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U.S. bugged EU offices, computer networks (yahoo.com)
317 points by 1337biz 1489 days ago | hide | past | web | 123 comments | favorite



I think this one hit home. Judging from what I can see right now, these revelations have stirred up some unrest among EU politicians[1], most noticeably among the generally US-friendly right. Probably the most significant consequence of this is that it will now definitely be a hot issue for the German election, which is held in autumn. There are three likely outcomes:

One possibility is that German politicians take a stand against surveillance while campaigning, making promises, thus causing Germany to become more of a pro-privacy hardliner. This would be a good outcome.

Another possibility is that mainstream politicians fail to do so, but the Pirate Party will manage to get the 5% necessary to enter parliament, thus needling them for years to come. This would also be good.

The third possibility is that mainstream politicians will ignore it and the Pirate Party will fail, causing the political leadership to see the "privacy vote" as negligible. This would be bad for both Germany and Europe.

[1] http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=de&tl=en&js=n&prev=...


Or the fourth possibility: the reason Germany was the target of so many signal's intelligence requests is because the BND(The Federal Intelligence Service) outsourced surveillance of islamic extremism (or anything else) to avoid legal complications arising for whatever prohibitions Germany has on domestic surveillance. In which case, at least some politicians will keep quiet because they were likely complicit.


Quite possible. However, as the German multi-party system has plenty of opposition parties, at least one of them is clean in this and will try to use this to gain votes and raise hell.


All mainstream German parties (CDU/CSU, FDP, SPD, Gruene) are strongly "atlanticist", lack "Zivilcourage" and would rather defer to the US than work for the privacy interests of their German voters. In the light of this, it's unlikely that we will see more than luke-warm, fig-leaf protest


Can you go into more detail || provide links? Thanks!


The only concrete thing I've seen is the information on Boundless Informant. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/08/nsa-boundless-in... Which shows that Germany was a rather large target of NSA surveillance.

The rest is pure speculation. First, is NSA surveillance in Germany actually disproportionate or did the leaked slides not account for population differences. Maybe, but according to the slides, there are on the order of as many intercepts in China as Germany. So lets assume its not erroneous.

Why does the NSA have a disproportionate interest in Germany? Are they of massively more geopolitical significance than their neighbors or does the USA have a dearth of insight into their foreign policy thinking via back channels? I'd say thats more likely to describe France with its Security Council seat and less strong working relationship with the US.

Is the NSA engaged in massive economic espionage? Possible, but I can't imagine that accounts for enough as that would likely be rather targeted.

So the last reason I can think of is counter-terrorism (one of the NSA's main focuses). Mohammed Atta was part of a cell in Hamburg after all. Ok, but why Germany and not say Denmark or France which both have similar populations you might expect(rightly or wrongly) to be under similar surveillance? As someone pointed out on HN a while ago, Denmark does extensive surveillance and telephone monitoring themselves. I'd guess France does too. Does Germany? I honestly don't know, but given the German's focus on privacy and the legacy of the Stasi, I certainly could see it being a problem and being easier to outsource to the NSA.


Yeah, answer is geopolitics. Germany is main country that wants united EU. UK+US don't want that, because united EU is big threat. Think what could happen if EU start connecting more on euroasia (Russia, China, India). From American point of view it would be fatal (one big territory they can't control), but for the rest of the world it would be, well, good. So, Americans are playing double game: be good with allies and keep them weak (remember Greece?).


Unfortunately, our (German) current government - which will in all likelyhood be the next German govt too simply does not have the balls to take a firm stand.

Germany is pretty pro-privacy, but they still signed the "safe haven" agreement with the US which more or less allows US companies to do anything with the data of German citizens, local laws be damned.

However, I believe Ms Merkel has had some colorful things to say in private about the slick Mr Obama who came over on a visit just a week ago. Must be nice to learn that he was blabbing about his high ethical standards while at the same time his spies were wiretapping her communications.


The politicians might say nasty things and express outrage in public but nothing will change. EU is still in a recession hell and they're nothing Washington can't soothe over with a few checks.

Cash rules everything around me. CREAM get the money, dolla dolla bill yall.


