Quelle Surprise: NSA Spies on Europe
Quelle Surprise: NSA Spies on Europe
by Stephen Lendman
NSA spies globally. Enormous amounts of meta-data are collected. It's been ongoing for decades. Post-9/11, it intensified. It's out-of-control today. It's lawless. It's menacing. It persists.
Spying domestically isn't for national security. Nor is monitoring allies. It's about control. It's for economic advantage. It's to be one up on foreign competitors. It's for information used advantageously in trade, political, and military relations.
On June 30, London's Guardian headlined "New NSA leaks show how US is bugging its European allies. Exclusive: Edward Snowden papers reveal 38 targets including EU, France, Italy. Berlin accuses Washington of cold war tactics."
One document includes 38 embassies and missions. It calls them "targets." Extraordinary spying methods are used. Bugs are planted in electronic communications gear.
They monitor cable transmissions. They do so with "specialised antennae." Targets include EU nations, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, India and Turkey.
China, Russia, Iran, and numerous other countries are spied on intensively. One bugging method is codenamed "Dropmire." According to a 2007 document, it's "implanted on the Cryptofax at the EU embassy, DC."
It refers to "a bug placed in a commercially available encrypted fax machine used at the mission. (It's) used to send cables back to foreign affairs ministries in European capitals."
NSA spying disclosures long pre-date Snowden's revelations. He connected important dots. He provided additional information. He made millions aware globally. Previously they didn't know.
America's allies and enemies do. Perhaps they now know more. Maybe they criticized privately. Likely they were silent. They do the same things.
Germany's Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger wants an explanation. Perhaps she already has one. She didn't say. If confirmed, she said, Washington's behavior reflects Cold War tactics.
"It is beyond imagination that our friends in the US view Europeans as the enemy," she stressed.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius added:
"These acts, if confirmed, would be completely unacceptable. We expect the American authorities to answer the legitimate concerns raised by these press revelations as quickly as possible."
German and French officials are too sophisticated not to know this. Going public perhaps hides prior knowledge. An old maxim says "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer." Machiavelli's believed to have said it.
In the Godfather trilogy, Michael Coreleone said "Know your enemy and know yourself, and you will always be victorious."
NSA bugs the EU's Brussels-based Justice Lipsius building. It hosts summit and ministerial meetings. Bugging's handled from nearby NATO headquarters. Washington's very much in charge.
Another "covert operation" copies "everything on targeted computer hard drive(s)."
Bugging the EU's UN headquarters mission is codenamed "Perdido." Documents Snowden revealed show a floor plan. Data collection methods include implants (bugs) inside electronic devices.
EU's Washington's location is bugged. Multiple operations target 90 embassy staff members. America has 16 intelligence agencies. They all do these type things. It's no surprise. It's what spy operations do.
NSA spying against France's UN mission is codenamed "Blackfoot." Targeting its Washington embassy is called "Wabash."
NSA codenames Italian Washington embassy operations "Bruneau" and "Hemlock."
An accompanying Guardian article headlined "Key US-EU trade pact under threat after more NSA spying allegations."
If consummated, it's worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Whether or not it suffered a setback isn't known. Rhetoric differs from policy. Expect public outrage to subside.
It's used to demand concessions. Perhaps some will be forthcoming. Germany is Europe's economic powerhouse. It has the most to gain or lose. The stakes for France and other major EU nations are high.
Washington and Brussels begin high-level trade talks next week. US spying revelations overshadow them. An unnamed senior Brussels official said:
"Obviously we will need to see what is the impact on the trade talks."
Another senior official said what's known may hamper EU/US trade relations.
Senior European Commission official Robert Madelin said EU trade negotiators always assumed their communications were monitored. It would be naive not to.
An unnamed EU official added:
"There's a certain schadenfreude here that we're important enough to be spied on. This was bound to come out one day. And I wouldn't be surprised if some of our member states were not doing the same to the Americans."
EU nations spy on each other. Doing so is universal. At issue is what nations are more skilled than others? Which ones do it more intensively? Washington likely tops all others and then some.
Friend and foe nations spy on America. Washington does the same thing in return. Cloak and dagger operations aren't new. They're longstanding.
They existed throughout recorded history. All sorts of ways are used. Today's state-of-the-art technology makes it easier.
