Brazil demands explanation from US over NSA spying
Foreign minister expresses 'deep concern' over extensive spying revealed in documents uncovered by Edward Snowden
Jonathan Watts and agencies
guardian.co.uk, Monday 8 July 2013 17.26 BST
Brazil has called on Washington to explain why US intelligence agencies have been monitoring millions of emails and phone calls from its citizens, as the international fallout from the US whistleblower Edward Snowden's revelations spread to Latin America.
The foreign minister, Antonio Patriota, expressed "deep concern" about a report that appeared in O Globo newspaper at the weekend, which detailed how the US National Security Agency (NSA) had conducted extensive spying activities in Brazil.
Based on documents provided by Snowden, the O Globo story showed how the US had been carrying out covert surveillance on ostensibly friendly nations. Similar reports in Europe and Hong Kong have sparked indignation in recent weeks.
After the Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, called in cabinet ministers to discuss the issue, the government issued a statement of concern.
"The Brazilian government has asked for clarifications through the US embassy in Brasília and the Brazilian embassy in Washington," Patriota said. He said his country would ask the United Nations to work on an international regulation "to impede abuses and protect the privacy" of internet users.
The federal police and the Brazilian Telecommunications Agency have been instructed to investigate how the data is collected by the US spy agency.
The communications minister, Paulo Bernardo, said it was likely to have been done by satellite or by tapping undersea cables, but he also wanted to find out whether domestic international providers were involved.
"If that has happened, these companies broke Brazilian law and acted against our constitution, which safeguards the right to privacy," Bernardo said.
The O Globo story, which was written with the Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, sparked consternation in Brazil on Saturday when it pointed to surveillance maps among Snowden's documents that showed the country was among the most heavily data-mined nations, alongside China, Russia and Pakistan.
It showed the acquisition of data was done through the NSA's Fairview programme, which is a collaboration with an unnamed US telecommunications company to gain access to data flowing through its network.
Referring to the story in his blog, Greenwald noted that Brazil was merely an example of a global practice.
"There are many more populations of non-adversarial countries which have been subjected to the same type of mass surveillance net by the NSA: indeed, the list of those which haven't been are shorter than those which have," he wrote.
He said Brazil was just an example of indiscriminate worldwide surveillance by the US.
Latin America is already bristling after the forced diversion last week of the Bolivian president Evo Morales's plane, which was denied access to Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese airspace en route back from Moscow because of suspicions that Snowden was on board. It is assumed that the US was behind this policing action.
Snowden has not been seen or heard of in public since he landed at Moscow airport two weeks ago on his way from Hong Kong to Ecuador. However, WikiLeaks has issued statements on his behalf in which he revealed he had requested asylum in 26 countries.
Most have turned him down, but Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia have offered refuge. Ecuador said it had yet to make a decision.
Cuba's president, Raúl Castro, added his support for Snowden at the weekend. "We support the sovereign right of Venezuela and all states in the region to grant asylum to those persecuted for their ideals or their struggles for democratic rights," he told Cuba's national assembly. However, Cuba has yet to formally offer sanctuary to the former NSA contractor.
The Russian government has yet to comment on the asylum offers, but a senior parliamentarian indicated that patience may be running thin with Snowden, who has been living in the transit area of Moscow airport.
Alexei Pushkov, who chairs the Duma's foreign affairs committee, stated that a move to Venezuela would be the best solution for the fugitive.
"Venezuela is waiting for an answer from Snowden. This, perhaps, is his last chance to receive political asylum," Pushkov said in a tweet on Sunday.
Although Snowden now has options in Latin America, his ability to travel there from Moscow is uncertain given the difficulty of crossing airspace in Europe and the possibility of any plane he is on being intercepted if it passes through US airspace.
Senior US politicians have underscored that any nation helping Snowden should suffer the consequences.
The US House intelligence committee chairman, Mike Rogers, said on Sunday that the US should look at trade agreements with the nations that are offering asylum "to send a very clear message that we won't put up with this kind of behaviour".
As the latest report from Brazil shows, documents provided by Snowden have contained embarrassing revelations about US spying operations on friendly nations as well as its own people.
The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Martin Dempsey, said in a CNN interview on Sunday that US relations with some allies had been damaged and the revelations had affected "the importance of trust".
Dempsey said the US would "work our way back. But it has set us back temporarily."
***********Edward Snowden: US surveillance 'not something I'm willing to live under'
In second part of Glenn Greenwald interview, NSA whistleblower insists he is a patriot who regards the US as fundamentally good
Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewen MacAskill
The Guardian, Monday 8 July 2013 19.22 BST
Link to video: Edward Snowden: 'The US government will say I aided our enemies'http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2013/jul/08/edward-snowden-video-interview
Edward Snowden predicted more than a month ago while still in hiding in Hong Kong that the US government would seek to demonise him, telling the Guardian that he would be accused of aiding America's enemies.
