----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, February 18, 2000 1:12 PM
Subject: ECHELON WAS MY BABY Ekstra Bladet, November 17, 1999


Ekstra Bladet, November 17, 1999
Ekstra Bladet meets former Echelon spy. In spite of illness and angst, she
now reveals how illegal political surveillance was carried out.
by Bo Elkjśr and Kenan Seeberg.

LAS VEGAS (Ekstra Bladet): "Even though I felt bad about what we were
doing, I was very pleased with the professional part of my job. I don't mean
to brag, but I was very good at what I did, and I actually felt like Echelon
was my baby."

Ekstra Bladet meets Margaret Newsham in her home in a sleepy Las
Vegas suburb. For obvious reasons we are omitting the name of the town
where Margaret Newsham is trying to lead a normal life. She has never
mentioned her past to her neighbors.

A past in which Margaret Newsham has been in close contact with the very
core of the most secretive world of all worlds. Margaret Newsham helped
build the electronic surveillance system known as Echelon.

Today she has broken off connection with the world of espionage and lives
in constant fear that 'certain elements' in the NSA or CIA will try to
her. As a result, she sleeps with a loaded pistol under her mattress, and
her best friend is Mr. Gunther - a 120-pound German shepherd that was
trained to be a guard and attack dog by a good friend in the Nevada State

She sent the dog to a 'babysitter' before we arrived, since "he doesn't let
strangers come in to my house," she says with a faint smile.

Only once before has Newsham told anybody about her work as an Echelon
spy: during closed, top-secret hearings held by the US Congress in 1988.
Today, Margaret breaks eleven years of silence by telling the press for the
very first time about her work for the most extensive espionage network in
the world. Margaret Newsham decided to talk with Ekstra Bladet even
though her doctor advised her not to meet with us. "Since I have high blood
pressure, my doctor thinks it's risky for me to talk with you, but it's a
chance I'm willing to take."

Newsham has gone through hell ever since she was fired from her job at
Lockheed Martin where she designed programs for Echelon's global
surveillance network. When asked to work on a project in 1984, she refused
because sh
e believed it could harm the US government. Shortly after, Echelon's
wirepullers in the National Security Agency (NSA) made sure that she was
fired by Lockheed Martin. Immediately afterward, she sued her former
employer f
or wrongful dismissal and contacted the internal security commission, DCAA,
which arranged the closed hearings.

"Ever since, I have felt like I was under so much pressure that it has had a
fatal influence on my health," says Margaret Newsham, who up to now has
survived a seizure which left her totally paralyzed. All she had left wa
s her sense of hearing when she was admitted to the hospital.

"I could hear the doctor pronouncing my death sentence, while my husband and
three children stood by my side. The only thing that kept me going was the
thought that if I died, I would lose my case. That thought was what b
rought me back to life."
After regaining her mobility, Newsham suffered a cardiac arrest, and two
years ago she underwent surgery for a malignant tumor. Today, she dryly
states that she is living on borrowed time, which perhaps explains why she c
hooses to stand forward at this time.

"To me, there are only two issues at stake here: right or wrong. And the
longer I worked on the clandestine surveillance projects, the more I could
see that they were not only illegal, but also unconstitutional."

Margaret Newsham is not pleased with herself for participating in spying on
ordinary people, politicians, interest groups and private companies, which
is exactly what she did for 10 years, from 1974 to 1984. Both the sate
llites and the computer programs were developed at Lockheed's headquarters
in Sunnyvale California, and in 1977, she was stationed at the largest
listening post in the world at Menwith Hill, England. "On the day at Menwit
h Hill when I realized in earnest how utterly wrong it was, I was sitting
with one of the many "translators". He was an expert in languages like
Russian, Chinese and Japanese. Suddenly he asked me if I wanted to listen in
 on a conversation taking place in the US at an office in the US Senate
Building. Then I clearly heard a southern American dialect I thought I had
heard before."

