Originally Posted by Gregs300CD
I would highly doubt if it ended with just phone numbers. What good would that do? That might help you backtrack after the fact, but this is about preemptive action.
Let's say you want information about data but don't want the data itself. For example, think of the old-timey card catalogue. Ever seen one? They used to be the only way you could find a book in the library.
So let's say you want to find everything Mark Twain wrote. You could search the entire library shelf-by-shelf, sifting through every page of every book so you wouldn't miss an anthology of some sort that includes Mark Twain. Another way to do it would be to go to the card catalogue and record all references to Twain, Mark. You might find a card in there that says, "See also Samuel Clemens." So you go to Samuel Clemens and record everything there, too. In this process you never read any of the things Clemens (AKA Twain) wrote but you did note all of the call letters to every book or anthology in which his name(s) occured.
You did not actually read the info, you used references to the person of interest to direct your operation.
Yes, it makes me uneasy, too. I don't like the idea that the gov has bots snooping 24/7 for cross-ref'd phone numbers. People do dial wrong numbers.
Here's how I'll bet the grand scheme works. Might want to keep your foil hat handy.
People in the field gather intel. Semanticists and cryptographers use that intel to develop probability matrices relating field activity to certain words and phrases in many languages.
While the phone number cross-ref is going on, Echelon is listening to voice and data transmissions worldwide, searching for key words. If a key word or phrase is detected by echelon any connected phones are immediately identified and cross-ref'd with the phone number database.
The Echelon/phone base/crypto-/and human intel all go to Langley for data reduction for emergent patterns. Those emergent patterns drive additional data gathering.