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NSA Revelations Fallout

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One year ago, most people on either side of Atlantic had scant or no knowledge of the NSA and its activities. Edward Snowden’s revelations changed all that and rocked one of the pillars of transatlantic relations.

There will be a fallout. For example Obama did lost moral high ground and looks more like an employee of a three letter agency rather then the president of the country.  Public is alarmed. As one commenter stated: "it's easy to poke fun at the Snowden affair from many angles, but I, for one, do not like the idea of any Agency anywhere, governmental or private, reading my e-mails and monitoring my calls. "

Here is DW take on the situation (NSA surveillance eroded transatlantic trust World DW.DE 27.12.2013)

When the Guardian started reporting on the largest disclosure of secret NSA files in the history of the agency in June, it was only a question of time before the information spill reached America's allies overseas. That's because the NSA's prime duty is to monitor and collect global signals intelligence. The agency is by law prohibited from conducting electronic surveillance on Americans except under special circumstances.

In the Guardian's first story on how the NSA was collecting the metadata of phone calls from Verizon, a major US carrier, it was clear that data of European citizens would be involved, since the NSA's secret court order included all calls made from and to the US.

But it was the second scoop on the NSA's PRISM program that really blew the story wide open. It revealed that the agency was siphoning off personal data like email, chats and photos from the world's biggest Internet companies including Google, Microsoft, Apple and Yahoo.

But Europe is a lapdog and has no ability to fight:

Bolivia's President Evo Morales en route from Moscow, Russia was rerouted to Austria on Tuesday evening after France and Portugal refused to let it to cross their airspace because of suspicions that NSA leaker Edward Snowden was on board. Playback link:

"Now in Europe make it appear as though this is a surprise and that all are shocked. European Parliament President Martin Schulz said that it's all very serious matter, but it's a comedy, " -- told the newspaper VIEW Italian political scientist Dzhuletto Chiesa. He believes that Europe will not be able to provide a tough answer to the USA for spying on European officials and diplomats.

Still there are some fake angry noises:

Peter Schaar, Germany's freedom of information commissioner, told Reuters he wanted "clarity" from the United States "regarding these monstrous allegations of total monitoring of various telecommunications and Internet services." Another German official has called for a boycott of the companies. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is running for reelection, has said she will raise the issue with Obama this week either at Lough Erne or in Berlin.

"The most upset party in all of this, I think, is the Germans," said Michael J. Geary, an assistant professor at Maastricht University in the Netherlands and an expert on Europe. "The Germans were the most snooped-upon country, apparently, in March. In a country where memories of the former East German Stasi are still quite fresh, the response has been quite critical." Geary described Europeans as "peeved" and "quite annoyed" at the U.S. actions and said they have the potential to set back sensitive trade negotiations and do damage to transatlantic relations. "It's a major PR disaster for the administration," he said. "Now, they have really lost the moral high ground."

And another suggesting that surveillance of Merkel's phone caused public outrage (DW,  Dec 27, 2013)

Two months and a slew of major disclosures later, news broke that the chancellor's personal mobile phone had been monitored by the NSA.

"I think that alone would not have caused that much damage," says Jeremi Suri, a transatlantic relations expert at the University of Texas. "But that revelation in the context of all the other revelations from the documents that Edward Snowden released symbolized for many that the United States saw almost no limits on what it could do. If we would tap into the cell phone of the German leader, one of our closest allies, many people are asking, is there anything we wouldn't do. Are we willing do anything to support our interest?"

It also might start balkanization of Internet, as countries now clearly want to control information flows that are going overseas.

There might difficult time for internet advertisers, Google and Facebook, especially the latter. Glitz run out from Facebook pages.

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[Dec 22, 2013] Latest Snowden revelations spark anger at European commission by Nick Hopkins and Patrick Wintour

20 December 2013 | The Guardian

Officials say disclosures about targeting of Joaquín Almunia was 'not the type of behaviour that we expect from strategic partners'

The latest disclosures from the Snowden files provoked exasperation at the European commission, with officials saying they intended to press the British and American governments for answers about the targeting of one its most senior officials.

Reacting shortly after an EU summit had finished in Brussels, the commission said disclosures about the targeting of Joaquín Almunia, a vice-president with responsibility for competition policy, was "not the type of behaviour that we expect from strategic partners, let alone from our own member states".

A spokesman added: "This piece of news follows a series of other revelations which, as we clearly stated in the past, if proven true, are unacceptable and deserve our strongest condemnation."

In Britain, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the chair of the parliamentary committee that provides oversight of GCHQ, said he was "disturbed by these allegations." He added he could be "examining them in due course as part of the intelligence and security committee's wider investigation into the interception of communications."

A prominent German MP, Hans-Christian Ströbele, who met Edward Snowden in Moscow in October, told the Guardian it was becoming "increasingly clear that Britain has been more than the US' stooge in this surveillance scandal". He suggested the snooping by GCHQ on German government buildings and embassies was unacceptable.

"Great Britain is not just any country. It is a country that we are supposed to be in a union with. It's incredible for one member of the European Union to spy on another – it's like members of a family spying on each other. The German government will need to raise this with the British government directly and ask tough questions about the victims, and that is the right word, of this affair."

The Liberal Democrats have been inching towards calling for an independent commission to investigate the activities of Britain's spy agencies and the party president, Tim Farron, said that "spying on friendly governments like this is not only bad politics, it is bad foreign policy".

"These nations are our allies and we should work together on issues from terrorism to Iran and climate change," he said. "But we seem to be spying on them in conjunction with the NSA in what seems like an industrial basis."

In its strongest statement yet on the issue, Labour called for the ISC to be given beefed up powers, with Douglas Alexander, shadow foreign secretary, saying it was time for Britain to follow the lead of the US and start a more vigorous debate about surveillance.

"I think we should also consider whether the ISC should be empowered to subpoena and to compel witnesses to appear before them as is the case for the other parliament select committees," he said.

Nicolas Imboden, head of the Geneva-based Ideas Centre, said he believed his work in Africa had been the reason he was targeted. "It's about cotton," he told Der Spiegel. "That is clearly economic espionage and politically motivated." For the past 10 years his group has advised and represented African countries such as Chad, Mali and Benin in their fight against high cotton subsidies in western countries including the US. "This was clearly about them trying to gain advantages during WTO negotiations by illegal means," Imboden told Der Spiegel.

But the strongest condemnation came from one of the groups named in the documents, Médecins du Monde.

Leigh Daynes, UK executive director of the organisation said: "If substantiated, snooping on aid workers would be a shameful waste of taxpayers' money. Our doctors, nurses and midwives are not a threat to national security. We're an independent health charity with over 30 years' experience in delivering impartial care in some of the world's poorest and most dangerous places.

"Our medical professionals, many of whom are volunteers, risk their lives daily in countries like Mali and Somalia, and in and around Syria. There is absolutely no reason for our operations to be secretly monitored. We are also gravely concerned about any breach of doctor-patient confidentiality, which would be an egregious impingement on medical ethics."

Nick Pickles, Director of Big Brother Watch, said it appeared GCHQ has "become a law unto itself". Eric King, head of research at Privacy International, added: "The targeting of the international actors tasked with caring for the most vulnerable people, particularly children, is one of the most distressing revelations yet."

Downing Street has repeatedly refused to comment on the allegations in any detail saying it is not comment on security issues. The Israeli government said it would not comment on leaks.

[Dec 22, 2013] N.S.A. Spied on Allies, Aid Groups and Businesses By JAMES GLANZ and ANDREW W. LEHREN

December 20, 2013 |

Secret documents reveal more than 1,000 targets of American and British surveillance in recent years, including the office of an Israeli prime minister, heads of international aid organizations, foreign energy companies and a European Union official involved in antitrust battles with American technology businesses.

While the names of some political and diplomatic leaders have previously emerged as targets, the newly disclosed intelligence documents provide a much fuller portrait of the spies' sweeping interests in more than 60 countries.

Britain's Government Communications Headquarters, working closely with the National Security Agency, monitored the communications of senior European Union officials, foreign leaders including African heads of state and sometimes their family members, directors of United Nations and other relief programs, and officials overseeing oil and finance ministries, according to the documents. In addition to Israel, some targets involved close allies like France and Germany, where tensions have already erupted over recent revelations about spying by the N.S.A.

Details of the surveillance are described in documents from the N.S.A. and Britain's eavesdropping agency, known as GCHQ, dating from 2008 to 2011. The target lists appear in a set of GCHQ reports that sometimes identify which agency requested the surveillance, but more often do not. The documents were leaked by the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden and shared by The New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel.

The reports are spare, technical bulletins produced as the spies, typically working out of British intelligence sites, systematically tapped one international communications link after another, focusing especially on satellite transmissions. The value of each link is gauged, in part, by the number of surveillance targets found to be using it for emails, text messages or phone calls. More than 1,000 targets, which also include people suspected of being terrorists or militants, are in the reports.

It is unclear what the eavesdroppers gleaned. The documents include a few fragmentary transcripts of conversations and messages, but otherwise contain only hints that further information was available elsewhere, possibly in a larger database.

Some condemned the surveillance on Friday as unjustified and improper. "This is not the type of behavior that we expect from strategic partners," Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen, a spokeswoman for the European Commission, said on the latest revelations of American and British spying in Europe.

Some of the surveillance relates to issues that are being scrutinized by President Obama and a panel he appointed in Washington that on Wednesday recommended tighter limits on the N.S.A., particularly on spying of foreign leaders, especially allies.

The reports show that spies monitored the email traffic of several Israeli officials, including one target identified as "Israeli prime minister," followed by an email address. The prime minister at the time, in January 2009, was Ehud Olmert. The next month, spies intercepted the email traffic of the Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, according to another report. Two Israeli embassies also appear on the target lists.

Mr. Olmert said in a telephone interview on Friday that the email address was used for correspondence with his office, which he said staff members often handled. He added that it was unlikely that any secrets could have been compromised.

"This was an unimpressive target," Mr. Olmert said. He noted, for example, that his most sensitive discussions with President George W. Bush took place in person. "I would be surprised if there was any attempt by American intelligence in Israel to listen to the prime minister's lines," he said.

Mr. Barak, who declined to comment, has said publicly that he used to take it for granted that he was under surveillance.

Despite the close ties between the United States and Israel, the record of mutual spying is long: Israeli spies, including Jonathan Jay Pollard, who was sentenced in 1987 to life in prison for passing intelligence information to Israel, have often operated in the United States, and the United States has often turned the abilities of the N.S.A. against Israel.

Mr. Olmert's office email was intercepted while he was dealing with fallout from Israel's military response to rocket attacks from Gaza, but also at a particularly tense time in relations with the United States. The two countries were simultaneously at odds on Israeli preparations to attack Iran's nuclear program and cooperating on a wave of cyberattacks on Iran's major nuclear enrichment facility.

A year before the interception of Mr. Olmert's office email, the documents listed another target, the Institute of Physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, an internationally recognized center for research in atomic and nuclear physics.

Also appearing on the surveillance lists is Joaquín Almunia, vice president of the European Commission, which, among other powers, has oversight of antitrust issues in Europe. The commission has broad authority over local and foreign companies, and it has punished a number of American companies, including Microsoft and Intel, with heavy fines for hampering fair competition. The reports say that spies intercepted Mr. Almunia's communications in 2008 and 2009.

[Dec 06, 2013] NSA spied on Italian leaders 'from US diplomatic missions in Rome, Milan'

RT News

Italian communications have been targeted through the US's Special Collection Service sites in Rome and Milan, according to Italy's l'Espresso. The same service allegedly tapped into German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone.

