Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Following in the steps of James Bamford (Pretext for War), the foremost chronicler of the National Security Agency (NSA), journalist Keefe plays the part of tourist in the war on terror. The book begins with Keefe's visit to an eavesdropping center in England, where he gets as far as the front gate. He then visits a former NSA employee who, in 2003, leaked information that the United States was eavesdropping on fellow members of the UN. Keefe further interviews former CIA agents, Congressmen, and businessmen involved in the translation business. While containing no revelations, the book provides a solid, well-researched overview of the international eavesdropping alliance called Echelon, whereby all types of communication can be targeted, sifted, and analyzed by the United States and its allies. To his credit, the author is evenhanded, leaving the reader to decide whether the disease is worth the cure. For all collections.-Harry Charles, Attorney at law, St. Louis (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
The technologies of electronic eavesdropping are impressive, but the sheer volume of routine surveillance conducted by governments around the world is positively astounding. Keefe paints an indelible portrait of global capabilities and missions, and then cleanly reverses paranoia by showing how more intelligence has not been the panacea of prediction that spy agencies have long sought. Indeed, such systems are vulnerable to a variety of confounding dilemmas and directed counter-spoofs that allow Keefe to call into question their ultimate value. The focus is on the US Echelon collection system, but the inferences drawn and points made are applicable across the spectrum of intelligence operations in the information age. Ultimately, Keefe's legal background draws him to a discussion of the tradeoffs between personal security and liberty. While this is apt to irritate readers looking for a more specialized techno-history, it is the central political question of our times. This highly readable, well-researched, and documented survey of modern signals and electronic intelligence (SIGINT and ELINT) methods will prove engaging to students of the legal and policy issues, international relations, and the history of intelligence techniques and agencies. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. General readers and upper-division undergraduates and above. E. C. Dolman United States Air University