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NSA

After the NSA affair, the German government is steering towards a serious confrontation with the US

(Cross posted by author from the Daily Kos)

(Written by an American expat living in the European Union)

German magazine Der Spiegel reports,”Nine months after the NSA affair, the German government is steering towards a serious confrontation with the US”

In the wake of the Snowden affair, whistler blower Edward Snowden revealed that Angela Merkel’s telephone had been spied on by the NSA. Please let’s understand according to Forbes magazine Angela Merkel as the Chancellor of Germany which has become the richest and most powerful country in the European Union (the number 2 exporting nation in the world) has according to Forbes magazine rated Angela Merkel as the most powerful woman in the world. So as you can well imagine, to reiterate the Snowden revelation that Angela Merkel’s phone had allegedly been spied on by the NSA sent shock waves through the capitals of the great social democracies of Western Europe and sent shock waves through the German capital, that if the chancellor’s private cell phone had been illegally wiretapped, then no one was safe from an illegal alleged NSA wiretap. The very real anger and humiliation this produced throughout the European Union, which as a population of 500 million people is larger than the population of the US, and whose economy is likewise larger than the US and of course the Euro rivals the US dollar in power. So it is that Europe has taken a very dim view of the NSA alleged spying matter on millions of its citizens, to include the head of the European Union’s most powerful country, German chancellor Angela Merkel.

So it is that in the recently published Spiegel article which this diary attempts to review, we see that Germany appears to be on the road to declaring a defacto sort of counter-espionage war against the United States on German soil. This turn of events has alarmed diplomats, scholars and statesmen/statespersons around the world. As such I invite you to give a very careful reading of the review of the Spiegel article whereupon I invite you to read in full for yourself the Spiegel article being reviewed entitled “Striking Back: Germany Considers Counterespionage Against US”.


“Unsatisfied with the lack of answers provided by Washington in the NSA spying scandal, officials in Berlin are considering a new approach. Germany might begin counterespionage measures aimed at allies.”…….”In other words: Germany intends to defend itself against all spying efforts in the future,”.…”While the minister’s words may have sounded innocuous, they marked nothing less than the start of a political about-face. Away from the public eye, the German government is moving toward implementing plans to turn its own spies against partner countries like the United States, putting allies on the same level as the Chinese, Russians and North Koreans”.

To reiterate, diplomats, scholars and Statespersons the world over are alarmed and indeed dismayed at this turn of events. Whereupon we should ask how did it ever come to this and why has this been allowed to happen? Whereupon this diary asks you to write to your member of Congress today to ask them these very questions so as to provide their leadership for a diplomatic solution before matters in this sad, retrograde state of affairs are allowed to progress any further.

“When whistleblower Edward Snowden first went public with his revelations about the NSA’s efforts to spy on Europe and other parts of the world. In response to the allegations surrounding the documents he leaked,…..after months of waiting, no satisfactory answers have been provided”.

Aren’t we as American voters legitimately allowed to ask our members of Congress why it is that the NSA to date has not provided the German government and other allied governments with the answers that they reasonably seek in the matter of the whistler blower Edward Snowden’s disclosure. Shouldn’t we be allowed to ask our members of Congress this question before the US is dragged into an expensive counterespionage new Cold War. Shouldn’t we as American voters hold our members of Congress responsible for providing the public with this information in a transparent democracy, wherein government is held accountable to the people who have voted them into office.

Humiliating Revelations from the Wild West!

“The stubbornness of the Americans, who have answered few relevant questions from Germany during the National Security Agency spying scandal…Now, pressure is growing for Germany to find its own answers to the questions Washington has been ignoring.”………..  They’re like cowboys who only understand the language of the

Wild West,” sources in Merkel’s party say, referring to the Americans’ intractability.
Two government agencies are at the center of the strategy to restore respect that has been lost over months of humiliating revelations that the US has been spying on Germany: the Office for the Protection” of the Constitution and the Federal Prosecutor’s Office.”

Honestly as American voters, shouldn’t we be alarmed at the NSA’s conduct in humiliating our allies into declaring a counterespionage war against the United States, but more to the point shouldn’t we as American voters be allowed to ask our members of Congress, whose taxes do they intend to raise in order to pay for the NSA’s declared new cold espionage war. Or perhaps we should hold a national referendum asking for tax payers to volunteer to pay for this latest NSA undertaking produced in our name.