The new leak, revealed by Glenn Greenwald with l'Espresso, alleges that the National Security Agency subjected Italy's leadership to surveillance, although not specifying which people within the country's "leadership" were monitored, via US diplomatic missions in Rome and Milan. The spying went on from 1988 to at least 2010.

The NSA conducted snooping in Italy via its Special Collection Service, which came under scrutiny after the snooping scandal involving Chancellor Angela Merkel. The report on Friday reveals the service kept whole two sites running in Italy: one in Milan, the country's main economic hub, and one in Rome (staffed with agents). Of all European nations, only Italy and Germany had two SCS sites working simultaneously, according to the leak.

"The NSA partners with the CIA in the SCS construct in which NSA employees under diplomatic covert conduct SIGINT collection," reads the telling line in the newly published file. SIGNIT is the NSA's Signal Intelligence service, which intercepts communications between people.

SCS is one of the most sensitive units in US intelligence. It has teams working in US embassies around the world, including in Berlin, Athens, Mexico City, New Delhi and Kiev, according to a recent Cryptome leak. In NSA revelations on Germany it was alleged that the US embassy in Berlin provided its roof for the service's intercepting antennae.

According to the l'Espresso documents, the SCS "in 1988 had 88 sites, our peak." Despite the number of sites being reduced following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the official end of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, by 2010 the SCS had up to 80 sites, two of which were the Rome and Milan sites in Italy. The document states that the SCS has always "opened or closed sites based on productivity."

The new report provided appears to directly contradict official statements which have been dismissive of earlier spying allegations. In November, Italian PM Enrico Letta stated that "we are not aware that the security of the Italian government and embassies has been compromised."

[Dec 06, 2013] More spy revelations could be on way

Herald Sun

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott could be constrained in responding to Indonesia over spying claims because of concerns there could be more damaging revelations still

Josh Frydenberg, parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, said the Guardian newspaper had stated that just one per cent of the information from US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden was in the public arena.

Similarly, the head of the United States National Security Agency, where Snowden worked, suggested as many as 200,000 files could have gone missing, he said.

"This could be a very slow burn. Today it could be Indonesia," Mr Frydenberg told the ABC's Q and A program.

"I would be astounded if, with only one per cent of that information out there, if there will not be more damaging revelations for Australia and its allies in due course. I don't know."

Mr Frydenberg said as Snowden was now in Russia, the intelligence files he took could now be in the possession of the Russians.

"This may be part of a bigger play out there," he said.

A week ago, the Guardian Australia and ABC reported that Australian intelligence had monitored the mobile phones of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife and other leaders.

These revelations outraged Indonesia which suspended all co-operation with Australia in terms of strategic partnerships, including in combating people smuggling, intelligence gathering and anti-terrorism efforts and halted some joint defence activities.

Mr Frydenberg said it was a longstanding tradition of both sides of politics not to comment on on intelligence matters and Mr Abbott had adopted exactly the right approach in expressing regret but not an apology.

Former US assistant secretary of state Kurt Campbell said this was the very beginning of a whole string of revelations.

"So you just don't know what to expect so you have to be very careful how you handle this," he said.

NSA Surveillance's Cost-Benefit Ratio - FPIF by Moritz Laurer

November 18, 2013

Massive data collection by the NSA comes down much heavier on the cost side of the ledger than the benefit.

Senator Frank Church, spied on by the NSA

Polls show that a majority of Americans rhetorically oppose the extensive domestic surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA). But the outrage is far less than one might expect, considering the agency's profound intrusion into people's private spheres.

One explanation for this might be that, in the age of Facebook and Google, people are simply used to the massive sharing of information as a condition for using social media services. The currency is information, not money-a price many citizens seem to be very willing to pay.

Many might also think that they are simply not affected by the extensive collection of data-and even if they are, it is unclear why they, innocent citizens with "nothing to hide," should be concerned. After all, the collection is done for the sake of security, a value many are willing to pay for with their privacy.

But the many recent revelations fueled by the documents provided by Edward Snowden have cast serious doubt on these arguments. Even for people who hold the very modern assumption that privacy is not a value in itself-as "old fashioned" people might argue-there are much broader consequences of the intrusion that must be considered.

Let's first look at the domestic problems of the massive data collection.

Even for ordinary Americans, assenting to this massive intrusion of privacy requires enormous trust in the government, which is not supported by historic experience with the NSA. As it increasingly becomes an independent actor, surveillance can become a purpose in and of itself, or even a political instrument.

Only 50 years ago, the NSA massively spied on protesters who organized against the Vietnam War. The NSA - yes, the very same institution we are discussing today - even spied on two sitting U.S. senators who criticized the war. You don't even have to agree with the anti-war movement of the 60s and 70s to be deeply appalled that the NSA previously spied on elected representatives of the American people.

"If there's a lesson to be learned from all this, when we are dealing with a non-transparent society such as the intelligence community that has a vast amount of power, then abuses can and usually do happen," writes Matthew Aid, an intelligence historian specializing in the NSA.

There is no guarantee your data can't be used against you in the future. And unlike paper documents back then that could be burned, the Internet hardly forgets.

This massive data collection also weakens the Fourth Estate and civil society, two key institutions in the separation of power in liberal democracies. It becomes harder for journalists to provide credible protection of sources when informants must always be afraid that each digital move is being monitored and even phone records could be seized, as has been the case for the Associated Press.

Civil society loses its ability to challenge the government when citizens no longer have untapped channels to speak truth to power as whistleblowers. Given what torments whistleblowers are now made to endure, will the next Daniel Ellsberg or Chelsea Manning lose the courage to speak up? By prosecuting an unprecedented number of whistleblowers, the Obama administration has sent a clear signal about what it is willing to do when someone reveals a secret connected to the massively collected data.

Moreover, besides these potential domestic threats, the costs of the NSA's "institutional obsession" with surveillance have today reached an international scale.

The documents released by Edward Snowden helped reveal that the U.S. was spying on 35 world leaders, as well as institutions like the UN, the EU, and millions of foreign citizens.

The cost in U.S. credibility and soft power must not be underestimated. Brazil's president canceled a recent meeting with the President Obama, and Germany and Brazil are pushing for a UN resolution, obviously addressed at the United States, to outlaw state intrusion on private communications.

If the U.S. ever had any credibility in criticizing other countries for violating privacy and misusing intelligence, it is now irreversibly gone. Several diplomatic initiatives, like the trade talks with the EU, could be hampered as fallout of the revelations.

For all these costs, how much security did the program actually bring to the American people? It is important to note that even the core argument of the NSA and the Obama Administration-security-is on shaky ground.

"We've heard over and over again the assertion that 54 terrorist plots were thwarted" by the two programs, said Sen. Patrick Leahy, who had the opportunity to read a classified list concerning the benefits of the NSA's surveillance. "That's plainly wrong, but we still get it in letters to members of Congress, we get it in statements. These weren't all plots and they weren't all thwarted. The American people are getting left with the inaccurate impression of the effectiveness of NSA programs."

It is the very narrow dominant security narrative since 9/11 that irrationally portrays external terroristic threats as the major danger for security and aggressive measures like extensive spying as solutions. This overlooks the fact that human security has many more facets like shelter, healthcare and a sustainable environment. The Institute for Policy Studies uses the term "just security" to draw attention to this.

In the political climate in the U.S., even the right to carry a weapon for self-defense-against one's fellow citizens as well as, its backers say, the government itself - is so sacrosanct that thousands of deaths are accepted for it each year. It seems absurd that the right to privacy enjoys so little priority.

So the massive collection of data weakens the media and civil society, concentrates the power of information in the hands of few, and creates a powerful secretive institution that damages America's standing on the diplomatic stage. In return the American people get some unverifiable claims about terrorist plots that may have been disrupted, and even that seems like a stretch.

Not convinced about the highly problematic nature of massive data collection and the NSA? We will see what revelations are yet to come.

Moritz Laurer is an intern at Foreign Policy in Focus.

[Nov 17, 2013] Mistaking Omniscience for Omnipotence - FPIF by Tom Engelhardt


Conceptually speaking, we've never seen anything like the National Security Agency's urge to surveil, eavesdrop on, spy on, monitor, record, and save every communication of any sort on the planet-to keep track of humanity, all of humanity, from its major leaders to obscure figures in the backlands of the planet. And the fact is that, within the scope of what might be technologically feasible in our era, they seem not to have missed an opportunity.

The NSA, we now know, is everywhere, gobbling up emails, phone calls, texts, tweets, Facebook posts, credit card sales, communications and transactions of every conceivable sort. The NSA and British intelligence are feeding off the fiber optic cables that carry Internet and phone activity. The agency stores records ("metadata") of every phone call made in the United States. In various ways, legal and otherwise, its operatives long ago slipped through the conveniently ajar backdoors of media giants like Yahoo, Verizon, and Google-and also in conjunction with British intelligence they have been secretly collecting "records" from the "clouds" or private networks of Yahoo and Google to the tune of 181 million communications in a single month, or more than two billion a year.

Meanwhile, their privately hired corporate hackers have systems that, among other things, can slip inside your computer to count and see every keystroke you make. Thanks to that mobile phone of yours (even when off), those same hackers can also locate you just about anywhere on the planet. And that's just to begin to summarize what we know of their still developing global surveillance state.

In other words, there's my email and your phone metadata, and his tweets and her texts, and the swept up records of billions of cell phone calls and other communications by French and Nigerians, Italians and Pakistanis, Germans and Yemenis, Egyptians and Spaniards (thank you, Spanish intelligence, for lending the NSA such a hand!), and don't forget the Chinese, Vietnamese, Indonesians, and Burmese, among others (thank you, Australian intelligence, for lending the NSA such a hand!), and it would be a reasonable bet to include just about any other nationality you care to mention. Then there are the NSA listening posts at all those U.S. embassies and consulates around the world, and the reports on the way the NSA listened in on the U.N., bugged European Union offices "on both sides of the Atlantic," accessed computers inside the Indian embassy in Washington D.C. and that country's U.N. mission in New York, hacked into the computer network of and spied on Brazil's largest oil company, hacked into the Brazilian president's emails and the emails of two Mexican presidents, monitored the German Chancellor's mobile phone, not to speak of those of dozens, possibly hundreds, of other German leaders, monitored the phone calls of at least 35 global leaders, as well as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, and-if you're keeping score-that's just a partial list of what we've learned so far about the NSA's surveillance programs, knowing that, given the Snowden documents still to come, there has to be so much more.

When it comes to the "success" part of the NSA story, you could also play a little numbers game: the NSA has at least 35,000 employees, possibly as many as 55,000, and an almost $11 billion budget. With up to 70 percent of that budget possibly going to private contractors, we are undoubtedly talking about tens of thousands more "employees" indirectly on the agency's payroll. The Associated Press estimates that there are 500,000 employees of private contractors "who have access to the government's most sensitive secrets." In Bluffdale, Utah, the NSA is spending $2 billion to build what may be one of the largest data-storage facilities on the planet (with its own bizarre fireworks), capable of storing almost inconceivable yottabytes of information. And keep in mind that since 9/11, according to the New York Times, the agency has also built or expanded major data-storage facilities in Georgia, Texas, Colorado, Hawaii, Alaska, and Washington State.

But success, too, can have its downside and there is a small catch when it comes to the NSA's global omniscience. For everything it can, at least theoretically, see, hear, and search, there's one obvious thing the agency's leaders and the rest of the intelligence community have proven remarkably un-omniscient about, one thing they clearly have been incapable of taking in-and that's the most essential aspect of the system they are building. Whatever they may have understood about the rest of us, they understood next to nothing about themselves or the real impact of what they were doing, which is why the revelations of Edward Snowden caught them so off-guard.

