A thoroughly fascinating history of SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) as invented and practiced by the security agencies of the five major English-speaking nations after WWII.
With the ability to capture every phone call and email message in the world, the Echelon surveillance system is run by the super-secret NSA which must then rely on sophisticated computer software to cull and filter the terabytes of data retrieved daily. After that, it is up to human intelligence analysts to give meaning or alert to the thousands of messages received.
And this is where Echelon has failed since its inception.
'Chatter' documents the politics and policies of institutions so infatuated with technology that they have all but ignored the fact that it still takes human beings to interpret the intelligence being gathered.
The inept and ineffectual operations of our intelligence agencies led in good measure to the tragedy on 9/11 and this book outlines reasons for those failures.
Intelligence is a nether world that lies just under the surface of our high-tech society, and when directed by politicians to advance their own ideologies and agenda, can be highly detrimental to the security of a nation. We only have to look at how Vice President Cheney allegedly coerced the CIA to "cook the books" on how many WMD's existed in Iraq to make a case for a war that has claimed far too many lives and has greatly increased the dangers of terrorism in the world.
'Chatter' is a thoroughly researched cautionary tale that sheds important light on an area of government that has always existed in the dark.
Click on the light and find out for yourself what all the chatter is about.
This book gave some great background on the evolution of evesdropping, why its done, who does it, how its done, and how it has been changing over time. That having been said, the book is also sprinkled with many tangents which tend to distract from the main points, but if you enjoy texts about the intelligence community, you'll enjoy this. It is fairly well written, not overly techy and/or dry. Are you listening to me?
Yes and I will probably will. There is a lot to take in. I often found myself jotting down notes of interesting things to look into later.
Learning about the cooperative intelligence program between the US and the UK, WWII-era intelligence, and the transition between pre-9/11 to post-9/11. Mixed in all of that are all these anecdotes of folks who were there along the way.
Yes, he came off a little stilted at times but it made the subject matter clear and easy to listen to.
Robertson Dean was the perfect choice as narrator for this book. The author does a good job of informing about echelon, but due to the secretive nature of it there's just not all that much red meat in the book. Still, I found it interesting and worth reading. A book on this topic could easily have turned out to be a kooky conspiracy theory trash-can liner, but it's not.
During early 2006, it became clear that political forces exploiting the technical collection capabilities of the NSA have been at work for a long time monitoring citizens of the US.
This book is a "Survival Must Read" whatever your political affiliation or level of understanding. Too few Americans grasp the incredible technology capable of intruding into their personal privacy. Our basic thoughts regarding Privacy and Constitutional Rights are ill-formed at best. Perhaps we trust the political process too much? Maybe or perhaps we are just unaware.
Patrick Keefe has written a remarkably well articulated and politically neutral documentary. This excellent work will help the reader/listener understand technical collection (SIGINT), aka 'evesdropping' from beginning to end. More importantly, Mr. Keefe explores the political, constitutional and moral implications to such a superb degree, that the reader becomes empowered to form his/her own opinions in a well developed and mature manner.
If you want to survive the spin regarding the NSA and associated political monkey-business, this book is a "Must Read".
Wow! You mean the government is listening to us? I had no idea. The book has a few interesting points to make but it jumps around too much.