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Snowden’s Ride, Part 9: Catherine Ashton, EU Defense and Intelligence Structure and the Muslim Brotherhood

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COMMENT: Before doing sum­ma­ry posts (or, per­haps, broad­casts in lieu of that) we high­light some inter­est­ing devel­op­mets in con­nec­tion with L’Af­faire Snow­den.

We have done numer­ous posts since the begin­ning of this dance macabre, and emphat­i­cal­ly encour­age users of this web­site to study them at length and in detail:  Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VII, Part VIIIPart IXPart X, Part XI, Part XIIPart XIIIPart XIV, Part XV. It is well beyond the scope of this arti­cle to sum up the infor­ma­tion pre­sent­ed in them. Users of this web­site are emphat­i­cal­ly encour­aged to exam­ine them at length and detail.

In this post, we note an inter­est­ing devel­op­ment in EU defense and intel­li­gence pos­ture, jus­ti­fied as an out­growth of the Snow­den “dis­clo­sures” (note the quotes.)

The EU is plan­ning to devel­op its own mil­i­tary and intel­li­gence struc­ture, includ­ing ” . . .  new spy drones and satel­lites for “inter­nal and exter­nal secu­ri­ty poli­cies”, which will include police intel­li­gence, the inter­net, pro­tec­tion of exter­nal bor­ders and mar­itime sur­veil­lance . . . .”

This is being ratio­nal­ized as nec­es­sary because: “. . . . The Edward Snow­den scan­dal shows us that Europe needs its own autonomous secu­ri­ty capa­bil­i­ties . . . .”

Crit­ics have expressed con­cerns ” . . . . that the EU is cre­at­ing its own ver­sion of the US Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency. . . . ” 

Sev­er­al aspects of this are strik­ing:

  • As we have stressed so often, the infor­ma­tion “dis­closed” by Snow­den is NOT new. Among the points we have high­light­ed in our cov­er­age of L’Af­faire Snow­den is the fact that there was a major inter­na­tion­al con­tro­ver­sy over the NSA/GCHQ Ech­e­lon oper­a­tion years ago, which pro­duced a report by the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment. That report not­ed that sev­er­al Euro­pean coun­tries oper­at­ed in sim­i­lar ways. So why is the revamp of Euro­pean mil­i­tary and intel­li­gence struc­ture being done now? (See text excerpts below.)
  • As dis­cussed in FTR #700, Cather­ine Ash­ton was seen as being a use­ful tool for the real­iza­tion of Ger­man inter­ests with­in the EU. (See text excerpts below.)
  • Ash­ton has also been active in ame­lio­rat­ing the sit­u­a­tion of impris­oned Mus­lim Broth­er­hood pres­i­dent Mohamed Mor­si of Egypt. (See text excerpts below.)
  • Ger­many has been very active on behalf of Mor­si and the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood.  (See text excerpts below.) This comes as no sur­prise. In FTR #343–among oth­er programs–we exam­ined the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood’s her­itage as an Islam­ic fas­cist orga­ni­za­tion, allied with the Axis in World War II. That pro­gram was sub­ti­tled: “Old Com­plic­i­ties That Go Back to the 1930’s.” 
  • Once in pow­er fol­low­ing “The Mus­lim Broth­er­hood Spring,” as we called The Arab Spring, Mor­si and the Broth­er­hood act­ed true to form and his­to­ry.

Among the things that come to mind in con­nec­tion with this:

  • Is Ash­ton’s mint­ing of a new, EU intelligence/military struc­ture being done at Ger­many’s insti­ga­tion?
  • Will the drone force be used to help keep dis­si­dent EU states, insti­tu­tions, pop­u­la­tions and indi­vid­u­als in line?
  • Will the new EU mil­i­tary force be used in a sim­i­lar fash­ion?
  • Will the col­lab­o­ra­tion between NSA and BND be decou­pled, “by pop­u­lar request” and “in keep­ing with demo­c­ra­t­ic prin­ci­ple,” after the dis­clo­sures by Snow­den?
  • Will the decou­pling be used to allow greater oper­a­tional lat­i­tude to Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and/or Nazi ter­ror­ists to act? 

Stay tuned!

“World Brief­ing | Europe: Report On U.S. Spy Sys­tem” by Suzanne Daley; The New York Times; 9/6/2001.

EXCERPT: [Notice when this was published–9/6/2001.–D.E.] . . . The Unit­ed States-led spy­ing sys­tem known as Ech­e­lon can mon­i­tor vir­tu­al­ly every com­mu­ni­ca­tion in the world — by e‑mail, phone or fax — that bounces off a satel­lite, the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment was told. But in report­ing on a year­long study of the sys­tem that was prompt­ed by con­cern that Amer­i­can com­pa­nies were using data from the sys­tem to gain a com­pet­i­tive edge, Ger­hard Schmid, a Ger­man mem­ber of the Par­lia­ment, said that many Euro­pean coun­tries had sim­i­lar abil­i­ties . . .

“EU Plan­ning to ‘Own and Oper­ate’ Spy Drones and an Air Force” by Bruno Water­field; The Tele­graph [UK]; 7/26/2013.

EXCERPT: The Euro­pean Union is plan­ning to “own and oper­ate” spy drones, sur­veil­lance satel­lites and air­craft as part of a new intel­li­gence and secu­ri­ty agency under the con­trol of Baroness Ash­ton.

The con­tro­ver­sial pro­pos­als are a major move towards cre­at­ing an inde­pen­dent EU mil­i­tary body with its own equip­ment and oper­a­tions, and will be strong­ly opposed by Britain.

Offi­cials told the Dai­ly Tele­graph that the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion and Lady Ashton’s Euro­pean Exter­nal Action Ser­vice want to cre­ate mil­i­tary com­mand and com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tems to be used by the EU for inter­nal secu­ri­ty and defence pur­pos­es. Under the pro­pos­als, pur­chas­ing plans will be drawn up by autumn.

