France in the NSA's crosshairs
October 21, 2013 6:08 PM   Subscribe

Using documents leaked by US whistleblower Edward Snowden, Le Monde reports that the NSA has been intercepting French telephone communications on a massive scale. Under a programme called 'US-985D', the NSA is collecting not only metadata but recordings of telephone calls: From 10 December 2012 to 8 January 2013, 70.3 million French telephone calls were recorded.
These revelations came just as US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Paris on a pre-scheduled visit. Francois Hollande is not pleased.
posted by anemone of the state (166 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
No love for ECHELON, eh DGSE?
posted by Apocryphon at 6:17 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


From the second link, emphasis added:
The future will perhaps tell us one day why France has remained so discreet in comparison with Germany or Brazil, for example, after the first revelations about the extent of the American electronic espionage programmes ... France was also concerned and today has at its disposition tangible proof that its interests are targeted on a daily basis.
posted by anemone of the state at 6:19 PM on October 21, 2013


No, no, my boy, the NSA hasn't collected any such material. Let me repeat that, in sworn testimony before Congress with a straight face: the NSA does not collect information on millions or tens of millions of French citizens.

It's only acquired it.
posted by Dasein at 6:22 PM on October 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


Hey, Mexico too: Mexico condemns US over alleged NSA hacking of ex-president's emails

According to Der Spiegel, the NSA succeeded in hacking a central server in the network of the Mexican presidency that was also used by other members of Calderon's cabinet, yielding a trove of information on diplomatic and economic matters.

posted by Omon Ra at 6:24 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fuck it, Dude. Let's go bowling.
posted by kbanas at 6:25 PM on October 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


No one should be surprised because this is what the NSA's original, above-the-board jobs was: intercepting phone calls of people who were not Americans.

Seriously. I honestly don't know why this is in any was a surprise.
posted by GuyZero at 6:26 PM on October 21, 2013 [18 favorites]


THE PERFECT THREAD FOR CAPS LOCK DAY.
posted by JHarris at 6:26 PM on October 21, 2013 [12 favorites]


Snowden's strategy of publishing about one massive scandal per month makes sense to me. It maximizes the attention these abuses receive. However, I'm increasingly concerned that he doesn't seem to be running out of stories to break.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:28 PM on October 21, 2013 [23 favorites]


The timing of the Snowden leaks have been suspiciously like a team b effort to discredit Obama from the Hong Kong disclosures onward each link in sync with administration events .
posted by hortense at 6:30 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Snowden's strategy of publishing about one massive scandal per month makes sense to me.

It's Greenwald that is publishing it not Snowden. I would guess we are building up to a crescendo to coincide with his book being published.
posted by nightwood at 6:31 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


a team b effort to discredit Obama from the Hong Kong disclosures onward each link in sync with administration events.

I think the facts do a pretty good job of discrediting the Obama administration.
posted by kbanas at 6:32 PM on October 21, 2013 [14 favorites]


Like GuyZero says, it's NSA's job to spy on other countries like France. It's not exactly a surprise, although it's embarrassing and troubling and awkward the same. Particularly the related revelations that NSA spying is furthering commercial aims, not just security aims. (Not specifically to France, but Brazil and others.) The really shocking revelation from Snowden is that NSA is also spying on Americans, and outright lied to Congress about it (as dasein's video link shows).

The NYTimes interview with Snowden from a few days ago is worth a read. He was very careful and very smart in what he did and the journalists handling his material are playing it very carefully.

My biggest fear is that American citizens really just don't care. Hey, did you hear the Red Sox are in the World Series?
posted by Nelson at 6:33 PM on October 21, 2013 [9 favorites]


Like GuyZero says, it's NSA's job to spy on other countries like France.

Is it the NSA's job to spy on French citizens, and on such a massive scale? Because a case could be made that it's a government's job to protect its citizens against intrusions like that.
posted by JHarris at 6:35 PM on October 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yes, it's NSA's job to spy on French citizens. And Algerian, and Brazilian, and Russian, and every other nation except American. Except they now ignore that part of their founding charter and spy on Americans too.

It's no surprise that mostly-allied nations spy on each other. But they have to act embarrassed in public when it happens. And sometimes they are truly angry, but mostly not. Economic espionage is the real concern here, such as when US and French companies are both bidding for the same oil development contract. I suspect France has been just delighted to get NSA-supplied intelligence on French citizens of North African descent over the years. France isn't part of Five Eyes, but they're still second cousins.
posted by Nelson at 6:38 PM on October 21, 2013 [8 favorites]


justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow: Snowden's strategy of publishing about one massive scandal per month makes sense to me.

Snowden doesn't even have the docs anymore. The deal he made with Greenwald and Poitras was to publish as they best saw fit.

hortense: The timing of the Snowden leaks have been suspiciously like a team b effort to discredit Obama from the Hong Kong disclosures onward each link in sync with administration events.

Greenwald's method is classic cross-examination- ask a question, wait, let your suspect lie, and then catch them.
It's not like these revelations are some anti-Obama smear campaign: Greenwald is doing journalism, and rather valiant journalism at that. Timing a story well can maximise its impact, and Greenwald's sense of timing is impeccable.
posted by anemone of the state at 6:38 PM on October 21, 2013 [23 favorites]


A Daily Mail primary link? Really? On this?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:38 PM on October 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is there a word for this phase of postmodernity where reality has just up and become a mildly dystopian cyberpunk setting?
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 6:39 PM on October 21, 2013


Gibsonism?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:40 PM on October 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


Ballardian.
posted by ethansr at 6:41 PM on October 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


So there are ~100 million phone lines in (mobile and wired) in France, France telecom has over 220 million subscribers. Let's make an unsafe assumption that each of those 100 million phone lines makes 1 call a day. So for 29 days, we intercepted 70.3 million calls, equal to 2.4 million calls a day. Which is approximately 2.4% of French phones or ~1% of French telecom customers.

Given that there are ~500,000 watch listed folks (from a random 2010 figure) it seems possible that if you go out 1-2 degrees you'd pretty quickly get way the hell over 2.4 million (in fact closer to 25-75 million) ...

So... all in all, it seems like the NSA is just doing its job, like we pay them to. Winnowing through something on the order of 100 years of audio is a pretty awesome problem.

Especially when it's in French... >.<
posted by nutate at 6:42 PM on October 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's not actually the NSA's job to spy on French citizens, any more than it is the Department of Defense's job to make war on, say, Afghani citizens. It's their job to serve the interests of the USA; a job which might include spying, or making war, or whatever, but it doesn't necessarily mean that. Were these activities actually beneficial to the USA? More beneficial than their revelation? Because from my perspective the USA has been spending huge sums on gathering intelligence; it has gained a reputation as a bully and a voyeur; and it has very little to show for all this.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:46 PM on October 21, 2013 [52 favorites]


A Daily Mail primary link? Really? On this?