Along with the giant Internet corporations, they have been involved in a process aimed at taking away the very notion of a right to privacy in our world; yet they utterly failed to grasp the basic lesson they have taught the rest of us. If we live in an era of no privacy, there are no exemptions; if, that is, it's an age of no-privacy for us, then it's an age of no-privacy for them, too.

The word "conspiracy" is an interesting one in this context. It comes from the Latin conspirare for "breathe the same air." In order to do that, you need to be a small group in a small room. Make yourself the largest surveillance outfit on the planet, hire tens of thousands of private contractors-young computer geeks plunged into a situation that would have boggled the mind of George Orwell-and organize a system of storage and electronic retrieval that puts much at an insider's fingertips, and you've just kissed secrecy goodnight and put it to bed for the duration.

There was always going to be an Edward Snowden-or rather Edward Snowdens. And no matter what the NSA and the Obama administration do, no matter what they threaten, no matter how fiercely they attack whistleblowers, or who they put away for how long, there will be more. No matter the levels of classification and the desire to throw a penumbra of secrecy over government operations of all sorts, we will eventually know.

They have constructed a system potentially riddled with what, in the Cold War days, used to be called "moles." In this case, however, those "moles" won't be spying for a foreign power, but for us. There is no privacy left. That fact of life has been embedded, like so much institutional DNA, in the system they have so brilliantly constructed. They will see us, but in the end, we will see them, too.


With our line-ups in place, let's turn to the obvious question: How's it going? How's the game of surveillance playing out at the global level? How has success in building such a system translated into policy and power? How useful has it been to have advance info on just what the U.N. general-secretary will have to say when he visits you at the White House? How helpful is it to store endless tweets, social networking interactions, and phone calls from Egypt when it comes to controlling or influencing actors there, whether the Muslim Brotherhood or the generals?

We know that 1,477 "items" from the NSA's PRISM program (which taps into the central servers of nine major American Internet companies) were cited in the president's Daily Briefing in 2012 alone. With all that help, with all that advanced notice, with all that insight into the workings of the world from but one of so many NSA programs, just how has Washington been getting along?

Though we have very little information about how intelligence insiders and top administration officials assess the effectiveness of the NSA's surveillance programs in maintaining American global power, there's really no need for such assessments. All you have to do is look at the world.

Long before Snowden walked off with those documents, it was clear that things weren't exactly going well. Some breakthroughs in surveillance techniques were, for instance, developed in America's war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, where U.S. intelligence outfits and spies were clearly capable of locating and listening in on insurgencies in ways never before possible. And yet, we all know what happened in Iraq and is happening in Afghanistan. In both places, omniscience visibly didn't translate into success. And by the way, when the Arab Spring hit, how prepared was the Obama administration? Don't even bother to answer that one.

In fact, it's reasonable to assume that, while U.S. spymasters and operators were working at the technological frontiers of surveillance and cryptography, their model for success was distinctly antiquated. However unconsciously, they were still living with a World War II-style mindset. Back then, in an all-out military conflict between two sides, listening in on enemy communications had been at least one key to winning the war. Breaking the German Enigma codes meant knowing precisely where the enemy's U-boats were, just as breaking Japan's naval codes ensured victory in the Battle of Midway and elsewhere.

Unfortunately for the NSA and two administrations in Washington, our world isn't so clear-cut any more. Breaking the codes, whatever codes, isn't going to do the trick. You may be able to pick up every kind of communication in Pakistan or Egypt, but even if you could listen to or read them all (and the NSA doesn't have the linguists or the time to do so), instead of simply drowning in useless data, what good would it do you?

Given how Washington has fared since September 12, 2001, the answer would undoubtedly range from not much to none at all-and in the wake of Edward Snowden, it would have to be in the negative. Today, the NSA formula might go something like this: the more communications the agency intercepts, the more it stores, the more it officially knows, the more information it gives those it calls its "external customers" (the White House, the State Department, the CIA, and others), the less omnipotent and the more impotent Washington turns out to be.

In scorecard terms, once the Edward Snowden revelations began and the vast conspiracy to capture a world of communications was revealed, things only went from bad to worse. Here's just a partial list of some of the casualties from Washington's point of view:

And the list of post-Snowden fallout only seems to be growing. The NSA's vast global security state is now visibly an edifice of negative value, yet it remains so deeply embedded in the post-9/11 American national security state that seriously paring it back, no less dismantling it, is probably inconceivable. Of course, those running that state within a state claim success by focusing only on counterterrorism operations where, they swear, 54 potential terror attacks on or in the United States have been thwarted, thanks to NSA surveillance. Based on the relatively minimal information available to us, this looks like a major case of threat and credit inflation, if not pure balderdash. More important, it doesn't faintly cover the ambitions of a system that was meant to give Washington a jump on every foreign power, offer an economic edge in just about every situation, and enhance U.S. power globally.

A First-Place Line-Up and a Last-Place Finish

What's perhaps most striking about all this is the inability of the Obama administration and its intelligence bureaucrats to grasp the nature of what's happening to them. For that, they would need to skip those daily briefs from an intelligence community which, on the subject, seems blind, deaf, and dumb, and instead take a clear look at the world.

As a measuring stick for pure tone-deafness in Washington, consider that it took our secretary of state and so, implicitly, the president, five painful months to finally agree that the NSA had, in certain limited areas, "reached too far." And even now, in response to a global uproar and changing attitudes toward the U.S. across the planet, their response has been laughably modest. According to David Sanger of the New York Times, for instance, the administration believes that there is "no workable alternative to the bulk collection of huge quantities of 'metadata,' including records of all telephone calls made inside the United States."

On the bright side, however, maybe, just maybe, they can store it all for a mere three years, rather than the present five. And perhaps, just perhaps, they might consider giving up on listening in on some friendly world leaders, but only after a major rethink and reevaluation of the complete NSA surveillance system. And in Washington, this sort of response to the Snowden debacle is considered a "balanced" approach to security versus privacy.

In fact, in this country each post-9/11 disaster has led, in the end, to more and worse of the same. And that's likely to be the result here, too, given a national security universe in which everyone assumes the value of an increasingly para-militarized, bureaucratized, heavily funded creature we continue to call "intelligence," even though remarkably little of what would commonsensically be called intelligence is actually on view.

No one knows what a major state would be like if it radically cut back or even wiped out its intelligence services. No one knows what the planet's sole superpower would be like if it had only one or, for the sake of competition, two major intelligence outfits rather than 17 of them, or if those agencies essentially relied on open source material. In other words, no one knows what the U.S. would be like if its intelligence agents stopped trying to collect the planet's communications and mainly used their native intelligence to analyze the world. Based on the recent American record, however, it's hard to imagine we could be anything but better off. Unfortunately, we'll never find out.

In short, if the NSA's surveillance lineup was classic New York Yankees, their season is shaping up as a last-place finish.

Here, then, is the bottom line of the scorecard for twenty-first century Washington: omniscience, maybe; omnipotence, forget it; intelligence, not a bit of it; and no end in sight.

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture (now also in a Kindle edition), runs the Nation Institute's His latest book, co-authored with Nick Turse,

[Nov 15, 2013] Spying on the president -- Obama, Merkel and the NSA

Oct 31, 2013 | Fox News
When German Chancellor Angela Merkel celebrated the opening of the new U.S. embassy in Berlin in 2008, she could not have imagined that she was blessing the workplace for the largest and most effective gaggle of American spies anywhere outside of the U.S.

It seems straight out of a grade-B movie, but it has been happening for the past eleven years: The NSA has been using Merkel as an instrument to spy on the president of the United States.

We now know that the NSA has been listening to and recording Merkel's cellphone calls since 2002.

Angela Merkel was raised in East Germany, and she has a personal revulsion at the concept of omnipresent state surveillance.

In 2008, when the new embassy opened, the NSA began using more sophisticated techniques that included not only listening, but also following her.

Merkel uses her cellphone more frequently than her landline, and she uses it to communicate with her husband and family members, the leadership of her political party, and her colleagues and officials in the German government.

She also uses her cellphone to speak with foreign leaders, among whom have been President George W. Bush and President Obama.

Thus, the NSA -- which Bush and Obama have unlawfully and unconstitutionally authorized to obtain and retain digital copies of all telephone conversations, texts and emails of everyone in the U.S., as well as those of hundreds of millions of persons in Europe and Latin America -- has been listening to the telephone calls of both American presidents whenever they have spoken with the chancellor.

One could understand the NSA's propensity to listen to the conversations of those foreign leaders who wish us ill. And one would expect that it would do so. But the urge to listen to the leadership of our allies serves no discernible intelligence-gathering purpose.

Rather, it fuels distrust between our nations and in the case of Merkel exacerbates memories of the all-seeing and all-hearing Stasi, which was the East German version of the KGB that ruled that police state from the end of World War II until it collapsed in 1989.

Merkel was raised in East Germany, and she has a personal revulsion at the concept of omnipresent state surveillance.

Obama apparently has no such revulsion. One would think he's not happy that his own spies have been listening to him.

One would expect that he would have known of this.

Not from me, says Gen. Keith Alexander, the director of the NSA, who disputed claims in the media that he told Obama of the NSA spying network in Germany last summer.

Either the president knew of this and has denied it, or he is invincibly ignorant of the forces he has unleashed on us and on himself.

When Susan Rice, Obama's national security advisor, was confronted with all of this by her German counterpart, she first told him the White House would deny it. Then she called him to say that the White House could not deny it, but the president would deny that he personally knew of it.

How did we get here? What are the consequences of a president spying on himself? What does this mean for the rest of us?

Neither Bush nor Obama has had a strong fidelity to the Constitution. They share the views of another odd couple of presidents from opposing political parties, Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, in that the Constitution is not the supreme law of the land as it proclaims to be, but rather a guideline that unleashes the president to do all that it does not expressly forbid him to do.

In the progressive era 100 years ago, that presidential attitude brought us the Federal Reserve, the federal income tax, Prohibition, World War I, prosecutions for speech critical of the government and the beginnings of official modern government racial segregation.

That same attitude in our era has brought us the Patriot Act, which allows federal agents to write their own search warrants, government borrowing that knows no end -- including the $2 trillion Bush borrowed for the war in Iraq, a country which is now less stable than before Bush invaded, and the $7 trillion Obama borrowed to redistribute -- and an NSA that monitors all Americans all the time. In the case of the NSA spying, this came about by the secret orders of Bush and Obama, animated by that perverse TR/Wilsonian view of the Constitution and not by a congressional vote after a great national debate.

Just as people change when they know they are being watched, the government changes when it knows no one can watch it.

Just as we can never be ourselves when we fear that we may need to justify our most intimate thoughts to an all-knowing government, so, too, the government knows that when we cannot see what it is doing, it can do whatever it wants. And it is in the nature of government to expand, not shrink. Thomas Jefferson correctly predicted that 175 years ago.

But spying on yourself is truly asinine and perhaps criminal. You see, the president can officially declassify any secrets he wants, but he cannot -- without official declassification -- simply reveal them to NSA agents.

One can only imagine what NSA agents learned from listening to Bush and Obama as they spoke to Merkel and 34 other friendly foreign leaders, as yet unidentified publicly.

Now we know how pervasive this NSA spying is: It not only reaches the Supreme Court, the Pentagon, the CIA, the local police and the cellphones and homes of all Americans; it reaches the Oval Office itself. Yet when the president denies that he knows of this, that denial leads to more questions.

