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NSA spying row: Denmark helped US gather data on European officials, says report (bbc.com)
403 points by Black101 61 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 167 comments



This all boils down to the question of how to reign in the administrative state, and the problem here is that no one really wants to reign it in, they want to control it and point it in the direction they prefer, that is, they want an extra-judicial, extra-legislative source of power to exist, but just not do any of the things they don't like.

But I don't think this is possible, once you have an administrative state, of course it's going to monitor and spy on everyone, it's going to arrest people and not give them fair trials (hello Assange), it's going to try to manipulate democratic processes and it's going to crush any force that it perceives as a threat to its own survival. In short, it will have a mind of its own, with its own goals, and by definition it will not be bound by legislative or judicial restraints.


Missing a few steps between "having an administrative state" and "spy on everyone" there, buddy.


Organisations creep until they are stopped when left untended. They can stop growing because of money shortage, political decisions, lack of manpower, pressure from stakeholders, etc., but there's a strong tendency in all organisations to grow and expand influence. There's no reason why this should not hold for spying and policing agencies. It's not inevitable, but there certainly is a non-negligible probability.


>There's no reason why this should not hold for spying and policing agencies

Isn't that what democracies call "constitution"? Something that protects citizens' rights again wrong-doing of powerful entities including legislators and the state itself?


And how's thats working out so far?


Democracy is the best we have for the people. But while the theory is sound, the practical implementation is usually flawed.

The people are "in power" just for that day while they're giving their blessing to their representative. After this, as long as things aren't too abrupt and disadvantage the regular person obviously enough to trigger a violent response, that representative can pretty much represent and defend any other point of view. Usually the one from the otherwise equal but not quite equal, much richer person. And with education being on the bottom of everyone's list, it just gets easier to cover these things up.

For things that concern interests far from home it's even easier. Freedom also means you're free to pump as much one sided information as possible. So as long as one can flood the people with Middle Eastern terrorism, Russian hackers, or Chinese human rights abuses, who's going to care about the home team doing the same even at home?

Superficially democracy is alive and well but it's like religion, most people observe it only in theory and when it matters to them personally. And when it does matter to them, it doesn't matter to enough other people. Which is why most talking points don't have a strong majority, and they're mostly dealt in a compromising way, which makes everyone equally unhappy (except a very few).


Well, to the best of my knowledge, in most countries, the constitutions themselves suggest some actions to the people in the case somebody is not complying with the constitution. Did we see any of those suggested countermeasures taking place?


Actually it was going reasonably well for 2 or 3 centuries, the mass spying is a recent development.

Thus the correct question to ask is "why/how did we break the system that used to work"


The answer is actually because we spent several years with the entire country dedicated tona total war effort in the face of an enemy that was devoted to our total and absolute extinction and subjugation.

Following that rather than returning to a peacetime country and disbanding the associated military structure it was instead repurposed for a cold war in the face of another enemy that had sworn themselves to our complete and absolute destruction and which had the capability to do so. In the face of such constant risk of extinction almost any measure was seen acceptable to counteract the threat.

However after about 60 years the threat disappeared but the massive institutions built up to combat the threat then needed to continue to justify it's existence as careers and lives had been built upon counteracting the Red menance. Unfortunately these institutions did not cease to exist and continued the same tactics that it was profecient in despite the threat to the existence of the nation.

That's basically it in a nutshell.


> the mass spying is a recent development

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_SHAMROCK


Lol. Mass spying is far from recent. Mail has been spied upon for centuries in the US. Sending agents to spy on political groups too. I'm never sure exactly when this ideal time was, that time before government got evil, but I suspect it never really existed.


Spying on someone's mail is well regulated, and is not 'Mass' as defined by any reasonabke person.


People who develop hardware and software made it possible.


I believe it is not about the means and the tooling. Systemic problems need to fix the system, not various outcomes of such problems. Assuming we are talking about democracies, I guess it is up to the people. If the people do not care, then fine. "Nothing to see here, move along". If this is the case, I disagree with "the people", but apparently that is just me... Or few of us.


Much better than most alternatives so far. And it can be improved further.


Sure, but history has shown that the former almost universally leads to the latter…so the intermediate steps are somewhat irrelevant.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Has always been this way.


One of the steps was included, the comment notes:

> ...the problem here is that no one really wants to reign it in...

Why shouldn't it spy on people? If the state is fundamentally on our side, that is a win (fuzzy abstract principles like privacy vs. concrete benefits like stopping specific illegal activity). Ditto if the state is neutral. We have no need to keep secrets from a neutral but fundamentally principled entity. Privacy isn't really important enough to worry about if there are just a few bad actors working individually. It'd be a battle of a luxury (privacy) vs a need (security)

It is only because the state is fundamentally not on our side that people should be trying to reign it in and use concepts like privacy to do so. At some point any information the state has will be used by your political adversaries to attack.

Privacy (from the state) isn't worth anything if the starting point is that the administrative state will be a reliable, proper and responsible bearer of power.


If you can guarantee "good" rulers, then even autocracy isn't so bad—the problem is there will inevitably be bad rulers. Even if I 100% agree with the current administration's policies, I'd be foolish to think there won't be a time when another party (whose polices I 100% disagree with) will be voted into power, and be given access to the same tools to use for what I'd consider nefarious ends.

We must ask, when agreeing to give government a new power, how to protect ourselves against their inevitable abuse of that power. The "national security" excuse circumvents that process.


Just wait until you learn what “government” means in Latin :p


https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/guberno#Latin

According to Wiktionary, it seems to come from steering a ship.


Has to be the same root as 'cybernetic'.


...which has the root of the Greek verb "κυβερνώ", which means "to govern", and is also the root of Kubernetes, which means "governor/captain" :)


Private institutions are even less accountable. I don’t see an alternative for advanced civilization right now.


Every organization needs mechanisms to root out corruption, not just hope and prayers. Transparency, accountability, rule of law are just the start. You need to design checks and balances, internal policing mechanisms, accounting for every dollar, processes to eliminate conflicts of interest, self-dealing, cronyism, etc.