Deepest apologies for linking them at all. Those two links should be reversed, anyway.
posted by anemone of the state at 6:49 PM on October 21, 2013


Remember when Greenwald et al. were all about exposing the NSA's "abuses" of US civil liberties?

Well, they sure switched quickly into just publishing whatever seems harmful to the US government and to the intelligence community.
posted by kiltedtaco at 6:52 PM on October 21, 2013


No one should be surprised because this is what the NSA's original, above-the-board jobs was: intercepting phone calls of people who were not Americans.

"But officer, it's my job to break into peoples' houses and steal their jewelry. Why are you so surprised?"
posted by klanawa at 6:52 PM on October 21, 2013 [10 favorites]


Well, they sure switched quickly into just publishing whatever seems harmful to the US government and to the intelligence community.

For something to "seem harmful" to anyone, that anyone would have to be a bad actor, that thing would have to be a bad thing. Why should the government be immune from being called out for being a piece of shit?
posted by maxwelton at 7:00 PM on October 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Remember when Greenwald et al. were all about exposing the NSA's "abuses" of US civil liberties?

Well, they sure switched quickly into just publishing whatever seems harmful to the US government and to the intelligence community.


Why should he only focus on the NSA's abuse on the civil liberties of US citizens, and not the abuse of the civil liberties of other nationalities?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:01 PM on October 21, 2013 [19 favorites]


"But officer, it's my job to break into peoples' houses and steal their jewelry. Why are you so surprised?"

Whether it's immoral or not, it is not a secret that this has been going on since the cold war.

I just finished Spyworld, published in 1994. it details how the NSA got the Canadian intelligence agency into the wiretapping business by providing them with expertise and equipment. The last chapter in the book describes the various antennas all over the US embassy in Ottawa and speculates on what the Americans were spying on there.

So we have a 19-year-old documentary about the sorts of things the NSA has been doing. And that's eavesdropping on phone calls in every national capitol around the world.
posted by GuyZero at 7:07 PM on October 21, 2013


I think John Oliver nailed it early on:
"I think you're misunderstanding the perceived problem here, Mr. President. No one is saying you broke any laws. We're just saying it's a little bit weird that you didn't have to."
posted by argonauta at 7:09 PM on October 21, 2013 [37 favorites]


If you don't think the US should have foreign intelligence collection at all, then I guess yeah this will seem contrary to your desires.

Otherwise, collection of foreign intelligence like this is indeed exactly their job. I really don't know what people what them to do other than either 1) nothing or 2) this.
posted by kiltedtaco at 7:10 PM on October 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Why should he only focus on the NSA's abuse on the civil liberties of US citizens, and not the abuse of the civil liberties of other nationalities?"

Because French citizens don't have civil liberties recognized by foreign governments?

The NSA's job is to gather foreign signals intelligence to provide to US policymakers in order to help them make more informed decisions and to provide information on threats to the country. All competent countries spy on one another, even allies, and it's normal and (generally) healthy.

The NSA spying domestically without significant, transparent safeguards and restrictions is unacceptable and is the story. The rest of this stuff that's getting dribbled out is deliberately damaging the US to score cheap headlines.
posted by CaffinatedOne at 7:11 PM on October 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Remember when Greenwald et al. were all about exposing the NSA's "abuses" of US civil liberties?

Well, they sure switched quickly into just publishing whatever seems harmful to the US government and to the intelligence community.
You do realise there are other civil liberties at stake than american, right? That there are other countries that—get this—matter, even if only to themselves.

Most of the rest of the world couldn't give two shits about the petulant farce politics have become in the USA; any "harm" to the US government is a consequence of the truth being aired, not the goal. Truth be told, the US government is doing a fine job of discrediting itself.

Economic espionage is the real issue with NSA's foreign espionage. The goal of Greenwald's work on Snowden's information, presumably, is start the process of reversing this digital panopticon.
posted by flippant at 7:13 PM on October 21, 2013 [24 favorites]


The NSA spying domestically without significant, transparent safeguards and restrictions is unacceptable and is the story. The rest of this stuff that's getting dribbled out is deliberately damaging the US to score cheap headlines.

I'm going to go way wayyyyy out on a limb here a suggest that the French consider this to be a legitimate story.
posted by newdaddy at 7:14 PM on October 21, 2013 [30 favorites]


If it's the NSA's job to do this then I don't see how it's not the French president's job to be completely pissed off about it
posted by Benjy at 7:15 PM on October 21, 2013 [23 favorites]


Let's be clear: the French are spying on US citizens too. And sometimes the French spy agency and the US spy agency share data.
posted by Nelson at 7:17 PM on October 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


The USA: Disappointing the world since 1767.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:21 PM on October 21, 2013


Yeah, I think the Mexico and France stories are pretty separate. Spying on government officials, that seems to me a legitimate government function--perhaps unwise from a cost-benefit analysis, but it would neither surprise nor alarm me to know that other countries try to spy on our officials. Fine.

Large-scale surveillance of ordinary citizens in other countries strikes me as another matter. It's not convincing to me that it's "the NSA's job," because why should we assume that this is a moral function of the US government? After all, as well documented by Steven Pinker and others, it used to be considered completely legitimate for people from one state to invade/enslave/brutalize "outsiders," and later it wasn't. It is not surprising to me--nor does it strike me as incorrect--that generations who have much closer contact with "foreigners" than ever before (thanks to the internet) don't automatically view them as legitimate targets of surveillance any more than we regard them as legitimate targets of invasion or enslavement.
posted by dsfan at 7:21 PM on October 21, 2013 [11 favorites]


I really don't know what people what them to do other than either 1) nothing or 2) this.

3) Limit the scope of their surveillance.

By intercepting and recording communications on a mass scale, gathering and analyzing metadata on practically every phone call made in the US and who knows how many calls made elsewhere, subverting major service providers (Google, Microsoft, etc.) to get access to personal communications and map social networks, and weaking encryption and security tools, they are violating the privacy of millions of innocent people and turning the Internet into a tool of inescapable mass surveillance. It needs to stop.
posted by twirlip at 7:23 PM on October 21, 2013 [12 favorites]


collection of foreign intelligence like this is indeed exactly their job.

It's the "like this" part that people wonder about. Sure, the NSA's brief is to collect foreign intelligence, but the scale we're talking about with French citizens is worthy of a side-eye, and the economic aspects aren't in the NSA's brief and are particularly troubling. What it really comes down to is whether or not you trust the NSA. Given that the NSA keeps lying to everybody, including Congress, skepticism would seem to be in order.
posted by immlass at 7:25 PM on October 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


"If it's the NSA's job to do this then I don't see how it's not the French president's job to be completely pissed off about it"

I quite expect that any country's government would have to react with (feigned) outrage at so public a charge. Domestic politics require it.
posted by CaffinatedOne at 7:32 PM on October 21, 2013


"They can't spy on our citizens! Only we can spy on our citizens!"
posted by IndigoJones at 7:32 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Like GuyZero says, it's NSA's job to spy on other countries like France.