The president claims he can start secret foreign wars using the CIA, secretly kill Americans using drones, and now secretly spy on anyone anywhere using the NSA.

Is the president an unwitting dupe to a secret rats' nest of uncontrolled government spies and killers?

Or is he a megalomaniacal, totalitarian secret micromanager who lies regularly, consistently and systematically about the role of government in our lives?

Which is worse? What do we do about it?

Andrew P. Napolitano joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in January 1998 and currently serves as the senior judicial analyst. He provides legal analysis on both FNC and Fox Business Network (FBN).

[Oct 28, 2013] Israel and the NSA Partners in Crime by Justin Raimondo -- by Justin Raimondo,

A four-page internal précis regarding a visit to Washington by two top French intelligence officials denies the NSA or any US intelligence agency was behind the May 2012 attempted break-in – which sought to implant a monitoring device inside the Elysee Palace's communications system – but instead fingers the Israelis, albeit indirectly:

The visit by Barnard Barbier, head of the DGSE's technical division, and Patrick Pailloux, a top official with France's National Information Systems Security, was intended to elicit an explanation for the break-in, which the French media blamed on the Americans. The NSA's inquiries to the British, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, and other US allies all turned up negative. However, one such close ally wasn't asked.

As Glenn Greenwald and Jacques Follorou, citing the NSA document, put it in their Le Monde piece: the NSA "'intentionally did not ask either the Mossad or the ISNU (the technical administration of the Israeli services) whether they were involved' in this espionage operation against the head of the French government."

An interesting omission, to say the least, one justified by the author of the memo with some odd phraseology: "France is not an approved target for joint discussion by Israel and the United States." Meaning – exactly what? This is a job for Marcy Wheeler! But I'll hazard a guess: the US is well aware of Israeli spying on France and wants nothing to do with it, and/or the author of the memo is simply invoking some obscure protocol in order to justify going any farther.

In any case, the Israeli connection to the NSA's global spying network – including its all-pervasive surveillance inside the US – has been well-established by Greenwald's previous reporting on the subject: a September 11 article detailing how the NSA shares raw intercepts from its data-dragnet with Israeli intelligence, scooping up purloined emails and other data – in effect giving the Mossad a "back door" into a treasure trove of information on the private lives and activities of American citizens.

The Guardian published a five-page memorandum of understanding between Tel Aviv and Washington, provided to Greenwald by Snowden: rife with references to the legal and constitutional constraints "pertaining to the protection of US persons," it goes on to state forthrightly that the Israelis are permitted access to "raw Sigint" – unredacted and unreviewed transcripts, Internet metadata, and the content of emails and telephonic communications. While the Israelis supposedly solemnly swear to not "deliberately" target any American citizen, the agreement explicitly rules out a legal obligation on the part of the Israelis to follow the rules:

"This agreement is not intended to create any legally enforceable rights and shall not be construed to be either an international agreement or a legally binding instrument according to international law."

The Israelis are allowed to retain raw NSA data on American citizens for up to a year, as long as they inform the NSA, but when it comes to US government communications – those must be destroyed "upon recognition." This interdict presumably covers the internal communications of our law enforcement officers, but as both James Bamford and Fox News's Carl Cameron have reported, Israeli penetration of this vital sector is already an accomplished fact.

[Jul 04, 2013] EU To Vote On Suspension of Data Sharing With US

July 04, 2013 | Slashdot


New submitter badzilla writes with a story from ZDnet that says a vote is scheduled in the European Parliament for today, U.S. Independence Day, on "whether existing data sharing agreements between the two continents should be suspended, following allegations that U.S. intelligence spied on EU citizens." One interesting scenario outlined by the article is that it may disrupt air travel between the U.S. and EU: "In the resolution, submitted to the Parliament on Tuesday, more than two-dozen politicians from a range of political parties call the spying 'a serious violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,' and call on the suspension of the Passenger Name Records (PNR) system. Prior to leaving the airport, airlines must make passenger data available to the U.S. Names, dates of birth, addresses, credit or debit card details and seat numbers are among the data - though critics say the information has never helped catch a suspected criminal or terrorist before. Should the PNR system be suspended, it could result in the suspension of flights to the U.S. from European member states."


Let me get this right

The British GCHQ taps fibre connections, collects data on EU citizens and shares it with US intelligence services. In response the EU wants to stop sharing information on passenger records for people flying between the EU and the USA. .... Well I suppose its easier than suggesting that EU governments should not spy on its citizens.


Re:Let me get this right

The British are not the EU, in fact they are viewed by most as an US shill inside the EU. In the area of surveillance they are ahead US by quite a bit.

We need another De Gaulle. He gave the finger to the US and to NATO in the sixties, and he absolutely didn't want the UK in the CEE (later to be known as the EU). We don't need Turkey nor Israel in the EU and we certainly don't need the 51st american state either (aka the UK).

Please don't make us (the UK) leave! The EU's the only thing with a chance of preventing further erosion of British citizens' working rights, civil liberties, environment, etc.

Unfortunately, many of the uninformed voters here want to leave :-(


Re:Let me get this right

Britain and the EU have an odd relationship unlike almost any other country in the EU.

Yes, technically, we are part of it. But we're exempt from other parts associated with it (we don't use the Euro, etc.). We pump more money in than some others and, as compensation, we're allowed to opt-out of certain things.

Also, if you ask people in Britain what it means to go to Europe, it doesn't include touring around Britain. Britain and the EU are - to the British - two separate entities. Even more confusing you have things like the EC and the continent of Europe and lots of other definitions over the years that we are sometimes in, sometimes out.

However, GCHQ has hit a LOT of flak for its actions. The question really is - if what the US does is illegal, and the EU is doing it back, why do we have a formal legal statement of something else entirely? Why bother? Why not just legalise what we do or not? But, ultimately, the attitude is - if we DO share things with you, why distrust us and find things out illegally for your self? And if you do that, why should we bother to trust you or give you anything anyway?

The GCHQ involvement is a side-issue, and you can guarantee that whatever sanctions the US has imposed on it, those on GCHQ will be worse.

But, politics what it is, I find it hard to believe that anything will happen, certainly anything that will affect air travel. More likely a few trade agreements will have more lenient terms than they would have otherwise and promises to clean up, and that'll be the end of it.

Though, I swore off going to the US many years ago after they basically took liberties with what rights they think they have (which include this EU passenger data crap). If I was forced to enter the US now, I'd do so for as short a time as possible and carry no electronic equipment whatsoever and encrypt all communications home. That's the only sensible business choice and has been for years, and it just happens to be the complete antithesis of the intention to collect that data in the first place.

The British GCHQ taps fibre connections, collects data on EU citizens and shares it with US intelligence services. In response the EU wants to stop sharing information on passenger records for people flying between the EU and the USA

Well, it's right there in the article:

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that the European Commission is examining if the U.K. broke EU law, which could lead to an infringement procedure against the British government. This could lead to financial sanctions imposed by the European Court of Justice.

That the UK did this is also something they're looking at.

Well I suppose its easier than suggesting that EU governments should not spy on its citizens.

That's exactly what they're suggesting.

There's also this:

I can not understand why a U.S. citizen has the right to redress in the EU, but an EU citizen does not have the right to redress in the U.S.

As usual, the US won't sign an agreement which says a US entity would have to face laws in other countries, but expect they will get access to those laws when convenient.

It's a one-sided arrangement that isn't working for anyone but the US, and I believe you're going to start seeing countries deciding they're not going to sign up for any more of those. I think people are getting fed up with having terms dictated to them, and aren't going to be willing to keep doing it.


Side effects

There is an interesting side effect about this data problem: the cloud.

Currently, the biggest cloud providers are based in US. But due to the NSA disclosure, most companies cannot afford to give their data to outside countries, especially since it's now clear that NSA spied european companies economically.

So local cloud providers will quickly emerge, and this will directly impact Google and Amazon's services. US clouds cannot be trusted anymore.


Re: Side effects

Agreed, fully.

Recently I had the need of a virtual server - just to run my web site, host my documents, and various other tasks. So searching for this I specifically searched for local Hong Kong companies (which is where I live), to host such a server. And a short search later I found one that offers cloud servers, just what I needed.

A few months ago I was thinking about the same issue - and then I was considering Amazon. I am a customer of Amazon already, for their glacier cold storage service, where I keep back-ups (all encrypted before they leave my systems). They have a good reputation, and overall very good prices, however it being a US company made me not even consider them now.

And that's a direct result of Snowden's revelations.


Re:Side effects

US clouds cannot be trusted anymore.

They never could, only difference is that now it is confirmed and I can enjoy of saying "I told you so!". However, I would not trust any cloud service regardless of its country of origin with important data.

US-EU fallout Eavesdropping on the free trade - RT Op-Edge

In a big data world, we have our first global big data scandal. It seems the 'Basketballer-in-chief' who was a liberal dream in 2008, would make an Orwellian bureaucrat from 1984 blush with his ambitious spy programme.

Presented with the most unpalatable development in a generation, President Hollande of France has led vitriolic condemnation of the USA's addiction to espionage.

There are those who might argue that being a mono-superpower world, the American empire, at, or around, the height of its unchallenged superpower status, has a right to collate whatever data it can. This, after all was standard practice in the 19th century, why not scale the same thing for the digital era? Meanwhile, allies cry with the sort of anguish which demonstrates a real concern on their part. Mostly it is the concern that voters might oust, say, Mrs Merkel in her looming general election as all her claims of being a great US ally have proven as vapid as her supposed European crisis resolution skills.

Widespread spying is nothing new. It's just the scale of digital equipment in the age of big data that makes it appear so remarkable. Only a couple of decades ago, the British government, while negotiating with Ulster's terrorists to bring peace to the province, chided their Irish counterparts to improve security standards as their codes were so simple London found it easy to read sensitive Dublin government data..

[Jul 02, 2013] The Internet Defense League rallies to Restore the Fourth By Lauren Hockenson

Jul 02, 2013 | GigaOM

The Internet Defense League, a coalition of web companies against government control of the internet and its data that formed after the SOPA blackout in 2012, is also getting in on the action. Reddit released its own blog post announcing the rally and continues to hold conversations with organizers and participants at /r/restorethefourth. The league's other members, including Mozilla and WordPress, are also involved in the rally, which was recently endorsed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

[Jul 02, 2013] Why Prism's European Fallout Will Be Fragmented By David Meyer

June 10, 2013 | Businessweek

Posted on GigaOM

What should Europeans expect from the European Commission in response to the Prism scandal? Not a lot, unfortunately, because it's mostly a matter for individual countries.

When it emerged that the U.S. was spying on foreign users of Google (GOOG), Facebook (FB), and other services, the first reaction to come out of the commission was an unfortunately phrased placeholder that suggested the global surveillance scheme was "an internal U.S. matter." After a few hours of consideration, Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström put out something slightly weightier, expressing concern for "possible consequences on EU citizens' privacy" and explaining that the commission would "get in contact with our U.S. counterparts to seek more details on these issues."

Since then, EU sources have told me that the commission already knew about Prism before the current leaks and has raised it "systematically" when talking to U.S. authorities about EU-U.S. data protection agreements, particularly in the context of police and judicial cooperation. Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding apparently spoke about the matter with U.S. Attorney General Holder Eric Holder at a meeting in Washington in April.

It is certainly the case that the EU has previously warned that

"any data-at-rest formerly processed 'on premise' within the EU, which becomes migrated into Clouds, becomes liable to mass-surveillance-for purposes of furthering the foreign affairs of the U.S. (as well as the expected purposes of terrorism, money-laundering etc.)."

