NSA Spied On Human Rights Watch And Amnesty International

from the because-of-course-they-did dept

Ed Snowden testified (via video, of course) for the Council of Europe, the "top human rights body" of Europe, and told them that the NSA spied on various human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
He told council members: "The NSA has specifically targeted either leaders or staff members in a number of civil and non-governmental organisations … including domestically within the borders of the United States." Snowden did not reveal which groups the NSA had bugged.

The assembly asked Snowden if the US spied on the "highly sensitive and confidential communications" of major rights bodies such as Amnesty and Human Rights Watch, as well as on similar smaller regional and national groups. He replied: "The answer is, without question, yes. Absolutely."
Of course, one of the things that's bugged me most of all about the response from NSA defenders is the typical line: "we're not listening to you talk to your grandmother" or whatever similar line may be. But, as more and more revelations have come out, they get closer and closer to the kinds of communications I actually do have on a regular basis. Talking to sources working on interesting technology projects, talking to human rights and civil society groups around the globe. Spying on journalists. Each day there's more and more evidence that while the NSA might not care about some mythical person talking to his or her mythical grandmother, it is very much collecting all sorts of information that those very same people thought were private -- and which clearly have nothing to do with national security.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Apr 8th, 2014 @ 3:48pm

    Makes sense

    I mean, if you go around violating rights as much as possible, of course you're going to want to keep tabs on groups who's entire job consists of keeping an eye on, and exposing the actions of, people/groups like yourself.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 3:50pm

    'while the NSA might not care about some mythical person talking to his or her mythical grandmother, it is very much collecting all sorts of information that those very same people thought were private'

    this is the very thing that people are up in arms about. all the personal and private conversations and messages that dont mean a damn thing to anyone, security wise, are just being taken, because they can be, and because no one can be arsed to sort the chaff from the grain!

    what is needed is a much more positive approach from the government, from the courts and from Congress, as has been applied in the EU! instead, what do we have here? indecision and purposeful avoidance, in the hope that the people will forget all about the violation that has been and is happening, so that the NSA can carry on regardless!!

     

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  3.  
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    Vic, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 4:06pm

    which clearly have nothing to do with national security.

    See, you Mike are not qualified enough, to discuss the national security! Everything is related to National Security!!!

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 4:11pm

    Let's just fast-forward the disclosures until we arrive at 'NSA spied on ACLU/EFF/CDT' / fill-in-the-blank with your favorite digital rights group.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 4:13pm

    Definition of 'listening'

    To them, 'listening' only happens if an analyst decides to look at the recording, not to the act of recording or even an automated program looking at the recordings.

    They are not 'listening to you talk to your grandmother'... They are 'recording you talking to your grandmother'. To us normal people, that's still very creepy.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 4:19pm

    Whatever it is, I think we already know. Why not just post a story every day, headline:

    NSA spied on and stored everything today. Again.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 4:20pm

    Re: Definition of 'listening'

    Remember, it was the 'Least Untruthful Answer'

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 4:38pm

    Re:

    Of course they did. Of course they are. The cowards who work for the NSA are shitting their pants over the prospect of the public finding out just how un-American they are.

     

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  9.  
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    Coyne Tibbets (profile), Apr 8th, 2014 @ 4:48pm

    Well, Duh

    They spied on everyone else: Why would these guys be special?

     

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  10.  
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    charliebrown (profile), Apr 8th, 2014 @ 4:51pm

    Seriously, is anyone surprised by this?

     

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  11.  
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    David, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 4:57pm

    Unrelated to national security?

    Uh, we are hearing every day how Edward's Snowden disclosure of the U.S.A.'s blatant violation of citizens' rights has been hurting national security. Human rights watching groups are just as bad as Snowden. For example, they were involved with painting in an unfavorable light the CIA's liberal use of torture under the pretense of national security.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 5:28pm

    Why is it that when Snowden says that the NSA spied on certain human rights and other similar organizations he holds a lot more credibility than when NSA (or ex NSA) officials claim that Snowden is a Russian spy. The later is a minor claim whereas the former involves a conspiracy that requires a lot more effort from the government yet the government has managed to earn its reputation as being untrustworthy.

    It's also amazing how far we've gone in being able to assess statements and discern truth thanks to the Internet.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 5:30pm

    Re:

    (well, Snowden is not Russian so it makes it hard to believe he somehow has a secretive background with the Russian government).

