream media.”

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  1. says

    Those interested in more information about ECHELON and its use for industrial espionage might like to see this article from the BBC:

    And here is a PDF of the 194 page report published about ECHELON by the European Union in 2001. The detailed table of contents provides a good overview of the report’s contents:

    One of the points made in the report I find especially interesting is that ECHELON telephone intercept software went beyond word recognition, and could be used to recognize the voice of specific individuals. (See pg. 35.) It is also astounding to realize that ECHELON is now antiquated and more powerful systems are in place for which there is almost no public information.

  2. wh says

    re “the base at Griesheim”:
    our li’l local paper here just carried an article reporting of a march of uhm, concerned citizens to that very spot, last weekend. actually it was more sort of a peaceful “walk”, 80 folks joined in.;art1287,4113221
    plus, a july 7 article says “intelligence base at griesheim will be transferred” …;art24719,4096124
    i.e. those Dagger Complex facilities will be moved to the airport of Wiesbaden-Erbenheim, where, according to Spiegel magazine ( the US army is building a new Consolidated Intelligence Center for 124 million USD – strictly no kraut construction firms involved here (like they used to be on army bases), and all construction material is brought in from the US.
    plus, Spiegel relates how a specific “Signals Intelligence Supervisor”, working in Darmstadt in 2009/10, told on LinkedIn how he worked on collecting foreign communications, translating and processing data … mentioning there are “dozens of NSA and other US secret service staff telling abt their work in Germany” on LinkedIn …

    • says

      Thanks for the info about Griesheim and the impending move to Wiesbaden. The question is, why does Germany continue to host these bases? Is it because the Amis are sharing the information they gain spying on Germans with the German government? Why would Germany undermine its own economy by letting Americans steal their trade secrets? Are the Americans lying to Germany about the info they are collecting? Why does the German government believe them, especially now that Snowden has shown that the USA has been lying to Germany? There are still so many pieces of the puzzle missing.