NSA spied on business leaders, EU antitrust chief, new Snowden docs claim

NSA spied on business leaders, EU antitrust chief, new Snowden docs claim

Summary: And Joaquin Almunia, who has been embroiled in a three-year saga with Google, is not happy about it one bit.

TOPICS: Security

New documents leaked by former U.S. government contractor Edward Snowden suggest the dragnet surveillance programs were a little more targeted than first thought, and didn't just include world leaders and heads of state.

Reported on Friday by The New York Times, the documents point to U.S. and U.K. intelligence agencies working together to acquire information on heads of international aid organizations, directors of the United Nations, foreign energy firms, and the head of the European Union's antitrust division.

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia was spied on between 2008 and 2009 during a time European authorities were investigating U.S. technology giants Microsoft and Intel, the documents suggest.

Almunia, as the European Commission's head on antitrust and competition matters, has more recently been embroiled with Google for the past three years over how the company runs its search business. Unhappy with the search giant's latest concessions package, Almunia may dish out up to a $5 billion fine to Google for falling foul of Europe's antitrust laws.

The new Snowden leaks do not, however, detail exactly which agency — either the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) or Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) — conducted the spying, or whether it was part of a wider surveillance operation or a longstanding surveillance target.

Almunia told the Times he was "strongly upset" by the claims.

Meanwhile, the NSA's spokesperson told the publication it does "not use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies." The spokesperson also said it did not give the intelligence to U.S. companies to "enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line."

The new Snowden documents also further support earlier claims that foreign energy firms were targeted.

Earlier this year, Brazilian partly state-owned oil giant Petrobras was targeted by the NSA, but the details of the alleged surveillance was not disclosed.

The documents also said Israeli officials had their email traffic monitored, in spite of the claim that the U.S. government hands "raw" and unchecked information to Israel's intelligence agencies.

But some of the details published by the Times was withheld at the request of Britain's GCHQ, leaving a somewhat large question mark over exactly what was important enough for national security not to disclose.

Topic: Security

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  • Every time the government says...

    Seems like every time the government says "we only went this far" Snowden releases more information that paints them as liars.
    • All more reason...

      For the US Government to cut him a deal to stop the bleeding. Either that or assassinate him.

      I put nothing past them.
      • They will hunt Snowden down

        He has exposed corruption and illegal wiretapping at the highest level of government.

        The CIA will step in and hunt him down. Maybe they'll send an agent to Russia to 'meet him'.
        • Time will tell

          The life expectancy of US dissidents is actually fairly high.
          John L. Ries
    • not just lies, but also murders

      not just lies, but also murders

      General Wesley Clark, retired 4-star U.S. Army general: "We’re going to take out 7 countries in 5 years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan & Iran.." (about ten days after 9/11: “We’ve made the decision we’re going to war with Iraq.” This was on or about the 20th of September. I said, “We’re going to war with Iraq? Why?” He said, “I don’t know.” He said, “I guess they don’t know what else to do.” So I said, “Well, did they find some information connecting Saddam to al-Qaeda?” He said, “No, no.” He says, “There’s nothing new that way. They just made the decision to go to war with Iraq.” He said, “I guess it’s like we don’t know what to do about terrorists, but we’ve got a good military and we can take down governments.” And he said, “I guess if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem has to look like a nail.”)
      Jiří Pavelec
      • Interesting

        Source, please? Not challenging you, but just wanting to know more.
        • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8YtF76s-yM

      • Could you cite a link to that quote?

        A day or two after 9/11 (or in the early weeks just after - foggy memory, my father and I were watching NBC news and VP D. Cheney was giving an interview where he stated, in a somewhat nonchalant way, that the US was going to target Iraq - or words to that effect.)

        Well, I tried to search for that video segment on the internet but it was nowhere to be found which, in later days, lead my father and I to doubt our memories.

        Your quote is the closest that I have ever seen that would offer some tangentially evidence that the Cheney interview might actually have occurred.
      • Not saying it's all a lie

        but he WAS kind of forced out, and he was pretty "general" (no pun intended) in 'who said what about what', so it could very well he's just embellishing a simple discussion to create the illusion something bigger was at play?

