U.S. global spying: subversion of Mexico, France


spyDer Spiegel: Fresh leak on US spying – NSA accessed Mexican president’s email (full text see below). Another disclosure from former CIA agent Edward Snowden has revealed that, as part of its global spy network against the nations and peoples of the world, the United States has been eavesdropping on the Mexican government for years – in particular former President Felipe Calderon, whose email messages have been targeted. According to the report, the spying into the email server of the “Mexican Presidencia domain” contained “diplomatic, economic and leadership communications” that allowed for “deep insight into policymaking and the political system.” An NSA division for “particularly difficult missions” called the “Tailored Access Operations” handled the operation.  The covert operation was carried out in conformity with an April 2013 list that enumerates the US’ surveillance priorities. That list, classified as “secret,” was authorized by the White House and “presidentially approved,” according to internal NSA documents, Der Siegel reports.

Along with targeting and sizing up the new president Enrique Peña Nieto “and others around him” as well as his predecessor, Calderon, a trustworthy American confidante, the rival drug cartels, etc., the U.S. spying included to “plan international investments.” The president’s office, the NSA reported, was now “a lucrative source.” Some 85,489 text messages were intercepted. Investments by whom, and to the benefit of whom? According to earlier leaked NSA documents, “the US also monitored email and telephone communications at Petrobras, the oil corporation in which the Brazilian government holds a majority stake. Brazil possesses enormous offshore oil reserves.”

Canadians should consider that the fact both Mexico and Canada are members of the so-called North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The US economic espionage against Mexico indicates what this “free trade” consists of. NAFTA is a straightforward instrument of the Union of North American Monopolies for annexation and consolidation of economic and political power on the continent. Not only are such arrangements being used by the US state to subvert even the sovereignty of its “allies” but the biggest monopolies have been integrated into the security establishment “to plan investments” and are enriched by its illegal economic espionage. The USA actions are in defiance of the norms and laws governing international relations, precisely what it falsely accuses many other countries of doing. Although Peña Nieto was conciliatory, the Mexican foreign ministry responded by rejecting such acts of cyberwar against its country: that the program “is unacceptable, illegitimate and against Mexican and international law.”

Canadians should further consider that if the Americans are carrying out such activities against what they consider rivals internationally and to probe their political leaders, what are they doing with regards to its ally Canada and towards those it considers rivals and opposition? In an interview with the Globe and Mail earlier this month, Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald indicated that previous revelations about Canadian espionage against Brazil were just the tip of the iceberg: “There is a huge amount of stuff about Canada. […].”

It is to be recalled that in April, 2003, then U.S. ambassador Paul Celluci frenziedly brought an internal fifth column into play in a desperate attempt to float paper groups – including Harper’s Reform Party, the Mike Harris Conservatives, the Stronach family (Magna Autoparts) and Toronto Zionists – to stage rallies to celebrate the Anglo-American war against Iraq and split the Canadians on the flimsy basis of whether they were “pro-American” or “anti-American,” something which Canadians categorically rejected. Celluci was then appointed to the board of the Magna monopoly, which helped finance a feeble Toronto rally of 150 lost souls at City Hall Square.

Since then scandal, blackmail and intrigue has been used against different political factions and personalities such as defence and external affairs ministers, or during the 2008 election (the RCMP political investigation into budget “leaks”) as a means to sort out differences amongst political factions. No doubt the the USA in collusion with the Harperites, who were bought to power in the electoral coup at that time, uses every means at their disposal to attack their enemies at home and in this country, as well as abroad.

Interestingly, Der Spiegel wonders aloud why US spying on its neighbour Mexico hasn’t generated any outrage but is astonishing silent about French spying on its neighbour Germany, and vice versa, or British spying on the European Union.

US global espionage is now revealed to be of industrial scale proportions, which of course has nothing to with the hackneyed pretext of the war on terrorism.

