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Tehran and Microturbo, they write up reports and send them out to
customers. Many of the reports are stamped with exotic codenames,
such as "Gamma," which is reserved for Sigint of the highest sensitivity.
"Within Gamma they had double G, which was higher than Gamma,"
said one former official. "Double G material was sent to people by hand”


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[Director of Central Intelligence George] Tenet, [Secretary of State
Madeleine] Albright, and so forth. This included material from friendly-
nation wiretaps. 'EG' was Executive Gamma, blue cover sheet." The
analysts also mark reports with a three-letter code indicating where the
intercept was obtained. "FRD," for example, indicates that the
information in the report came from intercepted French diplomatic
communications. "ILC" indicates that it was intercepted from an
"international licensed carrier," such as a commercial
telecommunications channel. There is also a subject tag, such as "ABIG,"
for "Arms Investigation of Tracked Vehicles," which indicates that the
intercept concerns tracked weapons vehicles. Thus the analyst need only
enter "ABIG" into his computer and all intercepted messages over the
past few days dealing with that topic would pop up.
The analysts are searching through the world's private whispers every
day, yet after a while even that becomes routine. "I looked for black-
market arms sales," said one former customer, an analyst for a federal
agency. "I would arrive in the morning, go to my NSA web site” they had
a search engine”pull it down. Keywords were 'letter of credit,' 'contract,'
'bill of lading,' 'middleman,' 'dealer,' 'broker.' I had eight to ten categories.
In about an hour I would go through all my message traffic [intercepts].
It would say, 'We searched and we found twenty-seven things that meet
your criteria.' And then you have the subject lines. You click on the
subject line and the message will come up. These will be the reports, you
never see the raw intercepts. It would say something like, 'On the
fourteenth of March some person in the Iranian Ministry of Defense
contacted so and so at the embassy in blah blah. They discussed the
following topics.' It would give a description of the conversation, it would
reference other cables on the same issue. And then if they faxed
something”the letters of credit or contracts”they would be in there."
The analysts in NSA work, for the most part, in standard cubicles. On
their desks are several computer monitors. As a security measure, the
one on which they read the intercepts is not connected to the outside
world. A second computer is connected to the public Internet, and
analysts are forbidden to input classified material into it, for fear of
hackers. Many analysts have reel-to-reel tape recorders for listening to
the intercepted voice conversations. "They had pictures above their desk
of the guys they were listening to," said one person who spent time in the
area. He said that often such photographs were obtained by intercepting
the fax when someone transmitted a copy of his or her passport in
applying for a visa. After listening to the voices of the same unsuspecting
individuals, hour after hour, day after day, many analysts begin to feel
they know them. "They used to tell me, 'Even if I have never seen these
guys, if I ever got on an elevator and heard their voice I'd jump through
the roof. You get to know these voices as well as your wife's.' "



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The question of whether or not to bring a dèmarche to a foreign
government is always a difficult issue, especially when the discovery of a
violation comes from NSA's Sigint. The State Department is usually in
favor of issuing a dèmarche, but NSA is occasionally opposed because it
might reveal to the foreign country that its communications are being
intercepted. "In order to bring a dèmarche to a foreign country," said one
official, "we would first have to get permission from NSA to declassify or
reduce the classification of the information. They were usually pretty
good about it."
The CIA, however, was a different story. "The Agency [CIA] guys never
bothered telling you what they were doing, if they bothered showing up'
at the meeting," said the official. "The NSA would at least make it usable.
The Agency [CIA] would say, 'You're not to dèmarche this country
because we've got an op going.' We say, 'What's the op?' And they say,
'We can't tell you.' They never tell you when it's over, unless you follow it
up with them. It's like they almost didn't care, they had other fish to fry.
You know nonproliferation just wasn't important."
Normally, to hide the source of the underlying information, a certain
period of time was allowed to pass before a dèmarche was issued. "We'd
never go in doing this stuff right away, because they'd know," said one
former official. "We'd have to sit on the stuff for weeks sometimes. And
then they'd think that some guy talked to his girlfriend or blabbed to a
hairdresser. You've got to put time and distance between it."