        Remember, he's a politician now, with an agenda, and they can't be trusted.
    • Just the beginning ...

      The latest bit about Feds paying RSA to intentionally cripple commercial encryption is just the beginning, there will be a lot more stories along those lines. And it's very surprising that ZDnet has conveniently overlooked reporting on the RSA betrayal of the industry and the customers it purports to serve.
      terry flores
  • Yep

    I think its pretty clear by now that they tried to get away with whatever they wanted without fear of repercussion, because secret court / national security makes everything ok...
  • What happened to Nixon was a shame

    Compared to what govt officials are doing today, Nixon's actions were trivial. Not sure why he was forced to resign for merely spying on criminals err, congressmen.
    • it's not

      a competition. what is happening today does not make nixon less guilty.
      • I agree with you with this caveat

        Nixon is rightly viewed as a tragic figure whereas the NSA leader who lied to Congress and others at the NSA who sanctioned these unconstitutional acts are merely arogant criminals, IMO.
        • I do find it amazing...

          ...how many people never stopped apologizing for the dark side of the Nixon Administration. I'm guessing that at least some of them were among the first to look for scandals involving Democratic politicians.

          If it's wrong, then it's wrong; no matter who does it or what party he belongs to. If it's not then it's not.
          John L. Ries
          • Hopefully a better response

            Richard Nixon was indeed a tragic figure (Sophocles would have understood him well). He was probably one of the five most influential US politicians of the Twentieth Century. He was probably the best diplomat of the Presidents who have served in my lifetime and may have been the most intelligent (it's either him or Jimmy Carter). But he was not an innocent victim of a frame up, or of partisan double standards. The paranoia that pervaded his administration started at the top. Early in his political career, he was considered an accomplished practitioner of the politics of scandal and personal destruction that in the wake of Watergate has become standard procedure. He had great trouble distinguishing between political adversaries and "enemies". He had no qualms about using the machinery of government to punish and discredit the latter. He put loyalty to friends above the public interest and political ethics. He had the bad habit of allowing political conflicts to become personal and of holding grudges. Others played dirty politics before and after him, but most understood that at the end of the day, win or lose, you shake hands and go onto the next issue, knowing that today's adversaries might well be tomorrow's allies. John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson may have done some reprehensible things, but they understood the principle. Richard Nixon apparently did not.

            It is my humble opinion that it would have been better for the country if he had never been President. If he had to be President, it would have been better if he had been elected in 1960 instead of 1968 (the 1960 presidential campaign and the 1962 gubernatorial campaign definitely embittered him). But if he had been appointed U.S. Secretary of State in 1969 (perhaps under George Romney?) instead of being sworn in as President, he would likely now be regarded as one of our best Secretaries of State and perhaps one of our greatest statesmen.

            Richard Nixon had the seeds of greatness, but his dark side destroyed his political career and the consequences have been plaguing us ever since.
            John L. Ries
    • Actually...

      The specific offense was covering up an attempt to spy on the opposition party (and the specific target the burglary was not a member of congress). Mind you, some of the burglars had trouble distinguishing political opponents and criminals. There were also little things like the effort to use the IRS to harass "enemies" (auditing individuals, not merely giving applications for tax exempt status extra scrutiny). Stuff that some people at the time argued was merely prudent politics that should be standard procedure (one later derided President Carter as a "boy scout" in an op-ed column I read around 1977/78; another thought Mr. Nixon should run for a third term in 1980 since he had served less than 6 years).
      John L. Ries
  • Much more to come.

    There were over a million documents taken by Mr. Snowden. Expect these revelations to continue far into the future unless he is arrested (or worse) and they all come out at once.

    I just LOVE how the committees and President "recommend" that the NSA curb some of their activities. Just who in hell is in charge of these guys, GOD? TELL them to stop.
    • The commission made a set of recommentations

      I think they're very good recommendations and that the commission should be congratulated on a job well done. The President and Congress can implement them if they choose to do so (and should). And as usual, responsibility lies with the folks who got elected (starting with the President), not with the people they supervise.
      John L. Ries
  • China

    Gee, how are we going to keep a straight face the next time we lecture China about syping, hacking, transparency and the rule of law?

    That's why we have Obama. He can do all that and not even flinch.