NSA Overreach May Have Contributed To UK's Unwillingness To Help With Syria

from the comes-back-to-hurt dept

As you may have heard, UK Prime Minister David Cameron dealt with something of an embarrassment when the UK Parliament voted down his Syria policy this week. There are a number of reasons why this likely happened, but an editorial in the Guardian notes that the latest NSA surveillance revelations may have had something to do with it:

There is no evidence that British public opinion has turned isolationist. There is plenty of evidence that it is fed up with the debilitating post 9/11 years of national sacrifice, with the humiliating excesses of US national security policy (not least its abuses of human rights and surveillance), with the unequal burden-sharing among allies and, above all, with the failures of policy.

Yes, there are a variety of issues buried in there, but key among them is the “excesses” of the US’ “national security policy” complete with excess surveillance. We’ve been pointing out for a while that these revelations could have wider impact and reverberate much further than US officials seem willing to admit, but this may be a small sign of that in action.

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Comments on “NSA Overreach May Have Contributed To UK's Unwillingness To Help With Syria”

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Anonymous Coward says:


The consequences of the NSA spying will be wide.

Facebook plan to wirelessly give internet to everyone?
Forget it any government that allows them to construct that infra-structure will give up their privacy.

Google trying to open telecomunications elsewhere? It will be hard.

The American satellite internet providers?
Puff, all countries are looking to Europe, Russia and China to develop the sats and launch them into space.

The funny part is that those others are no better than the US when it comes to spying.

Anonymous Coward says:

How long are you going to help this one

Until it is days old and no one will read it, is that your new method of censorship now ?

What’s next ?? How else are you going to abuse your power ?
It’s a massive embarrassment for you, but it’s a way for you to censor and not be seen as an abuser of censorship.

Very embarrassing for you Masnick that you feel the only way to address open and free debate is to censor it.

I hope you are proud, and tell your children the truth about your ‘beliefs’, which seem more aimed at making money and suppressing free speech that anything else.

So in 2 or 3 days (if at all) this will be posted. Unless Masnick feels he needs even more power to abuse.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Or

This is just all too familiar.


From January…


Whenever you need a diversion from a scandal, just find a place to drop some bombs and give the news channels something new to focus on.

km4 says:

Blowback, Second Edition: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire
Chalmers Johnson (Author)

The term ?blowback,? invented by the CIA, refers to the unintended results of American actions abroad. In this incisive and controversial book, Chalmers Johnson lays out in vivid detail the dangers faced by our overextended empire, which insists on projecting its military power to every corner of the earth and using American capital and markets to force global economic integration on its own terms. From a case of rape by U.S. servicemen in Okinawa to our role in Asia?s financial crisis, from our early support for Saddam Hussein to our conduct in the Balkans, Johnson reveals the ways in which our misguided policies are planting the seeds of future disaster.

Anonymous Coward says:

WMD redeux anyone?

Everyone who is paying attention remembers that the US stood there and told bald-faced lies about Saddam Hussein and the weapons of mass destruction. We remember the lies.

So people speculate about whether it really was nerve gas, or some sort of industrial chemical (remember Bhopal), or a fuel-air mixture, or a misuse of riot control chemicals. And whether the stuff was deployed on purpose, on accident, or by dumb underlings acting without (or against) orders.

These are all still real possibilities. And the US has a real credibility gap. Do you believe your government? Why should anyone else?

McCrea (profile) says:

Re: No, not WMD redeux anyone?

I don’t see much similarity tho. The gulf wars were U.S. interest. Stopped the first because U.N. said so. So the U.S. lied to get U.N. sanction for the second.

Syria seems to be more of a U.N. ordeal not focused on U.S. interests. The U.S. doesn’t have any reason to lie in order to invade.

Anonymous Coward says:

The US has damaged it’s credibility and there is a price to pay for that.

The administration foolishly waited for it to all blow over and it has now blown up in it’s face. I suspect the fallout from this will go on for quite some time.

Rather than owning up to it while it could it chose to do the same thing it has been doing all along. Now it is too late to go back and straighten it out.

Many of the other governments will be having second thoughts about what deals they make with the US.

Anonymous Coward says:

I think it has more to do with both the UK Gov, and people, being tired of racking up huge debts in wars. Wars where the people of the invaded country don’t even want us there. They simply want to use us to topple their dictator, then tell us to GTFO.

If Obama want’s to launch a week long campaign against Assad, I say go for it. You never know, the rebels might be able to win if enough aircraft and heavy armor gets taken out from US airstrikes.