The use of the new spy drones and satel­lites for “inter­nal and exter­nal secu­ri­ty poli­cies”, which will include police intel­li­gence, the inter­net, pro­tec­tion of exter­nal bor­ders and mar­itime sur­veil­lance, will raise con­cerns that the EU is cre­at­ing its own ver­sion of the US Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency.

Senior Euro­pean offi­cials regard the plan as an urgent response to the recent scan­dal over Amer­i­can and British com­mu­ni­ca­tions sur­veil­lance by cre­at­ing EU’s own secu­ri­ty and spy­ing agency.

“The Edward Snow­den scan­dal shows us that Europe needs its own autonomous secu­ri­ty capa­bil­i­ties, this pro­pos­al is one step fur­ther towards Euro­pean defence inte­gra­tion,” said a senior EU offi­cial. . . .

“Assertive­ness”; German-Foreign-Policy.com; 8/12/2009.

EXCERPT: Berlin is insist­ing on access to essen­tial posts in the Euro­pean Exter­nal Action Ser­vice (EEAS). Accord­ing to news reports, the Ger­man gov­ern­ment is demand­ing that the post of EEAS Gen­er­al Sec­re­tary be giv­en to a Ger­man. Lead­ing per­son­nel from the Chan­cellery and the For­eign Min­istry are being sug­gest­ed. The gen­er­al sec­re­tary heads the admin­is­tra­tion and is sec­ond only to the EU High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for For­eign Affairs and Secu­ri­ty Pol­i­cy, Cather­ine Ash­ton, who is con­sid­ered to be very weak, mean­ing that a Ger­man EEAS gen­er­al sec­re­tary would have a free hand. The struc­tur­ing of the EEAS is one of Berlin’s most essen­tial objec­tives since the Lis­bon Treaty took effect, rein­forc­ing the EU on its path toward becom­ing a world pow­er. As was expressed in Berlin’s for­eign min­istry, the basic fea­tures of the new admin­is­tra­tion must be insti­tu­tion­al­ized by April 2010, so that the British Con­ser­v­a­tives, expect­ed to be the vic­tors of the next par­lia­men­tary elec­tions in the spring of 2010, will not be able to have any influ­ence. They are capa­ble of putting up seri­ous resis­tance to Ger­man hege­mon­ic pol­i­cy. . . .

“Mor­si’s Vis­i­tors Leave a Mys­tery On Where He Is” by Kareem Fahim and Mayy  El Sheikh; 7/31/2013.

EXCERPT: Mohamed Mor­si, deposed as pres­i­dent by the Egypt­ian mil­i­tary on July 3, is in good health, a trick­le of vis­i­tors allowed access to him and his aides in recent days has revealed. Where he is, how­ev­er, remains a mys­tery that has enraged his fam­i­ly and sup­port­ers, and aggra­vat­ed Egypt’s cri­sis.

The most recent per­son to vis­it him, Cather­ine Ash­ton, the Euro­pean Union’s top for­eign pol­i­cy offi­cial, was not blind­fold­ed on Mon­day when she was tak­en to him, aides said. But she was flown by heli­copter in the dark of night on the con­di­tion that she not reveal any­thing about Mr. Morsi’s where­abouts. . . .

“Egypt’s Future Should Include Broth­er­hood: Merkel” [AP]; Ahra­mon­line; 7/14/2013.

EXCERPT: Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel is urg­ing Egypt’s new rulers not to exclude the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood from the polit­i­cal process as they work on plans for the future.

In an inter­view with ARD tele­vi­sion Sun­day, Merkel reit­er­ated Germany’s call for the release of Mohammed Mor­si, a Broth­er­hood leader who was oust­ed as Egypt’s pres­i­dent by the mil­i­tary near­ly two weeks ago. The U.S. has backed that call. . . .

“Updat­ed: Ger­many calls for Mor­si release in Egypt” [AFP]; Ahra­mon­line; 7/12/2013.

EXCERPT: Ger­many on Fri­day called for the release of oust­ed Egypt­ian pres­i­dent Mohamed Mor­si amid mount­ing ten­sions between sup­port­ers and oppo­nents over his over­throw.

“We call for an end to the restric­tions on Mr Morsi’s where­abouts,” a for­eign min­istry spokesman told reporters. . . .

“Broth­er­hood Must Play Role in Egypt Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion: Ger­man FM”; Ahra­mon­line; 7/25/2013.

EXCERPT: Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter Gui­do West­er­welle has urged all par­ties in Egypt to find a prompt solu­tion to the country’s polit­i­cal cri­sis, Al-Ahram Ara­bic news web­site report­ed.

West­er­welle issued a state­ment on Thurs­day stress­ing that Egypt’s future can­not be decid­ed by “con­fronta­tions.”

Egypt’s demo­c­ra­tic tran­si­tion requires the Mus­lim Brotherhood’s inclu­sion in the polit­i­cal scene, he added. “Paving the way for a sta­ble future will not be achieved unless the demo­c­ra­tic tran­si­tion includes all civil­ian lead­ers.” . . .

“Mor­si Release Would Aid Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, Asserts Ger­man Ambas­sador” by Sarah El-Rashi­di; Ahra­mon­line; 7/2013.

EXCERPT: Ger­man Ambas­sador to Egypt Michael Bock has clar­i­fied his country’s posi­tion dur­ing a small press meet­ing attend­ed by Ahram Online Wednes­day at the Ger­man Embassy in Cairo fol­low­ing a con­tentious state­ment made by the Ger­man for­eign min­istry call­ing for the release of deposed pres­i­dent Mohamed Mor­si.

