Undoubtedly the most prominent moment in the ECHELON saga was the Summer of 2000 when the European Parliament appointed a 36-member ad hoc committee to spend a year investigating ECHELON. As the media spotlight brightened, a series of events occurred which help tell the story. These included a visit to the US by members of the EU Commission, during which the members declared their intention to come to NSA to get ground truth. While the visit to NSA did not take place, the members were directed to our congressional oversight committees who reaffirmed with emphasis that NSA operates within all the rules and laws, and with full congressional oversight.
Corporate NSA (FAD, SID, OGC, PAO, and Policy) ensured that our interests, and our SIGINT partners' interests, were protected throughout the ordeal; and ironically, the final report of the EU Commission reflected not only that NSA played by the rules, with congressional oversight, but that those characteristics were lacking when the Commission applied its investigatory criteria to other European nations. In the final analysis, the "pig rule" applied when dealing with this tacky matter: "Don't wrestle in the mud with the pigs. They like it, and you both get dirty."
[ Air Force Info ]