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United States Government Privacy

NSA Monitored Calls of 35 World Leaders 310

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "The Guardian reports that the NSA monitored the phone conversations of 35 world leaders after being given the numbers by an official in another U.S. government department. According to a classified document provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden, the NSA encourages senior officials in its 'customer' departments, such the White House, State and the Pentagon, to share their 'Rolodexes' so the agency can add the phone numbers of leading foreign politicians to their surveillance systems. The NSA memo dated October 2006 that was obtained by the Guardian suggests that such surveillance was not isolated, as the agency routinely monitors the phone numbers of world leaders – and even asks for the assistance of other U.S. officials to do so. However, the memo acknowledges that eavesdropping on the numbers had produced 'little reportable intelligence.' At the daily briefing on Thursday, White House press secretary Jay Carney again refused to answer repeated questions about whether the U.S. had spied on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's calls in the past."
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NSA Monitored Calls of 35 World Leaders

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  • NWO (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rik Sweeney ( 471717 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @09:38AM (#45233309) Homepage

    Makes you wonder which country is the real threat in this world.

    • Re:NWO (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Friday October 25, 2013 @09:58AM (#45233511) Homepage Journal

      Well, it's unlikely that the Republic of Iowa would be devoting resources to spying on Chancellor Merkel. There's probably some point where one government is too big, too rich, and too powerful.

      Perhaps not coincidentally, the population of Iowa is about the same as the the entirety of the United States when it was formed. Some system designs don't scale indefinitely.

      • Re:NWO (Score:5, Insightful)

        by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @10:11AM (#45233657)

        The system was designed to scale just fine. What happened is that the system has been corrupted, and that corruption has been very thorough. Remember that the United States is supposed to separate powers and responsibilities. Three separate branches of Government with no ties to keep each other in check. Separate levels of Government with the same branch separations were supposed to keep the Federal level from becoming too powerful.

        After a reset, we must remember what Socrates stated. In order for a Republic to succeed the members of the Republic must be highly educated, and that a Political class must be guarded against. People have been deprived of education in Philosophy and Rhetoric. Without those two things, it's very easy for a small group to manipulate them. It's happened over and over again through history, and we are no exception.

      • Republic of Iowa would be spending all its resources on conqueror territory so it had access to the great lakes.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      What is WRONG with you people? Every country is spying on every other (with some exceptions). It's part of Statecraft. The British are spying on the Americans, who are spying on the Germans, who are spying on the French, who are spying on the British, the Americans and the Germans, etc. etc.

      Seriously funny that you people are all so pig ignorant about it and that this is somehow a surprise. Grow up.
      • Meh, that's like arguing "all countries have militaries and all have been in wars." OK, it's a true statement. But it overlooks awfully important differences in the size of those forces and how aggressively they use them, both internationally and against their own citizens.
  • Who's surprised? (Score:2, Insightful)

    Guess what, the U.S. has spy agencies and their job is to spy. It just confirms they're doing an effective job, which is rare in government.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by synapse7 ( 1075571 )
      Also, we know Al Gore invented the internet and we all know ownership is nine-tenths of the law..
    • Yeah I think this a lot. The US has a government, their job is to govern, and yet it's always news when the government governs in a way the people don't like. And here I am just like HELLO, they're a government: it's their job to govern things JEEZ.

    • by sl4shd0rk ( 755837 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @09:54AM (#45233475)

      It just confirms they're doing an effective job

      Despite breaking the law, disregarding the constitution and making secret laws using a secret court which the people who they serve have no right to access? You may want to do a little more research on how the NSA is 'doing an effective job'

      The real rarity in government is elected officials actually serving with an interest in the people.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Don't get me wrong, I adamantly oppose the NSA spying on American citizens. However, this article is focused on world leaders of other countries.

        • Re:Who's surprised? (Score:4, Informative)

          by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @10:27AM (#45233953) Homepage

          Don't get me wrong, I adamantly oppose the NSA spying on American citizens. However, this article is focused on world leaders of other countries.

          So, the rest of the world has your permission to start spying on US citizens then?

          I sincerely hope that comes true for you.

          • They can & do try. It's not exactly a secret that Russia has physical spies [] in the U.S. or China has been cyber-attacking [] the U.S. or 'friendly' nations like France doing corporate espionage [].