With friends like you, who needs enemies?

The shitty thing for those of us that live in societies that still preserve personal liberties and, unlike the US government, forbid large-scale surveillance of the citizenry, is that the US, after intercepting and logging our communications, trades it back to our governments.

I've yet to hear about a large-scale terror plot that was thwarted because of large-scale surveillance. If so, where were these jokers prior to the Boston Marathon?
posted by KokuRyu at 7:32 PM on October 21, 2013 [8 favorites]


It's funny, in a sad way, that the philosophical premise behind the American revolution was that people have natural rights and "that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted ...." If the right to privacy is among these (the USA is actually party to a treaty which says so) then it isn't something which the USAn government is being asked to grant to French citizens; it's being admonished for infringing upon it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:38 PM on October 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


Because French citizens don't have civil liberties recognized by foreign governments?

Perhaps the French government is interesting in defending French civil liberties, though. Just because your government doesn't seem interested in defending yours is neither here nor there.
posted by mhoye at 7:38 PM on October 21, 2013 [11 favorites]


This is an old game.
Mr. Marion, who was appointed to head the French secret service in 1981 by President François Mitterrand, acknowledged that France spied on American companies, including IBM, Texas Instruments and Corning, that were involved in competition with French state-owned enterprises.
posted by mkb at 7:53 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


hmm. Seems to me like even if it was known that the NSA was collecting data on other citizens, having audio recordings of all their phone conversations is still a bit much.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 7:54 PM on October 21, 2013


I really don't know what people what them to do other than either 1) nothing or 2) this.

I'm in camp #1, myself. But this is obviously faulty reasoning. There are many different options for methods, scope, and purpose of collecting foreign intelligence, among numerous other possible categories of variation - both more restrictive and more permissive. This particular method, scope, and purpose combination is hardly the only option.
posted by eviemath at 7:55 PM on October 21, 2013


On the one hand, I'm as uncomfortable about this as the next person, assuming the next person loves privacy and human rights. We've rushed headlong into an extremely-connected future, with security and privacy often an afterthought at best.

On the other hand, I have to wonder where I would personally draw the lines between acceptable and unacceptable. Is it okay for the NSA to spy on Vladimir Putin? I think most Westerners would be comfortable with that. So what's the difference between Putin and Calderon? And given how telecommunications works these days, is it realistic to think that the NSA can meaningfully distinguish between civilian communications and those of government officials like Putin without first collecting the data?
posted by Slothrup at 7:56 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


The NSA should be spying. That is what they are tasked with doing. The French should be attempting to prevent the NSA from doing that and admonishing them publicly when it becomes public knowledge that the NSA is spying on the French. The reverse should also be true. These are all OK things. The more we know about each other, the less likely we are to be surprised. Suprise leads to unpleasantness.

I'm not sure that we need to be spying on the French on the scale upon which we are reportedly doing it, but that's an argument about degree, not the underlying act itself.
posted by wierdo at 7:56 PM on October 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Perhaps the French government is interesting in defending French civil liberties, though. Just because your government doesn't seem interested in defending yours is neither here nor there."

I believe that the NSA is actually interested in defending the US from foreign spying, just as I believe that France's analogue organization is similarly motivated, though in neither case do I think that it's done over something so abstract as civil liberties. It's more that it's simple self-interest to protect one's own information and secrets.
posted by CaffinatedOne at 7:59 PM on October 21, 2013


The whole thing is a massive fuck up. By spying so completely and unreservedly, the NSA makes every argument against spying irrefutable. In ten years the Internet is going to be Balkanized beyond recognition. They ran the table and now no one is going to play with them again.
posted by newdaddy at 8:06 PM on October 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


That it's legal or that it's the NSA's charter or that it's being published out of spite - all these things are beside the point.
posted by newdaddy at 8:10 PM on October 21, 2013


I really don't know what people what them to do other than either 1) nothing or 2) this.

Perhaps (3) collect intelligence that is more related to say, actual national security threats, and less related to say, economic espionage against allies, and Because We Can, and Fuck Those Guys.
posted by anonymisc at 8:16 PM on October 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is there a link to the actual documents concerned? I cannot find it in any of the links.
posted by nightwood at 8:18 PM on October 21, 2013


KokuRyu: forbid large-scale surveillance of the citizenry*

*Offer not valid in Brazil.
posted by bonehead at 8:23 PM on October 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


KokuRyu: forbid large-scale surveillance of the citizenry*

*Offer not valid in Brazil.


Or if you're a member for the NDP.
posted by klanawa at 8:31 PM on October 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's the job of the NSA to spy on the citizens of other countries, and it's the job of their intelligence agencies to spy on the citizens of the US. And it's the job of all freedom-loving people throughout the world to stop them.
posted by chortly at 9:17 PM on October 21, 2013 [9 favorites]


I love freedom. What's the plan?
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 10:27 PM on October 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Remember when Greenwald et al. were all about exposing the NSA's "abuses" of US civil liberties?

That no one will question putting the word "abuse" into scare quotes is why the NSA will win in the end. Now how about those Yankees or whatever.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:27 PM on October 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


A priori I imagine the NSA's job was to (a) protect American interests from foreign espionage, (b) provide tools for foreign intelligence gathers, and (c) engage in signals and electronic intelligence gathering against perceived threats.

There is an important aspect of "probable cause" built into (c) that all the jingoistic "but they're not Americans" crew here misses. We're not talking about a criminal case style "probable cause", but merely an assumption that intelligence the NSA gathers relates to national defense.

Should the NSA spy on French defense contractors? Yeah, occasionally French made weapons get used against American solders, so understanding their strengths and weaknesses matters.

Should the NSA aid American defense contractors with winning contracts? No, that's obviously not national security. We'd maybe excuse the organization if corrupt personnel do however.

Should the NSA help American oil refiners win a competitive bidding process? Umm no, that's obviously way outside (c), In fact, the NSA has no legitimate reason for even collecting the information.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:28 PM on October 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


"They can't spy on our citizens! Only we can spy on our citizens!"

That shouldn't be all that much of a surprise, either: back in the late '90s, France had the largest domestic physical mail surveillance program in (at least) Europe.

Also, in case anyone needs an English source for what you're talking about:

[T]he newspaper Le Monde disclosed on Thursday that France has its own large program of data collection, which sweeps up nearly all the data transmissions, including telephone calls, e-mails and social media activity, that come in and out of France.

Le Monde reported that the General Directorate for External Security does the same kind of data collection as the American National Security Agency and the British GCHQ, but does so without clear legal authority.

The system is run with “complete discretion, at the margins of legality and outside all serious control,” the newspaper said, describing it as “a-legal.”

Nonetheless, the French data is available to the various police and security agencies of France, the newspaper reported, and the data is stored for an indeterminate period. The main interest of the agency, the paper said, is to trace who is talking to whom, when and from where and for how long, rather than in listening in to random conversations. But the French also record data from large American networks like Google and Facebook, the newspaper said.