In related news, today Le Monde published another big revelation (full text, see below) from the Snowden disclosures – that the NSA has been engaged in widespread phone surveillance of French citizens. Glenn Greenwald co-wrote this article. The report claims that during a 30-day period from late 2012 to early 2013, the NSA recorded 70.3 million French phone calls. France is demanding answers from the US. Le Monde earlier published an expose of the fact that France has its own PRISM spy program. Nevertheless, the reaction from France is characteristically mild, while Mexico’s “Peña Nieto stated that Obama,” who approved the operation in the first place, “had promised him to investigate the accusations and to punish those responsible, if it was found that misdeeds had taken place.”!

Further, the whole issue of the sophisticated technics of these operations is a diversion from the fact that the USA, Canada, France, Germany and Britain are part of a global gang of rogue states – the imperialist system of states – which more and more follow no laws or principles consistent with international diplomacy.

With files from Jack Davis, Whistleblower News

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For your information: three articles

Fresh leak on US spying: NSA accessed Mexican president’s email

The NSA has been systematically eavesdropping on the Mexican government for years. It hacked into the president’s public email account and gained deep insight into policymaking and the political system. The news is likely to hurt ties between the US and Mexico.

By Jens Glüsing, Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark

THE National Security Agency (NSA) has a division for particularly difficult missions. Called “Tailored Access Operations” (TAO), this department devises special methods for special targets.

That category includes surveillance of neighboring Mexico, and in May 2010, the division reported its mission accomplished. A report classified as “top secret” said: “TAO successfully exploited a key mail server in the Mexican Presidencia domain within the Mexican Presidential network to gain first-ever access to President Felipe Calderon’s public email account.”

According to the NSA, this email domain was also used by cabinet members, and contained “diplomatic, economic and leadership communications which continue to provide insight into Mexico’s political system and internal stability.” The president’s office, the NSA reported, was now “a lucrative source.”

This operation, dubbed “Flatliquid,” is described in a document leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, which SPIEGEL has now had the opportunity to analyze. The case is likely to cause further strain on relations between Mexico and the United States, which have been tense since Brazilian television network TV Globo revealed in September that the NSA monitored then-presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto and others around him in the summer of 2012. Peña Nieto, now Mexico’s president, summoned the US ambassador in the wake of that news, but confined his reaction to demanding an investigation into the matter.

Now, though, the revelation that the NSA has systematically infiltrated an entire computer network is likely to trigger deeper controversy, especially since the NSA’s snooping took place during the term of Peña Nieto’s predecessor Felipe Calderón, a leader who worked more closely with Washington than any other Mexican president before him.

Brazil also targeted

Reports of US surveillance operations have caused outrage in Latin America in recent months. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff cancelled a planned trip to Washington five weeks ago and condemned the NSA’s espionage in a blistering speech to the United Nations General Assembly.

The US surveillance of politicians in Mexico and Brazil is not a one-off. Internal documents show these countries’ leaders represent important monitoring targets for the NSA, with both Mexico and Brazil ranking among the nations high on an April 2013 list that enumerates the US’ surveillance priorities. That list, classified as “secret,” was authorized by the White House and “presidentially approved,” according to internal NSA documents.

The list ranks strategic objectives for all US intelligence services using a scale from “1” for high priority to “5” for low priority. In the case of Mexico, the US is interested primarily in the drug trade (priority level 1) and the country’s leadership (level 3). Other areas flagged for surveillance include Mexico’s economic stability, military capabilities, human rights and international trade relations (all ranked at level 3), as well as counterespionage (level 4). It’s much the same with Brazil — ascertaining the intentions of that country’s leadership ranks among the stated espionage targets. Brazil’s nuclear program is high on the list as well.

When Brazilian President Rousseff took office in early 2011, one of her goals was to improve relations with Washington, which had cooled under her predecessor, the popular former labor leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Lula focused primarily on establishing closer ties with China, India and African nations, and even invited Iran’s then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Brazil, in a snub to the US. President Barack Obama postponed a planned visit to the capital, Brasília, as a result.

Rousseff, however, has distanced herself from Iran. And the first foreign minister to serve under her, Antonio Patriota, who recently resigned, was seen as friendly toward the US, maintaining good ties with his counterpart Hillary Clinton. Obama made a state visit to Brazil two years ago and Rousseff had planned to reciprocate with a visit to Washington this October.