The state­ment was wide­ly con­demned among Egyp­tians amidst ongo­ing polit­i­cal upheaval between sup­port­ers and oppo­nents of Morsi’s removal.

“We call for an end to the restric­tions on Mr Morsi’s where­abouts and sug­gest a trust­ed insti­tu­tion be grant­ed access to Mor­si,” stat­ed a Ger­man for­eign min­istry spokesman Fri­day, iden­ti­fy­ing the Inter­na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross as a cred­i­ble body for the task. . . .



10 comments for “Snowden’s Ride, Part 9: Catherine Ashton, EU Defense and Intelligence Structure and the Muslim Brotherhood”

  1. Here’s a sto­ry that high­lights one of the biggest long-term risks that the glob­al response to the NSA-scan­dal: the balka­niza­tion of the inter­net into national/regional net­works:

    Why NSA Sur­veil­lance Will Be More Dam­ag­ing Than You Think
    The real threat from ter­ror­ism is not the harm it inflicts direct­ly but the over-reac­tion it pro­vokes. We saw that with the inva­sion of Iraq. We’re see­ing it with secu­ri­ty-state over­reach.
    James Fal­lows Jul 30 2013, 4:39 AM ET

    This col­umn over the week­end, by the British aca­d­e­m­ic John Naughton in the Guardian, takes us one more step in assess­ing the dam­age to Amer­i­can inter­ests in the broad­est sense– com­mer­cial, strate­gic, ide­o­log­i­cal — from the panop­ti­con approach to “secu­ri­ty” brought to us by NSA-style mon­i­tor­ing pro­grams.

    Naughton’s essay does­n’t tech­ni­cal­ly tell us any­thing new. For instance, see ear­li­er reports like this, this, and this. But it does sharp­en the focus in a use­ful way. Who­ev­er wrote the head­line and espe­cial­ly the sub­head did a great job of cap­tur­ing the gist:

    Edward Snow­den’s not the sto­ry. The fate of the inter­net is
    The press has lost the plot over the Snow­den rev­e­la­tions. The fact is that the net is fin­ished as a glob­al net­work and that US firms’ cloud ser­vices can­not be trust­ed

    In short: because of what the U.S. gov­ern­ment assumed it could do with infor­ma­tion it had the tech­no­log­i­cal abil­i­ty to inter­cept, Amer­i­can com­pa­nies and Amer­i­can inter­ests are sure to suf­fer in their efforts to shape and ben­e­fit from the Inter­net’s con­tin­ued growth.

    * Amer­i­can com­pa­nies, because no for­eign­ers will believe these firms can guar­an­tee secu­ri­ty from U.S. gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance;
    * Amer­i­can inter­ests, because the Unit­ed States has grave­ly com­pro­mised its plau­si­bil­i­ty as world-wide admin­is­tra­tor of the Inter­net’s stan­dards and advo­cate for its open, above-pol­i­tics goals.

    Why were U.S. author­i­ties in a posi­tion to get at so much of the world’s dig­i­tal data in the first place? Because so many of the world’s cus­tomers have trust­ed* U.S.-based firms like Google, Yahoo, Apple, Ama­zon, Face­book, etc with their data; and because so many of the world’s nations have tol­er­at­ed an info-infra­struc­ture in which an out­sized share of data flows at some point through U.S. sys­tems. Those are the con­di­tions of trust and tol­er­a­tion that like­ly will change.

    The prob­lem for the com­pa­nies, it’s worth empha­siz­ing, is not that they were so undu­ly eager to coop­er­ate with U.S. gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance. Many seem to have done what they could to resist. The prob­lem is what the U.S. gov­ern­ment — first under Bush and Cheney, now under Oba­ma and Biden — asked them to do. As long as they oper­ate in U.S. ter­ri­to­ry and under U.S. laws, com­pa­nies like Google or Face­book had no choice but to com­ply. But peo­ple around the world who have a choice about where to store their data, may under­stand­ably choose to avoid leav­ing it with com­pa­nies sub­ject to the way Amer­i­ca now defines its secu­ri­ty inter­ests.

    Here’s Naughton’s ver­sion of the impli­ca­tions:

    The first is that the days of the inter­net as a tru­ly glob­al net­work are num­bered. It was always a pos­si­bil­i­ty that the sys­tem would even­tu­al­ly be Balka­nised, ie divid­ed into a num­ber of geo­graph­i­cal or juris­dic­tion-deter­mined sub­nets as soci­eties such as Chi­na, Rus­sia, Iran and oth­er Islam­ic states decid­ed that they need­ed to con­trol how their cit­i­zens com­mu­ni­cat­ed. Now, Balka­ni­sa­tion is a cer­tain­ty....

    Sec­ond, the issue of inter­net gov­er­nance is about to become very con­tentious. Giv­en what we now know about how the US and its satraps have been abus­ing their priv­i­leged posi­tion in the glob­al infra­struc­ture, the idea that the west­ern pow­ers can be allowed to con­tin­ue to con­trol it has become unten­able.... Noth­ing, but noth­ing, that is stored in their [ie, US-based com­pa­nies] “cloud” ser­vices can be guar­an­teed to be safe from sur­veil­lance or from illic­it down­load­ing by employ­ees of the con­sul­tan­cies employed by the NSA.

    The real threat from ter­ror­ism has nev­er been the dam­age it does direct­ly, even through attacks as hor­rif­ic as those on 9/11. The more seri­ous threat comes from the over-reac­tion, the col­lec­tive insan­i­ty or the sim­ple loss of per­spec­tive, that an attack evokes. Our gov­ern­men­t’s ambi­tion to do every­thing pos­si­ble to keep us “safe” has put us at jeop­ardy in oth­er ways.


