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Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations

The 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations outlines the rules of diplomatic law, ratified by Canada in 1966 and implemented by the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act. The Convention codifies the rules for the exchange and treatment of envoys between states, which have been firmly established in customary law for hundreds of years. It has become an almost universally adopted Convention with 179 states party to it.

The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations is fundamental to the conduct of foreign relations and ensures that diplomats can conduct their duties without threat of influence by the host government. In particular, the Convention establishes the following:

As is stated in the preamble of the Convention, the rules are intended to facilitate the development of friendly relations among nations, irrespective of their differing constitutional and social systems. The purpose of such privileges and immunities is not to benefit individuals but to ensure the efficient performance of the functions of diplomatic missions.

The Convention requires diplomats to obey local laws; however, the only sanction permissible under the Convention, in the absence of a waiver of immunity, is expulsion. This prevents the potential abuse by local authorities of the power of a state's law enforcement system. Reciprocity also forms an effective sanction for the observance of the rules of the Convention.

United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law

Known cases:


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[Feb 11, 2014] Nothing personal Obama says no nation avoids US spying

RT USA

Ally or not, the US does not have an agreement with any country that would prevent espionage in light of national security concerns, President Obama said on Tuesday, prior to an official state dinner with a European head of state.

During a joint press conference with French President Francois Hollande, Obama was asked whether his selection of France for the first state visit of his second term as president signalled a post-spying agreement with America’s European ally. Through documents supplied by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, it was revealed that the NSA spied on French citizens and the internal communications of France's foreign ministry and diplomats.

“There’s no country where we have a no-spy agreement,” Obama answered.

The US has long worked on global surveillance operations in conjunction with the other members of the so-called Five Eyes contingency: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Yet even the Five Eyes countries have not committed to avoid spying on one another.

Obama went on to highlight the changes he has ordered US agencies to make regarding direct surveillance of foreign leaders.

In announcing those changes in January, Obama said that the US is the “world’s only superpower” and must continue to conduct operations allies are not able to accomplish on their own.

“We will not apologize simply because our services may be more effective,” he said, “but heads of state and governments with whom we work closely . . . should feel confident that we are treating them as real partners.”

The US government “will continue to gather information about the intentions” of foreign governments, Obama said. Yet he also promised the NSA “will not monitor the communications of heads of state” atop the ranks of allied partners unless there are compelling national security purposes at stake.

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act would be subject to reform as well, Obama announced, allowing the US to intercept the communications of overseas targets with important information without putting as many Americans and foreign persons incidentally targeted under the looking glass.

Speaking after Obama on Tuesday, Hollande said the two nations had put the controversy behind them, though he said foreign citizens’ privacy must be respected on some level.

"Mutual trust must be based on respect for each other's country, but also based on the protection of private life, of personal data," Hollande said.

There has been no indication to date that Hollande was the target of any NSA spying.

“Following the revelations that appeared due to Snowden, we clarified things, Mr. Obama and myself, we clarified things. And then this was in the past,” Hollande added. “Mutual trust has been restored.”

Hollande’s restored faith in the Franco-American alliance comes just in time for Tuesday night’s state dinner at the White House. Included on the guest list for Tuesday’s banquet honoring Hollande is NSA Director Keith Alexander.

[Jan 16, 2014] NSA spied on 2010 G8, G20 summits in Toronto with Canadian help

RT News
The National Security Agency conducted widespread surveillance during the 2010 G8 and G20 summits with the blessing of host country Canada’s government.

Documents supplied by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show the US converted its Ottawa embassy into a security command for six days in June 2010 as world leaders met in Toronto. The covert operation was known to Canadian authorities, CBC News reported.

The documents do not reveal targets of the espionage by the NSA - and possibly by its counterpart, the Communications Security Establishment of Canada (CSEC). The NSA briefing notes say the operation was "closely co-ordinated with the Canadian partner."

Ultimately, the documents obtained by CBC do not give exact specifications of CSEC’s role, if any, in the Toronto spying. Former Guardian reporter and Snowden’s chosen journalist to receive the NSA documents, Glenn Greenwald, co-wrote the story for CBC.

But the documents do spell out that CSEC’s cooperation in the venture was crucial to ensuring access to telecommunications systems needed to spy on targets during the summits.

Both NSA and CSEC were implicated, along with British counterpart GCHQ, for monitoring phone calls and email of foreign leaders and diplomats at the 2009 G20 summit in London. In addition, it was recently reported that CSEC hacked into phones and computers at the Brazilian government’s department of mines. These revelations also came via documents from Snowden, who has received asylum in Russia.

The revelations also contradict a statement made by an NSA spokesman to The Washington Post on August 30, which said that the US Department of Defense - of which the NSA is is part of - “does not engage in economic espionage in any domain, including cyber.”

The NSA briefing document says the operational plan at the 2010 summit included "providing support to policymakers.

The Toronto summit was chock full of major economic issues following the 2008 recession. Measures like the eventually-nixed global bank tax were strongly opposed by the US and Canadian governments. Further banking reform, international development, countering trade protectionism and other issues were on the docket - and on NSA’s list of main agenda items in the aim of supporting “US policy goals.”

The partnerships by some Western spying arms at the Toronto and London summits, not to mention other stories that have come out based on the Snowden documents, call attention once again to the “Five Eyes” surveillance coalition among Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US.

[Dec 21, 2013] Merkel compared NSA to Stasi in heated encounter with Obama

The Guardian

In an angry exchange with Barack Obama, Angela Merkel has compared the snooping practices of the US with those of the Stasi, the ubiquitous and all-powerful secret police of the communist dictatorship in East Germany, where she grew up.

The German chancellor also told the US president that America's National Security Agency cannot be trusted because of the volume of material it had allowed to leak to the whistleblower Edward Snowden, according to the New York Times.

