Re: US' NSA monitors all e-mail, telephone and FAXes in Europe

Dan Clemmensen (
Sat, 31 Jan 1998 17:36:20 -0500

Harvey Newstrom wrote:

> [quoting someone]
> A draft ("consultation version") of a report by the European Parliament's
> Office for Scientific and Technological Option Assessment (STOA) entitled
> the EuroParl's Civil Liberties and Interior Committee. Several IT-relevant
> excerpts are now available at John Young's widely respected crypto-politics
> website: <<>
> "[...] Within Europe, all e-mail, telephone and fax communications are
> routinely intercepted by the United States National Security Agency,
> transferring all target information from the European mainland via the
> strategic hub of London then by satellite to Fort Meade in Maryland via the
> crucial hub at Menwith Hill in the North York Moors of the UK."

This causes my bullshit alarm to ring loudly.
1)The bandwidth of "all e-mail, telephone and fax communications" in Europe
would be quite high--higher than any feasible satellite channel.
2) Where are the signals intercepted by NSA? nearly all are land-line
only, with no radio component, so physical taps would be necessary. This would
certainly require colusion of the European PTTs, which are mostly run by
European governments. Why would they permit NSA to do this?
3) With serious compression, a phone call can be squeezed to an average of
perhaps 500bytes/sec. There are probably an average of at least one million
simulatneous phone calls in europe at any time. This is 500 megabytes (4 gigabits)
per second, requiring 43.2 terabytes of storage per day. the compression would
require roughly one million very competent DSPs. automatic keyword recognition
equipment would require at least an additional 2 miooion DSPs.

I might believe that NSA attempts to intercept as much military microwave voice
as they possibly can in Russia, and that they used to do a lot more of that in
eastern Europe, but modern commercial landlines are a different story entirely.