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United States EU Government Your Rights Online Politics

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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  • Re:No Shit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 01, 2013 @07:18AM (#44152515)

    There is a difference between doing intelligence work and outright bugging and performing illegal surveillance.

    You clearly don't know what that difference is and I feel sorry for you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 01, 2013 @07:20AM (#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?

  • Re:No Shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pe1rxq (141710) on Monday July 01, 2013 @07:20AM (#44152529) Homepage Journal

    It also doesn't support the 'Snowden is evil' image either. Afterall he is only reporting what any 'responsible' government already knew and did......

  • Re:No Shit (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 01, 2013 @07:21AM (#44152531)

    That doesn't excuse it.

    The business I conduct in my country in the EU is of zero import to the US.

  • Re:No Shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Monday July 01, 2013 @07:21AM (#44152537) Journal
    Someone doesn't realize that embassies are foreign soil. You clearly are assuming that what they are doing is illegal and not sanctioned under national security. See, you are just making an ass out of yourself and YOU KNOW IT or you wouldn't be posting as an anonymous coward.
  • by BSAtHome (455370) on Monday July 01, 2013 @07:25AM (#44152557)

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

  • Re:No Shit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 01, 2013 @07:26AM (#44152569)

    Most intelligence work is illegal by definition. The only question is whether the work is whether the US intelligence work breaks US laws. I envy your fairy tale worldview, but in the real world things work differently.

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 01, 2013 @07:26AM (#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.

  • Who cares (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 01, 2013 @07:26AM (#44152575)

    Those countries are probably spying on us as well. And our government has a responsibility to know what other governments are doing, to the best of our abilities.

    That said, it shows how much damage Snowden has done to publicly reveal this undoubtedly top secret information. He's a traitor.

  • Re:No Shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 01, 2013 @07:27AM (#44152585)

    They do the same things.

    Oh, really? Everybody's doing that? Well, perhaps the USSR did, but do you honestly believe that close Western allies of the US are systematically bugging US embassies and spying on US politicians on a massive scale?

    You know, if somebody found out that the US bugged one fax machine of their European allies, you'd be right - it would be swept under the carpet and handled through diplomatic channels. But we're talking about absolutely massive, persistent spying on close allies.

    I can understand if the US spies on China and vice versa, and many of the discoveries in this areas is handled via side channels (e.g. swaping intelligence agence), but it's hard to understand why the US needs to massively spy on European administration to obtain more information about the latest regulation for the shapes of bananas or how much earth may be on potatoes.

  • Re:No Shit (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 01, 2013 @07:29AM (#44152607)

    The same thing can be said for nuclear weapons, but I don't see you encouraging everyone to get them?

  • Re:No Shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SirGarlon (845873) on Monday July 01, 2013 @07:41AM (#44152681)

    do you honestly believe that close Western allies of the US are systematically bugging US embassies and spying on US politicians on a massive scale?

    Yes, as a matter of fact, I do.

    That's beside the point though, because I also believe two wrongs don't make a right. I wish my government still felt that way, too.

    Whether the US should take the moral high road or dive into the muck like "just another country" is a debate that goes back to the founding of the Republic. It looks like it's finally been settled. :-(

  • Re:No Shit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lxs (131946) on Monday July 01, 2013 @07:43AM (#44152689)

    For one thing, other courties don't have 5 million people cleared to handle top secret material. That makes the chances of a leak smaller. For another, related, thing, those countries don't have a security apparatus as creepily and absurdly extensive as the US does, so the few involved don't feel a strong need to leak.

    Also, other countries see this as a human rights issue that involves everybody instead of something that only becomes an issue when it affects their own citizens.

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

    by ebno-10db (1459097) on Monday July 01, 2013 @07:59AM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Monday July 01, 2013 @08:02AM (#44152833)

    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 and choose our elected officials by selectively smearing.

    You cannot have a democracy in that world.

    GCHQ, you have a job, and part of that job is to protect Brits from foreign powers spying on them.

  • Re:No Shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lxs (131946) on Monday July 01, 2013 @08:03AM (#44152835)

    but it's hard to understand why the US needs to massively spy on European administration to obtain more information about the latest regulation for the shapes of bananas or how much earth may be on potatoes.

