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More Details Emerge On How the US Is Bugging Its European Allies 442

Posted by timothy
from the bugging-is-the-polite-word dept.
dryriver writes with this excerpt from the Guardian: "U.S. intelligence services are spying on the European Union mission in New York and its embassy in Washington, according to the latest top secret U.S. National Security Agency documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden. One document lists 38 embassies and missions, describing them as 'targets.' It details an extraordinary range of spying methods used against each target, from bugs implanted in electronic communications gear to taps into cables to the collection of transmissions with specialised antennae. Along with traditional ideological adversaries and sensitive Middle Eastern countries, the list of targets includes the E.U. missions and the French, Italian and Greek embassies, as well as a number of other American allies, including Japan, Mexico, South Korea, India and Turkey. ... One of the bugging methods mentioned is codenamed Dropmire, which, according to a 2007 document, is 'implanted on the Cryptofax at the E.U. embassy, DC' – an apparent reference to a bug placed in a commercially available encrypted fax machine used at the mission. The NSA documents note the machine is used to send cables back to foreign affairs ministries in European capitals."
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More Details Emerge On How the US Is Bugging Its European Allies

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 01, 2013 @08:20AM (#44152527)

    We know countries spy on each other for political capital and leverage, even allies. They embarrass leaders they don't like with smears and leaks. The give opposition leaders they do like, intel and tips. Trying to influence elections, trying to learn trade secret that aid their corps.

    It's a nasty game, but it's a known game.

    So WTF is GCHQ doing, giving NSA a tap on 300 lines into Britain, which almost certainly contains information on British people, companies and politics?

    Which side are you on there in GCHQ?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      http://boingboing.net/2013/07/01/glenn-greenwald-gives-a-public.html

      Glenn says they have a document from the NSA. They're now can record 1 billion cell phone calls per day.

      You cannot elect a President if General Alexander can go through the candidates and pick out any that he doesn't like and leak their phone calls. You cannot have a democracy in that world.

      We cannot elect a Prime Minister if General Alexander can leak his phone calls and monitor his communications. General Alexander will be able to pick an

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      The GCHQ ran out of next gen 'tech' cash in ~1960's. They traded the Empire (old bases world wide) for new US super computers and raw feeds.
      GCHQ is on the side that can give it the best tools to keep the Soviets and French out - at this time the USA.
      British people, companies and politics are of no interest to the GCHQ - its all just product that has to reach the US interconnects per hour.
      If they fail at that one task the ghost of 1970's Diego Garcia could haunt the UK gov again with a nice term the US h
    • by Hatta (162192) on Monday July 01, 2013 @11:53AM (#44154841) Journal

      So WTF is GCHQ doing, giving NSA a tap on 300 lines into Britain, which almost certainly contains information on British people, companies and politics?

      The GCHQ gives NSA the ability to spy on British citizens, so that the NSA will give the GCHQ the ability to spy on US citizens. Then they exchange the data. Since no one was spying on their own citizens, no laws were broken, right?

  • by BSAtHome (455370) on Monday July 01, 2013 @08:25AM (#44152557)

    So how does this relate to "war on terrorism"? This is plain and simple espionage, most probably for economic gain.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Didn't this used to be considered an "act of war?" From Wikipedia under Acts of War / Casus belli

      ...casus foederis refers to offenses or threats to a fellow allied nation with which the justifying nation is engaged in a mutual defense treaty, such as NATO.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by auric_dude (610172)
      Economic gain, can in theory and after payment of taxes be used to finance the war on terror. A rather tenuous link but you may well be able to advertise and trumpet the magnitude of any Pork barrel heading towards your favoured state or district.
    • There is obviously some expectation of privacy in diplomacy, e.g. Diplomatic baggage is still treated as sealed. But obviously the US considers everything else to be completely fair game, including crypto-protected messaging. Hardly seems like playing according to the spirit of the rules. So, yes, it is plain and simple espionage against allies. This is surely not going down well in Europe.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      yes re economic gain try back in 1972:
      http://cryptome.org/jya/nsa-elint.htm [cryptome.org]
      "but most of us, me included, did some kind of smuggling on the side. Everything form small-time black marketeering of cigarettes or currency all the way up to transportation of vehicles, refrigerators, that sort of thing. One time in Europe I knew of a couple of people inside NSA who were stationed in Frankfurt and got involved in the white slave trade. Can you believe that? They were transporting women who'd been kidnapped from
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kilfarsnar (561956)

      So how does this relate to "war on terrorism"? This is plain and simple espionage, most probably for economic gain.