In America today, we have 59 million people who don’t have medical insurance, 133 million people who don’t have dental insurance, over 45 million people who are on food stamps, 60 million Americans get no paid sick leave. The United States is the only major industrialized nation in the world that by law doesn’t provide job protected paid maternity leave by right of law. As such, please excuse us for asking just who the hell is going to pay for the NSA’s self-declared new counterespionage cold war? And exactly whose taxes do you intend to raise (and whose benefits do you intend to cut) in order to pay for it, now that the Europeans have been humiliated into defending themselves, their people and their leaders through counterespionage defensive measures. Because in the mind of this reviewer, this Spiegel article seems to be telling us along with other European press sources that the Europeans have undertaken exhaustive diplomatic measures to resolve the matter and the US government has simply ignored them. Aren’t these questions something that we should reasonably ask our members of Congress who we voted into office?


Diplomats Leave Washington Empty-Handed

“A number of high-level German delegations have traveled to Washington on fact-finding missions, but they have also returned empty-handed for the most part”. ……….”And no progress whatsoever has been made on a “no-spy agreement.”Last week, US President Barack Obama himself rejected any form of a “no-spy agreement”. “There’s no country where we have a no-spy agreement,” Obama said in a press conference during a visit by French President Fran├žois Hollande.The French leader, who had expressed similar wishes to those of the Germany, was forced to travel back to Paris empty-handed”.

I must say having voted for President Obama twice, I really find his statement in this regard to be a real disappointment as it relates to an unwillingness for a diplomatic solution in the matter.

Teaching the US a Lesson

“The changes mean that, nine months after the NSA affair, the German government is steering towards a serious confrontation with the US. …… “Increased monitoring of allies could trigger unforeseen consequences and potentially cause damage to existing intelligence partnerships”.

The trading relationship that we have established with the European Union is vital to the American economy, vital to a strong American dollar, vital to the future of America’s children. I therefore ask and urge you today to take the time to write to and call your member of Congress on this important issue. To stand up and be counted and tell them how you feel and most importantly ask them exactly how much they intend to raise your taxes to pay for a counter intelligence espionage cold war that will only benefit NSA bureaucrats and contractors.

PS: I’d like to invite you to another diary that maybe of interest to you. Thank you for your support of progressive issues.

Switzerland far right party of hate declares war on European immigration

http://www.dailykos.com/story/…

 

President Obama Speaks on Intelligence Gathering Reforms – UPDATED: Video and Transcript

January 17, 2014, from the White House at 11am Eastern:

Official White House Transcript: Remarks by the President on Review of Signals Intelligence

[Post 9/11], in our rush to respond to a very real and novel set of threats, the risk of government overreach — the possibility that we lose some of our core liberties in pursuit of security — also became more pronounced.  We saw, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, our government engaged in enhanced interrogation techniques that contradicted our values.  As a Senator, I was critical of several practices, such as warrantless wiretaps.  And all too often new authorities were instituted without adequate public debate.

Through a combination of action by the courts, increased congressional oversight, and adjustments by the previous administration, some of the worst excesses that emerged after 9/11 were curbed by the time I took office.  But a variety of factors have continued to complicate America’s efforts to both defend our nation and uphold our civil liberties.

[…]

Now, to say that our intelligence community follows the law, and is staffed by patriots, is not to suggest that I or others in my administration felt complacent about the potential impact of these programs.  Those of us who hold office in America have a responsibility to our Constitution, and while I was confident in the integrity of those who lead our intelligence community, it was clear to me in observing our intelligence operations on a regular basis that changes in our technological capabilities were raising new questions about the privacy safeguards currently in place.

[…]

First, everyone who has looked at these problems, including skeptics of existing programs, recognizes that we have real enemies and threats, and that intelligence serves a vital role in confronting them.  We cannot prevent terrorist attacks or cyber threats without some capability to penetrate digital communications — whether it’s to unravel a terrorist plot; to intercept malware that targets a stock exchange; to make sure air traffic control systems are not compromised; or to ensure that hackers do not empty your bank accounts.  We are expected to protect the American people; that requires us to have capabilities in this field.