Sadly, it seems that these institutions are prone to a kind of rot that means you can't just set them up once and forget. You need constant vigilance against these institutions corrupting themselves. Vigilance requires attention, not just from officials, but from journalists, media, the public. We're all so damn distracted that things are now rotting faster than ever.


It also doesn’t help that newsrooms have been totally gutted by the loss of advertising revenues. This is particularly acute at the local level, where traditionally you had local newspaper staff at meetings for local councils, but these have largely disappeared in a lot of places.


I've wondered if the future posed in the last story in I, Robot gives a taste of an alternative. I've felt like Asimov tried to explore similar ideas. Four "supercomputers" are so advanced and powerful that countries which don't utilize them would become left in the dust. The technology is so advanced it enforces a new paradigm - play by the new rules or die out. Is there some (non-disastrous) technological (or cultural?) development that will upend all traditional power structures in a similar way?

The robots in Asimov's story are basically uncorruptable. The closest modern example I can think of is encryption + bitcoin. But governments while they can't break encryption can go after exchanges and enact harsh legal penalties thereby extending traditional power structures.

Would a neuralink+pocket AI get you out of any situation, even a government coming after you? Would personal faster-than-light ships allow everyone to escape to their own worlds?

The fact that these examples are so fanciful shows how entrenched power is I'd say. But maybe some single advancement will provide a new modality, or a continual buildup of decentralized tech like torrents, crypto, blockchain, encryption, and cheap computing power.

And as far as cultural changes, maybe that was one purpose of ancient gods. To posit a supernatural power that can destroy any man-made power. But religion also seems to entrench worldly power on the flip-side.

(sorry for the semi off-topic)


Do you think it would be fair to say that countries that operate in this way are no longer democracies?

I have my own thoughts on the matter but I'm curious based on this assessment of yours what other people think about the implications of the situation.


I think it would be fair to say that any Democracy past a certain size (and that size is probably not going to be much bigger than a medium sized city) is going to have parts of it that will not be exposed to public scrutiny and operate independently of the public will.

I'm pretty sure the majority of Danes would be against helping the U.S spy on other EU nations. But it was done because the country was not asked. There are of course other things that the government wants to do that they are prevented from by popular sentiment.

Both Autocracy and Democracy are present in any system, their distribution just changes due to circumstances.


Any state which enforces private land tenure in a non-reciprocated manner will tend towards autocracy over time. A distinguishing feature of high functioning republics is the ability to organize reliable public assessments of direct taxes on landed property within their borders. Under corrupt governments the assessments are never kept up to date and the nobility is given arbitrary and excessive privileges and exemptions to shift direct contributions to the least advantaged members of society. Maybe 50% of local governments and 20% of regional states in the U.S. are high functioning. The federal government was able to organize assessments in 1798, 1813-1816, and 1861 but is generally not high functioning.


> Do you think it would be fair to say that countries that operate in this way are no longer democracies?

Such an agency operating outside of the visibility of those voting is by definition not democratic. But that doesn't mean the rest of the democracy isn't there.


Just because the rest of the democracy is there doesn't mean the country is actually a democracy though, if the machinery of democracy exists but can't control and regulate the totality of the state.


IMHO, people prefer "trust, but check" over "blind trust". You can cast a referendum, if you are unsure. Hitler was elected in a democratic way, so it's possible that your democratic ally can turn into a totalitarian enemy at a next election.

Also, it is easier to check for Russian spies in a government from outside, than from inside. For example, soviet agent in Germany government, called "D-104" in memories of Yurii Drozdov, is still not found. I suspect Schröder, which works for Russian Gasprom now, but he may leave a replacement agent, to work after him. (Merkel?)


> countries that operate in this way are no longer democracies?

Such countries do not extend democratic values to ~other countries~. In fact, they may actively erode democracy in other countries.

If the power structure of a country no longer extends democratic values to other countries, the power structure ~may~ no longer understand democratic principles and have deep problems within its own nation as a result.


I think any moderately sized nation state quickly develops an inner state with autocratic tendencies. Democracy combined with a healthy press and strong protections on free speech are a strong check on the domestic powers of this inner state, but are much less effective in curbing the autocratic inner state overseas.

The nation state hasn't ceased to be democratic, but its internal autocratic state is running amuck overseas.


I think it's probably most accurate to say that there are democracies of different sizes. Your country is a more of democracy as more people have equal agency over their government. This obviously has never happened to a complete extent, and it's still an open question whether that should happen. But a discrete separation between "democracies" and "not democracies" will run into these sorts of problems in any case.


Democracy is a lie which was constructed to pacify the people. If you think you have some control, you feel more free and superior to others.


The word democracy derives from the Greek words for ‘People’ - ‘Demos’ and ‘Power’ - ‘-cracy’. So, literally: ‘people power’ or ‘power of/to or government of the people by the people’. Originally, very roughly speaking, it was an alternative form of government to being ruled by tyrants. If you are seriously disparaging one of the many forms in which human beings have tried to implement some form of democracy, arguably all of which have some flaws, and not just shilling for some authoritarian interest or other (or your own, possibly benighted, or imagined self-interest?), then you need to be more specific. (P.S. Churchill had some useful thoughts on the matter :)


The Greek concept of democracy looked nothing like the modern republic. A Greek democracy did not elect legislators: that function belonged to the people assembled as a whole. Nor did it elect ordinary magistrates, who were instead selected by random lot from lists of willing volunteers in a process now called "sortition." The rationale behind sortition relied on the notion that the ordinary business of government was mundane and required no special competence or knowledge aside from the ordinary citizen's share of justice and patriotism. The ancient Greek democracy elected only ambassadors and generals, people in whom authority needed to be concentrated and yet who also had to be competent rather than simply willing. There was an ancient form of government in between tyranny and democracy: oligarchy. In an oligarchy, a few people were selected to make decisions for the rest. There were in different cities various methods of selecting the oligarchs, but popular election was certainly among them. The downside to regularly scheduled, popular elections, in contrast to the random chance of democratic sortition, was that the expectation of elections generated political parties or factions to attempt to influence or control the outcome of the popular election and thus control the oligarchy. This was, of course, impossible in a democracy, since no election was held: sortition makes partisan politics pointless. In short, the reason that the word "democracy" is never found in the American Constitution is that America was never intended to be a democracy in the ancient sense, the only sense in which the Founders understood the term. The modern "democracy" of an elected legislature and elected magistrates is, in fact, what the Greeks would have termed an oligarchy.


