Wikileaks Reveals NSA Spying On French Presidents

from the is-that-really-a-big-deal? dept

Wikileaks has released some new documents showing that the NSA spied on the communications of a bunch of French Presidents.

The top secret documents derive from directly targeted NSA surveillance of the communications of French Presidents Francois Hollande (2012?present), Nicolas Sarkozy (2007?2012), and Jacques Chirac (1995?2007), as well as French cabinet ministers and the French Ambassador to the United States. The documents also contain the “selectors” from the target list, detailing the cell phone numbers of numerous officials in the Elysee up to and including the direct cell phone of the President.

Prominent within the top secret cache of documents are intelligence summaries of conversations between French government officials concerning some of the most pressing issues facing France and the international community, including the global financial crisis, the Greek debt crisis, the leadership and future of the European Union, the relationship between the Hollande administration and the German government of Angela Merkel, French efforts to determine the make-up of the executive staff of the United Nations, French involvement in the conflict in Palestine and a dispute between the French and US governments over US spying on France.

To be honest, as with the spying on leadership of other allies like Germany, I really don’t think this is that big of a deal in reality. This is what intelligence services are supposed to be doing: spying on foreign governments. The revelations may make for some awkward diplomatic conversations, but you can bet that pretty much everyone knew this was going on already.

But, where this has the potential to get interesting is in the public perception. If the public gets angry about it, it can create international tensions, or lead to various other issues. But, on the whole, compared to spying on private citizens, it’s difficult to get too outraged over spying on other governments — even those deemed “friendly.” You can bet the French are doing everything they can to spy back on the US as well.

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Comments on “Wikileaks Reveals NSA Spying On French Presidents”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Half ass thinking seems to be severly contagious

Yeah what most people seem to ignore is that the number of people who hate the US is growing fast. The EU needs a big change and since a lot of the economic problems are because the current politicians want to bend over to the US, this will be another thing in the “racist, neo-nazi, antisemitic right-wing evil pro-russia satanist”s hands to get support.

danR says:


“This is what intelligence services are supposed to be doing: spying on foreign governments.”

Intelligence services are a function of the government. The POTUS is spying on someone he meets as an equal and ally at the table. Apparently the response of the government to the revelation is that it does not, and will not, spy on the French president


Anonymous Coward says:

Thanks for all the help during the Revolutionary War, France. We’re still going to push backdoors into your encryption systems though. US officials pinky swear promise not to abuse these backdoors. They will only be used to spy on terrorists, pedophiles, and drug dealers. Not for spying on whistleblowers and the President of France or the Chancellor of Germany. Honest!

Anonymous Coward says:

Yeah, i’m sure there would be absolutely no outrage if germnany or france would install surveillance equipment on the roof of their embassy to listen to the Phone Calls done on capitol hill. Including the president, the senat and congress. I’m sure that would be totally fine for all of you. Whats all the fuss about?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Oh they’d throw a fit if something similar was discovered regarding another nation spying on the US president, but it would be fake outrage, and basically just for show(or if real it would be just another case of USG hypocrisy). Any country with a spy agencies is, you can be sure, doing whatever they can to spy on those in leadership positions of other countries, ‘friendly’ or not, and all the governments involved know it. Any ‘outrage’ when one of them gets caught is basically political theater, they’re just using it to score some PR points.

In politics, you want to know what the other person is thinking, what they’re saying when you’re not around, that sort of thing, so of course the spy agencies, all of them, are going to try and spy on highly placed politicians of other countries. Know what the other person is thinking, and you’ve got a solid advantage when it comes to bargaining with them.

Jake says:

I really don’t think this is that big of a deal in reality. This is what intelligence services are supposed to be doing…

Like hell it is. Unless the Pentagon has probable cause to expect armed conflict with the French, then at best it’s a gross misuse of resources and a PR disaster waiting to happen. At worst it’s the kind of overtly hostile act that kills alliances, especially with people as historically touchy about sovereignity and policy independence as the French are.

The ghost of Eisenhower is facepalming very, very hard right now.

Ted says:

What frenchs were sayong on radio this morning

I’m french, on the radio this morning ( RMC :, they put a pool so people could answer the question ” do you still consider USA as our ally” 69% voted ” NO “.
I’d like to remind you there is a the TFATA negociation in progress between USA and europe. I bet it’s not gonna help at all and probably post pone it for years. Europeans are mostly against it but now we know the other part, the USA wants to f***** us .. and they cant deny it anymore.

OldCurmudgeon (profile) says:

Gratuitous use of the word *target*.

The White House did not comment on past activity, but said it was not targeting Hollande’s communications and will not do so in the future.

In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are

In other words – yes we have many hours of recordings of your public and private phone conversations but we didn’t target you specifically so it’s ok. See what we did there?

Anonymous Coward says:

and even after this release, the French are looking at increasing the disgraceful law they enabled just a short time ago, not to stop other countries from spying on the government etc etc, but to be able to spy more easily and completely on ordinary people, the very ones their government is supposed to protect! how is that going to happen by spying on your own people, watching to see if someone else is spying on them as well, is going to stop the others from doing anything? like i’ve said before, these are being used as excuses to up laws against citizens, to keep them under the big thumb, not to stop other spy agencies from knowing about you

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