    The true balka­niza­tion of the inter­net seems unlike­ly at this point (eas­i­er said than done), but it will be very inter­est­ing to see if we begin see­ing real long-range plans for some­thing like nation­al intranets (remem­ber Mini­tel?). The idea sounds absurd at this point for just about any nation to sort of black­out the rest of the world, but, as Fal­lows points out in the above arti­cle, the threat of a gov­ern­ment going crazy after an attack is very real. And while the era of major nation-threat­en­ing cyber-attacks has yet to emerge, we’re get­ting close:

    CSO Online
    Iran to shield itself from cyber­at­tack using secure intranet
    Talks up plans for anti-Inter­net

    By John E Dunn

    August 07, 2012 — Tech­world — Iran appears to be press­ing ahead with its promise to estab­lish a “nation­al infor­ma­tion net­work” that could unhitch some of the coun­try’s most vul­ner­a­ble gov­ern­ment sys­tems from the Inter­net as part of an exper­i­ment in dig­i­tal iso­la­tion.

    Accord­ing to an unsourced report in the Dai­ly Tele­graph, the coun­try’s telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions min­is­ter Reza Taghipour used a con­fer­ence at Amir Kabir Uni­ver­si­ty at the week­end to firm up plans for what amounts to huge nation­al Intranet. But what is its pur­pose?

    “The estab­lish­ment of the nation­al intel­li­gence net­work will cre­ate a sit­u­a­tion where the pre­cious intel­li­gence of the coun­try won’t be acces­si­ble to these pow­ers,” Taghipour report­ed­ly said, mak­ing ref­er­ence to attempts by the coun­try’s ene­mies to hack into its nation­al sys­tems.

    For any­one famil­iar with Stuxnet, Duqu and the more recent Flame mal­ware, Iran’s para­noia about cyber­at­tack is far from mis­placed. It is no secret that the coun­try is smack in the fir­ing line of for­eign intel­li­gence agen­cies.

    From the plans allud­ed to by the Ira­ni­ans in the past, the sys­tem being pro­posed sounds like a ver­sion of Chi­na’s great fire­wall with few­er points of ingress. That won’t remote­ly shield pro­tect the coun­try’s infra­struc­ture from pry­ing by the coun­try’s ene­mies; intranets are just as prone to hack­ing if that can be launched from with­in.

    Not coin­ci­den­tal­ly, the cre­ation of a sort of decou­pled Intranet will also make it eas­i­er to con­trol dis­si­dent com­mu­ni­ca­tion with­in the coun­try, forc­ing them to tra­verse infra­struc­ture that can be mon­i­tored by the state. Some will see this as the main moti­va­tion.

    Bliss­ful iso­la­tion is a theme that Iran’s tech­nocrats touch on with notable fre­quen­cy. In the past, the coun­try has pro­posed cre­at­ing its own PC oper­at­ing sys­tem in order to escape the clutch­es of West­ern soft­ware and even its own antivirus soft­ware pro­gramme.

    Much of this sounds aspi­ra­tional — some of the threat to the coun­try comes from peo­ple who dis­like the regime with­in Iran itself — but what the coun­try did report­ed­ly start block­ing sites that use SSL secu­ri­ty such as Face­book and Twit­ter, as well as ban­ning Gmail.

    Nation­al intranets for spe­cif­ic crit­i­cal infra­struc­ture might make a lot of sense, espe­cial­ly as cyber­war­fare capa­bil­i­ties progress. Cyber­war­fare is going to make nation­al inter­net secu­ri­ty a nation­al secu­ri­ty issue every­where. It’s just a mat­ter of time. And that could make things like domes­tic and for­eign spy­ing quite messy because the best cyber defense is hav­ing the best cyber offense and that will include enhanced for­eign and domes­tic spy­ing capa­bil­i­ties. A mas­sive expan­sion of glob­al sur­veil­lance capa­bil­i­ties by nations around the world has been a glob­al trend for years. So let’s hope nation­al intranets or new mil­i­ta­rized Chi­nese-Fire­walls or worse don’t become part of that trend:

    Mon­tre­al Gazette
    U.S. sur­veil­lance puts Inter­net gov­er­nance at risk

    Amer­i­cans now face issue of lost trust

    By Michael Geist, Ottawa Cit­i­zen July 30, 2013

    One year ago, many users were engaged in a con­tentious debate over the ques­tion of who should gov­ern the Inter­net. The debate pit­ted the cur­rent mod­el led by a U.S.-based orga­ni­za­tion known as the Inter­net Cor­po­ra­tion for Assigned Names and Num­bers (ICANN, sup­port­ed by the U.S.) against a gov­ern­ment-led, Unit­ed Nations-style mod­el under which coun­tries such as Chi­na and Rus­sia could assert greater con­trol over Inter­net gov­er­nance. The dif­fer­ences between the two approach­es were nev­er as stark as some por­trayed since the cur­rent mod­el grants the U.S. con­sid­er­able con­trac­tu­al pow­er over ICANN, but the fear of greater for­eign gov­ern­ment con­trol over the Inter­net led to strong polit­i­cal oppo­si­tion to UN involve­ment.

    While sup­port­ers of the cur­rent mod­el ulti­mate­ly pre­vailed at a UN con­fer­ence in Dubai last Decem­ber where most West­ern democ­ra­cies, includ­ing Cana­da, strong­ly reject­ed major Inter­net gov­er­nance reforms, the issue was fun­da­men­tal­ly about trust. Giv­en that all gov­ern­ments have become more vocal about Inter­net mat­ters, the debate was nev­er over whether gov­ern­ment would be involved, but rather about who the glob­al Inter­net com­mu­ni­ty trust­ed to lead on gov­er­nance mat­ters.


