By Michael J.W. Stickings
Germany's Der Spiegel is reporting, based on documents obtained by Edward Snowden (whom that publication calls a whistleblower, in stark contrast to the way he's being treated by the corporate U.S. media), that the NSA spied on the European Union, apparently bugging its offices in Washington and even breaking into its computer network:
The attacks on EU institutions show yet another level in the broad scope of the NSA's spying activities. For weeks now, new details about Prism and other surveillance programs have been emerging from what had been compiled by whistleblower Snowden. It has also been revealed that the British intelligence service GCHQ operates a similar program under the name Tempora with which global telephone and Internet connections are monitored.
The documents SPIEGEL has seen indicate that the EU representation to the United Nations was attacked in a manner similar to the way surveillance was conducted against its offices in Washington. An NSA document dated September 2010 explicitly names the Europeans as a "location target".
The documents also indicate the US intelligence service was responsible for an electronic eavesdropping operation in Brussels.
Understandably, the Europeans aren't amused. As President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz put it in a statement:
I am deeply worried and shocked about the allegations of US authorities spying on EU offices. If the allegations prove to be true, it would be an extremely serious matter which will have a severe impact on EU-US relations. On behalf of the European Parliament, I demand full clarification and require further information speedily from the US authorities with regard to these allegations.
German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger "said if the accusations were true, it was reminiscent of the Cold War," ministry spokesman Anders Mertzlufft said, adding that the minister "has asked for an immediate explanation from the United States."
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called for a swift explanation from American authorities.
"These acts, if they are confirmed, would be absolutely unacceptable," he said in a statement.
Now, let's not pretend that such activities aren't going on on all sides. Surely the French and the Germans are engaged in espionage as well, including against the U.S.
At the same time, these new revelations -- thanks to Snowden -- are indeed concerning, and "full clarification" and "an immediate explanation" are the least the U.S. ought to provide to try to mend fences with its friends.
Because, really, would you trust the U.S. given what you know of it, knowing that there's a whole lot more you don't know?
Labels: Edward Snowden, espionage, European Union, France, Germany, NSA