Perhaps with tongue in cheek, a European Commission spokesman said:
"We have immediately been in contact with the US authorities in Washington and in Brussels and have confronted them with the press reports."
"They have told us they are checking on the accuracy of the information released yesterday and will come back to us."
Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn called reports "disgusting." She wants guarantees Washington will stop. She wants it from top US officials. She knows nothing she says will deter it.
Martin Schulz heads the European parliament. He replicated other EU comments made, saying:
"I am deeply worried and shocked about the allegations of US authorities spying on EU offices. If the allegations prove to be true, it would be an extremely serious matter which will have a severe impact on EU-US relations."
"On behalf of the European parliament, I demand full clarification and require further information speedily from the US authorities with regard to these allegations."
Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake wants John Kerry in Brussels to explain. She calls it "essential for the transatlantic alliance."
Snowden's documents revealed that NSA taps half a billion phone calls, emails, and text messages a month in Germany alone.
"We can attack the signals of most foreign third-class partners, and we do it," one passage read.
Every day on average, NSA monitors 20 million German phone connections and 10 million Internet datasets. Some days, up to 60 million phone connections are recorded.
German Green Party MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht wants a "debate on surveillance measures as a whole looking at underlying technical agreements."
"I think what we can do as European politicians now is to protect the rights of citizens and their rights to control their own personal data."
He addressed Washington calling Germany a "third class" partner, adding:
Doing so "is destroying trust, and to rebuild that (America) will need to take real action on legislation."
At the same time, declassified US intelligence reports and European parliament documents show at least six EU nations share personal communications with NSA.
Britain, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain and Italy have formal agreements to do so. They say EU countries have had "second and third party status" under decades-old signal intelligence (Sigint) agreements.
They're obligated to transmit data. Experts believe it now includes cell phone and Internet communications.
Nations are categorized by level of trust. America's called a "first party." Perhaps now that will change. It's never been trustworthy anytime. Today it goes without saying.
"Second party" countries include Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Germany, France and others are classified "third parties."
Data sharing was agreed under a 1955 UK/US pact. It provides an intelligence-sharing legal framework. It stipulates:
"In accordance with these arrangements, each party will continue to make available to the other, continuously, and without request, all raw traffic, COMINT (communications intelligence) end-product and technical material acquired or produced, and all pertinent information concerning its activities, priorities and facilities."
It includes incorporating similar agreements with "third party" countries. It's if America and Britain agree to do so.
Each "third party" country was codenamed. Denmark's called "Dynamo." Germany's "Richter." NSA used these agreements strategically during the Cold War.
According to former NSA director General Michael Hayden:
"The changes made to FISA in 2008 were far more dramatic - far more far-reaching than anything President Bush authorized me to do."
In other words, NSA far exceeds what's authorized. It's clearer than ever now. Perhaps new information will explain more.
NSA's a rogue power unto itself. It's Big Brother writ large. According to intelligence expert Simon Davies:
"It's clear that the European parliament must intervene at this point through a public inquiry. MEPs should put the interests of their citizens above party politics and create meaningful reforms."
In 2001, a European parliament report explained covert data-sharing, stating:
"Germany and the United Kingdom are called upon to make the authorisation of further communications interception operations by US intelligence services on their territory conditional on their compliance with the ECHR (European Convention on Human Rights)."
On June 30, Der Spiegel headlined "Growing Alarm: German Prosecutors to Review Allegations of US Spying," saying:
They're "looking into whether systematic data spying against the country conducted by America's National Security Agency violated laws aimed at protecting German citizens."
A Federal Prosecutors's Office spokeswoman said "criminal complaints" appear "likely." One was filed in Giessen, Germany. It's against an unnamed perpetrator.
According to documents Der Spiegel reviewed, NSA spying is far more pervasive than previously believed. Around 500 million German communications are monitored monthly.
NSA classifies Germany as a "target" for spying.
On June 30, the Financial Times said Brussels ordered facilities comprehensively swept for bugs. It did so following NSA spying revelations. From Brunei, John Kerry downplayed what's going on.
All countries do it, he said. He left NSA's over-the-top lawlessness unaddressed. Spies "R" us defines it. Rule of law principles don't matter.
Washington ones alone apply. Double standard hypocrisy demands do what we say, not what we do. Expect nothing going forward to change.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.