[…]

As the nation that developed the Internet, the world expects us to ensure that the digital revolution works as a tool for individual empowerment, not government control.  Having faced down the dangers of totalitarianism and fascism and communism, the world expects us to stand up for the principle that every person has the right to think and write and form relationships freely — because individual freedom is the wellspring of human progress.

Those values make us who we are.  And because of the strength of our own democracy, we should not shy away from high expectations.  For more than two centuries, our Constitution has weathered every type of change because we have been willing to defend it, and because we have been willing to question the actions that have been taken in its defense.  Today is no different.  I believe we can meet high expectations.  Together, let us chart a way forward that secures the life of our nation while preserving the liberties that make our nation worth fighting for.

To my fellow Obamab*ts – Snowden/Greenwald bashing is Missing the Point

OK. I’ve asterisked the title so as not to break any rules. And first up, as anyone who knows me

I am the biggest Obamab*t there is

But we seem to be falling out in recent weeks over the issue of the NSA and Snowden revelations. Thanks to my Murdoch investigations here during the Hackgate Scandal (which is still unfolding as you can see from my Daily Beast timeline) I’ve become a big fan of privacy, and antipathetic to corporate blackmail and surveillance.

So, when the extent of digital surveillance became apparent thanks to the Guardian and the Snowden revelations, my concern wasn’t over the Obama administration (most the programmes were established beforehand) nor indeed the character of the government. But one simple thing has always concerned me: the effect of this kind of surveillance on potential government whistleblowers and investigative journalism

One would have thought the chilling effects on whistleblowing and investigative journalism should concern every reporter.

On the vituperation heaped on Greenwald and the Guardian, I urge you to read David Carr in the New York Times

If the revelations about the N.S.A. surveillance were broken by Time, CNN or The New York Times, executives there would already be building new shelves to hold all the Pulitzer Prizes and Peabodies they expected. Same with the 2010 WikiLeaks video of the Apache helicopter attack.

Instead, the journalists and organizations who did that work find themselves under attack, not just from a government bent on keeping its secrets, but from friendly fire by fellow journalists. What are we thinking?

I couldn’t agree more: as I wrote a few days ago

Since when has the emotional complexion of the source been the main point of the story? The attacks on Greenwald display the same problem. He may be partisan, argumentative and thin-skinned (he blocked me on Twitter a year ago for an innocuous comment) but does that disqualify him from landing a major scoop? Attacking a source or intermediary is just another version of the ad hominem fallacy. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Journalism is about disclosure and transparency, not heroics and personality. It’s the story, stupid.

I’m still a fan of Obama. But you can’t rely on the governance of good people. As Evgeny Morosov has shown us over the failure of the Green Revolution in Iran, these same tools of social networking and communication can  be easily misused by rogue intelligence agencies, and for an future government, they are a secret policeman’s wet dream.

For the historic background I’d urge you to read James Bamford’s excellent piece in the New York Review of Books. As he says…

One man who was prescient enough to see what was coming was Senator Frank Church, the first outsider to peer into the dark recesses of the NSA. In 1975, when the NSA posed merely a fraction of the threat to privacy it poses today with UPSTREAM, PRISM, and thousands of other collection and data-mining programs, Church issued a stark warning:

That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left, such [is] the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology…. I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.

I’m still an Obamabot. But I also still remember Bush. The issue of massive collusion between state and private corporations over surveillance is, unfortunately, an issue which transcends any particular President.

I hope my fellow Obamabots can take the long view, and not consider this just an attack on this administration. We came together over certain ideas of equality, liberty and justice. Those ends are not served an intelligence system that could quickly be turned to squash civil dissent.  

Shooting the Messenger Redux: Guardian in the firing line

Last night the Observer newspaper, a long standing paper in its own right (it actually predates the Guardian by several years) publisheda badly sourced front page story taken from Birtherist Wayne Madsen and the privacy surgeon site about European surveillance

Disaster for the Observer, which has been running on a much reduced staff for several years. It is owned by the Guardian now, but has a long and distinctly different identity and editorial separation.

Not for much longer after a disaster like that.

Complete cock up.

