I have a hard time listening to all these politicians moan about what a traitor Edward Snowden is. After all, I am in the generation that lionized Daniel Ellsberg when he released the Pentagon Papers in 1971. He was demonized by the Nixon Administration in much the same manner that Snowden is today. Ultimately, this top-secret Pentagon study of U.S. government decision-making in relation to the Vietnam War, it forced a reexamination of the secrets the government used to take us into war.
While it is early in the game for Snowden, recent statements from some government officials have indicated that the positive fallout from the information Snowden released is that it is forcing our government to take a second look at the methods it is using to collect data on American citizens,
Whatever the outcome, I know that I listened in on the private telephone calls of East German government officials for more than two years, so it doesn’t come as any surprise to me that the U.S. is wiretapping Chinese government officials. Working atop Teufelsberg, we had direct line into the East German government offices and listened to telephone calls from the lowest secretary planning a weekend getaway with a co-worker all the way up to “Uncle Wally,” or Walter Ulbricht, head of the post-World War II German Democratic Republic.
If might be interesting to her McCurry describe his working environment on one of his first days at work:
The room Evans and McCurry worked in was about thirty feet wide by sixty feet deep and packed with electronic equipment. Metal racks, set up with columns of audio tape recorders, lined both the side and the back walls of the room. Each column had four of the reel-to-reel machines. There were two columns on each side of a small metal desk, where the operator sat with two more recorders situated over the desk. The racks were set out from the walls about two feet to allow room for the miles of wires that ran out of them and into the walls.
There were nine voice intercept operators in the room, four on each side wall and one at the closed end of the room.
After McCurry had been on site for a while, he would learn there were various rumors about the purpose of a dome that sat atop the facility and concealed a giant microwave dish. The dome could be seen from points outside the Grunewald forest where the Hill was located. Some of the most ludicrous stories were circulated among non-ASA soldiers in Berlin, the “gators,” whose lives overseas comprised a lot of nonsensical war games. The most prevalent rumor was that the bubble concealed a giant laser that could vaporize Russian reconnaissance planes. It wasn’t difficult to find someone who had actually seen the dome open and the laser operating.
There were five voice intercept operator rooms, or wings, on the Hill, three for German language operators and two for Russian linguists. Russian operators listened in on Warsaw Pact maneuvers. The Warsaw Pact consisted of the eight communist states of Eastern Europe and its officials were well aware that their radio communications were being monitored.
See why it wouldn’t surprise me who our government is listening to. Unfortunately it pays to assume the worst.