Sadly true. The EU is not held accountable by the media, and nobody (or 95% of the voters) knows who is doing what. Without voters caring every government can do what it pleases.

If you thing you know about the EU two easy questions for you: What is the equivalent of a minister in the EU? Name two and their policies.

Answer: qverpgbe-trareny The english wikipedia page does not even list their names. The german does. http://tinyurl.com/pkrllhd These people rule the eu, and only about 1/3 has wikipedia entries.


Was it here that I saw people lashing at Falkvinge for accusing US of spying on EU officials [1]?

Ok, he didn't show any real proof at the time, but was it that hard to believe it would happen? I don't know about you, but I'd rather be paranoid than naive this time, especially since we have no idea what else NSA is hiding, and what's the real extent of their spying operations. It seems to me being naive would hurt more, at this point.

[1] http://falkvinge.net/2013/06/24/the-united-states-wiretapped...


Isn't this the explicit purpose of the NSA, to spy on the communications of foreign governments? And aren't EU members' governments doing the same thing against the US?


> Isn't this the explicit purpose of the NSA, to spy on the communications of foreign governments?

In what deranged world-view does being "the explicit purpose" of something make it right?

(and it's not even their explicit purpose, otherwise they'd be called the International Spying Agency ...)

> And aren't EU members' governments doing the same thing against the US?

That's a childish argument. Frankly I don't care if Germany or France or whoever are spying on eachother too. An example from my work with kids, "but he's doing it tooooooo!" doesn't really fly with me, it doesn't matter, they shouldn't be doing it either, but I caught you, now clean that up.

While two EU states spying on eachother is an internal EU matter, I do wonder to what extent EU states are spying on the US. It sounds risky, though. I mean, if we catch a US spy snooping on our diplomats, we can't really throw them in Guantanamo, or anything ...


> In what deranged world-view does being "the explicit purpose" of something make it right?

That is like being shocked and horrified that animal control puts down stray dogs. People don't like to talk about it, a small number of people might be upset by it, but it is a necessary part of civilized society.

We give them our tax dollars for this explicit reason. Please go spy on other countries so that we know what is going on in the world. Congress has been approving their budget every year to continue doing it for the last 62 years.

Call it childish all you want, but every other country in the world has an intelligence service. The EU itself has INTCEN, the UN has UNIT, heck even the Vatican has SRS, that all have the same basic functions as our CIA and NSA.


> That is like being shocked and horrified that animal control puts down stray dogs. People don't like to talk about it, a small number of people might be upset by it, but it is a necessary part of civilized society.

In Finland we don't have stray dogs. No animal control putting them down either. I guess we aren't a civilized society by your standards, assuming your claim is true.

Now that I have shown why your example is not true(or that you are an idiot for thinking Finland is not civilized society, your choice), I have to admit that I still can't think why foreign intelligence during peacetime would be "a necessary part of civilized society". I have never heard any arguments for this, so feel free to be the first. I'm waiting.


In Finland we don't have stray dogs. No animal control putting them down either.

So what do you have?

(I'm assuming 'unsurvivably cold weather' isn't your answer, either).


> it is a necessary part of civilized society

I haven't spent enough time thinking about the complex global dynamics of intelligence and counter-intelligence to judge the truthfulness of this statement, but I'm also not sure the necessity of spying is something we should blindly accept without carefully considering the rationale and consequences.

And by the way, it's actually important for people to be shocked and horrified that animal control puts down stray dogs, because there are ways that society can lessen the frequency of such acts (neutering pets, etc.), and knowing about the consequences provides motivation to take preventative steps.


You are likely correct in what you say. However, there has always been the fiction that allies do not spy upon each other, after all, why should they, they're allies.

So, when it emerges that one part of the alliance has been less than forthcoming with another part, it stresses the alliance. Even if this is a normal, though rarely spoken of, aspect of international relations.

So.. the recent events mentioned here have the effect of making the US adopt an apologetic role. As such, it weakens their "soft" power, since their moral authority is weakened. This weakens their influence in a wide number of always-ongoing international negotiations.

