European allies will not be happy about NSA bugging them

The NSA monitoring operations could destroy the Obama administration’s good-will that has been building since before he was elected in 2008. I’m wondering if someone is going to demand a recall of the Nobel Peace Prize President Obama received before he did anything. Or will he be left alone?

From the UK Guardian, we get a Sunday afternoon document dump courtesy Edward Snowden.

US intelligence services are spying on the European Union mission in New York and its embassy in Washington, according to the latest top secret US National Security Agency documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

One document lists 38 embassies and missions, describing them as “targets”. It details an extraordinary range of spying methods used against each target, from bugs implanted in electronic communications gear to taps into cables to the collection of transmissions with specialised antennae.

The list is by no means exclusive to countries with ties to Islamic fundamentalists and includes Greece, Japan and France. As a matter of fact, the collection of intelligence is not exclusive to terrorism at all. My emphasis in bold.

The documents suggest the aim of the bugging exercise against the EU embassy in central Washington is to gather inside knowledge of policy disagreements on global issues and other rifts between member states.

Although the documents originated from Snowden and were included in what he originally provided the UK Guardian, it’s not clear if the information was exclusive to NSA, or if the FBI and/or CIA were involved.

Certainly governments keep tabs on governments just as though Ford keeps track of the marketing efforts, costs, union contracts, research and development and consumer satisfaction of Nissan customers and visa versa. But I don’t think bugging fax machines and other high-definition methods to listen into communications are standard operating procedures for corporate America, and I don’t think Italy, Greece, Turkey, South Korea, India, Mexico and Japan would just accept this even though it looks like some of these programs were started during the Bush 43 administration.

Final note. The Guardian points out there were “38 target” countries, but does not list them all. Most of the countries listed in the article would generally be considered our allies, but there is no mention of Middle East countries other than Turkey, which is really in west Asia and sort-of-kind-of part of the European realm. It seems the Guardian has not released any of the documents, or I just can’t find them.

Shall we take bets if Obama will step up and say he did not know about this? He could always just blame the Bush administration and say these programs were not significant and he just found out about it when we all did.

Update: More here at Speigel Online.

America’s NSA intelligence service allegedly targeted the European Union with its spying activities. According to SPIEGEL information, the US placed bugs in the EU representation in Washington and infiltrated its computer network. Cyber attacks were also perpetrated against Brussels in New York and Washington.

Information obtained by SPIEGEL shows that America’s National Security Agency (NSA) not only conducted online surveillance of European citizens, but also appears to have specifically targeted buildings housing European Union institutions. The information appears in secret documents obtained by whistleblower Edward Snowden that SPIEGEL has in part seen. A “top secret” 2010 document describes how the secret service attacked the EU’s diplomatic representation in Washington.

More, with my emphasis in bold. [When Speigel mentions monitoring of communications, they are specific to Germany, not the United States.]

NSA spying is targeting Germany more intensely than previously believed. Secret documents viewed by SPIEGEL reveal that the American intelligence service monitors around half a billion telephone calls, emails and text messages in the country every day.

The statistics, which SPIEGEL has also seen, show that data is collected from Germany on normal days for up to 20 million telephone calls and 10 million Internet data exchanges. Last Christmas Eve, it collected data on around 13 million phone calls and about half as many online exchanges. On the busiest days, such as January 7 of this year, the information gathered spiked to nearly 60 million communication connections under surveillance.

The NSA, it turns out, is more active in Germany than in any other of the EU’s 27 member states. By comparison, during the same time frame, the Americans only recorded data on an average of 2 million connections in France each day. The documents also show that the NSA is primarily interested in important Internet hubs in southern and western Germany. Frankfurt, for example, plays an important role in the global Internet infrastructure, and the city is listed as a central base for the country.

One top secret document also states that while Germany may be a partner, it is still also a target of the NSA’s electronic snooping. According to the document, Germany is a so-called “3rd party foreign partner.” The only countries that are explicitly excluded from spying attacks are Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. “We can, and often do, target the signals of most 3d party foreign partners,” a slide from an internal presentation states.

3 replies
  1. OkieJim
    OkieJim says:

    I’m a former NSA field operator, got out of the game in the late ’70s. I’m not going to comment on whose diplo corps are targeted, I worked military orders of battle. But you know damned well that international espionage is a very common game, just about every nations plays it. The alternative is to trust the news media for news of diplomatic interest, and we should all know that the media outright fails at their jobs due to political agendas and laziness — either that, or some news media is State-controlled and *requires* effective intelligence services to replace them. To assert otherwise is to be naive. And we have the best intelligence systems on Earth, bar none. Who needs drones when we have satellites? Who needs armies of operators when we have wideband data recorders — add to that capability the information the telcos are giving up to the NSA, and you can look up any call made between any two endpoints at any time. I never saw intercepts used in domestic criminal action: I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, I just never saw it. The media is scaring up a lot of frenzy over nothing. I don’t like the possible implications re Amendment IV, either (especially in the hands of THIS regime), but if you want a comprehensive…

  2. OkieJim
    OkieJim says:

    … SIGINT system, this is the price you pay. And one final thought to pass on to y’all: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A LANDLINE. Every telephone call you make — cell, “landline”, satellite, and others — is broadcast over the airwaves. If you have any expectation of privacy, you’re being naive. If you have private communications, either encrypt them, or save them for some other means of (more private) communications. Sorry to violate your length restrictions, but I had something important to add.

  3. scheidel21
    scheidel21 says:

    Unfortunately you have to pretty trusting to think that the Intelligence community isn’t a bit dirty. Basically the tenant is that you trust no one, not even your friends. So every country gets spied on, period.

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