As you suggest, ancient Athenian democracy bore little resemblance to modern forms of representative democracy and no doubt appears very limited/odd to modern sensibilities. What you wrote doesn’t make what I stated about the derivation of the word any less true though: https://www.etymonline.com/word/democracy All forms of democracy so far have been hefty compromises in one way or another and so will all be in the future, short of some sort of technological marvel I suppose. Different countries, constitutions etc. rebalance the mechanisms in one way or another, as more or less direct/representative forms of democracy inevitably have consequent drawbacks... Parliamentary democracies, republican democracies etc./all the various voting mechanisms etc., all are compromises designed to try and strike some sort of balance or confer some practical advantage. You can argue that some are antiquated, some unfit for purpose, but most IMHO. are better than the alternative. The fundamental problem with oligarchies/tyrannies/polyarchy/plutarchies/‘pick-your-archy’ is surely that you might (and almost inevitably eventually will) get a bad apple/apples. ‘Absolute power corrupts absolutely’ etc. As I understand it, the U.S. is a kind of republic (a ‘federal presidential constitutional republic’ according to Wikipedia :) and Madison/Jefferson/the founding ‘dudes’ tried to strike some, as they viewed it, balance between representative democracy and an appointed/elected executive, as you’re no doubt aware… You can argue it was/is deeply flawed and that their efforts to avoid partisan politics/entrenched political parties have failed/there are many problems with lobbying groups/corruption etc., but I would suggest that there exists at least some opportunity to debate and consequently change representatives/legislate a hopefully better way of doing things? It beats the alternative/being arbitrarily ruled by a bonkers king/some tinpot dictator/absolute/hereditary monarch! Perhaps the democratic process ought to always be a work-in-progress, a compromise that we tweak and balance with other mechanisms to eg. protect minority rights or to provide long-term stability and short-term effective and efficient decision-making through discussion rather than dictat? I would suggest that there are decisions best taken at a very direct/local level and others that are best dealt with globally/even on a more technocratic basis… The voters ideally should be educated enough to be able to thoroughly understand the process and enabled and enfranchised wherever possible to engage with it fully… “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…” - from a speech in the Commons by Winston Churchill (a man with many imperfections! :) https://richardlangworth.com/worst-form-of-government



…and another: Wynton Marsalis on democracy as jazz and The Ever Fonky Lowdown http://share-episode.podcasts.coderocker.de?t=Wynton Marsalis on democracy as jazz and The Ever Fonky Lowdown&el=https://chtbl.com/track/DE4279/cdn.simplecast.com/audio/942a...


It’s not some independent entity, it serves industrial and mafia interests.


> of course it's going to monitor and spy on everyone

Um... no. Why "of course".


Listen Europe, this is good spying though. Not Huawei 5G spying.

Just like American torture is good torture, because we only torture the bad guys.


I'm so glad your government is helping to keep us safe!

To express my gratitude I'll help boost your economy with some ad revenue today and aid the good fight. The profits should trickle down to you eventually.

On a more serious note, I think (possibly in my naive ignorance) the geopolitical implications are quite different. I have the impression that American cultural influence has become increasingly prevalent throughout Europe, since of course WO2 and especially since the dawn of the internet. A non-negligible part reads and writes more English than their native language, and the majority consumes mostly US media; for entertainment at least [citation needed].

This is one of many reasons leading me to believe that US-EU interests and popular opinions are even more aligned relative to other potential geopolitical/economical US "adversaries" than is obvious already (modulo the rep hit from the last 4 years). This may be only tangentially related to what you're saying, but I wonder whether the degree of spying on European countries and vice-versa is more of a low-profile intel maintenance thing as opposed to full-blown strategic warfare. I.e. I'm not sure to what extent I should consider this to be problematic.


> I'm not sure to what extent I should consider this to be problematic.

Okay, I'll help you: By doing this shit, the US is losing goodwill and Germans will align more with Russia, e.g. by building pipelines instead of buying US gas.

Russia is a long-term threat to the expansion plans of the EU and is hindering us at creating a true union across all of Europe.

The US is a threat to our economy. China is becoming our biggest economic partner. We cannot trust them, but by doing shit like this, the US shows time and time again, that we cannot trust them either.

China and Russia are ultimately not to blame for the big migration crisis caused by ISIS filling the power vacuum left behind in Iraq and Syria. This is causing real consequences for us over here.

So Germany is more and more pushed towards aligning with Russia and China. Of course culturally we are much closer to the US. We condemn what these countries do to their own people. But in the end unfortunately, the US is stupid enough to make itself look worse and worse, when it comes to outcomes for our own people.

This cannot be what the US wants. Once you have fully lost Germany, you are basically done in Europe and can go look East and see if you can hold on to Korea, Japan and Australia.

I think, it would be much easier for the US to stop doing shit like this and keep the countries, which already kind of think like you, and would want you to stay number 1.


Syria civil war was a CIA operation to oust Bashar al-Assad.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timber_Sycamore

Libya civil war also probably CIA. And then you have Iraq.

These wars created multiple migration crises to Europe.

And not only that, by funding and training rebels in Syria it lead to a hotbed for terrorist, some of these terrorist slipped into Europe and committed terrorist attacks, like the Paris 2015 attacks (130 murdered).


If it was, it certainly was a failed CIA operation.

No but honestly: while the US had some interest with the Kurds, they didn't engage to cause the Syrian civil war nor did they were able to stop Russia from gaining influence.