It doesn't look, however, as if the Commission can or will issue any blanket direction on what should happen now or whether it is acceptable for EU member states to allow their citizens to be monitored under Prism, as appears to be the case in the U.K. That is because, under the legal principles governing the European Union, national security remains a matter for member states.

As the Commission said in a statement:

"Where the rights of an EU citizen in a Member State are concerned, it is for a national judge to determine whether the data can be lawfully transmitted in accordance with legal requirements (be they national, EU or international)."

Still, according to the Commission, Reding will raise the issue in ministerial talks with the U.S. on Friday (June 14) in Dublin. Reding views this debacle as a matter of data protection principles that need to be firmed up, as she said in this statement:

"This case shows that a clear legal framework for the protection of personal data is not a luxury or constraint but a fundamental right. This is the spirit of the EU's data protection reform. These proposals have been on the table for 18 months now. In contrast, when dealing with files [that] limit civil liberties online, the EU has a proven track record of acting fast: The Data Retention Directive was negotiated by Ministers in less than six months. It is time for the Council to prove it can act with the same speed and determination on a file [that] strengthens such rights."

It's not entirely clear from that statement whether stronger data protection rules can preclude the sort of monitoring of EU citizens that we're talking about here. With member states having the final say on national security, that may not be possible.

The path taken now by those member states will of course depend on their existing cooperation with the U.S. on Prism. This is only starting to come out, and of course it raises huge questions about governments using a U.S. scheme to accomplish what their own national laws might forbid them from doing.

Pravda-style NYT headline

Snowden Rumors Quashed, Bolivian's Plane Leaves Austria


After rumors that Edward J. Snowden was aboard, the Bolivian president's plane landed in Vienna and stayed there overnight before taking off Wednesday morning, an airport spokesman said.

[July 2, 2013] New Rumor of Snowden Flight Raises Tensions By RICK GLADSTONE and WILLIAM NEUMAN

July 2, 2013 |

In as a seemingly offhand remark by the president of Bolivia, who suggested during a visit to Moscow that he might be happy to host Edward J. Snowden, the fugitive former security contractor who is desperate to find asylum. It escalated into a major diplomatic scramble in which the Bolivian president's plane was rerouted on Tuesday, apparently because of suspicions that Mr. Snowden was aboard.

Evo Morales, president of Bolivia, was attending an energy conference in Moscow when he was asked in an interview if he would consider giving asylum to Edward J. Snowden.

By day's end, outraged Bolivian officials, insisting that Mr. Snowden was not on the plane, were accusing France and Portugal of acting under American pressure to rescind permission for President Evo Morales's plane to traverse their airspace on the way back to Bolivia. Low on fuel, the plane's crew won permission to land in Vienna.

"They say it was due to technical issues, but after getting explanations from some authorities we found that there appeared to be some unfounded suspicions that Mr. Snowden was on the plane," the Bolivian foreign minister, David Choquehuanca, told reporters after the plane touched down in Vienna, where Mr. Morales was spending the night.

"We don't know who invented this big lie," the foreign minister said at a news conference in La Paz, Bolivia. "We want to express our displeasure because this has put the president's life at risk."

Rubén Saavedra, the defense minister, who was on the plane with Mr. Morales, accused the Obama administration of being behind the action by France and Portugal, calling it "an attitude of sabotage and a plot by the government of the United States."

There was no immediate response by officials in Paris, Lisbon or Washington.

"We were in flight; it was completely unexpected," Mr. Saavedra said on the Telesur cable network. "The president was very angry."

Speaking by phone with Telesur, Mr. Saavedra said that Mr. Snowden was not on the plane. Later, Reuters cited an unidentified Austrian Foreign Ministry official as saying the same thing.

Bolivian officials said they were working on a new flight plan to allow Mr. Morales to fly home. But in a possible sign of further suspicion about the passenger manifest, Mr. Saavedra said that Italy had also refused to give permission for the plane to fly over its airspace. Later he said that France and Portugal had reversed course and offered to allow the plane to fly through their airspace after all.

On Monday, Mr. Morales, who was attending an energy conference in Moscow, was asked in an interview on the Russia Today television network if he would consider giving asylum to Mr. Snowden, 30, who has been holed up at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport for more than a week, his passport revoked by the United States.

"Yes, why not?" Mr. Morales responded. "Of course, Bolivia is ready to take in people who denounce - I don't know if this is espionage or monitoring. We are here."

He said, though, that Bolivia had not received a request from Mr. Snowden, despite news reports to the contrary.

It was already clear by then that the Moscow conference had been overshadowed by the drama of Mr. Snowden and his disclosures about American intelligence programs, which have deeply embarrassed the Obama administration.

President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, who was also at the conference, had suggested he might offer Mr. Snowden asylum but did not plan to fly him to Venezuela.

But Mr. Morales's remarks appeared to open the door. At least that was the way they were interpreted.

The problems began even before Mr. Morales left Moscow, Mr. Choquehuanca said. On Monday, Portugal, without explanation, had withdrawn permission for Mr. Morales's plane to stop in Lisbon to refuel, the foreign minister said. That required Bolivian officials to get permission from Spain to refuel in the Canary Islands.

The next day, after taking off from Moscow, Mr. Morales's plane was just minutes from entering French airspace, according to Mr. Saavedra, when the French authorities informed the pilot that the plane could not fly over France.

There was also plenty of confusion in Moscow over how Mr. Snowden could possibly have left undetected on a government aircraft.

Government planes carrying foreign officials to diplomatic meetings in Moscow typically arrive and depart from Vnukovo Airport, which is also the main airfield used by the Russian government, rather than from Sheremetyevo, where Mr. Snowden arrived from Hong Kong on June 23 hours after American officials had sought his extradition there.

The speculation that Mr. Snowden would hitch a ride on a government jet was discounted by the fact that the plane would have to first make a quick flight from one Moscow airport to the other.

In an interview with the television station Russia Today, Mr. Maduro said he would consider any request by Mr. Snowden. Then, ending the interview with a dash of humor, he said, "It's time for me to go; Snowden is waiting for me."


Jorg Schumacher, London

Irrespective of whether Mr Snowdon is a hero or villain, his actions have exposed to what extent US government agencies collect and analyse data, which those who produced them thought personal and private. We now know that they are not. To suggest we knew about this all along is confusing hypothesis with established knowledge, which Mr Snowdon seems to have provided.

The ongoing debate of what will happen to Mr Snowdon only seems to distract from the questions that should be posed.

First the ethical question, to what degree can the breach of trust by the US agencies towards individuals and foreign governments be justified in the light of national security?

Second the practical question. Given the national and international outrage about the agencies' activities and the associated degradation of US esteem, trust and influence, should we not question the competence of these agencies to enhance our national security.

They seem to enjoy spying for spying's sake and not consider the implications when found out?


For every article about Snowden, that's one less articlee about the spying programs. This dysfunctional congress will change nothing and the public continues to yawn. How far we've fallen since the post-Watergate era when people were shocked and politicians made responded with corrective action.


What is interesting to me as a foreigner is that everybody is down on america and its government on the NSA issue. Where have you been people: Where were you when it mattered?
1. The patriot act had widespread public support at the time. So do not say you did not see it coming. Blame yourselves, not the government or at least take part of the responsibility.
2. People stil believe we go to war to "save the people against oppression" and never not protest against going to war because "America is always right" attitude.


Jennifer wrote,

"[S]urveillance isn't about Big Brother, it's about trying to contain terrorism using an alternate way to war."

It's stunning that some people are willing to allow the government to violate their Fourth Amendment rights. If folks think that the electronic data collection of 300 million innocent people (and everyone abroad) is about finding "a terrorist," think again.

NSA Whistleblower Thomas Drake: Snowden Saw What I Saw: Surveillance Criminally Subverting the Constitution

"This executive fiat of 2001 violated not just the fourth amendment, but also Fisa rules at the time, which made it a felony – carrying a penalty of $10,000 and five years in prison for each and every instance. The supposed oversight, combined with enabling legislation – the Fisa court, the congressional committees – is all a KABUKI DANCE, predicated on the national security claim that we need to find a threat.

"The reality is, they just want it all, period.

"To an NSA with these unwarranted powers, we're all potentially guilty; we're all potential suspects until we prove otherwise. That is what happens when the government has all the data.

"The NSA is wiring the world; they want to own internet. I didn't want to be part of the dark blanket that covers the world, and Edward Snowden didn't either.

"What Edward Snowden has done is an amazingly brave and courageous act of civil disobedience."

CathySan Jose, Costa Rica

"Low on fuel" ? The Bolivian plane was denied airspace. Snowden must have incredible information for the US government to be this desperate!

jjames at replicountsPhiladelphia, PA

In the U.S. in 21st century so far, terrorists have killed fewer than 1% of the people killed in traffic accidents -- and this comparison includes all of the murders on September 11, 2001. We must protect ourselves, but not out of all proportion to the risk.

NSA spying and other security excesses are not harmless if you have nothing to hide. This level of spying and infrastructure can easily result in a tiny, secret, self-interested group controlling the real direction of this society, with no serious accountability.

In 'golden age' of surveillance, US has big edge

LONDON (AP) -- The saga of Edward Snowden and the NSA makes one thing clear: The United States' central role in developing the Internet and hosting its most powerful players has made it the global leader in the surveillance game.

Other countries, from dictatorships to democracies, are also avid snoopers, tapping into the high-capacity fiber optic cables to intercept Internet traffic, scooping their citizens' data off domestic servers, and even launching cyberattacks to win access to foreign networks.

But experts in the field say that Silicon Valley has made America a surveillance superpower, allowing its spies access to massive mountains of data being collected by the world's leading communications, social media, and online storage companies. That's on top of the United States' fiber optic infrastructure - responsible for just under a third of the world's international Internet capacity, according to telecom research firm TeleGeography - which allows it to act as a global postmaster, complete with the ability to peek at a big chunk of the world's messages in transit.

"The sheer power of the U.S. infrastructure is that quite often data would be routed though the U.S. even if it didn't make geographical sense," Joss Wright, a researcher with the Oxford Internet Institute, said in a telephone interview. "The current status quo is a huge benefit to the U.S."

The status quo is particularly favorable to America because online spying drills into people's private everyday lives in a way that other, more traditional forms of espionage can't match. So countries like Italy, where a culture of rampant wiretapping means that authorities regularly eavesdrop on private conversations, can't match the level of detail drawn from Internet searches or email traffic analysis.

"It's as bad as reading your diary," Wright said. Then he corrected himself: "It's FAR WORSE than reading your diary. Because you don't write everything in your diary."

Although the details of how the NSA's PRISM program draws its data from these firms remain shrouded in secrecy, documents leaked by spy agency systems analyst Edward Snowden to the Guardian and The Washington Post newspapers said its inside track with U.S. tech firms afforded "one of the most valuable, unique, and productive" avenues for intelligence-gathering. How much cooperation America's Internet giants are giving the government in this inside track relationship is a key unanswered question.

Whatever the case, the pool of information in American hands is vast. Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft Corp. accounts for more than 90 percent of the world's desktop computer operating systems, according to one industry estimate. Mountain View, California-based Google Inc. carries two-thirds of the world's online search traffic, analysts say. Menlo Park, California-based Facebook Inc. has some 900 million users - a figure that accounts for a third of the world's estimated 2.7 billion Internet-goers.

The pool of information in American hands is vast. Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft Corp. accounts for more than 90 percent of the world's desktop computer operating systems, according to one industry estimate. Mountain View, California-based Google Inc. carries two-thirds of the world's online search traffic, analysts say. Menlo Park, California-based Facebook Inc. has some 900 million users - a figure that accounts for a third of the world's estimated 2.7 billion Internet-goers.