    Not only do the sur­veil­lance pro­grams them­selves raise enor­mous pri­va­cy and civ­il lib­er­ties con­cerns, but over­sight and review is con­duct­ed almost entire­ly in secret with lit­tle or no abil­i­ty to guard against mis­use. In fact, U.S. offi­cials have now acknowl­edged pro­vid­ing inac­cu­rate infor­ma­tion on the pro­grams to elect­ed politi­cians, rais­ing fur­ther ques­tions about who is watch­ing the watch­ers.

    The sur­veil­lance pro­grams have emerged as a con­tentious polit­i­cal issue in the U.S., and there are sev­er­al rea­sons why the rever­ber­a­tions are like­ly to extend to the glob­al Inter­net gov­er­nance com­mu­ni­ty. First, the ele­ment of trust has been severe­ly com­pro­mised. Sup­port­ers of the cur­rent Inter­net gov­er­nance mod­el fre­quent­ly point­ed to Inter­net sur­veil­lance and the lack of account­abil­i­ty with­in coun­tries such as Chi­na and Rus­sia as evi­dence of the dan­ger of a UN-led mod­el. With the pub­lic now aware of the cre­ation of a mas­sive, secret U.S.-backed Inter­net sur­veil­lance pro­gram, the U.S. has ced­ed the moral high ground on the issue.

    Sec­ond, as the scope of the sur­veil­lance becomes increas­ing­ly clear, many coun­tries are like­ly to opt for a balka­nized Inter­net in which they do not trust oth­er coun­tries with the secu­ri­ty or pri­va­cy of their net­worked com­mu­ni­ca­tions. This could lead to new laws requir­ing com­pa­nies to store their infor­ma­tion domes­ti­cal­ly to counter sur­veil­lance of the data as it cross­es bor­ders or resides on com­put­er servers locat­ed in the U.S. In fact, some may go fur­ther by resist­ing the inter­op­er­abil­i­ty of the Inter­net that we now take for grant­ed.

    Third, some of those same coun­tries may demand sim­i­lar lev­els of access to per­son­al infor­ma­tion from the Inter­net giants. This could cre­ate a “pri­va­cy race to the bot­tom,” where gov­ern­ments around the world cre­ate par­al­lel sur­veil­lance pro­grams, ensur­ing that online pri­va­cy and co-oper­a­tive Inter­net gov­er­nance is a thing of the past.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 1, 2013, 9:05 pm
  2. Down we go...


    Aug 2, 9:51 AM EDT

    Ger­many nix­es sur­veil­lance pact with US, Britain

    Asso­ci­at­ed Press

    BERLIN (AP) — Ger­many can­celed a Cold War-era sur­veil­lance pact with the Unit­ed States and Britain on Fri­day in response to rev­e­la­tions by Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency leak­er Edward Snow­den about those coun­tries’ alleged elec­tron­ic eaves­drop­ping oper­a­tions.

    Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel had raised the issue of alleged Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency spy­ing with Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma when he vis­it­ed Berlin in June. But with weeks to go before nation­al elec­tions, oppo­si­tion par­ties had demand­ed clar­i­ty about the extent to which her gov­ern­ment knew of the intel­li­gence gath­er­ing oper­a­tions direct­ed at Ger­many and Ger­man cit­i­zens.

    Gov­ern­ment offi­cials have insist­ed that U.S. and British intel­li­gence were nev­er giv­en per­mis­sion to break Ger­many’s strict pri­va­cy laws. But they con­ced­ed that an agree­ment dat­ing back to the late 1960s gave the U.S., Britain and France the right to request Ger­man author­i­ties to con­duct sur­veil­lance oper­a­tions with­in Ger­many to pro­tect their troops sta­tioned there.

    “The can­cel­la­tion of the admin­is­tra­tive agree­ments, which we have pushed for in recent weeks, is a nec­es­sary and prop­er con­se­quence of the recent debate about pro­tect­ing per­son­al pri­va­cy,” Ger­many’s For­eign Min­is­ter Gui­do West­er­welle said in a state­ment.

    Posted by participo | August 2, 2013, 7:04 am
  3. @Pterrafractyl–

    A sim­i­lar col­umn in the Guardian by James Naughton makes this same point.


    I added it to “Snow­den’s Ride,” Part 5.

    Keep up the Great Work!

    Dave Emory

    Posted by Dave Emory | August 2, 2013, 4:12 pm
  4. @Participo–

    This hap­pened the very day on which I post­ed Snow­den’s Ride, Part 9.

    Right on time!

    Stay vig­i­lant and keep up the great work!



    Posted by Dave Emory | August 2, 2013, 4:14 pm
  5. http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/exclusive-obama-agrees-meeting-brotherhood-sources-say
    Exclu­sive: Oba­ma agrees to meet­ing with Broth­er­hood, sources say

    Tue, 06/08/2013 — 01:12
    Mon­er Adib
    Egypt Inde­pen­dent

    U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma has agreed to meet with Mus­lim Broth­er­hood rep­re­sen­ta­tives at the White House, sources told Egypt Inde­pen­dent.

    Oba­ma would report­ed­ly meet with Broth­er­hood offi­cials to “hear their opin­ion” on devel­op­ments in Egypt, in the pres­ence of Turk­ish diplo­mats.

    Egypt Inde­pen­dent heard from sources inside the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood that Islamist-linked bil­lion­aire Has­sen Malek request­ed a meet­ing through Oba­ma’s office man­ag­er.

    The meet­ing with Turk­ish offi­cials is expect­ed to take place this month.

    Turk­ish diplo­mats are expect­ed to push for Mohamed Morsy’s rein­state­ment as Egypt­ian pres­i­dent, sources said, if not that the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood would be assured of polit­i­cal sur­vival fol­low­ing a month-long vio­lent stand-off with the armed forces in the wake of Morsy’s over­throw.

    Over 300 peo­ple have been report­ed killed since army chief and Defense Min­is­ter Abdel Fat­tah al-Sisi announced Morsy’s ouster on 3 July.

