Author Patrick Radden Keefe is keeping an eye on electronic
By Don Aucoin, Globe Staff | March 5, 2005
Six years ago, when Patrick Radden Keefe was a graduate student at
Cambridge University in England, he happened upon British newspaper
stories that mentioned an international surveillance network with the
code name Echelon. Intrigued, he immersed himself in the subject.
"It's one of those classic stories where I got clips from the
newspaper and suddenly there's a handful of articles and suddenly I
need a new folder and then it's a file cabinet," Keefe says. "The
next thing you know I need a bigger apartment."
Those bulging files and that overstuffed apartment have paid off: At
28, with a few months before he graduates from Yale Law School, Keefe
is making a splash with "Chatter: Dispatches From the Secret World of
Global Eavesdropping," a book that tries to fill in the shadowy
portrait of electronic intelligence gathering by the United States and
On a recent weekday, as he sits on a couch in his childhood home in
the Ashmont section of Dorchester, it is the growing culture of
domestic secrecy and surveillance that seems to worry Keefe most.
While he acknowledges there is a legitimate need for intelligence
gathering in the post-9/11 world, he hopes his book will generate a
public discussion about the trade-offs between security and privacy
that, he says, are being made by government authorities without
consulting the American people.