And I am not really sure if your mixing up ISIS supporters in your narrative. I haven't heard that they were links to the CIA for any terror in Europe connected to Syria.


CIA trained and funded rebel groups, some ended up fighting alongside Al-Nusra (Al-Qaida in Syria). US weapons also ended up with Al-Nusra. In the same way there where islamist rebel groups in Libyan civil war (LIFG) and CIA did clandestine operations during that time too with different rebel groups.

And every US bombing campaign against the Syra regime de facto helped ISIL/ISIS.

Turkey, a NATO member, trained their own rebel groups and also made sure to have allow every jihadi to pass into Syria. Turkey is strongly anti-kurd. (Parts of this jihadi militia was this year sent to Azerbaijan by Turkey to fight against the Christian Armenians)

It is almost impossible for us outsiders to know what rebel group fought with what group and what objectives CIA actually had, however just the fact that US helped create a terrorist hotbed in Syria, together with a NATO ally, which in turn lead to terrorist attacks in Europe. Or the terrorist hotbed that was sprung up in Libya after the fall of Gaddafi.

Depending on the level of trust you have for American intelligence services you could either say that because of unintended consequences it resulted in terrorist attacks due to incompetent management or that working with the enemy of my enemy is part of their tactics and collateral damage is part of the game.

On the surface it looks like a failure for CIA because Bashar al-Assad is still in power, however it was not a failure for the coalition behind US/CIA, like Israel and Saudi Arabia, e.g. Israel has now permanently annexed the Golan Heights from Syria. Syria war was proxy war against Iran, which is an ongoing conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, see the Yemen war.


> If it was, it certainly was a failed CIA operation.

That's not rare at all. See also: IS, Al Quaeda, vast swaths of Africa (which are now being ceded to the Chinese) and Latin America. The world is littered with failed CIA plots, and the fall-out of those will last for decades.


With multicultural societies who knows what the sum of cultural alignments ends up as, combined with shallow consumer culture, where anything can align to anything as long it has a cheap price tag and a nice packaging, US-Europe cultural alignment will be in the near future a thing of the past.


Alright thanks, it sounds like being reasonably worrisome if what you say reflects what's going on. I feel like I don't have the faintest clue as to how these things actually affect geopolitical dynamics though, so I find it hard to evaluate stuff like this.


You forgot to mention Turkey


Who pushed Schröder to work with Gasprom and lobby Nord Stream 2? Russia started the war with Ukraine to help Nord Stream and Gasprom by capturing of Ukrainian natural gas fields, so Schröder is partially responsible for that.


"I have the impression that American cultural influence has become increasingly prevalent throughout Europe"

I am failing to see the relevance of this - shared culture does not mean shared interests or shared benefits, the world is full of conflicts between states with shared culture, see Russia and Ukraine.


Yes. I don't think it is significantly relevant either in hindsight.


I think you like most American's and Brit's overestimate how big of an influence it have that English have become the international common language by underestimating how much of that culture and language have been internalized as an European thing that is no longer owned/controlled/dominated by AngloAmerican interest.

In terms of cultural sympathies the internet have opened the door for the European public to understand and pick sides in the internal debates that happens inside of America which further limits the influence the American state/establishment have on European public opinion, and the general disgust most Americans feel for Washington is shared across the pond where it gets amplified by the fact that Europe's geopolitical interests is radically different from the dominant neocon/neoliberal agenda's that dominate Washington policy making.


It's funny. How do you define what is good and what is bad?

Are you sure American guys only torture the bad guys?


>How do you define what is good and what is bad?

Simple. If the US tortured/drone striked them, they are bad.


That has to be the worst most intellectually vacuous justification I can imagine. Barring the possibility that it is sarcasm or satire, in which case I apologize and note the difficulty of of discerning that tone online.

If not though, this is the most facile definition of good and bad imaginable, echoing back to the history of might makes right and what I want is good and all who appose me are bad.


If you found this post by reading the related thread, the sarcasm is fairly obvious.


Thanks for the note; usually I'm pretty good at identifying internet sarcasm, but in this case posting a comment at 4:30 am when I haven't slept appears not to be a great time for identifying such nuances.


Are you sure guys that perform torture can ever be the good guys?


> Listen Europe, this is good spying though. Not Huawei 5G spying.

IMHO there is a difference between the two.

In one case you (hopefully) have good, secure infrastructure for a society's general needs. In the other you (potentially) have fragile infrastructure that may not be under your control.

I personally don't have too much of a problem with governments doing targeted operations at certain individuals, especially if they are important members of other governments.

Doing large-scale dragnets that catch innocent people who pose no risk or do not have any strategic/tactical value to your goals is something else. (Which the NSA has been guilty of doing in the past.)


And important: Don't torture bad guy on US territory because that would be illegal too ;)


Please correct your self.

Huawei spying is a scam. No evidence whatsoever.

This is reality. Confirmed multiple times and corroborated.

Let's not drag a perfect fine private company to the same level of shadiness of the most corrupted national government.


Please don’t treat the comments like a battleground for your irrelevant CCP crusade. I have read your comment history and it’s fairly obvious what you’re here for. It turns the HN comments to a hostile place.


If you read my comments, you'll understand nothing what I am here for.

Of course I present facades posting here. If you think what the comments represent one thing or another, then that's just your mind interpreting one aspect of the comments.

BTW, put your words into action, citing any of my old comments that prove your point. I have no idea myself what those comments could be interpreted by a stranger. A good opportunity for me to calibrate. Thanks in advance!


I still wonder, what happens if other countries like China, Russia spy on other governments and are disclosed? They will be embargoed by US. But why there is nothing happens when US spying other countries? Because US does it with good manner and good intention?


Because nothing happens when you spy on your satellite states. 40 years ago people said it was wrong to have Soviet satellite states in Europe, and they seemed right. Only that they just meant the "Soviet" part of the sentence.


Remember the golden rule: He who has the gold makes the rules.