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 5:50pm

    Re:

    NSA spied on and stored everything today. Again.

    This breaking news just in, the NSA is still bad!

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 6:11pm

    Who watches the watchers? The freaking scary watchers.

     

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  16.  
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    Guardian, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 6:57pm

    im spying right now

    im spying right now on my bath tub....i need to its national security after all, cause without warm water i cant have a proper bath and get up to do my drone like job everyday....

    i also want the right to put a camera in YOUR bathroom for that very reason to make sure you are doing it right.....for national security

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 7:10pm

    another day, another NSA story. When will that stop?

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 7:15pm

    Yes sir, you know such places are just eat up with terrorists. Naturally the NSA doesn't spy for economic or political gain.

     

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  19.  
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    beltorak (profile), Apr 8th, 2014 @ 7:20pm

    Re: Unrelated to national security?

    so you are positing that they were just keeping tabs on their old friends of the friends to make sure they were still towing the line and not suddenly out to damage the image and reputation of the upstanding and patriotic workers in the more clandestine governmental organizations thereby unfairly besmirching the pristine reputation of these fine united states? well that obviously makes it a national security issue! we can't have the world distrusting us now, can we? barbarians at the gates! 9/11 all over again!!

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 9:19pm

    Re:

    Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! I know the answer to that one! Because Snowden provided evidence to support his claims and doesn't have a history of lying whereas the NSA, not so much.

     

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  21.  
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    Anon E. Mous (profile), Apr 8th, 2014 @ 9:21pm

    It seems more and more that the NSA is out of control. Everytime there is a revelation that comes out it seems it is worse than the last.

    Let's see, they have spied on their own citizens's and officials, they have spied on friendly governments and their officials, they have spied on human right organisations, and even spied on the U.N.

    If you ever wonder when something has run amok, the NSA fits that description to a "T". I guess the NSA has run out of groups to spy on ( watch out Girl Guides and Boy Scouts, you could be next )

    Obama and any government that comes after it will need a ton of chap stick on hand because they are going to be kissing ass for years to come to fix all the damage that the NSA has done with it's spying program run amok.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 9:24pm

    Re:

    Hopefully when the NSA starts respecting the Constitution.

     

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  23.  
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    David, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 11:04pm

    Re: Re:

    You mean, Snowden must be a Russian spy since a genuine American intelligence worker would be incapable of telling the truth no matter how hard he tried?

     

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  24.  
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    David, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 11:06pm

    Re: Re:

    Those words do not combine into a coherent sentence.

     

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  25.  
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    chillinfart, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 1:01am

    Hilarious

    LOL. HRW is a bunch of blind moralfags, always ignores USA puppets as peru.

    Why the need of spy on them if looks like a NSA arm instead of a menace?

     

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  26.  
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    mcinsand, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 7:45am

    consistent NSA 'logic'

    This makes 'sense' when we consider last year's bogus flags on security issues with Huawei. Of course the NSA assumed that there were security problems in Huawei hardware, since they were working to insert insecurities.

    Now, as we learn more about USAID, of course the NSA will assume that some government is using Amnesty International and other organizations to destabilize our government. And, then, any group like Human Rights Watch can't be trusted when you're associated with others trying to cover up a torture report or trying to subvert privacy protections.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 8:41am

    Re: Re:

    I think part of it is that the NSA (or ex NSA officials) tried to set up an implausible narrative (as in the example stated above about him secretly being a Russian spy). If he had been Russian and came to the U.S. as an adult and had ties to the Russian government or had family with ties to the Russian government or something that makes such a narrative plausible it would be more believable. But they come up with this incredible narrative that makes no sense in light of the facts. They should at least try to come up with a more believable story first but I guess they didn't really think it through before going public with their crazy conspiracy theories.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 9:19am

    Re: Re: Re:

    and it's not like Snowden was planning to stay in Russia. If his final destination had been Russia then the Russian spy conspiracy theory might make a tiny bit more sense. But Snowden was trying to leave Russia and it was pressure from the U.S. that prevented him from getting to another destination (well, he was in flight to Cuba, not sure if that was his final destination). Perhaps if they said that he was a spy for wherever his final destination was it would have made slightly more sense. But when you tell a story that doesn't fit with any of the facts you shouldn't expect others to take you seriously.

     

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  29.  
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    Pragmatic, Apr 14th, 2014 @ 2:51am

    Re: Re: Unrelated to national security?

    David forgot to use the sarc mark.

     

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