Documents released by Edward Snowden reveal NSA surveillance on Germany & European allies
Classified documents released by Edward Snowden to German news publication Der Spiegel revealed that the National Security Agency has been secretly spying on Germany, France, Italy, among other countries as well as the European Union.
The NSA surveillance program dubbed “Boundless Informant” has collected billions of pieces of telecommunications data – including telephone calls, emails, text messages, and chats – from phone and Internet networks in Germany, France, Italy, and Poland.
In the case of Germany, a close ally of the U.S., a secret document indicated that the NSA “gathered metadata from some 15 million telephone connections and 10 million Internet datasets” on an average day in December 2012.
“The Americans are collecting metadata from up to half a billion communications a month in Germany,” according to Der Spiegel. “Can a sovereign state tolerate a situation in which half a billion pieces of data are stolen on its territory each month from a foreign country? And can this be done especially when this country has identified the sovereign state as a ’3rd party foreign partner’ and, as such, one that can be spied on at any time, as has now become clear?”
Der Spiegel also reported that the European Council headquarters in Brussels, the European Union’s diplomatic delegation’s office on K Street in Washington, D.C., and the European Union’s mission at the United Nations headquarters in New York were all under NSA surveillance.
“The NSA appears to be even more unscrupulous on its home turf,” according to Der Spiegel.
These revelations have sparked concern and outrage throughout Europe.
A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the NSA’s actions “unacceptable.”
“The monitoring of friends — this is unacceptable. It can’t be tolerated. We are no longer in the Cold War,” said Steffen Seibert speaking on behalf of Merkel. “Trust has to be the basis of our cooperation. When it comes to this affair, trust has to be re-established.
The European Commission, the EU High Representative, and the European council have all issued statements expressing concern and demands for clarification from the Obama administration about the reports of U.S. surveillance of EU premises.
“The President of the European Council is very concerned by the press reports with allegations of U.S. surveillance of EU premises abroad and in Brussels. The European Union, including through its External Action Service, is examining the allegations and in contact with U.S. authorities,” said the spokesman of EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy. “The European Union has demanded and expects full and urgent clarification by the U.S. regarding the allegations.”
President Barack Obama has agreed to evaluate the allegations reported by Der Spiegel and follow up with the European Union with more information.
“I’ve asked my team and the NSA to evaluate everything that’s being claimed. When we have answer, we will make sure to provide all the information that our allies want and what exactly the allegations have been,” Obama told reporters at a press conference in Tanzania. “The Europeans are some of the closest allies that we have in the world. And we work with them on everything, and we share intelligence constantly. And our primary concerns are the various security threats that may have an impact on both our countries.”
But the President’s remarks seem suggest that the NSA’s electronic surveillance practices are acceptable because such practices are commonly used by intelligence services all over the world.
“Every intelligence service – not just ours, but every European Intelligence service, every Asian intelligence service, wherever there’s an intelligence service – here’s one thing that they’re going to be doing: they’re going to be trying to understand the world better and what’s going on in world capitals around the world from sources that aren’t available through the New York Times or NBC News; that they are seeking additional insight beyond what’s available through open sources. And if that weren’t the case, then there would be no use for an intelligence service,” said Obama.
- WhiteHouse.gov: Remarks by President Obama and President Kikwete of Tanzania at Joint Press Conference
- Europa.eu: Statement by the European Commission on alleged surveillance of EU premises
- Europa.eu: Commission discussion on the alleged US intelligence activities targeting EU institutions and Member States
- German Federal Foreign Office: Meeting with US Ambassador Murphy: urgent clarification required
- Spiegel.de: How the NSA Targets Germany and Europe
- Spiegel.de: ‘No Longer in the Cold War’: Merkel Infuriated by US Spying
- Spiegel.de: Partner and Target: NSA Snoops on 500 Million German Data Connections
- State.gov: Press Availability in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
- State.gov: Daily press briefing July 1, 2013
- State.gov: Daily press briefing July 2, 2013
- European Union at the United Nations: Statement by the spokespersons of EU Council President Van Rompuy on press reports of U.S. surveillance of EU premises
- European Union at the United Nations: EU Commission discussion on alleged US intelligence activities targeting EU institutions and Member States
- Europa.eu: Statement by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on the alleged surveillance of EU premises
Category: Analysis, Civil Liberties, Corruption, Current Events, Feature, Government, Intelligence Community, International, News, Technology, U.S. · Tags: Angela Merkel, data mining, Der Spiegel, Edward Snowden, Europe, European Council, European Union, foreign policy, France, Germany, intelligence, Internet, Italy, leak, metadata, National Security Agency, NSA, Poland, President Barack Obama, privacy, spying, Steffen Seibert, surveillance, U.S., United States, whistleblower