I'm sure the language barrier is why nobody has seen fit to comment on that just yet. And I'm sure they'll get to mkb's post, as well.
posted by Amanojaku at 10:33 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Remember when Greenwald et al. were all about exposing the NSA's "abuses" of US civil liberties?

Well, they sure switched quickly into just publishing whatever seems harmful to the US government and to the intelligence community.


I'm sorry, but as an American, I believe that French, Mexican and German citizens have human rights as valid as mine.

Also, the idea that spy agencies are allowed to spy on foreign citizens without limits, but not their own is a loophole big enough to drive a truck through, with intelligence sharing agreements.
posted by empath at 10:34 PM on October 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


All this is going to do is continue to piss away the moral authority America has accrued since WWII. The next time there's a hue and cry about "OH NO China is doing something that we have been caught doing" (eg "cyberwarfare", large-scale government-assisted industrial espionage), even fewer people are going to give a crap.
posted by vanar sena at 10:51 PM on October 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Like GuyZero says, it's NSA's job to spy on other countries like France.

No, it's the NSA's job to spy on terrorists, foreign intel agencies, etc. Not record every single private telephone call in a country that has been an ally for over 200 years. Do you believe there are universal principles of right and wrong, or is each country obliged to do everything it can get away with on the off-chance that it might be beneficial to it at some point in the future?
posted by kersplunk at 11:01 PM on October 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


These revelations came just as US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Paris on a pre-scheduled visit. Francois Hollande is not pleased.

Yes, because it is important to him that the fact that the French government has been getting these intercepts for years not be known.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:02 PM on October 21, 2013


War on telephones.
posted by walrus at 11:04 PM on October 21, 2013


No, it's the NSA's job to spy on terrorists, foreign intel agencies, etc. Not record every single private telephone call in a country that has been an ally for over 200 years.

Yes, because the French have never, ever, spied on any ally they have had ever, not once, ever. Not once, I assure you.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:05 PM on October 21, 2013


Yes, because it is important to him that the fact that the French government has been getting these intercepts for years not be known.

Precisely- Greenwald's article hinted not-so-obliquely at France's motivations for not kicking up a fuss back when PRISM originally became public. And then there's France's own domestic spying programmes.
posted by anemone of the state at 11:06 PM on October 21, 2013


Hell yes. From Wikipedia:
The technical department of the French espionage service, DGSE, operates a major communications satellite collection site at Domme, in the Dordogne valley to the east of Bordeaux, in south-western France. This site, which includes at least 11 collection antennas, seven of them directed at Atlantic satellites, is clearly as extensive and capable as the largest sites in the UKUSA network.[4] Reports by journalists, cited in the European Parliament report, confirm the Domme installation, and also a facility at Alluetts-le-Roi near Paris. There were also reports of stations in Kourou in French Guyana and in Mayotte.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signals_intelligence_operational_platforms_by_nation&sa=U&ei=3RVmUsWeH4WMyAHzwoHAAw&ved=0CB4QFjAD&usg=AFQjCNEROhw_zhbLqfmjkBIzXVdYLNHSzg

Yes, the French are not, on their own, intercepting phone and satellite transmissions from other countries.

Can we please set aside the bullshit idea that there is some Jesus government that is not spying on other governments? Can we please acknowledge that allies have spied on allies since the dawn of time? Nobody ever has played Civilization and sent a spy to a "friendly" nation? Seriously, the Greeks and Romans were doing this. Can we please, for one single time, get real?
posted by Ironmouth at 11:12 PM on October 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


No government should be conducting this sort of mass surveillance. Not the US, not France, not anybody. The fact that many of them do is not a justification, it's a travesty.
posted by twirlip at 11:16 PM on October 21, 2013 [8 favorites]


All this is going to do is continue to piss away the moral authority America has accrued since WWII.

What moral authority?
posted by MartinWisse at 11:17 PM on October 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Put another way--there are arguments for and against these technologies. The idea that one "bad" nation is doing this at the expense of some "good" nations is total bullshit. Let's argue the case, not put up these fake "victim" nations, "allies for 200 years" please. And--we haven't been allies for 200 years. Jefferson went to Congress for war powers against the French and they voted them.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:17 PM on October 21, 2013


No government should be conducting this sort of mass surveillance. Not the US, not France, not anybody. The fact that many of them do is not a justification, it's a travesty.

So governments should not be checking to see if persons from foreign countries are a threat? Where's that written down?
posted by Ironmouth at 11:19 PM on October 21, 2013


MartinWisse: "What moral authority?"

Being on the right side of WWII, and subsequently the Cold War, depending on your perspective. The CIA got away with a lot of bad shit because it was being done to contain the red menace. Those excuses are now gone.

Now the excuses are more subtle. When the whole ECHELON thing came up around 2000 and there were accusations that it was being used - amongst other things - to spy on Airbus on behalf of US aerospace companies, this was published in the Wall St. Journal.
posted by vanar sena at 11:26 PM on October 21, 2013


So it turned out the NSA also intercepted 2 million Dutch phone calls in just a month, with some evidence hinting at not just "terrorists" being watched but also Dutch politicians, civil servants and business people.

Now I have no trust in my own government doing much about it -- The Netherlands have long been eager to help foreign services spy on its own citizens -- but that doesn't mean I can't be outraged that America has so little regard for my civil liberties/rights.

Not that I'm at all convinced that all that security state nonsense has done much to stop terrorism in the first place, the occasional arrest of some incompetent neds with dodgy stuff in their sheds notwithstanding.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:29 PM on October 21, 2013


So governments should not be checking to see if persons from foreign countries are a threat? Where's that written down?

Whenever you find yourself rewriting your opponents' statements you've already lost the argument.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:30 PM on October 21, 2013 [10 favorites]


Can we please set aside the bullshit idea that there is some Jesus government that is not spying on other governments? Can we please acknowledge that allies have spied on allies since the dawn of time?

The fact that governments often engage in an activity does not justify it. And there have been other activities which governments have 'always' done, such as imprison people for religious beliefs, or deny women the right to participate in the political process, which are no longer acceptable in modern free countries.
posted by empath at 12:05 AM on October 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


So governments should not be checking to see if persons from foreign countries are a threat? Where's that written down?

The debate isn't over spying as an activity, it's over the extent of the spying. Who can be targeted, what sorts of communications and for what purpose.
posted by empath at 12:06 AM on October 22, 2013


They're just looking for good recipes and appropriate wine suggestions. And you can be damn sûr they got some!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:11 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Even if one agrees that political, military and industrial spying are all okay, it's perfectly reasonable to question massive dragnets of vast amounts of the communications of normal people all over the world.
posted by empath at 12:11 AM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Can we please acknowledge that allies have spied on allies since the dawn of time? Nobody ever has played Civilization and sent a spy to a "friendly" nation? Seriously, the Greeks and Romans were doing this. Can we please, for one single time, get real?


