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Chatter: Dispatches from the Secret World of Global Eavesdropping Hardcover – February 15, 2005

4.4 out of 5 stars 33 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The secret global information network that has come together under the umbrella name "Echelon" is detailed here by Yale Law student Keefe. While Great Britain led the way in the mid-'70s, Keefe marks the U.S., Kenya, Pakistan, Singapore and many others as current participants, taking satellite pictures from 10 miles up, sending submarines to hover silently and aiming portable laser devices to pick up conversations inside rooms. All the technologies are impressive, but the burgeoning mountain of data they produce, Keefe argues, does not always prove useful. Likewise, he illustrates how compact electronics can give the opposition a large ability to deceive the Echelon network, and/or to modify their behavior when they detect that they are under surveillance. Ultimately, Keefe makes a case that electronics have not solved the ancient dilemma of deciphering the enemy's intentions (what he is actually planning) from his capabilities (all the things he could choose to do). To prove his point, Keefe cites the mass of rumor and innuendo that failed to give specific warning of the attack on the U.S.S. Cole as well as Colin Powell's U.N. proclamation that Iraq possessed nerve gas. And, Keefe says, ordinary citizens pay a substantial cost in presumed privacy, as well as in potential for abuses of confidential data. Intelligent and polemical, Keefe's study is sure to spark some political chatter of its own. Agent, Tina Bennett at Janklow & Nesbitt. (On sale Feb. 15)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

"Secrecy is a maverick element," Keefe writes, in this critical analysis of American intelligence-gathering. His book examines the history of America's spy programs and those of its allies and—using little investigation and no classified sources—unveils much of the inner workings of the National Security Agency (a hundred satellites, thirty thousand eavesdroppers, a six-billion-dollar budget). Keefe also worries about the self-defeating effects of keeping so much from the public: secrecy might be essential to the success of spy missions, but it can also conceal privacy violations, abuses of power, and, perhaps worst of all, operational failure. Keefe writes with frustration that, facing allegations of malfeasance or incompetence, the N.S.A. or the C.I.A. will simply stonewall. "Trust us," the agency will say. "We can't tell you why you should trust us. But trust us."
Copyright © 2005
The New Yorker

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Random House; 1st edition (February 15, 2005)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 320 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1400060346
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1400058488
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.2 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.28 x 1.11 x 9.51 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 33 ratings

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Patrick Radden Keefe is an award-winning staff writer at The New Yorker magazine and the author of Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, as well as two previous critically acclaimed books, The Snakehead, and Chatter. He is the recipient of the 2014 National Magazine Award for Feature Writing, was a finalist for the National Magazine Award for Reporting in 2015 and 2016, and also received a Guggenheim Fellowship. He grew up in Boston and now lives in New York.

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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
33 global ratings

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