Or the nuclear arsenal which sits on your side. Most of Europe has effectively outsourced its military defence to the Americans with some plain, visible costs (the at least 2% of GDP in military expenditure the previous US president was so keen about) and, more importantly, there are also some other, hidden costs, like the Assange scandal and stuff like this Danish - NSA cooperation.


"Most of Europe has effectively outsourced its military defence to the Americans"

Only if we abandon the oxford dictionary and head over to DoD where defence means "defend ourselves, our allies, or our interests, or the interests of our allies" which is basically power projection.

You don't need 11 carriers to defend yourself, you need them to play world police, support Japan in conflict with China, etc. You could argue it's necessary, but that's a different argument.

EU taken together has a larger airforce and navy than Russia does, army has better training and equipment. China is too far away to be a credible threat. France has it's own nukes and missiles. All of Europe, whereever one might draw those borders, is larger still.

The only credible counter argument is that EU military is not united and doesn't act as one, but whether Latvia will spend 2% or 200% GDP they can't beat Russia.

Recently the UK has gotten 2 carriers, with a lot of lobbying from US, while at the same time cutting ground troops and army equipment, so we are sacrificing European defence for power projection.


>Most of Europe has effectively outsourced its military defence to the Americans

That is a very American point of view. Many Europeans see it more as "The US pay a bigger part than we do in bolstering American control of the western world", which is exactly as it should be. IMO the US should pay exactly 100% of the bill for its own defense and enforcement of its power projection. The US does this to protect the US, not Europe. Europe is only interesting if it is pro-US and as a buffer and economic zone. Old Cold war plans even had plans to nuke Europe to show the USSR that the US meant business in the event of a USSR invasion..

What we see here is a perfect example why I (as a Danish citizen) have heard Denmark called Little America and Scandinavia's answer to the USA by both Swedes and Norwegians. Often living here feels more like living in a satellite or puppet state than a free country:

Do F-35s match our need? No not at all but we better break our own laws to make a contract that only the US can win. Do citizens want a US base the Danish military isn't allowed to monitor for nuclear weapons? No but we still got one (and even though not allowed it still had nukes). Do the people want a NSA like intelligence system? No but even the average elected politicians can't get access to any information about FE and what they do (only leaks like this tell them what is going on). And so on and so forth.

The latest Democratic Perception Index (chaired by the Danish former NATO general secretary Anders Fogh) found when asking people "Who is the biggest threat to democracy in the world?" most rated the US as the biggest threat (if I remember correctly, northern Europeans especially had this viewpoint).

This is just a situation of the puppet doing as it was taught.


> Many Europeans see it more as "The US pay a bigger part than we do in bolstering American control of the western world", which is exactly as it should be. IMO the US should pay exactly 100% of the bill for its own defense and enforcement of its power projection.

You're not wrong, but NATO members have also agreed to spend 2% of their GDP on defence. Which few do.

> In 2006, NATO Defence Ministers agreed to commit a minimum of 2% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to defence spending to continue to ensure the Alliance’s military readiness.

* https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/topics_67655.htm

If anyone wants to spend more than that, like the US does, that's something else.


Spying happens all the time without embargo's happening.


> I still wonder, what happens if other countries like China, Russia spy on other governments and are disclosed? They will be embargoed by US.

Does this happen? Has China faced sanctions after spying on US citizens or stealing trade secrets? Has Russia?



The China sanctions do not appear to have been enacted, but the Russian ones in response to the attack on SolarWinds do. Thanks for the links!


> Does this happen? Has China faced sanctions after spying on US citizens or stealing trade secrets? Has Russia?

Yes, it does happen. I've read many news about US claims that Chinese government-backed hacker groups or corporations spying and stealing. And they are embargoed.

You can refer to Huawei case.


> You can refer to Huawei case.

I have only surface-level knowledge, but wasn't this case because Huawei was selling components to Iran? Or was it related to spying?


You can refer to this article. US claims Huawei 5G devices can track and spy US and Europe citizens.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/for-h...


It was because US couldn't compete with Chinese 5G technology, so they had to find some other way.


It was selling components to Iran.


[flagged]


> How poorly you are informed about international politics?

> How naïve you are!

Why the hostility? I've asked a handful of questions in good faith and another commenter politely corrected me on a few issues I was not aware of.

It sounds like you have a better understanding of the issues at hand so I'd invite you to correct me rather than insult me.



I'm not clear what is illegal and where is the jurisdiction in this case. Apparently it is about Danish Intelligence allowing the tapping of Danish internet lines in Denmark. Is that a crime? Is it even something China would deny doing within their own country? I thought the US govt would just refused to allow services or something be sold to the US from China if they knew it went on. Or you know, try to, before the outrage and legal process overturned the ban.


Illegal? Possibly. It's being debated according to Danish news.

Controversial? Yes, to the extent that Denmark managed to piss off every single neighboring country. Also, Denmark is actively trying to avoid shutting down some illegal monitoring of its' own citizens, and this is pouring more fuel on that fire.

Spying on Germany caused a political shitstorm the last time it was im the Danish news and now it has been revealed Denmark spied on others too, I suspect that circus will be repeated.


Spying among allies has more impact than you think. There are similar levels of public outrage, but obviously you can't boycot allies without damaging relations more. So measures won't be pubically visual. But it will lead to a degraded confidence and all kinds of cooperation will be reduced and cold shouldering will happen. However subtle and only when a countries own interest is not hurt too much.



> But why there is nothing happens when US spying other countries? Because US does it with good manner and good intention?

The best way to understand the relationship between the US and Europe is that it is an American Empire in all but name. The provinces of the Empire have a lot of autonomy, but in matters of defense and security they are tied to the Empire.

If you realize that, a lot of things make sense.


Wait, we have an embargo against China?


Quite timely that we have a Wikipedia article on the HN homepage right now. Because I find that that site often helps with such questions, so I find them quite a valuable resource.

They have a list for just this question: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_sanctions_agains...


You really don't know?