The wider effect on commercial activity and how it relates to surveillance is discussed by others here. Personally, I hope it leads to commercial providers of internet communication facilities adopting stringent privacy measures by default, in the manner that certain banks may (or used to) protect your financial information.


The EU is a staunch ally. We have nothing to fear from them, and spying on them can only serve to provoke an embarrassing international incident when we get caught.

My opinion is that if they want to keep something secret, then they have that right, and we shouldn't be prying. If the rest of the world thinks that's crazy, well we can be a good example.


Well, it _is_ their explicit purpose, or how else do you interpret their mission statement?

Other governments doing the same is exactly why the NSA and the CIA can be justified. Not having them would put the US at a serious information disadvantage.

A completely different issue is _what_ and _how much_ information gathering they should be doing. For instance, the US has been complaining about Chinese computer attacks for a long time, and it now seems that the US is at least as guilty in doing this. So the US certainly don't seem to have the moral high ground anymore.


That's not how nation-states work. The US would spy even if no one else spied, just like the US invades other countries despite no serious risk of being invaded and overthrown itself. (Such an invasion would be suicidal; the invader's nation would be vaporized within minutes.)

We could go on: the US incarcerates its populace far more than other nations, even though its populace isn't more genetically predisposed to criminality.

Nation-states are artificial institutions which make war and control their subjects. They're remarkably similar to the mafia model. "Defending its populace" is akin to a protection racket. (For example, the US's actions clearly have the effect of increasing risks, not reducing them.) Dispute resolution (courts, etc) and top-down "democratic" forms are the result of needing to demonstrate some legitimacy lest they be overthrown by their subjects. Even in a rich country like the US, most people still have little ability to participate meaningfully in the legal/political/economic systems; and in presidential elections, very few votes actually count (due to the electoral system).

Since the US is the most powerful nation-state, it's the most violent; that's a correlation that runs through history. In particular, its capacity for violence (military) has no competitors. (It also has the most advanced economy, but it's no longer so advanced in this dimension as it was after WWII.)


I never claimed wouldn't spy is no one else spied. Of course they would. Of course the US isn't concerned with invasion, it's concerned with having an influence, and having democratic or at lest US-friendly trading partners. Just like the USSR had their interests.

What do you think would be a good alternative to nation states? For instance, I think using the US electoral system is a bad example of how people can particilate in their government, so I think it's a bad example if you try to discredit the idea of nations.


> Since the US is the most powerful nation-state, it's the most violent;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rwandan_Genocide

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrian_civil_war

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Chechen_War

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Chechen_War

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_South_Ossetia_war (blame whichever side(s) you like)

This is not to say that the U.S. has always acted in a way that reduces the risk of war. And obviously there's nothing positive to say about the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But the military itself does not inevitably lead to massive violence. Even in Iraq most of the casualties have come from Muslims killing Muslims.


I believe it was more of a comment on why we shouldn't surprised rather than a justification of the actions.


Those two end up amounting to the same thing, in practice. The learned helplessness of the populace is what allows abuse of power to persist.


[offtopic] Cool, you work with kids? You are teaching them Pascal, too, right? And inline asm.


Hahaha, I try (okay, not) but Minecraft mods and a tiiiny bit of Unity is as far as they got, so far.

Soon I'll get some kids older than 11, they can read English, that helps a lot ... maybe the old Aphyxia tuts, so who knows :)


Spying promotes stability. Having too many secrets promotes accidental armageddon. In fact, Germany is a signatory of the open skies treaty that allows military surveillance overflights.


That is one of the most annoying damn treaties ever. I wish I could relate some stories...


Well yes. But we Europeans see ourselves as US allies and partners ... mostly because US tells us we are. Wanting to be informed what is going on is understandable.

So intrusion in government networks and wide interception of the civilian population communication of a countries that are stable, democracies and partners in NATO and allies in the wars US is waging comes as a somewhat hostile stuff.

US is doing too much spying right now. Too wide, too long a period, too broad. Europe has deep scars and trust issues.

In a sense US should abandon SIGINT and stick to the good old fashioned HUMINT with its allies at least. If you want documents and info there are gentler ways to obtain them.