Then came the revelation that US authorities didn’t stop short of spying on the president herself. According to one internal NSA presentation, the agency investigated “the communication methods and associated selectors of Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff and her key advisers.” It also said it found potential “high-value targets” among her inner circle.

Economic motives?

Rousseff believes Washington’s reasons for employing such unfriendly methods are partly economic, an accusation that the NSA and its director, General Keith Alexander, have denied. Yet according to the leaked NSA documents, the US also monitored email and telephone communications at Petrobras, the oil corporation in which the Brazilian government holds a majority stake. Brazil possesses enormous offshore oil reserves.

Just how intensively the US spies on its neighbors can be seen in another, previously unknown operation in Mexico, dubbed “Whitetamale” by the NSA. In August 2009, according to internal documents, the agency gained access to the emails of various high-ranking officials in Mexico’s Public Security Secretariat that combats the drug trade and human trafficking. This hacking operation allowed the NSA not only to obtain information on several drug cartels, but also to gain access to “diplomatic talking-points.” In the space of a single year, according to the internal documents, this operation produced 260 classified reports that allowed US politicians to conduct successful talks on political issues and to plan international investments. (emphasis added)

The tone of the document that lists the NSA’s “tremendous success” in monitoring Mexican targets shows how aggressively the US intelligence agency monitors its southern neighbor. “These TAO accesses into several Mexican government agencies are just the beginning – we intend to go much further against this important target,” the document reads. It goes on to state that the divisions responsible for this surveillance are “poised for future successes.”

While these operations were overseen from the NSA’s branch in San Antonio, Texas, secret listening stations in the US Embassies in Mexico City and Brasília also played a key role. The program, known as the “Special Collection Service,” is conducted in cooperation with the CIA. The teams have at their disposal a wide array of methods and high-tech equipment that allow them to intercept all forms of electronic communication. The NSA conducts its surveillance of telephone conversations and text messages transmitted through Mexico’s cell phone network under the internal code name “Eveningeasel.” In Brasília, the agency also operates one of its most important operational bases for monitoring satellite communications.

This summer, the NSA took its activities to new heights as elections took place in Mexico. Despite having access to the presidential computer network, the US knew little about Enrique Peña Nieto, designated successor to Felipe Calderón.

Spying on Peña Nieto

In his campaign appearances, Peña Nieto would make his way to the podium through a sea of supporters, ascending to the stage like a rock star. He is married to an actress, and also had the support of several influential elder statesmen within his party, the PRI. He promised to reform the party and fight pervasive corruption in the country. But those familiar with the PRI, which is itself regarded by many as corrupt, saw this pledge as little more than a maneuver made for show.

First and foremost, though, Peña Nieto promised voters he would change Mexico’s strategy in the war on drugs, announcing he would withdraw the military from the fight against the drug cartels as soon as possible and invest more money in social programs instead. Yet at the same time, he assured Washington there would be no U-turn in Mexico’s strategy regarding the cartels. So what were Peña Nieto’s true thoughts at the time? What were his advisers telling him?

The NSA’s intelligence agents in Texas must have been asking themselves such questions when they authorized an unusual type of operation known as structural surveillance. For two weeks in the early summer of 2012, the NSA unit responsible for monitoring the Mexican government analyzed data that included the cell phone communications of Peña Nieto and “nine of his close associates,” as an internal presentation from June 2012 shows. Analysts used software to connect this data into a network, shown in a graphic that resembles a swarm of bees. The software then filtered out Peña Nieto’s most relevant contacts and entered them into a databank called “DishFire.” From then on, these individuals’ cell phones were singled out for surveillance.

According to the internal documents, this led to the agency intercepting 85,489 text messages, some sent by Peña Nieto himself and some by his associates. This technology “might find a needle in a haystack,” the analysts noted, adding that it could do so “in a repeatable and efficient way.”