It is one thing that intelligence services is monitoring specific actions that are important to national security. However, along the way, Lockheed Martin and friends and the jobs provided by them became national security. These two things are important to keep separate to understand the debate that is going on here.

So this is Danish intelligence services helping Boeing securing contracts against Airbus and Saab. This is rightfully causing some much needed debate, even if it was a surprise to approximately no one.


Part of the context here is that Denmark like so many small European companies allowed the American military industrial complex to infiltrate it's military and security services to the point where it cannot actually operate independently an hence have to say yes when this kind of request comes in they cannot really refuse.

And this is by design as the US military "tech transfer" projects like the JSF/F-35 is explicitly designed to lock recipients into an bond with the US military/strategic establishment.


It's important note that this intelligence exchange program took place between 2012 and 2016 and the stated suspicion is that it directly helped Lockheed secure the F35 contract.

This is short term thinking. It only helps those who wants to weaken the links between EU and the US.


I'm unsure what of this information is new. It sounds like the EU just found nine sources to confirm one aspect of the Snowden leak? Were people ever really doubting the authenticity of those documents? I'm sure some people have, but it never seemed like a common realistic belief.


That sounds about right, as I read it. The sources seem to be 9 (former?) employees, confirming a classified internal report from 2015.


I think this is more of "and they keep doing it!" story rather than claims for new behaviour.


Sorry, I don't get what you mean. The story says they keep doing it but has no new examples of them doing it?


It wouldn't surprise me if every military intelligence organization on the planet was now secretly allied and colluding against the common enemy, the public interest.


It’s a big club and you ain’t in it https://youtu.be/Nyvxt1svxso


I'm a white late-30's politically inactive prole with no social media accounts, a paid off house, solar panels, plug in hybrid, e-bike and large vegetable garden. None of this bullshit really concerns me.

It's all just the oligarchs fighting for who gets to momentarily sit at the top of the pile.


i can't believe im about to say this but dude we live in a society


I agree with your second statement, I disagree with your first. Every day things get harder and harder not to be a schizoid with a tinfoil hat. I mean cash has got a long way before not being accepted but I wouldnt be shocked if it goes all digital in the next 50 years (meaning credit, debit, ach, PayPal, Venmo, crypto, etc). Mobile phones and cellular data plans are what dominate our lives. It's impossible to get by without them...unless you are willing to be a secluded schizoid (and I'm not saying that in a deragotory sense). I mean that's all fine and dandy and you still be a nice person and whatnot. However, only techie people honestly are aware of it. "Normies" know about it, but they give in because everyone else did and those affluent oligarchs did too. Many of which those "normies" want to be like them. So the times are changing. And sadly not for the better freedom wise.


It seems to me that modern western democracies are little more than a facade - most of the political parties are essential the same, or very nearly so. And certainly foreign policy and the security apparatus seems to be the same regardless.

So, I agree with what you're saying, but being realistic, citizens can't really change anything in a modern democracy. Doubly so if any of the magic words can be invoked in relation to the thing they are trying to change ("terrorist", "paedo", "organised crime").

And they absolutely can't change anything in relation to the security services - I seriously wonder if even the government could change anything there, or if the security apparatus really is


Spoken like a true one-percenter.


> None of this bullshit really concerns me.

Until they decide otherwise.


and in 2015 it was reported Germany was helping the NSA spy on European politicians. NSA doing what the NSA does really.

https://www.theverge.com/2015/4/24/8489477/bnd-nsa-informati...


And not just the NSA. Despite their feigned outrage every time stuff like this hits the news, both Germany and France actively spy on US government and industry all the time. Every nation spies on every other nation, friend or foe, to look out for their own national interests.

https://www.france24.com/en/20131024-nsa-france-spying-squar...

> Bernard Squarcini, head of the Direction Centrale du Renseignement Intérieur (DCRI) intelligence service until last year, told French daily Le Figaro he was “astonished” when Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said he was "deeply shocked" by the claims.

> “I am amazed by such disconcerting naiveté,” he said in the interview. “You’d almost think our politicians don’t bother to read the reports they get from the intelligence services.”

> “The French intelligence services know full well that all countries, whether or not they are allies in the fight against terrorism, spy on each other all the time,” he said.

> “The Americans spy on French commercial and industrial interests, and we do the same to them because it’s in the national interest to protect our companies.”

> “There was nothing of any real surprise in this report,” he added. “No one is fooled.”

https://www.dw.com/en/german-intelligence-spied-on-white-hou...

> The Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany's foreign intelligence agency, reportedly monitored email addresses at the White House with a list of some 4,000 selector keywords between 1998 and 2006. Other targets included the US Department of State and Department of Treasury, as well as a number of defense agencies including the US Air Force and the Marine Corps, and the NASA space agency.


I think Squarcini might have a bit of a bias towards minimizing the importance of that kind of spying, since France is one of the most aggressive state-sponsors of industrial espionage, after China and the US.

But the gist of the article is "yeah, of course they're going to do it, if we give them the opportunity".

We european countries really shouldn't be giving the US so much opportunity to spy on us.


> France is one of the most aggressive state-sponsors of industrial espionage, after China and the US.

That's the kind of thing you can't just write out of nowhere without any reference.


I admit that's something I said without thorough research. It's just something that pops up in discussions about industrial espionage, or about the DGSE, or about the french military-industrial complex.

A quick search gives me this article as evidence: https://www.france24.com/en/20110104-france-industrial-espio...

But I admit I don't have strong reference to back my statement up.


So Germany was being spied on while developing a system to spy on others, preferring to introduce a US Trojan horse in the EU through it rather than develop it in the European structure because it is French-dominated...

Looks like everyone is dirty as hell in this one.


These people are without honour


From Deutsche Welle - https://www.dw.com/en/danish-secret-service-helped-us-spy-on...

> The FE also cooperated with the NSA on spying operations against the US government itself.


The US is an out of control rogue state and nobody's doing a thing about it.