Do you think "in a sense" that the EU nations should abandon SIGINT and stick to good old fashioned HUMINT? Or maybe a middle of the road position and just have the Five Eyes abstain from SIGINT?


Well I have yet to see something about direct spying and intrusion in US networks by EU government agencies.

Also yeah - the whole dragnets should be scaled back for various reasons. If you intercept and retain everything you have insane SNR that can prove counterproductive in the long run.

Very intensive spying on allies is impolite at best.


"France is top industrial espionage offender [against Germany]"

http://www.france24.com/en/20110104-france-industrial-espion...

And yet allies do it constantly. I'm skeptical that polite applies in this context when you consider history.



The thing about intelligence work is that your failures are public and successes are secret.

I think your last sentence is hopelessly naive.


So make the successes public in full detail.


I cant tell if this is a legitimate response or if you are being obtuse.


I'm being serious. HN is nothing if not ultra-rational (or so we claim). Evidence trumps all. Prove surveillance works, that it's necessary, works better than any conceivable alternative, and that the damage to society is worth it, and your empirical proof will be accepted.


Are you drunk? I never said anything like this.


How about if you two just stop?


My apologies. I did not intend to come across as argumentative.


The US has no partners. It has two rivals, Russia and China. It does have allies but they are not remotely equals. The legal fiction may be of equality in international law but the reality is more like the old Chinese view of the world where there was China, Chinese tributary states and rebels.


Yes. I'd be disappointed if NSA wasn't trying to spy on other nations; or if GCHQ wasn't trying to spy on other nations.

That's why they get all that tax money. If anything, we should be pleased that here are some government departments who actually manage to meet their obligations - gather a bunch of intelligence.

What other people do with that intel is perhaps disappointing.


Disregarding the national sovereignty of non-enemy combatant nations is moral because... that's what spies do?

I hear that argument a lot on HN defending state vs state spying. I never really understood the moral basis of it. Or is national security not required to operate under a moral framework?


The first responsibility for a nation is to the security of its people. Everything else is an extraordinary distance down the line.

I know WW1/WW2 are a long ways in the past now, so it's sort of easy to forget the repeating cycle of nation warring, but history is routinely littered with civilization shattering wars. No sense in pretending everything is going to always be peachy, it's not. Knowledge is power, and at times far more valuable than standing armies. I think the famous quote: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure - is appropriate here.


> The first responsibility for a nation is to the security of its people.

[citation needed]

The first responsibility of a democratic government is to reflect the will of the people. If the people decide that security inherently trumps all other values, that is their right. But I don't think much of a society that is not willing to endure any amount of risk for their lives, in order to safeguard their values and quality of life. (I'm an American, and the level of the cowardice in the majority of the public is downright sickening.)

The entire purpose of a Constitution is to put a difficult-to-change upper bound on government power, even if the people want "more nines" of safety.


The first responsibility for a nation is to the security of its people. Everything else is an extraordinary distance down the line.

This is a horrifying line of thinking. It reminds me of the quote, "If you want total security, go to prison. There you're fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking... is freedom."


You're manufacturing a meaning that isn't actually there.

A nation protecting its citizens has absolutely nothing to do with creating a police state or obliterating freedom. It would be absurd to claim the opposite: no nation can ever protect its people, because to do so is to destroy freedom.

It is absolutely the first responsibility of any nation to keep its people safe (notice I did not say create a police state, or spy on everybody, or violate the constitution). If you can't do that as a government, then you have no reason to exist.

I think the root of your error is in confusing what a modern politician might mean with the word "security," and what classic liberalism would say when it comes to the responsibility of a nation to ensure the freedom of its people (eg to ensure that they are safe from physical assault both by domestic enemies such as gangs or militias, or by foreign military invasion). You assume when I say security, that I mean Obama's (or Bush's) equivalent framing.


You don't get to decide what the first responsibility of a nation is.

For my part, I'd vote against any party that put security as it's top priority, because the abuses likely to come out of that would be horrifying. Including being the aggressor in unjustified wars.