Everyone has always done it, therefore we should keep doing it.

When I play civ I eventually conquer all the other nations until I rule everyone under my iron fist.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:19 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Even if one agrees that political, military and industrial spying are all okay,

Then no one in America will be upset when the Chinese do it to them. Indeed the U.S. government should end the illegal ban on using Chinese equipment in American government networks.

"China says the accusation lacks proof and that it is also a victim of hacking attacks, more than half of which originate from the United States."
posted by three blind mice at 12:23 AM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I mentioned this in passing in a previous NSA thread but the DGSE used to install recording devices in the first class cabin on Air France flights specifically to capture business information that could be used to further France's international influence. The DGSE also have a rather disreputable reputation when it comes to things like, oh I don't know, bombing Greenpeace ships in other sovereign nations.
posted by longbaugh at 12:29 AM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure why the behavior of the French intelligence agency has any bearing here. There isn't an intelligence apparatus anywhere in the world that isn't up to their elbows in blood and terror. The aggrieved party here isn't the DGSE, but the french people, just as the aggrieved party in the domestic spying revelations is the American people. Even if the French government was fully complicit, it wouldn't make it any better, it would merely reflect poorly on the French government for not protecting their citizens.
posted by empath at 12:37 AM on October 22, 2013 [11 favorites]


My biggest fear is that American citizens really just don't care.

They really don't. All Americans in the last 20 years have had bits of their privacy traded away, sometimes for nothing more than reward points and internet "likes".
posted by FJT at 1:31 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, arguments about "the French government did it too" are as meaningful as "the NSA does it". American citizens are complaining about the NSA; French citizens are complaining about the DGSE and the NSA. There have indeed been a lot of articles criticizing surveillance in France, in French; the fact they haven't gotten much coverage in English is neither here nor there. English-language media, and I am saying this as a French-American who grew up in the States and noticed it before I came to France and earned French citizenship, promotes, in the majority, a black and white "romantic/cultivated" vs. "cowardly/racist/socialist" split when it comes to France, and anything that can't easily be worked into that narrative, or is too obviously related to direct equivalents they don't criticize in the US (especially), is often glossed over. Not always, but very often.

I hope fusses continue to be raised about surveillance oversteps, light thrown onto it, that people continue to express the issues with it, and motivate governments to change their surveillance policies. There is no reason to surveil citizens who have not committed crimes, are not committing crimes, and are not planning to commit them. As soon as anyone gets into "but they might!" territory, we are no longer innocent until proven guilty; our freedom is no longer a right but yet another possession that can be taken from us if someone so decides.
posted by fraula at 2:45 AM on October 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


My biggest fear is that American citizens really just don't care.

I don't know that's fair. It's more that it's so bit and ominous, that what so you do? There is no one to elect to fix it, and data to day it doesn't seem to hurt anything for the individual. So I read about it, get depressed, and go about my day.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 3:21 AM on October 22, 2013


A lot of the responses here point straight to the problems created when we employ legal procedures and enumerated civil rights as a way to try and impose ethical norms on powerful institutions. A right is something a government can suspend or ignore, a thing for which procedural workarounds will inevitably be developed, as with any other troublesome legality. And as for private enterprise, well, they simply argue that you have waived or traded away some of these "rights" for employment and payment. They even get to call it an exercise of "property rights."

No wonder that even in an age of globalization and jurisdiction-shopping governments engage in economic espionage for "their" corporations. Everyone involved benefits from the trade, sale, and "necessary" suspension of the rights of citizens. Well, maybe not all or sometimes most people, but as you know there are pragmatic limits on what can be done for that unruly, impractical bunch.
posted by kewb at 3:32 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


It used to be acceptable to carpet bomb enemy cities in war. Now we go for precision bombs to minimise collateral damage as much as possible.

I hope it doesn't take 40 years for the NSA and their equivalents to realise that "carpet bombing" through mass surveillance is a bad idea and they can target the actual bad guys like they ought to be doing.
posted by milkb0at at 3:34 AM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Let's be clear here: if the news broke that a French intelligence agency had intercepted hundreds of millions of American telephone calls, the French embassy would be on fire right now.
posted by Hogshead at 3:40 AM on October 22, 2013 [14 favorites]


Let's be clear here: if the news broke that a French intelligence agency had intercepted hundreds of millions of American telephone calls, the French embassy would be on fire right now.

No, but we'd again have a new name for French Fries.
posted by nightwood at 4:16 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I hope it doesn't take 40 years for the NSA and their equivalents to realise that "carpet bombing" through mass surveillance is a bad idea and they can target the actual bad guys like they ought to be doing.

But how would they ascertain who should be targeted in the first instance? By surveilling everyone they are in a better position to identify those that require further investigation and increased levels of surveillance.
posted by longbaugh at 4:23 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's the equivalent of saying that the police should be able to take a look around your home to ascertain if you might be of the "criminal type" and worth further watching.
posted by Thing at 4:31 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's basically what stop-and-frisk is.

But how would they ascertain who should be targeted in the first instance? By surveilling everyone they are in a better position to identify those that require further investigation and increased levels of surveillance.

Are you serious? You can't be serious. You're serious, aren't you.
posted by empath at 4:46 AM on October 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


I quite expect that any country's government would have to react with (feigned) outrage at so public a charge. Domestic politics require it.

Except in Britain, where instead our government debate whether the Guardian breached national security.
posted by dng at 4:56 AM on October 22, 2013


Seriously. I honestly don't know why this is in any was a surprise.

Seriously? It's not a surprise to those few of us who are sufficiently paranoid and cynical. But it is an outrage, a scandal, a horror, and a disgrace.
posted by sfenders at 5:01 AM on October 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


So France will demand we stop spying on them, we'll just change our Spy to a Diplomat since we've eclipsed them in technology anyways. I'm pretty sure this won't even make us lose friendly status since we were on such good terms anyways. We'll have all forgotten about this in a turn or two.
posted by DynamiteToast at 6:54 AM on October 22, 2013


Can we please acknowledge that allies have spied on allies since the dawn of time? ... Seriously, the Greeks and Romans were doing this. Can we please, for one single time, get real?

I will absolutely acknowledge this. The earliest recorded evidence of an ally spying on another ally was an episode of The Flintstones where Fred calls Barney on a telephone made out of a conch shell. However, Wilma had installed a transcription woodpecker on the line, and everything that Fred said to Barney was copied into a cuneiform tablet by the woodpecker's beak.

Later, the Romans would use transcription woodpeckers to collect over seventy million Greek telephone calls. The information gathered was eventually used to determine that the Greeks city-states were no threat to the Roman Empire, and that the imperial armies should go ahead and conquer everybody but them.
posted by compartment at 6:54 AM on October 22, 2013 [13 favorites]


Can we please set aside the bullshit idea that there is some Jesus government that is not spying on other governments? Can we please acknowledge that allies have spied on allies since the dawn of time?