Everyones angry at Denmark for enabling, but US did the spying... Not saying that clears DK, but at least 90% of the outrage should be directed there.


US is outside and can spy whatever they want, Denmark on the other way is "in theory" part of the European-Family, if a "friend" sells you out to someone else, who is the traitor?


Both


The US is not a friend of the Europe...a bit reality would be healthy for you.


It was a huge scandal back then. But it already was one. The new part is that Denmark enabled them.

And I would say it had a decent part in the Anti-USA sentiment in Germany.


said the Danish intelligence guy hoping to shift the blame


I spoke to someone in intelligence and apparently for a while, France spied quite a bit on the US. Spying on allies is not as uncommon or taboo as most others would think it is.


The Five Eyes have built a sufficiently valuable asset that the security services of other rich countries all want in.

Denmark is in Nine Eyes, so they’ll happily sell out members of Fourteen Eyes (like Germany) to get closer into the circle.


You just assume that every electronic communication is dragneted now. Your phone, your car radio's bluetooth radio, toll transponder, alpr, everything.

What I like about the signals-intelligence-only focus is that I can leave my phone at home, hop on an ebike with a legally mandated helmet obscuring my face from cameras, and I'm completely invisible to the state. I just don't exist. Unlike East Germany there's no HUMINT apparatus in the west or in China.


> Unlike East Germany there's no HUMINT apparatus in the west or in China

Nobody telegraphs their intentions like the Stasi did, but to believe that no state has developed coordinated efforts to get people to snitch on each other (the most effective Stasi tactic) is...let's say seeing things through an extremely rosy lens.


in any area with buildings, there are enough cameras to achieve decent tracking of an individual with a bit of legwork, and that legwork is quickly being automated by amazon et al with ring and similar efforts. newer cars also collect a lot of data that could be looped into such a system so you'd better avoid roads too. and wait til you hear about extreme definition wide angle cameras on aerial platforms


> Unlike East Germany there's no HUMINT apparatus in the west or in China.

I think I wouldn't want to rely on that assumption


> Unlike East Germany there's no HUMINT apparatus in the west or in China.

You are very mistaken. Just because HUMINT are more discreet does not mean it does not exist.

Also, some of the stuff they do are very blatant. Just look at cases like Assange and Jake Appelbaum. Clearly HUMINT efforts.


I personally suspect there are no HUMINT efforts to spy on me :)


>legally mandated helmet obscuring my face from cameras

Can you link to the bike helmet you are referring to?


Germany has no room to complain.

https://www.dw.com/en/parliamentary-report-finds-spying-by-b...

> German media later reported that the NSA had provided German intelligence services with spying software in exchange for data sharing. Consequently, the BND and it domestic intelligence couterpart, called the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), were accused of assisting the NSA in its global surveillance programs.

> ...

> More than two-thirds of all 3,300 targets monitored by the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) foreign intelligence service were on diplomatic representations of EU and NATO member states around the world, according to a parliamentary committee report seen by German news agency dpa.

> The report found a "low two-digit number of people" - including heads of state and government, ministers and members of their offices and military institutions - were spied on until October 2013. That same year, Chancellor Angela Merkel had complained to US President Barack Obama that spying on friends was "not done."

> The BND was also found to have spied on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the aviation and space industries, as well as the arms trade, transport, media and consultancy.

The truth is that allies spy on each other all the time, it's not just normal but prudent to do so.


>The truth is that allies spy on each other all the time, it's not just normal but prudent to do so.

Thank you for the sanity. I certainly have problems with the surveillance state and authoritarianism in the US, but this is the most relevant take on this report. All spying is not all bad. Western countries give each other intel all the time. I would be more concerned if there were only one or a few set of eyes on things rather than more.


I was tricked by the US media to believe that the Danish were looking for online trolls, while instead they were spying us

https://www.southparkstudios.com/episodes/zi1v0u/south-park-...

/s


Well what on earth else do people think intelligence services do?

It's like... BREAKING NEWS: McDonald's found selling burgers!


At this point I wouldn't be surprised if at the same time NSA had for instance a concurrent program running along with for instance Germany (or any other EU country for that matter) to spy any other european countries, including Danemark.

Bellum omnium contra omnes, "the war of all against all".


Most sovereign States can’t spy on their own population. The NSA gets around this by spying on Germany from Denmark and on Denmark from Germany.

It’s all about plausible deniability. No matter how implausible it is.

The current spin from other countries being outraged begs the question: how are you collaborating with the NSA?


They're not outraged, they are just making fun of them for getting caught.


Other countries also help the NSA spy on US citizens so that they can do it somewhat more legally


The system as currently designed in most Western democracies (Denmark and the USA included) puts the intelligence agencies under the oversight of elected officials. You can't put intelligence operations to a public referendum without revealing critical information. So the people trust their elected officials to be the select few who get to see what is going on and keep a secret, but also act in the country's interest by directing the intelligence operations through policy making and funding decisions.

The scandal here isn't that the NSA is spying on people, that is their job; everyone should expect every government other than their own to spy on them if they can. So then the scandal must be that the FE were helping spy on their allies. If the Danish people don't like this operation they should vote for new politicians. But don't be surprised when the new politicians get into office, have a discussion with the FE about why they cooperated with the NSA, and then choose to continue the activity (which the public won't discover for another decade). Denmark gets a benefit from it too. They open the doors to the NSA, and the NSA uses some capabilities that a smaller organization like the FE doesn't have. Then the NSA shares information back to the FE. Denmark's politicians end up better informed due to this partnership and are less likely to be caught off guard in negotiations with their neighbors.

Remember, every other country is spying on Denmark as well. Don't believe for a second that when Germany (or whomever) complains about their Prime Minister's phone being tapped that they've never tried to intercept communications from other countries. That's all just posturing; this is a giant stone throwing competition in a giant glass house. In public, every politician from every country is throwing accusations and hoping they aren't next up to have a whistleblower reveal what they are doing. No politician is going to stop their country's spying because it puts them at a disadvantage. They are elected to protect their country's interests.