Livid after learning from Der Spiegel magazine that the Americans were listening in to her personal mobile phone, Merkel confronted Obama with the accusation: "This is like the Stasi."

The newspaper also reported that Merkel was particularly angry that, based on the disclosures, "the NSA clearly couldn't be trusted with private information, because they let Snowden clean them out."

Snowden is to testify on the NSA scandal to a European parliament inquiry next month, to the anger of Washington which is pressuring the EU to stop the testimony.

In Brussels, the chairman of the US House select committee on intelligence, Mike Rogers, a Republican, said his views on the invitation to Snowden were "not fit to print" and that it was "not a great idea".

Inviting someone "who is wanted in the US and has jeopardised the lives of US soldiers" was beneath the dignity of the European parliament, he said.

He declined to comment on Merkel's alleged remarks to Obama. In comments to the Guardian, he referred to the exchange as "a conversation that may or may not have occurred".

Senior Brussels officials say the EU is struggling to come up with a coherent and effective response to the revelations of mass US and British surveillance of electronic communication in Europe, but that the disclosure that Merkel's mobile had been monitored was a decisive moment.

A draft report by a European parliament inquiry into the affair, being presented on Wednesday and obtained by the Guardian, says there has to be a discussion about the legality of the NSA's operations and also of the activities of European intelligence agencies.

The report drafted by Claude Moraes, the British Labour MEP heading the inquiry, says "we have received substantial evidence that the operations by intelligence services in the US, UK, France and Germany are in breach of international law and European law".

Rather than resorting to a European response, Berlin has been pursuing a bilateral pact with the Americans aimed at curbing NSA activities and insisting on a "no-spying pact" between allies.

The NYT reported that Susan Rice, Obama's national security adviser, had told Berlin that there would be not be a no-espionage agreement, although the Americans had pledged to desist from monitoring Merkel personally.

A high-ranking German official with knowledge of the talks with the White House told the Guardian there had been a "useful exchange of views", but confirmed a final agreement was far from being reached.

The Germans have received assurances that the chancellor's phone was not being monitored and that the US spy agency is not conducting industrial espionage.

However the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks, said German and US officials were still in the process of negotiating how any final agreement – the details of which could remain secret between both governments – would be formalised.

Their discussions, which include talks about so-called confidence building measures, are also bound-up with wider discussions with the EU regarding special privacy assurances that might be afforded to its citizens under a future arrangement.

"We want to be assured that not everything that is technically possible will be done," the German official added.

In Germany, the main government minister dealing with the NSA fallout, Hans-Peter Friedrich, has fallen victim to a reshuffle in the new coalition unveiled in Berlin at the weekend. Friedrich, from Bavaria's Christian Social Union, is not seen as an ally of Merkel's and was widely viewed to have performed less than robustly in the exchanges with the Americans.

His replacement as interior minister, by contrast, is a close ally of Merkel's – her former chief of staff and former defence minister, Thomas de Maiziere. Additionally, Merkel has brought a former senior intelligence official into the new coalition.

Alongside De Maiziere at the interior ministry, she has appointed Klaus-Dieter Fritsche, previously deputy head of the domestic intelligence service, Germany's equivalent of MI5.

BigBlue80

Wasn't the US government complaining last week that Chinese spies had stolen US genetically modified crops? And just a few days later they claim not to understand why Europeans are upset. The lack of self-awareness indicates that the US government is a psychopath - which explains a lot - from Vietnam Afghanistan.

[Dec 15, 2013] US spied on 2010 G8, G20 summits in Toronto and Canada knew

November 28 | VR

US spied on 2010 G8, G20 summits in Toronto and Canada knew - report

The United States reportedly conducted widespread surveillance while world leaders were gathered in Toronto for the G20 summit in 2010 and that Canada knew about it.

Documents supplied by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show the US converted its Ottawa embassy into a security command for six days in June 2010 as world leaders met in Toronto. The covert operation was known to Canadian authorities, CBC News reported.

The briefing notes, stamped "Top Secret", show the US turned its Ottawa embassy into a security command post during a six-day spying operation by the National Security Agency while US President Barack Obama and 25 other foreign heads of state were on Canadian soil in June of 2010.

The covert US operation was no secret to Canadian authorities.

An NSA briefing note describes the American agency's operational plans at the Toronto summit meeting and notes they were "closely co-ordinated with the Canadian partner."

The NSA and its Canadian "partner", the Communications Security Establishment Canada, gather foreign intelligence for their respective governments by covertly intercepting phone calls and hacking into computer systems around the world.

The secret documents do not reveal the precise targets of so much espionage by the NSA — and possibly its Canadian partner — during the Toronto summit.

Both NSA and CSEC were implicated, along with British counterpart GCHQ, for monitoring phone calls and email of foreign leaders and diplomats at the 2009 G20 summit in London. In addition, it was recently reported that CSEC hacked into phones and computers at the Brazilian government’s department of mines. These revelations also came via documents from Snowden, who has received asylum in Russia.

The documents have rocked political capitals around the world. NSA spies on everyone from leaders of U.S. allies to millions of Americans. Personal information has been scooped up by the agency’s penetration of major internet and phone companies.

[Nov 18, 2013] Snowden cache reveals diplomats' hotel bookings being tracked by GCHQ

The Guardian

A programme devised by British intelligence allowed analysts to monitor the bookings of foreign diplomats at 350 top hotels across the world, according to documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The German news magazine Der Spiegel reported on Sunday that the automated system alerted the UK's eavesdropping centre, GCHQ, to the timings and locations of diplomats' travel arrangements.

The papers make clear that these details allowed the "technical operations community" to make necessary preparations before the visits, the magazine said, suggesting that the diplomats' rooms would be monitored or bugged.

The GCHQ programme, called Royal Concierge, was first trialled in 2010 and has been in operation since then, the papers reveal.

The programme worked by intercepting reservation confirmations when they were sent to government addresses from any of the 350 monitored hotels, said Spiegel online.