      You may not believe me, and I can't "prove" it, but the War on Terror is a sham. It is a cover for expanding US power and influence around the globe and here at home as well. It is, as Zbigniew Brzezinski calls it, a mythical historical narrative. It is designed to create a focus for the fear and aggression of the population, enabling the powers that be to manipulate that fear into acceptance of whatever measures they claim they need to put in place to counter the external threat. It is classic use of t

  • Mud in the water (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Monday July 01, 2013 @08:25AM (#44152559)

    "Friends spying on friends" is not something new and unusual, despite what at least 1 German politician implied. The US has arrested Israeli spies in decades past. Israel has arrested US spies. It may be deplorable, but it's universal. Raising a ruckus about it is just a sideshow.

    Snowden apparently originally thought that this was part of his job and was OK with it. What allegedly turned him was when he realized that a lot of what he was doing was unrelated to spying on other nations, other nationals and terrorists, but was spying on US citizens even when there was absolutely no reason to think they were doing anything worth spying on.

    • Friends with benefits it is not!
    • ...of where you fall in the political spectrum, I think that everyone can agree that, as of late, the Administration has been exceptionally sloppy, amateurish, and far too invasive (due to sheer laziness).

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      it's not unusual as such.. it's just extremely nasty get caught doing so just for some advantage in economical discussions.

      it's not a sideshow as such. because, you know you would easily believe that Finland for example wasn't bugging the american embassy for the same purpose. so friends spying on friends flies flat on it's hypocratic shitface right there. it makes harder for us to believe in fair negotiations, which is going to pretty much mean just going for harsher advantage over the us than otherwise if

  • So in other words (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 01, 2013 @08:26AM (#44152573)

    Everything the US has been accusing China of doing like sticking backdoors in communications equipment, the US has been doing it it's allies?

    So much for don't buy Chinese, sounds like it's more risky to buy US equipment because at least there's now some hard evidence that US equipment contains backdoors, with China it was all just unproven speculation.

  • Pot meet Kettle (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lawrence_Bird (67278) on Monday July 01, 2013 @08:37AM (#44152655) Homepage

    I think we can all distinguish between spying on one's own citizens and spying on foreigners, in particular in foreign lands. That of course includes governments. Normally this kind of stuff stays under the radar, but this is not the first time it has happened. Israel has been caught quite a few times spying on the US and running agents to further their own national interests. France has a long history of doing corporate espionage on behalf of their own industries. The Brits have always had their fingers in everything.

    Spying isn't just about military stuff. It is often about economics and politics and knowing what others are planning and doing (vs what they might say publicly).

  • by Andover Chick (1859494) on Monday July 01, 2013 @08:39AM (#44152661)
    I just cannot believe it! Countries around the world spy on each other?? What a remarkable revelation, who would'a thought?. Perhaps next we'll find out that corporations act in their greedy self interest or that middle school girls are catty. Thank you Edward Snowden for making the f*ing obvious even more obvious!
  • The resulting outrage will be highly amusing. Even more so when other agencies like the CIA find *they're* being monitored.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I think this puts it into perspective. Still do not think it is right. Just shows how long they have been doing this.

      http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/06/how-a-30-year-old-lawyer-exposed-nsa-mass-surveillance-of-americans-in-1975/

      tl;dr version ... going on since at least 1950. Under different program names. All 'just ended recently'.

      This has been going on a LONG time. 9/11 was just an excuse to make it legal and retroactive immunity in 2008. Some companies saw it as their duty to help the NSA.

      • by Black Parrot (19622) on Monday July 01, 2013 @09:11AM (#44152887)

        I doubt they will be all that outraged. They singed it into law letting them do it.

        from http://crooksandliars.com/nicole-belle/jesselyn-radack-points-out-problem-fi [crooksandliars.com] -

        STEPHANOPOULOS: But these surveillance programs, as the president has pointed out, were passed by the Congress, are overseen by a court.

        RADACK: Well, both of those are incorrect. Congress has not been fully informed. Only the--

        STEPHANOPOULOS: They passed the laws, there is oversight, or there is (inaudible).

        RADACK: OK, but there is a secret interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which nobody knows, except for the Intel Committee of Congress, and even they say that they think most Americans would be appalled by that. And to say that it’s been approved by the courts is a misnomer, because it gives the impression that federal courts have approved this, when in reality, it’s the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has rubber-stamped every single--

        STEPHANOPOULOS: Which is a federal court.

        RADACK: No, it is a secret court set up at the Justice Department that has federal judges on it. But last year, it approved 2,000 out of 2,000 applications. They hear only the government’s side, and they have never -- they have rejected an application one time since 1978.