In the second instalment of an interview carried out before he revealed himself as the NSA whistleblower, Snowden insisted that he was a patriot and that he regards the US as a fundamentally good country.
But he said he had chosen to release the highly classified information because freedoms were being undermined by intelligence agency "excesses".
The interview was conducted on June 6 in a hotel room in Hong Kong. The first part of the interview was released on Sunday June 9, starting a media frenzy and intensifying US efforts to track him down.
Snowden has since fled Hong Kong for Moscow, where he is reportedly marooned while resisting US attempts to extradite him to face charges under the Espionage Act.
In the newly released interview excerpts, he predicted he would be portrayed not as a whistleblower but a spy.
"I think they are going to say I have committed grave crimes, I have violated the Espionage Act. They are going to say I have aided our enemies in making them aware of these systems. But this argument can be made against anyone who reveals information that points out mass surveillance systems," he said.
Asked whether he had sought a career in the intelligence community specifically to become a mole and reveal secrets, Snowden, 30, said he had joined government service very young, first enlisting in the US army immediately after the invasion of Iraq out of a belief in "the goodness of what we were doing. I believed in the nobility of our intentions to free oppressed people overseas."
But his views shifted over the length of his career as he watched the news, which he saw as propaganda, not truth. "We were actually involved in misleading the public and misleading all the publics, not just the American public, in order to create certain mindset in the global consciousness and I was actually a victim of that."
He had not fallen out of love with America, only its government. "America is a fundamentally good country. We have good people with good values who want to do the right thing. But the structures of power that exist are working to their own ends to extend their capability at the expense of the freedom of all publics."
In the new excerpts, he explained his motivation for revealing the information. "I don't want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity or love or friendship is recorded," he said. "And that's not something I'm willing to support, it's not something I'm willing to build and it's not something I'm willing to live under."
He also insisted he had continued with his job while waiting for political leaders to rein in what he decribed as "government excesses".
But, he said, "as I've watched I've seen that's not occuring, and in fact we're compounding the excesses of prior governments and making it worse and more invasive. And no one is really standing to stop it."
Snowden has been attacked by his critics for first going to Hong Kong, which is part of China, even though it enjoys freedoms not available on the mainland, and to Russia. He has been offered asylum in Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua but faces the practical problem of how to get to any of these countries.
The most recent poll, for the Huffington Post and YouGov, suggested a shift in support away for Snowden, with 38% saying they feel he did the wrong thing in leaking documents against 33% who felt he did the right thing. After the first interview, 35% said he did the wrong thing while 38% said he had done the right thing.
The interview took place immediately after the Guardian published the first leak about a court order to Verizon ordering it to hand over US customers' call records to the NSA.
Snowden explained why he thought that story and the other subsequent leaks about the NSA and its partnership with the corporate sector had to be made public.
"They are getting everyone's calls, everyone's call records and everyone's internet traffic as well."
In reference to one surveillance system – Boundless Informant – that he said allowed the NSA to track data it was accumulating, he said: "The NSA lied about the existence of this tool to Congress and to specific congressmen in response to previous inquiries about their surveillance activities."
He was part of the internet generation that grew up on the understanding that it was free, he said. The partnership between the intelligence agencies and the corporate sector was a "dangerous collaboration", especially for an organisation like the the NSA that has demonstrated time and again "it works to shield itself from oversight".
07/08/2013 03:34 PMEdward Snowden Interview: The NSA and Its Willing Helpers
In an interview conducted using encrypted e-mails, whistleblower Edward Snowden discusses the power of the NSA, how it is "in bed together with the Germans" and the vast scope of Internet spying conducted by the United States and Britain.
Shortly before he became a household name around the world as a whistleblower, Edward Snowden answered a comprehensive list of questions. They originated from Jacob Appelbaum, 30, a developer of encryption and security software. Appelbaum provides training to international human rights groups and journalists on how to use the Internet anonymously.
Appelbaum first became more broadly known to the public after he spoke on behalf of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at a hacker conference in New York in 2010. Together with Assange and other co-authors, Appelbaum recently released a compilation of interviews in book form under the title "Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet."
Appelbaum wound up on the radar of American authorities in the course of their investigation into the WikiLeaks revelations. They have since served legal orders to Twitter, Google and Sonic to hand over information about his accounts. But Appelbaum describes his relationship with WikiLeaks as being "ambiguous," and explains here how he was able to pose questions to Snowden.
"In mid-May, documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras contacted me," Appelbaum said. "She told me she was in contact with a possible anonymous National Security Agency (NSA) source who had agreed to be interviewed by her."
"She was in the process of putting questions together and thought that asking some specific technical questions was an important part of the source verification process. One of the goals was to determine whether we were really dealing with an NSA whistleblower. I had deep concerns of COINTELPRO-style entrapment. We sent our securely encrypted questions to our source. I had no knowledge of Edward Snowden's identity before he was revealed to the world in Hong Kong. He also didn't know who I was. I expected that when the anonymity was removed, we would find a man in his sixties."