The papers did not name any hotels or diplomats who had been spied upon, though unnamed hotels in Zurich and Singapore were cited as examples.

Separate documents seen by Spiegel listed the potential capabilities for monitoring a hotel room, which included wiretapping the telephone and fax machine as well as monitoring computers hooked up to the hotel network.

According to Spiegel, one of the presentations describing Royal Concierge was entitled Tales from the Wild, Wild West of GCHQ Operational Data-Mining.

GCHQ said it would not confirm or deny the story, which is the latest to emerge from the cache of documents leaked by Snowden this year.

[Oct 20, 2013] Spying not a shock to former Brazilian diplomat by STEPHANIE NOLEN

Oct 18 2013 | The Globe and Mail

Documents leaked by the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden reveal that Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) was mapping the phone calls of Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy. In a presentation to security analysts from other allied countries in 2012, a CSEC analyst showed off a program called “Olympia” that allows the user to map the phone traffic in and out of a target, in this case the mining ministry.

... ... ...

Mr. Cordeiro has been posted to Ottawa three times, first in the early 1990s, and most recently as Brazil’s ambassador from 2008 to 2010.

He described seeing unmarked RCMP cars with antennae on the back idling outside embassies of former Soviet republics during his years in Ottawa – so he wasn’t naïve to the idea that this kind of surveillance went on. And, he added, it’s on page one of the diplomat’s handbook to assume someone is listening when you talk on the phone.

That said, “I obviously never expected that my telephone …” Mr. Cordeiro said, trailing off diplomatically in an interview this week

... ...

Mr. Cordeiro said he believes this kind of activity presents the key ethical challenge in this age of rapid technological progress.

“I understand that there is a big effort since 2001 of covering the whole world in the war on terror … you have an instrument that will allow you to see many others,” he said. “How can you resist that temptation … how do you create firewalls between something that would be considered legitimate and something such as economic activity that is also of interest to the state? … When you have big bids and countries looking for raw materials and a very wide plurilateral competition for economic assets, who is going to assure you that these instruments of entering, listening, mapping will not be used?”

More Related to this Story

[Jun 30, 2013] Snowden NSA Spying On EU Diplomats and Administrators - Slashdot

romiz

Re:Of course they are... (Score:5, Insightful)

Who thinks the EU doesn't spy on the US?

Just for measure, as you may not understand the EU institutions.The European Council is composed of the governments of the states of the EU. It usually works by organizing reunions of ministers for each political domain, as well as reunions of the heads of government, and that's currently the place where important decisions are taken. Given that there are 27 members, it is a piece of cake for the US to know what is said in there, and some countries' governments will gladly tell the US if they ask. Except that they may distort the message to fit their interests. Thus, it is interesting for US spys to get the information directly.

But on the political level, this spying is tantamount to bugging the White House's main conference room.

xiando

More "revelations" from Snowden (Score:4, Insightful)

It's interesting how the "revelations" from "former" CIA employee and short-term NSA external contractor are so ground-breaking and not just what people who don't own a TV have known for years. Bread and circus, knew the Roman Empire, keep people from revolt. Snowden is a circus. Putin said it best when he pointed out that FSB had no interest in Snowden, it would be like trying to skin a pig: Lots of screams but no wool.

Yeah, I know this is too true information even for slashdot, I'm guessing this will be modded down.

vikingpower

Sunday morning here

European online editions of newspapers have it all over their title pages. Scores of EU politicians and servants indignated. I suddenly wonder if, ironically, this could be one of the many little pushes the EU needs to attain more internal unity. Sad it should be brought along by the discovery of a new intimate foe... But then again, the sun has been going down over the US for some time already now.

tsa

Friends

With friends like this, who needs enemies?

Re:

The US needs enemies - without them, they can't justify the country's wartime government budget that has lasted since approximately 1940. If the US doesn't have any enemies, it goes out of its way to create some.

Of course, "terrorist sleeper cells" are the best enemy anyone's ever thought of because (a) they could be anywhere, (b) it's impossible to say you've destroyed all of them, (c) everything you're going to do to stop them is required to be secret, (d) they could attack anywhere in the US at any time

rodia

MUCH WORSE: Normal EU citizens also being spied on

States or "state-likes" like the EU spy on each other, ok. I find it much more worrying that normal EU citizens are being spied on by UK services [guardian.co.uk]. My government (German) tells me they didn't know about it, and of course I am inclined to believe they are not telling me the truth (new default reaction to free world government officials saying something). The reaction our minister of justice got when she dared to demand some clarification from the Brits, a polite "go f**k yourself", is still interesting. Oh, and literally while I write this comment, this just in: (article in german) the NSA also massivcely spies on the german public. [spiegel.de]

Seumas

Why are we focusing on the wrong problem?

More than half of the discussion I hear recently is about how awful it is that the US is spying on other countries. I'm baffled by this. Of course we spy on other countries. And they spy on us. And each other. That's what the CIA/NSA/KGB/etc are for. That's their role, am I incorrect?

The issue isn't "ermagherd, we're spyin' on other countries!". It's "holy fuck, our own government is spying on its own citizens, even though they are expressly forbidden from doing so".

Revealed How the UK Spied On Its G20 Allies At London Summits

Slashdot

lennier

Re:File this under (Score:5, Interesting)

DUH!

Is anyone really surprised by this?

I bet the foreign G20 heads using those netcafes and their Blackberrys were, yes. And they may be a little unhappy that this spying was done for apparently commercial gain and express this at the upcoming G8.

It's been widely suspected since the 1990s that the NSA and friends use their spying to enhance commercial contracts, but they've always denied this strongly. But now there's proof. That could also set a few chairs alight.

Also, perhaps, Blackberry is unhappy that their phone being hacked (or backdoored) has become known, with their reputation for security. World's most boring but secure smartphone, so uncrackable it's used by Obama himself, hated by the Saudis because they can't bug it, etc. This is not something they really want to become known, I think.