If this was just about security and going after bad guys, many fewer would be concerned, I'd bet. However, as more of this comes out, it's becoming increasing clear that these activities are not just about state and public security but also about other concerns like state-sponsored industrial espionage. The NSA and "five eyes" countries are spying on French (and Brazillian and presumably other) companies for domestic commercial advantage, not just because the world is a dangerous place.
posted by bonehead at 9:57 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


If the US is perpetrating economic espionage to give domestic companies an edge, which companies are receiving the intelligence? Certainly not all companies.

Might these companies have lobbied for these programmes?

And a conjecture: If the NSA is complicit in helping certain companies out, would it be much of a step for them to use their spying apparatus for insider trading?
posted by anemone of the state at 10:27 AM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


So governments should not be checking to see if persons from foreign countries are a threat?

No. If they are going to conduct surveillance, they should be doing so in a limited way based on some sort of meaningful evidence that the target is a threat. They should absolutely not be gathering phone and email records, recording calls and online communications, and mapping social networks for the vast majority of people using the Internet, as they are currently doing, since most of those people are not and never will be a threat. It's a blatant and obvious violation of people's privacy.
posted by twirlip at 10:31 AM on October 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


And the fact that the NSA has been spying on non-Americans for decades (and ditto for other intelligence agencies) is beside the point, because the Internet wasn't part of the basic infrastructure of people's lives like it is today. They have access to a lot more information on ordinary people's day-to-day lives today than anyone outside a police state could have had 20 years ago. Part of what's so terrifying is that, no matter how restrictive the NSA (or anybody else) claims to be about who they target, the tools they are building can easily be turned on pretty much everyone. That's incredibly dangerous.
posted by twirlip at 10:45 AM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


would it be much of a step for them to use their spying apparatus for insider trading?

The power that the NSA has, if these reports about the capabilities are accurate, is near god-like. Having the ability to peruse personal communications of millions of millions of people around the world, to build social networks and so on is just too easily abused. If it's not abused officially, it'll be abused unofficially. I am 100% sure that people in the NSA are using it for insider trading, to find lovers that are cheating on them, to stalk women, to help or destroy political candidates, and anything else you could imagine doing if you had near omniscience and a flawed conscience.

You can't give people god-like powers without also somehow imbuing them with a god-like sense of right and wrong. Hell, you can't even trust gods not to abuse their powers.
posted by empath at 11:31 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


And a conjecture: If the NSA is complicit in helping certain companies out, would it be much of a step for them to use their spying apparatus for insider trading?

That won't and can't happen, because there are rigorous internal controls designed to stop such abuses happening, in the same way there are internal controls to stop people walking away with thousands of secret documents.
posted by reynir at 11:39 AM on October 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'll bet this site is looked at by the NSA....we don't know....maybe it's running it.
posted by eggtooth at 1:23 PM on October 22, 2013


Are you serious? You can't be serious. You're serious, aren't you.

Nope, but thanks for engaging in a not-at-all condescending fashion!
posted by longbaugh at 3:22 PM on October 22, 2013


I'll bet this site is looked at by the NSA..

You mean:
I'll bet this site is looked at by MetaFilter's own, NSA.
posted by nightwood at 5:08 PM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


wow......cool
posted by eggtooth at 1:15 PM on October 23, 2013


Please stop it with the half-denials:

Germany says U.S. may have monitored Merkel's phone
White House spokesman Jay Carney, responding to the news in Washington, said Obama had assured Merkel that the United States "is not monitoring and will not monitor" the communications of the chancellor.

When pressed on whether spying may have occurred in the past, a White House official declined to elaborate on the statement.

"I'm not in a position to comment publicly on every specific alleged intelligence activity," the official said.

posted by Joe in Australia at 11:28 PM on October 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


MEPs vote to suspend US data sharing

"The European Parliament has [non-bindingly] voted to suspend the sharing of financial data with the U.S., following allegations that citizens' data was spied on....The European Parliament voted to suspend its Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) agreement with the US, in response to the alleged tapping of EU citizens' bank data held by the Belgian company SWIFT. The agreement granted the U.S. authorities access to bank data for terror-related investigations but leaked documents made public by whistleblower Edward Snowden allege that the global bank transfer network was the target of wider U.S. surveillance."

Three cheers for Snowden, Greenwald, Poitras, etc.!
posted by jeffburdges at 8:58 AM on October 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Congress will consider modifying the Patriot Act in the coming weeks. The type of bill that is passed will determine the extent of government surveillance for decades. This means the fight for real, meaningful reform is gearing up. It's time to end ineffective bulk collection and stand-up for privacy." - Ron Wyden
posted by jeffburdges at 12:11 PM on October 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Real 'Danger' Of Snowden And Manning : The US Can't Get Away With Its Powerful Hypocrisy Anymore
posted by jeffburdges at 12:31 PM on October 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Facebook Could Face Investigation In Ireland Over PRISM Data
posted by jeffburdges at 2:57 AM on October 25, 2013


By the way, it seems that the incident at the beginning of this post was about the NSA getting phone metadata not recordings of the calls. See the end of this Guardian Article.
posted by nightwood at 4:24 AM on October 25, 2013


That's not altogether clear. Le Monde isn't very specific about its sources, so it's hard to independently verify the claims, and the Guardian and other sources just refer back to that same Le Monde article.

There's some solid analysis in this blog post suggesting that the 70.3 million number refers to calls for which metadata is collected, and that audio would not have been recorded for all those calls. But even this is just (plausible, well-informed) speculation, since Le Monde hasn't released all its source docs.

It's worth noting the NSA does seem to have the capability to intercept and record those calls, and there wouldn't be any legal barriers to recording foreign citizens' communications. And Le Monde seems to have reason to believe that some calls were actually recorded, even if the scale is unclear. But there is reason to take the "70.3 million calls recorded" claim with a grain of salt.
posted by twirlip at 2:10 PM on October 25, 2013


How and why NSA spies on U.S. allies, a breezy little Q&A style article explaining, among other things, that "Even a close ally like Merkel doesn't share everything with the Americans" and "NSA is also tasked with finding out the kind of policy information that might help U.S. diplomats and trade representatives negotiate future deals". By Kimberly Dozier for the Associated Press.
posted by Nelson at 2:20 PM on October 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


The article, The Real 'Danger' Of Snowden And Manning : The US Can't Get Away With Its Powerful Hypocrisy Anymore above, is infuriating because it leads off by basically saying "The NSA does this, big deal, so does everyone else." When they don't. And it's surveiling citizen, not just state, internet communications of other countries -- and our own too! And using them for the benefit of industry, for their (the NSA's) own ends, such as perhaps to reward companies that more readily give them information. AND I'm pretty sure those other states aren't even happy having their official channels eavesdropped on too! The reason agencies try to remain secret in their operations is because often they're not on the up-and-up; well, this is what happens when such a practice becomes established. All this is indicative of a sick culture, and no one's going to convince me otherwise with arguments of ubiquity.
posted by JHarris at 2:28 PM on October 25, 2013


Except in Britain, where instead our government debate whether the Guardian breached national security.

