Latest Leak Showing US Spying On EU Embassies Not That Surprising

from the is-this-a-surprise dept

Over the weekend there were a few more “Snowden” leaks released, starting off with evidence that the US intelligence community (possibly involving the NSA, CIA and FBI) had been bugging a whole bunch of EU officials, including in their US embassies, but also in Europe as well.

There is the reasonable and expected outrage from EU officials who really don’t like the idea that their own allies are spying on all their calls, emails, faxes, etc. I can see how this may be quite awkward from a diplomatic standpoint, but of the various leaks to date, this one seems the least interesting. This kind of thing is exactly what intelligence agencies do. They spy on each other’s government officials. Bugging embassies is a tradition that goes back quite a few decades. I’d actually be more surprised if we found out that the US wasn’t bugging those communications.

Of course, that doesn’t make things comfortable for the US, who will now certainly have to explain itself to a large number of allies.

The eavesdropping on the EU delegation to the US, on K Street in Washington, involved three different operations targeted on the embassy’s 90 staff. Two were electronic implants and one involved the use of antennas to collect transmissions.

[….] The operation against the French mission to the UN had the covername “Blackfoot” and the one against its embassy in Washington was “Wabash”. The Italian embassy in Washington was known to the NSA as both “Bruneau” and “Hemlock”.

The eavesdropping of the Greek UN mission was known as “Powell” and the operation against its embassy was referred to as “Klondyke”.

This kind of stuff just confirms more typical intelligence agency activities. The original leaks about surveillance specifically on the public remains a much bigger concern, though I do wonder if revealing spying on allies may lead to some chillier reactions to various agreements like the upcoming TAFTA negotiations.

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Comments on “Latest Leak Showing US Spying On EU Embassies Not That Surprising”

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30 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

That’s because our EU leaders have been spying on us for years. It’s become the normal state of affairs. The increasingly corrupt and unaccountable leadership feels entitled to eavesdrop on population that is perceived to be disloyal and not to be trusted. But that someone would be doing the same to them? – Unthinkable! Shocking!

The hypocrisy on display is astounding.

Anonymous Coward says:

and the US has been blaming the Chinese for all sorts of spying, including broadband routers that have been ‘tampered with’. what this whole thing shows to me is, that there is no government worse than the USA! they want to know what every person, everywhere is doing every minute and that includes from the time they are born until death! it’s disgraceful!! and the UK ought to be backing away from this, but in it’s usual style, it’s doing the same as the USA telling people not to worry, there is very little information being gathered on any ordinary person and how the people should be grateful for being part of the USA spying! what absolute bollocks!! it’s the same story. those that are backing the surveillance will soon be kicking up a shit storm when they find their name on the list!!

ethorad (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Allies are only allies at that moment in time, and on that particular instance.

Alliances change, and just because another country supported you on one issue doesn’t mean they will on another.

Hence the need for contingency planning.

For example the US set up colour coded war plans for conflict with various nations, including allies – as an example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Plan_Red. I would be surprised if other countries hadn’t done so.

ethorad (profile) says:

I'm shocked to find that spying is going on in here!

Intercepting another country’s diplomatic messages is hardly a new, or even undocumented, issue.

After all, in the 18th Century this was done on an industrial scale with the Viennese “Geheime Kabinets-kanzlei” operating so efficiently they were opening, copying and resealing all diplomatic mail in Vienna without disrupting the normal mail delivery. See wikipedia

Nicholas Weaver (profile) says:

Actually, this is a VERY big deal...

Because to someone like me, DROPMIRE sounds like a lifecycle attack: building in a backdoor into the commercial product itself at the factory.

If the NSA is using lifecycle attacks, or even if there are just credible rumors of the NSA using lifecycle attacks, US network hardware and security companies are now in the same position that Huawei is in.

Anonymous Coward says:

And now Snowden can be prosecuted for a good reason.

Just because he’s told us about something important in the form of the NSA/FBI spying on Americans does not give him a pass to tell everyone about every secret program we’ve got. I now can support espionage charges against him.

This revelation does not benefit the American public.

Niall (profile) says:

Re: And now Snowden can be prosecuted for a good reason.

This does not benefit the American public’s support of out-of-control government who is spying on all their own citizens and all their allies.

Boo hoo hoo.

Seriously, next time someone gets stuff like this, they might just find it simpler to sell to Russia or China. But then hey, it’s not like half of America would actually recognise what ethics are.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: And now Snowden can be prosecuted for a good reason.

Still not espionage since he’s NOT THE ONE DOING THE SPYING!

This is less important to your personal ideas of privacy and rule of law but much more important to those overseas. Your nation’s leaders are doing their best to run your countries name into the ground. So far the’re doing a good job. No-one trusts the US anymore.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: And now Snowden can be prosecuted for a good reason.

If you don’t want your f’ing spy operation on your allies to hurt your diplomatic relationships, then don’t f’ing spy on your allies.

BTW, it does help the american public in such a way that there is now proof that at least one american still has some actual values. Too bad he’s stuck in russia now.

Steve R. (profile) says:

Paranoia

In reading the “traditional” media, such as the Washington Post it would appear that the US is “under attack”. One such attack that has been splattered has been Chinese cyber-attacks on US computer networks. I don’t doubt that has been occurring, but it seems that the US has itself been busy in the cyber-attack realm. Enough of this fear mongering to promote an evermore repressive government in the name of supposed “security”.

Anonymous Coward says:

pretend to be outraged

Really? Pretend? You really expect the rest of the world to just sit back and take it? Really?

This is not some sort of “everybody does it” situation — just compare the defence budgets.

It will not serve the long-term interests of the US for popular European opinion to see the US as a bully and a liar. Really.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: pretend to be outraged

Really? Pretend? You really expect the rest of the world to just sit back and take it? Really?

No, I don’t think they should just “sit back and take it.” I’m just saying that the “outrage” is pretty over generated, as this kind of espionage is nothing new — and it’s almost certain that the same countries do it back to the US as well.

This is not some sort of “everybody does it” situation — just compare the defence budgets.

Defense and intelligence are not the same thing…

It will not serve the long-term interests of the US for popular European opinion to see the US as a bully and a liar. Really.

As if that wasn’t already the case?

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