Le Monde: France in NSA’s Crosshairs
by Stephen Lendman
On October 1, French newspaper Le Monde headlined “France in the NSA’s crosshair: phone networks under surveillance.” More on that below.
Previous articles explained. NSA operates lawlessly. It does so by rules it invents. It spies globally. Enormous amounts of meta-data are collected. It’s longstanding. It’s been ongoing for decades.
Post-9/11, it intensified. It’s out-of-control today. It doesn’t matter. NSA is a rogue agency. It’s a power unto itself. Congressional leaders support it. So does Obama.
Spying domestically isn’t for national security. Nor is monitoring allies. It’s old-fashioned espionage using state-of-the-art technology. It’s about control. It’s for economic advantage.
It’s to be one up on foreign competitors. It’s for information used advantageously in trade, political, and military relations.
Foreign embassies, consulates and missions are bugged. NSA calls them “targets.” Extraordinary spying methods are used.
Bugs are planted in electronic communications gear. They monitor cable transmissions. They use “specialized antennae.”
NSA bugged the EU’s Brussels-based Justice Lipsius building. It hosts summit and ministerial meetings. Bugging is handled from nearby NATO headquarters.
Encrypted fax machines are compromised. They transmit cables to foreign ministries in European capitals.
Another covert operation copies everything on targeted hard drives. EU’s UN headquarters mission is bugged. So is EU’s Washington location.
NSA works cooperatively with other EU spy agencies. It does so with Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).
It funds some of its operations. It influences them. Both agencies compromise fundamental freedoms. It’s longstanding practice. It’s worse now than ever.
Obama’s administration is the most secretive in US history. It persists despite promised reforms. NSA spying intensified on his watch.
Rollbacks aren’t forthcoming. Constitutional law doesn’t matter. Checks and balances don’t exist. All three branches of government are complicit. Congress winks and nods. Courts look the other way. Ordinary people are systematically lied to.
EU nations operate the same way. They spy on each other. They spy on America. It’s nothing new. It’s longstanding. Some have greater expertise. Washington likely tops all others and then some.
Snowden released documents show NSA accessed former Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s emails.
Its Tailored Access Operations (TAO) division hacked into his account. Doing so gained insight into his policymaking. A top secret report said:
“TAO successfully exploited a key mail server in the Mexican Presidencia domain within the Mexican Presidential network to gain first-ever access to President Felipe Calderon’s public email account.”
Cabinet members use its domain. It contains diplomatic, economic and leadership communications. They provide valuable information about Mexico’s political system and internal stability.
Operation Flatliquid likely continues. Current President Enrique Nieto is vulnerable. In September, Brazilian Globo TV revealed a document dated June 2012. It showed NSA read his emails before he became president.
Following revelations about Calderon’s hacked account, US ambassador Anthony Wayne was summoned to explain.
At last month’s G20 meeting, Obama promised Nieto he’d conduct an “exhaustive investigation.” He said back and explain. Nieto’s still waiting.
A Mexican Foreign Ministry statement said:
“In a relationship of neighbors and partners, there is no room for the kind of activities that allegedly took place.”
“Mexico will re-emphasize the importance for our country of this investigation, which should be concluded as quickly as possible.”
US surveillance revelations outraged Latin American leaders. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff cancelled a scheduled Washington trip. She delivered a blistering General Assembly address.
Former Guardian contributor Glenn Greenwald addressed the 69th Inter American Press Association (IAPA) assembly. He did so by video.
He said NSA spies on all Latin American countries. He’ll release more information from Snowden provided documents ahead.
French authorities much earlier knew what Le Monde reported, he added. Expressed outrage was less than meets the eye. It’s disingenuous. It’s too little too late.
French Interior Minister Manuel Valls omitted explaining what he knew. Instead he called Le Monde’s revelations “shocking.”
He demanded an explanation. So did President Francois Hollande. He expressed “deep disapproval.”
He called spying on friends and allies “unacceptable.” France operates the same way. So do many other countries. For sure all major ones.
Le Monde got “access to documents which describe the techniques used to violate the secrets or simply the private life of French people.”
“Some elements of information about this espionage have been referred to by Der Speigel and The Guardian, but others are, to date, unpublished.”
“It can be seen that over a period of thirty days – from 10 December 2012 to 8 January 2013, 70.3 million recordings of French citizens’ telephone data were made by the NSA.”
It did so several ways. “According to the elements obtained by Le Monde, when a telephone number is used in France, it activates a signal which automatically triggers the recording of the call.”
“Apparently this surveillance system also picks up SMS messages and their content using key words.”
“Finally, the NSA apparently stores the history of the connections of each targetÃ¢â‚¬¦”
French espionage is called US-985D. For Germany it’s US-987LA and US-987LB.
Numbers correspond to a “third party.” It includes France, Germany, Austria, Poland and Belgium.
English-speaking countries comprise a “second party.” It includes Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
“First party” consists of 16 known US spy agencies. NSA is most significant. It’s Big Brother writ large.
Documents Le Monde got show it targets individuals and groups. It does so in “the worlds of business, politics (and) French state administration.”
Three million daily intercepts are gotten on average. Peak days get almost seven million.
Documents Le Monde obtained show NSA collected 124.8 billion telecommunication intercepts and 97.1 billion online ones from February 8 through March 8, 2013.
Germany and Britain alone exceed France in volume obtained. Washington rules determine US practices. They’re over-the-top out-of-control.
They’re eroding fundamental freedoms in plain sight. They’re on the chopping block for elimination. They may not survive Obama’s tenure.
It bears repeating. Rogues states operate this way. America is by far the worst.
A Final Comment
On October 21, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) headlined “Open Access Week 2013: The Time for Reform Is Now.”
Monday began the sixth annual Open Access Week. It’s a global event. It advocates free, immediate, online scholarly research information accessibility.
Doing so is win-win. Academia, science, industry and society benefit. Scholarship advances. Academic and research colleagues share what they learn. Doing so benefits ongoing work and future efforts.
EFF calls Open Access “a celebration and call to action. Universities, libraries, organizations, and companies are hosting” global events.
They’re promoting what’s important for everyone. It’s polar opposite destructive spying. “The fight for open access to research is going in the right direction,” said EFF. “(E)very stakeholderÃ¢â‚¬¦realize(s) (its) inevitability.”
Since information about NSA spying first made 2005 headlines, EFF led the fight to stop it.
It’s doing so by exposing what everyone needs to know. It’s doing it in court. It’s waging tough battles.
It wants rule of law principles enforced. It’s a goal worth working for. Fundamental freedoms are too important to lose. We’re all in the fight to save them.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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