> I never really understood the moral basis of it. Or is national security not required to operate under a moral framework?

What's moral amongst the nations is not necessarily what's moral between a state and its people.

E.g. in this case bugging E.U. offices might reveal E.U. nations trying to conspire to gain benefit at upcoming international trade negotiations. The immoral measure of spying helps detect and defeat the immoral measure of conspiracy.

There's a reason spies are part of what is called the world's "second oldest profession". I won't even try to pretend it's fully on the up-and-up... but neither is much of what nations do to each other.


The moral basis is irrelevant. International dynamics are a might-makes-right affair.


Being in receipt of tax revenue is no measure of being a useful department. And how does it work when other countries are found spying on the US or UK? presumably this is also perfectly acceptable.


Well, yeah. If the U.S. was that concerned about spying as a rule, we wouldn't treat with Israel, China or Russia... ever. Undoubtedly there are other nations with an interest in U.S. secrets that simply don't hit the news that often.


The outrage is not because NSA spies on foreign governments. The outrage is because the context of the spying.

If a diplomat get caught spying, he gets deported. If the offending country continues, then the embassy might get closed. If a non-diplomat get caught spying, he gets jailed. Those are the common tools in dealing with spies.

The outcry happens when the spying is on neutral grounds like the European Union offices, or the spying is done in intrinsic globally shared common resource like the Internet. Problem is, the previous tools are not suitable. You can't really kick out U.S. from ever enter the European Union offices as soon the U.S. is found to be spying. Nor can you isolate the U.S. from the Internet when the U.S. is found to be spying there.

Thus the political outcry.


Perhaps, but the U.S. has also entered into international agreements not to spy on certain diplomatic channels, though. And even if it were legal, its revelation could do more to isolate and harm U.S. foreign relations than the good that might have come from it.


Time to rethink its mission.


Has Germany banned its foreign intelligence agencies from spying on the US government? Is that also covered under its privacy laws?


If they came out tomorrow and declared that they don't spy on the US, I would probably believe them.

Do you know why?

Because there is a complete trust asymmetry between the leaders of some states in Europe and the leaders of the US. When the last government was formed in Germany[1], a guy from the FDP (free democratic party) regularly took his notes and other inofficial documents from the coalition negotiations to the US embassy and presented them to US personnel there, while the negotiations were still going on. Guess what his punishment was, when it came out.

Nothing.

So it seems the leaders of Germany consider the US to be so trustworthy that its spying on them is not seen as problematic. Why would these same people even consider spying on the US, especially since, given the quality of German intelligence services, it is highly unlikely that it would go unnoticed by the US?

http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=de&tl=en&js=n&prev=...

[1]Germany has a coalition government, meaning that two parties govern together with thematic areas of government assigned to either party.


Germany as an ally has known for a very long time, dating back to the split between West / East, that the US was spying on it heavily. The only difference with the latest program revelations is, the German politicians have to pretend to be upset about it as a dramatic performance for the people they represent.


Germany spies on the US government? In what way are we doing that?

In real life, the US has been always all over Germany with its surveillance. Easy, because of all the military installations and so many US personal here.


Technically, the US is supposed to be allied with most of those EU member governments. Violating the security of your allies isn't exactly a friendly move.


I'd be curious to know how would U.S. citizens' reactions be if it were the EU spying on U.S. diplomats and citizens.

I can only imagine.


US allies do spy on American corporations and the US Government. Israel for example has been caught over and over again spying on the US, and is a big concern for US intelligence agencies.

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/us-sees-israel-tight-mideast-...

Countries we're neutral with (not allies per se, not at war with), such as China, routinely spy on the US Government and its corporations; ditto Russia (and that goes back a long ways). And of course China is America's largest trading partner, so we're quite friendly there.

Or for example, the UK spying on the Germans:

http://rt.com/news/uk-germany-wiretapping-criticism-201/

I would argue that all the major countries are attempting to spy on all the other major countries.

Perhaps none so successfully or belligerently as the US of course.


I can only speak for myself, but I'd be pissed that our counter-intel guys didn't detect the bug and that our NSA COMSEC guys didn't employ effective countermeasures.