Through UKUSA's worldwide eavesdropping web, NSA and its
partners were able to peek behind scenes and determine how well the
agreement between the United States and China was holding up. In the
days of the Cold War, "verification" simply involved photo satellites
snapping images, and analysts counting missile silos and launchers. But
today, it is not what is planted in the ground but what is planted in
someone's mind that is critical to know. For that, imaging satellites are
useless and only signals intelligence can provide the answers. Without
Sigint, Washington would have been left in the dark. No other
intelligence source”human, military, diplomatic, photo, Israeli”
provided the answers produced by the Echelon system. (Echelon is a
software program whose name has become a generic term for
eavesdropping on commercial communications.)
But the history of the C-802 problem also shows the dangers
associated with Echelon. Once GCHQ intercepted the fax Microturbo's T.
Dècle sent Iran's Heidari, it was passed on to NSA, the Canadian CSE,
and Australia's DSD, as well as to the British Secret Intelligence Service
(MI-6) and customs offices. Like most of the other intercepts dealing with
the cruise missile deal, it was not sent to New Zealand's GCSB, possibly



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because of continued bitterness over that country's declaration that it
was a nuclear-free zone.
At NSA the information on Dècle went to W9P3, the Missile
Proliferation section of W Group, the Global Issues and Weapons Group.
NSA in turn sent the report on Dècle to a number of CIA stations around
the world, including those in Paris and Bonn, as well as to the U.S.
Commerce Department and to Customs. Thus, within a few days of
Dècle's fax, there were probably hundreds of people in at least four
countries around the world reading it and possibly putting Dècle's name
on some blacklist, as if he were an enemy of the state. The question,
however, was whether the analysts were correct. Was Microturbo sending
a missile engine to Tehran, as they suspected, or was it simply an
innocent generator, as France was claiming? As with many cases in the
gray, shadowy world of Echelon, little is strictly black and white.
To resolve the issue, French export inspectors flew to Antwerp as the
ship containing the "special items" was preparing to sail to Iran. Upon
opening the crates, they later told U.S. authorities, they confirmed that
the "special items" were generators. This caused U.S. authorities to
conduct a "reevaluation" of the NSA and GCHQ transcripts. In light of the
French information, NSA concluded that some of the intercepted
conversations were more ambiguous than originally believed. They
admitted that the equipment sent by Microturbo in fact could have been
a generator, but one with potential military uses. "It doesn't mean we
were necessarily wrong" in the earlier reports, said one U.S. official. "But
if we'd known of the doubts before, we wouldn't have done things [written
the reports] that way."
The chairman of Microturbo, Jean-Bernard Cocheteux, also flatly
denied that the generator had any usefulness as a missile engine. They
were "very different from engines used to propel missiles," he said, and
not useful in building missile engines. "Microturbo, SA, never assisted
Iran in any way" on any missile, he added.
The issues involving Dècle are central to the debate over the potential
harm caused by UKUSA's worldwide eavesdropping system. Had he been
a citizen of one of the UKUSA nations, his name would have been deleted
before the report was ever sent out. But because he was not, his name
made its way into the computers and possibly onto the watch lists of
intelligence agencies, customs bureaus, and other secret and law
enforcement organizations around the world. It is unknown with whom
those organizations might then have shared the information.
If this did happen, maybe nothing would come of it, or maybe the next
time Dècle tried to enter the United States or Britain he would be refused
without explanation. Maybe he could even be arrested. Also, after the
NSA "reevaluation," were the new conclusions casting doubt on the



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earlier reports sent to everyone who had received the originals? Or were
those recipients left only with the reports indicating that Dècle and
Microturbo were secretly selling a cruise missile engine to Iran? Complex
issues involving innocent non-UKUSA persons, similar to those raised by
the Microturbo intercepts, are likely to occur hundreds of times a week
throughout the UKUSA countries. As government surveillance technology
becomes even more pervasive, the risks to individual rights grow
proportionally.
By 2001, the UKUSA partners had become an eavesdropping
superpower with its own laws, language, and customs. It operated secret
antennas in nearly every corner of the planet and deep into outer space.
Just as mighty navies once ruled the high seas, UKUSA's goal is to rule
cyberspace. On a wall at NSA is a plaque presented to Kenneth A.
Minihan by GCHQ shortly after his arrival as director in 1996.
"Celebrating fifty years of successful partnership," it says, and then notes
the "special relationship" of "the English-speaking peoples."
In the late 1990s, for the first time since the in-depth congressional
hearings a quarter of a century earlier, NSA was facing probing questions
about its eavesdropping activities. This time they were coming mostly
from European parliaments, skeptical reporters, and an unusual alliance
of left and far-right groups in the United States. In Europe, the principal
concern was the suspicion that NSA was eavesdropping on business
communications and passing on trade secrets to European firms'
American competitors”stealing from Airbus and giving to Boeing, for
example.
Interviews with dozens of current and former NSA officials indicate
that the agency is not currently engaged in industrial espionage, stealing
data from one company and giving it to a competitor. But there is no law
preventing the agency from doing so, and because its customers,
including the White House and the CIA, dictate NSA's targets, it could
conceivably engage in such espionage in the future. The only prerequisite
would be a secret verbal order from the president or the director of
Central Intelligence that industrial espionage was now a national
security requirement. According to information obtained for Body of
Secrets, something like that came close to happening in 1990, during the
administration of President George Bush.
At the time, Vice Admiral William O. Studeman was the director of
NSA. "There are a substantial number of legal problems associated”
legal and ethical problems”associated with the concept of trying to
provide intelligence information directly to business in the United
States," said Studeman in 1990. "And so I believe that this decision has
not yet been made. I believe that we are going to move in the direction of
considering this with great caution. ... I believe that it's going to be years,
and a very slow process and one that's going to be very deliberate as to