        • No offense to you, but the person you are quoting, "RADACK," is a nitwit. The FISA court is a federal court that deals with secret material, not a secret court. Issuing search warrants is not an adversarial process to begin with, and wouldn't be at any other court. There is more.

          Secret Court's Oversight Gets Scrutiny [wsj.com]

          Michael Mukasey, who was attorney general under President George W. Bush, said in an interview that the lack of rejections by the FISA court doesn't mean the court is a rubber stamp. He notes the court sometimes modifies orders and that the Justice Department's national-security division is careful about the applications it presents to the court.

          Of 1,856 FISA applications the Justice Department made in 2012, the court denied none but modified 40, the Justice Department reported.

          Timothy Edgar, who was a top lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, said he believed the FISA court was a rubber stamp until he saw the process firsthand when he became a senior civil-liberties official in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in 2006. "It's definitely not a rubber stamp," he said in an interview Sunday. "On a very superficial level, they tend to approve pretty much everything that comes before them. They do meet in secret. It's just more complicated than that."

          The reason so many orders are approved, he said, is that the Justice Department office that manages the process vets the applications rigorously. The lawyers there see themselves not as government advocates so much as neutral arbiters of the law between the executive branch and the courts, he said, so getting the order approved by the Justice Department lawyers is perhaps the biggest hurdle to approval. "The culture of that office is very reluctant to get a denial," he said.-- more [wsj.com]

  • It's pretty informative to see all the AC posts in this thread... what is everyone afraid of?!?

    Oh, wait... the NSA is watching and listening.

    Seriously folks, this is BS and needs to stop. The US govt via the NSA should NOT be performing this level of spying on trusted allies or US citizens not suspected of any wrongdoing. As an American living in the EU, it makes me sick that my home country is engaged in this activity.

    • It's pretty informative to see all the AC posts in this thread... what is everyone afraid of?!?

      Oh, wait... the NSA is watching and listening.

      Surely you don't think the NSA has any trouble figuring out who all these A/Cs are.

  • This is a shame (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ebno-10db (1459097) on Monday July 01, 2013 @08:59AM (#44152819)

    I'm a staunch supporter of Snowden's revealing how the NSA was violating the 4th Amendment, but it's a shame that he's now revealing stuff like this. It will weaken the outrage over the US government wiping its ass w/ the Bill of Rights, because people will say that now he is endangering national security by revealing this information. He is shooting himself in the foot. TPTB will also have more justification for going after him. Having access to secret information beyond what is necessary for making his original case about spying on US citizens makes him less secure, not more. It also lessens the sympathy he'll get from Americans.

    P.S. The latest "revelations" don't shock me, I doubt they shock TPTB in other countries, and the only effect on foreign relations will be the usual faux outrage. It doesn't bother me that the NSA is doing this, in fact I'd be more upset (or at least surprised) if they weren't. I also don't think it will do much if anything to harm national security, but he's still playing it wrong.

    • by Koreantoast (527520) on Monday July 01, 2013 @09:44AM (#44153175)
      Agreed. I think that Snowden hurts his own credibility and his self-professed cause by spilling out all the details of United States espionage activities overseas. Had Snowden had a compelling whistleblower case by simply reporting on US domestic spying; many would view him as a patriot (as he self-proclaimed) for reporting on these abuses. However, muddies the water tremendously, I would even argue crosses the line, by providing details of US intelligence activities overseas, not just to the European Union but also to the Chinese and the Russians. Those actions directly harming his home country, undermining American intelligence activities against nations that have comprehensive espionage programs targeted at the United States (this includes European nations).
      • by Pav (4298) on Monday July 01, 2013 @10:04AM (#44153447)

        The journalist and author Naomi Wolf has been wondering for some time [naomiwolf.org] if he's a "false flag". She raises a number of interesting points, and has cred when it comes to whistleblower issues. He may very well be the real deal... but in any case this issue is bigger than anyones heroics and faults. Dirty political tricks WILL be employed if anyones power is at stake.

        I'm posting again because I was modded up, then down earlier. I'm smiling right now at my own paranoia.

        • Her suspicions don't seem off-the-wall. To her credit she only says she's suspicious, not that she's anywhere near certain. I feel similarly. It's probably not true, but it is a possibility to keep in mind.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jahta (1141213)

        Agreed. I think that Snowden hurts his own credibility and his self-professed cause by spilling out all the details of United States espionage activities overseas. Had Snowden had a compelling whistleblower case by simply reporting on US domestic spying; many would view him as a patriot (as he self-proclaimed) for reporting on these abuses. However, muddies the water tremendously, I would even argue crosses the line, by providing details of US intelligence activities overseas, not just to the European Union but also to the Chinese and the Russians. Those actions directly harming his home country, undermining American intelligence activities against nations that have comprehensive espionage programs targeted at the United States (this includes European nations).