    Funny you should mention food regulation. The US has a huge problem with EU regulation of food. GMO foods have to be clearly labelled and most if not all US beef is banned within the EU because over here treating cattle with growth hormone is a serious crime and the resulting meat is not tolerated to enter the food chain, but this is standard practice in the US. There are huge economic interests involved and as Cablegate has shown, the US government is directly involved in putting pressure on EU states to further those interests. Knowing the thoughts of EU negotiators would give an unfair advantage.

  • by kuldan (986242) on Monday July 01, 2013 @08:12AM (#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.

  • Re:No Shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AJH16 (940784) <aj@@@gccafe...com> on Monday July 01, 2013 @08:23AM (#44152989) Homepage

    It's only illegal if it is against the law... You do realize that espionage is ALWAYS illegal in the country being spied on right? That doesn't make it illegal in the country doing the spying. It makes it a valid portion of the government's job. Spying has been a part of international relations since, well, when did people first make countries again? It isn't illegal and it isn't going to change any time soon. It's certainly not good for relations when it gets exposed, but everyone really is doing it. If you think that this is A) news or B) a valid leak that has any possible purpose than to hurt the US, then you are sadly ignorant of the realities of the intelligence community for the last forever.

  • Re: No Shit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hedwards (940851) on Monday July 01, 2013 @08:27AM (#44153015)

    But it's more fun to bash the US for everything that happens, because obviously, the US is always wrong and everybody else is always right.

  • Re:No Shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ebno-10db (1459097) on Monday July 01, 2013 @08:28AM (#44153025)

    Heroes don't run when they know they're 100% right.

    Spoken like a true armchair hero. More importantly, this isn't about Snowden as a superhero. Look, it's a bird, it's a plane, no it's Super Snowden! In fact this isn't about Snowden at all, but about what he's released. Trying to turn this into a debate about Snowden is a person as a ridiculous distraction.

  • Re:No Shit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hedwards (940851) on Monday July 01, 2013 @08:31AM (#44153055)

    Not really, that's a construct that you probably picked up from Hollywood propaganda.

    The truth is that things are rarely if ever that clear cut. Heroes in things like this tend to try to avoid being sent to prison as being in prison makes it easy for the government to stop them from making a scene. Whereas a very visible fight to get Snowden extradited back to the US has brought a ton of extra attention to the problem that he highlighted with the leak.

  • by hedwards (940851) on Monday July 01, 2013 @08:34AM (#44153079)

    You seriously think that the US is the only one doing that? I mean, for fucks sake, the Israelis do more spying on the US than anybody else. Or at least last I checked, it might be the Chinese now.

    But, in either case, countries spy on each other, and I have a seriously hard time imagining that the EU delegates weren't expecting that to be happening.

  • by 0111 1110 (518466) on Monday July 01, 2013 @09:09AM (#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 Jahta (1141213) on Monday July 01, 2013 @09:37AM (#44153893)

    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 this kind of intrusion as a moral outrage and wholly unacceptable. How we run our lives is none of America's damn business.

    And as for the "everybody does it" and "endangering national security"; as justifications for riding roughshod over everybody's human rights, they are on a par with "won't somebody please think of the children". With the exception of Britain's GCHQ (which calls its version of Prism "Mastering the Internet [guardian.co.uk]"), and possibly China, most countries have neither the resources nor the inclination to indulge in this kind of mass surveillance. And the "endangering national security" card is almost invariably played simply to prevent citizens from finding out what dirty their own government (and attendant spooks) is doing; supposedly in their name.

  • by Xest (935314) on Monday July 01, 2013 @10:48AM (#44154771)

    China already has nukes but I think you missed the GP's point, why would China even care about the US' nuclear technology when there's no need to use them? The GP's point was that China is more interested in growing it's economy than anything else, whilst the US seems busy both destroying it's long term economic prospects by building the largest mountain of debt known to man and spending trillions on wars that make literally no difference at the end of the day and by destroying all international credibility past generations of American leaders had worked so hard to build up.

    Or in other words, China doesn't need to steal American nuke plans because America is already very busy destroying itself without any weaponry even being required. It's already thrown away all pretences of liberty and justice that were at the supposed core of what America once stood proudly for by doing things like Guantanamo bay, torture and extraordinary rendition. The fabric of what made America great is already well torn and it's busy rushing down a path that will, if it continues, destroy it completely.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Monday July 01, 2013 @10:53AM (#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?

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