We've assumed people are spying on us as a matter of course, if we've paid attention to world history. The Soviets and Israel especially have had some especially ingenious means to spy on U.S. diplomatic communications.



If the U.S. invited some EU representatives to the Whitehouse, and the representatives was caught planting bugs, then the outcry would be likely very high. Words like terrorist plots would likely be mentioned.

And the representatives would end up in jail/death row.



... do you think the EU isn't spying on the US?

It would be absurdly naive to think they weren't.


The EU has no NSA.


But member states do, although not funded to nearly the same level. E.g. GCHQ in the UK. It'd be surprising if someone revealed to be as trigger happy and willing to spy on allies as GCHQ does not also spy on US interests.


GCHQ has nothing to do with the EU. It is a British institution and works closely together with the NSA.


Sooner or later, the vast treasure-trove of data that has been collected will be exploited for the purposes of blackmailing, intimidating, harrassing, stalking, or stealing the identities of powerful individuals.

And sooner or later, news that this has happened will leak to the media, and there will be widespread fear and outrage among the powerful.

Then, and only then, can we expect anything meaningful to get done.

Until that point, expect a lot of talk, but no walk.

Some years back, it was revealed that the US had bugged the offices of foreign dignitaries at the United Nations. It was just just a blip in the news. Sure, there was some grumbling, but nothing was done. And now we can see that the practice continues.

Besides, all these countries spy on each other. What do you think their spy agencies are for? Do you really think that their spying is only reserved for their "enemies"? Do you think they can resist using their sophisticated spying technologies to spy on their allies? Is anyone really suprised?

I personally would be surprised if they didn't spy on their allies -- just as I would be if the US suddenly started using swords on the battlefield because they were more honorable weapons than guns which kill from a safe distance.

Welcome to the world of Machiavelli and realpolitik. We don't live in Disneyland.


I recently thought that one of the most dramatic ways to frame this current debate would be for all the NSA data for a certain period of time (say one week) to be leaked. Everyone would be able to see that their email (or whatever) had been logged, and many would mine the data to show "interesting" connections between people involved in current political issues.

Just imagine the uproar!



you mean now that the US and EU are dealing a comercial treaty? Moreover not every spy agency in the world tortures people at a massive scale, assassinate anybody it wants across the world or is part of the biggest army. And many countries are so small that anyways they can't spy that much or act that much on the information, but also many countries would not feel it's right, many of them are less corrupt as the US.


Guardian ran an article how GCHQ/NSA installed keyloggers in all public cafes during a g8 event hosting in the UK in hopes of capturing diplomat traffic. They also ran Stingray fake towers galore to capture cell traffic and hacked every blackberry device they could.

For some reason they were really interested in spying on Turkey and South Africa of all places.

Surprised these internet cafes still aren't using a disposable VPS for every customer to prevent easy keyloggers though I would imagine they can probably smash right through a hypervisor and bug the host and guest.


What could you do with all this money the US is spending on making the rest of the world (its targets?) hate them more with every new revelation? Like throwing your garbage over to your neighbors lawn every day and building higher and higher fences because you sense that they might be starting to hate you. Obama wake up already!


The rest of the world likes to spy on the rest of the world.

At the government level, intelligence agency jealousy is about the only thing being generated by US spy programs (particularly since the US is substantially cutting in its allies, most of them have known about this for a long time).


Earlier today US national security adviser Susan Rice claimed the diplomatic consequences of the Snowden revelations were not that significant [1]

She was wrong. This is a diplomatic disaster for the US.

[1] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/29/edward-snowden-p...


The crazy thing is - what are they doing with all this "intel" anyway?

It's not like the US can make unilateral decisions (except for a president declaring war). Congress has to make decisions and that's like herding cats.

Somehow before they were taping everyone's phone calls and internet traffic they produced the report "Bin Laden determined to strike" [1] yet nothing was done with that intel.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bin_Ladin_Determined_To_Strike_...