Electronic eavesdropping is, of course, far from an exclusively American pursuit. Many other nations pry further and with less oversight.

China and Russia have long hosted intrusive surveillance regimes. Russia's "SORM," the Russian-language acronym for System for Operational-Investigative Activities, allows government officials to directly access nearly every Internet service provider in the country. Initially set up to allow the FSB, the successor organization to the KGB, unfettered access to Russia's Internet traffic, the scope of SORM has grown dramatically since Vladimir Putin took power in 2000 and now allows a wide range law enforcement agencies to monitor Russians' messages.

In China, surveillance is "pervasive, extensive, but perhaps not as high-tech" as in the United States, said Andrew Lih, a professor of journalism at American University in Washington. He said major Internet players such as microblogging service Sina, chat service QQ, or Chinese search giant Baidu were required to have staff - perhaps as many as several hundred people - specially tasked with carrying out the state's bidding, from surveillance to censorship.

What sets America apart is that it sits at the center of gravity for much of world's social media, communications, and online storage.

Americans' "position in the network, the range of services that they offer globally, the size of their infrastructure, and the amount of bandwidth means that the U.S. is in a very privileged position to surveil internationally," said Wright. "That's particularly true when you're talking about cloud services such as Gmail" - which had 425 million active users as of last year.

Many are trying to beat America's tech dominance by demanding that U.S. companies open local branches - something the Turkish government recently asked of San Francisco-based Twitter Inc., for example - or by banning them altogether. Santa Clara, California-based WhatsApp, for example, may soon be prohibited in Saudi Arabia.

Governments are also racing to capture traffic as it bounces back and forth from California, importing bulk surveillance devices, loosening spy laws, and installing centralized monitoring centers to offer officials a one-stop shop for intercepted data.

"Eventually, it won't just be Big Brother," said Richard J. Aldrich, the author of a book about Britain's GCHQ eavesdropping agency. "There will be hundreds of little brothers."

But the siblings have a lot of catching up to do if they want to match surveillance powers of the United States, and some have turned to cyberespionage to try to even the playing field. A high-profile attack on Gmail users in 2010, for example, was blamed on Chinese hackers, while suspicion for separate 2011 attack on various U.S. webmail services fell on Iran.

But even in the dark arts of cyberespionage, America seems to have mastered the field. Washington is blamed for launching the world's first infrastructure-wrecking super worm, dubbed Stuxnet, against Iran and for spreading a variety of malicious software programs across the Middle East. One U.S. general recently boasted of hacking his enemies in Afghanistan.

In his comments to the South China Morning Post, Snowden said Americans had broken into computer systems belonging to a prominent Chinese research university, a fiber optic cable company and Chinese telecoms providers.

"We hack everyone everywhere," Snowden said.

U.S. officials haven't exactly denied it.

"You're commuting to where the information is stored and extracting the information from the adversaries' network," ex-NSA chief Michael Hayden told Bloomberg Businessweek earlier this year. "We are the best at doing it. Period."

PRISM fallout European legislators furious about U.S. surveillance.

Politicians in Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Romania are among those to have called for an investigation into PRISM at a European level. German privacy chief Peter Schaar has demanded that the U.S. government "provide clarity" regarding what he described as "monstrous allegations of total monitoring of various telecommunications and Internet services." And Schaar has been backed up by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who plans to raise the issue when she meets in Berlin with President Obama next week. Further afield, Canadian and Australian officials have also been voicing their concerns-with Ontario privacy chief Ann Cavoukian calling the disclosures about PRISM "breathtaking" and "staggering."

For decades, spy agencies have conducted surveillance of overseas communications as part of their intelligence-gathering mission. But as the U.N. special envoy on free speech noted in an unprecedented report published last week, new technologies have changed the game. Tools available to governments today enable a more ubiquitous form of surveillance than ever before-all happening under a veil of intense secrecy and beyond public oversight-and that is precisely the danger with PRISM. U.S. companies have been strong-armed into complying with U.S. espionage, undermining the civil liberties of everyone who uses these services. No longer is foreign surveillance targeted at specific channels of diplomatic communication or aimed at particular suspects-it is much broader than that, capable of sweeping up data on millions or even billions of citizens' communications. Edward Snowden, the NSA whistle-blower behind the disclosure of PRISM, has alleged that the agency "specifically targets the communications of everyone."

Clapper, the U.S. director of national intelligence, said Thursday that the intelligence community was "committed to respecting the civil liberties and privacy of all American citizens." But the U.S. government claims to endorse the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which makes it clear that all citizens-not just American citizens-have a right not to be subjected to "arbitrary interference" with "privacy, family, home or correspondence." And that is exactly the problem with the NSA's PRISM: it puts the universal right to privacy through the shredder, and encourages other governments to do the same.

The Guardian

Angela Merkel and Barack Obama: 'It is the responsibility of the German government to see to it that the programmes of the NSA and GCHQ no longer process the data of German citizens.' Photograph: Breul-Bild/Juri Reetz/dpa/Corbis

"Germany's security is being defended in the Hindu Kush, too," said Peter Struck, who was Germany's defence minister at the time, in 2002. If that's true, then the government should also be expected to defend the security of its people at their own doorstep. Because the massive sniffing out and saving of data of all kinds – that of citizens and businesses, newspapers, political parties, government agencies – is in the end just that: a question of security. It is about the principles of the rule of law. And it is a matter of national security.

We live in changing times. At the beginning of last week, we thought after the announcement of the American Prism programme that President Barack Obama was the sole boss of the largest and most extensive control system in human history. That was an error.

Since Friday, we have known that the British intelligence agency GCHQ is "worse than the United States". Those are the words of Edward Snowden, the IT expert who uncovered the most serious surveillance scandal of all time. American and British intelligence agencies are monitoring all communication data. And what does our chancellor do? She says: "The internet is uncharted territory for us all."

That's not enough. In the coming weeks, the German government needs to show that it is bound to its citizens and not to an intelligence-industrial complex that abuses our entire lives as some kind of data mine. The justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, hit the right note when she said she was shocked by this "Hollywood-style nightmare".

We have Snowden to thank for this insight into the interaction of an uncanny club, the Alliance of Five Eyes. Since the second world war, the five Anglo-Saxon countries of Great Britain, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada have maintained close intelligence co-operation, which apparently has got completely out of control.

It may be up to the Americans and the British to decide how they handle questions of freedom and the protection of their citizens from government intrusion. But they have no right to subject the citizens of other countries to their control. The shoulder-shrugging explanation by Washington and London that they have operated within the law is absurd. They are not our laws. We didn't make them. We shouldn't be subject to them.

The totalitarianism of the security mindset protects itself with a sentence: if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. But first, that contains a presumption: we have not asked the NSA and GCHQ to "protect" us. And second, the sentence is a stupid one: because we all have something to hide, whether it pertains to our private lives or to our business secrets.

Thus the data scandal doesn't pertain just to our legal principles, but to our security as well. We were lucky that Snowden, who revealed the spying to the entire world, is not a criminal, but an idealist. He wanted to warn the world, not blackmail it. But he could have used his information for criminal purposes, as well. His case proves that no agency in the world can guarantee the security of the data it collects – which is why no agency should collect data in such abundance in the first place.

That is the well-known paradox of totalitarian security policy. Our security is jeopardised by the very actions that are supposed to protect it.

So what should happen now? European institutions must take control of the data infrastructure and ensure its protection. The freedom of data traffic is just as important as the European freedom of exchange in goods, services and money. But above all, the practices of the Americans and British must come to an end. Immediately.

It is the responsibility of the German government to see to it that the programmes of the NSA and GCHQ no longer process the data of German citizens and companies without giving them the opportunity for legal defense. A government that cannot make that assurance is failing in one of its fundamental obligations: to protect its own citizens from the grasp of foreign powers.

Germans should closely observe how Angela Merkel now behaves. And if the opposition Social Democrats and Green party are still looking for a campaign issue, they need look no further.

• This article originally appeared on Spiegel International and is republished with permission


I think the standard state response is.

'Shut the F***! UP or we will black bag you and drag your arse off to Guantanamo'

Wrapped in a democratic wrapper. Report Share this comment on Twitter Share this comment on Facebook


Good post except for the democratic bit.

I don't think anyone thinks that the USA is a democracy anymore.

It isn't one and it never has been as the constitution makes pretty clear.

Since 1941 the US has been more of an Empire and less of a Republic.

The Republic died sometime between the years 1962 and 1975.


The US and Britain claim they have operated within the law. But they are not our laws and we shouldn't be subject to them This is a punishable transgression and attempt to corrupt the relationship between 'LORDS' and vassals!


I vaugely recall reading that in some EU negotiaion or other, in the 80's, Britain's casue was helped by having a suspiciously accurate insight into what the German position was.


F##k fibre interception. Time machines!


before Tempora there was Echelon


I think that the majority of rational people in Western countries have rejected the Guardian/Greenwald base delusional perception that a majority of people will be offended by this relatively unobtrusive intelligence gathering which is so clearly designed to prevent terrorist atrocities.

Strange that The Guardian doesn't see that it is flogging a dead horse.

Strummered -> RueTheDay

I think you really must try harder. Look around you at the global response to these revelations, not least from national governments.

kagaka -> DavidC012
Its my technical understanding that snooping happened at data exchanges in the UK which are governed by EU law.

Fixed that for you.

Further references

* Data Retention Directive
* Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications
* Digital Agenda for Europe

Sylvain Pimpare

Same for us here in Canada but the Government is way to scared of the USA to do anything against USA laws. USA laws supercede any International Laws.


Anything 'we' do is intelligence gathering and necessary for self-defence. Anything 'they' do is spying.

Absolutely simple.


The Germans may be a little more sensitive to Governments compiling information on them as the Stasi would have embraced the internet and sought to monitor social networking sites.

However the problem is that the information is in free flow on the internet for anyone with access. PRISM is a little different and the EU will probably be looking at how EU citizens' data might be better protected if stored in the EU and not anywhere else and to which the USA et al couldn't have access.

No doubt China, Russia, etc will also be reviewing the state of play.


Can data be corralled that easily, or does it tend to slosh around the world willy nilly, flaunting itself for anyone who might want a peep?

GM Potts

Data flows like water on the internet, so as best to avoid obstacles. It's perfectly possible for Germany to keep internal German data within Germany, or for the rest of Europe to keep their internal data routed within Europe, away from the US and UK, in the same way a company can keep it's communications internal. However they'd also have to set up internal alternative services such as social media.

A better approach may be to teach encryption, computer security and privacy practices at school.


To understand the full scope of this (it far exceeds "metadata") requires inclusion of the role of Britain's spy agency GCHQ

Essentially it is the greatest theft of property (communications are property) in human history.

"One key innovation has been GCHQ's ability to tap into and store huge volumes of data drawn from fibre-optic cables for up to 30 days so that it can be sifted and analysed. That operation, codenamed Tempora, has been running for some 18 months.

GCHQ and the NSA are consequently able to access and process vast quantities of communications between entirely innocent people, as well as targeted suspects.

This includes recordings of phone calls, the content of email messages, entries on Facebook and the history of any internet user's access to websites – all of which is deemed legal, even though the warrant system was supposed to limit interception to a specified range of targets."


His case proves that no agency in the world can guarantee the security of the data it collects – which is why no agency should collect data in such abundance in the first place. Well, quite.

