Scott Rickard, former US intelligence linguist from Orlando, has joined Press TV’s Debate program to shed more light on the issue of the US government’s spying on some of its staunchest allies.
Below you are provided with a rough transcription of the interview.
Press TV: Mr. Scott Rickard first of all do you agree there that the fact that this has become public is, actually, the news here and that France knew about it.
This was also expressed by some of our viewers and commentators.
Rickard: Well, this has become public in the mainstream media, I would say, in the last six months or so, but really, the well-reported media has talked about this for nearly a decade.
The systems in question now were built in, nearly, 2000’s and you had many companies that were selling these systems to France and to Mexico, I would say, right around 2005 to 2006 timeframe.
The International Bureau for Narcotics and Law Enforcement [was] actually put out of bid to put the systems into Mexico and the company that won the bid for this particular deployment in France, in Mexico, was a company called Verint, it is a manufacturer of surveillance systems in the video and telecommunications industries, now Verint is an Israeli-owned company, it provides intelligence collection as well as surveillance at airports around the world, at cities around the world, as well as in the telecommunications markets around the world.
You have to take into close consideration that this intelligence is basically selective. When there are things that are available that would perhaps find the Americans who have done something that is criminal or illegal, that information is suppressed from these intelligence communities.
So a lot of times it is a very one-way street; they choose when they want to release the information and they chose how and when the go after specific individuals.
Press TV: Mr. Rickard what is your opinion on that (the other guest’s comments)?
Rickard: Well, it is actually the Americans are probably the most dominant player in the intelligence collection community around the world with some very special partners in Israel as well as in the UK.
These systems that have been deployed, the reason you see so much more information being collected is, because the technology is much more scalable. The scalability of the system has gone way beyond the imagination of the things that were available only ten years ago.
Simple things like being able to duplicate fiber communications with technologies like Glimmerglass; Glimmerglass allows you to, basically, duplicate the fiber communications and do a full backup of the entire fiber streams, of communications, and these voice and data networks that are out there, pushing the kinds of information that has been collected.
Now these countries were very well aware that they were being surveilled and that this equipment was being installed.
People like Carlos Slim are very well involved with the American telecommunications industry and welcomed in these technologies for several reasons. A lot of it had to do with going after criminals within their own countries but at the same time they may not have been aware that the Americans would quite simply use this technology to go after political figures that were not in the corrupt positions, that were in the cabinets and using those particular communications to the benefit of the American interest and actually going after, really, innocent individuals and stealing information from them for economic purposes and other reasons that are very unethical.
Press TV: Mr. Rickard would you say that the scale and scope (of the surveillance) should be as it is?
Rickard: Well, I guest in a way I agree with Mr. Stogel. I mean the fact is that all you have to do is go back 20, 30 years and if you and I were able to have this kind of a conversation, you know, we can do this over Skype, you can call around the world, basically, for free when calling a country 30 years ago cost five dollars a minute and nobody could afford to talk to each other.
So right now, as Mr. Stogel mentioned, the ability for us to communicate and connect is extreme. We have a fabulous ability to communicate and really subvert a lot of the censorship and subvert a lot of the…, what I would call, propaganda that our governments had been feeding us for decades.
So in a way, I think that they are basically coming up and using their technologies to actually skirt around our abilities to be able to combat… consider the misinformation and the kinds of censorship that had been going on among all nations and of course the Americans have been extremely successful with deploying equipment both from the satellite perspective, the terrestrial-base perspective and also with the digital communications technology.
So they are definitely leaders in the space of this, what I would call, a massive invasion of privacy and abuse of collection of that information for the benefit of the few.
Press TV: Mr. Rickard one of those comments (on Press TV’s Facebook page) saying: “I would like to know why the US government thinks that it can spy on the world?”
You did mention there that we are seeing the extent of the spying in the US passing that of any other country. Why do you think we are seeing this? I mean what we are hearing the United States say, of course, is that there is a war on terror involved, that its security interests are being threatened but, you know, a lot of others are saying, is America really in an emergency security situation that would require all this?
Rickard: Well, absolutely it is not required. We have a society that has allowed their government to, basally, do whatever they wish with the technology and the money and the military equipment around the world.
This is really an undemocratic society, a very few control the actual movement of money, the movement of the military gear and the collection of the intelligence.
I mean it is extremely important to understand that, Thomas Edison for example, created a small company nearby where I live, called Dictaphone and at Dictaphone they created a technology that basically was evolved into emergency, 9-1-1 services.
That company was acquired by Nice Systems and Nice Systems is very similar to Verint and other systems out there like Norris and all kinds of different systems but, basically, these companies are in cahoots with the American intelligence communications platforms and creating, really, a scene of extreme control and monitoring of the entire society and we have a lot of foreign interests that are involved; those foreign interests span across Europe and down into the Middle East through Israel and we have a very, what I call…, we are not acting as a sovereign nation any longer, we have not, actually, since the 1850’s, but even worse now whereby a lot of communications that we are getting in the past were being done over systems that were far less scalable as they are today.
So obviously we are getting a lot more information and we are, basically, collecting everything so that we can sift through it later and is it right? Absolutely not! Is it being used in the best way? For sure it is definitely not being used in the best way and in the best interest of other people and other nations.
Press TV: Well, for one we have got Dilma Rousseff, the Brazilian president, saying that her personal email was spied on by America; Scott Rickard, we are running out of time, quickly if you can; we saw Brazil saying that it is going to adopt legislation and technology to protect itself from illegal, what it called of course, “illegal interception of communications.”
What can be done about the spied [on] countries like Brazil and Mexico? What should be done?
Rickard: Well, what should be done is that the Americans should actually be more honest with their partners and not put themselves in a situation where they have been completely dishonest with not only their partners but their own citizens.
At the same time, you are looking at a very arduous task at deploying anything if Americans cannot get access to. They drive the technology standards and getting around it is virtually impossible. These systems were being installed even before the Olympics in Athens in 2004 and were running, collecting intelligence, against the higher-level dignitaries in the Greek government and the Greek military for several years before they were noticed within the Greek telephony system.
So a lot of these countries are not capable of managing their own systems as well as the cost of being able to deploy their own private network.
So it is very unlikely but it is better off in the long-term, be that the Americans and the British and the French, who actually, do control a lot of these technologies…, because of their control of the world over the last 200 so years. So you have an alliance between the French, the UK and the Americans that has really driven a lot of these types of surveillance technologies and for the French to be complaining about it is almost laughable.