    The U.S. has repeat­ed­ly sup­port­ed the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood’s ascen­dan­cy in Egypt, researcher Mohamed Hasanein Heikahl said.

    While a num­ber of Broth­er­hood lead­ers have pub­licly crit­i­cized the U.S. stance, accus­ing the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion of “play­ing a role in Morsy’s over­throw,” they are said to be hop­ing for a shift as ten­ta­tive talks con­tin­ue with Egyp­t’s inter­im admin­is­tra­tion.

    Posted by Vanfield | August 6, 2013, 11:17 am
  6. While it’s hard to imag­ine that built-in back-doors in hard­ware and soft­ware was sud­den­ly a new con­cern for Rus­si­a’s mil­i­tary, here’s a reminder that the mas­sive and point­less glob­al defense-relat­ed exports indus­try might also be vul­ner­a­ble to a fur­ther col­lapse in cross-bor­der trust:

    Rus­sia should use own elec­tron­ics in defense indus­try: deputy PM
    Reuters News | Jul 29, 2013

    By Alex­ei Anishchuk

    NOVO-OGARYOVO, Rus­sia (Reuters) — Rus­si­a’s defense indus­try is cut­ting down on its use of for­eign elec­tron­ics as a result of leaks by ex‑U.S. spy agency con­trac­tor Edward Snow­den, a Russ­ian gov­ern­ment offi­cial said on Mon­day.

    Snow­den’s actions in divulging details of U.S. gov­ern­ment intel­li­gence pro­grams had shown the need for arms mak­ers to be care­ful in import­ing any equip­ment that con­tained soft­ware capa­ble of trans­mit­ting sen­si­tive data abroad, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Dmit­ry Rogozin said.

    Rogozin specif­i­cal­ly referred to for­eign-made lath­es.

    “Those lath­es con­tain soft­ware which can have cer­tain set­tings. They could either shut down at some point or trans­mit cer­tain data about the engi­neer­ing para­me­ters of an assign­ment (in progress),” Rogozin, who over­sees the defense indus­try, told reporters after a meet­ing on arms con­tracts chaired by Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

    Russ­ian offi­cials have denied that Snow­den has been debriefed by Russ­ian secu­ri­ty ser­vices.

    “If we talk about elec­tron­ic com­po­nents used wide­ly in the navy, air force and armored vehi­cles, not to men­tion space ... here we will also stick to the neces­si­ty of key elec­tron­ic com­po­nents being pro­duced in Rus­sia,” Rogozin, Rus­si­a’s for­mer ambas­sador to NATO, said.

    The Russ­ian defense indus­try has been crip­pled by under financ­ing after the fall of the Sovi­et Union and domes­tic elec­tron­ic engi­neer­ing has large­ly fall­en behind, forc­ing pro­duc­ers to rely on for­eign-made elec­tron­ics.


    And in case any­one is curi­ous about how Rus­si­a’s defense indus­try would catch up tech­no­log­i­cal­ly in the area of microchips, they’re work­ing on it:

    The New York Times
    F.B.I. Says Rus­sians Smug­gled Out U.S. Microchips
    Pub­lished: Octo­ber 4, 2012

    MOSCOW — Russ­ian offi­cials had a mut­ed response on Thurs­day to a poten­tial­ly embar­rass­ing rev­e­la­tion by the Fed­er­al Bureau of Inves­ti­ga­tion that it had uncov­ered a ring of Russ­ian agents that was smug­gling microchips out of the Unit­ed States.

    The scheme focused on chips and oth­er elec­tron­ic com­po­nents that are com­mon­place enough in the Unit­ed States to cir­cu­late freely in the domes­tic mar­ket. But their export still requires a license, lest the elec­tron­ics wind up in the for­eign mil­i­tary equip­ment of coun­tries unable to man­u­fac­ture the com­po­nents them­selves.

    For Rus­sia, the unrav­el­ing of this Hous­ton-based net­work of chip buy­ers, if upheld in court, would sig­ni­fy a sec­ond major fail­ure in spy­craft since 2010, when fed­er­al agents arrest­ed a cir­cle of Russ­ian agents pos­ing as Amer­i­can sub­ur­ban­ites. With­in weeks, mem­bers of that group — includ­ing a young woman, Anna Chap­man — were trad­ed for four men impris­oned in Rus­sia.

    The real blow to Russ­ian sci­en­tif­ic pride is the sug­ges­tion that the country’s mil­i­tary and intel­li­gence agen­cies are still reduced to steal­ing com­mer­cial­ly avail­able chips from the Unit­ed States, after years of fail­ing to cre­ate a com­put­er indus­try here.

    The chips, which the F.B.I. said had been bought by a Hous­ton com­pa­ny called Arc Elec­tron­ics Inc. that false­ly pre­sent­ed itself as a man­u­fac­tur­er of traf­fic lights, report­ed­ly wound up in such vaunt­ed Russ­ian weapons as MIG fight­er jets and anti-ship mis­siles.

    The F.B.I. unsealed the indict­ment on Wednes­day against 11 peo­ple, all from the for­mer Sovi­et Union, some of them nat­u­ral­ized Amer­i­can cit­i­zens, includ­ing the man accused of being the ring­leader Alexan­der Fishenko, co-own­er of Arc Elec­tron­ics, an elec­tri­cal engi­neer from Kaza­khstan who stud­ied in St. Peters­burg, Rus­sia.

    Eight are in cus­tody; all are accused of var­i­ous licens­ing and weapons trad­ing vio­la­tions pun­ish­able with long prison sen­tences of up to 20 years. Mr. Fishenko is also accused of being a Russ­ian agent. Though the com­pa­ny was in Hous­ton, the case will be heard in the East­ern Dis­trict of New York because the group shipped microchips to Rus­sia from Kennedy Inter­na­tion­al Air­port.