I really don’t think we should be getting involved though. Not unless the Syrian people request America’s help, and even then, all we should give them is firearms and equipment and let them fight it out themselves.

Kind of like the French helping America during the Revolutionary War. If we’re going to help the Syrian people, we’ll need land, oil or something in return. It’s only fair.

I’m sure Syria would try to worm out of any agreement with us. Most people in the Arab World hate Americans, and most Americans feel the same way towards Arabs. At least the Islamist ones.

I don’t think we should get involved. Let’s invest in renewable energy and stop worrying about policing that part of the world. Policing hasn’t worked out at all over there.

Look at Iraq. Has the car bombings stopped? No they haven’t.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Here is the problem.

Assad is a dictator but so are the people trying to topple him, they are hardcore Islamists that would turn against everybody else on a dime.

Assad at least talks those others who knows.

Give armament and amunition to people who would turn and point at you those guns?

I think not.

Americans should intervene sure, with air strikes, don’t arm the rebels help them win and it will be over.

Kosovo comes to mind, American troops didn’t set foot on the ground.

Those people on the ground there in Syria are capable of taking positions, give them assault riffles to kill the soldiers and let the air power destroy the heavy equipment, you don’t need to give them explosives, artilery or anything else, just take out mechanize units of Assad, the rest they can do it on their own without heavy guns.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Clarification – deliberately supplying soldiers with defective equipment and sending them into known dangerous areas so that the resulting tragedy can be spun into more dollars pumped into the war (AKA stolen by Bush, Cheney, Obama and various senators/congressmen who own the companies responsible for various war contracts)

Anonymous Coward says:

I find the analogy of the US being an adolescent more and more apt; it’s a young country, and strong, but it’s insecure and angsty. It has to continually prove its strength, and it always feels wronged (especially when it is accused of bullying). The old countries just don’t understand it (or so it claims).

Likewise, I think that a lot of people and countries are mad that it was up to some shenanigans (to use a small euphemism), but even more mad that it lied about those when it had a chance to come clean. And continues to lie. The trust is simple gone, and has to be earned again.

jameshogg says:

Well that is certainly a reasonable explanation, or part of a reasonable explanation, as to why there is such a public relations problem between the U.S./ U.K. states and the citizens.

But just because these states have taken opportunistic chances to hack into tech lines does not mean that Syria must be left alone to burn to the ground. Two wrongs are not better than one.

Russia with its arming of Assad, advocating of homophobia back home, and outright KGB bullying ranging from the murder of Litvinenko to oppressing Bill Browder through the U.K. libel tourism industry, is also a state with very slippery slopes of its own. This is not exactly a state with a mentality of keeping its tyranny under legal secrecy with a few tech corporations – it is very much out in the open with its thuggery, and is giving Assad a lot of power through weaponry and U.N veto power.

I really do not care what the public relations are like here back home. My MPs who more or less voted on using no means of force whatsoever are nothing short of cowards who are too afraid to tell a huge wave of conspiratorial, right-wing-in-left-wing-clothing isolationists that they are all on the wrong side of history. Well I am not.

These chemical weapons, that were highly likely to have been employed by Assad who threatened to use them eighteen months ago, were aimed at rebel areas. And unless you really want to go full-conspiritard and say the rebels set this up as a false flag (or be like George Galloway and say they came straight from Israel themselves), you have to give Assad, already under a lot of pressure from the Arab-Spring resistance, a bit of skepticism. And I cannot figure out this mentality: IF the rebels used those weapons, which is very unlikely, why would that change anybody’s opinion that chemical weapons should not be tolerated? Just aim the punishment at the rebels AS WELL AS Assad, and you will be free of hypocrisy. I won’t accept anything short of a secular, democratic state and I will not stop calling to fight for just that until it comes about.

It is rather contemptible that only two years after the civil war started, with 100,000 already dead, that the “anti”-war folk (who are just so peaceful and love to quote the Spanish-defending Orwell left, right and centre) are just NOW taking enough notice to rally a rabble about how the Syrians should just be left to kill each other even more so than they are now, because it is “none of our business”. Not even a U.N. no-fly-zone. Not even refugee safe havens. I hear that most notorious bankers often make a big deal about how they should not pay tax to help those who need it most because “homeless people are none of their business” as well. It is very anti-Left indeed.

AND indeed, much silence on Russia’s arming of Assad, a dictator who has already oppressed Lebanon and given shelter to war criminals. The “anti”-war “Left” are quite ready to say, quite rightly, that it is despicable when the U.S. arms dictators and turns a blind eye to their oppression, so why can they not aim that same level of fury at Russia?