        So what you, and the parent poster, are basically saying is that if US citizens are being targeted then that's a moral outrage and wholly unacceptable; but the rest of us are fair game.

        See, that's a major part of the problem. I know that many Americans think that God appointed the US to be the world's policeman, and therefore they have some kind of divine right to meddle in the everybody' affairs. But, back in the real world, those of us who live in other democratic sovereign states quite rightly regard t

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      I'm a staunch supporter of Snowden's revealing how the NSA was violating the 4th Amendment, but it's a shame that he's now revealing stuff like this. It will weaken the outrage over the US government wiping its ass w/ the Bill of Rights, because people will say that now he is endangering national security by revealing this information. He is shooting himself in the foot. TPTB will also have more justification for going after him. Having access to secret information beyond what is necessary for making his original case about spying on US citizens makes him less secure, not more. It also lessens the sympathy he'll get from Americans.

      P.S. The latest "revelations" don't shock me, I doubt they shock TPTB in other countries, and the only effect on foreign relations will be the usual faux outrage. It doesn't bother me that the NSA is doing this, in fact I'd be more upset (or at least surprised) if they weren't. I also don't think it will do much if anything to harm national security, but he's still playing it wrong.

      well it sure gets sympathy from all the rest of the world... so we're the great terrorist nation of Finland now in the axis of evil with Germany and Italy? me thinks they should advance their calendars by couple of decades(also technically NSA isn't supposed to provide corporate espionage which this spying of EU just pretty much boils down to.. the joke is the profits are going to tax havens, so I suppose it's all good then eh..).

      he's pretty much just showing that the USA gov. has pretty much just decided t

  • by kuldan (986242) on Monday July 01, 2013 @09:12AM (#44152891)

    ..to this lately, and most of them were in the "We are big, bad, mean motherfuckers so of course we do this and if you don't like it go fuck yourself or we nuke you" (paraphrased, not literally uttered.. even though nuclear weapons HAVE been mentioned once or twice in the discussion.. I think it was on gizmodo or some site like that..)

    Guys, just turn around the situation and it would be China doing the same in the US.. wouldn't your outcry be as big as ours (German here), maybe even bigger?

    Just because you have the biggest guns doesn't mean laws are not for you anymore, just as a reminder..

    Also, having the biggest Aircraft Carrier in the block means nothing, if you actually would take on an opponent that can fight back.. (I've read up on a lot of NATO maneuvers where even our old diesel subs blatantly sunk US carriers and the commanders didn't even believe the sub commanders that they were there, until they surfaced like 500 feet away from the carrier in full broadside view of the torpedo tubes..)

    Really, if you ask me, as a German with a strong national pride myself, the only political answer to this would be simple (and something our corrupt and incompetent government would NEVER do..): close all US bases on German soil, including Ramstein etc., remove every single American non-civilian personell from the country immediately..

    and while we're at it consider if this constitutes an "armed" (as in cyber-warfare) attack against Germany (and our Allies) as based on NATO Article 5 (Casus foederis).

    Also, leaving NATO would be another option.

    • "We are big, bad, mean motherfuckers so of course we do this and if you don't like it go fuck yourself or we nuke you"

      I live in the US, listened to and read plenty of news/reactions about this and have yet to hear the utter BS you made up. Couldn't be further from the truth.
  • I wouldn't be surprised if individual member states are bugging each other routinely to obtain an advantage when it comes to trade talks, treaty agreements and all the rest. I wonder how the EU even manages to police that let alone develop its own pan-European security agency with which to counter international threats.
  • Everything that is "wrong" with the US today can explained by that 1947 incident. Afterall, war is good for business. Peace, of course, is good for business too. Afterall, even in the worst time someone makes a profit.

  • How times have changed.

    "Gentlemen don't read other gentlemen's mail." That's what Henry L. Stimson said in 1929 when he shut down the State Department's code breaking operations. Stimson was President Hoover's Secretary of State at the time.

  • The cameras installed in copy machines. [editinternational.com] I recall reading about this many years ago and IIRC it wasn't just soviet copy machines. But memory of the article is too faded. Spying is nothing new.
  • Who uses faxes anymore? And encrypted faxing? Oooh, so much more secure. How about secure FTP or encrypted e-mail?
  • by 0111 1110 (518466) on Monday July 01, 2013 @10:09AM (#44153521)

    After 4 decades on this planet it still never ceases to surprise me that "everyone does it" or "everyone else is just as bad" still seems like a logical defense to some people.