It seems, though, that the NSA’s agents are no longer quite as comfortable expressing such pride in their work. Asked for a comment by SPIEGEL, the agency replied: “We are not going to comment publicly on every specific alleged intelligence activity, and as a matter of policy we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations. As the President said in his speech at the UN General Assembly, we’ve begun to review the way that we gather intelligence, so that we properly balance the legitimate security concerns of our citizens and allies with the privacy concerns that all people share.”

Meanwhile, the NSA’s spying has already caused considerable political damage in the case of Brazil, seriously denting the mutual trust between Rousseff and Obama. Brazil now plans to introduce a law that will force companies such as Google and Facebook to store their data inside Brazil’s borders, rather than on servers in the US, making these international companies subject to Brazilian data privacy laws. The Brazilian government is also developing a new encryption system to protect its own data against hacking

So far, Mexico has reacted more moderately — although the fact that the NSA infiltrated even the presidential computer network wasn’t known until now. Commenting after TV Globo first revealed the NSA’s surveillance of text messages, Peña Nieto stated that Obama had promised him to investigate the accusations and to punish those responsible, if it was found that misdeeds had taken place.

In response to an inquiry from SPIEGEL concerning the latest revelations, Mexico’s Foreign Ministry replied with an email condemning any form of espionage on Mexican citizens, saying such surveillance violates international law. “That is all the government has to say on the matter,” stated a spokesperson for Peña Nieto.

Presumably, that email could be read at the NSA’s Texas location at the same time.

* * *

Snowden leaks: France summons US envoy over NSA surveillance claims

Prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault “shocked” at Le Monde’s claims that US intercepts French phone calls on “massive scale.” Targeted “politicians, businesspeople and members of the administration under a programme codenamed US-985D.”

The French government summoned the US ambassador in Paris on Monday to demand an urgent explanation over claims that the National Security Agency had engaged in widespread phone and internetsurveillance of French citizens.

The French daily Le Monde published details from the NSAwhistleblower Edward Snowden suggesting the US agency had been intercepting French phone traffic on what it termed “a massive scale”.

Le Monde said more than 70m French phone calls had been recorded in one 30-day period late last year. Techniques included the automatic recording of conversations from certain numbers, and sweeping up text messages based on keywords. The paper warned that the interceptions were likely to have targeted not just those with suspected terrorist links but also people in business, politics and the French administration.

The French prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, said he was shocked and demanded the US provide “clear answers, justifying the reasons these practices were used and above all creating the conditions of transparency so these practices can be put to an end”.

Asked if France should be directly voicing its concerns to Barack Obama, Ayrault said it was up to the French president, François Hollande, to take any action, but “clearly there must be measures and they will be taken”.

The White House responded by saying that the US “gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations”.

Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the National Security Council at the White House, said: “We’ve begun to review the way that we gather intelligence, so that we properly balance the legitimate security concerns of our citizens and allies with the privacy concerns that all people share.”

The claims were published as John Kerry, the US secretary of state, arrived in Paris for the start of a European tour to discuss the Middle East, especially Syria, and keen to stress close military and intelligence ties with Paris, which Kerry recently called the “oldest ally” of the US.

Laurent Fabius, French foreign minister, is due to meet Kerry on Tuesday to discuss Syria, but a French official said the NSA question would also be raised. Fabius warned: “This sort of practice between partners that invades privacy is totally unacceptable and we have to make sure, very quickly, that this no longer happens.”

Fabius added: “We co-operate in a useful way in the fight against terrorism, but that does not justify everything.“

The US ambassador, Charles Rivkin, was summoned to the French foreign ministry hours after Le Monde’s investigation was published on Monday morning .

A French official said Rivkin was met by the ministry’s head of staff, who reminded the US “that these types of practices between partners are totally unacceptable and we must be assured that they are no longer happening”. The French demanded that Washington provide a full explanation “and tangible response to our concerns as soon as possible”.

Marie Harf, deputy spokesperson at the state department, said the US was keen to ensure that press reports of “alleged intelligence activities” would not damage relations with France and other countries.

The reports in Le Monde, which were co-written by the outgoing Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald – who worked with Snowden to lay bare the extent of the NSA’s actions – claimed that between 10 December 2012 and 8 January 2013 the NSA recorded 70.3m phone calls in France.

According to the paper, the documents show that the NSA was allegedly targeting not only terrorist suspects but also politicians, businesspeople and members of the administration under a programme codenamed US-985D. The paper said “French interests” were “targeted on a daily basis”.

Le Monde highlighted what it called “techniques used to violate the secrets or simply the private life of French people”. The paper said: “The agency has several collection methods. When certain French phone numbers are dialled, a signal is activated that triggers the automatic recording of certain conversations. This surveillance also recovered SMS and content based on keywords.”

Such methods, it added, allowed the NSA to keep a systematic record of the history of each target’s connections. Le Monde said the unpublished Snowden documents it had seen showed “intrusion, on a vast scale, both into the private space of French citizens as well as into the secrets of major national firms”.

The most recent documents cited by Le Monde, dated April 2013, indicated the NSA’s interest in email addresses linked to Wanadoo, once part of France Telecom. About 4.5 million people still use wanadoo.fr email addresses in France. Also targeted was Alcatel-Lucent, a French-American telecoms company that employs more than 70,000 people and works in the sensitive sector of equipping communication networks.

One of the documents instructed analysts to draw not only from the electronic surveillance programme, but also from another initiative dubbed Upstream, which allows surveillance on undersea communications cables.

Le Monde said one document it consulted showed that between 8 February and 8 March 2013 the NSA collected, worldwide, 124.8bn telephone data items and 97.1bn computer data items. In Europe, only Germany and the UK exceeded France in terms of the numbers of interceptions.

Le Monde questioned why the French government had remained so discreet for months on the NSA question, compared with the tougher stance shown by Brazil and Germany.

In July Hollande threatened to suspend negotiations for a transatlantic free trade agreement after reports in the Guardian and Der Spiegel that the NSA spied on EU offices and European diplomatic missions in Washington and at the UN in New York.

“We were warned in June [about the programme] and we reacted strongly but obviously we need to go further,” Fabius said. Also in July, Le Monde reported that France runs its own vast electronic surveillance operation, intercepting and stocking data from citizens’ phone and internet activity, using similar methods to the NSA’s Prism programme.

* * *

“Success story”: NSA targeted French Foreign Ministry

America’s National Security Agency (NSA) targeted France’s Foreign Ministry for surveillance, according to an internal document seen by SPIEGEL.

(Sept. 1, 2013 ) – DATED June 2010, the “top secret” NSA document reveals that the intelligence agency was particularly interested in the diplomats’ computer network. All of the country’s embassies and consulates are connected with the Paris headquarters via a virtual private network (VPN), technology that is generally considered to be secure.

Accessing the Foreign Ministry’s network was considered a “success story,” and there were a number of incidents of “sensitive access,” the document states.

An overview lists different web addresses tapped into by the NSA, among them “diplomatie.gouv.fr,” which was run from the Foreign Ministry’s server. A list from September 2010 says that French diplomatic offices in Washington and at the United Nations in New York were also targeted, and given the codenames “Wabash” and “Blackfoot,” respectively. NSA technicians installed bugs in both locations and conducted a “collection of computer screens” at the one at the UN.

A priority list also names France as an official target for the intelligence agency. In particular, the NSA was interested in the country’s foreign policy objectives, especially the weapons trade, and economic stability.

US-French relations are being strained by such espionage activities. In early July, French President François Hollande threatened to suspend negotiations for a trans-Atlantic free trade agreement, demanding a guarantee from the US that it would cease spying after it was revealed that the French embassy in Washington had been targeted by the NSA.

“There can be no negotiations or transactions in all areas until we have obtained these guarantees, for France but also for all of the European Union, for all partners of the United States,” he said at the time.

The NSA declined to comment to SPIEGEL on the matter. As details about the scope of the agency’s international spying operations continue to emerge, Washington has come under increasing pressure from its trans-Atlantic partners. Officials in Europe have expressed concern that negotiations for the trade agreement would be poisoned by a lack of trust.


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