354
what kinds of decisions are going to be made."
Direction, said Studeman, would come from above. "We would not be
the ones to make that decision," he said. "I would have to defer to the
director of Central Intelligence and receive his guidance on this
particular subject." The 1990s were a time, said Studeman, when "clearly
the area of economics is now becoming the area of principal concern to
the American citizen. This is being reflected in the polls. More people are
concerned about economic competitiveness than they are concerned
about military problems or many other issues in the world today."
In short, the time was ripe to begin quietly turning America's big ear
on Airbus and other tough foreign competitors, and had the decision
been made, NSA would have begun complying. The issue for the agency
was not ethics but mechanics, according to Studeman.
"If economic intelligence and economic competition are defined as a
national security interest, the intelligence community is essentially going
to have to spread its resources across a lot more of the problem, and the
problem is still very big," he said. "When you take all the geographic
distribution possibilities and add on top of it the military,
political/diplomatic, economic, sociological, ecological, and every other
kind of area we're being asked to look at now . . . it's a new world and it's
possible we could be caught short and have some cold starts." He added,
"The real issue for us is whether or not we can find a way to, number
one, successfully collect that intelligence, which is a nontrivial
achievement in and of itself, if it were ever directed. And secondly, how
do we use it? ... There isn't any use to collecting it if it cannot be used."
For years NSA had collected economic intelligence, but the agency had
not specifically eavesdropped on particular companies for the purpose of
industrial espionage. "Right now what broad information NSA collects on
trade and that sort of thing in the world," said Studeman, "we provide to
federal agencies whether it's Commerce or Treasury or the State
Department. We provide that information directly and they are a federal
consumer."
Rather than supply direct competitive intelligence to American
business, NSA was directed to increase support for the business
community”and the American economy”in more indirect ways. One
means was to beef up efforts to discover illegal and deceptive tactics,
such as bribery, used by foreign competitors to win contracts away from
American companies. The other was to devote more resources to
providing intelligence to U.S. government negotiators during important
trade talks.
NSA had long played a "defensive" role in helping to prevent foreign
countries from spying on American companies. "What we use the
intelligence instrument for is collecting against other people who are


355
collecting against us for industrial espionage purposes," said Studeman,
"or to collect against other people who are not playing by internationally
accepted rules of the road or business ethics." But in 1990 the question
being debated in the Bush White House and at CIA was whether the NSA
would begin going on the "offensive." "We will be definitely helping out on
the defensive side," said Studeman. "But the school's out on the
offensive."
In one "defensive" case, the CIA obtained details of an offer by French
business executives to allegedly bribe Brazilian officials to steer a $1.4
billion contract toward Thomson-CSF and away from the Raytheon
Corporation. Raytheon later won the contract. In 1995, a report
presented to Congress cited "almost one hundred cases of foreign firms
using bribery to undercut U.S. firms' efforts to win international
contracts with about $45 billion." It added, "The foreign firms that offer
bribes typically win about eighty percent of the deals."
"If we had any certain evidence," said Studeman, "that someone was
essentially targeting an American company, the [intelligence] community
would essentially go to that company and actively inform them they are
being targeted and also might provide them some kind of advice on how
to enhance their security or at least make recommendations about how
technically . . . [to] reduce their vulnerability."
Former CIA director R. James Woolsey was far more blunt about
NSA's eavesdropping on European companies to detect crooked tactics.
"Yes, my continental European friends, we have spied on you," he said.


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