In 1996, New Zealand based journalist Nicky Hager shocked the world with his exposé on a global surveillance system known as ECHELON.
wrote a book about his
findings, which were controversial enough that elements within the British government wanted to ban the book from being sold in the U.K. In the U.S., a summary of Hager's ECHELON revelations was published in the award-winning Covert Action Quarterly in its winter 1996/1997 edition.
That same story went on to be named as one of Project Censored's 25 most important underreported stories of the year in 1998.
Hager's investigation took him years to complete and ultimately allowed him to interview more than 50 people who had worked in the intelligence community under a secret program known as the UKUSA agreement.
According to Hager
, the UKUSA agreement was created in 1948 and was a secret Cold Warera intelligence alliance between the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
In Covert Action Quarterly, Hager
described the ECHELON system as being ripe for abuse because it operated virtually without any restraints, a sobering assessment, considering Hager's description of the system's capabilities.
discovered that ECHELON was intercepting email, faxes, telex messages and telephone calls.
In a later update to his
noted that the NSA
had achieved an "ominous capability for large-scale automated telephone monitoring."
has cited several specific examples in his