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By NWV News Writer Jim Kouri
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
June 10, 2013

A disturbing amount of anger erupted when Americans discovered on Thursday morning that President Barack Obama's National Security Agency was given the go-ahead to conduct electronic surveillance of tens of millions of American citizens who use telephones, cell phones and other communications devices.

According to Matthew Reece at the Examiner:

On June 5, the Guardian obtained a copy of a secret court order that requires telecommunications company Verizon to "produce to the National Security Agency (NSA) upon service of this Order, and continue production on an ongoing daily basis thereafter for the duration of this Order, unless otherwise ordered by the Court, an electronic copy of the following tangible things: all call detail records or "telephony metadata" created by Verizon for communications (i) between the United States and abroad; or (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls." The order was given to Verizon on April 25, and was set to expire on July 19.

According to Fox News Channel's correspondent, Catherine Herridge, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) granted Attorney General Eric Holder to direct the FBI, unlimited authority to obtain from Verizon electronic copies of all call detail records for communications between the United States and abroad or within the United States. FISA's Judge Roger Vinson gave the FBI a judicial sanction to conduct a covert operation on behalf of the super-secret National Security Agency.

But this alleged overreach by President Obama's minions is not the first case of alleged privacy abuse perpetrated by a president's administration. George W. Bush was lambasted by many Americans -- including Barack Obama -- for conducting electronic surveillance using provisions of the controversial Patriot Act.

Even more overreaching was President Bill Clinton's Echelon Program which was implemented long before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States by al-Qaeda.

In arguably the most secretive and widespread electronic surveillance program ever created, the Clinton Administration and the National Security Agency employed a global spy system, code named Echelon, which monitored just about every phone call, fax, email and telex message sent anywhere in the world, according to the Federation of American Scientists.

The Echelon system was fairly simple in design: position intercept stations all over the world to capture all satellite, microwave, cellular and fiber-optic communications traffic, and then process this information through the massive computer capabilities of the NSA, including advanced voice recognition and optical character recognition programs. The system would look for code words or phrases (known as the Echelon Dictionary) that would prompt the computers to flag the message for recording and transcribing for future analysis, according to electronic surveillance expert Samuel Schlae, a former police detective.

"Intelligence analysts at each of the respective listening stations maintained separate keyword lists for them to analyze any conversation or document flagged by the system, which is then forwarded to the respective intelligence agency headquarters that requested the intercept," according to Schlae.

But apart from directing their ears towards terrorists and rogue states, Echelon was also used for purposes well outside its original mission. This regular domestic surveillance targeted American civilians, according to intelligence expert Patrick Poole.

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The program was controlled by the NSA and operated in cooperation with the Government Communications Headquarters of England, the Communications Security Establishment of Canada, the Australian Defense Security Directorate, and the General Communications Security Bureau of New Zealand. These organizations were bound together under a secret 1948 agreement, UKUSA, whose terms and text remain under wraps even today, according to Poole, an adjunct professor at Bannockburn College in Franklin, Tennessee.

In a May 27,1999 story in the New York Times, Americans first heard about Echelon. Two congressmen, Republicans Bob Barr and Porter Goss, who later served as Director of Central Intelligence, demanded information on the program. But, Democrats defended Clinton's spying on Americans as a "necessary evil." Barr and Porter's demand for information on Echelon died when President George W. Bush replaced Clinton in the White House.

And for many Americans, the vicious cycle continues.

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According to Fox News Channel's correspondent, Catherine Herridge, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) granted Attorney General Eric Holder to direct the FBI, unlimited authority to obtain from Verizon electronic copies...