Oct 11, 2010

Tradecraft: Enjoy ECHELON On Your TV

Ever since the NSA's massive eavesdropping apparatus ECHELON went online, it's fascinated film and television writers as much as it's fascinated privacy advocates.  ECHELON, which aggregates all the various data signals flying through the ether for intelligence analysis, featured heavily on later seasons of Alias (around the time Terry O'Quinn came into the picture, if memory serves) and inspired thrillers like The Echelon Vendetta (a novel by David Stone, currently being adapted into a movie), Echelon Conspiracy (a Jonathan Pryce thriller more memorable for its hilarious "talk to ECHELON" website) and Eagle Eye.  Now it's getting its own TV show, which is probably a first for a SIGINT program.  According to The Hollywood Reporter, 300 writer Michael Gordon has sold a drama to NBC called ECHELON.  But it's not a straightforward spy show.  The trade reports that there's a supernatural twist: "The show will center on a fictional team called G.H.O.S.T. (Global Hierarchical Observation Strategy Taskforce) whose assignment it is to investigate [the] paranormal data [that sometimes turns up on ECHELON]." Huh.  Spooky spooks.  As if an all-knowing computer program spying on our every phone call and email isn't scary enough already! 

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