"The following questions are excerpted from a larger interview that covered numerous topics, many of which are highly technical in nature. Some of the questions have been reordered to provide the required context. The questions focus almost entirely on the NSA's capabilities and activities. It is critical to understand that these questions were not asked in a context that is reactive to this week's or even this month's events. They were asked in a relatively quiet period, when Snowden was likely enjoying his last moments in a Hawaiian paradise -- a paradise he abandoned so that every person on the planet might come to understand the current situation as he does."
"At a later point, I also had direct contact with Edward Snowden in which I revealed my own identity. At that time, he expressed his willingness to have his feelings and observations on these topics published when I thought the time was right."
Editor's note: The following excerpts are taken from the original English-language version of the interview. Potential differences in language between the German and English versions can be explained by the fact that we have largely preserved the technical terms used by Snowden in this transcript. Explanations for some of the terminology used by Snowden as well as editor's notes are provided in the form of footnotes.
Interviewer: What is the mission of America's National Security Agency (NSA) -- and how is the job it does compatible with the rule of law?
Snowden: They're tasked to know everything of importance that happens outside of the United States. That's a significant challenge. When it is made to appear as though not knowing everything about everyone is an existential crisis, then you feel that bending the rules is okay. Once people hate you for bending those rules, breaking them becomes a matter of survival.
Interviewer: Are German authorities or German politicians involved in the NSA surveillance system?
Snowden: Yes, of course. We're 1 in bed together with the Germans the same as with most other Western countries. For example, we 2 tip them off when someone we want is flying through their airports (that we for example, have learned from the cell phone of a suspected hacker's girlfriend in a totally unrelated third country -- and they hand them over to us. They 3 don't ask to justify how we know something, and vice versa, to insulate their political leaders from the backlash of knowing how grievously they're violating global privacy.
Interviewer: But if details about this system are now exposed, who will be charged?
Snowden: In front of US courts? I'm not sure if you're serious. An investigation found the specific people who authorized the warrantless wiretapping of millions and millions of communications, which per count would have resulted in the longest sentences in world history, and our highest official simply demanded the investigation be halted. Who "can" be brought up on charges is immaterial when the rule of law is not respected. Laws are meant for you, not for them.
Interviewer: Does the NSA partner with other nations, like Israel?
Snowden: Yes. All the time. The NSA has a massive body responsible for this: FAD, the Foreign Affairs Directorate.
Interviewer: Did the NSA help to create Stuxnet? (Stuxnet is the computer worm that was deployed against the Iranian nuclear program.)
Snowden: NSA and Israel co-wrote it.
Interviewer: What are some of the big surveillance programs that are active today and how do international partners aid the NSA?
Snowden: In some cases, the so-called Five Eye Partners 4 go beyond what NSA itself does. For instance, the UK's General Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has a system called TEMPORA. TEMPORA is the signals intelligence community's first "full-take" Internet buffer that doesn't care about content type and pays only marginal attention to the Human Rights Act. It snarfs everything, in a rolling buffer to allow retroactive investigation without missing a single bit. Right now the buffer can hold three days of traffic, but that's being improved. Three days may not sound like much, but remember that that's not metadata. "Full-take" means it doesn't miss anything, and ingests the entirety of each circuit's capacity. If you send a single ICMP packet 5 and it routes through the UK, we get it. If you download something and the CDN (Content Delivery Network) happens to serve from the UK, we get it. If your sick daughter's medical records get processed at a London call center … well, you get the idea.
Interviewer: Is there a way of circumventing that?
Snowden: As a general rule, so long as you have any choice at all, you should never route through or peer with the UK under any circumstances. Their fibers are radioactive, and even the Queen's selfies to the pool boy get logged.
Interviewer: Do the NSA and its partners across the globe do full dragnet data collection for telephone calls, text and data?
Snowden: Yes, but how much they get depends on the capabilities of the individual collection sites -- i.e., some circuits have fat pipes but tiny collection systems, so they have to be selective. This is more of a problem for overseas collection sites than domestic 6 ones, which is what makes domestic collection so terrifying. NSA isn't limited by power, space and cooling PSC constraints.
'US Multinationals Should Not Be Trusted'
Interviewer: The NSA is building a massive new data center in Utah. What is its purpose?
Snowden: The massive data repositories.
Interviewer: How long is the collected data being stored for?
Snowden: As of right now, full-take collection ages off quickly ( a few days) due to its size unless an analyst has "tasked" 7 a target or communication, in which the tasked communications get stored "forever and ever," regardless of policy, because you can always get a waiver. The metadata 8 also ages off, though less quickly. The NSA wants to be at the point where at least all of the metadata is permanently stored. In most cases, content isn't as valuable as metadata because you can either re-fetch content based on the metadata or, if not, simply task all future communications of interest for permanent collection since the metadata tells you what out of their data stream you actually want.
Interviewer: Do private companies help the NSA?
Snowden: Yes. Definitive proof of this is the hard part because the NSA considers the identities of telecom collaborators to be the jewels in their crown of omniscience. As a general rule, US-based multinationals should not be trusted until they prove otherwise. This is sad, because they have the capability to provide the best and most trusted services in the world if they actually desire to do so. To facilitate this, civil liberties organizations should use this disclosure to push them to update their contracts to include enforceable clauses indicating they aren't spying on you, and they need to implement technical changes. If they can get even one company to play ball, it will change the security of global communications forever. If they won't, consider starting that company.
Interviewer: Are there companies that refuse to cooperate with the NSA?
Snowden: Also yes, but I'm not aware of any list. This category will get a lot larger if the collaborators are punished by consumers in the market, which should be considered Priority One for anyone who believes in freedom of thought.
Interviewer: What websites should a person avoid if they don't want to get targeted by the NSA?
Snowden: Normally you'd be specifically selected for targeting based on, for example, your Facebook or webmail content. The only one I personally know of that might get you hit untargeted are jihadi forums.
Interviewer: What happens after the NSA targets a user?
Snowden: They're just owned. An analyst will get a daily (or scheduled based on exfiltration summary) report on what changed on the system, PCAPS 9 of leftover data that wasn't understood by the automated dissectors, and so forth. It's up to the analyst to do whatever they want at that point -- the target's machine doesn't belong to them anymore, it belongs to the US government.
1 "We're" refers to the NSA.
2 "We" refers to the US intelligence service apparatus
3 "They" refers to the other authorities.
4 The "Five Eye Partners" is a reference to the intelligence services of United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
5 "ICMP" is a reference to Internet Control Message Protocol. The answer provided here by Snowden was highly technical, but it was clear that he was referring to all data packets sent to or from Britain.
6 "Domestic" is a reference to the United States.
7 In this context, "tasked" refers to the full collection and storage of metadata and content for any matched identifiers by the NSA or its partners.
8 "Metadata" can include telephone numbers, IP addresses and connection times, among other things. Wired Magazine offers a solid primer on metadata.
9 "PCAPS" is an abbreviation of the term "packet capture".
Interview conducted by Jacob Appelbaum and Laura Poitras
07/08/2013 05:47 PMIndispensible Exchange: Germany Cooperates Closely with NSA
German authorities insist they knew nothing of the NSA's Internet spying operations. But SPIEGEL research shows how closely US and German agencies work together. The German opposition is asking uncomfortable questions 11 weeks ahead of a general election.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's government faces uncomfortable questions about German involvement in American and British Internet and telephone surveillance after whistleblower Edward Snowden told SPIEGEL that German agencies and the NSA are "in bed together."
With a general election due in 11 weeks, the controversy has opened up a new battleground in the campaign, and the opposition center-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the Green Party are charging onto it.
SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel said it could be that Merkel "knows more than has become known so far."
Thomas Oppermann, a senior member of the SPD, called on the government to cancel surveillance cooperation agreements with the United States. Hans-Christian Ströbele, a lawmaker with the Greens, said he didn't believe the government's statements that it didn't know about the spying.
"For me it's just a matter of time before the government admits something," he told SPIEGEL ONLINE. Petra Pau of the Left Party said Merkel should stop "pretending she knew nothing."
For the last four weeks, the German government has been insisting that it didn't know that the United States has spent years monitoring vast quantities of Internet traffic, emails and telephone calls.
The parliament's oversight committee monitoring German intelligence activities has met three times since the revelations came to light, and each time senior government representatives who had been called to testify shrugged their shoulders.
The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution -- Germany's domestic intelligence agency -- the BND foreign intelligence agency, and Merkel's Chancellery were all apparently unaware of what has been going on. Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said he knew nothing but made clear that the data fishing by Germany's American friends was bound to be OK. Criticism of it, he said, amounted to "anti-Americanism."
Germany Cooperates Closely With NSA
But Snowden told SPIEGEL that the BND knew more about the activities of the NSA in Germany than previously known.
SPIEGEL reporting also indicates that cooperation between the NSA and Germany's foreign intelligence service, the BND, is more intensive than previously known.
A lot is at stake for Europe and the US. This week talks will begin on the planned trans-Atlantic free trade agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Invesment Partnership (TTIP). The Americans' snooping could endanger the project.
The Snowden case is entering its next round. At first he revealed how the NSA spes on data networks. Last week SPIEGEL reported that the US was also spying on its allies including Germany. Now the controversy has broadened to include whether the allies themselves are involved in the snooping.
There are times when the inner workings of the world suddenly come to light. Veils fall to the ground and the world suddenly looks different. These are such times.
A man does something that represents the best traditions of the West -- he enlightens people, points out wrongdoing and opens eyes. That's what Edward Snowden has done. And what's happening to him? The West's leading nation, the US, is hunting him down, and almost every country is going along with it, especially the rest of the West.
Western Nations Kow-Towing to US
Fear is governing the world, fear of the wrath of the US, fear of President Barack Obama who was once hailed as a global savior. Few seem ready to dare to take on the political and economic superpower.
The West is making itself look ridiculous through submissiveness, by failing to live up to its own values. Meanwhile, states like China or Russia, the constant focus of Western moral finger-wagging, were the first where Snowden sought shelter.
Last Wednesday, Merkel and Obama had a telephone conversation in which both tried to play down the row. There would be "opportunities for an intense exchange about these questions," officials said afterwards. That wasn't the tough talking that 78 percent of Germans are demanding of Merkel in her dealings with the US on the issue, according to a recent opinion poll by Infratest Dimap.
This week a German government delegation will travel to Washington for talks with the Department of Homeland Security, the NSA and the US administration. They hope to glean information on what has been going on. When German opposition parties complained that the delegation only consisted of second-tier officials, Interior Minister Friedrich hastily decided to join them.
9/11 Silenced Criticism of 'Echelon' Spying System
Foreign data snooping has caused outrage in Germany and Europe before. Twelve years ago, a European Parliament committee criticized "Echelon," which it described as a "global surveillance system for private and business communcations." In a 200-page report, the committee said that within Europe, all communications via email, telephone and fax were regularly monitored by the intelligence services of the US, Britain, Canada and Australia.
The European lawmakers recommended a series of rules and agreements to curb the snooping. But two months later, terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center and it quickly emerged that some of them had lived in Germany. All criticism of "Echelon" fell abruptly silent.
But the German government, despite all its current protestations of ignorance and innocence, cannot be unaware that US surveillance specialists remain active on German soil. At present the NSA is expanding its presence in Germany considerably.
The best-known monitoring facility is in the Bavarian town of Bad Aibling, extensively described in the "Echelon" report. Officially, the Americans gave up the listening post in 2004. But the white domes of the "Echelon" system, known as radomes, are still there. When the site was officially turned over to civilian use, that didn't apply to the area with the snooping technology. A connecting cable now transmits the captured signals to the site of the Mangfall army base a few hundred meters away. This is officially a German army communications base -- but in truth it belongs to the BND. Cooperating closely with a handful of NSA surveillance specialists, the German foreign intelligence service analyzes telephone calls, faxes and everything else transmitted via satellite.
BND Admits Monitoring Cooperation With NSA
Officially, the BND post in Bad Aibling doesn't exist, and neither does the local cooperation with the Americans. But in a confidential meeting with the parliament's intelligence oversight committee, BND head Gerhard Schindler last Wednesday confirmed the cooperation with the US service,
There are other locations in Germany where the Americans engage in data monitoring. The US army runs a top secret lstening post in the town of Griesheim near Darmstadt, in western Germany. Five radomes stand on the edge of the August-Euler airfield, hidden behind a little forest. If you drive past "Dagger Complex" you get suspicious looks from security guards. It's forbidden to take photos. Inside, soldiers analyze information for the armed forces in Europe. The NSA supports the analysts.
The need for data appears to be so great that the US army is building a new Consolidated Intelligence Center in the nearby city of Wiesbaden. The $124 million building will house bug-proof offices and a high-tech control center. As soon as it's completed, "Dagger Complex" will be shut down. Only US construction firms are being used. Even the building materials are being brought in from the US and closely guarded along the way.
Is it really conceivable that the German government knows nothing of what the NSA is doing on its own doorstep? Last month Interior Minister Friedrich said in a parliamentary debate on the NSA snooping: "Germany has fortunately been spared big attacks in recent years. We owe that in part to the information provided by our American friends." Sentences like that reveal a pragmatic view of the US surveillance apparatus: What the NSA gets up to in detail is secondary -- what counts is what its snooping reveals. And that information, intelligence officials admit, is indispensable.
Without the tip-offs provided by the Americans, authorities would be partly blind in the fight against terrorism. While the BND and the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution are bound by strict rules, foreign intelligence agencies operating in Germany are largely uncontrolled in what they do, as long as it serves the war on terror.
Frankfurt's Role as East-West Data Crossroads
The example of Frankfurt, Germany's financial center, illustrates that. Frankfurt is a major crossroads for digital data. This where fiber-optic cables from Eastern Europe and Central Asia meet data lines from Western Europe. Emails, photos, telepone calls and tweets from crisis-hit countries in the Middle East also pass through Frankfurt. This is where international providers -- companies like Deutsche Telekom or US firm Level 3, which claims to transmit a third of the world's Internet traffic -- operate digital hubs.
For agencies like the NSA or BND, Frankfurt is an inexhaustible source of information. Documents provided by Snowden show that the NSA accesses half a billion pieces of communication each month. The BND also helps itself to data here. It is allowed to tap up to 20 percent of it. The service feeds data from five hubs in Germany for analysis to its headquarters in Pullach near Munich. Its analysts comb through the data for phone calls, emails or Internet messages that might uncover a nuclear smuggling deal or an al-Qaida plot.
The BND uses the NSA's help to analyze Internet traffic from the Middle East. The Americans provide the Germans with special tools that work with Arabic search terms. Does the US agency get access to the data in return? The BND denies this. All cooperation is in the form of assessing "finished intelligence," or completed intelligence reports, it insists.
But relations between the BND and NSA are closer than publicly admitted. They work together on clearly defined individual joint operations abroad when it comes to fighting terrorism or monitoring weapons shipments. At the Bad Aibling listening post, an NSA team works closely with BND agents. The BND uses Bad Aibling mainly to monitor Thuraya satellite phones used in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Americans help the Germans in this work. Is it really conceivable that with such close cooperation the one partner didn't know what the other was doing?
US Need Not Fear Much German Criticism
"We have no information so far that Internet hubs in Germany were spied on by the NSA," says the president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Hans-Georg Maassen. He also has no information on any snooping on the German government by the US. The agency has set up a working group to investigate Snowden's allegations.
In the end it's relatively insignificant whether any light will be shed on the outflow of German Internet data to the US. The German authorities are unlikely to criticize the Americans too harshly. "We can be blackmailed," said a high-ranking security official. "If the NSA shut off the tap, we'd be blind."
The US isn't just a friend, it's an all-powerful force one can choose to be friends with or not. The Snowden case shows how closely intertwined friendship and submissiveness can be.
SVEN BECKER, THOMAS DARNSTÄDT, JENS GLÜSING, HUBERT GUDE, FRITZ HABEKUSS, KONSTANTIN VON HAMMERSTEIN, MARC HUJER, DIRK KURBJUWEIT, MATHIEU VON ROHR, MARCEL ROSENBACH, MATTHIAS SCHEPP, JÖRG SCHINDLER, GREGOR PETER SCHMITZ, CHRISTOPH SCHULT, HOLGER STARK
**********In Secret, Court Vastly Broadens Powers of N.S.A.
By ERIC LICHTBLAU
Published: July 6, 2013
WASHINGTON — In more than a dozen classified rulings, the nation’s surveillance court has created a secret body of law giving the National Security Agency the power to amass vast collections of data on Americans while pursuing not only terrorism suspects, but also people possibly involved in nuclear proliferation, espionage and cyberattacks, officials say.
The rulings, some nearly 100 pages long, reveal that the court has taken on a much more expansive role by regularly assessing broad constitutional questions and establishing important judicial precedents, with almost no public scrutiny, according to current and former officials familiar with the court’s classified decisions.
The 11-member Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, known as the FISA court, was once mostly focused on approving case-by-case wiretapping orders. But since major changes in legislation and greater judicial oversight of intelligence operations were instituted six years ago, it has quietly become almost a parallel Supreme Court, serving as the ultimate arbiter on surveillance issues and delivering opinions that will most likely shape intelligence practices for years to come, the officials said.
Last month, a former National Security Agency contractor, Edward J. Snowden, leaked a classified order from the FISA court, which authorized the collection of all phone-tracing data from Verizon business customers. But the court’s still-secret decisions go far beyond any single surveillance order, the officials said.
“We’ve seen a growing body of law from the court,” a former intelligence official said. “What you have is a common law that develops where the court is issuing orders involving particular types of surveillance, particular types of targets.”
In one of the court’s most important decisions, the judges have expanded the use in terrorism cases of a legal principle known as the “special needs” doctrine and carved out an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s requirement of a warrant for searches and seizures, the officials said.
The special needs doctrine was originally established in 1989 by the Supreme Court in a ruling allowing the drug testing of railway workers, finding that a minimal intrusion on privacy was justified by the government’s need to combat an overriding public danger. Applying that concept more broadly, the FISA judges have ruled that the N.S.A.’s collection and examination of Americans’ communications data to track possible terrorists does not run afoul of the Fourth Amendment, the officials said.
That legal interpretation is significant, several outside legal experts said, because it uses a relatively narrow area of the law — used to justify airport screenings, for instance, or drunken-driving checkpoints — and applies it much more broadly, in secret, to the wholesale collection of communications in pursuit of terrorism suspects. “It seems like a legal stretch,” William C. Banks, a national security law expert at Syracuse University, said in response to a description of the decision. “It’s another way of tilting the scales toward the government in its access to all this data.”
While President Obama and his intelligence advisers have spoken of the surveillance programs leaked by Mr. Snowden mainly in terms of combating terrorism, the court has also interpreted the law in ways that extend into other national security concerns. In one recent case, for instance, intelligence officials were able to get access to an e-mail attachment sent within the United States because they said they were worried that the e-mail contained a schematic drawing or a diagram possibly connected to Iran’s nuclear program.