Speaking of which: Leaked memos reveal GCHQ efforts to keep mass surveillance secret
posted by homunculus at 8:03 PM on October 25, 2013


US Intelligence Effectively Admits That, Despite Earlier Statements, They Don't Think Snowden Gave Docs To Russians
posted by homunculus at 8:05 PM on October 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


EU Parliament: Other Countries Spy, But Less Than the UK, US
posted by jeffburdges at 12:20 PM on October 26, 2013


Head of NSA to American people: Shut up and take your bath, you babies.
posted by empath at 12:48 PM on October 26, 2013


Empath, they buried the lede: General Alexander wants to suppress the press in the name of defending the Constitution. Here's what he said:
"I think it's wrong that that newspaper reporters have all these documents, the 50,000-whatever they have and are selling them and giving them out as if these — you know it just doesn't make sense," Alexander said. "We ought to come up with a way of stopping it. I don't know how to do that. That's more of the courts and the policymakers but, from my perspective, it's wrong to allow this to go on."
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:20 PM on October 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


And in related-ish news:
Armed agents seize records of reporter, Washington Times prepares legal action
Maryland state police and federal agents used a search warrant in an unrelated criminal investigation to seize the private reporting files of an award-winning former investigative journalist for The Washington Times who had exposed problems in the Homeland Security Department's Federal Air Marshal Service.
Summary: they had a warrant to look for unregistered firearms belonging to her husband, but apparently used the search to identify and remove her notes and research documents.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:26 PM on October 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Armed agents seize records of reporter, Washington Times prepares legal action

Et tu, Coast Guard?
posted by nightwood at 5:01 PM on October 26, 2013


I suspect that that particular thing is some mid-level asshole with a chip on his shoulder, but I am sure a culture of lawlessness is contributing that is coming down from the top.
posted by empath at 5:53 PM on October 26, 2013


That mid-level assholes can even do that suggests a rotten system.
posted by JHarris at 5:54 PM on October 26, 2013


Yeah, the whole thing is scary. I wonder how much of this kind of thuggishness and intimidation is happening that doesn't get reported.
posted by empath at 6:31 PM on October 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Summary: they had a warrant to look for unregistered firearms belonging to her husband, but apparently used the search to identify and remove her notes and research documents.

That anyone would leave their materials vulnerable like that is staggering. All investigative journalists worth their salt need to be using the full toolbox of encryption and anonymity tools.
posted by anemone of the state at 7:05 PM on October 26, 2013


anemone, a lot of reporters are not tech savvy. Even Greenwald did get his technological ducks in a row until he teamed up with Snowden. And even if you can secure your notes and other materials, it makes the simple act of getting work done much more of a hassle unless you're effortlessly conversant with the process of encrypting and decrypting your notes -- notes that are useful specifically because you can jot things down quickly and refer to them easily.

This is an unquestionably horrific intrusion, the kind of thing the Sheriff's Secret Police would do in Night Vale.
posted by JHarris at 7:36 PM on October 26, 2013


I totally agree that reporters need to use encryption, but in this case it's a reflection on their need to protect themselves from government overreach. Also, encryption doesn't help when you're trying to hold on to material evidence like copies of government documents. I suppose the solution in that case is to scan them, and destroy the originals - but that might lead to charges of destroying government property!
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:57 PM on October 26, 2013


anemone, a lot of reporters are not tech savvy.

That's very true. Greenwald could have missed out on the Snowden leak when he at first thought PGP was too difficult to set up. And it's not right that reporters should have to protect themselves and their sources in such a way.

But if the last four months have taught people anything, it should be that journalists need to count governments as potential adversaries, and that they need to preemptively learn how to use these technologies and start protecting themselves now, not later, if they want to report effectively. These technologies are slower and more time-consuming, they could have better UX but they do not require a computer science degree to be used- just an inquiring mind and a willingness to ask the right people for help getting started.
posted by anemone of the state at 10:40 PM on October 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the shock of the events has meant there's been some degree of denial on the part of reporters. They believe it won't happen to them, and are looking for ways they can tell themselves those reporters had it coming. Like, if they didn't do anything wrong the government wouldn't be bothering them.
posted by JHarris at 11:47 PM on October 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


U.S. Has Been Spying on Merkel Since 2002 and Obama Possibly Knew
posted by homunculus at 10:28 AM on October 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Everything the US government does is something that will potentially be revealed. If Obama didn't know that there was this huge potential scandal waiting in the wings then someone wasn't doing their job. And who authorised this, anyway? Was the potential upside worth it?
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:27 PM on October 27, 2013


NSA, Germany and Handygate: A Reality Check

"The heads of Germany’s intelligence services are now headed to Washington, DC, for meetings with the White House and NSA to smooth over the scandal. At bottom, Germany (like France), seeks not to shut down NSA espionage, rather to get closer to it. Berlin has long been jealous of London and the other Anglosphere members of the so-called Five Eyes community, the SIGINT alliance born in the Second World War which, to this day, constitutes the most successful international intelligence partnership in world history."
posted by jeffburdges at 6:49 PM on October 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


The outcome: "Don't spy on our leaders, but hand over info on our citizens to us".

Sounds brilliant.
posted by anemone of the state at 9:49 PM on October 27, 2013


I think the outcome Germany is angling for is "do what you want, but we get to see the information too". We might see the "five eyes" expanded to include France and Germany.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:54 PM on October 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


How NSA Spying On Angela Merkel May Scuttle TAFTA/TTIP Trade Agreement   Woo hoo!
posted by jeffburdges at 6:44 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mike Rogers Says NSA Told Congress About Spying On Foreign Leaders; Cuts Off Rep. Who Say That's Not True
posted by jeffburdges at 4:07 PM on October 29, 2013


Intel Officials Says French And Spain Intelligence Agencies Did All The Dirty Work In Gathering Data On Millions Of Calls
posted by jeffburdges at 4:08 PM on October 29, 2013


NSA Officials Livid That White House Is Pretending It Didn't Know About Spying On Foreign Leaders
posted by jeffburdges at 4:12 PM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Putting paid to the notion that Australia lacks interest in Asia: Australia's Asia spy network

also

Church and State: US 'spied on future Pope Francis during Vatican conclave': Italian magazine
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:41 PM on October 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


It’s worth noting (if someone hasn’t already) that the NSA’s rules for the collection and retention of data from foreign countries apply to Americans’ data as well when servers are located overseas.
posted by CBatBC at 8:25 AM on October 31, 2013


Well, this confuses the narrative:
More NSA Leakers Followed Snowden’s Footsteps, Whistleblower Lawyer Says

also

NSA Leaker Edward Snowden Has New Job in Russia, Lawyer Says

Apparently it's a boring job and they won't tell you about it, though.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:15 PM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Even when you're a globally famous/infamous whistleblower/leaker, you still gotta eat somehow, and find a place to stay.
posted by JHarris at 5:01 PM on October 31, 2013


You'd think he could basically name his own price as a consultant on security.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:30 PM on October 31, 2013


GCHQ and European spy agencies worked together on mass surveillance: Edward Snowden papers unmask close technical cooperation and loose alliance between British, German, French, Spanish and Swedish spy agencies
posted by homunculus at 1:27 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Church and State: US 'spied on future Pope Francis during Vatican conclave': Italian magazine

The Word - See No Evil: Allegations surface that the NSA spied on the Vatican, and Representative Mike Rogers defends the agency via circular logic.
posted by homunculus at 1:28 PM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


There is a current, terrible article in BusinessWeek about "The Unbearable Narcissism of Edward Snowden".