    • by Pinky's Brain ( 1158667 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @10:00AM (#45233547)

      Their job is not to get caught, especially when spying on allies ... they're not doing an effective job.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      An effective job would be getting human spies near leaders, press, mil and having total signals intelligence coverage too.
      The US seems to have its crypto ENIGMA like 'win' but you can really only play that emerging telco/radio tech trick once.
      What are the options?
      The US totally fooled 35 nations signals intelligence teams 100% of the time for how many decades now?
      Or the US was fed slight disinformation by 35 nations signals intelligence teams for many years.
      Its rare for 35 other governments to be tha
    • by Savage-Rabbit ( 308260 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @10:24AM (#45233891)

      Guess what, the U.S. has spy agencies and their job is to spy. It just confirms they're doing an effective job, which is rare in government.

      Guess what, the U.S has armed forces and their job is to blow stuff up. That does not mean that it's a good idea to have them blow up America's allies. I know everybody spies on everybody else but when you are treating your allies like enemies it's time to re-examine which is more important to you, your alliances or knowing what the president of France eats for breakfast or where the chancellor of Germany buys her strudel. As for doing their job, I fail to see how US intelligence can be said to be doing its job in view of their complete inability to keep a lid on their operations and keep in mind that we haven't even begun to take into account the miserable US intelligence failures that led to the Iraq war which must surely lead one to lower the competence rating of the US intelligence services still further.

      • Allies today, enemies tomorrow? Things change quickly. We were fighting Germany & Japan 60 years ago.

        Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan are all supposed allies, we have treaties and security counsels with them, but are they really our friends? This [] was 3 years ago.

    • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

      Guess what, the U.S. has spy agencies and their job is to spy. It just confirms they're doing an effective job, which is rare in government.

      Think about what would happen if this weren't signals intelligence.

      Imagine if US agents were routinely captured breaking into offices of senior leaders rifling through filing cabinets. That would be considered a SERIOUS diplomatic incident.

      It also highlights the weaknesses in cell phones. For the most part they involve security by obscurity, which isn't good for something that broadcasts all of its data by radio.

    • by dcollins ( 135727 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @11:16AM (#45234847) Homepage

      "Guess what, the U.S. has spy agencies and their job is to spy. It just confirms they're doing an effective job, which is rare in government."

      You guys who say this have to realize that all of this belligerent surveillance winds up targeted squarely at the heads of American citizens at home. The security apparatus does have one quasi-legitimate problem with their current mission -- If the idea is to tap all of the world's communications all the time, on the Internet, packets are not tagged with geographic or political-state indicators. So the only solution, really, is to suck up every packet, American and non-American alike, which is what they are now doing.

      With Internet packet switching, the only way for Americans to expect communication privacy rights is for everyone in the world to have communication privacy rights. Surveilling everyone means surveilling all Americans, all the time. Do you really want that?

  • Good (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BitZtream ( 692029 )

    That is their job after all. If this surprises you, you're a moron.

    They aren't supposed to spy on their OWN citizens, but the very definition of their job is to spy on important people in other countries.

    • Really? Why is it their job to spy on Angela Merkel, if Obama could just read the newspaper or call her up to find out what she's thinking? Nobody says the NSA shouldn't spy on North Korea, but how about the right balance ? Shouldn't they spy on the military infrastructure of enemy countries rather than close allies and trade partners?

      Anyway, the bright side of this news is that the cooling down of relations between the US and EU countries might result in less violations of constitutional rights of citizen

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is the NSA fufilling its role.. full stop. If you're not a US citizen and you're doing something of interests to our intelligence services you should be targeted.

    If you're a citizen of an Echelon [] country, you have no room to talk because your nation is a partner. (To be honest, I thought Echelon was Anglosphere only, but there's the Netherlands in the fray.. wow. )

    And do not for a second act as though other nations don't do this. You can start with Frenchelon []. And to those who bleat about economic and

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Echelon is 5 nations. Other countries e.g. Sweden's FRA helped. Germany's BND would give everything (all telco) within (~West) Germany to the NSA but knew it would never get anything back as a swap or deal that the Echelon nations enjoyed. Germany would be thanked in return via mil/signals projects.
      Sweden and Switzerland had emerging commercial crypto exports and had to be contained too so gov deals where done.
      Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, Ethiopia, Libya, Kenya, Morocco, India and Pakistan all helped wit
  • by guytoronto ( 956941 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @09:48AM (#45233419)
    Everybody knows the U.S. intelligence community is paranoid as hell, and always listening. If not the NSA, then maybe the CIA, FBI, or any of the dozens of other intelligence agencies in the U.S.