It used to be we'd read about the Russians pulling stunts like this in their embassy and we'd be all, 'oh, those wacky Soviets, we know they bug everything, they're so barbarous and uncivilised. In a proper country we're much more law-abiding.'

lennier

Re:File this under (Score:5, Informative)

I missed the part where this was done for commercial gain. Please find the excerpt. I looked for it, but didn't see it. Perhaps I missed something?

You're right, the exact word used in the article is a "political objective" related to "finance" and not "commerce". My mistake.

The officials summarised Brown's aims for the meeting of G20 heads of state due to begin on 2 April, which was attempting to deal with the economic aftermath of the 2008 banking crisis. The briefing paper added: "The GCHQ intent is to ensure that intelligence relevant to HMG's desired outcomes for its presidency of the G20 reaches customers at the right time and in a form which allows them to make full use of it."

The document explicitly records a political objective – "to establish Turkey's position on agreements from the April London summit" and their "willingness (or not) to co-operate with the rest of the G20 nations".

There is of course absolutely no connection between engineering desired financial outcomes and commercial gain. All financial insitutions, and especially those related to the British Government, operate from a completely non-self-interested desire to make others nations rich.

Required Snark

War on Terror == War on Everyone

This latest revelation shows the true nature of the "War on Terror". It is actually a war on everyone. On one side are the political insiders and the ultra rich, and on the other side is the rest of the world. It also illustrates that there is no honor among thieves, but that shouldn't be a surprise. The full bore surveillance state that has emerged in the US/Great Britten/etc since the 9/11 attacks has an autonomous agenda. Coping with terrorism is not it's primary goal. It's aim is to permanently protect the current ruling clique from all challenges. It is intrinsically anti-democracy and anti-capitalism. Functioning democracy and capitalism reduce the control and economic position of the power elite, so democracy and capitalism must be being suppressed.

This is the inevitable result of an out of control security system. There are secret organizations governed by secret charters overseen by secret courts with elected officials sworn to secrecy. The people running the organizations lie to everyone all the time. They justify their behavior by claiming that since they are the "good guys", it's OK to do evil things. This is literally the road to hell based on good intentions.

Once an unaccountable organization has the ability to spy on anyone for a good reason, it will spy on everyone for any reason.

Anonymous Coward

Re:War on Terror == War on Everyone

War on terror? Surveillance emerging *Since the 9/11 attacks?*

You have a poor grasp on history, my friend, and one that's been much shaped by political rhetoric from one side or the other (doesn't matter which) about 9/11 being some sort of meaningful turning point for the NSA.

The NSA has been intercepting anything that was technologically feasible since 1945, when it was still the Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA). Read up on Projects SHAMROCK and MINARET (which have nothing to do with Ireland or MENA, despite the names). If it crossed wires, the AFSA/NSA was reading it or recording it. If it had a frequency, they were listening. Anything, anywhere, anytime. They still are. Nothing has changed for the NSA.

Spy agencies spy. That's what they do. Spying on foreign leaders at conferences like the G20 is pretty much the Superbowl of what they do. And they all do it: Russians, Germans, Brits, Americans, Frogs, anyone with the capability to bug each other (and the G20 is basically the top group of countries with the technological know-how, financial support, and proactive sense of initiative to do just that). The Europeans have known for years that they were all intercepting any communications they could: see the table in section 2.5 of the explanatory statement to this July 2001 (before 9/11) report on ECHELON from the European Parliament [europa.eu]. Anyone not too poor or too small to do so was intercepting anything they could get their hands on.

If you think 9/11 has anything to do with "increased" surveillance, you've been sold a bill of goods. Surveillance was always as complete as was technologically feasible, and that's how it will be in the future as well, and it's got nothing to do with national borders or allegiances: it's a game that no first-world country is not playing. The quintuple alliance of US/UK/Canada/Australia/New Zealand (and sometimes the Dutch for a sixth hand) just happens to be the best at the game, which is why they can read things that other countries haven't gotten access to yet. "Yet" being the operative word.

argStyopa

Re:War on Terror == War on Everyone

For all of you who agree that this reveals that government is untrustworthy, do you START to understand why some people have wanted to LIMIT the power of the federal (and by extension, all) government to the absolute minimum necessary to fulfill its absolute minimum necessary functions?

As shocked as you may have been at the idea your personal info has been Hoovered by the government for decades, does it give you an inkling of how angry and betrayed the founding fathers - loyal British subjects all - must have been, and at least a taste of the rage they felt at their betrayal by the Crown in 1776, such that they were prompted to design a new government in which the key principle was CONSTRAINING the power of that government? ..

Yet, in post after post here for years I've seen the majority cheerfully willing to give that government more & more & more power over everything from education to healthcare.

Animats

London is finished as a conference center

It's going to be a long time before anyone holds another major international meeting in London. Geneva, maybe.

ssam

Spying on the UN

This fits with reports that UK/USA have spied on the UN https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spying_on_the_United_Nations [wikipedia.org]

symbolset

The problem is people

"A secret once shared is secret no more."

It's marginally possible to maintain infosec when your operatives are groomed, recruited, trained and thoroughly and frequently tested by counterops, psych, and intel pros who outnumber them hundreds to one. Then only occasionally does a spy get in and get promoted to the top. This is only possible when the people who know the precious things are few. The top end is maybe 5,000. Probably far less.

When your secrets are shared across thousands of subcontractors whose recruiting you don't even monitor? No. You may as well post your own shit to pastebin.

ozmanjusri

Re:Seems fishy

That's part of the problem with massive caches of data -- it's hard to secure.

There was no intention to secure the data. Each country's intelligence service shares with their counterparts so they have plausible deniability regarding spying on their own citizens.

The Brits can say they got info from the Americans or Australians NZ, etc and vice versa.

These people in their surveillance communities have far more in common with each other, and more loyalty to each other than to the nations that hire them.

anagama

Re:Seems fishy

How times change. And to think that the US Government once prosecuted WWII Japanese Officers over the war crime of waterboarding. We executed some of those convicted, and others spent a long time in prison. Cheney and his ilk though(*), they profit from the chest thumping book sales.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-begala/yes-inational-reviewi-we_b_191153.html [huffingtonpost.com]

(*) I include those who excuse such War Crimes, such as Obama, in that "ilk"

fremsley471

Re:Seems fishy

And people swallow that 'unlawful combatant' nonsense? Didn't they have the right paperwork? Forgot to get their forms signed by the right people? Or just weren't ready to stand out in the open and be simply blown away by a military that is 100% better equipped than all the other militaries in the world, combined?

Phrases like 'unlawful combatant' are the true banality of evil.

Patch86

Re:Seems fishy

That is not the definition of an unlawful combatant, that's the definition of a war criminal. A war criminal is still protected by (and subject to) the Laws of War.

Unlawful combatant means someone who is a civilian who takes part in military combat (with no implications one way or the other about whether they commit any further crimes while doing so). The Geneva Convention is quite clear on what happens to them- if a belligerent captures them, the belligerent can either treat them as a PoW under the regular Laws of War, or they can treat them as a civilian criminal and try them under a "regularly constituted court", subject to the usual international treaties and standards for human rights to justice.

What happens at Guantanamo (detainment without trial, trials by secret military tribunal, water boarding and other forms of cruel and unusual punishment) are illegal (and immoral) however you choose to dice it up.

lennier

Re:Seems fishy

GCHQ is a British organization. How would Snowden get copies of their plans, if there are in fact legitimate? He seems to be making some mighty big claims for having been employed as an employee of an NSA contractor for three months.

You're really asking this?

It's been well known in public for many years -- certainly since 1996 when it was revealed in Nicky Hager's Secret Power [nickyhager.info] ( the book which made ECHELON a household word, and is available here as a free ebook) that the NSA and its partner agencies in the UK, Canada, Australia and NZ work together as UKUSA or the 'Five Eyes' network, even to the point of agreeing to spy on each others' citizens to get around their respective domestic policy limitations.

Furthermore, it's also well known that a major GCHQ installation, Menwith Hill [wikipedia.org], is actually staffed by NSA officers. Similar American involvement is true for Australia's Pine Gap [wikipedia.org]. To an unknown but probably lesser extent, New Zealand's GCSB listening stations at Tangimoana and Waihopai [wikipedia.org] are also either staffed by, or run in close consultation with, the GCHQ and NSA.

National sovereignty? What's that? For those of us in non-USA English-speaking countries, the situation is strange. We're not American citizens, we have no vote for the US president or Joint Chief of Staffs, yet our leaders take their orders from your leaders. This means that we've all become very interested in American politics, even though we'd rather not. Because you guys in the State may think you're only electing your own local town mayor and dogcatchers, but you're actually choosing who will run the military and spy infrastructures of the whole Western world. And increasingly, the real power players in your system (the NSA, CIA and DoD) don't seem to even care much about the civilian 'oversight'. They just change the logos on the Powerpoints and keep on doing their thing.

For instance, there's a bill in the NZ Parliament at the moment [blogspot.co.nz] to give our GCSB increased powers in order to synchronise them with the NSA. Did the New Zealand people really want this? No. But we're getting it anyway. Because the US military industrial complex calls the shots even in countries they have no official democratic authority over. But those who make and sell the guns, and control the wires, have a habit of getting what they want.

tldr: There is no independent 'GCHQ'. It's a subcontracted division of the NSA.

lennier

Re:Seems fishy

tldr: There is no independent 'GCHQ'. It's a subcontracted division of the NSA.

Bollocks is it. GCHQ was around long before NSA came along, and from my time there, there was no yank anywhere near the place, even government personnel weren't allowed into most of our buildings. The fact both agencies have intelligence sharing and pissing contests, is neither here or there. But keep your tin-foil hat on, though!

Yes, the UK and her colonies were doing the spy game long before the USA, and taught them all their tricks; that's well documented. For example, see the career of William Stephenson [wikipedia.org] from Canada in the inter-war years as he set up British Security Coordination [wikipedia.org] and the OSS.

But it's my impression that at the same time, and particularly after the Tizard Mission [wikipedia.org] of 1940 when the UK traded nuclear secrets to the USA for microwave tubes, the original balance of power - between the UK as the world's spymaster/banker and the USA as merely the "arsenal of democracy [wikipedia.org]" producing the weapons - significantly tilted.

By 1944, at Bretton Woods [wikipedia.org], the US position had become so strong that they were able to overrule the British desire for a neutral Bank for International Settlements and designate the US dollar as the world's default currency for the entire post-war Western world order. This was no small policy defeat. The British Empire crumbled in the face of the war and the independence movements that followed, and the US became her creditor. American loans to the UK for WW2 expenses were only paid off by 2006 [wikipedia.org], by the way.

So while I'm sure GCHQ remains nominally British, it's not the case the British interests are as separate from American ones as they were in 1939.

There's a reason why George Orwell snarkily demoted Great Britain to 'Airstrip One' of the Anglo-American alliance in 1948. It's been apparent for over fifty years where the world's military-intelligence center of gravity has shifted to since WW2, and where it remains.

The 'Special Relationship' points in one direction - as the world saw demonstrated clearly with Tony Blair's increasingly bizarre and desperate kowtowing to Bush in the runup to Iraq in 2003. He had no obvious reason to obey Bush's demand for war, and yet. There it clearly was, the invisible leash around his neck with the other end in Washington.

cold fjord

Re:Seems fishy

I would think that data sharing between NSA and GCHQ, to the extent that it exists, is on a strictly controlled, only what is agreed to basis, not a wide open file sharing agreement. I don't think the intelligence community tends to roll that way, especially for programs that would involve what is alleged here: spying on diplomatic activity by a national intelligence service. I would expect that to be among the most tightly controlled information.

It isn't that I would necessarily rule out HM intelligence service from doing it, but rather Snowden gaining access to it. That is, highly classified documents from another nation's most secret intelligence agency.

It seems unlikely that someone who started out guarding the parking lot at the CIA and only being an employee of a NSA contractor for three months would be able to get all this so quickly. It seems both unlikely and suspicious. Yet most people here are swallowing his tales hook, line, and sinker.

jythie

Re:Seems fishy

One of the things that has come out was that our two intelligence agencies are using each other to skirt domestic spying rules. The British spy on Americans citizens and vice versa, then they open up their channels to each other. So quite a bit of their information is sitting in American databanks.

_Shad0w_

Re:Seems fishy

Because UKUSA and ECHELON exist.

Forever Wondering

Re:Seems fishy

Sharing of this information has long been rumored (IIRC, in one or more of James Bamford's books/articles [who has been writing about this for decades]). Long before PRISM, there was http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECHELON [wikipedia.org] It has a common database amongst all participating countries.

The political hand waving that the U.S. (or England) "doesn't spy on its citizens" is gotten around by having another country do it for them (e.g. England/Canada is free to intercept U.S. citizen communications (e.g. they're "foreigners" to Canada) and vice-versa). It all goes into a common database and/or is shared.

Now, given that as a pretext, there is no way to tell if the data was gleaned by Canada on U.S. citizens [or U.S. on Canadian citizens] or was truly domestic spying on one's own citizens. As a convenience, just do it yourself, but if you get caught, claim it was put in the database by another country.

In the end, does that technicality really matter that much when discussing the merits vs. ethics?

New NSA leaks show how US is bugging its European allies

US intelligence services are spying on the European Union mission in New York and its embassy in Washington, according to the latest top secret US National Security Agency documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

One document lists 38 embassies and missions, describing them as "targets". It details an extraordinary range of spying methods used against each target, from bugs implanted in electronic communications gear to taps into cables to the collection of transmissions with specialized antennae.

Along with traditional ideological adversaries and sensitive Middle Eastern countries, the list of targets includes the EU missions and the French, Italian and Greek embassies, as well as a number of other American allies, including Japan, Mexico, South Korea, India and Turkey. The list in the September 2010 document does not mention the UK, Germany or other western European states.

One of the bugging methods mentioned is codenamed Dropmire, which, according to a 2007 document, is "implanted on the Cryptofax at the EU embassy, DC" – an apparent reference to a bug placed in a commercially available encrypted fax machine used at the mission. The NSA documents note the machine is used to send cables back to foreign affairs ministries in European capitals.

G20 summits: Russia and Turkey react with fury to spying revelations by , , in Moscow and in Johannesburg

Ankara summons UK ambassador and says GCHQ allegations are 'scandalous' if confirmed
June 17, 2013 | The Guardian

The Turkish PM, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, addresses a rally. The spying revelations come at a fraught time for Turkish-British relations. Photograph: Tolga Adanali/Depo Photos/SIPA

Turkey, South Africa and Russia have reacted angrily to the British government demanding an explanation for the revelations that their politicians and senior officials were spied on and bugged during the 2009 G20 summit in London.

The foreign ministry in Ankara said it was unacceptable that the British government had intercepted phonecalls and monitored the computers of Turkey's finance minister as well as up to 15 others from his visiting delegation. If confirmed, the eavesdropping operation on a Nato ally was "scandalous", it added.

The ministry summoned the UK's ambassador to Ankara to hear Turkey's furious reaction in person. A spokesman at the foreign ministry read out an official statement saying: "The allegations in the Guardian are very worrying … If these allegations are true, this is going to be scandalous for the UK. At a time when international co-operation depends on mutual trust, respect and transparency, such behaviour by an allied country is unacceptable."

The Guardian revealed that the UK secret wiretapping agency, GCHQ, targeted Mehmet Şimşek, the Turkish finance minister and a former Merrill banker, during a G20 economics meeting hosted in London in September 2009. It also considered monitoring the communications of 15 named members of his staff and of Turkey's central bank. It is not clear which if any of the staff members was ultimately placed under surveillance.

The goal was to collect information about the Turkish position on the reform of the global financial infrastructure in the wake of the world banking crisis.

The revelations come at a fraught time for Turkish-British relations. The country's embattled prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has blamed the international media, and in particular the BBC, for fomenting violent unrest and protests against his rule. Erdoğan has spoken repeatedly of an "international conspiracy". News that his finance minister really was the victim of a British surveillance operation will strengthen his view.

The South African foreign ministry, which was a target of a GCHQ hacking operation launched in 2005, also voiced its concern. A ministry statement said: "We do not yet have the full benefit of details reported on but in principle we would condemn the abuse of privacy and basic human rights particularly if it emanates from those who claim to be democrats."

The statement added: "We have solid, strong and cordial relations with the United Kingdom and would call on their government to investigate this matter fully with a view to take strong and visible action against any perpetrators."

GCHQ documents seen by The Guardian showed the British hacking operation was designed to get information from foreign ministry computer networks on briefings given to ministers for G20 meetings and also G8 summits attended by South Africa as an observer.

In Moscow Russian officials said the Guardian revelation that US spies had intercepted top-secret communications of Dmitry Medvedev at a G20 summit in London in April 2009 would further harm the struggling US-Russia relationship and cast a shadow over the G8 summit in Northern Ireland on Monday and Tuesday.

Details of the spying, set out in a briefing prepared by the National Security Agency (NSA), were leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden and revealed by the Guardian late on Sunday. Documents show that US spies based in Britain spied on Medvedev, then the Russian president and now prime minister.

Medvedev's spokeswoman, Natalya Timakova, declined to comment. But speaking to state-run media, senior Russian officials said the revelations had deepened mistrust between the US and Russia, whose relations have already sunk to a post-cold-war low following a brief and largely unsuccessful "reset" during Medvedev's four-year reign in the Kremlin.

Igor Morozov, a senator in Russia's Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, suggested that the Obama administration's attempts to improve relations were clearly insincere: "2009 was the year the Russian-American 'reset' was announced. At the same time US special services were listening to Dmitry Medvedev's phonecalls."

He added: "In this situation, how can we trust today's announcements by Barack Obama that he wants a new 'reset'? Won't the US special services now start spying on Vladimir Putin, rather than correcting their actions?" he told RIA-Novosti, a state-owned news agency. "This isn't just an act of inhospitality, but a fact that can seriously complicate international relations," he said. "Big doubts about Obama's sincerity appear."

The revelations were the lead story on Russia Today, the Kremlin's international propaganda TV channel.

It also featured elsewhere. Domestic NTV, owned by the state gas giant Gazprom and run by the Kremlin, commented: "The spy scandal can cast a cloud over the G8 summit opening today."

Former top-ranking Russian spies, meanwhile, suggested the behaviour by their US and UK counterparts amounted to bad form. "From a technical point of view, spying on those negotiating on the territory of a country doesn't present any great difficulties," Nikolai Kovalev, the former head of the FSB, Russia's powerful domestic spy agency, pointed out. Kovalev added however: "To avoid diplomatic and international scandal security agencies are forbidden from doing this. And usually they don't do it."

Russia and the US have been plagued by spy scandals for years – just last month Russia expelled a US embassy employee in Moscow charged with being a CIA spy, and in 2010 the US busted a ring of Russian sleeper spies posted throughout the country.

But news of the high-level spying in a third country comes at a time when Putin has made whipping up anti-Americanism a top priority. The two countries remain at odds over Syria, and Putin has repeatedly accused the US state department of funding and directing opposition to him at home.

Alexey Pushkov, the head of the Duma's international affairs committee and one of the loudest anti-American voices in the Russian government, took to Twitter to write: "Scandal! In 2009 at the G20, US and UK special services listened to Medvedev's telephone calls. The US denies it, but we can't believe that. That's complete fraud."

Others were more sanguine. Viktor Ozerov, head of the Federation Council's defence and security committee, said: "Russia shouldn't take this [spying] for granted, but shouldn't dramatise the situation either. Intelligence agencies exist to spy not only on private citizens but on top government leaders too."

G20 summit: NSA targeted Russian president Medvedev in London by , , , and

June 16, 2013 | The Guardian,
Leaked documents reveal Russian president was spied on during visit, as questions are raised over use of US base in Britain

American spies based in the UK intercepted the top-secret communications of the then Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, during his visit to Britain for the G20 summit in London, leaked documents reveal.

The details of the intercept were set out in a briefing prepared by the National Security Agency (NSA), America's biggest surveillance and eavesdropping organisation, and shared with high-ranking officials from Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

The document, leaked by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and seen by the Guardian, shows the agency believed it might have discovered "a change in the way Russian leadership signals have been normally transmitted".

The disclosure underlines the importance of the US spy hub at RAF Menwith Hill in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, where hundreds of NSA analysts are based, working alongside liaison officers from GCHQ.

The document was drafted in August 2009, four months after the visit by Medvedev, who joined other world leaders in London, including the US president, Barack Obama, for the event hosted by the British prime minister, Gordon Brown.

Medvedev arrived in London on Wednesday 1 April and the NSA intercepted communications from his delegation the same day, according to the NSA paper, entitled: "Russian Leadership Communications in support of President Dmitry Medvedev at the G20 summit in London – Intercept at Menwith Hill station."

The document starts with two pictures of Medvedev smiling for the world's media alongside Brown and Obama in bilateral discussions before the main summit.

The report says: "This is an analysis of signal activity in support of President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to London. The report details a change in the way Russian leadership signals have been normally transmitted. The signal activity was found to be emanating from the Russian embassy in London and the communications are believed to be in support of the Russian president."

The NSA interception of the Russian leadership at G20 came hours after Obama and Medvedev had met for the first time. Relations between the two leaders had been smoothed in the runup to the summit with a series of phone calls and letters, with both men wanting to establish a trusting relationship to discuss the ongoing banking crisis and nuclear disarmament.

In the aftermath of their discussions on 1 April, the two men issued a joint communique saying they intended to "move further along the path of reducing and limiting strategic offensive arms in accordance with the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons".

A White House official who briefed journalists described the meeting as "a very successful first meeting focused on real issues". The official said it had been important for the men to be open about the issues on which they agreed and disagreed. Obama had stressed the need to be candid, the official noted.

While it has been widely known the two countries spy on each other, it is rare for either to be caught in the act; the latest disclosures will also be deeply embarrassing for the White House as Obama prepares to meet Vladimir Putin, who succeeded Medvedev as president, in the margins of the G8 summit this week.

The two countries have long complained about the extent of each other's espionage activities, and tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats are common. A year after Obama met Medvedev, the US claimed it had broken a highly sophisticated spy ring that carried out "deep cover" assignments in the US.

Ten alleged Russian spies living in America were arrested.

Putin was withering of the FBI-led operation: "I see that your police have let themselves go and put some people in jail, but I guess that is their job. I hope the positive trend that we have seen develop in our bilateral relations recently will not be harmed by these events." Last month, the Russians arrested an American in Moscow who they alleged was a CIA agent.

The new revelations underline the significance of RAF Menwith Hill and raise questions about its relationship to the British intelligence agencies, and who is responsible for overseeing it. The 560-acre site was leased to the Americans in 1954 and the NSA has had a large presence there since 1966.