    Would raping little girls be okay if more people did it? If only it were more popular then none of us would have to feel bad about being a total piece of shit. The kind of person who does stuff like that does it because they don't care about the little girl that they are going to hurt or even kill. That other person, that other consciousness means nothing to them. Only their narrow interests matter. Sound familiar?

    Pathological liars of all sorts are always adamant about how no one else is any different. "Everyone lies", they say. Dishonest salesmen and cops are the same. They defend their bad behavior by saying that everyone else is just as bad. Uh huh. As soon as I hear someone say that sort of thing I immediately know not to trust them or believe a word they say. And I'll keep a close eye on my wallet and all my other possessions as well. There's a good chance they lack any sense of empathy, of right or wrong: what we call a conscience.

    Well I've got news for some of you. Not everyone will lie and steal even from their so called friends whenever they think they can get away with it. I have known a few pathological liars in my life and as soon as I discovered who and what they really were I broke off any contact with them. Period.

    I wouldn't be friends with someone who planted bugs in my home. In fact I would consider them the opposite of friends. They wouldn't be welcome anywhere near my home ever again. It would be pretty clear that their intentions were not good. If I were one of the countries mentioned in these leaks I would immediately break off all diplomatic relations with the US. I mean, what the fuck is the point when it's obvious you are being treated in a manner indistinguishable from how one treats an enemy? At the very least it would seem sensible to strip search and cavity search anyone carrying a US passport who wants to enter or leave an embassy/consulate or any other sensitive location. Are you quasi-sociopaths starting to see the problem now?

    And how does one draw the line between just being naughty and an act of outright war? Seems like that line could be drawn very finely indeed. If in our eavesdropping we discover that a foreign diplomat holds beliefs that seem inimical to our interests would it be okay to assassinate them? How about just fucking up their life so badly that they choose to quit their jobs? Maybe infecting one of their children with HIV for instance? After all, what is the point of making so much effort to gather all that intelligence data if we do not use it to further our interests? Isn't that what this is all about? Our interests? Aside from "everyone else is doing it", that is the justification for this behavior is it not? Of course it couldn't possibly be in our interest to treat our allies like we ourselves would want to be treated: with respect and honesty. No. So much better to prepare for outright war even with such highly unlikely foes as, say, Canada.

    Espionage is fine when you are in a shooting war with someone and it's tolerable when it seems that a shooting war is imminent, but it is neither honorable nor civilized behavior. Not even if you have proof that the other side is doing the same to you, which I don't think any of you currently have by the way.

    I'm sorry, but just assuming that everyone else is just as amoral and dishonest and untrustworthy and two-faced and is also treating us in a way that is indistinguishable from an enemy is not sufficient. Not if we want to be seen as the good guys. Clearly any such pretense would be laughable now. The enemy is us. We are the baddies.

    Even if we knew with absolute 100% certainty that all of the people we were bugging were bugging us back just as successfully the old two wrongs don't make a right rule still applies. If we discovered that one of our allies were systematically raping our female diplomats would we respond in kind? I would certainly hope not.

  • by Jmc23 (2353706) on Monday July 01, 2013 @10:11AM (#44153547) Journal
    Evil paranoid people who play underhanded always believe that others do exactly the same as they do.
  • Hmm (Score:5, Informative)

    by ZenDragon (1205104) on Monday July 01, 2013 @11:22AM (#44154457)
    What really irks me is shit like this: http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/06/27/19166043-obama-not-scrambling-jets-to-get-nsa-leaker-snowden [nbcnews.com] Whereby we now have US Trade Representatives considering revoking trade privileges of an entire country (Ecuador) because the administration has a personal vendetta against Snowden. It is really sickening what our government is willing to do to cover its own ass.
  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Monday July 01, 2013 @11:34AM (#44154597) Homepage

    Angela Merkel comes off looking like a real asshole, IMO. When it came out that the US was spying on US and German citizens, she defended it as necessary for the war on terror. Then she finds out we're spying on her fellow oligarchs and all of a sudden it's an unjustifiable violation of trust.

  • by ruir (2709173) on Monday July 01, 2013 @02:18PM (#44156659)
    It just strikes to me as naive to use Windows and Intel hardware to store state secrets. Or using Israeli firewalls (Checkpoint) China got it right with Red Flag Linux and Loongson.

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