What's more amazing is the fact that they are calling him a spy -- for revealing the fact that the NSA and GCHQ have been, for all intents and purposes, spying. It's rather sad that of all the people who had access to the stuff Snowdon had access to over the past decade, he's the only one to have blown the whistle. Didn't George Orwell say something along the lines that when you live in a time of universal deceit, even simple truth-telling becomes (or seems) an act of revolutionary insurgency? What a world we live in.


If we really are spying on the Germans, we should be able to construct a profitable manufacturing sector

TucholskyfuerArme -> simbasdad

Remember, the UK has a service based economy. So your 1% are selling it to the highest bidder and then evade any taxes on it....

GM Potts -> simbasdad

Given that Boeing had full access to Airbus communications then they must be really shit engineers to have built the Bad Dreamliner.


Is there no end to these articles that appeal to the hysteria and mob-think here?

In the USA the whole Snowden affair is largely being treated as a "where in the world is Waldo?" paper chase. Americans have discovered that there is indeed life after the NSA reads - or doesn't read - their e-mails, and the whole overwrought response is simply ludicrous.

All that remains to know now is whether (a) Snowden actually had access to information that could really result in significant risk to others (b) if so, will he reveal it in a final flame-out?

In the meantime, his reliance on beacons of transparency, fair play, internet access, and democracy such as China, Russia, Cuba (perhaps) and Ecuador (perhaps) has made him into a joke.

PeopleOverWallSt -> SantaMoniker

"This is old news and is not a threat - therefore Snowden should be prosecuted as a spy, because he revealed nothing that is important at all! "

SantaMoniker -> PeopleOverWallSt

No - he should be prosecuted for revealing state secrets after he took an oath not to do so, regardless of the degree to which his revelations are important.

So far, I have seen nothing that he has revealed that makes me feel less secure or that could have aided anyone interested in attacking America.

Only an idiot - and there seem to be many of them on these threads - would assume that the spy agency (or agencies) was (were) not spying.

Anyone able to mount a credible threat to the USA would certainly assume they are, and they could not care one way or another whether the program was called PRISM or anything else, or what the Fisa documents say or permit. It is so reminiscent of the Casablanca line - "I'm shocked - shocked" that it really quite funny.

The only question remaining is whether, in order to enhance his reputation as a danger to the US, he - or Greenwald - actually reveals names of operatives or other information that could seriously endanger someone or impede security activity.

In the meantime - the media will simply play "where in the World is Waldo Snowden?" since there really isn't much else going on except the slaughter in Syria and the riots in Brazil - the latter something I note that ex-pat Greenwald remains studiously indifferent to.


Germans should closely observe how Angela Merkel now behaves. And if the opposition Social Democrats and Green party are still looking for a campaign issue, they need look no further.

We read, here in America, that German luxury cars are given as gifts to especially pernicious spies.

Face it: all the governments of the world have declared war- against their own citizens.


Well that may be so, LakerFan, and it's easy to poke fun at the Snowden affair from many angles, but I, for one, do not like the idea of any Agency anywhere, governmental or private, reading my e-mails and monitoring my calls. The mantra 'If something can be done it will be done' plus Moore's Law suggests to me that it may not be a bad idea to take President Obama up on his 'Welcome a debate' remark.


So the British Empire never died - it just went online. Hurrah for the five eyes on which the sun never sets....

CC0564 -> Paul_lgnotus

They stopped gold digging and started data mining.

And for fun they shoot at paper tigers. Or maybe that is the whole point of this new empire: create new enemies. It is a great money spinner.


But they have no right to subject the citizens of other countries to their control.

The problem, though, is that this inference is actually an open question and has been since the Treaty of Westphalia ... especially with respect to spying

While one can argue that the "binding customary principles of territorial sovereign equality and nonintervention, by the comity of nations," as one Canadian court put it, prohibits the collection of intelligence by one nation-state against another without its consent ... there are few treaties on the books where states have explicitly abrogated their powers to collect foreign intelligence. More importantly, I'm not aware of any treaties that have established an enforcement mechanism to see to it that countries are punished when they spy against one another.

Indeed most treaties that recognize the broad principal that "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence." See Article 12, Declaration of Human Rights and Article 8 of the ECHR also recognize the broad principle that "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person." The tension between liberty and security that we see in domestic law is right there in international law. Yet, that tension has come about without the member states completely ceding their individual liberty to breach any of these rights that we see reflected in domestic law.

For example, the Rome Statute that established the ICC explicitly excludes delicts against privacy from its jurisdiction.

Which returns us to sovereignty--IT is the core problem here. In a system of international anarchy, governments are effectively at liberty to keep secrets from one another and they are at liberty to try to discover each others' secrets. Until they are willing to yield both liberties to a higher authority, your protestations against individual citizens getting caught up in the mix of international espionage will not be remedied ...

truthpleasestoplies -> Comrade2070

And we come back to Adolf Hitler:

Right, Law, Justice, agreements are for the weak. The powerful one does not need them as he and his power authorize themselves. (in the Nietzschean version of it adopted by Nazism)

But was then Nazism defeated only to occupy the ueberalles place it had outlined and the principles it had chosen? Was eventually Adolf Hitler right in the concept but wrong in the identity of the one country which would incarnate it? The power-and-no-rights followers and countries, though not me, are on his side and his heirs.

Is the truth even more simple and Nazism the real engine of the empires of 19th century which existed before and continued after Hitler?

[Jun 25, 2013] The Sydney Morning Herald

The Sydney Morning Herald

Just when the Snowden spy saga needs comic relief to counter Washington's bad-tempered diplomacy, in walks Russian president Vladimir Putin with his own way of describing what might be in the whole deal for Moscow – "it's like shearing a pig – lots of screams, but little wool."

Clearly the Russian leader thought he could indulge in such colourful language because for the benefit of the international throngs following the story, he had just answered the 'where's Wally' question – indeed, Mr Snowden was still at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport; though in the transit area which, technically, meant he was not in the country.

... ... ...

There were signs that Washington is issuing chill pills to senior officials.

Couching his words in the terms in which indignant Chinese and Russian officials used to reject his hot-headed comments of Monday, a more measured US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia: "We're not looking for a confrontation. We're not ordering anybody. We are simply requesting under a very normal procedure for the transfer of somebody.

"I would simply appeal for calm and reasonableness at a moment when we don't need to raise the level of confrontation over something as frankly basic and normal as this."

With so many people in different time zones having their tuppence worth, it was though everyone was speaking at once. And in that context Kerry's Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, wasn't buying the new Mr Kerry tone.

"We consider the attempts to accuse Russia of violations of US laws and even some sort of conspiracy which, on top of all that, are accompanied by threats, as absolutely ungrounded and unacceptable," Mr Lavrov told reporters in Moscow.

"There are no legal grounds for such conduct [by] US officials."

Edward Snowden's biggest fear Losing access to his computer

The Globe and Mail

... ... ...

Despite the formal explanation, Hong Kong officials also indicated displeasure over Mr. Snowden's revelation that the semi-autonomous Chinese city had been a target of American hacking. The government noted that it asked the U.S. for more information on the issue, suggesting it played some role in the decision.

Some observers believe the move to allow Mr. Snowden to leave Hong Kong was orchestrated by China to avoid a prolonged diplomatic tussle with the U.S. over his extradition. Mr. Snowden also claimed that the U.S. accessed private text messages after hacking into mobile phone companies in China. The U.S. has long complained that it has been a victim of Chinese computer-based attacks.

Hong Kong lawmaker and lawyer Albert Ho, who had represented Mr. Snowden, said an intermediary who claimed to represent the government had relayed a message to Mr. Snowden saying he was free to leave and should do so.

"The entire decision was probably made in Beijing and Beijing decided to act on its best interests," he told reporters. "However, Beijing would not want to be seen on stage because it would affect Sino-U.S. relations. That's why China has somebody acting in the background."

What is Snowden's life like in hiding?

The cramped conditions of staying in the home of a local Hong Kong supporter didn't bother Mr. Snowden, his lawyer told The New York Times – so long as he had access to his computer.

In fact, Mr. Ho said, the one thing that scares him most about the idea of prison is of losing his computer. "If you were to deprive him of his computer, that would be totally intolerable," Mr. Ho said.

Was Snowden hiding in plain sight?

Though Mr. Snowden is going to great lengths to avoid detection (Mr. Ho told The New York Times, for example, that all visitors are asked to hide their cellphones in the refrigerator to prevent eavesdropping), at least a few journalists have had better luck.

Even while fleeing extradition, Mr. Snowden has granted interviews to The Guardian and The South China Morning Post newspapers – essentially hiding in plain sight of officials.

For The Guardian, he even agreed to be filmed on video and then last week participated in a live "Q&A" session with Guardian readers.

"I believe in freedom of expression," he told the Post. "I acted in good faith but it is only right that the public form its own opinion."

Journalists strike out on Aeroflot Flight 180

After word leaked that Mr. Snowden would fly from Moscow to Havana on Monday, journalists who had been searching for him at Sheremetyevo International Airport rushed to book seats on Aeroflot Flight 180. However, he was not on board.

To make matters worse, there are no alcohol sales aboard the nearly 12-hour flight and the reporters must spend three days in Cuba before they can leave because of the country's travel rules.

The WikiLeaks connection

The ongoing NSA drama has led to a strategic alliance between Mr. Snowden and the anti-secrecy activist group WikiLeaks. The arrangement has allowed WikiLeaks – whose founder Julian Assange has been in refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy for over a year – to share in Mr. Snowden's media spotlight, and also given Mr. Snowden access to the expertise and resources that the international organization has gained over the years.

Mr. Assange said that Mr. Snowden had approached the activist group over a week ago for its help, and they have since been providing legal and logistical support. On Sunday, Ecuadorean foreign minister Ricardo Patiño Aroca said the country had received an asylum application from Mr. Snowden.

... ... ...

Video AT&T Leaker Give Snowden Retroactive Immunity - The Globe and Mail

Jun 12, 2013

Before there was Edward Snowden, there was Mark Klein, a telecommunications technician who alleged that AT&T was allowing U.S. spies to siphon vast amounts of customer data without warrants

Comment of the week: on Prism's international reach

The Guardian
In a new series, Comment is free writers and editors want to highlight some of the best comments on the site. Each week, either an editor or the author of a recent piece will pick a comment that they think contributes to the debate. Hopefully, it will give staff and readers an opportunity to see how thought-provoking such contributions can be and allow great posts the chance to be seen by a wider audience.

In our fifth instalment, Antony Loewenstein, who recently wrote about the Prism surveillance scandal and the lack of outrage that followed in Australia, has picked a comment by rustyschwinnToo:

Where is the outrage over Prism in Australia? In the same place as Australian outrage over Echelon. Next to the US, Australia is probably the second most insular "western" democracy in the world. And even more ready to believe that it's all about foreigners, which doesn't include them but does include anybody slightly brown tinged or with a funny accent on the continent, than the Americans.

I was talking to a (typically) frighteningly casual racist Australian yesterday. And he was genuinely convinced that NSA would only be spying on "immigrant darkies" in Australia. He couldn't grasp the concept that TCP/IP and the ISO communications model don't have an ethnic identification layer. And the NSA don't (can't) racially profile meta data.

Antony explains why he picked this comment:

One of the constant refrains about the Snowden revelations, from supporters of unaccountable surveillance, is that the state and authorities would never peek into lives that have no connection to terrorism. Or that Washington has a watertight court oversight (Glenn Greenwald demolished that lie recently). The commenter understands that the post 9/11 world has seen development of a massive, privatised system of monitoring and gathering metadata on us all. Alas, I have to agree that insularity is an Australian speciality (not unique to us, alas). These Prism revelations should alarm politicians and media but far too many of them are sucking on the drip-feed of sanctioned US government and intelligence leaks and information to care. The online rage against the Obama administration recently shows that many in the public are demanding action.


○ concerning the NSA revelations, media blackout has been very successful

only reporting on the US charging Snowden was allowed

you wouldn't be mistaken to assume that news outlets are run directly from NSA offices. technology is making this possibility a piece of cake ○

in this 'free country' one is only free to acquiesce unquestionably to the instructions coming from Washington

ChaseChubby -> Spatial

in this 'free country' one is only free to acquiesce unquestionably to the instructions coming from Washington

Indeed. Not like the socialist paradises of Venezuela and Cuba. There a person can say what he thinks without fear. Report Share this comment on Twitter Share this comment on Facebook

Spatial ChaseChubby

Not like the socialist paradises of Venezuela and Cuba. There a person can say what he thinks without fear

good on you! very 'rational' and adequate response. it doesn't stink of acquiescence at all.


Even accounting for the third party doctrine, how can FISA ordering call data on ALL US calls be squared with the Fourth Amendment, statutory protections, common law privileges and the rights of the third parties themselves?

AngloSkeptic AngloSkeptic

As with the City, so with GCHQ:

Britain's feeble public institutions combined with the global reach of ambitious British-based interests menace the entire world, not just the basic rights of the British population.

The poorly regulated activities of GCHQ appear to undermine the constitutional protections enjoyed by citizens in other sovereign states.

The sudden loss of 'plausible deniability' creates for governments around the world a legal obligation to act.

AngloSkeptic AngloSkeptic

Voting is of no avail if the population is uninformed or if the activity emanates from another, 'sovereign' jurisdiction.

As Mr Snowdon put it, it is a case of 'turn-key tyranny', but on a global scale.

Meanwhile, Britain, with its lax constitutional arrangement, serves as the Loophole of the world, through which other governments circumvent their constitutional protections.

MobiusLoop -> RueTheDay

I prefer to live in a safe society, free of criminals and terrorists. The trade off of allowing government snooping across the board, to keep me safe is acceptable to me.

The central assumption here is that governments and their agencies always act in a benign manner yet this very story, the Hillsborough, Lawrence and Tomlinson cases are all clear examples of areas where there is the danger of and actual misuse of power and where public scrutiny is therefore essential. Looking at the history of Northern Ireland, Bloody Sunday with subsequent cover up then internment can seen as examples of the misuse of powers that had the impact of taking a volatile situation and making it more dangerous. In this case a far greater level of safety was achieved through open dialogue and an acknowledgement of the underlying economic and political drivers.

For society to remain balanced and safe, there must be limits on power, scrutiny and accountability. Without checks there is a tendency to drift towards an ever more draconian and I would argue truly dangerous world.

Sentinel001 -> libertarianSW

Good comments, they ( gove, media etc ) are still portraying using Microsoft Windows or Apple Mac OSX as viable business operating systems.

This is where they capture all of your data from; remember, they ( Microsoft and Apple) gave the NSA / GCHQ, Five-Eyes Nations, access to zero-day exploits and other Operating System errors to exploit for commercial gain before telling the public ( whole world who use those operating systems for their businesses ) about these exploits.

The whole business community around the world need to remove the back-door enabled operating systems from Microsoft and Apple; Windows and OSX, as this is the only way to guarantee their own data privacy locally.

Message needs to be spread

libertarianSW -> Sentinel001

Exactly, the US is facing a massive backslash, as you pointed, no body knows the extent and what else PRISM involved.

It's funny because the US was issuing security warnings about Chinese TELCO's and Chinese made equipment because of possible back-doors and illegal data collection the US seems to follow a similar pattern.


I was talking to a (typically) frighteningly casual racist Australian yesterday. And he was genuinely convinced that NSA would only be spying on "immigrant darkies" in Australia.

This was a great post, and I particularly admire how the poster addressed head-on the most disturbing essence of this Orwellian dynamic. The sad truth is that the racism expressed in the quotation is the purest distillation of Martin Niemöller's axiom about who they come for first. Virtually everything that has unfolded in the post 9/11 world has been an invitation to pit "Us" against "Them." As long as it is happening to them, the vast majority has not cared how outrageous the transgressions are or how horrendous the suffering is. I am still struggling with my disappointment that it took having one's precious cellphone or Facebook page effected to wake up the slumbering masses to what is going on, but keep coming back to the thought that at least they are waking up.

Many people use the future tense when talking about what "can" or "might" go wrong if we don't put a stop to this. That view studiously ignores the thousands who have been tortured and imprisoned, without trial, and the hundreds of thousands killed in an illegal war.

We should be outraged, but the source of that rage should be fueled by our awareness that others are already suffering in our name. If we don't want them to come for us, we need to care passionately that they've already come for others.


I'm always bemused when I see that NSA picture, with it's massive car park. A serious transportation breakdown would just about scuttle the place. They call that security.



Virtually everything that has unfolded in the post 9/11 world has been an invitation to pit "Us" against "Them."

By now my dear AhBrightWings you should not be hide bound by that paradigm. I lectured you enough at Salon to get smart about 9/11Truth. So by now you should have realized that 9/11 was so arranged by Them, that yahoo nation would be happy with Them pitting themselves against Us. And now what they were too stupid to see they were sowing - now must yahoo nation reap.


Talk about yahoo, sure to appear:


I prefer to live in a safe society, free of criminals and terrorists. The trade off of allowing government snooping across the board, to keep me safe is acceptable to me. I will vote for someone who has my physical security as a primary interest.

I didn't know whether to laugh, spit or cry with despair reading your garbage. The State doesn't give a flying fuck about your "physical security." They sent many into war to be killed or maimed on false pretenses didn't they? They put the frightners on you in order that you'll be happily stupid enough to keep up the protection payments.

There's one born every minute - but I really, really wish there wasn't.

Snowden leaks may embarrass Canberra

June 26, 2013

American intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden may expose top secret Australian intelligence gathering operations and embarrass Australia's relations with neighbouring Asian countries, Australian intelligence officials fear.

Former Labor Defence Minister John Faulkner has confirmed that the heads of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and Australia's signals intelligence agency, the Defence Signals Directorate, David Irvine and Ian McKenzie, have briefed the federal parliament's intelligence committee on the US PRISM internet surveillance program.

The Australian government would not comment yesterday on whether Mr Snowden's exposés of top secret US and British intelligence and surveillance programs have been the subject of diplomatic exchanges between Canberra and Washington. Foreign Minister Bob Carr's office would not say whether he has had any exchanges with US Secretary of State John Kerry on the subject.

However Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus's office has confirmed that a high level interagency taskforce is monitoring events and coordinating the government's response.

... ... ...

"Disclosure of highly sensitive collection operations and methodology will damage Australia's intelligence capabilities. It already has done so. But there's also risk of serious complications in our relations with our neighbours," one official said.

"The US may be able to brush aside some of the diplomatic fallout from the Snowden leak, but that may not be the case for Australia. China, Malaysia, other countries may respond to us in ways that they would not to Washington."


Heh. The govt. was spying on their own people. Snowden's a traitor only if you regard your citizens as the enemy ..


Nicho, the citizen is always the enemy of the State. The biggest weakness resides within. That is why a modern political State will move to control the means and methods of violence, to minimise that risk.

[Jun 17, 2013] How NSA Surveillance Jeopardizes Obama's G-8 Trip to Europe

The president arrives in Northern Ireland early Monday morning to begin an intense three days of behind-the-scenes diplomacy and very-public speechmaking to culminate in what the White House hopes is a spectacular address at the eastern side of the historic Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. The crowd for that could top 200,000. But more important for Obama may be the smaller one-on-one sessions when he is expected to face tough questions about the surveillance disclosures and the evolving U.S. policy on Syria.

Those would come at Lough Erne Resort, a golf resort nestled between two lakes near Enniskillen in Northern Ireland, site of this year's G-8 Summit. Obama is almost certain to hear complaints from several of the allied leaders upset at public disclosure that the FBI and National Security Agency collected data on private calls made by citizens, including those using major internet servers in Europe. Since the disclosure, the complaints have been loudest in Germany, France and Italy. But a nerve was struck across the continent, with Europe long more concerned about privacy than the United States and long annoyed that Europeans had to rely on Internet servers maintained by U.S. companies such as Google and Facebook.

Peter Schaar, Germany's freedom of information commissioner, told Reuters he wanted "clarity" from the United States "regarding these monstrous allegations of total monitoring of various telecommunications and Internet services." Another German official has called for a boycott of the companies. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is running for reelection, has said she will raise the issue with Obama this week either at Lough Erne or in Berlin.

"The most upset party in all of this, I think, is the Germans," said Michael J. Geary, an assistant professor at Maastricht University in the Netherlands and an expert on Europe. "The Germans were the most snooped-upon country, apparently, in March. In a country where memories of the former East German Stasi are still quite fresh, the response has been quite critical." Geary described Europeans as "peeved" and "quite annoyed" at the U.S. actions and said they have the potential to set back sensitive trade negotiations and do damage to transatlantic relations. "It's a major PR disaster for the administration," he said. "Now, they have really lost the moral high ground."

Among the questions Obama will face, said Geary, is how much of this information was gathered "simply for security or is it being used for economic advantage in the United States?"

Heather Conley, director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said she expects the European leaders to be "extremely vocal about their concerns" privately. She said the disclosures could prove to be "a major stumbling block" for successful trade talks and revive European concerns about privacy. "Public opinion on this is actually quite strong in Europe," she said.

The White House anticipates the questions. "We certainly understand that, like the United States, countries in Europe have significant interests in privacy and civil liberties," said Ben Rhodes of the National Security Council.

"So we will want to hear their questions and have an exchange about these programs and other counterterrorism programs that we pursue in the United States and in partnership." But Rhodes stressed to reporters at the White House that the president will defend the program as "a tool that is essential to our shared security."

"He'll be able to discuss with the other leaders the importance of these programs in terms of our counterterrorism efforts in particular, the constraints and safeguards that we place on these programs so that they have oversight against potential abuses."

No meeting with another leader at the summit is more eagerly anticipated than Obama's session with Vladimir Putin, who is back as president of Russia and back at the G-8 summit for the first time since George W. Bush was the U.S. president. Putin and Obama have had a particularly rocky relationship, with Putin never missing a chance to tweak or embarrass Obama. And when they sit down Monday evening at Lough Erne, they will face a crowded agenda, including the surveillance program, Syria, Afghanistan, trade, human rights and arms control.

In his comments this week, Putin has offered a modest defense of the surveillance program, suggesting it is understandable if done legally. But he cast the Kremlin as more law-abiding and more sensitive to privacy concerns than his American counterparts. "Such methods are in demand," Putin told RT, Russia's English-language satellite news channel.

"But you can't just listen to the phone call in Russia; you need a special order from court. This is how it should be done in civilized society while tackling terrorism with the use of any technical means. If it is in the framework of the law, then it's OK. If not, it is unacceptable."

Prism, Privacy is So Yesterday

Today was released that the National Security Agency and the FBI have access to audio, video calls, pictures, e-mails, documents and connections. The information was revealed by The Washington Post, this is the first time that something of this scale has become public. The announcement came, unfortunately for the White House, the same day that [...]

June 6, 20131 Comment Read More

PRISM was Created to Obtain More Power Over the American People

There is outrage over an NSA program that records billions of phone calls by wireless phone users. Some of the anger is from Congressmen who approved the plan, but never believed it would be exposed. A far more invasive program, called PRISM, was created by George W. Bush to obtain more power over the American [...]



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