    None of these world leaders are shocked or surprised.
  • Here in the US countries like France are heavily restricted from operating and managing US entities that have ties to US security and law enforcement operations. (Bio-metrics, AFIS, Facial Recognition, Crypto, Official Identity and Credential Solutions, etc.) Because they are foreign? No. Because they have been caught spying on the US.

    The only different here is the US isn't flopping over and whining like a European Soccer player about a little spying.

    • The only different here is the US isn't flopping over and whining like a European Soccer player about a little spying.

      Do you seriously believe that US politicians wouldn't feign the same outrage if the roles were reversed and documents about the French tapping congress and your President leaked out?

      And no one would be childish enough to rename French Fries to Freedom Fries in the congressional cafeterias.

      • We do get a little peeved when the Iranians or the Chinese do it to us. But that's okay because we're real Americans and Europeans aren't, n'est pas?
  • by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @09:55AM (#45233487) Journal
    Where are their spies? Its as if they just let their top political leaders stumble around the world stage as bait for the NSA. Congrats on the election win, here our tested 'safe' phone, fax machine. Use it a lot.
    A vast pile of documents are then sent.
    In some safe house an inner group of political leaders meet as another group of political suits 'act' on the world stage with their leaky phones.
    Giving the NSA and US just what it wants/expects to hear?
    All the same countries faced the same intercept threats from communists, fascism, their own press and political rivals yet show zero skill when using the US global telco networks?
    Are all the signals intelligence staff of 35 nations really more loyal to the USA than their own leadership?
    Or are we seeing 35 nations playing [] with a US gov so entranced with its own intercept skills? With little to no human spies left for "reality" what is the US really gathering other than what 35 govs select to talk about on phones they know are junk.....
  • Perfectly normal (Score:3, Informative)

    by Issarlk ( 1429361 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @10:01AM (#45233559)
    You never know when a world leader goes Al Qaeda suicide bomber all of a sudden, unless you listen it her calls. I'm sure Angela Merkel wears a Burqa secretly when alone at home.
  • by Entropius ( 188861 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @10:14AM (#45233701)

    Can you please spy on my government and tell me what the hell they're up to these days? I have no clue, and they're certainly not telling.

    An American

  • ... because they could.

    As opposed to all other intelligence/counter-intelligence agencies in the world, who do exactly the same thing, for exactly the same reason.

    I think the reason they got "little reportable intelligence" is because when you are in a position like that (president of a country, foreign dignitary, etc) , you at the very least _assume_ your allies will try to listen to your conversations.

    At this level "reportable intelligence" conversations are not carried over public/listed phone lines, but

  • The U.S. spies on other countries? SHOCKING!!!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Do you understand what broken trust is?
    Do you understand that you will be the outcast bully because all you do is fling shit at your former friends and allies.
    Do you understand that nobody wants to play with you any more because you turned into a arrogant paranoid dick?
    Do you understand what do undo others ... means?
    You lost all your morals and with it any claims to be of any value to the world.
    Stop excusing your paranoid behavior and rediscover your former values. It will be long way of humility to rebuild

  • Of course the NSA spied on foreign nations - it's a spy agency after all.

    Allies have always spied on one another. In the past British intelligence has provided information to the FBI that it had gathered while spying on Americans.

    The outrage was that the NSA was spying internally on Americans, since that should require a warrant.

  • Mr. Unimportant from the land of Do Not Disturb. ... and that guy is hurt and offended.

    Kidding aside, I can't imagine anyone in these governments being actually surprised -- what I figure is that the corporations NOT on the "Multinational Stranglehold of Governments" team is the group that is saying; "Hey, maybe we lost those trade negotiations while someone was spying on Al Qaeda, they were really doing corporate espionage."

    And then the SHOCK once the American public realizes; wow, our military and inte

  • So they listen in on phone conversations of world leaders and find little intelligence there ;-)
    Should we be shocked? I don't find that odd at all.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter