• Chatter

  • Dispatches from the Secret World of Global Eavesdropping
  • By: Patrick Radden Keefe
  • Narrated by: Robertson Dean
  • Length: 10 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 17-02-05
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Books on Tape
  • 4 out of 5 stars 4.1 (17 ratings)

Summary

In Chatter, Patrick Radden Keefe investigates the international eavesdropping alliance known as Echelon, sorting facts from conspiracy theories to determine just how much privacy Americans unknowingly sacrifice in the name of greater security. Keefe's riveting investigation moves from a secret listening station in England's Yorkshire moors to the intelligence bureaucracies of Washington and London; from an abandoned National Security Agency base hidden in the mountains of North Carolina to the European Parliament in Brussels.Along the way Keefe meets intelligence eavesdroppers who listen in on other people's private conversations, protestors who believe that systems like Echelon will end privacy as we know it, former senators who feel American intelligence operates without any effective legislative oversight, and the journalists who brought Echelon to light. As the struggle between national security and civil liberties becomes ever more pronounced against a backdrop of global terrorism, Chatter is sure to fire debate.
Listen to an interviewwith Patrick Radden Keefe on Fresh Air.
©2005 Patrick Radden Keefe; (P)2005 Books on Tape, Inc.
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Critic reviews

"Mr. Keefe writes, crisply and entertainingly, as an interested private citizen rather than an expert." (The New York Times)
"Intelligent and polemical, Keefe's study is sure to spark some political chatter of its own." (Publishers Weekly)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By E. Lundin on 06-03-05

Really neat look at intelligence gathering/secrecy

It's a shame this book hasn't been more widely listened to (only 3 ratings at time of this writing, all 5 stars) because it's extremely informative and brings to light issues/events that you might not be aware of, or even think of when you consider the topic of intelligence. It's an ideal book for anyone curious about the subject, and if you're interested in learning a little from a neat non-fiction book, this one is a great choice. Just listen to the audio sample first, the narrator's voice is quite deep and maybe a little exaggerated. My mp3 player lets me select a higher playback speed so I can make the voice sound more normal and it's not a problem for me. I still highly recommend it regardless.

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14 of 15 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By James on 26-01-06

Worth your time.

This is a really solid introduction to a topic I knew almost nothing about. If you want to learn something substantive about Signals Intelligence (electronic evesdropping) in an utterly painless way, this is a great download.

It's pretty well-written, and although it meanders about at times, by the time it's all done, you've had a very broad exposure to the topic.

The author here is not some privacy zealot out to do a hatchet job on the NSA. Rather, he seems to approach his topic with a genuine sense of intellectual curiousity and an understanding of the inherent trade-offs between privacy and security interests. But what emerges from this fair and frank analysis of the available information is no less troubling.

If you are concerned about your personal privacy, this book shows you have every reason to be justified in those concerns. If you aren't particularly concerned about privacy and just hope our spys manage to find a way to stay ahead of the bad guys and head off the next 9/11, you should also be very concerned about what this book has to say about the effectiveness of U.S. evesdropping capabilities.

The picture that emerges here is that of a traditional, hide-bound government bureaucracy, unable to adapt to the changes in modern communication, rather than the all-seeing, all powerful, Great Eye of the U.S. that some would have us fear.

Yet at the same time, this very bureaucracy is almost completely shielded by secrecy, and still possesses incredible power to invade our privacy, both at home and overseas.

We may have the worst of all possible worlds: an ineffective NSA that often can't actually find the bad guys, spends billions of our dollars, possesses powerful tools for the invasion of our privacy, and has been basically left to its own devices.

The book not only shows you these problems, it also gives you enough exposure to the field to understand why they all are going to be very difficult to solve.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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