"Who is that?" I asked the translator who told me that it was Republican
senator Strom Thurmond. 'Oh my gosh!' I thought. We're not only spying on
other countries, but also on our own citizens. That's when I realized in e
arnest that what we were doing had nothing to do with national security
interests of the US."

In all its complicated simplicity, the American intelligence agency, NSA,
together with intelligence agencies in England, Canada, Australia and New
Zealand, has established a system of satellites and computer systems that
 can monitor by and large all electronic communication in the world: phone
conversations, e-mails, telexes and telefaxes. A number of other countries
are affiliated as third or fourth party participants, including Denmark

The fundamental concept of the system is to get access to all important
political movements in hostile and allied countries alike and to keep an eye
on all important economic movements. Knowledge is power, and the NSA kno
ws it. Furthermore, NSA's spies function as the only primary authority to
supervise who receives what information and what it is used for.

"Even then, Echelon was very big and sophisticated. As early as 1979 we
could track a specific person and zoom in on his phone conversation while he
was communicating. Since our satellites could in 1984 film a postage sta
mp lying on the ground, it is almost impossible to imagine how
all-encompassing the system must be today."

Who came up with the name Echelon? "The NSA. Lockheed Martin's alphanumeric
code was P415."

What did you actually do? "Unfortunately, I can't tell you all my duties. I
am still bound by professional secrecy, and I would hate to go to prison or
get involved in any trouble, if you know what I mean. In general, I c
an tell you that I was responsible for compiling the various systems and
programs, configuring the whole thing and making it operational on main
frames [large computers, ed.]."

Which part of the system is named Echelon?
"The computer network itself. The software programs are known as SILKWORTH
and SIRE, and one of the most important surveillance satellites is named
VORTEX. It intercepts things like phone conversations."

You worked as an agent for the NSA, but were employed by a private company?
"Yes, it is almost impossible to tell the difference between NSA agents and
civilians employed by Lockheed Martin, Ford and IBM. The borderlines are
very vague. I had one of the highest security classifications which requ
ired the approval of the CIA, the NSA, the Navy and the Air Force. The
approval included both a lie detector test, and an expanded personal history
test in which my family and acquaintances were discretely checked by the
security agency."

The sky darkens over the cascading neon lights of Las Vegas when Margaret
Newsham tells of countless infringements of security regulations and about
her colleague who suffered brain damage when she partipated in the devel
opment of the Stealth bomber. Though Margaret Newsham is totally exhausted,
she also seems relieved.

"This is the first time I have ever told anyone some of the things I told
you today. But now I want to get Mr. Gunther soon so I feel safe again. She
measures her blood pressure and looks very alarmed.

"I had better go to the doctor tomorrow morning, so maybe we should meet
later on in the day."
When she returns with Mr. Gunther an hour later, the dog inspects every room
before Margaret goes in. The last thing she does before falling asleep on
her king size bed is to check her pistol to make sure it is still load
Lockheed Martin is the largest supplier of munitions to the US military
services and to their intelligence agencies, the NSA and the CIA. During the
eighties, Lockheed Martin took over LORAL Space Systems and Ford
Aerospace which also deliver monitoring equipment to the espionage
agencies. Margaret Newsham worked for the NSA through her employment
at Ford and Lockheed from 1974 to 1984. In 1977 and 1978, Newsham was
stationed at the largest listening post in the world at Menwith Hill,
She received on-the-job training at NSA headquarters at Fort George Meade
in Maryland, USA.

Ekstra Bladet has Margaret Newsham's stationing orders from the US
Department of Defense. She possessed the high security classification

According to information found by Ekstra Bladet in the Pentagon's
databases, the NSA had 38,613 employees in 1995. This figure does not
include the many employees at private companies who work for the NSA.

Ekstra Bladet has documented the existence of Echelon in a long series of
articles over the last months.

Denmark is affiliated with the Echelon network as a third party, and the
most important Danish listening post is located at Aflandshage on the
island of Amager.
Copyright 1999 - Ekstra Bladet - Denmark

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