It has often been described as the biggest surveillance and interception facility in the world, and has 33 distinct white "radomes" that house satellite dishes. A US base in all but name, it has British intelligence analysts seconded to work alongside NSA colleagues, though it is unclear how the two agencies obtain and share intelligence – and under whose legal authority they are working under.

nternet Has Become 'Surveillance Machine' Julian Assange

Common Dreams
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange blasted the mainstream media, Washington, banks and the Internet itself as he addressed journalists in Hong Kong on Monday via videolink from house arrest in England.

The Internet itself had become "the most significant surveillance machine that we have ever seen," Assange said in reference to the amount of information people give about themselves online. (photo: Andrew Winning, Reuters) Fresh from accepting a top award for journalism from the prestigious Walkley Foundation in his native Australia on Sunday, Assange spoke to the News World Summit in Hong Kong before keeping a regular appointment with the police.

He defended his right to call himself a journalist and said WikiLeaks' next "battle" would be to ensure that the Internet does not turn into a vast surveillance tool for governments and corporations.

"Of course I'm a goddamn journalist," he responded with affected frustration when a moderator of the conference asked if he was a member of the profession.

He said his written record spoke for itself and argued that the only reason people kept asking him if he was a journalist was because the United States' government wanted to silence him.

"The United States government does not want legal protection for us," he said, referring to a US Justice Department investigation into his whistle-blower website for releasing secret diplomatic and military documents.

The former hacker criticized journalists and the mainstream media for becoming too cozy with the powerful and secretive organizations they were supposed to be holding to account.

In a 40-minute address, he also accused credit card companies such as Visa and MasterCard of illegally cutting WikiLeaks off from funding under a secret deal with the White House.

"Issues that should be decided in open court are being decided in back rooms in Washington," he said.

The Internet itself had become "the most significant surveillance machine that we have ever seen," Assange said in reference to the amount of information people give about themselves online.

"It's not an age of transparency at all ... the amount of secret information is more than ever before," he said, adding that information flows in but is not flowing out of governments and other powerful organizations.

"I see that really is our big battle. The technology gives and the technology takes away," he added.

The anti-secrecy activist then help up a handwritten sign from an aide telling him to "stop" talking or he would be late for a mandatory appointment with police.

Assange, 40, is under house arrest in England pending the outcome of a Swedish extradition request over claims of rape and sexual assault made by two women. He says he is the victim of a smear campaign.

[Jun 08, 2013] Factbox History of mass surveillance in the United States

Reuters/Yahoo

President Barack Obama defended his administration's security policies on Friday after reports revealing the sweeping nature of surveillance of Americans' phone and Internet activity.

Government surveillance and secret warrants are not new in the United States, particularly in the years since the September 11, 2001, attacks. Following are some key milestones in the history of surveillance in the country:

1919 - The U.S. Department of State quietly approves the creation of the Cipher Bureau, also known as the "Black Chamber." The Black Chamber is a precursor to the modern-day National Security Agency. It was the United States' first peacetime federal intelligence agency.

1945 - The United States creates Project SHAMROCK, a large-scale spying operation designed to gather all telegraphic data going in and out of the United States. The project, which began without court authorization, is terminated after lawmakers begin investigating it in 1975.

1952 - President Harry Truman secretly issues a directive to create the National Security Agency, which allows the Defense Department to consolidate surveillance activities after World War II.

1972 - The U.S. Supreme Court rules that Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures applies to surveillance for domestic threats. The case, the United States v. U.S. District Court, established the precedent that warrants were needed to authorize electronic spying, even if a domestic threat was involved.

1976 - Inspired by the Watergate scandal, Senator Frank Church leads a select committee to investigate federal intelligence operations. Its report, released in 1976, detailed widespread spying at home and abroad, and concluded that "intelligence agencies have undermined the constitutional rights of citizens." The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was created as a check on U.S. surveillance activities.

1978 - Senator Church's report also results in Congress passing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA). It sets up the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to consider requests for secret warrants for domestic spying.

2001 - FISA resurfaces in the news after the September 11 attacks on the United States. Soon after the attacks, President George W. Bush signs off on a secret NSA domestic spying program. In October, Congress passes the USA PATRIOT Act, a sweeping law designed to bolster U.S. counterterrorism efforts that expands domestic surveillance capabilities.

2003 - In September, Congress votes to shut down the Pentagon Information Awareness Office, host of the proposed Total Information Awareness Program, after public outcry that the computer surveillance program could lead to mass surveillance.

2005 - A flurry of attention hits the government's domestic surveillance program when the extent of President George W. Bush's NSA spying policy is revealed by the New York Times. The investigation exposes the agency's massive, warrantless, tapping of telephones and emails.

2006 - In February, USA Today reports that the NSA had worked with telecommunications companies including AT&T and Sprint in its warrantless eavesdropping program. Three months later the newspaper reveals that the agency had been secretly collecting tens of millions of phone records from companies including Verizon.

2007 - Congress passes the Protect America Act, which amends FISA and expands the government's warrantless eavesdropping authority by lowering warrant requirements.

2008 - In the final months of his presidency, Bush oversees passage of further amendments to FISA, giving telecommunications companies immunity if they cooperate with NSA wiretapping. Then-Senator Barack Obama voted for the bill, breaking from his Democratic base.

2012 - The issue of domestic spying largely falls out of headlines during Obama's first years in office, but reappears in 2012 when the Director of National Intelligence authorizes Oregon Senator Ron Wyden to reveal that procedures of the government's surveillance program had been found "unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment" at least once by FISC.

2013 - Obama defends the government's surveillance programs following media reports that federal authorities had gained access to personal emails and files through the servers of major technology companies, and that the NSA had been reviewing phone records provided by major telecommunications corporations. Obama says the programs were overseen by federal judges and by Congress.

(Reporting by Gabriel Debenedetti; Editing by Karey Van Hall and David Brunnstrom)



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