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US Spying On EU – A Big Charade?

Jul. 03, 2013 1:37 PM ET
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Many European politicians have expressed their discuss and anger towards the US global surveillance project called "PRISM" as the German website, SPIEGEL Online, reports on spying, phone-bugging and infecting the EU leaders computers with viruses to monitor them. But this case just keep getting bigger:British news media reports Sunday evening that at least six European member states have shared personal communications data with the NSA, In other words: EU state leaders have knowingly and willingly agreed to let the American intelligence services spy on European citizens.

"It's clear that the European parliament must intervene at this point through a public inquiry."

Simon DaviesAccording to some "angry" EU politicians are we now faced with prospects of a breaking trade pact between the US and the European Union worth hundreds of billions following allegations that Washington bugged key EU offices and intercepted phone calls and emails from top officials. Some of those top officials are now raising their voices in anger, demanding explanations, apologies, etc., from top US officials. But it seems like they all knew about it, and excepted it.

The German publication Der Spiegel reported that it had seen documents and slides from the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden indicating that US agencies bugged the offices of the EU in Washington and at the United Nations in New York.

They are also accused of directing an operation from Nato headquarters in Brussels to infiltrate the telephone and email networks at the EU's Justus Lipsius building in the Belgian capital, the venue for EU summits and home of the European council.

Germany's justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, called for an explanation from the US authorities.

"If the media reports are true, it is reminiscent of the actions of enemies during the cold war," she was quoted as saying in the German newspaper Bild. "It is beyond imagination that our friends in the US view Europeans as the enemy."

France later also asked the US authorities for an explanation. France's foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, said:

"These acts, if confirmed, would be completely unacceptable. We expect the American authorities to answer the legitimate concerns raised by these press revelations as quickly as possible.".

"Shocked" and "disgusted" are the common (top official) reaction to the SPIEGEL story.

Well, just a couple of hours ago there was an aftershock.

The documents, seen by the Observer, show that - in addition to the UK - Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy have all had formal agreements to provide communications data to the US. They state that the EU countries have had "second and third-party status" under decades-old signal intelligence (Sigint) agreements that compel them to hand over data which, in later years, experts believe, has come to include mobile phone and internet data.

Under the international intelligence agreements, nations are categorized by the US according to their trust level. The US is defined as 'first party' while the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand enjoy 'second party' trusted relationships. Countries such as Germany and France have 'third party', or less trusted, relationships.

The data-sharing was set out under a 1955 UK-USA agreement that provided a legal framework for intelligence-sharing that has continued, The Guardian explains.

It stipulates:

In accordance with these arrangements, each party will continue to make available to the other, continuously, and without request, all raw traffic, COMINT (communications intelligence) end-product and technical material acquired or produced, and all pertinent information concerning its activities, priorities and facilities.

Simon Davies, an intelligence expert and project director at the London School of Economics, who writes the Privacy Surgeon blog, suggested the NSA's role had been given a sharper focus following amendments to the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa).

In an interview published in full last night on Davies' blog, former NSA director General Michael Haydensaid: "The changes made to Fisa in 2008 were far more dramatic - far more far-reaching than anything President Bush authorised me to do."

Davies tells the Observer that confirmation of the secret agreements showed there was a need for the EU to investigate.

It's clear that the European parliament must intervene at this point through a public inquiry,

"MEPs should put the interests of their citizens above party politics and create meaningful reforms." Davies says.

I wish I could say I was "Shocked" or "disgusted," or something…But its just sad….

The earlier posts below should be read in a new light:

See also:

2012 Data Mining Report (Published April 2013 by the Office of the Director of National Security)

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