However, it wasn’t long before many were claiming that this cock up undermined all of the Guardian’s reporting on the Snowden issue. To me, that would be like assuming that News of the World’s hacking undermined the Wall Street Journal’s financial reporting, just because they have the same owner. In a long a protracted twitter exchange with Charles Johnson at Green Footballs (beginning somewhere round here) I noticed the claim had gone from ‘Observer screws up’ to “Guardian repeatedly used Madsen as a source.”

Well, no. A source of a story in journalistic terms is the ‘source/origin’ of a story. Apart from the Observer debacle, he is cited five times by the Guardian, for one line quotes, often taken from other news sources. All but one of these were from before 2003, when he launched towards birtherism

Having put paid to the idea he’s a major source for the Guardian, perhaps it would be worth watching this excellent Charlie Rose interview with Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger and US editor Janine Gibson to see their real motivations.

Three things are apparent to me

1. They verified everything

2. The redacted anything that was a threat to national security

3. They think it’s bigger than Snowden, and digital surveillance, for the first time in history, compromises the right to protest and the possibilities of investigative journalism

The latter is my biggest fear as expressed in the New Republic last week

Enjoy

Meanwhile Der Spiegel is reporting about surveillance on the EU parliament (Germans have a historical reason for mistrusting this level of intrusion) and the Washington Post is reporting that the NSA capture was of live information, with 49 per cent risk the target is domestic.  

The Snowden Leaks: Source Protection and Regulatory Capture of the Press

First off: Moose I miss You. My long absences are only explained by manic writing sessions covering lots of breaking news (and a new novel). But I’m hoping, as so well displayed by Shaun in previous post, to have a sensible discussion about the NSA leaks without it reverting to the usual Rox/Sux Obama debate, or framing intelligence services as all good, or all bad.

I’ve published a piece today in The New Republic which (going beyond the personalities of either Manning or Snowden or their interlocutors Assange and Greenwald) tries to look at the role of whistleblowing and the press in the modern age.

More below the flip

My personal two cents

This position and diary are completely separate from the PWB Peeps and should not reflect in the least on them, nor does it open up those diaries for attack in any way. I have kept pretty much quiet on the NSA issue and haven’t said much of anything; however I am going to say this(as if my opinion means anything). Quite simply, the deification by some on the left of Ed Snowden is really starting to wear thin. If he were that much of a hero, he would be HERE in the US, not in Hong Kong. He is no hero, he, quite simply, aided and abetted the enemies of the United States for personal gain(whether you consider the GOP to be one of those enemies is up to you) whether that be 15 minutes of fame(infamy) or whatever the reason.

Especially considering that there are larger issues, i.e. the economy, jobs, the war on women, the war on LGBT, the war on immigrants, etc, that need to be addressed. Admittedly, this particular Congress isn’t exactly willing to work on them; however if we continue to allow the hatred of this POTUS take our eyes off the ball and not be willing to work on anything simply because ruining this POTUS is more important than the welfare of this nation, then those people who are trying so desperately to ruin this nation have won. Plain and simple. If you are offended by what I said here, I WILL UNDERSTAND; however I will not allow myself to be treated like a doormat and will not allow myself to be called names. I had enough of that when I was growing up.  

The NSA FISA and President Obama Did He Lie to Anyone?

First, in the interest of full disclosure I’m an Obamabot.  Not just an Obamabot I’m the model T-1000 with the liquid skin and frickin lasers for arms.  That’s not the point of this expose, but I don’t mind saying Barack Obama excretes excellence and gets the shit done.  I feel no need to criticize him and would keep it to myself if I did.

 photo joe-wilson-i-was-totally-right-after-all-obama-was-lying_zps4907af3d.jpg

Key Facts Wrong in Rush to Report NSA ‘Scandals’

Last week there was report after report about a supposed bombshell with respect to NSA surveillance and data collection operations against Americans on American soil.  There is a major problem with those reports:  It seems much of that early reporting was wrong.  Bob Cesca at The Daily Banter summarizes it thusly:

To summarize, yes, the NSA routinely requests information from the tech giants. But the NSA doesn’t have “direct access” to servers nor is it randomly collecting information about you personally. Yet rending of garments and general apoplexy has ruled the day, complete with predictable invective about the president being “worse than Bush” and that anyone who reported on the new information debunking the initial report was and is an Obamabot apologist.

That, of course, is not really the end, but only the beginning.