I would assume they are looking to gauge the political climate of these countries to see who they can approach for silly things like "Coalition of the willing" and other NATO missions, business intelligence for American corporations or for arms shipments, looking for potential double agents or whistleblowers leaking NATO secrets, keeping tabs on dissident parties and movements like the pirate party that may be getting popular and threaten their influence, or to discover early negotiations for future trade treaties with countries like Russia so they can parachute in diplomats to unravel them and pitch better offers to keep their influence in the region.

I'm sure they're also interested in these state's methods for security/offensive hacking and spying. If they find a hole they can either approach the country with American made (and backdoored) infrastructure blackboxes to sell them or monitor it looking for Chinese or Russian state hackers to break in so they can watch their methods and eval capabilities.


1st, economic/business espionage. 2nd, looking for leaks. 3rd, ... terrorism?

I doubt much of 3, because they've been in operation since the fifties, which is a very long time for usage to evolve and find a purpose and then entrench itself.

I assume 1 is the primary usage.


It most common use is probably during trade negotiations and such. It's pretty useful to know how far your counterpart is bluffing or willing to bend.

Military uses will be rare, since it's the EU, which doesn't have an army.


Its nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with winning lucrative contracts for US companies or protecting the interests of an entire industry. The US Govt has a name for this list of domestic interests to protect, it was revealed in the large cable release from Wikileaks a few years ago.


For starters congress declares war. I really do not understand how you start with "what are they doing with all this intel" and end with an example of what intelligence agencies do with collected information. What is the disconnect?


The US federal constitution allocates the power to declare war to Congress.

Some say this has become completely inverted but brilliant legal minds like John Yoo obviously know better.


Congress itself was the one who has authorized the current 'War on Terror'.

They didn't declare that the nation itself is in a state of war, which is itself accurate if you look around in the U.S., where the war (and wars) have had minimal effect at home.


What nation needs to capitulate to end the "war?"


What nation needed to capitulate for the previous military force authorizations against pirates on the high seas? Non-state actors are not a new development.

Personally I would say the AUMF should go away after the withdrawal from Afghanistan but let's not act like there's some magical international legal shield over AQ because they haven't taken over any other national governments.


Is the AUMF a declaration of war? Did the executive have special wartime powers? When do these powers expire?


Yes and no.

You seem to be assuming that a declaration of war plays only into military terminology, but that's not the case. The AUMF gives the President Congress's blessing to use the military to defeat terrorist groups and their supporters (especially those responsible for 9/11), without giving the President the keys to the other aspects of national government which might rightly be involved in a war effort. So the executive has special wartime powers relating to the prosecution of the military effort within the constraints of current military capabilities (e.g. he can now mobilize some types of Reservists), but not other special wartime powers (e.g. no authority to call a draft, impose food rationing, etc.).

> When do these powers expire?

Ask Congress.


You think this fits within the bounds of legitimacy?


The Congress can implement their obligation to declare states of war however they see fit. The concept of the AUMF dates back essentially to 1798 so I can't see why we'd declare it illegitimate only now.


Let's see, an inconclusive pseudo war that ended with basically a negotiated discount to the original tribute demanded, but that probably cost a lot more than that tribute to actually fight.

You're right. We did set some kind of precedent and pattern there, though, of course, modern military power is capable of wasting ever so much more life and money on the way to an awkward inconclusive end.

But I don't think just because it was an old bad pseudo war that adds to legitimacy.


MI5 spends a lot of its time and energy keeping an eye on US officials in the UK. Presumably the opposite happens too.

This is the "legit" spy game that mostly I find acceptable. Again, its merely about understanding intention. Each side has to verify good intention to proceed with confidence.


This is embarrassing...This is no different than Soviet behavior, and a huge break in trust for the Obama administration. How can a nation host the UN if it is abused and bugged. Just disgusting.


There is a continuum between "keep track of what you happen to see", to "penetrate networks and install bugs", to "recruiting human agents in their government" and beyond. It's in general the job of agencies like the NSA to keep track of all foreign governments, but the degree of escalation and hostility is a political decision and not a technical one.

If the US government has decided to treat the EU as an adversary, it doesn't exactly bode well for, eg, NATO cooperation, or access to the EU market for trade (particularly in computer services). If the NSA is doing this simply because they have the ability, then they're usurping decisions that properly belong to the democratically elected civil government, such as it is.