In the past, that probably would have required a court warrant because the suspicious e-mail involved American communications. In this case, however, a little-noticed provision in a 2008 law, expanding the definition of “foreign intelligence” to include “weapons of mass destruction,” was used to justify access to the message.
The court’s use of that language has allowed intelligence officials to get wider access to data and communications that they believe may be linked to nuclear proliferation, the officials said. They added that other secret findings had eased access to data on espionage, cyberattacks and other possible threats connected to foreign intelligence.
“The definition of ‘foreign intelligence’ is very broad,” another former intelligence official said in an interview. “An espionage target, a nuclear proliferation target, that all falls within FISA, and the court has signed off on that.”
The official, like a half-dozen other current and former national security officials, discussed the court’s rulings and the general trends they have established on the condition of anonymity because they are classified. Judges on the FISA court refused to comment on the scope and volume of their decisions.
Unlike the Supreme Court, the FISA court hears from only one side in the case — the government — and its findings are almost never made public. A Court of Review is empaneled to hear appeals, but that is known to have happened only a handful of times in the court’s history, and no case has ever been taken to the Supreme Court. In fact, it is not clear in all circumstances whether Internet and phone companies that are turning over the reams of data even have the right to appear before the FISA court.
Created by Congress in 1978 as a check against wiretapping abuses by the government, the court meets in a secure, nondescript room in the federal courthouse in Washington. All of the current 11 judges, who serve seven-year terms, were appointed to the special court by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., and 10 of them were nominated to the bench by Republican presidents. Most hail from districts outside the capital and come in rotating shifts to hear surveillance applications; a single judge signs most surveillance orders, which totaled nearly 1,800 last year. None of the requests from the intelligence agencies was denied, according to the court.
Beyond broader legal rulings, the judges have had to resolve questions about newer types of technology, like video conferencing, and how and when the government can get access to them, the officials said.
The judges have also had to intervene repeatedly when private Internet and phone companies, which provide much of the data to the N.S.A., have raised concerns that the government is overreaching in its demands for records or when the government itself reports that it has inadvertently collected more data than was authorized, the officials said. In such cases, the court has repeatedly ordered the N.S.A. to destroy the Internet or phone data that was improperly collected, the officials said.
The officials said one central concept connects a number of the court’s opinions. The judges have concluded that the mere collection of enormous volumes of “metadata” — facts like the time of phone calls and the numbers dialed, but not the content of conversations — does not violate the Fourth Amendment, as long as the government establishes a valid reason under national security regulations before taking the next step of actually examining the contents of an American’s communications.
This concept is rooted partly in the “special needs” provision the court has embraced. “The basic idea is that it’s O.K. to create this huge pond of data,” a third official said, “but you have to establish a reason to stick your pole in the water and start fishing.”
Under the new procedures passed by Congress in 2008 in the FISA Amendments Act, even the collection of metadata must be considered “relevant” to a terrorism investigation or other intelligence activities.
The court has indicated that while individual pieces of data may not appear “relevant” to a terrorism investigation, the total picture that the bits of data create may in fact be relevant, according to the officials with knowledge of the decisions.
Geoffrey R. Stone, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Chicago, said he was troubled by the idea that the court is creating a significant body of law without hearing from anyone outside the government, forgoing the adversarial system that is a staple of the American justice system. “That whole notion is missing in this process,” he said.
The FISA judges have bristled at criticism that they are a rubber stamp for the government, occasionally speaking out to say they apply rigor in their scrutiny of government requests. Most of the surveillance operations involve the N.S.A., an eavesdropping behemoth that has listening posts around the world. Its role in gathering intelligence within the United States has grown enormously since the Sept. 11 attacks.
Soon after, President George W. Bush, under a secret wiretapping program that circumvented the FISA court, authorized the N.S.A. to collect metadata and in some cases listen in on foreign calls to or from the United States. After a heated debate, the essential elements of the Bush program were put into law by Congress in 2007, but with greater involvement by the FISA court.
Even before the leaks by Mr. Snowden, members of Congress and civil liberties advocates had been pressing for declassifying and publicly releasing court decisions, perhaps in summary form.
Reggie B. Walton, the FISA court’s presiding judge, wrote in March that he recognized the “potential benefit of better informing the public” about the court’s decisions. But, he said, there are “serious obstacles” to doing so because of the potential for misunderstanding caused by omitting classified details.
Gen. Keith B. Alexander, the N.S.A. director, was noncommital when he was pressed at a Senate hearing in June to put out some version of the court’s decisions.
While he pledged to try to make more decisions public, he said, “I don’t want to jeopardize the security of Americans by making a mistake in saying, ‘Yes, we’re going to do all that.’ ”
************The world must hear from Edward Snowden again
The White House and its media allies are gradually undermining the NSA whistleblower. The cause of liberty needs his advocacy
guardian.co.uk, Monday 8 July 2013 15.20 BST
In the case of Edward Snowden and the secret surveillance abuses that he has exposed, it's us against them. But who is "us" and who is "them?"
This started out as a story of government spying programs exposed by a daring whistleblower, akin to the famous Pentagon Papers of 1971. This clearly pitted "us", the citizens and residents of the United States, against "them", an abusive, unaccountable government violating our rights and our constitution in secret. The citizens of other countries who had their rights violated by NSA spying, such as in Europe and, now we learn, Brazil, also became part of that "us".
But over the last few weeks powerful media outlets, mirroring the efforts of the US government, have shifted the narrative to more convenient terrain. "Us" now means "America", led by our national security state, which – if possibly overzealous sometimes – is trying to protect "us". "Them" is our adversaries – terrorists, of course, but also any government that is independent enough to be branded as "anti-American". And Edward Snowden – the "fugitive leaker" at best, or "traitorous spy" at worst – has, in some unexplained manner, helped "them", and seems to be getting help from "them" (in this case, governments that are "anti-American"; that is, independent of Washington).
Never mind that even Russia didn't want to get involved in the whole thing, and insisted that Snowden could only stay there if he would "cease his work aimed at damaging our American partners", the cold war rhetoric is too irresistible for journalists steeped in its patriotic fervor. Like Mike Meyers' Austin Powers, who woke up after a decades' long nap and didn't know that the cold war was over, they are ready to do battle with America's "enemies".
One of the most influential human rights organizations in the world, Amnesty International, didn't buy this media narrative. Last Tuesday, it accused the US government of "gross violations of [Snowden's] human rights", for trying to block him from applying for political asylum. Amnesty declared:
"It appears he is being charged by the US government primarily for revealing its – and other governments' – unlawful actions that violate human rights …
"No one should be charged under any law for disclosing information of human rights violations … Snowden is a whistleblower. He has disclosed issues of enormous public interest in the US and around the world."
The leading media outlets virtually ignored this voice and the legal issues that it raised.
The media can often determine what most people think on most issues, if given enough time and insufficient opposition. So, it is not surprising that the number of people who think that Snowden "did the right thing" has fallen over the past few weeks.
At this point, there is only one person who can turn this around: that is Edward Snowden himself. He has recorded only one interview, the one with Glenn Greenwald in which he took responsibility for the disclosures. It was a brilliant interview: he was crystal clear – morally, politically, and rhetorically.
"I'm no different from anybody else. I don't have special skills. I'm just another guy who sits there day to day in the office, watches what's happening and goes, 'This is something that's not our place to decide, the public needs to decide whether these programs and policies are right or wrong.'"
The sincerity of his appeal convinced millions that he was "us" – and that the people who now want to put him behind bars for life are "them".
It is understandable why he hasn't given any media interviews since then. He didn't expose these programs, despite some ridiculous punditry to the contrary*, to promote himself. He wants the focus to be on the crimes committed in secret by government, not on him. But sometimes, there is no avoiding center stage.
*Click to read: http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2013/06/29/glenn-greenwalds-speech-to-the-socialism-conference-with-transcript/
Snowden is the only person right now who can reach hundreds of millions of people with a truthful message. The media is currently hungry for his words; they are eager to ignore most of the other truth-tellers, like Amnesty International; or to disparage them. They have demonized Julian Assange, who has yet to be even charged with a single crime, not even a misdemeanor. They will eventually destroy Snowden if he does not forcefully speak out and defend himself.
This has practical, as well as political, consequences. On Friday, Venezuela and Nicaragua offered asylum to Snowden, followed by Bolivia on Saturday. And there are an unknown number of other countries – including Ecuador – that would almost certainly grant him asylum if he showed up there. There are a number of ways for him to fly to these places without passing over any country that takes orders from Washington. But will the US government violate international law again, and risk innocent lives, by trying to force down a plane in international air space?
This decision may depend on the Obama team's forecast of how the media would portray such a crime. If Snowden explains to the world why his actions were a legitimate and eminently justifiable exposure of government criminality, the White House may think twice about further illegal and possibly forceful efforts to block Snowden's right to political asylum.
The Obama team did not comment on the offers of asylum. This was very smart, since it was a safe bet that the media would respond for them, framing the issue not as one of independent governments exercising their right and obligation to offer political asylum to a whistleblower, but rather "them" trying to poke a finger in the eye of the United States.
But there are millions of Americans, and many more throughout the world, who can see through this crusty cold war retread. Snowden can reach many millions more with the truth. He needs to speak – not only to save himself, but also future whistleblowers whom the Obama administration wants to silence by punishing him. What is at stake is the whole cause of human rights, especially the right to asylum. The citizens of the world need to see that triumph over the intimidation from those who believe that raw power is all that counts.