    The Russ­ian inabil­i­ty to make microchips goes back decades and has sapped the con­fi­dence of gen­er­a­tions of engi­neers here. In the late Sovi­et peri­od it bared, dra­mat­i­cal­ly, the ever-widen­ing tech­no­log­i­cal gap with the Unit­ed States. Rus­sians took to brag­ging dark­ly that Sovi­et microchips here were the biggest in the world.

    The smug­gled Amer­i­can chips, the F.B.I. said, could be used in mis­sile guid­ance sys­tems, radar, police sur­veil­lance equip­ment or bomb trig­gers.


    Through the day Thurs­day, Russ­ian mil­i­tary com­pa­nies came for­ward to deny that their prod­ucts con­tained Amer­i­can chips, not to speak of those appar­ent­ly first bought under the pre­text they would be used in traf­fic lights.

    One unnamed rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the MIG fight­er air­plane com­pa­ny told the Russ­ian Infor­ma­tion Agency that there were no Amer­i­can chips in its lat­est, osten­si­bly high-tech air­plane, the MIG-35. “We cer­tain­ly don’t steal any­thing from the Unit­ed States.”


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 6, 2013, 6:59 pm
  7. Ummmm...since this was­n’t exact­ly a tiny, insignif­i­cant con­tract and the Ger­man elec­tions are only months away, just how urgent­ly does Sau­di Ara­bia need those tanks?

    Gen­er­al Dynam­ics to beat out Ger­many for Sau­di tank deal-report

    FRANKFURT, July 12 | Fri Jul 12, 2013 3:06am EDT

    (Reuters) — U.S. defence firm Gen­er­al Dynam­ics is in talks to deliv­er bat­tle tanks to Sau­di Ara­bia, beat­ing out Ger­man rival Krauss-Maf­fei Weg­mann for the lucra­tive deal, a Ger­man news­pa­per report­ed.

    Han­dels­blatt dai­ly cit­ed indus­try sources as say­ing on Fri­day that a deal for Sau­di Ara­bia to buy M1 Abrams tanks from Gen­er­al Dynam­ics was already in sight.

    Gen­er­al Dynam­ics and Krauss-Maf­fei Weg­mann were not imme­di­ate­ly avail­able for com­ment.

    There has been spec­u­la­tion for months that Sau­di Ara­bia could order more than 200 Leop­ard 2 tanks from Krauss-Maf­fei Weg­mann, though the com­pa­ny has nev­er con­firmed such reports.

    Accord­ing to oth­er uncon­firmed media reports, Ger­many gave pre-approval for the export of 270 Leop­ard 2 tanks to Sau­di Ara­bia in 2011.

    Defence sources in Ger­many have said that the Ger­man gov­ern­ment want­ed to hold off mak­ing a deci­sion until after fed­er­al elec­tions in Sep­tem­ber, and Han­dels­blatt spec­u­lat­ed on Fri­day that Sau­di Ara­bia was no longer will­ing to wait.

    Arms exports are a sen­si­tive issue in Ger­many giv­en its Nazi past as well as the role arms mak­ers such as Krupp played in feed­ing 19th and 20th cen­tu­ry wars with exports to both sides of con­flicts.

    Peer Stein­brueck, a leader of the oppo­si­tion Social Democ­rats run­ning against Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel in the elec­tion, has crit­i­cised her gov­ern­ment for let­ting arms exports surge.

    After World War Two, suc­ces­sive West Ger­man and lat­er unit­ed Ger­man gov­ern­ments placed tight restric­tions on arms exports, espe­cial­ly to regions where there were armed con­flicts or where human rights were poor­ly respect­ed.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 6, 2013, 7:29 pm
  8. With the lat­est leak of NSA doc­u­ments show­ing inter­nal audits that found 2776 pri­va­cy vio­la­tions from April 2011 to March of 2012 at Fort Meade and the Wash­ing­ton DC area alone and hints that this is just “the tip of the ice­berg”, the NSA has pushed back argu­ing that these were acci­den­tal and while 2776 might sound like a lot of vio­la­tions it’s a tiny frac­tion of the near­ly 20 mil­lion queries con­duct­ed by the agency each month. This, of course, rais­es the ques­tion of whether or not 20 mil­lion queries a month (about 666k per day) is an alarm­ing­ly high num­ber of queries to be con­duct­ing every month or not? But it ALSO rais­es the ques­tion of whether or not these were all queries con­duct­ed on behalf of US agen­cies. Where all those 20 mil­lion queries tar­get­ing peo­ple with­in the US? Or did this involve, for instance, the meta­da­ta on 500 mil­lion calls that the BND sends to the NSA each month and were the queries done on behalf of the BND? That kind of info would put the “20 mil­lion queries per month” num­ber in a some­what dif­fer­ent kind of alarm­ing con­text.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 17, 2013, 5:46 pm
  9. With the lat­est leak of NSA doc­u­ments show­ing inter­nal audits that found 2776 pri­va­cy vio­la­tions from April 2011 to March of 2012 at Fort Meade and the Wash­ing­ton DC area alone and hints that this is just “the tip of the ice­berg”, the NSA has pushed back argu­ing that these were acci­den­tal and while 2776 might sound like a lot of vio­la­tions it’s a tiny frac­tion of the near­ly 20 mil­lion queries con­duct­ed by the agency each month. This, of course, rais­es the ques­tion of whether or not 20 mil­lion queries a month (about 666k per day) is an alarm­ing­ly high num­ber of queries to be con­duct­ing every month or not? But it ALSO rais­es the ques­tion of whether or not these were all queries con­duct­ed on behalf of US agen­cies. Where all those 20 mil­lion queries tar­get­ing peo­ple with­in the US? Or did this involve, for instance, the meta­da­ta on 500 mil­lion calls that the BND sends to the NSA each month and were some of the queries done on behalf of the BND? That kind of info would put the “20 mil­lion queries per month” num­ber in a some­what dif­fer­ent kind of alarm­ing con­text.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 17, 2013, 5:49 pm
  10. It’ll be inter­est­ing to see if EU offi­cials decide to pull a ‘Rom­ney’ over the leaked “F*ck the EU” phone call. With Merkel describ­ing it as “absolute­ly unac­cept­able” and calls for Vic­to­ria Nuland’s res­ig­na­tion already com­ing from some EU MPs, “F*ck the EU” might become the lat­est rhetor­i­cal Rorschach test for US/EU rela­tions:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post
    Ger­mans not amused by Nuland gaffe