Tl;dr: the only surprising thing here is that the public found out, this isn't going to stop even if you elect new politicians because this is what they are elected to do.


I kind of get tehe argument, but at the same time my thinfoil hat says, that newly elected officials during talk with FE get the message "we will leak and/or fabricate your xyz, if you make a move against us".


We love spying on ourselves (US citizens and residents) as well through our foreign partners. We give raw data to foreign countries on Americans:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/11/nsa-americans-...


Everything boils down whether European aristocracies would like to continue being the vassals of their lords in the United States.

I think they still prefer that option and won't change their stance in the near future.


What does Denmark get in return? Better f35 prices? Hot goss on fellow EU countries? Do Danes have geopolitical competitors?


I would suspect that Denmark also helped European gather data on US officials as well.


If democracy made western countries great at the beginning, now I can foresee western countries fall soon, because governments are distancing more and more from democracy and freedom of people.

I should start learning Mandarin to be competitive in upcoming future workforce.


> Denmark, USA ?

There is a Nordstream 2 angle here that I have yet to figure out.


[flagged]


What was it that Zuckerberg allegedly said?

"If Europe had invented Facebook, they would have invented Facebook".


これは確かにスパイの正義です。


"This is certainly spy justice.", according to Google Translate.


Why Europe does not develop a new system to encode/encrypt communications?, that would make tapping the line useless.


No new systems need to be developed, only a will to deploy existing systems. To the best of public knowledge, Curve25519 with AES-GCM or ChaCha20-Poly1305 is good enough to keep the NSA out for years. These are available in TLS, OpenVPN, and WireGuard.

Longer term, TLS, OpenVPN, and WireGuard all need to standardize post-quantum key exchange (such as Chrome's TLS experiment to run Curve25519 and RLWE key agreement protocols in parallel and run both outputs through the final key derivation function). But, for today, the main problem is deployment.


The math behind encryption cannot be broken. But the implementations can. When you have so many math PhDs attacking crypto implementations, you are bound to find a bug you can exploit. Look how long heartbleed was around.


That's an argument for auditing existing systems, not having Europe finance development of brand new systems to encrypt communications.


New systems bring new implementations ready to be broken.


If you are the security services, with an unlimited budget and carte blanche to do whatever you like, then you can covertly place equipment at either end of the communication. If the equipment is in your country, you can coerce the company to install your equipment under the guide of "national security".


Funny question, wouldn’t the head of these European states use e2e encryption?

If they do, how does NSA break encryption without having secret keys?

Frankly, we can’t blame NSA only.


I'm guessing phone calls and sms isn't encrypted and frequently used.

Regardless, just monitoring IPs talking to each other will have you some idea what sites / services they are using.

Also 10 years ago HTTPS wasn't everywhere yet.


Why on earth someone like Merkle will use plaintext SMS? I mean, even I don’t use it.

Doesn’t she have a competent security team, advising her about OPSec?

It’s not just metadata. US spied on communication content.

The point is, tools are there; you need to be able to defend yourself against attacks.


10 years ago... I still use sms with family members, etc.

The tools are there... But have you successfully convinced all your friends to use signal?

I know Merkles connects to family and friends might not seem critical, but it's probably stuff like that they are aggregating. But just recording phone numbers.

But also just getting IPs let's you know what services a person is using.

It's my impression that much it the SIGINT Snowdon revealed was metadata.. of course for a target like Merkle there might be more.


The EU project has always been a project rather paternalistically cultivated by US foreign operations, including intelligence operations, so I believe.

It allowed them to remove a heap of troops from forward bases in the region.


I think Europeans have had enough wars to want a more stable Europe, with or without US support.


Tt was the CIA that infiltrated the communists in Italy for the exact purpose of shaping the politics of the continent to their design.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CIA_activities_in_Italy

See also:

https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2020/11/13/how-the-cia-created-th...

You may think that this accordance of like-mind was spontaneous, but it has clearly been a half-century long project of the United States.

No wonder their disappointment when their main man inside the bloc, the UK, elected to leave.


The CIA has certainly done some regrettable/shady stuff historically, as have almost all intelligence organisations that I’m aware of (reading about the history of espionage and covert activities, I often wonder how the people involved manage to preserve any sort of sanity in that mistrustful, cloak and dagger world?). Although politically (and somewhat culturally?) natural allies, being that both entities are largely a collection of democracies/republics, if you view global economics as a zero-sum game you could say that the EU is a direct competitor to the US. Indeed, although politically less-strongly federated/bound together, as far as I’m aware, the EU has greater wealth as a whole than the US does. Various governments, companies and individuals that oppose democratic forms of government and ‘liberal’ values see the economic strength, cooperation and mutual defence/offence promoted by an alignment of these two political organisations as counter to their interests, or potentially a threat to more authoritarian hegemonies. Contrary to what you say, the previous US administration actively supported Brexit. Many authoritarian governments around the world were also cheering it on, as presumably geo-strategically it was/is in their interests to divide and undermine democratic forms of government.


The problem is not the spying. Everyone's doing it. Privacy is an illusion. Encryption is meaningless to the state.

The problem is how the information is utilized and whether the staff and bureaucracy are professionals or pro-liars.

Professionals have integrity, operate in a facts- and data-based manner, possess a moral code guided by people's benefit, are fully accountable for their actions to an internally transparent independent oversight mechanism with legal repercussions.

Pro-liars are fabricators, blackmailers and betrayers, with zero integrity, adopting sloppy collection techniques, coercing cooperation, reacting on opinions that confirm their biases, abusers of the power they have, and of their targets, working in a constantly shifting amoral environment, guided by power and revenge, without oversight or accountability, and inoculate themselves to legal repercussions by hiding within secrecy protections.

All this official "shock and horror" comes across as crocodile tears, and would be better channeled into internally reforming the bloated security/intelligence bureaucracy (globally, not specific to any one region) that, although peppered with pockets of professionals, is also poisoned by the snake-tongued cancer of pro-liars.




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