I'm pretty sure we'll know in time that the US and Britain were behind some Euro manipulation too. The EU is right now like a big blob of countries. Some of the sovereignty was handed over to it, but its a lame duck when needs protecting itself. But then, when it does act, it acts against its members countries, and not to protect it form outside.


After I keep reading all of these stories, I remembered reading the book: "The Watchman: The Twisted Life and Crimes of Serial Hacker Kevin Poulsen" where the book talked about the illegal wiretaps he found the FBI involved in.

http://www.nndb.com/people/453/000022387/

"As a fugitive, Poulsen needled the FBI by hacking federal computers and revealing details of wiretaps on foreign consulates, suspected mobsters, and the American Civil Liberties Union. He also hacked into the details on FBI front companies. At the highest levels of U.S. law enforcement"

I'm wondering what he knows or thinks about all the stuff coming out now. . .


That's a very unfriendly act.

I would love to see Obama have a town hall with European citizens and explain to them why this is a good thing.


Should have been ousted just before Obama's rather tame speech in Berlin - That would have made his speech a bit more interesting.


If the documents reveal who are behind this, would USA be willing to extradite the suspects to Europe for trial and punishment?


Perhaps Snowden will not have to make the long flight to Ecuador after all. In light of these revelations, perhaps London or Paris or Berlin would provide (and will provide) a more agreeable sanctuary.


The Ecuadorian embassy in London, maybe. Certainly not the UK government, which is intent on remaining the lapdog of the US no matter how much spanking it gets.


All 3 definitely knew. London might even be impressed. The only real problem for them is that it's out in the public, and they might have to act surprised and offended for a bit of time until it all blows over again.


Keep your friends close and your enemies closer?

The document explicitly called the EU a "target".


I wouldn't put too much emphasis on such wording, as various fields use common words in uncommon ways. For instance, cryptographers refer to those they seek privacy from as "adversaries," which may sound excessively agressive to a layperson.

(I'm only playing devil's advocate here -- tapping EU networks is damning enough.)


A target for surveillance.


Maybe Belgium can offer Snowden asylum now.

More seriously, who uses public internet terminals for anything? I would never log in from one.

I would (and admittedly not very carefully) use a public internet connection with my own laptop. If I was carrying state secrets, I'd hope that my state would have given me a very well-configured laptop which would just use the public internet for a VPN, and would allow no DNS or anything else to be consumed from the public resource.


Spying on officials is not just to get state secrets. It is used also to discover any information (maybe embarrassing, or just private information) which can be used as a leverage in negotiation or, in more severe cases, as a plain old black-mail.


That's funny. If the USA asks the Belgian government to jump, they only ask "how high?".

A small example: all international bank transfers within Europe (through SWIFT, located in Brussels), are all sent to the USA. Because they need that stuff to catch terrorists. Apparently the US can (and have) even interceped money.


This used to be true but I do not think it still is. SWIFT opened a data center in Switzerland for the express purpose of not having to send internal European transactions to the US. They could be lying of course and still be doing it.


More seriously, who uses public internet terminals for anything?

Travelers away from home. And these cafes tend to be much more common outside the US - I've used them from Colombia to Germany to Korea.


Finally, EU citizens might get some justice now that our leaders have been spied on.


You non-americans are hypocrites! Why, the hell, should americans think about your problems, you only think about yourselves, bla, bla, bla >:-)


Does anyone want to speculate what Snowden's motive is for leaking these particular documents?


Validation of the claims of documents of substantial value having been held back, in hopes of resolving whatever issue is preventing him from traveling.


The NSA argues to fight terrorism, bugs EU offices, EU officials are terrorists?


Pretty soon I expect stuff like "US _doesn't_ monitor <X>'s communication" to become the news. The fact that US is monitoring everything will become the default state.


Shocking. Absolutely shocking.


So what ? This is to for the terrorist thing, as they claim.


How is this news and why are people surprised at this?


How can Yahoo's mobile layout be so broken?? This is a major internet company!




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