    By Antho­ny Faio­la, Updat­ed: Fri­day, Feb­ru­ary 7, 10:33 AM

    BERLIN – Ger­mans were already smart­ing from rev­e­la­tions that U.S. intel­li­gence lis­tened in on the phone con­ver­sa­tions of Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel. Then came Nulandgate.

    On Thurs­day, a video was post­ed on YouTube in which Vic­to­ria Nuland, the top U.S. diplo­mat for Europe, dis­parag­ing­ly dis­missed Euro­pean Union efforts to medi­ate the ongo­ing cri­sis in the Ukraine by blunt­ly say­ing “F— the E.U.” On Fri­day, Merkel, through press attaché Chris­tiane Wirtz, described the gaffe as “absolute­ly unac­cept­able,” and defend­ed the efforts of Cather­ine Ash­ton, the E.U.’s for­eign pol­i­cy chief.

    “The chan­cel­lor finds these remarks absolute­ly unac­cept­able and wants to empha­size that Mrs. Ash­ton is doing an out­stand­ing job,” Wirtz said.

    Still fresh­ly furi­ous over the phone-tap­ping scan­dals, Ger­mans took to Twit­ter and oth­er social media in a litany of bit­ter com­ments. “Since we know now that the lead­er­ship cir­cles in the USA don’t give a s— about Europe, we should just stop the Free Trade Agree­ment,” came one Tweet from @kl1lercher, refer­ring to ongo­ing nega­tions to forge a transat­lantic free trade deal. Mean­while, a spokesman for the Ger­man for­eign min­istry told a media brief­ing Fri­day that “this just goes to show once more that wire­tap­ping is stu­pid.”

    Some Ger­man media, how­ev­er, were quick to warn against over­re­ac­tion. Der Spiegel online pub­lished an opin­ion col­umn titled “Relax, Europe.”

    “Europe should sim­ply laugh about the Amer­i­can F‑word,” the out­let said in an edi­to­r­i­al that also offered a cri­tique of the E.U.’s diplo­mat­ic efforts in the Ukraine. “Some humor would do no harm to the transat­lantic rela­tion­ship at the moment.”

    In Brus­sels, E.U. offi­cials remained pub­licly mum. Though the sto­ry played big across the con­ti­nent, the offi­cial response beyond Ger­many appeared rel­a­tive­ly mut­ed. But the Ger­mans were not only ones smart­ing. Reac­tions among Aus­tri­an mem­bers of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment ranged from out­rage to schaden­freude. Joerg Leicht­fried, leader of the Aus­tri­an Social Demo­c­ra­t­ic del­e­ga­tion in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, said: “Vic­to­ria Nuland must step down after these remarks, oth­er­wise there has to be a sus­pen­sion of nego­ti­a­tions about the E.U.-U.S. free trade agree­ment. Ms. Nuland, with such remarks, is a com­plete mis­cast for her office and not able any­more to medi­ate between the E.U. and the U.S. in a pos­i­tive man­ner,” he told the Aus­tri­an press agency APA, accord­ing to the dai­ly Die Presse.


    Nev­er­the­less, ana­lysts said the unscript­ed moment served to under­score a seri­ous point: the increas­ing­ly strained nature of the U.S. rela­tion­ship with con­ti­nen­tal Europe – first and fore­most, Ger­many. In the after­math of the expo­sure by for­mer NSA con­trac­tor Edward Snow­den of U.S. intel­li­gence-gath­er­ing efforts in the region, dis­trust of the Amer­i­can agen­da there has marked­ly jumped.

    Experts say the image of the Unit­ed States has deeply suf­fered, with the Nuland gaffe rein­forc­ing per­cep­tions of Amer­i­can heavy-hand­ed­ness at a high­ly sen­si­tive time. This week, for instance, the Sued­deutsche Zeitung news­pa­per pub­lished fresh alle­ga­tions that the Unit­ed States had wire­tapped for­mer Ger­man chan­cel­lor Ger­hard Schroed­er. In response, Schroed­er gave an inter­view to the Bild news­pa­per in which he said, “The U.S. has no respect for a loy­al ally and for the sov­er­eign­ty of our coun­try.”

    Olaf Boehnke, head of the Berlin office of the Euro­pean Coun­cil on For­eign Rela­tions, said the gaffe could not have come at a worst time. To some extent, Ger­man offi­cials – par­tic­u­lar­ly Merkel – have sought to put the wire­tap­ping scan­dal behind them, prag­mat­i­cal­ly attempt­ing to move for­ward and mend the transat­lantic rela­tion­ship. Nuland’s com­ments, he said, had just made that effort more dif­fi­cult, par­tic­u­lar­ly with the increas­ing­ly skep­ti­cal Ger­man pub­lic.

    “It was real­ly the worst thing that could hap­pen; Ger­mans will be going home tonight to dis­cuss this at din­ner,” Boehnke said. “It fits into a broad­er pic­ture that Ger­man peo­ple have of the U.S. betray­ing the trust in them.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 7, 2014, 10:24 am

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