It wasn't a joke. Some people are still beating that drum.
posted by anemone of the state at 11:58 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, this is very funny. Take a look at the photo gallery in this article: The NSA is spying on Tel Aviv through the U.S. Embassy, says Israeli intelligence analyst

You'd think the NSA could afford some architectural frills on its suspicious rooftop boxes. Here's a link to the source article, which times out for me.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:10 PM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bruce Schneier Speculates On NSA Double Laundering Information It Obtains Via Network Infiltration
posted by jeffburdges at 12:15 AM on November 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is NSA Spying Really About Blackmail?

It would be the logical conclusion of a spying regime run amok.
posted by anemone of the state at 10:59 AM on November 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Switzerland Wants to Offer the World a Spy-Proof Cloud
posted by homunculus at 4:32 PM on November 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


UK Gov't Losing The Plot: Now Claiming Snowden Leaks Could Help Pedophiles
posted by homunculus at 1:21 PM on November 7, 2013


Of course it has to do with blackmail. Pretty much any breaking scandal story on any politician has to be viewed with suspicion. And more than that, politicians have to be aware that they're being watched, so none of them are going to vocally go after the NSA.
posted by empath at 2:59 PM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I mean, just an example. I'm not saying this is true, but look what took down Anthony Weiner. We have to assume that the NSA is spying on every congressperson and senator. His sexting would have been an open secret at the agency. It would have been trivial for them to steal his password and send out a tweet that he had actually sent privately.

Okay, I'm not saying that happened. But it could have happened, and it could happen in the future -- Wiener was trying to stop aid to Saudi Arabia. Is that enough to make him an enemy of someone with access to NSA intelligence on him? Probably not. But the fact that you can't rule out something like that happening in the future should be terrifying to anyone who cares about democracy. EVERYONE has skeletons in their closet. No matter what the candidate, there will always be a way for a near-omniscient intelligence service to destroy them.
posted by empath at 6:19 AM on November 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Or consider Eliot Spitzer. How did that information about his sexual habits get out? Everybody agrees that he was wiretapped, but I frankly find it hard to believe that the investigation was genuinely instigated because he spent more than $10,000 on a single transaction.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:39 AM on November 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic makes a similar argument:
The Surveillance State Puts U.S. Elections at Risk of Manipulation

My favorite bit:
It isn't hard to imagine an alternative world in which the man in Snowden's position was bent not on reforming the NSA, but on thwarting its reformers—that he was willing to break the law in service of the surveillance state, fully believing that he was acting in the best interests of the American people.

A conscience could lead a man that way too.

This Bizarro Edward Snowden wouldn't have to abscond to a foreign country with thousands of highly sensitive documents. He wouldn't have to risk his freedom. Affecting a U.S. presidential election would be as easy as quietly querying Rand Paul, or Ron Wyden, or one of their close associates, finding some piece of damaging information, figuring out how someone outside the surveillance state could plausibly happen upon that information, and then passing it off anonymously or with a pseudonym to Politico, or The New York Times, or Molly Ball. Raise your hand if you think that Snowden could've pulled that off.

posted by Joe in Australia at 6:12 AM on November 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


UK spies continue “quantum insert” attack via LinkedIn, Slashdot pages: Targets included engineers at Global Roaming Exchange providers and OPEC.

Quantum of pwnness: How NSA and GCHQ hacked OPEC and othersTelecom companies gave intel agencies ability to reroute targets' traffic.
posted by homunculus at 1:28 PM on November 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


NSA chief says Snowden leaked up to 200,000 secret documents
posted by homunculus at 6:20 PM on November 14, 2013


He was more precise than that - he says that it's a number between 50,000 and 200,000. I think he should allow reporters to guess it using Price Is Right rules, and whoever is closest to the correct figure without going over will be allowed to Spin the Wheel.

In other news: relevant free ringtone from They Might Be Giants!
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:59 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


If Snowden had leaked this, they'd have known about it sooner:

FBI warns of U.S. government breaches by Anonymous hackers
Activist hackers linked to the collective known as Anonymous have secretly accessed U.S. government computers in multiple agencies and stolen sensitive information in a campaign that began almost a year ago, the FBI warned this week.

posted by Joe in Australia at 8:22 PM on November 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Activist hackers linked to the collective known as Anonymous have secretly accessed U.S. government computers in multiple agencies and stolen sensitive information in a campaign that began almost a year ago, the FBI warned this week.

It appears that USG claims of their functional demise were premature.
posted by anemone of the state at 8:36 PM on November 16, 2013


Trey Radel -- his dealer just 'happened' to get arrested, and just happened to mention that he sold drugs to a congressman. And of course, not at all a coincidence that he tried to stop US involvement in Syria.

Again, not saying anything untoward happened. But how would we know if it did?
posted by empath at 12:06 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


We know the DEA's Special Operations Division, (SOD) exists to illegally receive tips from the NSA and invent fake investigation histories, called "parallel construction", so that the DOJ can lie to the courts about how evidence was discovered.

We know the NSA spies on American citizens basically all the time. We've suspected the NSA's spying frequently gets used for blackmail-like activities, simply because they're hovering up such mundane information.

Ain't impossible the NSA maintains sin lists for pressuring representatives and the DOD, CIA, etc. picked out Trey Radel for his opposition to war with Syria. Yet conversely, do you imagine anti-NSA senators and representatives like Wyden and Amash are squeaky clean? Or know too much in Wyden's case?
posted by jeffburdges at 12:54 AM on November 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Tired of searching all over the web to find leaked NSA slides? Come to @EFF's one-stop slide shop!
Introducing a Compendium of the Released NSA Spying Documents
and
NSA Primary Sources
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:18 AM on November 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Norway's Spy Boss Gives 'Least Untruthful' Answer About Sharing Phone Call Info With NSA, Before Correcting Himself

NSA Worked Out Deal With GCHQ To Spy On UK Citizens, Secretly Expanded It
posted by jeffburdges at 4:44 AM on November 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


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