Friday, October 25, 2013

The N.S.A. spy programme is causing a growing diplomatic crisis for Obama

La N.S.A. Espionne Les Françaises by connaissable

Did White House officials approve the N.S.A.'s spying of 35 world leaders ?

The growing scandal of the U.S. spying on our European allies is threatening to engulf the White House, and, typically, administration officials are trying to protect the president from accountability for the scandal. "Inside the administration it has touched off behind-the-scenes recriminations between the White House and the intelligence agencies over how much detail was given to White House officials about which world leaders are being monitored," The New York Times is reporting, adding, "A senior administration official declined to say what Mr. Obama knew or did not know about monitoring of Ms. Merkel’s phone, but said the president 'doesn’t think we are in the right place.' " If it is illegal to spy on Germans without proper legal authority, did the Obama administration break German law by spying on the German chancellor ? If the Republicans weren't such a joke right now, they should be leading the charge to investigate these allegations.

  • N.S.A. monitored calls of 35 world leaders after U.S. official handed over contacts ; NSA encourages departments to share their 'Rolodexes' (The Guardian)
  • Angela Merkel and François Hollande lead push at E.U. summit to reshape transatlantic spying and agree new code of conduct (The Guardian)

Angela Merkel NSA cellphone spying surveillance President Obama approval photo Angela-Merkel-smartphone_zps9b6a788d.jpg

The official U.S. response has "evolved" from accusing the N.S.A. contractor Edward Snowden of being a "spy," to denying reports that the U.S. has spied on European citizens, to trying to isolate the White House from legal and political ramifications of the unconstitutional and illegal N.S.A. surveillance programme. Since our own impotent reporters inside the Beltway appear to enable the Obama administration's expansion of the NSA espionage programme, then the only outside pressure that is going to make a real difference is going to be the foreign press, especially from our allies. Let's see if our allies have the courage to "draw a line in the sand" or to propose economic sanctions against the U.S. until President Obama dismantles the illegal surveillance state his administration steadfastly helped to build ? The N.S.A's espionage may now amount to acts of crime in the eyes of foreign nations. If American courts are not going to recognize the violations of law by the N.S.A., then surely the courts of our allies will.

Meanwhile, the political legitimacy of the N.S.A. surveillance programme continues to come under fire. President Obama's rationale for spying was that it was intended for foreigners, not Americans. Now that European leaders are complaining about the tracking of "foreigners," how legitimate is the N.S.A. surveillance programme now ?

(Updated : Friday 25 Oct 2013 8:20 a.m.)

France In The NSA Crosshairs : Phone Networks Under Surveillance

I was unable to post this information as a status update on Facebook this morning, so I am sharing it here, hoping that I can link back to it on Facebook.

Facebook NSA Spy Programme Censorship photo 2013-10-21-untitled-ScreenShot2013-10-21at092415_zpsa163c110.png

France summoned the U.S. ambassador on Monday to the French Foreign Ministry office on the Quai d'Orsay to protest allegations in Le Monde newspaper about large-scale spying on French citizens by the U.S. National Security Agency.

"If an allied country spies on France or spies on other European countries, that's totally unacceptable," French interior minister Manuel Valls told Europe 1 radio, according to a Reuters report published by The New York Times.

Meanwhile, CNN is also reporting that according to Le Monde, this is how the system worked : "When a telephone number is used in France, it activates a signal which automatically triggers the recording of the call. Apparently this surveillance system also picks up SMS (text) messages and their content using key words. Finally, the NSA apparently stores the history of the connections of each target -- or the meta-data." It wasn't immediately clear from the article if the conversations were being recorded or just the data surrounding each call. The CNN report added that the Le Monde investigation followed a separate report in the German news magazine Der Spiegel, which showed that the NSA "systematically" eavesdropped on the Mexican government. It hacked the public e-mail account of former Mexican President Felipe Calderon, which was also used by Cabinet members, according to Der Spiegel.

Separately, in an article published in English this morning by Le Monde, Glenn Greenwald shared a by-line in an article questioning why France has not been as critical as Germany or Brazil of the U.S. spy programme on sovereign nations. The article concludes with indication of the global nature of the U.S. spy programme : "One of the documents which Le Monde was able to consult notes that between 8 February and 8 March 2013, the NSA collected, throughout the world, 124,8 billion telephone data items and 97,1 billion computer data items. In Europe, only Germany and the United Kingdom exceed France in terms of numbers of interceptions."

(Originally Posted : Monday 21 Oct 2013 9:15 a.m.)

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