Pointing out hypocrisy does not mean you have answered serious moral questions. If a politician were to get up on stage and say that global warming must be resisted, but one heckler were to stand up and shout to him “but YOU drive a car to work when it is only ten minutes away!” the heckler has proven that the politician is a hypocrite, but not that needless carbon burning is right.

I hear this rhetoric all the time and it is just completely and utterly empty. “Why do you go after Assad and not the Saudi oligarchy?” “Why do you take out Saddam Hussein and not Robert Mugabe?” “Why do you want to save Afghanistan from the Taliban but not Palestine from the Zionists?” “Why do you pick on Slobodan Milosevic instead of the Burmese military junta?” “Why do you…” Yeah, I am pretty sure I HAVE made these kinds of arguments in my sleep. They are not exactly that big of an accomplishment. Any idiot can do it. But here is what takes bravery: putting your foot down and saying that if a state is hypocritical then by definition it must be right half the time, and we need to emphasise the right half. Trust me, these dictators and thugs that get a free-ride from the U.S. right now? We will get round to them as well. Totalitarianism is the explicit enemy and will always be so.

Who Cares (profile) says:

Re: Faulty reasoning

You miss quite a few points when you argue that Assad is responsible for using chemical weapons.

1) Assad is winning.
2) Why fire the weapon on civilian positions instead of rebel positions.
3) Why fire when he knows that there are foreign witnesses around.
4) several earlier attempts to connect the Assad regime with chemical weapons which fell apart after either not enough evidence, evidence of it not being a chemical weapon or evidence that it were makeshift devices used by the rebels.
5) Several locations which were used to stockpile chemical weapons were taken over by the rebels. For at least one of those locations there is evidence that Assad didn’t have time to remove the weapons.

About the silence of Russia arming Assad. Pot, kettle, black. In the technical sense it is indeed not the US that has been arming the rebels, seeing that those have been provided by Saudi Arabia, it is just the CIA that has been overseeing the transfer of those weapons to the rebels, in the hopes of reducing the chance of them reaching the al-qaeda look-a-likes. Not much success since they just beat up anyone not handing them over if they didn’t get their share.

You do know that the current mess started when the US thought it could weaken/topple the Assad regime on the cheap after a mutiny in the army went rebellion when the mutineers managed to get their clans involved. Then things went up the creek when the al-qaeda look-a-likes noticed that Saudi Arabia was handing out weapons (& the USA other supplies) like candy.

Wally (profile) says:

The other reason not to go into Syria...

Cameron is an idiot of sorts. Parliament is actually quite adamant against going into the middle of a civil war to intervene.

The major issue I have with going into Syria is that if we oust Assad, we will be aiding Al Qaeda. The rebels allium themselves with Al Qaeda and we’ve already given them arms and ammunition.

The only reason we should go in is to evacuate the civilian population.

Simon says:

When Cameron said “We would be letting down the US” as a result of denying UK action against Syria, he said it all.
Atleast everyone now knows who he feels he owes his allegiance to.

My guess is he made pillow-talk promises to Obama and he is now embarressed from both sides.

We saw the result of an unfounded hasty hunt for WMDs not so long ago. Gladly there seems to be a bit more common sense in UK parliament this time round.

Anonymous Coward says:

the UKG is just as full of bullshit as the USG. i’ll bet they have no idea what documents Miranda had, or how to decrypt them, let alone what was in them! they are following in the footsteps of the USA and the people are remembering what happened between Bush and Blaire. they were sucked in once and dont want it to happen again. that’s the problem with crying wolf, when there really is a situation that needs dealing with, it’s ignored. that then means that a remedy, a solution, isn’t found or implemented quick enough, resulting in consequences that could have been avoided. this is what happens when lies and bullshit are the order of the day, instead of truth and honesty. i noticed that since the UK has turned down the option of war, the USA has softened it’s line. that makes me think that the only reason the UK was wanted was to accept the blame when things went pear-shaped!

horse with no name says:


It’s funny to watch you trying hard to spin this one to your agenda.

Quite simply, the British people (and almost everyone else in the Western world) is tired of being the world’s cop. Nobody needs to get dragged into another conflict, unilaterally doing what the UN cannot agree on.

Pinning this on NSA spying is amusing, sort of “topic of the day” crap. People didn’t just wake up last week and say “ahh NSA – no more wars!”. It’s even funny to think that educated people such as yourself might be drawn to such a conclusion.

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